Oil prices on track for best month on record

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Sources tell FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo that President Trump’s announcement on China during an expected press conference will be significant.

Oil prices pulled back Friday amid rising tensions between the U.S. and China but remained on track for the biggest monthly advance on record.

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West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the U.S. benchmark, was down 2.08 percent at $33.01 per barrel on Friday, and still on pace to gain 75 percent for the month. WTI’s biggest monthly advance was in September 1990, when it gained 46 percent.

“Demand is rising and production is falling, but China might be the fly in the oil market’s ointment,” wrote Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at the Price Futures Group. Rising tensions between the U.S. and China are causing the oil market to give up their “demand-inspired gains,” he added.

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All 50 states and Washington, D.C., have at least partially reopened after stay-at-home orders designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 removed about 30 million barrels of global oil demand a day.

Prices spiraled as a result of the lost sales, with the slide worsened by a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, two of the world’s largest producers, that led to both countries producing record supply.

WTI plunged below zero for the first time on record last month, causing investors not looking to take delivery to unload their positions at fire-sale prices.

An oil market that was “shocked by negative prices took historic steps” to regain its balance in May, Flynn told FOX Business. “We saw a major drop in global production, US rig count plunged by a record amount and OPEC+, inspired by President Trump, engineered the biggest oil production cut in history.”

The world’s largest producers agreed to remove 20 million barrels of daily production from the market, beginning on May 1, and Saudi Arabia deepened its agreed-upon output cuts by an additional 1 million barrels per day.

As a result, OPEC production plunged by 6.3 million barrels per day to 23.75 million, according to a report released overnight by JBC Energy. In addition, the U.S. oil rig count fell to a record low as drillers reduced output.

Now, demand is showing signs of coming back at a much faster pace than expected, according to Flynn.

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“All of this would suggest that the world is going to see the global oil oversupply start to disappear as long as we don’t take a big step back with another trade war,” Flynn wrote.

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Twitter founder gives $5M for coronavirus relief, UBI promotion

Coronavirus relief money won’t mean much if economy isn’t open: John Boehner

Former Speaker of the House and Congressman John Boehner argues the administration should focus more on reopening the economy and less on relief spending.

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey donated $5 million on Wednesday to former 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang's nonprofit aimed at promoting Universal Basic Income policy.

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The donation is part of Dorsey's commitment to give $1 billion, or 28 percent of his net worth, to coronavirus relief, education for women and basic income experimentation through his company called Start Small. Humanity Forward is giving one-time, and recurring, basic income payments to people and families who stand to be most affected by the coronavirus crisis, according to its website.

Dorsey announced the donation on a Wednesday episode of Yang's podcast, "Yang Speaks."

"We're doing $5 million for Humanity Forward, and…I really appreciate who you are, first and foremost, but also what you're doing," Dorsey said. "I think this idea is long overdue, and I think the only way that we can change policy is by showing case studies of why this works."

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The contribution will go toward Humanity Forward's COVID-19 assistance program in the form of 20,000 individual micro-grants worth $250 each to those affected by the crisis.

Yang thanked the Twitter founder on his podcast and in a press release published Thursday.

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"Not only will Jack’s donation directly impact tens of thousands of people in need during the current economic downturn, it will help Humanity Forward and our movement continue to make a case for [UBI] in the United States. We know UBI for every American is possible, and this $5 million from Start Small is going to help demonstrate what is possible for families across the country," Yang said in a statement.

Dorsey's original $1 billion donation is worth $1.5 billion after he put it into the market and into people's hands, he said on the podcast.

"We did move $200 billion into the [donor advised fund], and they sold it on the market, and we now have $200 million in cash to work with. We've now granted over $86 million of the $200 [million] so far," Dorsey said. He added that only he and his assistant are in charge of moving the funds in an effort to keep the operation small.

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He and Yang went on to discuss their mutual belief that UBI will shape Americans' trust in government and help the overall economy.

"You know, Jack, I believe that [UBI] is essential to a restoration of trust," Yang said. "If society actually invests in you in a real way and says, 'Hey, look, here's money,' then you actually become more trusting and optimistic, where you're like, 'OK. You actually do value me, care about me, you'll invest in me and my future, you'll invest in my kids and my future.' "

Democratic presidential candidate entrepreneur Andrew Yang speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

People can't believe it when they receive money without any strings, the same way Americans were surprised when the Trump administration delivered stimulus checks worth $1,200 to every American as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, he said.

