Thursday, May 21, 2020

5:32 pm ET: Facebook Joins Wave of Firms Offering More Remote Work Options

As an employer, Facebook has been known for its free food, lavish headquarters, and jaw-dropping employee events. But now the tech giant is shifting focus from creating envious workspaces to allowing many of its employees to work from the comforts of their own homes. The company is ramping up its efforts for remote hiring and will also allow experienced employees in good standing to work from home, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a staff meeting Thursday that was livestreamed on his public Facebook page.
All employees will be allowed to work from home for the remainder of 2020.
"I think that it is quite possible over the next five to 10 years that about 50 percent of our people could be working remotely," Zuckerberg said. Read more...
— Michelle Castillo
The thumbs-up Like logo is shown on a sign at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., Tuesday, April 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

5:10 pm ET: Around the World in 90 Seconds

Brazil sets a grim record for most coronavirus cases in a day with nearly 20,000 new infections and one Sikh temple in New Delhi, India, had dozens of workers move in to help serve 100,000 meals a day. Here are your international coronavirus headlines.

4:39 pm ET: Stocks End Lower on Wall Street as U.S.-China Tensions Weigh

Stocks are ending lower on Wall Street as tensions flared again between the U.S. and China and as more dismal news came out detailing economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The S&P 500 gave up 0.8% Thursday, but it’s still higher for the week. The White House issued a report attacking Beijing’s economic policies and human rights violations, expanding on President Donald Trump’s get-tough rhetoric that he hopes will resonate with voters angry about China’s handling of the outbreak. Meanwhile, the number of Americans thrown out of work since the virus struck climbed to nearly 39 million. Read more...
— The Associated Press

4:37 pm ET: Doomsday Bunker Builder Looks for 'Tolerant,' Skilled Applicants 

It's apocalypse now for some consumers.
Vivos, a network of underground shelters built to survive catastrophes, has seen year-over-year inquiries into its bunkers increase by 2,000 percent and sales jump 500 percent amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to CEO Robert Vicino.
"We've noticed a lot of people are jumping, not out of windows, but off the fence, and they're realizing we live in vulnerable times, dangerous times," Vicino said about the surge. Read more...
— Mike Nam

3:49 pm ET: Chinese E-Commerce Giant Alibaba Sees Surge in U.S. Buyers, Sellers

The Chinese e-commerce giant, which connects companies with manufacturers and wholesalers, is seeing a surge in transactions involving U.S. buyers and sellers as the coronavirus forces companies online. 
The business-to-business platform saw a 100 percent year-over-year increase in the number of transactions involving U.S. buyers or sellers, according to John Caplan, president of in North America and Europe. Read more...
— Alex Vuocolo

3:21 pm ET: Beach Towns Get Creative to Enforce Social Distancing at the Shore

This Memorial Day weekend, beach towns will lead perhaps the biggest experiment yet in reopening the economy two months after the coronavirus pandemic shut down businesses from coast to coast. While much of the U.S. remains shuttered, state and local leaders in waterfront communities are beginning to allow beaches, boardwalks, and coastal businesses to open on a limited basis.
What this means on the ground varies widely by state and municipality, but most reopening plans aim to give visitors a taste of the usual beach experience while still maintaining social distancing efforts and complying with lockdown orders. Read more...
— Alex Vuocolo
A woman brushes sand from her foot after walking onto the beach in Seaside Heights, N.J. on May 15, 2020, on the first day it opened during the coronavirus outbreak. It and another popular Jersey Shore beach, Point Pleasant Beach, were among those allowing people back onto the sand with some restrictions to try to slow the spread of the virus. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

12:35 pm ET: U.S. Stock Indexes Turn Lower Amid Grim News on the Economy

Stocks are down in midday trading on Wall Street Thursday as the market gives back some of its gains from a day earlier. Investors found little to like in the latest buildup of tensions between the U.S. and China and more dismal news about fallout related to the coronavirus pandemic. The White House issued a report attacking Beijing’s economic policies and human rights violations, expanding on President Donald Trump’s get-tough rhetoric that he hopes will resonate with voters angry about China’s handling of the outbreak. Meanwhile the number of Americans thrown out of work since the virus struck climbed to nearly 39 million. Read more... 
— The Associated Press

11:45 am ET: Using Face Masks and Sanitizer, Couples Say 'I Do' in Vegas

For couples who get married in the famous wedding chapels of Las Vegas, their vows to love each other in sickness and in health are taking on fresh meaning in the time of the coronavirus. Brides and grooms sanitize their hands and get their temperature checked before walking down the aisle. Guests are rare and typically don face masks. And drive-thru weddings are more popular than ever. More than 1,500 couples have been issued marriage licenses in Sin City since April 27, when the county clerk’s office reopened amid new safety protocols calling for masks and social distancing at weddings. Read more...
— The Associated Press
Owner Charolette Richards, left, watches as Elvis impersonator Michael Conti waits before performing a wedding at A Little White Wedding Chapel, Saturday, May 16, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

10:20 am ET: Stocks Struggle Higher Amid More Grim News on the Economy

Stocks struggled to hold on to tiny gains in early trading on Wall Street Thursday after shaking off an early loss. Investors found little to like in the latest buildup of tensions between the U.S. and China and more dismal news about fallout related to the coronavirus pandemic. The White House issued a report attacking Beijing’s economic and military policies and human rights violations. Meanwhile the number of Americans thrown out of work since the virus struck climbed to nearly 39 million. Macy’s fell after saying it could lose more than a $1 billion during its first fiscal quarter. Read more...
— The Associated Press

