Forex News

Dollar hit by month-end fixing

What you need to know on  Friday,May 1st:

  • Most markets will remain closed amid the celebration of Labour Day. The US will work as normal, as the country celebrates it in  a different date.
  •  The ECB had a monetary policy meeting, and made minor twists to its current policy, as it left rates unchanged while easing TLTRO conditions, by reducing interest rates between June 2020 and June 2021. It also announced a new lending program, meant to support the economy through the pandemic. President Lagarde acknowledged the EU is going an unprecedented contraction and that the Union’s GDP may fall between 5%-12% this year.
  • EU’s Q1 GDP came in at -3.3%, worse than anticipated. Nevertheless, the EUR/USD pair surged to 1.0972, ending the day not far below this last. The dollar sold-off ahead of London close amid month-end fixing. GBP/USD also surged to flirt with monthly highs in the 1.2640 price zone.
  • The USD/JPY jumped to 107.30, despite Wall Street closed in the red. US data disappointed with 3.84M people filing for unemployment last week, and personal spending plunging by 7.5%.
  • Gold edged lower settling around $1,690 a troy ounce. WTI jumped ahead of the close and finished the day at $19.00 a barrel.
  • Crypto Today – Retracement phase in full flow after yesterday’s impressive rally

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Online Jobs

AL Dept. of Labor Launches New Free Online Jobs Database Website Amidst 400k+ Unemployment Claims


More than 400,000 Alabamians have filed for unemployment during the past six weeks as businesses were ordered to close during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Alabama Department of Labor says the latest numbers show 75,000 new claims were filed alone last week. 

The Alabama Department of Labor has announced its new free online jobs database. has replaced the Alabama-Job-Link website. The new website will offer the same services in addition to some new, innovative services. Users will now be able to install the mobile application on any android or Apple device to keep track of their accounts. Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington says this website offers new ways for employers to connect with job seekers. Those who have existing Job-Link accounts will still be able to log in using their same login information.

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Latest sports news: Is Cincinnati rushing the Joe Burrow experience? – The Philadelphia Inquirer

The best way to handle the situation would’ve been easing Burrow into the job around the midway point of the season. If Dalton struggled, Burrow would have seen his mistakes, learned from them, and been better prepared. Think of guys like Jared Goff, Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield in recent years. Goff and Mahomes became Pro Bowlers in year two after watching mostly as rookies, and Mayfield took over after three games into his rookie season and went 6-7.

Health News

How accurate is the US coronavirus death count? Some experts say it’s off by ‘tens of thousands’

The novel coronavirus has already claimed the lives of more than 61,000 Americans. But experts fear that number could be far higher at this point in the outbreak — perhaps by tens of thousands — once the pandemic subsides enough for officials to go back and make a true reckoning of the dead.

Experts are urging leaders to take measures right now to preserve data and medical specimens so that science has the chance to determine the precise number of people who succumbed during one of the most severe global pandemics in memory.

“Under-counting deaths in this particular epidemic is happening all over,” said Dr. Daniel Lopez-Acuna, an epidemiologist and former top World Health Organization official, who spent 30 years at the organization. “It’s almost inevitable.”

Tune into ABC at 1 p.m. ET and ABC News Live at 4 p.m. ET every weekday for special coverage of the novel coronavirus with the full ABC News team, including the latest news, context and analysis.

Calculating the precise number of COVID-19 deaths is remarkably complicated for a number of reasons. But leading epidemiologists, pathologists, medical examiners, medical history professors and local, state, federal and global health officials told ABC News that more testing is the single most important factor in determining an accurate national death count.

“We need to have the testing available because the big question now with COVID-19 is the denominator — of anything,” said Dr. Alex Williamson of the College of American Pathologists. “How many people get it? How many people recover? How many are hospitalized? How many died? We don’t know the true denominator. More testing is the most important thing we need to do.”

