This is CNBC’s live blog covering all the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak. All times below are in Eastern time. This blog will be updated throughout the day as the news breaks.
- Global cases: More than 428,400
- Global deaths: At least 19,120
- US cases: At least 55,225
- US deaths: At least 802
The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
12:53 pm: Dow rallies 5% to build on historic 11% surge from a day before
12:33 pm: Masks donated by Apple and Facebook for health workers were stockpiled after wildfire regulations
When large tech companies including Apple and Facebook announced this week that they’d be donating stockpiles of protective masks to health workers around the world, some people may have wondered why they had them in the first place.
Executives said they had them in storage because of the recent spate of wildfires in California. They were required to have them by law.
In 2019, the state of California’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted regulation forcing employers to provide respiratory equipment, including N95 masks, for workers when the Air Quality Index (AQI) reaches unhealthy levels. —Ari Levy
12:20 pm: State AGs call on Amazon, Facebook and others to crack down on coronavirus price gouging
A group of 33 state attorneys general called on Amazon, Ebay, Facebook, Walmart and Craigslist to prevent price gouging on coronavirus-related products.
The coalition, led by Pennsylvania’s Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro, sent a letter to the companies saying they “have an ethical obligation and patriotic duty to help your fellow citizens in this time of need by doing everything in your power to stop price gouging in real-time.” Attorneys general from California, Colorado and the District of Columbia were among those involved in the effort.
The letters acknowledge that platforms have already taken steps to remove some of the price-gouged products on their sites, but says consumers were already harmed by their presence. The attorneys general urge the companies to take proactive measures to prevent price-gouging on their sites, “[r]ather than playing whack-a-mole.” —Lauren Feiner, Scott Zamost
12:13 pm: House unlikely to vote on historic $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill Wednesday
The White House and Senate leaders reached a deal early Wednesday on a massive $2 trillion relief bill — said to be the largest rescue package in American history — to combat the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
As of Wednesday morning, though, the Senate was still drafting the final details of the text. A senior Democratic aide told CNBC that due to procedural reasons, including how long it is taking the Senate to send over a draft of the bill, it is unlikely the House will vote on it Wednesday. The House needs to pass the bill before it can reach President Donald Trump’s desk. —Lauren Hirsch, Leslie Josephs
12:05 pm: One week into shelter-in-place, San Francisco businesses are making big changes to stay afloat
A pedestrian crosses the near empty California Street in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Friday, March 20, 2020.
Michael Short | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Hundreds of Bay Area business owners upending their traditional business models to combat a coronavirus-induced plunge in sales. It’s been one week since San Francisco Mayor London Breed and fellow Northern California officials unveiled what was, at the time, the most stringent set of restrictions to curb the coronavirus — a “shelter-in-place” order affecting 7 million residents in six Bay Area counties. The directive shuttered non-essential businesses and mandated residents leave home only for essential needs, such as grocery shopping and picking up prescriptions.
Since then, governors across the country have announced similar measures. Stay-at-home orders now blanket 16 states, from Hawaii to Connecticut. Many are looking to San Francisco for signs of what these shutdowns could portend for local economies across the country. —J.R. Reed
11:56 am: What the coronavirus bill means for unemployment benefits, gig workers
A coronavirus relief bill unveiled Tuesday would significantly expand unemployment benefits for Americans who lose their jobs due to the country’s recent economic contagion.
The measure would beef up the nation’s unemployment insurance program, a state-administered program that provides temporary income support for out-of-work Americans. Final language could change before the bill’s scheduled release later today, though experts don’t expect it will relative to unemployment.
Under the legislation, unemployed workers would both collect bigger unemployment checks — which could, in some cases, even exceed their typical wages — and receive those payments over a longer period of time.
The legislation would also extend benefits to a broader pool of people, like gig workers and freelancers. —Greg Iacurci
11:49 am: New York City weighs closing parks, playgrounds and streets to enforce social distancing
An empty playground is viewed on March 24, 2020 in New York City. Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)
Angela Weiss | AFP via Getty Images
Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to close some streets in New York City and may close parks and playgrounds there to contain the coronavirus outbreak as cases across the state surge to 30,811, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
State and local officials are taking a tougher stance because city residents aren’t following the state’s guidance encouraging people to maintain a distance of at least six feet from each other, which he said was “effective and necessary” to slow hospitalization rates.
“The plan is going to pilot closing streets in New York City because we have much less traffic in New York City. We have many fewer vehicles in New York City. Open streets,” by opening the streets, fewer people will congregate in the parks, he said in a press conference. —Will Feuer
11:41 am: Legal cannabis industry sees record sales as customers facing coronavirus crisis stock up
Steven DeAngelo has seen it all. As the so-called “father of the legal cannabis industry,” he co-founded one of the largest vertically integrated licensed cannabis businesses in California, called Harborside, with four stores and $60 million in annual revenues.
