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Retail Sales in U.S. Collapse by 16% in Steepest Drop on Record

Retail sales dropU.S. retail sales endured a second straight month of record declines in April as the novel coronavirus pandemic kept Americans at home, putting the economy on track for its biggest contraction in the second quarter since the Great Depression.

The deepening economic slump was underscored by other data on Friday that showed production at industries collapsed last month at its deepest pace in 101 years. The reports, combined with a historic 20.5 million job losses in April, buttressed Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s warning on Wednesday of an “extended period” of weak growth and stagnant incomes.

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Another 3 million Americans file jobless claims as layoffs continue to ravage economy

Unemployment claims reach 3,000,000 once again

The nation’s weekly procession of COVID-19-related layoffs seems relentless.

About three million Americans filed initial unemployment benefit claims last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, spotlighting another wave of job cuts and adding to the unprecedented economic damage wrought by the pandemic.

In the past week, companies such as Uber, General Electric and Airbnb have laid off thousands of workers.

More than 36 million workers now have sought jobless benefits in eight weeks.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast that 2.5 million unemployment claims were filed last week. Jobless claims represent the nation’s most reliable gauge of layoffs.

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Jobless claims soar past 3 million to record high

jobless claims top 3.3 million

Americans displaced by the coronavirus crisis filed unemployment claims in record numbers last week, with the Labor Department reporting Thursday a surge to 3.28 million.

The number shatters the Great Recession peak of 665,000 in March 2009 and the all-time mark of 695,000 in October 1982. The previous week, which reflected the period before the worst of the coronavirus hit, was 282,000, which was higher than expected at the time.

Consensus estimates from economists surveyed by Dow Jones showed an expectation for 1.5 million new claims, though individual forecasts on Wall Street had been anticipating a much higher number. The surge comes amid a crippling slowdown brought on by the coronavirus crisis.

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Dow tumbles again, nearly wiping out gains of Trump’s presidency

Stocks wipe out all gains in Trump eraThe Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 6 percent on Wednesday under the 20,000 level, nearly erasing the iconic index's previous gains since President Donald Trump's inauguration and jeopardizing a key talking point for his reelection campaign.

Earlier in the day, the S&P 500 dropped so steeply that it triggered a market-wide suspension of trading for 15 minutes.

The plunge underscores the risk Trump took in tying his presidential reputation to stock prices, which can fall as easily as they rise, and in any case are only one indicator of the health of the economy.

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Fed cuts rates sharply in response to risk coronavirus poses to economy, markets

Fed cuts ratesThe Federal Reserve cut interest rates Tuesday in a rare emergency move, responding aggressively to the growing threat the coronavirus poses to the economy and financial markets.

The Fed lowered its key federal fund rates by half a percentage point to a range of 1% to 1.25%, the central bank said in a statement. It marked the Fed's first rate cut between scheduled meetings since the depths of the financial crisis in 2008.

Stocks swung wildly through the morning. After sliding earlier on the absence of a more forceful response from global central banks, the Dow was up more than 100 points after the Fed announced the rate cut. But then the blue-chip index reversed course and was down more than 200 points in midday trading.

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Bed Bath & Beyond plans to close at least 40 stores this year but open 15 new locations

bed Bath & Beyond to close 40 storesBed Bath & Beyond will be closing and opening stores this year.

The New Jersey-based home goods retailer, which also operates Buy Buy Baby, Harmon Face Values and World Market, announced mixed results during its fourth-quarter call with financial analysts this week.

"We expect to open approximately 15 new stores in fiscal 2019. This will be offset by a minimum of approximately 40 stores we expect to close," Robyn D'Elia, chief financial officer and treasurer, said during Wednesday's earnings call. "This number will grow unless we are able to negotiate more favorable lease terms with our landlords."

D'Elia said most of the "planned closures are for Bed Bath & Beyond stores."

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Federal deficit soars 32 percent to $895B

ocbThe federal deficit hit $895 billion in the first 11 months of fiscal 2018, an increase of $222 billion, or 32 percent, over the same period the previous year, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The nonpartisan CBO reported that the central drivers of the increasing deficit were the Republican tax law and the bipartisan agreement to increase spending. As a result, revenue only rose 1 percent, failing to keep up with a 7 percent surge in spending, it added.

Revenue from individual and payroll taxes was up some $105 billion, or 4 percent, while corporate taxes fell $71 billion, or 30 percent.

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