Ongoing testing kit shortages in cities and states nationwide means that only clearly symptomatic patients are currently being tested in many places. There also is no uniform national system in the U.S. for investigating deaths, and until two weeks ago, the U.S. was only counting Americans who lab-tested positive, before or after death, for COVID-19.

Left out of the tally are people who died without being tested and those who died at home or some other non-healthcare facilities before they could seek medical care.

“It is an extraordinary challenge,” said Dr. Sally Aiken, president of the National Association of Medical Examiners. “There just isn’t really the infrastructure.”

Further undermining an accurate national count are new analyses that suggest the virus was spreading in the U.S. much earlier than previously believed, likely playing a role in more deaths than currently known.

California’s first known COVID-19 death to date was Patricia Cabello Dowd, 57, in Santa Clara County. Dowd died on Feb. 6 of heart complications, which were later determined to have been unleashed by the COVID-19 virus. Dowd’s death — in which an autopsy obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle listed a heart rupture “due to Covid-19 infection” — came three weeks before the earliest previously identified American coronavirus-related death.

New data on cardiac arrest emergency calls reviewed by ABC News suggests that New York City’s catastrophic outbreak likely began in close-knit neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn as far back as mid-February.

Finally, as the cardiac arrest data suggested, scientists are contending with an ever-evolving understanding of how COVID-19 attacks the body. Initially, it was believed to primarily attack the lungs, but new research suggests it’s a danger to nearly every organ.

Experts say that many people like Dowd, who died of a nonrespiratory COVID-19 complication early in the outbreak — before the pandemic’s impact became apparent — may never be accurately counted.

The confusion and complications inherent in tracking pandemics have left a weary nation wondering just how high the actual U.S. death count may be — and how bad things really are.

Less than 2% of all Americans have been tested for the coronavirus to date, according to White House figures — nearly 5.5 million people. It’s a figure that experts say is both higher than most nations and far lower per capita than where the U.S. should be at this point.

U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health and White House “testing czar” Admiral Brett Giroir told George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America” on Tuesday that the Trump administration doesn’t concur with a Harvard University study which concluded last week that the U.S. needs to be testing 5 million people a day in June and up to 20 million by July in order to safely re-open the country.

“We don’t believe those estimates are accurate, nor are they reasonable, ” Giroir said.

Yet either way, that testing is still mostly focused on the living. Experts told ABC News that an accurate death toll is not only important to later get a better picture of what happened, but if possible, real-time or near real-time death counts can also help public health officials in their battle to contain the virus now.

History: A chilling guide

Researchers retrospectively calculate overall deaths from a pandemic by studying excess deaths year-to-year in a given region. But that’s a difficult figure to gauge until a pandemic is over.

Previous studies of other recent virus outbreaks suggest the actual number of COVID-19 deaths to date is very likely dramatically higher than the more than 60,000 deaths currently reported.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analysis of the H1N1 swine flu virus outbreak in the U.S. in 2009 and 2010 concluded two years later that the actual tally was likely 15 times higher than the officially recorded figures. A 2013 study by the U.S. National Institutes of Health determined the figure was seven times higher than the official count.

What to know about coronavirus:

  • How it started and how to protect yourself: Coronavirus explained
  • What to do if you have symptoms: Coronavirus symptoms
  • Tracking the spread in the U.S. and worldwide: Coronavirus map
  • But scientists said that the current coronavirus pandemic is of an entirely different magnitude.

    “I’ve never – none of us have ever – seen an infection like COVID-19, that literally stopped the world,” said Williamson.

    While most news organizations rely on the Johns Hopkins University figures, which are pulled directly from state and local government websites and are considered more timely picture of the problem, the National Center for Health Statistics, a branch of the CDC, is the primary agency responsible for U.S. health statistics, which are compiled by collecting data on births, deaths and health surveys.

    Due to the lack of a uniform U.S. system, the NCHS system lags about two weeks behind in reporting said, Dr. Robert Anderson, chief of mortality statistics.

    Daniel Weinberger, an epidemiologist from the Yale School of Public Health, analyzed NCHS death count data to estimate how many COVID-19 deaths may have gone uncounted during the five-week period from March 1 to April 3.

