Asian shares advance following rebound on Wall Street

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares advanced in Asia on today, lifted by a surge in oil prices and an overnight rebound on Wall Street thanks to a solid showing from big technology companies.

Shares rose in Hong Kong, Sydney and Singapore. Markets in Tokyo, Shanghai and Seoul were closed for a holiday.

A recovery in oil prices was helping drive gains in Asia today as the U.S. benchmark added $1.79, or nearly 9%, to $22.18 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It climbed 61 cents on Monday to $20.39.

Brent crude, the standard for international pricing, picked up $1.58 to $28.78 per barrel.

Yesterday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 ended 0.4% higher, at 2,842.74, after erasing an early loss of 1.2%. The Dow Jones Industrial average edged 0.1% higher to 23,749.76. The Nasdaq composite, which is loaded with technology stocks, rose 1.2% to 8,710.71.


S Korea has low daily increase as sports resume

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea is reporting its lowest daily increase in coronavirus cases since Feb. 18, continuing a downward trend as the country restarts professional sports and prepares to reopen schools.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting three fresh infections today and two more virus-related deaths, bringing national totals to 10,804 cases and 254 fatalities.

After reporting around 500 new cases daily in early March, infections have slowed over the past month amid tightened border controls and waning transmissions in the worst-hit city of Daegu, which reported zero new cases today.

Amid the slowing caseload, officials have relaxed social distancing guidelines and decided to reopen schools in phased steps, starting with high school seniors on May 13.

South Korea’s professional baseball league will begin its new season without fans in the stands on today, while the pro soccer league will kick off under similar conditions on Friday.


California governor says some business may reopen this week

YUBA CITY, Calif. (AP) — With more local governments moving ahead with their own plans for reopening, California Gov. Gavin Newsom says the state will begin gradually allowing clothing stores, florists, bookstores and sporting goods shops to open their doors after a nearly seven-week coronavirus shutdown.

Newsom says the threat of the virus spreading has leveled off to a point where certain retail businesses could again serve customers starting as early as Friday, but with curbside pickups and other restrictions. Requirements for operation won't be released until Thursday and Newsom warns that signs the virus has started spreading rapidly might force him to reimpose tighter restrictions.

On Monday, the state hospital association said California hospitals have lost up to $14 billion by postponing elective surgeries and other procedures to clear space in anticipation of a flood of coronavirus patients that never came.


Meatpackers cautiously reopen plants amid coronavirus fears

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota pork processing plant took its first steps toward reopening Monday after being closed for more than two weeks because of a coronavirus outbreak that infected more than 800 employees.

Employees reporting for work in Smithfield Foods' ground pork department filed through a tent where they were screened for fever and other signs of COVID-19. Some said they felt the measures Smithfield has taken would protect them from another virus outbreak, while others were not confident that infections could be halted in a crowded plant.

Employee Lydia Toby said she was “kind of worried” as she entered the plant before her first shift in more than two weeks. Managers met employees in her department Friday and explained they had installed dividers on the production line and would require everyone to wear masks.


Carnival Cruise Line says it's canceling Alaska sailings

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Carnival Cruise Line is canceling its sailings to Alaska this summer.

The announcement referred only to Carnival Cruise Line and not the other brands under the umbrella of Carnival Corp.

Last month, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line, which also fall under Carnival Corp. announced dramatically reduced sailing plans for Alaska.

Tourism is a major industry in Alaska, with cruise ships bringing large numbers of visitors during the typically busy summer months. The number of people visiting the state on cruise ships went from 480,000 in 1996 to almost 1.4 million last year.


Amazon executive says he quit to protest employee firings

NEW YORK (AP) — An Amazon executive says he quit his job at the online-retail giant to protest the firing of employees who spoke up about the conditions inside the company's warehouses and its record on climate change.

Tim Bray, a vice president at the company, wrote in a blog post that he left his job last week “in dismay" after Amazon fired several workers who publicly criticized the company. He says the firings were “evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture.”

Amazon, which is based in Seattle, declined to comment.

Among those fired was a New York warehouse worker who led a strike last month, pushing Amazon for more protections for workers against the new coronavirus. At the time, Amazon said the worker was fired for not obeying social-distancing rules.

Bray, who worked at Amazon's cloud business for more than five years, says he brought up the firings internally at the company.


Background checks for firearms remain high amid pandemic

UNDATED (AP) — The number of April background checks to purchase a firearm showed Americans flocking to gun stores in high numbers for the second month in a row amid worries about the coronavirus pandemic.

The FBI numbers were released Monday with anticipation, since March smashed previous records with 3.7 million checks conducted. While the numbers leveled off a bit to about 2.9 million checks for last month, the week of April 13-19 is now among the top 10 highest weeks since the system was tracked in November 1998. That week in April alone, the FBI conducted 766,739 checks.

Background checks are the key barometer of gun sales, but the FBI’s monthly figures also incorporate checks for firearm permits that are required in some states. Each background check also could be for the sale of more than one gun.

Fears that gun shops would be closed and that economic downturns would lead to high crime and safety concerns have helped fuel the run on firearms.


Intel buys Moovit app for $900M to boost bet on robotic cars

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Intel is buying transportation-planning service Moovit for $900 million as the world's largest computer chip maker moves further down the road in its effort to build self-driving cars.

The deal announced Monday gives Intel another tool to use in its push to become a major player in the race to create the technology needed to build fleets of taxis that will be able to transport passengers without a human driver behind the wheel.

Moovit, an 8-year-old company based in Israel, makes an app that compiles data from public transit systems, ride-hailing services and other resources to help its 800 million users plan the best ways to get around. Intel plans to combine Moovit with Mobileye, a self-driving car specialist that Intel bought for about $15 billion in 2017.


Deal to sell Victoria's Secret is scrapped

NEW YORK (AP) — Victoria's Secret won't be bought after all.

L Brands, which owns the lingerie seller, says it has agreed to end a February deal that would have sold a controlling stake of Victoria's Secret to private equity firm Sycamore Partners.

Last month, Sycamore Partners sued to get out of the $525 million deal, citing the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the chain to close its stores and lose sales. On Monday, L Brands said the lawsuit with Sycamore Partners was settled.

L Brands, which is based in Columbus, Ohio, says it now plans to spin off Victoria’s Secret into a separate company and focus on running its Bath & Body Works chain.

Shares of L Brands Inc. tumbled 14% in after-hours trading Monday.