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"No one believed it until it was in their account," Yang said. "There's so much built-up distrust and skepticism that when you actually get that money, it diffuses it."

Dorsey said he is happy to give away some of his wealth, saying that his conception of money has changed over time and he has discovered how much of a difference a little extra cash can make in a person's life.

"Part of gratitude is not just saying, 'I'm grateful,' but actually doing it," he said.

While the idea of universal basic income may seem radical to some, the concept is becoming a more widely accepted idea among U.S. politicians and citizens, particularly after Yang gained popularity as a presidential candidate and campaigned on the controversial idea.

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For beach towns, coronavirus means a make or break summer starts now

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Outdoorsy CEO Jeff Cavins says his RV booking company has seen a huge increase amid coronavirus reopenings.

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OCEAN CITY, Md. — The Dough Roller restaurant's 53-table dining room sits quiet and empty steps from the boardwalk. Proprietor Kevin Gibbs doesn't know when he will be allowed to offer dine-in service or even if the crowds of summers past will return.

And the clock is about to start ticking.

TOURISTS, HIGH-END SHOPPERS SLOWLY RETURNING TO RODEO DRIVE

"I have 110 days to make my money for 365," he said.

From Ocean City to the Jersey Shore to Cape Cod, the window between Memorial Day and Labor Day is make-or-break for hotels, restaurants, arcades and T-shirt shops. On top of potential concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, more than 36 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits, pinching disposable incomes.

In this image made from Saturday, May 16, 2020, video provided by Revolution Event Design & Production, “bumper tables,” created by the company and designed to allow people to practice social distancing while eating and talking, are debuted at Fi

Mayor Rick Meehan says a speedy but safe reopening is vital for this town of 7,000 residents, which can swell to 300,000 visitors on summer weekends. "Just like the rest of the country, we're in an economic crisis right now," he said.

Town officials have eased some restrictions. The beach and boardwalk reopened May 9. Last week, the town allowed hotels and short-term rentals to take guests after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, lifted a statewide stay-at-home order and let retail stores open at half-capacity.

Visitors, many not wearing masks, have hit the boardwalk, where the town blocked off some benches, and signs remind people to keep 6 feet apart.

But under Mr. Hogan's statewide recovery plan, Ocean City fixtures like high-capacity bars and restaurants won't be allowed to operate at prepandemic occupancy levels until there is a widely available coronavirus vaccine or an effective treatment. Neither is expected before summer's end.

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Outdoor dining isn't permitted yet, and Mr. Meehan on Monday sent the governor a letter asking for the authority to let bars and restaurants open their outside areas at 50% capacity. A spokesman for Mr. Hogan said that is part of the next phase of Maryland's gradual reopening, though it isn't clear when that might take effect.

For the hundreds of Ocean City businesses, reopening can't come soon enough, says Susan Jones, executive director of the Hotel Motel Restaurant Association. A "we're ready for you" publicity campaign spotlights stepped-up sanitizing and other health measures. One reason Ms. Jones says she feels optimistic is that the town's wide beach makes social distancing easier.

Adam Showell Sr., majority owner of Ocean City's Castle in the Sand Hotel, said while he expects gross sales to drop, he anticipates typical net income, thanks to a roughly $500,000 forgivable loan under the federal Paycheck Protection Program, deferred mortgage payments, scaled-back renovation plans and loyal guests.

"It was catastrophic two months ago when all this started coming down. I was scared to death. Now I'm definitely optimistic," Mr. Showell said.

A rollerblader skates on the Broadwalk on Hollywood beach, Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in Hollywood, Fla. Broward County started a phased reopening Monday. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The 181-room beachfront hotel is set to reopen Friday, and general manager Adam Showell Jr. said he hopes it to be about half full.

One concern is out-of-town visitors could bring the coronavirus with them to Ocean City, causing an outbreak in an area largely spared by the pandemic so far.

"If we get a spike in cases, we're all in for a rude awakening," said Jeff Hicks, Castle in the Sand's food-and-beverage general manager, taking a break from power-washing patio chairs.

"We just have to mitigate that risk as much as possible," Mr. Showell Jr. replied.

The lobby counter has large Purell dispensers and a bucket-like container that uses ultraviolet light to sanitize room keys. A rack of tourist brochures has been removed, and a sign instructs people not to sit in the chairs. Staff will take employees' temperature daily and spray guest rooms with disinfectant.

Lenny Sawicki, a 64-year-old retiree from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., said he still plans to spend a week in July at the hotel, a family tradition since the early 1990s.