    He concluded the official death toll in the U.S. is “probably a substantial underestimate of the true number by tens of thousands.”

    The actual figure, he said, may be “in the ballpark of double the reported cases.”

    Given the still-looming threat to the U.S., researchers are urging municipalities to maintain as much detailed data about COVID-19 records as possible.

    With patchwork of reporting protocols, a ‘pipe dream’ to gauge actual death toll

    As the pandemic rages across all 50 states and around the globe with no uniform reporting protocol in place, experts said the official death count is hard to even estimate.

    “One of the difficulties is that every state does things differently,” said William Hanage, an epidemiologist at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “When I look at the data, I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Okay, this is Oklahoma. What kind of modifier am I adding to that to figure out what’s going on here?’ It would be incredibly helpful not to have to do that.”

    He’s doubtful that a uniform national death count reporting process is possible anytime soon.

    “It’s a bit of pipe dream,” he said.

    And that’s before taking into account the ways other countries count their own death tolls.

    “Even now if you’re comparing reporting among different countries, you’ve got to ask, ‘Are they reporting only deaths in hospitals? Only people they are sure had COVID? Which test did they use? What about deaths occurring elsewhere – in nursing homes and at home? Are they being counted?’”

    COVID-19-related deaths in non-hospital settings — largely nursing home deaths and deaths at home — are also fueling revised death counts in some U.S. regions and nations around the world.

    As many as half of the COVID-19 deaths in Europe may have come from nursing homes, Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional European director, said in a press briefing last week. When France added nursing homes to its tally, the nation’s death count spiked 40%, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    While the U.S. is not currently counting nursing home deaths nationally, it’s estimated that thousands have died from or with COVID-19 complications in these facilities across the U.S. Last week ABC News reported that based on the reporting of 28 states, the death toll in long-term care facilities has already surged past 10,000.

    Yet it was also only last week that the CDC began the laborious process of preparing to incorporate nursing home deaths into its overall death count. The agency issued a notification saying it would soon begin requiring that nursing homes report communicable disease deaths promptly to federal authorities. It’s unclear when the U.S. will begin including those figures in its national death count.

    On April 14, the CDC directed all U.S. states and territories to begin counting suspected as well as lab-confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

    Officials in some states have said they’ll adhere to the new CDC guidelines, but “each state has their own laws, which sometimes takes time,” said Janet Hamilton, executive director Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE).

    In mid-April, New York City released its first death count to include suspected — not just lab-confirmed — cases. That metric accounted for at-home deaths. The revised city figures, which added 3,700 deaths, drove up the nationwide death count by 17%.

    Last week, scientists at Yale School of Public Health published a scholarly paper, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, that estimated that the actual death count in New York and New Jersey could be up to three times higher than the official tally of confirmed COVID-19 deaths or deaths that would be expected normally this time of year with respiratory diseases.

    “Some states, such as Florida and Pennsylvania, might have missed deaths early on and might be under-counting deaths by a substantial degree currently,” the Yale scientists concluded. “Other states, like Washington, have an accurate estimate of the mortality burden of the pandemic virus due to intense testing,” the paper said. “And in states that have been hit hard by the pandemic virus, such as New Jersey and New York, the total excess mortality burden is 2-3 times that ascribed to COVID-19 in official statistics.”

    ’The golden question’

    Many U.S. states remain too overwhelmed by the outbreak or too short on supplies to perform postmortem COVID-19 testing.

    Yet experts say localities’ inclusions of suspected cases in their death counts is vital going forward.

    “It is critical to include both the probable and the confirmed cases so we have the full picture of the impact,” said Hamilton, of CSTE. Failure to do so, she said, “would be a failure of our public health system.”

    Even those areas that can include probable and suspected COVID-19 deaths face challenges due to how little we yet understand about the disease, and how long the dead may carry it.

