FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian shares higher after jobless data snaps Wall St rally

UNDATED (AP) — Shares advanced in Asia today, with Tokyo's Nikkei 225 closing at its highest level since late February.

The Nikkei gained 0.4% to 22,790.65 after opening lower. he Hang Seng in Hong Kong surged 1% after authorities showed restraint as thousands of people defied a police ban to join a candlelight vigil Thursday marking the 31st anniversary of China’s crushing of a democracy movement in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

India's Sensex rose 0.6% and the Kospi in South Korea jumped 1.4%. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 picked up 0.1%.

Shares also rose in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

Yesterday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 lost 0.3% to 3,112.35 after being on track earlier in the day for its longest winning streak since December. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose less than 0.1%, to 26,281.82, and the Nasdaq composite fell 0.7% to 9,615.81.

ECONOMY-JOBS REPORT

Another huge blow to US workers expected in May jobs report

WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s workers likely suffered another devastating blow in May, with millions more jobs lost to the viral pandemic and an unemployment rate near or even above 20% for the first time since the Great Depression.

Economists have forecast that the U.S. government will report that employers shed 8.5 million more jobs last month on top of the 21.4 million lost in April.

A figure that large would raise the total losses since the coronavirus intensified in March to nearly 30 million — more than triple the number of jobs lost during the entire 2008-2009 Great Recession.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-LIVELIHOODS LOST

Despite reopening, some jobs lost to virus are gone for good

BANGKOK (AP) — Factories and stores are reopening, economies are reawakening – but many jobs just aren’t coming back.

That’s the harsh truth facing workers laid off around the U.S. and the world, from restaurants in Thailand to cleaning workers in Kenya and car factories in France.

Their livelihoods have fallen victim to a virus-driven recession with long-lasting impact.

New U.S. jobless figures Friday are expected to show millions of people whose wages are disappearing. And that means less money spent to support surviving businesses, with repercussions across economies rich and poor. 

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MALARIA DRUGS

Study on safety of malaria drugs for coronavirus retracted

UNDATED (AP) — Several authors of a large study that raised safety concerns about malaria drugs for coronavirus patients have retracted the report. They say independent reviewers were not able to verify information that’s been widely questioned by other scientists.

Thursday’s retraction in the journal Lancet involved a May 22 report on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, drugs long used for preventing or treating malaria but whose safety and effectiveness for COVID-19 are unknown.

Even though the Lancet report was not a rigorous test, the observational study had huge impact because of its size, reportedly involving more than 96,000 patients and 671 hospitals on six continents.

The drugs have been controversial because President Donald Trump repeatedly promoted their use and took hydroxychloroquine himself to try to prevent infection after some White House staffers tested positive for the virus. The drugs are known to have potential side effects, especially heart rhythm problems.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-UNEMPLOYMENT FRAUD

COVID: Washington unemployment fraud might be $650 million

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington state officials say they believe they have recovered about half of the hundreds of millions in unemployment benefits paid to criminals who used stolen identities to file claims during the coronavirus pandemic.

Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine says officials are still working to determine the final amount paid out fraudulently, but they believe it was between $550 million and $650 million. To date, the state has recovered $333 million.

A West African fraud ring using identities stolen in prior data breaches, such as the massive 2017 Equifax breach, is believed to be behind the fraud, which has targeted nearly a dozen states. That’s according to California cybersecurity firm Agari.

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS-HACKING ATTEMPTS

Google: State-based hackers targeted Trump, Biden campaigns

BOSTON (AP) — Google says state-based hackers have targeted the campaigns of both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, although it saw no evidence that the phishing attempts were successful.

The company confirmed the findings after the director of its Threat Analysis Group, Shane Huntley, disclosed the attempts Thursday on Twitter.

Huntley says a Chinese group known as Hurricane Panda targeted Trump campaign staffers while an Iranian outfit known as Charming Kitten had tried to breach accounts of Biden campaign workers. Such phishing attempts typically involve forged emails with links designed to harvest passwords or infect devices with malware.

Google says it sent targeted users “our standard government-backed attack warning” and referred the incidents to federal law enforcement.

NEW ZEALAND-LOCKHEED PLANE PURCHASE

New Zealand military buys 5 Lockheed Hercules planes for $1B

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand's military says it will buy five Super Hercules transport planes from Lockheed Martin for $1 billion.

The planes will replace the military's existing fleet of Hercules, all of which are more than 50 years old and have been involved in a series of embarrassing breakdowns over recent years.

Defense Minister Ron Mark says the new planes will be used for operations in New Zealand, the South Pacific and Antarctica. He says the new planes will be able to carry a bigger payload as well as travel farther and faster than the current fleet. Lookheed Martin is based in Bethesda, Maryland.

WEED KILLER-COURT RULING

Federal court rejects EPA approval of widely used herbicide

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court in California has ruled that the federal government must revoke its approval of a widely used weed killer that has damaged other crops and turned neighbor against neighbor in some farm communities.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Dicamba is used on tens of millions of acres of soybeans and cotton nationwide but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday “its toxicity is not limited to weeds."

Companies that make dicamba were licensed in 2016 and the Environmental Protection Agency renewed the license for two years in 2018. The approval involved a newer version designed to be sprayed on genetically modified soybeans and cotton.

Environmental and food safety groups had sued to block approval.