But what’s happened in the last month is something new. “We had our largest sales day ever,” he says. “Sales are up 20-25% at all locations.”
Across the country, sales are sky-high in states where legal cannabis has been declared “essential medicine” during state shutdowns, allowing stores to stay open. —Jane Wells
11:31 am: Which countries are flattening the curve?
11:26 am: BMW closes South Carolina plant
BMW announced that it plans to close its plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, through April 12. The plant is the company’s largest in the world by volume, producing over 411,600 vehicles in 2019 and employing over 11,000 people.
BMW said the move was sooner than anticipated due to shelter-in-place orders in individual states and will adjust its plans as circumstances dictate. – Noah Higgins-Dunn, Phil LeBeau
11:21 am: Cramer: Amazon shares could shatter last month’s all-time highs after pandemic crisis abates
Amazon may be the ultimate beneficiary in the post-coronavirus world, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said, suggesting the company’s cloud unit and e-commerce business are both positioned nicely to thrive.
“I think Amazon could go to $3,000 in this market,” Cramer said on “Squawk on the Street.” That would represent a more than 37% increase over last month’s all-time high.
Since its Feb. 11 record, Amazon has dropped 11% as of Tuesday’s close of $1,940 per share. While lower, the stock has held up much better than that S&P 500, which has seen a nearly 28% decline from last month’s highs. —Kevin Stankiewicz
11:12 am: Negative rates come to the US: 1-month and 3-month Treasury bill yields are now negative
The coronavirus crisis has brought another first to U.S. financial markets — negative yields on government debt.
Yields on both the one-month and three-month Treasury bills dipped below zero, a week and a half after the Federal Reserve cuts its benchmark rate to near-zero and as investors have flocked to the safety of fixed income amid general market turmoil. —Jeff Cox
11:03 am: US auto sales expected to fall at least 15% this year due to the coronavirus
This photo taken on March 23, 2020 shows employees eating during lunch break at an auto plant of Dongfeng Honda in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province.
STR | AFP | China
U.S. auto sales are expected to fall at least 15% this year as the country implements more aggressive restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, threatening an already-stressed autos industry, according to new research from IHS Markit.
The COVID-19 pandemic that has spread to nearly every country on the globe has forced a number of governments to implement drastic measures to slow its spread. This has posed the single biggest risk factor for the autos industry in years as consumer demand stalls, according to IHS Markit.
IHS Markit forecasts 2020 U.S. auto sales to be 14.4 million units, down by at least 15.3% year-over-year. The global auto sales forecast is expected to decline more than 12% from last year to 78.8 million units, according to IHS Markit, which would be a larger decline than the 8% drop during the Great Recession a decade ago. —Noah Higgins-Dunn
10:12 am: Putin, citing coronavirus, postpones vote on changes that could extend his rule
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said he was postponing a nationwide vote on constitutional changes that would allow him to extend his rule due to the worsening situation with coronavirus.
The vote, on changes that include scrapping a constitutional ban on Putin running again for president in 2024, had been planned for April 22.
Putin did not name a new date for the vote, saying only that he and others would evaluate the situation to decide when the time for a new vote was right. —Reuters
10:03 am: New York City hospitals are nearly ‘maxed out,’ former FDA chief says
Hospitals in New York City are nearing capacity due to an influx of coronavirus patients, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC.
COVID-19 has killed 192 people in New York City, according to Johns Hopkins University, but Gottlieb said that number will rise if the hospitals become overwhelmed.
“New York City hospitals right now are on the brink of what I would call being maxed out in terms of their available capacity,” he said on “Squawk Box.” “New York has another about five weeks to go for this between now and when they’re going to reach peak hospitalizations, so the fact that they’re stretched right now is worrisome.” —William Feuer
9:37 am: Almost half NYC’s coronavirus patients are under 45
Almost half, 48%, of New York City’s 15,597 coronavirus cases are under 45 years old. But an overwhelming majority of those patients are surviving, accounting for just 3% of the city’s 192 COVID-19 fatalities, according to new data from the NYC Health Department.
Parents can take comfort in this stat: zero kids have died. Children under 18 make up just 2% of the city’s cases. Men appear to be disproportionately affected, making up 56% of the cases and 61% of the deaths. The biggest outbreaks in the city are in Queens where 30% of the cases are concentrated, followed by Brooklyn, which has 28% of the cases. —Dawn Kopecki
9:29 am: Nine European countries say it is time for ‘corona bonds’ as virus death toll rises
Nine European countries have called upon their EU counterparts to issue so-called ‘corona bonds’ — a new debt instrument that would combine securities from different European countries.