    “Post-mortem, we don’t know how long the [COVID-19 diagnostic] test is valid for after death,” said CAP’s Williamson. “If a person is not found in their house for five days, does the COVID-19 test still work? We don’t really know the answer to that.”

    There are two main types of death investigations in the U.S.: medical examiner autopsies and hospital-based autopsies.

    Medical examiners are the most rigorously trained forensic pathologists in the death investigation field — but even they do not have uniform national reporting protocols for COVID-19 deaths.

    The CDC first introduced a common code to list COVID-19 as a cause of death on U.S. death certificates on March 24, followed by formal guidance on April 3, but the guidance will take time to take root nationwide, experts said.

    Beyond a shortage of testing that is forcing hospital officials to prioritize testing of live patients over the deceased, many hospital pathologists remain wary of conducting autopsies during the pandemic because of all that is still unknown about the coronavirus, according to ABC News interviews around the nation.

    Even swabbing the nose of a corpse could potentially re-introduce the virus into the air surrounding the body, pathologists said — urging their colleagues to only conduct such testing in the proper settings.

    One pathologist who spoke with ABC News on the condition of anonymity said a recurring theme online among prominent U.S. academic pathologists is that due to a limited, evolving understanding of how the virus spreads, shortages of personal protective equipment and limited autopsy rooms with appropriate precautions in hospitals, many pathologists “are scared to do the autopsies” for fear of being infected.

    Yet postmortem samples and tissue can be preserved until more testing is available.

    “You can freeze the nasal pharyngeal swabs and test them later,” Aiken said. “And medical examiners and coroner’s draw blood for toxicology. Eventually that blood could be used for antibody testing. So even though the lab tests are limited now, in the long run, they may be able to determine if deaths are COVID-19 related.”

    The final factor that undermines a complete COVID-19 death count, according to experts, is that many if not most of the people who have died had at least one additional underlying chronic medical condition that contributed to the deaths – particularly obesity, diabetes and hypertension.

    But which factor actually caused the death?

    “That’s the golden question: who died with COVID-19, and who died of COVID-19,” Williamson concluded. “That’s what we still don’t know.”

    ABC News’ Josh Margolin and Lee Ferran contributed to this report.

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    Online Jobs

    AL Dept. of Labor Launches New Free Online Jobs Database Website Amidst 400k+ Unemployment Claims – Tv24


    More than 400,000 Alabamians have filed for unemployment during the past six weeks as businesses were ordered to close during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Alabama Department of Labor says the latest numbers show 75,000 new claims were filed alone last week. 

    The Alabama Department of Labor has announced its new free online jobs database. has replaced the Alabama-Job-Link website. The new website will offer the same services in addition to some new, innovative services. Users will now be able to install the mobile application on any android or Apple device to keep track of their accounts. Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington says this website offers new ways for employers to connect with job seekers. Those who have existing Job-Link accounts will still be able to log in using their same login information.


    Brazil’s president wants soccer to return amid pandemic

    SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro wants to see soccer competitions start back up again soon despite the country’s high number of coronavirus cases, arguing Thursday that players are less likely to die from COVID-19 because of their physical fitness.

    Bolsonaro is one of the few world leaders that still downplays the risks brought by the coronavirus, which he has likened to “a little flu.”

    Most soccer tournaments in Brazil were suspended on March 15. The Brazilian championship was scheduled to begin in May, but that looks unlikely as the country has become Latin America’s coronavirus epicenter with more than 5,900 deaths. Doctors say the peak of the pandemic is expected to hit within two weeks.

    “There is a lot of people in soccer that are favorable to a return because unemployment is knocking on clubs’ doors too,” Bolsonaro said in an interview with Radio Guaiba. “Footballers, if infected with the virus, have a small chance of dying. That’s because of their physical state, because they are athletes.”

    Brazil’s president said his new health minister will issue a suggestion that games return without any fans in the stadiums, but he acknowledged many players might be reluctant.

    “The decision to restart soccer is not mine, but we can help,” Bolsonaro said, adding he has spoken with Gremio coach Renato Portaluppi about the issue and was told that players are still worried about the virus.

