Stocks Fall Amid Concerns Over Recovery: Live Updates

Stocks on Wall Street drop with sell-off that picked up near end of trading.

Stocks fell on Tuesday as reports from China, South Korea and the United States offered sobering reminders to investors of how long and difficult the coronavirus recovery is likely to be.

The S&P 500 dropped about 2 percent, a decline that picked up steam as the day progressed.

Investors had plenty of reasons for concern. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, a central figure in the U.S. government’s coronavirus response, warned lawmakers on Tuesday that “needless suffering and death” would result if the country opened up too quickly. In China, the city of Wuhan, which seemed to have tamed its outbreak, has reported six new infections in recent days, while cases have also risen in the northern part of the country.

Markets have been able to shrug off a number of risks to the economy lately, but investors, who are already worried about an economic conflict between the world’s two largest economies, have been spooked lately by rising tension between the United States and China over the coronavirus outbreak.

Yields on government bonds also fell on Tuesday, reflecting a lowering of expectations for the economy by investors.

When Patagonia announced on March 13 that it was temporarily closing its 39 stores and e-commerce business in North America because of the coronavirus pandemic, it was one of the first major retailers to take such a drastic step.

Now, after losing half of its sales in North America and surveying a transformed landscape, the retailer is being very cautious in deciding how to open up again.

Retailers like Macy’s and Gap, which owns Banana Republic and Old Navy, have begun reopening hundreds of stores as they scramble to recoup lost sales and as states around the country begin to try to return to some semblance of normalcy.

But Patagonia does not anticipate opening any locations for in-store shopping until June at the earliest and it’s prepared to wait until the fall or even early winter. Even then, it may decide to limit operations to curbside pickup, which it plans to begin offering at 10 stores on May 20.

“We’re going to be cautious about the way we open up — we’re not going to necessarily follow what the state decrees are,” Rose Marcario, the chief executive, said in an interview. “There are some areas that aren’t as hard hit, but I don’t think you can assume those places won’t see a surge in cases if people stop social-distancing.”

Tesla’s California car factory was shipping out new cars on Tuesday despite a county order prohibiting it from restarting production and even as local officials continued to try to negotiate with the company.

It was not clear how many cars Tesla is making. But on Tuesday, trucks were leaving the factory, which is the Bay Area city of Fremont, with new sedans and sport-utility vehicles. New cars were also parked in rows outside the factory. The parking lot for employees was also filled.

Tesla’s head of human resources for North America, Valerie Workman, sent an email to employees on Monday saying that their furloughs had ended on Sunday. She told employees they would be contacted within 24 hours about when to return to work.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

The county’s director for health care services, Colleen Chawla, sent a letter to Tesla late Monday saying that the company was violating its order. “We hope that Tesla — like other businesses who have been notified of noncompliance — comes into compliance with the order without the need for additional enforcement measures,” Ms. Chawla said.

On Tuesday, the county said that it had received Tesla’s plan for reopening the plant and was reviewing it. The plant is Tesla’s main source of revenue and has been closed for more than a month. County officials have said they were working with Tesla on an agreement to reopen the plant on May 18. But Tesla sued the county on Saturday in United States District Court in San Francisco, arguing that the county’s order was unconstitutional and contradicted an order by Gov. Gavin Newsom that permits manufacturing statewide.

The state has authorized a resumption of manufacturing, Mr. Newsom said Monday, but he added that “we recognize localism” and “if a county doesn’t want to go as far,” local orders would prevail.

In her email, Ms. Workman said employees who were uncomfortable returning to work could stay home on unpaid leave.

Shortages of safety gear and staff. Workers who may inadvertently be carriers. A disease that preys on older people with underlying health conditions. There are many reasons the coronavirus has hit nursing homes so hard.

Add the design of the buildings to the list.

With shared resident rooms off long corridors and vast dining rooms where everyone mingles, nursing homes may have been laid out to be efficient and cost effective. But these very features have also allowed the virus to spread from person to person in what Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York called “a feeding frenzy.”

New York State has become a pandemic hot spot. “Why are we seeing such a high rate in nursing homes?” asked Richard J. Mollot, executive director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition, an advocacy group for residents. “Maybe it’s because some nursing homes are so big.”

Before the pandemic, a movement under the banner of “culture change” was challenging the institutional model, calling for dividing up large nursing home populations into small, self-sufficient units with kitchens, private rooms and a dedicated staff. Now, anecdotal reports suggest that private rooms may be having more success at keeping the coronavirus at bay.

Elizabeth Wardman was driving to San Francisco’s wholesale flower market last week when she heard on the radio that California was going to allow florists to reopen for Mother’s Day as part of an easing of coronavirus lockdown rules.

