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Stock futures lower as coronavirus relief package clears Senate

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Stock futures dipped Thursday morning, after a massive, eagerly awaited coronavirus relief package cleared the U.S. Senate and headed for the House, with investors poised to take a breather after two consecutive days of gains.

During the regular session Wednesday, the S&P 500 and Dow posted their first back-to-back sessions of advances in more than a month. At the highs of the session, the Dow had added 1,315 points.

Yet by market close Wednesday, stocks pared some gains, after the bill with $2 trillion worth of relief for the coronavirus-stricken economy exposed intra-party divisions. Late in the afternoon, Democratic presidential contender and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders suggested he would be willing to hold up the bill amid a dispute with Republican lawmakers who called for changes over unemployment benefits provided in the package.

And others outside of Capitol Hill aired their grievances over the legislation. New York state governor Andrew Cuomo called the legislation “terrible” for his state, and suggested the aid allocated would not make up for the budget gap created by the coronavirus outbreak.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus outbreak continued to escalate domestically and abroad, with the global case count topping 480,000 as of Thursday morning, according to Johns Hopkins data. More than 69,000 of these were in the U.S., with New York state comprising the bulk of domestic cases.

Heading into Thursday’s session, investors will be anxiously awaiting the Labor Department’s weekly report on unemployment claims, which are expected to reflect soaring joblessness as businesses are forced to lay off employees as the coronavirus outbreak continues.

“We now expect the unemployment rate to peak near 8.5%,” JPMorgan Chase economists wrote late Wednesday. Once again, the bank lowered its U.S. economic forecasts for both the first and second quarters, to an annualized rate of -10% and -25%, respectively.

“Whereas normally a downward revision to 1H would be expected to result in an upward revision to 2H, we are leaving our second-half forecast unrevised at 6%, incorporating financial headwinds that should dampen the pace of recovery,” they added.

Though individual firms’ estimates span a wide range, consensus economists polled by Bloomberg project new unemployment claims rose to a seasonally adjusted 1.64 million for the week ending March 21, skyrocketing from the 281,000 during the prior week.

Ahead of the report, states have already signaled steepening rates of unemployment. California Governor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that one million Californians had filed for unemployment benefits in the country’s most populous state since March 13.

7:20 a.m. ET Thursday: Powell says Fed is ‘not going to run out of ammunition’

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, speaking in a rare televised interview on NBC’s Today show Thursday morning, vowed the central bank would continue using the tools at its disposal to help combat economic turmoil stirred up by the coronavirus outbreak.

When it comes to maintaining credit flows, Powell said the Fed still had room to apply further support to financial markets.

“We’re not going to run out of ammunition,” he said in the interview.

Powell also said he expected economic activity will “resume and move back up in the second half of the year,” noting that the virus will “dictate the timetable” for a rebound.

7:10 a.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures hold slightly lower after two straight days of gains

Contracts on the three major indices remained lower during the pre-market session Thursday morning, a day after the S&P 500 and Dow had posted their first back-to-back sessions of gains in a month.

Here’s where indexes traded Thursday morning, as of 7:10 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 2,449.5, -17.5 (-0.71%)

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 20,971.00, -55 (-0.26%)

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 7,425.25, -42.5 (-0.57%)

  • Gold (GC=F): +$0.20 (+0.01%) to $1,633.60 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX) note: yielding 0.811%, or down 4.5 basis points

11:55. p.m. ET Wednesday: Futures fall as Senate clears stimulus bill

Stock futures appeared poised to open lower on Thursday, as the $2 trillion stimulus package was finally voted up by the Senate and headed to the House. The coronavirus relief plan has been mired in partisan politics for days, but investors have pushed stocks to two consecutive days of gains. With the bill heading for passage, markets appear to have bought the rumor, and are now selling the fact.

Here’s where indexes traded just before midnight Eastern:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 2,447.50, -19.50 (-0.79%)

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 20,936.00, -90.00 (-0.43%)

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 7,429.00, -38.75 (-0.52%)

  • Gold (GC=F): +$8.50 (+0.53%) to $1,642.00 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX) note: yielding 0.869%

11:30 p.m. ET: JPMorgan slices economic forecast (again)

Trader Federico DeMarco works at the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, March 18, 2020 in New York. Major U.S. stock indexes closed sharply lower on Wall Street Wednesday as fears of a prolonged coronavirus-induced recession took hold. The Dow industrials lost more than 1,300 points, or 6.3%. After a brutal few weeks, the Dow has now lost nearly all of its gains since President Trump’s inauguration. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The bank is once again taking the knife to its U.S. recession call, seeing the world’s largest economy plunging by an annualized rate of -10% in the first quarter and -25% in the second. JPMorgan’s economists also expect the unemployment rate to surge to 8.5% by the time it’s all over.

JPMorgan is also slightly less optimistic about the recovery process:

A growing rift between the federal and state approaches to containing or mitigating the spread of the virus suggests the Chinese experience may no longer be an appropriate comparison. At the very least it should further depress sentiment and confidence in the institutions on which the market economy relies.

6:01 p.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures roughly flat as overnight session kicks off

Futures for each of the three major indices were little changed Wednesday evening as investors hoped for progress toward the passage of a stimulus bill in the face of the escalating domestic coronavirus outbreak.