Corona bonds are a controversial issue that has been dividing the 27-country region. Conservative policymakers in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Austria are often wary of the idea of issuing debt together with highly indebted nations, such as Italy, Greece and Portugal. —Silvia Amaro
9:11 am: Gottlieb: Coronavirus fatality rates could increase if hospitals get overwhelmed
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, member of the boards of Pfizer and biotech company Illumina and former FDA commissioner, joins “Squawk Box” to discuss the latest on mitigating the spread of coronavirus in the United States.
8:55 am: Facebook, Microsoft partner with WHO for coronavirus hackathon
The World Health Organization has partnered with Facebook, Microsoft and several other tech companies for a hackathon to promote the development of software to take on challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The #BuildforCOVID19 hackathon was announced on Tuesday and will begin accepting project submissions on Thursday. Along with Facebook and Microsoft, tech companies Twitter, WeChat, TikTok, Pinterest, Slack and Giphy are also participating. The tech companies “will be sharing resources to support participants throughout the submission period.” —Salvador Rodriguez
8:49 am: Weekly mortgage applications tank 29% as coronavirus sidelines homebuyers
An increase in interest rates, combined with a massive shutdown of the economy caused homeowners and potential homebuyers to back away from the mortgage market. Total mortgage application volume fell 29.4% last week from the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index.
Applications to refinance a home loan, which had been surging dramatically in the last month, fell 34% for the week but were still 195% higher than a year ago, when rates were 63 basis points higher. Refinances tend to be volatile, moving weekly with interest rates. —Diana Olick
8:23 am: UK intensive care demand could peak within 3 weeks
If Britain’s measures for tackling the coronavirus outbreak work, then intensive care demand will peak in 2.5 to 3 weeks time, a top epidemiologist who advised the government said on Wednesday.
“If, and it’s an if, we’re moderately confident as I’ve said but can’t be completely sure, if the current measures work as we would expect them to then we will see intensive care unit demand peak in approximately two and half to three weeks’ time and then decline thereafter,” Neil Ferguson, a professor of mathematical biology at Imperial College London, told a British parliamentary committee. —Reuters
7:56 am: Dow futures drop 200 points after surging overnight
Stock futures fell in early morning trading, following Tuesday’s historic rally, despite the White House and Senate reaching a deal on a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill.
Around 7:40 a.m. ET, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 200 points, or 1%. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures were down 1.8% and 1.5%, respectively. Dow futures were up more than 800 points at one point in the overnight session. —Fred Imbert, Yun Li, Eustance Huang
7:42 am: Canadian legislators vote for coronavirus aid
After almost a day of wrangling, Canada’s House of Commons agreed early Wednesday to approve a $27 billion Canadian ($18.8 billion) stimulus bill to help people and businesses deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
The bill — which also includes CA $55 billion in the form of tax deferrals — must now be approved by the unelected Senate, which will meet later Wednesday. Government officials say they anticipate senators will quickly approve the measures. —Reuters
7:14 am: Trump businesses barred from getting stimulus money, Schumer says
President Donald Trump holds a news conference, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Washington D.C., March 22, 2020.
Yuri Gripas | Reuters
President Donald Trump’s businesses are barred from getting loans or investments under the new $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus deal, according to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. The Trump Organization, which the president has not divested, is run by his two elder sons, Donald Jr. and Eric.
Democrats and other critics of the president were concerned that Trump’s businesses would receive bailout money because the tourism industry is one of the hardest-hit by the coronavirus, which has spurred leaders to restrict travel and companies to cut capacity and close up shop. The measure will also ban businesses controlled by Vice President Mike Pence, Cabinet members and lawmakers from receiving the funds, according to details circulated by Schumer, D-N.Y. —Mike Calia
7:10 am: Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, tests positive
A file photo dated on January 24, 2020 shows the Prince of Wales, Charles meets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential palace in Bethlehem, West Bank. Prince Charles, next in line to the British throne, has tested positive for coronavirus.
Issam Rimawi | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Britain’s heir to the throne, Prince Charles, has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a statement from his London household. “He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual,” said a statement Wednesday from Clarence House, his residence in the capital. It is not possible to determine how the 71-year-old Prince of Wales contracted the virus, the statement said, “owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks.” —Katrina Bishop, Holly Ellyatt
7:06 am: Target delays store remodels, withdraws forecast
Target is putting some of its ambitious growth plans on hold. The big-box retailer will put on hold plans to remodel hundreds of stores, postponing openings of new stores and delaying the addition of fresh groceries and beer to curbside pickup. Instead, Target CEO Brian Cornell said the retailer will focus on a singular mission: providing food, medicine and other essential items. He said Target is withdrawing its guidance for the first quarter and fiscal year because of the unpredictable business climate. —Melissa Repko
6:44 am: Surge of cases in Africa prompted decision to cancel Olympics, IOC says
6:37 am: Zambia’s cases increase to 12
Zambia’s number of confirmed cases rose to 12 from three, President Edgar Lungu said in a televised address. The previous figure had not been updated since March 22, Reuters reported. —Holly Ellyatt