Twitter’s usage surges in an unprofitable quarter.
Twitter said on Thursday that it had an unprofitable quarter for the first time in more than two years, even as more users rushed to the platform. The company lost $8.3 million in the first quarter, breaking a profitability streak that started at the end of 2017.
Advertising revenue dropped substantially from March 11 to March 31, dipping 27 percent, as shelter-in-place orders were issued in the United States and advertisers cut their spending, the company said. Twitter’s revenue was $808 million in the quarter, a 3 percent increase from the prior year and above analyst estimates of $776 million.
Daily active users grew 24 percent from the previous year to 166 million, the highest growth rate Twitter has ever reported.
Eurozone growth slumps as unemployment rises.
The eurozone economy shrank 3.8 percent during the first three months of the year while unemployment rose, as official data confirmed that the bloc is in the midst of its worst downturn since the common currency was introduced in 1999.
Economic output in France and Spain slumped more than 5 percent during the quarter — declines not seen since the end of World War II, according to official statistics from those countries. Lockdowns did not begin until March, near the end of the period covered by the report, suggesting that data for the quarter that began in April could be even worse.
Unemployment in the eurozone rose to 7.4 percent in March from 7.3 percent in February, interrupting a recovery that had been underway since the low point of the eurozone debt crisis in 2013.
In France, Germany and many other countries, employees are on government subsidized furloughs and do not count as unemployed. The jobless rate is almost certain to rise further as airlines, carmakers and other large corporations lay off workers in reaction to plunging sales.
Inflation in the eurozone fell to 0.4 percent in April from 0.7 percent in March as oil prices plunged. The rate is the lowest since 2016. But prices for food, alcohol and tobacco surged.
After Tesla’s profit plummets, Elon Musk calls California’s lockdown ‘fascist.’
Tesla on Wednesday reported a steep drop in net income in the first quarter compared with the previous quarter, as the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the electric-car maker’s operations in the United States and China, its two largest markets.
Elon Musk, the company’s chief executive, said the company would continue to face difficulties as long as it was forced to keep its plant in Fremont, Calif., closed under the state’s stay-at-home order.
“We are a bit worried about when we will be able to resume production in the Bay Area,” Mr. Musk said on a conference call with reporters.
He went on to say the stay-at-home order was “fascist” and amounted to “forcibly imprisoning people in their homes against all their constitutional rights.”
“They’re breaking people’s freedoms in ways that are wrong and are not why people came here or built this country,” he said.
California imposed the lockdown in March and required all nonessential businesses to close. But Tesla told employees at the Fremont plant to report to work unless they were sick, or to take vacation days if they stayed at home. The local sheriff’s office forced the company to obey the state order and close the plant.
Tesla’s plant in Shanghai has resumed production.
On Wednesday, the company reported $16 million in net income for the first three months of the year, a drop of 85 percent compared with the fourth quarter. Revenue in the quarter totaled $6 billion, a 20 percent drop from the previous quarter.
Tesla declined to offer guidance for the second quarter because of the uncertain economic and public health outlook. The company’s shares surged 10 percent after the market closed.
European stocks are mixed after a rally in Asia.
European markets were mixed on Thursday, after a positive day for Asian stocks. Investors were weighing an assortment of negative signals — including data showing a sharp contraction in the eurozone economy — as well as optimism that an experimental drug could be used to treat Covid-19.
Futures trading pointed to a slightly higher open on Wall Street on Thursday.
The rally in Asia was a continuation of a strong day on Wall Street on Wednesday, when the S&P 500 gained 2.7 percent, lifted by news that the drugmaker Gilead Science had seen early results that its experimental drug remdesivir could speed recovery in patients infected with the coronavirus.
This news was also a boon to Chinese drugmakers that make some of the ingredients in Gilead’s drug.
Chinese markets rallied after data about the services sector for the month of April was firmer than expected. But other data still underscored the gap in demand for Chinese-made products overseas.
In the Asia-Pacific region, investors were more bullish before the start of a long holiday weekend. In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 jumped 2.1 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite gained 1.3 percent, while stocks in Shenzhen were up 1.9 percent. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.7 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is closed for a holiday.
Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 rose 2.4 percent.
Broader positive sentiment was on display in commodities markets, too, as the price of oil continued a rally after Norway, a major oil producer, said that it would limit production, something that will lift sagging prices. The price of the U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, jumped 16 percent to $17.53, while Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose more than 12 percent to $25.31 a barrel.
The price of gold also rallied.
The yield on United States 10-year Treasuries fell to 0.61 percent.
Millions more jobless claims are expected to be reported on Thursday.
