Stocks Are Unsteady as Pandemic’s Grip Tightens: Live Business Briefing

  • Wall Street followed global markets lower on Friday, heading for its fourth consecutive weekly decline as investors continued to weigh new hopes for an agreement between the White House and lawmakers over a pandemic relief package against rising cases of the coronavirus and fresh evidence of its economic impact.

  • The S&P 500 fell 0.2 percent at the start of trading Friday, after having climbed 0.3 percent the day before. European indexes fell by more than 1 percent lower. In Asia, the Nikkei in Japan ended the day 0.5 percent higher, while the Shanghai Composite in China lost 0.1 percent.

  • The S&P 500 has fallen about 2 percent this week, and more than 9 percent from its Sept. 2 record. A drop of 10 percent would put the index into what is known as a correction on Wall Street — a label used to acknowledge that a long-term decline is underway.

  • European stocks have also mostly tumbled this week after a surge in coronavirus cases has led several European governments to mandate tighter restrictions, further clouding the timeline for a recovery. On Friday, the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 was trading more than 4 percent below last week’s close.

  • News in Washington offered some respite on Thursday. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he and Speaker Nancy Pelosi had agreed to resume talks on another economic relief package. The remarks moved markets higher.

  • But at the same congressional hearing, the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, underscored the need for fiscal support. Without more help, “we’ll see sooner or later, probably sooner, that the economy has a hard time sustaining the growth that we’ve seen — that’s the risk,” Mr. Powell said.

Credit…Lindsey Wasson/Reuters

Impresa Aerospace, a parts supplier to Boeing, filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, citing a “perfect storm” created by the global grounding of the 737 Max and the pandemic’s effect on commercial aviation.

In its filing, Impresa, which has nearly 150 employees, said that Boeing was the company’s largest customer and that the Max program “is (or was)” Impresa’s largest source of revenue. Most of the company’s growth from 2016 to 2019 was fueled by preparation for production of the Max, which Boeing had projected would reach 57 planes per month this year.

Instead, after two fatal crashes, the Max was grounded worldwide in March 2019 and will likely remain so until at least this winter. The pandemic’s toll on air travel has led airlines to retrench, dealing another blow to Boeing, which has lost more than 900 net orders for planes this year and has a backlog of just over 4,000. Boeing suspended 737 production in January and said in July that it expected to reach a rate of 31 per month by 2022.

“The effects of the 737 Max grounding and the Covid-19 pandemic have been particularly acute because of the nature of the commercial aerospace supply chain,” Impresa said in the filing.

Impresa has long-term agreements with Boeing and others, but orders are not guaranteed. As a result, the company is on the hook for $10 million of materials that it no longer needs and that it doesn’t expect to be able to pay. Twin Haven Capital Partners, a private equity firm that is the majority owner of Impresa, offered to buy the company out of bankruptcy for $10 million, according to the filing.

  • The European Commission said on Friday that it would appeal a July court ruling that struck down an order forcing Apple to pay more than 13 billion euros in back taxes to Ireland, home to the company’s European headquarters. The court defeat was a setback for European regulators who have acted aggressively against Silicon Valley companies. Led by Margrethe Vestager, the top antitrust official in the European Union, the commission has accused Apple of receiving unfair tax treatment in Ireland in violation of European Union laws. Apple and Ireland have said the arrangement was within the law.

  • Costco reported a 14.1 percent increase in comparable sales for the quarter that ended on Aug. 30, excluding gas and currency effects. The company’s sales jump is nearly twice as high as the spring quarter, when Costco struggled to keep items in stock after the virus struck and Americans rushed to buy groceries, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies. The company reported profit of about $1.4 billion, compared with roughly $1.1 billion during the same period last year.

Credit…Spencer Platt/Getty Images

As workers return to offices in greater numbers, managers face this inevitable situation: An employee tests positive for Covid-19, possibly…

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