By the time she got to the market at 6 a.m., the parking lot was teeming with florists stocking up for one of the busiest weekends of the year. Her flower shop, Wisteria Rockridge, had already received online and phone orders for the weekend. Ms. Wardman scooped up as many flowers as she could in a fit of panic buying.

A flood of delivery orders came in to the shop, three times the usual amount for Mother’s Day. But Wisteria had to stop accepting orders on Wednesday. The store had furloughed its employees and didn’t have enough people to do the work. For the rest of the week, the phone rang unanswered.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Ms. Wardman said. “Every time it rings, you’re missing somebody. You’re letting business go.”

Shutting down a business for a public health emergency seven weeks ago, it turned out, was a fairly straightforward thing. Reopening? That has turned out to be a lot trickier. Like thousands of other small-business owners, Ms. Wardman has had to reinvent her shop on the fly, hoping to reach enough customers to keep at least a tiny portion of her operation alive.

Uber is in talks to acquire Grubhub, said three people with knowledge of the discussions, aiming to create one giant player in food delivery as more people turn toward those services in the coronavirus pandemic.

Uber recently approached Grubhub with a potential all-stock takeover bid, said two of the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details were confidential. In response, Grubhub asked for two Uber shares for each of its shares, two of the people said. That would value Grubhub’s stock at more than $60 a share, pegging a deal at around $6.1 billion, or roughly a 25 percent premium to Grubhub’s closing price on Monday.

The talks are still in process and could fall apart, the people said.

The discussions are a sign of how thoroughly the coronavirus has upended everything from the way that people are eating to how businesses must shift to find new growth. Food delivery has been offered for years, but use of the services has surged in the pandemic as consumers stay home and many restaurants remain shut down.

Britain will extend until October its program to ensure that private-sector workers keep getting paid if the pandemic prevents them from working, the government said on Tuesday in a clear indication that it expects it to take several months to fully reopen the economy.

As an incentive for employers to keep people on their payrolls, the government is subsidizing the pay of millions of workers who would otherwise be furloughed, along with self-employed people who cannot work. The program covers 80 percent of each person’s wages, up to 2,500 pounds a month — almost $3,100.

The program, begun in March, was originally put in place until June, and is costing billions of pounds per month. On Tuesday, the chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced that the government would keep paying 80 percent of wages through the end of July.

Business groups and labor unions largely welcomed the extension.

Mr. Sunak’s statement came a day after the government urged those who cannot work from home to go back to factories and other workplaces if they can. But some parts of the economy not expected to restart until mid-sumer or later.

Jack Dorsey tells Twitter employees they can work from home forever.

Jack Dorsey, the chief executive of Twitter, told employees on Tuesday that they would not be expected to return to the company’s offices and could work from home forever if they wanted.

Twitter sent its employees home in early March to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, but Mr. Dorsey had previously said he wanted Twitter’s work force to be more diversified around the world and that he welcomed remote work.

Twitter will reopen its offices no sooner than September, said Jennifer Christie, a vice president of human resources at Twitter.

“If our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen. If not, our offices will be their warm and welcoming selves, with some additional precautions, when we feel it’s safe to return,” Ms. Christie wrote in a blog post.

Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.

  • Walmart said on Tuesday that it would give another round of bonuses to its workers in the United States: $300 for full-time workers and $150 for part-time and temporary workers, for a total of more than $390 million. The retailer said it had committed more than $935 million in bonuses for its workers so far this year.

  • The theatrical distribution company Solstice Studios said Tuesday that it would release the thriller “Unhinged,” which stars Russell Crowe, in theaters nationwide on July 1. That’s two weeks before the Warner Bros. release date for Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” and three weeks before Disney’s planned release of “Mulan.”

  • The Transportation Department warned airlines for a second time on Tuesday that they must refund passengers for canceled tickets after receiving about 20,000 consumer complaints in April, up from the 1,500 it receives in a typical month.

  • Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, reported Tuesday that its net income fell by 25 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared with a year earlier. Still, Aramco said it earned $16.7 billion — an amount that may allow it to retain the title of world’s most profitable company. Amin H. Nasser, the company’s president and chief executive, said in a statement that the coronavirus pandemic “impacted” the results, which he called “exceptionally strong” given the situation.

  • Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, said it would resume 40 percent of its flight network beginning July 1, and institute safety measures like requiring passengers to wear face masks and to request access to the bathroom to prevent lines in the aisles.

Reporting was contributed by Jane Margolies, Sapna Maheshwari, Jack Ewing, Stephen Castle, Jeanna Smialek, Ben Dooley, Alan Rappeport, Kate Conger, Mike Isaac, Michael J. de la Merced, Noam Scheiber, Kai Schultz, Geneva Abdul, Stanley Reed, Niraj Chokshi, Alexandra Stevenson, Cao Li, Damien Cave, Matt Phillips, Gregory Schmidt, Carlos Tejada, Daniel Victor, Katie Robertson and Kevin Granville.

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