9:03 am ET: Weekly Jobless Claims: 2.4 Million

More than 2.4 million people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week in the latest wave of layoffs from the viral outbreak that triggered widespread business shutdowns two months ago and sent the economy into a deep recession.
Roughly 38.6 million people have now filed for jobless aid since the coronavirus forced millions of businesses to close their doors and shrink their workforces, the Labor Department said Thursday.
An additional 2.2 million people sought aid under a new federal program for self-employed, contractor and gig workers, who are now eligible for jobless aid for the first time. These figures aren’t adjusted for seasonal variations, so the government doesn’t include them in the overall number of applications
The continuing stream of heavy job cuts reflects an economy that is sinking into the worst recession since the Great Depression. Read more...
— The Associated Press

8:15 am ET: Global Cases Hit Record, Flood Disaster & 'Snyder Cut' Gets Release

Get your news over easy every morning by listening to the Need 2 Know podcast (StitcheriTunes) and signing up for our morning newsletter.
COVID-19: LATEST DEVELOPMENTS: More than 100,000 new cases of coronavirus were reported worldwide in the last 24 hours, according to the W.H.O., a new daily record. Disease modelers at Columbia University found that if the U.S. had begun social distancing just one week earlier in March, it could have saved 36,000 lives ⁠— and if lockdown orders went into effect two weeks earlier, the death toll would be 83 percent lower. It’s currently approaching 94,000. NY TIMES
MICHIGAN DAMS BREACHED: Two privately-owned dams in central Michigan failed amid heavy rainfall, causing thousands of residents to flee their homes and take shelter in a state hit hard by the coronavirus. While no one has been killed in the floods, the attention is now on a major Dow chemical plant downriver, as well as two Superfund toxic clean-up sites that could be overwhelmed by the waters. MLIVE
VOTE-BY-MAIL BATTLE: President Trump has stepped up his attacks on states that are pushing for more widespread mail-in voting ahead of the November election. The president on Twitter accused ⁠— falsely ⁠— Nevada and Michigan of engaging in illegal voter fraud, and threatened to withhold federal funding to both states. He said Michigan was sending all registered voters absentee ballots; in fact, residents were getting absentee ballot applications (he later corrected his tweet). Nevada has a primary coming up that will be done completely by mail. NBC NEWS
SUMMER AIR TRAVEL: U.S. airlines are reporting small but notable upticks in passengers ahead of Memorial Day weekend. Delta says it's seeing higher demand for beach destinations and activity “out west” and is adding more flights to allow for social distancing on planes. Meanwhile, United unveiled new cleaning and safety protocols it hopes will put passengers’ minds at ease, including sneeze guards at check-in, on-board wipes and touchless kiosks. MARKETWATCH
HOME SALES RECOVERING: For the fifth week in a row, mortgage applications rose ⁠— indicating a surprising comeback in the real estate market. Home sales are now only 1.5 percent lower than they were this time last year. Six weeks ago it was 35 percent lower. If you’re in the market for a new home, there’s good and bad news: the good is that interest rates are still very low; the bad is that big banks have tightened their credit requirements, especially for first-time buyers. YAHOO MONEY
FACEBOOK ALL-TIME HIGH: Shares of Facebook hit an all-time high, a day after the social media giant announced Facebook Shops, a new e-commerce platform meant to make it easier for users to sell on both Instagram and Facebook proper. Facebook’s stock has been on fire lately, helped by a strong balance sheet and access to a third of the world’s eyeballs. INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY
UPSIDE DOWN TRIPLE CROWN: The Belmont Stakes, normally the third leg of the Triple Crown, will become the first this year. Horses will run at Belmont on June 20, with the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes still delayed until fall. The Belmont race will be shortened by three-eighths of a mile to make it easier on the horses, the purse will be smaller, and there will be no fans in the stands or infield. NBC SPORTS
#RELEASETHESNYDERCUT: The fabled “Snyder Cut” of the 2017 superhero movie Justice League will be released after all. HBO Max will become the home of the unreleased version of the film, which was directed by Zack Snyder before he stepped away mid-shoot to deal with a family tragedy and had to be replaced. DC Comics fans have been calling on Warner Bros. to release the cut, and the studio was clearly listening. Zack Snyder’s Justice League hits the platform in 2021. THR
EXPENSIVE INSTA: Kendall Jenner has agreed to pay $90,000 to settle a bankruptcy lawsuit related to an Instagram post that promoted the infamous Fyre Festival. Jenner’s post was the subject of a suit brought by Fyre Festival’s creditors, who lost millions in the failed event that spawned a pair of popular documentaries and sent its founder to jail. WSJ
LEFTOVERS: BEFORE AND AFTER: When Mike Schultz, a nurse from San Francisco, contracted the coronavirus in early March, he was a healthy 43-year-old man with no underlying health conditions who went to the gym everyday. After a six-week bout with COVID-19, during which he lost 50 pounds, Schultz posted a before-and-after photo to Instagram that showed the toll the virus took on his body, which doubles as a cautionary tale for anyone who thinks they’re invincible from this disease: SEE PICS