The number of new unemployment claims each week has been declining. But as the American economy continues to stagger under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, that is scant comfort.
Another grim reckoning is expected Thursday at 8:30 a.m., when the Labor Department reports the tally of claims for last week. The consensus forecast cited by Bloomberg is 3.5 million, though some economists see a number closer to four million.
That would bring the six-week total to the cusp of 30 million jobless claims, despite trillions in stimulus spending and a rush to reopen shuttered businesses in some states.
Many state agencies still find themselves overwhelmed by the flood of claims, leaving perhaps millions with dwindling resources to pay the rent or put food on the table.
If anything, according to many economists, the job losses may be far worse than government figures indicate. A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that roughly 50 percent more people than counted as filing claims in a recent four-week period may have qualified for benefits but were stymied in applying or didn’t even try because they found the process too daunting.
“The problem is even bigger than the data suggest,” said Elise Gould, a senior economist with the institute, a left-leaning research group. “We’re undercounting the economic pain.”
Norway to cut oil production as demand craters.
Norway will cut oil production by 250,000 barrels a day, or about 13 percent, in June and by 134,000 barrels a day for the rest of 2020, the country’s Ministry of Petroleum and Energy said. The move “will contribute to a faster stabilization of the oil market” than leaving matters to market forces, the ministry said in a statement.
Demand for oil has collapsed as the coronavirus pandemic has led to the grounding of most of the world’s commercial aircraft, as well as the sharp curtailment of road traffic. The resulting oversupply of oil threatens to outstrip storage facilities and is forcing oil companies around the world to throttle back production.
Norway’s cuts will add to the 9.7 million barrels a day in cuts that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other nations agreed to on April 12. Tina Bru, the Norwegian energy minister, said that Norway was acting “on an independent basis and with Norwegian interests at heart.”
The move, though, is likely to spark optimism among traders that oil-producing countries are taking more coordinated actions to deal with the glut. The price of Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose by almost 10 percent Thursday to $24.75 a barrel, but it remains down more than 60 percent since the beginning of the year.
The Norwegian government said that the output trims would be “fairly distributed” among oil fields and operators and that the start-ups of several fields would be delayed until 2021.
SoftBank tells investors to brace for bigger-than-expected loss on WeWork.
A little over two weeks ago, SoftBank warned investors to be prepared for its annual earnings results to be a blood bath, as the coronavirus cratered the value of its investments in risky tech start-ups. On Thursday, it said the damage could be even worse than expected, adding an additional $1.4 billion to its expected losses from the deterioration of its WeWork holdings.
The new warning brings the total of Softbank’s anticipated net loss in the fiscal year ending in March to 900 billion yen, or $8.4 billion, adding another asterisk to the reputation of the company’s chief executive, Masayoshi Son, and his goal of becoming an epoch-making tech investor.
Mr. Son has used his enormous influence to position SoftBank as the world’s largest tech investor, deploying his $100 billion Vision Fund to catapult promising and sometimes risky young tech companies, like Uber and the hotel operator Oyo, from obscurity to fame and fortune.
The newly reported figures have been driven down “primarily” by investments made outside of the Vision Fund, including in WeWork, the co-working start-up, SoftBank said in a statement. It said that losses at the company were projected to be in excess of 1 trillion yen.
Earlier this month, the company announced that it expected to take a $16.7 billion write-down on its investments in the Vision Fund, a loss that would be offset by revenue from the conglomerate’s other businesses, including its profitable Japanese telecom company.
The fund’s portfolio, which is heavy on investments in ride-sharing and real estate companies, has been hit hard by plummeting demand for its star companies’ services amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Softbank’s investment in WeWork has metamorphosed from eagle to albatross over the past year, as WeWork’s promising plans for an initial public offering imploded amid accusations of mismanagement and self-dealing.
Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.
Royal Dutch Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, said on Thursday that it would cut its dividend for the first time since World War II as the company reported a loss of $24 million for the quarter compared to $6 billion in profits in the period a year earlier. The company said it was reducing its dividend, which pension funds and other investors rely on for income, by about two-thirds to 16 cents a share, citing the risk of a prolonged period of weak oil prices because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
FedEx said on Wednesday that it would not take federal funds earmarked to pay employees under the CARES Act, one day after UPS announced the same. Lawmakers had set aside $25 billion in grants for passenger airlines and $4 billion for cargo carriers to pay workers, though the Treasury Department later classified a portion of the funds for airlines as a loan.
Reporting was contributed by Jack Ewing, Stanley Reed, Kate Conger, Ben Dooley, Nelson D. Schwartz, Alexandra Stevenson, Niraj Chokshi, Neal E. Boudette, Steve Lohr and Mike Isaac.