The Federal Reserve continued snapping up corporate bonds to help keep credit markets functioning, with the central bank disclosing on Friday that it had added more than $1.3 billion in bonds from individual companies as of June 30.
The central bank has been helping to support the secondary corporate bond market — the one for already-issued debt — by buying Exchange Traded Funds, which track a broad basket of bonds but trade like stocks, as well as individual bonds. It announced last month that it was beginning to shift its purchases to an index of corporate debt of its own design.
That index is meant to reflect the available universe of bonds that fit the program’s restrictions, with limits for individual issuers. According to its most recent disclosure, the Fed invested in bonds from companies including Apple, AT&T, Bayer, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Ford Motor Co. and Verizon.
The Fed’s program is authorized to buy as much as $250 billion in already-issued bonds. Another program has been created to buy up to $500 billion of newly-issued bonds but the facility had not recorded any purchases at the end of June.
As of June 30, the Fed said it had $9.4 billion in total outstanding loans under its secondary market corporate credit facility. — Deborah Solomon
Now that Independence Day is behind us, tax day is fast approaching.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Treasury Department postponed the traditional April 15 federal tax filing deadline until July 15. And this time, there’s no wiggle room. Last month, the Internal Revenue Service announced that there would not be another blanket filing delay.
So if you haven’t filed your return yet — or if you’ve filed but haven’t yet paid the taxes you owe for 2019 — the deadline is Wednesday.
“It’s just like April 15, but in July,” said Cindy Hockenberry, director of tax research and government relations for the National Association of Tax Professionals, a trade group.
About 142 million taxpayers had filed returns as of July 3, according to I.R.S. statistics, but the agency has struggled to process returns because of reduced staffing during the pandemic. The agency had processed about 131 million returns as of July 3 — 10 percent fewer than the same time last year.
And some taxpayers are facing long delays in getting the refunds they’re owed, according to a report from Erin Collins, the new national taxpayer advocate, who represents filers. — Ann Carrns
Just about every area of personal finance has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. That economic shock reaches all the way to some of the most aspirational purchases on the planet: art, cars, watches and wine.
The mechanism to buy and sell many of these objects — frothy, in-person auctions, with attendees dressed smartly and cocktails readily available — has been rendered untenable since March because of social-distancing measures meant to stop the spread of the virus.
But the desire remains, with sellers looking to shed valuable items to shore up their own balance sheets, and buyers who have reserves looking to collect on the cheap. To meet that demand, the rarefied world of the auction house has been forced online.
The electricity you feel in a room, as the bidding heats up and prices soar, is gone. But auction houses are working to make sure selling their high-ticket objects doesn’t devolve into an eBay frenzy, where wealthy buyers are sitting around in their pajamas stalking deals on their laptops.
To counteract that down-market feel, auction houses have become creative. — Paul Sullivan
REI, the outdoor equipment chain, confirmed on Friday that it would lay off 400 retail employees by Wednesday as the industry continues to struggle through the pandemic. The company’s cuts follow the elimination of 25 percent, or 300 employees, at its headquarters in Kent, Wash., in April.
Eric Artz, REI’s chief executive, said in an email to staff on Wednesday that the retailer, which furloughed most of its store and field employees in early April, was able to bring back “nearly all employees who have the skills needed and who were available for the hours and shifts required for current customer demand.”
Mr. Artz said that some employees did not wish to return and “less than 5 percent” of retail staff were let go, according to the email, which was shared with The New York Times by REI Employees for Real Change, an advocacy group that has been pushing for labor rights for REI’s hourly workers. Earlier this year, the company, which is structured as a consumer cooperative with 19 million members, also cut pay for many employees at its headquarters.
REI, which has reopened nearly all of its roughly 160 stores, now has about 13,000 employees, according to a company representative. That’s a drop from the nearly 14,000 it cited in a February statement.
“As the months roll by, it’s clear that the virus is going to be with us in a profound way, for the foreseeable future,” Mr. Artz said in the email to employees. “We’re doing great work serving customer demand right now, but there’s a lot we still don’t know about the long-term impacts to the economy and the full impact to our business.” — Sapna Maheshwari
Three Democratic lawmakers from Massachusetts asked Brooks Brothers on Friday to offer severance and health care benefits to more than 400 workers at the retailer’s factory in Haverhill, Mass., after it closes on July 20.
Brooks Brothers filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday. According to union representatives for the workers, Brooks Brothers said it would not offer severance or health care to the Massachusetts employees, even as it planned to offer severance to workers at its other two U.S. factories, which are also closing.
The lawmakers — Representative Lori Trahan and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey — said in a letter that although they recognized the closure was “due to financial challenges exacerbated by Covid-19, it would be an extraordinary betrayal of the company’s loyal employees to deny any severance or extension of health care coverage.” Some worked at the factory for decades and recently sewed face masks.
