CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. has risen to at least 3,173 and the disease had resulted in at least 62 deaths, according to figures from state and local health agencies, governments and the CDC. Governors and mayors in states and cities nationwide have begun closing restaurants, bars, and schools. Travelers returning home from overseas trips were stuck in line for hours at major airports for screenings. Airports were overwhelmed by crowds as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended gatherings of 50 people or more should be canceled or postponed for the next eight weeks. Director of the National Institute of Infectious Disease Dr. Anthony Fauci said he would not rule out implementing a national lockdown in response to the outbreak.
FED CUTS RATES TO NEAR ZERO… The Federal Reserve yesterday cut interest rates to near zero and launched a massive $700 billion quantitative easing program to shelter the economy from the effects of the coronavirus. The Fed also slashed the rate of emergency lending at the discount window for banks by 125 bps to 0.25 percent and lengthened the term of loans to 90 days. Dow futures immediately plunged by 1,000 points as traders worried that the crisis response would still fall short.
PELOSI PREPARING THIRD CORONAVIRUS BILL… House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that she has been in talks with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on a third legislative package in response to the spread of coronavirus. Pelosi’s announcement came a day after the House reached a deal with the Trump administration to pass the bipartisan Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Her newer package would be a stimulus bill targeting small and medium-sized businesses as well as specific industries that have been hit hard by the virus.
SPACEX LAUNCH ABORTED… Project managers aborted a scheduled SpaceX rocket launch yesterday after it experienced an engine power problem just before liftoff. The launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida would have been the sixth carrying “Starlink” satellites, which SpaceX says will bring high-performance broadband internet to underserved areas. The launch has not yet been rescheduled.
GAS PRICES DROP… The average price for a gallon of regular-grade gasoline in the U.S. dropped 15 cents per gallon to $2.39 over the past three weeks, according to a nationwide survey of gas stations. The Lundberg Survey found that the most expensive gas was in Honolulu, where it $3.45 per gallon. Tulsa had the cheapest gas at $1.82 a gallon.
LIL UZI VERT TOPS ALBUM CHART… Lil Uzi Vert’s new release, “Eternal Atake,” sold 288,000 copies to top the Billboard 200 album chart. Jhené Aiko’s “Chilombo” debuted at No. 2 after selling 152,000 units. Bad Bunny’s “YHLQMDLG” slipped to third place on sales of 111,000 copies. Last week’s champ, Lil Baby’s “My Turn,” sold 104,000 unit to finish fourth. NCT 127’s “NCT #127” finished fifth with 87,000 copies sold.
BOX OFFICE SUFFERS DURING PANDEMIC… Movie-theater ticket sales dropped to their lowest levels in at least 20 years over the weekend amid the coronavirus pandemic. Receipts totaled about $55.3 million in U.S. and Canada theaters. That was the lowest total since 2000. More people went to the movies even on the weekend after the 9/11 attacks.
WEEKEND BOX OFFICE… “Onward” took in $10.5 million to remain atop a weak weekend box office. “I Still Believe” debuted in second place with $9.5 million. Another newcomer, “Bloodshot,” opened at No. 3 after taking in $9.3 million. “The Invisible Man” slipped to fourth place with $6 million. “The Hunt” capped the top five with $5.3 million.