    Neighboring Argentina has already canceled the rest of the 2019-2020 season because of the pandemic. France also decided to end the season, declaring Paris Saint-Germain as league champion on Thursday.

    Brazil’s soccer confederation said in a statement on Tuesday that competitions should return “whenever it is possible, with safety and health care assurances for all those involved.”

    Earlier Thursday, the sports body sent Bolsonaro’s health ministry suggestions of the steps that need to be taken before a restart, but it did not reveal details.

    A director at Sao Paulo FC, 1994 World Cup winner Raí, said his club is against resuming play during the pandemic. He also called for Bolsonaro’s resignation because of his “irresponsible” management of the crisis.

    “We want to return in the proper time, in accord with recommendations, and gradually,” Raí told GloboEsporte.


    More AP soccer: and

    Copyright © 2020 . All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

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    Health News

    Coronavirus Today – April 30 – North Carolina Health News

    Coronavirus Today – April 30 – North Carolina Health News

    Read our Coronavirus Coverage Here













    World News

    Coronavirus latest: at a glance – The Guardian

    Key developments in the global coronavirus outbreak today include:

    Global death toll passes 232,000

    The total number of coronavirus deaths across the world has reached at least 232,817, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has tracked the spread of the virus during the pandemic.

    The US has the highest number of deaths with at least 63,763, followed by Italy with 27,967.

    Trump claims Covid-19 originated in Chinese lab

    Asked by a reporter whether he had seen anything that gives him a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the origin of the virus, Donald Trump responded: “Yes I have.”

    The US president said he could not say why he believes the virus came from the lab, adding that China either could not stop the spread of the virus, or let it spread. Trump declined to say whether he holds the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, responsible for what he deems is misinformation.

    Germany eases lockdown measures

    Germany is to reopen museums, galleries, zoos and playgrounds, and allow religious services to resume, in measures agreed by the chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the leaders of 16 federal states.

    This will take place under strict conditions. Certain states have already allowed some of these activities to restart, but measures on people keeping physical distance from each other will stay in place.

    Large-scale public gatherings will remain banned until the end of August.

    Brazil sees record 7,218 new cases

    Brazil reported a record 7,218 confirmed new cases of coronavirus, raising the total to 85,380. The death toll rose by 435 to 5,901, the health ministry said.

    There has been outrage in the country over the approach of the far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has previously attacked what he termed the “hysteria” over Covid-19.

    Russian prime minister diagnosed with coronavirus

    The Russian prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin, has said he has been diagnosed with coronavirus and will self-isolate from the government, in the country’s highest-profile case of the disease yet.

    Mishustin disclosed that he was infected during a video call with Vladimir Putin, Russian state news agencies reported on Thursday evening.

    It was unclear how severe Mishustin’s case of the disease is, although one news agency reported that he had an elevated temperature of 39 degrees.

    New York subway to close nightly for cleaning

    For the first time in decades, New York will no longer be “the city that never sleeps”. The governor, Andrew Cuomo, along with New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, announced a partnership that will halt train services every night from 1am to 5am for disinfecting and cleaning.

    New York state had more than 300,000 confirmed cases of the virus and 18,000 deaths as of midday Thursday.

    Portuguese football to return on 30 May

    Portugal’s government has announced the country’s football league, the Primeira Liga, can resume behind closed doors from 30 May.

    The prime minister, António Costa, said: “The games will be played behind closed doors, with no spectators in the stands, whatever the stadium, be it a league match or the Portuguese Cup final.”

    Costa earlier announced his strategy to progressively lift lockdown measures imposed six weeks ago.

    The three-phase plan, starting on Monday, will open up different sectors of the economy every 15 days starting with small neighbourhood shops, hairdressers, car dealerships and bookshops.

    Eurozone records 3.8% slump

    The head of the European Central Bank has warned that the eurozone could be on course for a 15% collapse in output in the second quarter as evidence of the economic toll caused by Covid-19 pandemic started to emerge, with France and Italy falling into recession.

