Real estate is a cheek-by-jowl business, methodical by design, lumbering until the final, crowded contract signing. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed that weakness, and practically overnight, the industry has been forced to rethink the entire model.
The number of video tours of listings from March 15 to March 30 was almost twice as many as in the two-and-a-half months prior, according to StreetEasy, the listing site. But virtual tours are a poor substitute for the real thing, said Frederick Warburg Peters, the chief executive of Warburg Realty.
Those who brave the market now could get some of the best deals in years, with near-record low mortgage rates. Prices in New York real estate have been sliding since the peak of the market around 2016, and buyers in contract are already aggressively renegotiating prices, agents said.
Stay-at-home orders have disrupted more than in-person showings. Every part of the home-buying process has gotten more complicated: moving, appraisals and signing the physical stacks of paperwork still required by law to close a deal.
Because New York still requires “wet ink” — original signatures on important documents — lawyers and title agents have had to be creative. Closings can now be held, in part, in two idling cars in a parking lot, with one party signing papers and passing them through the passenger side window of the recipient.
Stocks fall as investors regroup ahead of earnings season.
U.S. stocks slipped on Monday, a retreat that followed Wall Street’s best weeks in decades, as investors weighed the implications of a deal to cut oil production and awaited the release of quarterly earnings reports from corporate America.
The S&P 500 fell about 1 percent. Major European markets were closed for the Easter holiday.
Investors on Monday were sifting through the implications of a number of developments over the long weekend. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other major oil countries said on Sunday that they would trim output to put a floor under crude oil prices, and shares of energy companies like Marathon Oil and Apache Corp. were higher even as crude oil futures were slightly lower.
Monday’s decline came after the S&P 500 had rallied more than 12 percent last week, as investors took heart in signs of progress in the fight against the coronavirus and expansive new measures from the Federal Reserve to help ensure that companies and local governments can have access to credit markets.
But the recent optimism will be tested as big companies report earnings for the first three months of the year.
Analysts expect that S&P 500 companies will report a 10 percent drop in profits for the first quarter of 2020, compared to the same period last year. But that will only be the start of a prolonged period of declining profits — known as an earnings recession — that is expected to last for at least a year, according to data from Refinitiv.
Earnings for the second quarter are expected to be even worse, dropping more than 20 percent. But if commentary from companies about the coming quarter are particularly dire, those expectations could be revised sharply lower, potentially setting off another stumble in a stock market that has shown signs of stabilizing.
A rally in shares of e-commerce giant Amazon and a jump in shares of Netflix helped lead the technology heavy Nasdaq index higher.
Amazon plans to begin letting third-party sellers send more items to its warehouses later this week after several weeks of limiting shipments of nonessential products, the company said on Monday.
Amazon is also hiring more workers to move the products through its vast logistics operations. Facing increased customer demand and lower attendance at its warehouses, Amazon said it planned to bring in as many as 75,000 new workers in addition to the 100,000 it has already hired recently.
In mid-March, Amazon stopped accepting shipments for items it deemed low priority, like toys, so that the company could more quickly restock the supplies of “high demand” products like groceries and medical supplies. In late March, it began easing the restrictions on an item-by-item basis, and later this week, it will open up the warehouses to most products, though with some limits on quantity. The change was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Amazon’s stock was up more than 6 percent, putting it close to its record high.
Ford and 3M team up to make respirators.
Ford Motor Company and 3M said they would begin producing powered air-purifying respirators at a Ford facility near Flat Rock, Mich., the latest in a series of corporate partnerships that America’s biggest automakers have forged to manufacture medical gear.
In a call with reporters on Monday, the companies said they initially planned to produce 100,000 or more respirators and were “focusing” on a time frame of late April, May and June. The products would be distributed through 3M’s sales network in the United States, they said.
Mike Kesti, the global technical director of 3M’s personal safety division, said 3M factories had been running full out since January, and that the partnership with Ford would provide an “infusion of fresh energy.”
Ford said it was also collaborating with Joyson Safety Systems to produce reusable gowns from airbag materials, as well as providing manufacturing support to help Thermo Fisher Scientific expand its production of coronavirus testing kits. It had also begun manufacturing face masks for internal use and pursuing certification for their medical use.
Ford has already begun producing face shields at its Plymouth-Michigan plant, and is planning to begin manufacturing ventilators in collaboration with GE Healthcare beginning next week.
Trump’s trade adviser says the shutdown could be more deadly than the virus.
Peter Navarro, the White House trade adviser who was among the first to warn President Trump about the potential economic damage from the coronavirus, is now warning that a prolonged shutdown could pose a more dire long-term health threat to the United States than the virus itself.
“It’s disappointing that so many of the medical experts and pundits pontificating in the press appear tone-deaf to the very significant losses of life and blows to American families that may result from an extended economic shutdown,” Mr. Navarro said in an interview with The New York Times.
In memos that he wrote in January and February that circulated in the West Wing, Mr. Navarro warned that the coronavirus was a crisis that could inflict trillions of dollars in economic damage and take millions of lives.
Mr. Trump has been criticized for being slow to heed such warnings. In recent weeks, the president’s economic advisers have clashed with his health experts over how to balance containing the virus and mitigating the economic fallout. Mr. Navarro, a protectionist who has been known to engage in heated debates with the free traders in the administration, has been locked in heated debates with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, whose pronouncements about measures needed to slow the spread of the virus have begun to frustrate Mr. Trump’s allies.
