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The S&P 500 fell more than 1 percent.

Stocks dip as jobless claims rack up.

U.S. stocks followed European markets lower on Thursday as investors considered data revealing a sharp contraction in the eurozone economy and another surge of jobless claims in the United States.

The S&P 500 was down more than 1 percent in early trading. European markets fell about 2 percent after a rally in Asia.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 had gained nearly 3 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. A steady climb has lifted the S&P 500 by more than 31 percent since its March 23 low.

This news was also a boon to Chinese drugmakers that make some of the ingredients in Gilead’s drug.

Broader positive sentiment was on display in commodities markets, too, as the price of oil continued a rally after Norway, a major , 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.


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Macy’s plans to reopen all of its stores within six weeks.

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Credit…Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

Macy’s plans to reopen 68 of its stores on Monday in states with looser restrictions for nonessential businesses, and another 50 on May 11, the company said in an email on Thursday.

The beleaguered company, which also owns Bloomingdales and Bluemercury, expects that all 775 of its locations will be reopened in six weeks based on state and local guidelines and if infection rates decline as projected, Macy’s , Jeff Gennette, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

The company made the announcement the same week that documents from Simon Property Group, the country’s biggest mall operator, outlined plans to reopen 49 shopping centers between Friday and Monday. Macy’s said that roughly one-fourth of the stores it plannned to reopen on Monday were in Simon malls.

In an online presentation, Macy’s said that its stores must meet certain requirements to reopen. The stores must be “financially attractive” and have “minimum viable staffing.” They must also meet certain health and safety standards, including staff training on new health and safety routines, as well as enough sanitation supplies and sneeze guards installed.

Europe will pay banks to lend money amid a deep downturn.

To counter a deep economic decline, the European Central Bank said Thursday it would effectively pay banks to lend money as it vowed to do whatever was necessary to counteract the economic impact of the coronavirus.

Under certain conditions, the central bank will allow commercial banks in the eurozone to borrow at a rate of minus 1 percent provided the money is passed on to businesses and consumers. The negative interest rate means that banks do not need to pay back all of the money that they borrow.

Christine Lagarde, the of the E.C.B., said at a news conference Thursday that the eurozone economy could decline by as much as 12 percent this year. The downturn is “unprecedented in peacetime,” she said.

The central bank also said in a statement Thursday that it was prepared to further increase its purchases of government and corporate bonds, a form of money printing intended to keep market interest rates low and make it easier for businesses and consumers to get credit.

The central bank had previously earmarked more than 1 trillion euros, or $1.1 trillion, for asset purchases. But the bank said Thursday it is prepared to raise that sum “as much as necessary and for as long as needed.”

Consumer spending plunged in March but April could be worse.

Consumer spending collapsed in March as the coronavirus pandemic put millions of Americans out of work and forced tens of millions more to stay home instead of going out and spending.

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Spending fell 7.5 percent from February, by far the biggest drop in the six decades that records have been kept, the Commerce Department said Thursday. The biggest previous decline was 2.1 percent in 1987. (Adjusted for inflation, spending fell 7.3 percent, also a record.)

Figures for April could be even worse. Layoffs and business closures did not hit until late March in many places, whereas nearly the whole country has been under some form of lockdown for most of April. Many forecasters think spending could fall at an annualized rate of 40 percent or more in the second quarter, even if some businesses begin to reopen in May and June.

With consumer activity responsible for more than two-thirds of the country’s economic performance, that would probably lead to the worst drop in economic output since World War II.

Incomes, too, fell in March, though not as sharply as spending. Overall personal income declined by 2 percent. Wage and salary income fell by 3.1 percent as layoffs and cuts in hours rippled through the economy. Business owners fared even worse; so-called proprietor’s income, derived from partnerships and other mostly small businesses, fell by 8.2 percent.

Still, the slightly milder decline in incomes could be a silver lining for the economy: Americans are saving more. “At least households have the means to boost consumption a little when the lockdowns ease,” economists at Capital Economics wrote in a note to clients.

Another 3.8 million file unemployment claims, overwhelming the states.

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The American economy continues to stagger under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, with another 3.8 million workers filing for unemployment benefits last week.

The figures announced Thursday by the Labor Department bring the number of workers joining the official jobless ranks in the last six weeks to more than 30 million, and underscore just how dire economic conditions remain.

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 did not even try because they found the process too formidable.

“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.”

Europe suffers its worst slump since World War II.

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, 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.

The Fed will expand its program to bolster midsize businesses.

The Federal Reserve on Thursday said it planned to expand its effort to lend directly to midsize businesses through its Main Street Lending Program.

The program, which the Fed first announced on March 23, is part of the central bank’s broader push to keep credit flowing into the economy. The Fed has yet to give a start date for the program.

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Fed officials had previously provided an outline of how the Main Street program might work, but went back to the drawing board after receiving more than 2,200 comments from banks, businesses and individuals recommending tweaks. Now, the Fed will make loans as small as $500,000 — down from a minimum of $1 million previously — and expand eligibility requirements so that bigger companies can qualify.

The revision also creates a new program category that will allow riskier companiesto gain access to the Fed-supported loans.

American Airlines takes a $2.2 billion loss, and other earnings reports.