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:01 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): up 0.06%, or 1.5 points to 2,468.5

  • Dow futures (YM=F): up 0.04% or 8 points to 21,034.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): up 0.11% or 8.25 points points to 7,476.00

  • Gold (GC=F): +$8.50 (+0.53%) to $1,642.00 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX) note: yielding 0.869%

A woman walks on a nearly empty street near the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Reviews Progress Of COVID-19 Measures

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Nirmala Sitharaman Reviews Progress Of Atmanirbhar Bharat Initiatives

The government on Sunday released a progress report on the implementation of measures announced under its Atmanirbhar Bharat package after a review by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. In May, the government had announced fiscal and monetary support worth Rs 21 lakh crore to help the country battle the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The finance and corporate ministries immediately started implementation of the announcements related to the economic package under the Atmanirbhar Bharat series of initiatives, an official release said.

Here are some of the key points on the progress reported so far: 

In a major relief to micro, small and medium enterprises, the Department of Expenditure has amended rules relating to global tenders, to ensure no global tender inquiry will be invited for tenders up to Rs 200 crore unless prior approval is obtained from Cabinet Secretariat. The government had earlier announced that global tenders will be disallowed in government procurement tenders up to Rs 200 crore.

In relief to contractors, various departments and ministries are implementing instructions to ensure central agencies like Railways, Road Transport and Highways and CPWD give an extension of up to six months for completion of contractual obligations.

The department issued a communication to all state governments for additional borrowing of 2 per cent (of projected gross state domestic product in 2020-21) subject to implementation of specific state-level reforms. The government had earlier announced its decision to increase borrowing limits of states from 3 per cent to 5 per cent for 2020-21 in view of the situation caused by the COVID-19 disease. The move will provide the states with extra resources worth Rs 4.28 lakh crore.

In a period of about one and half months, noticeable progress has been achieved in identifying units, sanctioning as well as disbursing of loans to MSMEs. The government had announced collateral-free automatic loans worth Rs 3 lakh crore for businesses and MSMEs.

Rs 45,000 crore Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme 2.0 for NBFCs

Banks have approved purchase of portfolio of Rs 14,000 crore and are currently in process of approval/negotiations for Rs 6,000 crore as on July 3.

Additional Emergency Working Capital Funding for farmers through NABARD

When kharif sowing is already on its full swing, Rs. 24,876.87 crore out of Rs. 30,000 crore has been disbursed as on July 6 out of this special facility.

Between April 8 and June 30, the Central Board of Direct taxes (CBDT) has issued refunds in more than 20.44 lakh cases amounting to more than Rs. 62,361 crore, and the remaining refunds are under process.

The Rs 30,000-crore Special Liquidity Scheme for non-banking financial companies, housing finance companies and microfinance institutions has been launched, following the Cabinet’s approval. The first application in this regard has received its approval and the remaining are also being considered, the government said.

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West Kelowna way behind in tax revenue collection – West Kelowna News

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City tax hole $11.5M

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a detrimental affect on businesses and residents across West Kelowna.

That is no more evident than the value of municipal taxes remitted by business and residential taxpayers by the July 2 deadline.

In a report for council, director of finance Warren Everton says in 2019, about 92 per cent of taxes were paid by the July deadline. Penalties would kick in if monies were not paid by then.

However, due to the pandemic, city council has eased off on penalties and taken other steps to ease the financial burden of taxpayers.

As a result of financial hardships endured, Everton says only 80 per cent of overall taxation has been paid to the municipality, leaving an $11.5 million shortfall.

Ten per cent penalties won’t kick in until Oct. 1.

Everton says there is presently a $9.36 million (81 per cent) shortfall in residential tax payments and $2.2 million (72 per cent) deficit in collection from business and other categories.

Despite the shortfall, Everton writes in his report the city remains on”solid financial ground” despite COVID-19.

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I won’t quit: Lebanese PM defiant as his critics blast financial chaos

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BEIRUT: Beleaguered Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Saturday defied a barrage of criticism to declare that his government alone ruled Lebanon and it was determined to implement reforms to resolve the financial crisis.

Diab dismissed as “fake news” reports that he was on the verge of resignation, and said: “Lebanon will not be under anyone’s control as long as I am in power.”

The prime minister spoke after UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned that Lebanon was enduring “the worst economic crisis in its history” and was “fast spiraling out of control.” 

She urged Diab’s government to initiate urgent reforms and respond to “the people’s essential needs, such as food, electricity, health, and education.”

Diab also faced harsh criticism from the American University of Beirut (AUB), where he was vice president and a professor before becoming prime minister.

BACKGROUND

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet urged the Lebanese government to initiate urgent reforms and respond to ‘the people’s essential needs, such as food, health and education.’

AUB president Fadlo Khuri said Diab’s government was the worst in Lebanon’s history in its understanding of higher education.

“I have not seen any shred of competence in this government since its formation six months ago,” said.

“The government owes the AUB $150 million in medical bills,” Khuri said, and he urged Diab to “at least discuss with us a payment timeline.”

Lebanon’s financial plight is illustrated by its currency, the lira, which has lost 80 percent of its value. 

The black market  dollar exchange rate on Saturday was 7,500, compared with the official rate of 1,507.

Bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund were suspended in a dispute over government debt, but Diab insisted on Saturday: “We have turned the page … and started discussing the basic reforms required and the program that the IMF and Lebanon will agree upon, which will restore confidence and open the door to many projects.”

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