    After news that the 19-nation monetary union area had contracted a record 3.8% in the first three months of 2020, Christine Lagarde said much worse was possible in the April-June period, when the impact of lockdown restrictions would be most severe.

    Five Australian defence personnel test positive

    Five Australian defence force personnel have tested positive for Covid-19 after contracting it in the Middle East.

    The five people are asymptomatic and have arrived back in Australia. They were tested after a number of local contractors became infected with the virus.

    Another resident dies at Australian care home

    Another resident of Anglicare’s Newmarch House in western Sydney has died from Covid-19.

    Anglicare said the resident died yesterday afternoon, bringing the total number of Covid-19 deaths at the care home to 13.

    There are now at least 37 residents and 22 staff members who have contracted the virus at the home.

    World News

    Coronavirus: US intelligence debunks theory it was ‘manmade’

    File photo of US coronavirus test

    Image copyright

    The US intelligence community has determined Covid-19 “was not manmade or genetically modified”, though it is still investigating the virus’ origins.

    The National Intelligence chief’s office said agencies are looking into whether the outbreak began from animal contact or a laboratory accident.

    President Donald Trump later suggested he had seen evidence the virus came out of a Chinese laboratory.

    China has rejected the theory and criticised the US response to Covid-19.

    What did the intelligence chief say?

    The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees US spy agencies, said on Thursday it concurs with the “wide scientific consensus” regarding Covid-19’s natural origins.

    “The [intelligence community] will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”

    The virus was first detected in Wuhan, China. There are now over 3.2 million cases worldwide and more than 231,000 deaths.

    Thursday’s statement is the first clear response from US agencies debunking conspiracy theories – both from the US and China – about the virus as a purported bioweapon.

    The idea that the coronavirus could have inadvertently leaked from a laboratory has not yet been disproven.

    What did President Trump say?

    Taking questions at the White House on Thursday, Mr Trump stoked this theory.

    He was asked by a reporter: “Have you seen anything at this point that gives you a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the origin of this virus?”

    The president replied: “Yes, I have. Yes, I have. And I think the World Health Organization should be ashamed of themselves because they’re like the public relations agency for China.”

    He added: “Whether they [China] made a mistake, or whether it started off as a mistake and then they made another one, or did somebody do something on purpose?

    “I don’t understand how traffic, how people weren’t allowed into the rest of China, but they were allowed into the rest of the world. That’s a bad, that’s a hard question for them to answer.”

    The New York Times reported on Thursday that senior White House officials have asked the US intelligence community to investigate whether the virus came from a Wuhan research laboratory.

    Intelligence agencies have also been tasked with determining if China and the WHO withheld information about the virus early on, unnamed officials told NBC News on Wednesday.

    What’s the background?

    Mr Trump has recently been escalating his war of words with China over the pandemic after what officials within the US president’s administration had described as a truce with Beijing.

    On Wednesday, he suggested China wanted him to lose his re-election bid in November.

    Mr Trump has often blamed China at briefings, accusing its officials of covering up the virus early on and saying they could have stopped the disease from spreading.

    He has similarly criticised the WHO and withdrawn US funding for the global body.

    China’s Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, has accused the Trump administration of trying to distract from its own problems tackling the crisis.

    A ministry spokesman has also repeatedly promoted the idea – without evidence – that Covid-19 might have originated in the US.

    According to the Washington Post, the Trump administration is looking into ways to punish China financially. Discussions reportedly include allowing the US government to sue China for damages or cancelling debt obligations.

    The US-China propaganda war

    This is the first definitive statement on the matter from US intelligence agencies. It rejects the most extreme of the conspiracy theories about the pandemic’s origins – that the Chinese developed and un-leashed the coronavirus as a bioweapon.

    But it doesn’t rule out the possibility that the virus was accidentally leaked from a Wuhan laboratory studying infectious diseases.