American Airlines reported a loss of $2.2 billion in the first quarter of the year, a damaging but expected blow in an industry rocked by the pandemic. The company ended the quarter with $6.8 billion in cash on hand and planned to increase that to $11 billion by the end of June, a recognition that the downturn will be prolonged.

“Never before has our airline, or our industry, faced such a significant challenge,” the company’s chief executive, Doug Parker, said in a statement.

Here are the other big companies that reported earnings on Thursday:

  • Twitter said 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 by 27 percent from March 11 to March 31.

  • ConocoPhillips said it was cutting production by 35 percent after posting $1.7 billion loss in the first quarter. The company, the largest of oil and natural gas in the United States, generated $1.6 billion in cash from its operations in the quarter and was in better financial shape than other oil companies.

  • Comcast saw its biggest jump in broadband subscribers and now has nearly 27 million . But it also saw one of its biggest declines in video, with more than 388,000 people cutting their TV subscriptions. Advertising, which includes its NBCUniversal division, dropped more than 2 percent, and its theme parks business plummeted 27 percent.

  • Kraft Heinz, which has struggled in recent years as consumers steered clear of its packaged foods, reported on Thursday that first-quarter sales surged 3.3 percent to $6.2 billion as shoppers stocked up on Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Heinz ketchup and Planters nuts.

  • The maker of Lysol, Reckitt Benckiser, reported a surge in sales for the first quarter of 2020. Revenue was up 13 percent over the period a year earlier. The company also said it saw strong demand for its Mucinex and Norofen cold and pain relief medicines.

  • Dunkin’ Brands, one of the world’s largest fast-food restaurant companies, reported that sales plunged 19 percent at Dunkin’ Donuts and 23 percent at Baskin-Robbins in the last three weeks of March.

  • 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 with $6 billion in profit in the period a year earlier.

More companies return small-business loans.

A California citrus grower returned its federal stimulus loan on Thursday, adding to the more than 25 public and private companies that have given back their funds amid public outcry.

Limoneira Company, an agribusiness that grows lemons, citrus, avocado and other produce, said in a securities filing that it would give back the $3.61 million loan it received from City National Bank. The flood of returns from firms that have received forgivable Paycheck Protection Loans comes after the federal government said it did not believe that large public companies with access to other capital should take the money.

Companies that returned loans:

Hallmark Financial Services

Energy Services of *

Source: Company reports and securities filings.·Note: *Indicates partial return. Not all companies that may have returned loans may be reflected here. Figures have been rounded.·By David McCabe

Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.

  • Tapestry, the company that owns the brands Coach and Kate Spade, said it would open about 40 of its stores in North America on Friday for “contactless curbside or storefront pickup.”

Reporting was contributed by Jack Ewing, Stanley Reed, Kate Conger, Ben Dooley, Nelson D. Schwartz, Alexandra Stevenson, Sapna Maheshwari, David McCabe, Edmund Lee, , Matt Phillips, Ben Casselman, Jason Karaian, Niraj Chokshi, Neal E. Boudette, Steve Lohr and Mike Isaac.

  • Updated April 11, 2020

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

    • When will this end?

      This is a difficult question, because a lot depends on how well the virus is contained. A better question might be: “How will we know when to reopen the country?” In an American Enterprise Institute report, Scott Gottlieb, Caitlin Rivers, Mark B. McClellan, Lauren Silvis and Crystal Watson staked out four goal posts for recovery: Hospitals in the state must be able to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization, without resorting to crisis standards of care; the state needs to be able to at least test everyone who has symptoms; the state is able to conduct monitoring of confirmed cases and contacts; and there must be a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • How does coronavirus spread?

      It seems to spread very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can be carried on tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out. It may also be transmitted when we touch a contaminated surface and then touch our face.

    • Is there a vaccine yet?

      No. Clinical trials are underway in the United States, China and Europe. But American officials and pharmaceutical executives have said that a vaccine remains at least 12 to 18 months away.

    • What makes this outbreak so different?

      Unlike the flu, there is no known treatment or vaccine, and little is known about this particular virus so far. It seems to be more lethal than the flu, but the numbers are still uncertain. And it hits the elderly and those with underlying conditions — not just those with respiratory diseases — particularly hard.

    • What if somebody in my family gets sick?

      If the family member doesn’t need hospitalization and can be cared for at home, you should help him or her with basic needs and monitor the symptoms, while also keeping as much distance as possible, according to guidelines issued by the C.D.C. If there’s space, the sick family member should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom. If masks are available, both the sick person and the caregiver should wear them when the caregiver enters the room. Make sure not to share any dishes or other household items and to regularly clean surfaces like counters, doorknobs, toilets and tables. Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently.

    • Should I stock up on groceries?

      Plan two weeks of meals if possible. But people should not hoard food or supplies. Despite the empty shelves, the supply chain remains strong. And remember to wipe the handle of the grocery cart with a disinfecting wipe and wash your hands as soon as you get home.

    • Should I pull my money from the markets?

      That’s not a good idea. Even if you’re retired, having a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds so that your money keeps up with inflation, or even grows, makes sense. But retirees may want to think about having enough cash set aside for a year’s worth of living expenses and big payments needed over the next five years.

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