In a tweet on Monday, Mr. Trump said a decision on when to reopen the economy “will be made shortly!”
Condé Nast will cut salaries and reduce work hours.
Condé Nast, the most glittering of all magazine publishers, is the latest media casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.
Roger J. Lynch, the chief executive of the company behind Vogue, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, sent a memo on Monday to 6,000 employees around the world to inform them of an austerity plan that includes pay cuts, furloughs and possible layoffs.
The salaries of those earning $100,000 or more — just under half the company — will be reduced 10 to 20 percent for five months, starting in May, the memo said. The salaries of executives in the senior management team, including Anna Wintour, the artistic director and Condé Nast’s best-known figurehead, will be cut 20 percent. In addition, Mr. Lynch said he would forgo half his salary.
The company plans to establish three- or four-day workweeks for some employees in markets such as Britain and the European Union, “in particular where government programs and stimulus packages can help supplement employees’ earnings,” Mr. Lynch wrote in the memo.
Condé Nast is not directly asking for government money but is instead exploring the use of relief programs and stimulus packages in certain regions for furloughed or laid off employees.
The virus has transformed how we spend our money.
Airlines and movie theaters are hurting. Grocery stores and streaming services are raking it in. As the coronavirus profoundly alters daily life in America, among the most immediate effects of the crisis are radical changes to how people spend their money.
A New York Times analysis of data from Earnest Research, which tracks and analyzes the credit card and debit card purchases of nearly six million people in the United States, provides a strong snapshot of the impact of the virus on the economy. At some companies, like Walmart, Amazon and Uber Eats, purchases have spiked. But the customers of many other businesses have simply disappeared, the data shows.
How people spend determines which companies survive and who has a job. In recent weeks, more than 16 million workers in the country have filed for unemployment. Government data on how the shift in spending played out in March is expected to be released this week. With no end to the outbreak in sight, consumer spending is likely to be fundamentally different for many months to come.
SoftBank expects a nearly $17 billion hit.
SoftBank warned investors on Monday that the value of its tech fund may have dropped as much as $16.7 billion over the last fiscal year, a surprise announcement that came as the coronavirus rocked a portfolio already weakened by losses on big bets like WeWork.
SoftBank has used its $100 billion purse to make huge wagers on companies like WeWork and Uber that it thought could fundamentally remake industries, drive out competitors and generate gigantic profits.
But in a statement posted to its website, SoftBank said that it anticipated that the fund would record a loss of 1.8 trillion yen (about $16.6 billion) for the fiscal year that ended in March “due to the deteriorating market environment.”
The loss will be partially offset by revenue from SoftBank’s other businesses, with the company saying it expects to end the year 1.35 trillion yen in the red — its first annual loss in 15 years.
While the coronavirus has been devastating for many companies, SoftBank’s investments in tech companies that provide services like ride sharing and hotel booking have made it particularly vulnerable to the economic disruptions caused by the pandemic.
In October, the company pledged almost $10 billion to bail out WeWork after its highly anticipated initial public stock offering fell apart over accusations of mismanagement. In March, SoftBank’s bet on the satellite start-up OneWeb went bad when the company announced that it had filed for bankruptcy and planned to sell itself.
SoftBank said last month that it would sell $41 billion dollars of its assets to shore up its cash position and finance an $18 billion investment in its own shares.
A major meat plant is closing indefinitely.
Smithfield Foods said Sunday that its Sioux Falls, S.D., plant, one of the nation’s largest pork-processing factories, would remain shut indefinitely after a number of employees were infected with coronavirus.
It came after Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota said on Saturday that nearly 240 workers at the plant had tested positive for the virus — about half of the state’s cases.
Many meat-processing plants have been hit hard by the virus. Three workers have died at a Tyson Foods poultry plant in Camilla, Ga. Tyson also shut a pork plant in Iowa after an outbreak there among workers. JBS USA, the world’s largest meat processor, confirmed the death of one worker at a Colorado facility and shuttered a plant in Pennsylvania for two weeks.
In a statement announcing the closing, Smithfield’s chief executive warned that the closings are threatening the U.S. meat supply. The shuttered plant produces about 4 percent to 5 percent of the country’s pork, Smithfield said.
Catch up: Here’s what else you need to know.
The day after oil-producing nations agreed to the largest-ever production cut, oil prices briefly jumped at the start of trading but eventually lost their gains. West Texas Intermediate, the main U.S. benchmark, fell about 2 percent to $22.65 a barrel. As large as the cut is — 9.7 million barrels a day, beginning in May, reflecting about 10 percent of global output during normal times — many traders and analysts have said it is insufficient and too late to avoid a huge glut of supplies in the current quarter.
Ford Motor said on Monday that it expects to report a loss of $600 million before interest and taxes in the first quarter as its wholesales of vehicles fell 21 percent compared to a year earlier. The company reported a profit of $2.4 billion before interest and taxes in the first quarter of 2019.
Reporting was contributed by Stefanos Chen, Karen Weise, Ana Swanson, Ben Dooley, Stanley Reed, Niraj Chokshi, Edmund Lee, Vanessa Friedman, David Gelles, Lauren Leatherby, David Yaffe-Bellany, Vikas Bajaj, Michael Corkery, Matt Phillips, Mohammed Hadi, Clifford Krauss, Katie Robertson and Carlos Tejada.