"It's not going to stop us from a vacation," he said of the pandemic.

Marie Ferguson of Towson, Md., said it is far too soon for a beach vacation. She and nine members of her family canceled their weeklong Ocean City condo stay.

"Everywhere you go it's packed," said Ms. Ferguson, 50. "They're not going to wear masks at the beach. It's not going to happen."

On a sunny mid-May afternoon, Egan O'Brien, 48, of Annapolis, Md., relaxed next to Ocean City's mostly empty beach. He said he usually visits several times a summer but doesn't know if he can afford to this year because he lost his restaurant job in the shutdown and now earns less as a grocery store cashier.

Many local businesses are getting ready for whatever is in store. At Bahia Marina, fuel pumps are on and boats can be rented. Fish Tales, its nearly 400-seat restaurant, is open for takeout. Tables and chairs are stacked up in the parking lot in preparation for when reduced outdoor seating is allowed.

"This year is hold-on-to-what-you-got. Our goal is to make it to next year to be able to open up again," co-owner Shawn Harman said. If he can operate Fish Tales at 75% capacity by July, he said, "it won't be a great year, but we'll manage."

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At the Dough Roller, near the foot of the boardwalk, masked cashiers take carryout orders from behind plexiglass. Mr. Gibbs has cordoned off some booths and tables so customers would be able to maintain distance once he can open the dining room, which accounts for 60% of receipts. The restaurant, one of five his family owns locally, also has a small outdoor seating area.

Weak sales this summer will spell trouble not only for his family's restaurants, he said, but for merchants all over town. "It could be a bloodbath here in the winter," he said.

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J.C. Penney files for bankruptcy as coronavirus pushes retailer over edge

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Retailer J.C. Penney filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after the coronavirus pandemic forced stores to shut, the company announced Friday evening, joining J. Crew and Neiman Marcus.

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The stock has lost over 83 percent of its value in the last 12 months as business deteriorated even before the pandemic hit.

Penney’s had been making efforts to revive the business but the coronavirus “created unprecedented challenges,” CEO Jill Soltau said in a statement.

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JCP J.C. PENNEY 0.24 +0.04 +21.24%

The Plano, Texas-based chain’s parent, J. C. Penney Company, said it had entered into a restructuring support agreement with the lenders that hold about 70 percent of its first lean debt. The deal includes terms for financial restructuring designed to cut several billion in debt.

An unspecified number of its stores will close in phases as it looks to shrink its footprint going ahead.

J.C. PENNEY STAVES OFF BANKRUPTCY

Earlier Friday, Penney made a $17 million payment to its lenders. The company had about $500 million in cash as of the bankruptcy filing and it has received commitments for $900 million in debtor-in-possession financing, including $450 million in new money, though the financing still requires court approval.

The restructuring agreement is also designed to help Penney navigate through the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the company said. Penney will continue fulfilling online orders and offering contactless curbside pickup service at its open stores.

“As a result, the American retail industry has experienced a profoundly different new reality, requiring JCPenney to make difficult decisions in running our business to protect the safety of our associates and customers and the future of our company,” Soltau said.

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Many retailers have struggled as the coronavirus forced non-essential workers to stay home while others have thrived including Amazon and Walmart.

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As the retailer works to restructure, it will also continue its efforts to improve margins, reduce inventory, eliminate inefficient spending and invigorate the shopping experience it provides. Before the pandemic hit, the strategy showed some progress with improvement in six of eight merchandise divisions in the second half of 2019.

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“We have a newly refreshed, highly experienced team of retail executives who remain focused on rebuilding our business and restoring financial strength to JCPenney,” Soltau said. “This team has continued to innovate even during these challenging times, implementing substantial improvements to our flagship eCommerce platform to increase efficiency and ensure our loyal customers continue to have access to the products they need through elevated shopping experiences.”

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Amazon may be on the prowl for more Fairway grocery stores

Amazon is once again on the prowl for stores owned by bankrupt grocer Fairway Market, The Post has learned.

After forking over $1.5 million for two of Fairway’s grocery stores in March, the online shopping giant has been kicking the tires at other Fairway locations, including in the Douglaston neighborhood of Queens; in the Long Island town of Westbury and in Harlem, sources told The Post.

“Amazon is sniffing around but nobody knows what their intentions are or what they are doing with the stores they bought,” an owner of an available Fairway store told The Post.

As The Post has previously reported, only seven of Fairway’s 14 stores were sold at the March bankruptcy auction, including two that went to Amazon — in Woodland Park, NJ, and in Paramus, NJ. The Paramus location will be closing for good on Friday.

