Coronavirus latest: US retail sales, industrial activity fall the most on record

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US president Donald Trump has expedited almost $4bn of federal funding for New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, state governor Andrew Cuomo said. Mr Cuomo said the first installment of a $3.9bn payment to the MTA, which is largely responsible for mass transit in and around New York City, had been sent. The agency recently increased the cleaning frequency of subway carriages and funding such extra costs has become more challenging, given stay-at-home restrictions have prompted a plunge in ticket revenue.

Wall Street climbed to snap a two-day losing streak for stocks, as investors shook off a worse-than-expected report on weekly jobless claims. The S&P 500 advanced 1.2 per cent, closing near its session high as the financial sector led an afternoon rally that erased earlier losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also rose 1.2 per cent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was up 0.9 per cent. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell 0.02 percentage points to 0.628 per cent.

Richard Burr, the Republican senator from North Carolina, has stepped down as chairman of the Senate intelligence committee as federal investigators probe his sale of millions of dollars in stock shortly before US markets crashed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Burr and his wife sold up to $1.7m worth of shares on February 13, shortly before markets tanked.

Donald Trump’s administration has hit back at accusations by Rick Bright, who until recently headed up the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, that senior officials ignored the threat of coronavirus and pushed hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment despite a lack of evidence that it works. The US health department denied that others in the administration did not take the virus seriously in its early days, calling that claim “bizarre and false”.

Cruise, the SoftBank-backed autonomous vehicle unit of GM, is axeing nearly 8 per cent of its workforce as coronavirus grounds the testing of self-driving cars in most of California. The news comes about a month after Zoox, a rival, cut about 10 per cent of its staff. Cruise’s full-time staff is between 1,600 and 1,900 people.

Delta Air Lines is retiring all Boeing 777 jets in its fleet, taking up to a $1.7bn charge, because it expects demand for international air travel to recover more slowly than for domestic flights. The Atlanta-based company operates 18 of the double-aisle aircraft among its 874-strong main fleet and 442 regional jets. The airline has already parked 650 jets temporarily, such as those pictured at the airport in Birmingham, Alabama, and will retire its MD-88s and MD-90s within six months.

BBC television shows EastEnders and Top Gear will return to production by the end of next month, the public broadcaster has said, after nearly all filming stopped when the government imposed a lockdown in March. Actors will ensure they are socially distanced from each other, and will apply their own hair and make-up.

France will impose a 14-day quarantine on travellers arriving from Spain in response to a similar quarantine Madrid announced Tuesday that would apply to almost all arriving travellers. A French government spokesman said Paris would enforce the reciprocal measure for the same length of time the Spanish government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez imposed its own.

The European Commission has suspended the import of 10m Chinese face masks after two countries complained about defects in previous batches sent to deal with the coronavirus crisis. The EC raised the possibility of legal action after the Netherlands and Poland rejected the face coverings they received during the international scramble for personal protective equipment.

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