Stocks mostly lower, but trim losses

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock indexes are down slightly in midday trading on Wall Street Monday, as the market takes a pause following its best month in decades.

Airline stocks had the market’s sharpest losses after famed investor Warren Buffett said he’d dumped all his shares in the four biggest U.S. carriers.

Another ramp up in tensions between the Trump administration and China also weighed on markets around the world.

But a continued rally for big tech stocks helped limit the losses, and the S&P 500 nearly erased its early-morning loss. It was down 0.3% shortly before noon, Eastern time. 


J.Crew files for Chapter 11 as pandemic chokes retail sector

NEW YORK (AP) — The owner of J.Crew is filing for bankruptcy protection, the first major retailer to do so since the pandemic forced the closing of most stores in the United States.

More retail bankruptcies are expected in coming weeks with the doors of thousands of stores still locked.

March sales at stores and restaurants had their most severe plunge on records dating back to 1992.  Clothing sales fell more than 50% that month and it has grown worse.

The abrupt closure of stores threatens the overall health of the U.S. with consumers driving 70% of all economic activity in the country.

The company said Monday that it anticipates its stores will reopen when it’s safe to do so.


Meatpackers cautiously reopen amid virus fears

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota pork processing plant took its first steps toward reopening after a virus outbreak among workers that was one of the worst in the nation.

Smithfield Foods shuttered its Sioux Falls plant for over two weeks because of a coronavirus outbreak that infected over 800 employees.

Two departments opened Monday at the plant.

Meat processing plants across the country are cautiously reopening after President Donald Trump’s executive order last week classified them as critical infrastructure. Workers, farmers and meat-eaters alike are watching to see if new safety measures will be enough to prevent the types of outbreaks that have torn through the workforce of many plants. 


US to rein in flood of virus blood tests after lax oversight

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration is pulling back a policy that has allowed scores of coronavirus blood tests to reach the U.S. market without first providing proof that they worked.

The move Monday follows criticism by doctors, lab specialists and others who say the lack of oversight has created a Wild West of unregulated tests.

Under the new policy, companies with tests kits for sale will be required to submit information on their test's accuracy within 10 days.

The blood tests are designed to show who has had a coronavirus infection in the past and may have some immunity.


World leaders pledge billions for vaccine research

BRUSSELS (AP) — World leaders have pledged billions of dollars to help fund research into a coronavirus vaccine and to develop new treatments and better testing.

The pledges totaled 7.4 billion euros, just short of the target, but more money could be announced in coming days. Officials say the funding is just the start, as much more will be needed in coming months to scale up production and distribution.

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres says the money being sought Monday was merely a “down-payment” and that five times that amount may be needed in the long term. 


Two more counties allow many businesses to reopen

YUBA CITY, Calif. (AP) — Two more counties in Northern California have allowed many businesses to reopen in defiance of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s orders intended to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Yuba County and adjacent Sutter County on Monday followed last week’s move by Modoc County amid pressures to restart California’s economy even as hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 continue.

Newsom’s six-week-old order requires nearly 40 million residents to remain mostly at home.

Businesses not deemed essential were ordered closed until COVID-19 testing, hospital and death rates indicate the state outbreak is beginning to ease. Millions have been unable to work.


Dubai world’s fair postponed

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A Paris-based body says Dubai’s Expo 2020 world’s fair will be postponed to Oct. 1, 2021.

Members of Bureau International des Expositions had been voting on the requested delay over the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, the bureau said a required two-thirds of the countries in the organization had voted to approve the delay, meaning it would be granted.

The announcement came just hours after police in Kuwait dispersed what they described as a riot by stranded Egyptians unable to return home amid the pandemic. The development was the first reported sign of unrest from the region’s vast population of foreign workers who have lost their jobs over the crisis. 


Norwegian Air shareholders agree to rescue deal

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A majority of shareholders in low-cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle has approved a plan to rescue the company by swapping their equity for debt, in a move required to get state loan guarantees. The chairman said it led to “the birth of a new Norwegian.”

More than 96% of shareholders approved the swap, which effectively wipes out their shares but can ensure the company’s survival.

The Oslo-based airline has in recent years offered cheap flights from Europe to the United States and has been hit hard by the virus outbreak.

The shareholder swap means the company will likely access Norwegian government guarantees worth $290 million.


Ferrari slashes 2020 earnings forecast

SOAVE, Italy (AP) — Luxury sports carmaker Ferrari has slashed its full-year earnings guidance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But it acknowledged Monday that the new outlook assumes a sharp recovery in the second half of the year.

CEO Louis Camilleri said the lowered guidance assumes that 75% to 100% of the lost earnings will be booked during the second quarter. It says it has not received significant numbers of order cancelations. The company said it does not model the possible risks of a severe second wave of infections.

Ferrari issued its first-quarter earnings as it resumed production after a seven-week halt. 


Johnson & Johnson settles West Virginia pelvic mesh lawsuit

CHARLESTON, W. Va. (AP) — West Virginia has reached a $3.9 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson in a lawsuit over the company's marketing of a surgical mesh used to treat pelvic conditions in women.

State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed a consumer protection case against the company in September. Morrisey said Johnson & Johnson misrepresented the risks and effectiveness of the medical implant.

The federal Food and Drug Administration stopped sales of the synthetic mesh in April 2019. Many women have sued the company alleging the mesh caused severe pain, bleeding and infection from the products.