“We have maintained operations in Paramus following the sale of this location,” Fairway’s chief executive, Abel Porter said in a statement last week. “The closing of the store will allow us to redeploy our limited resources for the remaining seven locations where we continue operations during the court-supervised auction process.”

The Seattle-based retailer has not divulged its plans for the New Jersey stores except to say that they will be supermarkets.

Meanwhile, Village Supermarket, which bought four of Fairway’s Manhattan stores at the March auction, including its flagship store on the Upper West Side, as well as a store in Pelham, Westchester, took over those stores last week.

Village Supermarket, which operates Shoprite stores, paid $76 million for the stores and the iconic Fairway Market brand.

Amazon did not immediately respond for comment for this story.

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Traffic is coming back for first time since mid-March

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OAK PARK, Illinois (AP) — Americans are slowly getting back on the road after hunkering down due to the coronavirus, though the volume of traffic is still well below what it was before many states issued stay-at-home orders.

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Drivers in the U.S. have been more active in the past week than at any time since mid-March, according to an AP analysis of StreetLight Data Inc., an analytics software company that aggregates data from smartphones and other GPS-enabled devices and combines it with information from maps and other sources to provide county-level data on vehicle miles traveled.

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This combination of photos shows, in the top image, light traffic moving along California 110 toward downtown Los Angeles, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The most recent data shows that activity during the seven-day period ending May 8 was 60% higher than the lowest point since the COVID-19 crisis began. However, activity still was down 49% compared to January 2020 and well below what would be expected in the spring under normal circumstances.

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In Minnesota, typical freeway traffic dropped off sharply after the governor issued a stay-at-home order in March. On April 12, Minnesota Department of Transportation data shows traffic in the Twin Cities metro area was 71% lower than it was on the same day a year ago, while statewide traffic was down 66% from a year earlier.

Since then, traffic has been inching up.

Tim Harlow, who covers traffic for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, said he's been going out a couple of times a week to check on his mother, and last week he noticed more traffic during what would typically be rush hour. Department of Transportation data shows May 9 traffic was down 45% in the metro area from a year ago, and down 30% statewide, capping off a week of relaxed restrictions as about 20,000 businesses were allowed to reopen for curbside commerce.

“The data is showing that we are starting to move around a little bit more,” Harlow said. “I think some people are going back to work. I think other people are just kind of getting stir crazy. … We’re Americans — we don’t like to stay home.”

Although some states are easing restrictions, it's not clear exactly why road traffic is on the rise, said Streetlight Data CEO Laura Schewel.

Some people may be lured into their vehicles by nice weather, because there has been a surge in some states that have not officially reopened yet, said Schewel. Farming and other activities that usually pick up in the spring could also be factors.

Schewel said there's a bigger driving uptick in rural counties compared to urban and wealthier areas, where people were more likely to stop driving in the first place. People are leaving home more in areas where food delivery service is unavailable “and the grocery store might be 30 miles away,” she said.

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People are driving less in states that clamped down and are not close to reopening soon. But there aren't large differences in vehicle miles traveled in states without stay-at-home orders or where reopening is happening gradually.

Schewel said the return to driving won’t be as swift as the falloff was in March.

Michigan, Minnesota and Montana are among the states with the largest relative uptick in travel. Other states such as Virginia, New Mexico, Arizona, and Maryland have rebounded the least. But even in states with an increase in movement, the rebound is gradual and differs by county.

In southeast Michigan's Wayne County, a national hot spot for COVID-19, the number of vehicle miles traveled on May 8 was 22.2 million, almost double what it was three weeks before but still a fraction of travel in early March before factories closed and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered nonessential employees to stay home. Vehicle miles traveled were 76.3 million on March 6 and 56.8 million on March 13.

Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw, whose district includes hard-hit Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, said traffic picked up after landscapers, construction workers and others were allowed to return to work, but it’s still unusually light. Crashes also are down, he said although more people are driving too fast and "not paying attention.”

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AAA spokeswoman Jeanette Casselano said increases in gas prices in recent weeks signal rising demand as states reopen or make plans to do so. The greatest volatility has been in the Midwest and South.

“People in smaller metros may have more of a comfort level with venturing out,” Casselano said. But when they drive, she said, they don't go far.

Wynne Anderson, part-owner and service manager of World Auto Repair in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, said his business dropped off 40% to 50% when the virus first hit. Anderson said people didn't know if they were allowed to leave home to take their cars in for repair, or whether those shops were even open.

