The daily business briefing: May 22, 2020

Harold Maass
John Krasinski in NYC
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

1.

2.4 million file new jobless claims

More than 2.4 million Americans filed for jobless benefits last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The new applications brought the total number of new unemployment claims to 38.6 million since the coronavirus crisis hit the U.S. two months ago, roughly equal to the total initial claims filed during the Great Recession. The pace of the filings, down from nearly 2.7 million the previous week, has slowed as states begin gradually reopening their economies after weeks of stay-at-home orders. U.S. stocks fell on Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing down by 0.4 percent, as rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China stoked concerns about the prospects of an economic rebound. [Bloomberg]

2.

Krasinski sells Some Good News to ViacomCBS

John Krasinski has reached a deal to license his feel-good Some Good News web series to ViacomCBS after a bidding war. The streaming service CBS All Access, which the company is rebranding and boosting with more original shows this summer, will be the first platform to offer new episodes. Krasinski self-financed and self-produced SGN to provide positive programming for people locked down at home during the coronavirus crisis. He also served as host. Krasinski will not host the new episodes, but he will remain involved as executive producer and will have a recurring role on camera. "Could not be more excited and proud to be partnering with CBS/Viacom to be able to bring Some Good News to so many more people!" Krasinski said in a statement. [The Hollywood Reporter]

3.

Amazon moves Prime Day from July to September

Amazon will shift Prime Day, its giant deals event usually held in July, to September, people familiar with the matter tell The Wall Street Journal. The reported shift comes as Amazon is still trying to catch up with skyrocketing demand throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Amazon's catalog relies on thousands of individual sellers, who send their items to Amazon warehouses to allow for speedier shipments. The company stopped letting sellers of nonessential items restock during the pandemic, while increased demand on essential products led to slower shipping speeds. Amazon has faced protests from warehouse workers demanding more protections against coronavirus infections as the company struggles to keep up with a spike in orders. Amazon reportedly is concerned that it will still face a bottleneck in September. [The Wall Street Journal, CNBC]

4.

U.S. stocks struggle as job losses continue

U.S. stock index futures dropped early Friday as more job losses and China tensions fueled concerns about the likelihood of an economic rebound. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were down by 0.4 percent or more several hours before the opening bell. The Dow fell by 0.4 percent on Thursday, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closed down by 0.8 percent and nearly 1 percent, respectively. Still, the three main U.S. indexes remained on pace to close the week with strong gains heading into Memorial Day weekend. The Dow was up by more than 3 percent on the week, setting it up for its biggest one-week gain since early April despite ongoing uncertainty as states let businesses start reopening after shutdowns prompted by the coronavirus crisis. [CNBC]

5.

Powell: U.S. in 'downturn without modern precedent'

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned on Thursday that the nation's economy is in a "downturn without modern precedent" after two months of widespread business shutdowns due to the coronavirus crisis, which has caused tens of millions of Americans to lose their jobs. "In the best of times, predicting the path of the economy with any certainty is difficult," Powell said. "We are now experiencing a whole new level of uncertainty, as questions only the virus can answer complicate the outlook." Public health officials have warned of a possible second wave of infections as all 50 states move to ease restrictions so more businesses can reopen. President Trump said Thursday that the economy would not be shut down if a second wave hits. [The New York Times, The Hill]