A representative for Brooks Brothers said that the union representing the workers did not include a severance provision in its most recent collective bargaining agreement, and that the company “made several attempts to receive financial support from the State of Massachusetts” at the outset of the pandemic, but that its requests were ignored. — Sapna Maheshwari
Goya Foods, whose products are a staple of American households, became the target of a boycott and considerable backlash on Friday after its leader praised President Trump during a visit to the White House.
Bob Unanue, the president of Goya Foods, was at the White House on Thursday to announce that the company would donate one million cans of chickpeas and another one million pounds of food to food banks in the United States as part of the Hispanic Prosperity Initiative, an executive order from Mr. Trump that was created to improve access to educational and economic opportunities.
During the appearance, Mr. Unanue said the United States was “blessed” to have Mr. Trump as its leader.
Mr. Unanue’s comments drew swift condemnation on social media from people who were upset that a company whose products are popular among Latinos and others would so openly support a president who has vilified immigrants, especially those from Latin America, and whose harsh policies have targeted them. The hashtags #Goyaway and #BoycottGoya quickly formed to share criticism from many, including those who routinely buy Goya products.
Goya Foods on Friday issued a news release about the company’s donation, but did not address the controversy around Mr. Unanue’s comments. — Derrick Bryson Taylor
The International Energy Agency warned on Friday that the surge of coronavirus cases in nations like the United States and Brazil was “casting a shadow” over the outlook for global oil demand.
In its latest Monthly Oil Report, the group revised its forecast for demand this year slightly upward by 400,000 barrels a day, to 92.2 million barrels a day. This still represents a decline of nearly 8 percent compared with 2019, reflecting the diminished economic activity caused by efforts to curb the virus.
However, the agency said that uncertainty over the forecast had risen because of the acceleration of the spread of the virus in several countries. So far, analysts at the agency wrote, the resulting lockdowns — sometimes reimposed after being lifted earlier — were more localized than those imposed earlier, but the growing number of cases showed that the “pandemic is not under control.”
Despite the jitters, prices have recovered sharply from their April lows when futures contracts for some oil actually plunged into negative territory. The market recovery has been spurred by supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and by producers in the United States. Global output fell to a nine-year low of 86.9 million barrels a day in June.
On Friday, both Brent crude, the international benchmark, and West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. standard, were down about 2 percent. — Stanley Reed
Stocks rose on Friday, notching another weekly gain.
The S&P 500 rose 1 percent, while markets in London, Frankfurt and Paris recouped losses to climb about 1 percent. In Asia, news of an apparently widening outbreak of infections in Hong Kong had sent shares skidding.
Investors have continued to shake off a rise in coronavirus cases, but trading has become more volatile lately over worries about the virus and restrictions that are being reimposed as a result. The market alternated between gains and losses each day this week, but ended nearly 2 percent higher.
On Wall Street, sentiment was lifted Friday after the drugmaker Gilead Sciences said its potential Covid-19 treatment cut mortality risk in patients. Companies that stand to benefit the most from a reopening of the economy, and a return to normal behavior by American consumers — like airlines and retailers — fared well.
Cruise operators led the gains in the S&P 500, with Carnival jumping after it outlined a plan to resume operations in a “phased manner.” Carnival didn’t put a timeline on return to service, but had said on Thursday that its AIDA unit in Germany would begin cruises in August. The company also said it had new bookings for 2021.
Oil prices also reversed early losses, with the American crude benchmark rising more than 2 percent and crossing $40 a barrel and helped lift shares of energy companies. The reversal came despite a warning from the International Energy Agency that the growth of coronavirus cases in the United States and Latin America was “casting a shadow” over the oil market.
In Europe, some company earnings reports caused bumps in share prices. The German biotech firm Qiagen, whose products and services are used in coronavirus testing, said its adjusted earnings per share were expected to rise nearly 70 percent this year. And Carlsberg, the Danish brewer, reported figures suggesting the fall in beer sales was flattening out, with strong growth in China. — Mohammed Hadi and Kevin Granville
The personal computer market shook off the effects of supply chain disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, posting growth of 3 percent to 11 percent in the second quarter compared with the same period in 2019, the research companies Gartner and IDC said on Thursday.
The U.S. subsidiary of Muji, the Japanese lifestyle brand, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware on Friday, according to a court filing. Muji’s owner, Ryohin Keikaku Company, said in a statement that the brand had been hit hard by the coronavirus, with all 18 of its stores closed since mid-March. Ryohin Keikaku said it planned to close unprofitable stores and renegotiate rents on others, and that the U.S. filing would not affect its operations overseas.
China’s customs authority on Friday said it had suspended imports from three Ecuadorean companies after the coronavirus was detected on a container and on packages of frozen shrimp from Ecuador, China’s state broadcaster reported. China has already suspended imports from 23 meat producers, including American meat giant Tyson, Germany’s Tönnies, Brazil’s Agra and Britain’s Tulip, because of outbreaks at their plants, Bi Kexin, a senior Chinese customs official, said Friday. — Elaine Yu