That’s all changed in recent weeks.

“They’re sitting at home with three cars in the driveway. College has been canceled for their kids, their jobs are working from home. Now they have three cars that need work they could never get to," he said. “Guess what, perfect timing.”

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Demand for coronavirus small business loans fades, here's why

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FOX Business’ Gerri Willis explains how startup accelerators are supporting small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic by providing seed money, mentoring and networking.

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When the federal government first launched its small business aid program at the beginning of April, the $349 billion allocated to the fund dried up within 13 days.

Lawmakers and small business owners warned the same would likely hold true during the second round of funding, which relaunched on April 27, after Congress injected another $310 billion in the forgivable loan program.

But in the second go-around, two weeks after applications for the coronavirus relief money opened up again, there remains plenty of cash left over in the fund.

As of Thursday evening, more than 40 percent of the funds remained available in the Paycheck Protection Progam, an integral part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act. Lenders had approved nearly 2.5 million loans worth more than $185 billion, leaving at least $125 billion remaining, according to data provided by the Small Business Administration.

Part of the cooling demand could stem from a public outcry over big, multimillion-dollar companies tapping the aid that was designed to help small businesses stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

In total, 372 public companies received PPP loans worth a combined $1.23 billion, according to Washington D.C.-based data analytics firm FactSquared. So far, 46 companies have returned the money, or roughly $346.7 million.

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Following the outrage, the Treasury Department tightened the rules over which companies were eligible to access the loans. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also said the department would perform an automatic audit on any company that received a loan worth more than $2 million before forgiving it to ensure the company truly qualified for government-backed aid.

"Before we forgive these loans, we’ll check every single one over $2 million," Mnuchin told FOX Business. "So anybody that took the money that shouldn’t have taken the money, one it won't be forgiven, and two, they may be subject to criminal liability, which is a big deal."

But another reason could be the growing concern among small business owners that the PPP loans simply don't meet their needs. In order for the money to eventually be forgiven by the federal government, owners must spend at least 75 percent on maintaining payroll.

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The remaining 25 percent can be spent on operating costs like rent and utilities, but may not go toward mortgage principal or pre-payments. Money spent on non-qualifying expenses must be repaid at an annual rate of 1 percent within two years. No payments are required during the first six months.

“Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels,” the Small Business Administration said on its website. “Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.”

In some cases, the extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits established by the CARES Act has snarled those efforts, with employees reluctant to forfeit a bigger paycheck and return to work when the risk of contracting the virus remains high.

Small business owners have also cited confusion and uncertainty around the forgiveness process — and are worried about potentially being on the hook for the money.

PPP STILL GRANTING BIG LOANS DESPITE EARLIER CRITICISM

For instance, a business that receives a $100,000 loan must use at least $75,000 on payroll costs if they want the federal government to forgive it. Payroll expenses are capped at $100,000 per employee. The loan amount is based on payroll size before coronavirus-mandated shutdowns caused a surge in layoffs, which could make it more challenging for business owners to spend three-fourths of the aid on workers.

As a result, some banking groups are pushing the SBA and Treasury Department to issue a standard forgiveness form for borrowers and to create a calculator so that every bank produces the same outcome when using the same data, according to Reuters.

“From a banking perspective, we are really acting as a middleman here. We don’t want to carry these loans on our books,” David Pommerehn, general counsel of the Consumer Bankers Association, told Reuters. “We see this as potentially a bigger mess than the funding process."

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Intel buys Moovit app for $900M to boost bet on robotic cars

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Intel is making a move that could lead to involvement in the self-driving car industry.

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The chip maker is buying transportation-planning service Moovit for $900 million.

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This gives Intel another tool to use in its push to become a major player in the race to create the technology needed to build fleets of taxis that will be able to transport passengers without a human driver behind the wheel.

Moovit, an 8-year-old company based in Israel, makes an app that compiles data from public transit systems, ride-hailing services and other resources to help its 800 million users plan the best ways to get around.

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Intel plans to combine Moovit with Mobileye, a self-driving car specialist that Intel bought for about $15 billion in 2017.

Mobileye's revenue has ballooned from $210 million in 2017 to $879 million last year.

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INTC INTEL CORPORATION 57.99 +0.52 +0.90%

“Intel’s purpose is to create world-changing technology that enriches the lives of every person on earth,” said the company's CEO Bob Swan.

