U.S. stock index futures plunged early Friday after President Trump announced that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were down by 1.1 percent several hours before the opening bell. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell by 1.6 percent. White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said Trump and the first lady “are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.” Conley also said that Trump would “continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering.” The Dow gained 0.1 percent on Thursday, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq rose by 0.5 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively. [CNBC]
The House on Thursday passed Democrats’ $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package in the latest push to pressure Republicans to strike a deal on new stimulus legislation before the November election. The bill passed without a single Republican vote in the Democrat-controlled House after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met this week but failed to negotiate an agreement. Twenty Democrats voted against the House bill, many of them urging Pelosi to cut spending further to get Republicans to agree to a deal before lawmakers return to their districts to campaign. The Trump administration on Wednesday offered to increase its proposed spending on the legislation to $1.6 trillion, including a $400 per week pandemic jobless benefit. Bipartisan negotiations are continuing Friday. [Politico]
Amazon on Thursday reported that 19,816 of its workers, 1.4 percent of its workforce, were infected with the coronavirus between March 1 and Sept. 19. The employees who tested positive were among the nearly 1.4 million front-line Amazon and Whole Foods Market workers the company has in the United States. The data did not cover Amazon’s network of third-party delivery drivers. The disclosure came after months of pressure from labor groups, lawmakers, and regulators for Amazon to release data on infections. Amazon has confirmed at least eight worker COVID-19 deaths. Walmart, the largest employer in the U.S., reported in April that fewer than 1 percent of its 1.5 million U.S. employees had been infected, but it has not updated the figure. [Fox Business]
A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked further implementation of President Trump’s suspension of new visas for foreign workers. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in Northern California ruled Trump overstepped his authority with the June order. Trump said the policy would curb foreign competition for jobs during the coronavirus crisis. White said the president doesn’t have “unbridled authority to set domestic policy regarding employment of nonimmigrant foreigners.” He added that some constraint is needed to deny presidents “entirely monarchical power in the immigration context, an area within clear legislative prerogative.” The decision, which will let major companies like Microsoft, Goodyear Tire, and Exxon Mobil resume bringing employees from abroad, is at odds with a ruling by another federal judge, so an appeals court will have final say. [The New York Times]
The European Union informed Britain on Thursday that it is taking legal action over legislation that would breach the legally binding EU-U.K. divorce deal passed last year and violate international law. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Britain’s Internal Market Bill, which passed the lower House of Commons on Tuesday, “will be in full contradiction to the protocol of Ireland-Northern Ireland” agreed to in the Brexit accord. The EU had set a Wednesday deadline for Britain to withdraw the bill, which gives London the power to ignore the Brexit deal’s agreement on the 300-mile-long border between Ireland — which is part of the EU — and Northern Ireland, part of the U.K. Reinstating a hard border could reignite the long conflict ended by the 1998 Good Friday accord. Britain and the EU are also trying to negotiate a trade deal before the end of the year. [The Associated Press, Sky News]
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