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in particular has talked up that scenario, urging China to let outside experts into the facility, and raising questions about lab safety in other parts of the country. The Chinese government says any such allegations are unfounded and fabricated out of nothing.

    Claims and counterclaims about the origins of the virus are part of a propaganda war over China’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

    But they also reflect US frustration with the Chinese for not sharing more data about how the pandemic developed.

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    Business News

    Jeff Bezos tells shareholders to ‘take a seat’ as company manages Covid-19

    Net income for the quarter fell nearly 31% from the same period in the prior year to $2.5 billion, or $5.01 per share. Wall Street analysts had projected quarterly income of $3.15 billion.

    Amazon (AMZN) shares dipped around 4% in after hours trading Thursday following the company’s earnings report.

    CEO Jeff Bezos warned shareholders that the June quarter could also be challenging for the online retail giant’s finances, as the company plans to reinvest billions of dollars into managing coronavirus.

    “If you’re a shareowner in Amazon, you may want to take a seat, because we’re not thinking small,” Bezos said in a release. “Under normal circumstances, in this coming Q2, we’d expect to make some $4 billion or more in operating profit. But these aren’t normal circumstances. Instead, we expect to spend the entirety of that $4 billion, and perhaps a bit more, on COVID-related expenses.”

    He said the company plans to use those funds to to invest in personal protective equipment, enhanced cleaning and make other adjustments to its fulfillment centers. The company has been criticized in recent weeks by employees who say they fear that going to work at Amazon warehouses endangers their health.
    Bezos also said the company will be spending money on getting products to customers. Amazon has experienced massive online shopping demand as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. During the quarter, the company hired more than 175,000 fulfillment workers to help handle the jump in orders, and Bezos said Amazon is continuing to hire.

    However, Bezos added: “I’m confident that our long-term oriented shareowners will understand and embrace our approach, and that in fact they would expect no less.”

    Handling a spike in sales

    While Amazon experienced massive order volume during the quarter, the costs of handling it amid the pandemic meant those sales didn’t translate to major profits. Operating income during the quarter fell 43% in the company’s North America segment and turned to a loss in the international segment.

    In addition to the costs of growing its fulfillment staff, the company also raised pay for hourly employees, which will cost the company nearly $700 million as of May 16, Amazon said in its Thursday release.

    Much of the demand was for lower-margin household items such as cleaning products and toilet paper, rather than for “discretionary products” like apparel and technology goods, which also weighed on profits. In mid-March, the final month of the quarter, Amazon temporarily restricted the kinds of products that could be sent to its warehouses to essential goods such as household and cleaning supplies.

    “We think that still was the right course of action and as we add capacity, we’re trying to resume more normal operations as far as the shipping of non-essential items” and shipping times, Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky said on an analyst call Thursday.

    The effects of covid-19 on cloud

    At $10.2 billion, revenue from Amazon’s cloud business, Amazon Web Services, was essentially in line with analysts’ expectations, and up 33% from the prior year.

    AWS drives much of Amazon’s profits.

    As with its cloud peers Google (GOOGL) and Microsoft (MSFT), the move for many people to working and attending school remotely as a result of coronavirus may have been a boon to AWS, since cloud infrastructure is key to many work-from-home experiences.

    However, the economic crisis caused by the pandemic may also mean fewer companies spending on enterprise services such as cloud.

    Bucking the trend on advertising

    Advertising has been a growing piece of Amazon’s business in recent years, and that continued during the quarter.

    Revenues from Amazon’s “other” division, which consists mostly of advertising sales, grew 44% to $3.9 billion.

    The gains came in stark contrast to slowdowns in ad sales for other internet giants, including Google. The advertising business is often closely tied to the economy, and companies pulled back on ad spending as the fallout from coronavirus grew.

    But Amazon’s ad business was likely helped by the fact that so many people visited the site to stock up on goods during the quarter, Tom Forte, senior research analyst with financial services firm D.A. Davidson, told CNN Business.

    “I think the Amazon advertising business is going to grow through this or take a lot of share,” Forte said.

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