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Intel already acquired a stake in Moovit in 2018 when it was among a group of investors who injected $50 million into the startup. Since its inception, Moovit had raised more than $130 million from venture capitalists and other investors.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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Official key art for LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga released – The Sun

AH, it looks like TT Games is using the old Jedi mind-brick to get us all very excited about the upcoming LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga.

Today – of course because it’s May the 4th – it has released some key artwork for the upcoming, ahem, blockbuster. And, as our old pal Darth Vader would rasp it looks “impressive, most impressive”.

The awesome art includes some of the greatest heroes and villains seen throughout the series, from Luke to Leia and Rey to Finn.
Other favourites make an appearance too from little Yoda to that lovable furball Chewbacca – all merged together in iconic Star Wars-poster style.
All nine Skywalker films will feature in the upcoming game and you’ll be pleased to know you can turn to the Dark Side too and play as Darth or Kylo – and if you can handle him, Emperor Palpatine.

Previous screens teased a plethora of backdrops for Star Wars fans to run riot in, including legendary battles and iconic vehicles like the Alliance snow-speeder at the Battle of Hoth.

The desert of Geonosis is another place to explore but this gamer is mostly looking forward to tackling the sticky swamps of Dagobah. And it would seem bounty hunter behemoth Boba Fett pops up too.

Like most LEGO games, TT has promised a tale and experience full of their classic humour and non-stop, brick-bashing action. These games have always been family-friendly so we don’t anticipate any changes there either.

The game will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.

There’s still no confirmed release date but, at the moment, it should be out this year. So it looks like fans will have to try and be patient… (Do. Or do not. There is no try).

 

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga – where to buy it

Pre-order ahead of this year's release date…

  • LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga on PlayStation 4 for £49.99 – order now
  • LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga on Xbox One for £49.99 – order now
  • LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga on Nintendo Switch for £49.99 – order now

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In other gaming news, the superb, souped-up Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered is now available on PS4 and PC.

There’s a drool-inducing new trailer out for Assasin’s Creed Valhalla showing the Vikings slogging it out with the English.

And Nintendo Switch are giving away a free week of Switch online plus loads of retro games.

What do you make of the new LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga key art? Let us know in the comments

 

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Larger companies can apply for Fed’s coronavirus relief program

The US Federal Reserve on Thursday widened a key program to nurse the “Main Street” economy through the coronavirus pandemic, agreeing to lend to even larger firms, taking on more risk in participation with banks, and hinting at some form of dedicated help for nonprofits.

The central bank said it would expand its “Main Street Lending Facility” into three separate programs to support businesses with up to 15,000 employees and $5 billion in revenue compared with an initial program limited to 10,000 workers and $2 billion when it was announced on April 9.

Some 2,200 businesses, individuals and nonprofits had written in with suggestions about how to tailor the Fed’s unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the “real economy.”

The result is a program that will now be open to more firms, and allow more risk-taking. The initial program required banks to hold 5 percent of any loan they made, with the rest coming from the Fed. For companies with more leverage, and thus more risk, the Fed will allow them to participate if banks agree to take on 15 percent.

In addition, the Fed said firms now had to offer assurances they could pay their bills for at least 90 days and would not go bankrupt in that period — a measure of protection that the lending will have an impact.

Firms also have to promise they will make “commercially reasonable efforts” to maintain employees — a change from just the “reasonable efforts” demanded previously.

The Fed said the aim was to encourage participation, not set too many restrictions, and not set terms that might weaken firms that were already struggling.

The size of the program will remain the same for now with $600 billion in loans available on the basis of $75 billion in capital from the US Treasury at risk for any losses — an amount set by the Fed to insulate it from any loans that go bad.

It marks the latest expansion by the Fed of a safety net it has built along with the Treasury to try to keep the economy stable as health officials battle a global pandemic.

In a matter of weeks, the US economy has gone from historically low unemployment to seeing more than 30 million people file for unemployment benefits and the sharpest plunge in activity since the 2007-2009 Great Recession, as authorities across the country shut down large swaths of industry and commerce to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Fed has already slashed interest rates to zero, and it reiterated on Wednesday at the end of a two-day policy meeting that they will stay there until the economy is clearly back on track. It has also rolled out around $2 trillion in lending commitments.

In its policy statement on Wednesday, the Fed reiterated it was ready to expand its programs as needed.

In this case, a main goal, the Fed said, was to provide “Main Street” loans for even fairly large companies still too small to raise money on public capital or bond markets.

The mix of additional firms now allowed into the program is broad, the Fed said, and is not meant to extend help to particular industries like the oil and gas sector that have lobbied for help.

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