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GROCERY STORES

Stop & Shop to hire at least 5,000

Stop & Shop will hire at least 5,000 new associates for regular part-time positions in its stores, distribution centers and delivery operations across New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Stop & Shop will also be working closely with its partners at the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) and with local businesses that have been forced to lay off or furlough staff to identify potential candidates for opportunities across all shifts and all positions. — GLOBE STAFF

RETAIL

Nordstrom to lay off some employees, keep stores closed

Luxury retailer Nordstrom will start to furlough a portion of its corporate employees starting April 5 for six weeks. It’s also extending temporary store closures for at least one week, through April 5. It’s unknown how many corporate employees will be furloughed, but they will continue to receive enrolled benefits. In addition, some Nordstrom executives will forgo part of their salary, and both Peter and Erik Nordstrom will decline their salary from April through September. All board members will forgo cash compensation for a six-month period. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

AUTOMOTIVE

Major carmakers take steps to reopen factories

Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Honda, and Toyota took steps Thursday to restart North American factories that have been closed to protect workers from the coronavirus. The plants would reopen in early or mid-April, restoring the largest source of cash for automakers that generally book revenue when they ship vehicles to dealerships. Auto companies, like other businesses, are trying to manage their way through the coronavirus crisis, which has forced factories to close amid employee concerns that they could catch the virus while working close to others at factory work stations. Ford said it wants to reopen five North American assembly plants, starting with one in Mexico on April 6 and continuing with four in the US on April 14. The move was immediately met with skepticism by the United Auto Workers union, which represents 56,000 Ford factory workers. ‘‘The UAW continues to review with great caution and concern decisions being made about restarting workplaces, especially at advanced dates,” union President Rory Gamble said in a statement. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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GOVERNMENT

Powell says Fed will continue strong efforts to enable the flow of credit

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank will maintain its muscular efforts to support the flow of credit in the US economy as Americans hunker down from the coronavirus pandemic. “We will keep doing that aggressively and forthrightly, as we have been,” Powell said Thursday in a Fed chief’s first-ever interview on NBC’s “Today” show. “When it comes to this lending we’re not going to run out of ammunition. That doesn’t happen.” Over the past three weeks, the US central bank has introduced an unprecedented series of measures, pushing it deep into uncharted territory as it seeks to cushion the blow of the coronavirus on financial markets and the US economy. The steps include massive bond purchases, emergency facilities to bolster credit markets, actions with foreign central banks to ease the supply of dollars worldwide, and programs for lending directly to American businesses. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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MORTGAGES

Rates fall

According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average fell to 3.5 percent from 3.65 percent a week ago. The 15-year fixed-rate average dropped to 2.92 percent from 3.06 percent a week ago and 3.57 percent a year ago.
— WASHINGTON POST

RESTAURANTS

Waffle Houses close, something that rarely happens

There exists in emergency response industry circles something called the ‘‘Waffle House Index.’’ It’s a measurement of how the greasy-spoon breakfast chain is faring in an emergency situation. If the local Waffle House is open and serving a full menu, the index is green; open with a limited menu: yellow; closed: red. And the Waffle House Index almost never hits red. Well, now it has. More than 400 of the company’s 1,992 locations are closed because of the novel coronavirus. Public-health orders forbidding gatherings of more than 10 people in some jurisdictions have made it next to impossible for restaurants to operate. Sales are down 70 percent nationwide, Waffle House said in a statement. — WASHINGTON POST

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RETAIL

Walmart hires 25,000 new workers

Walmart Inc. has taken on 25,000 new employees and given offers to thousands more in the first week of a hiring push, as the biggest private employer in the US scrambles to keep its shelves stocked and checkouts staffed during the coronavirus pandemic. The retailer has compressed a hiring process that can often take two weeks into as little as three hours by eliminating formal interviews and written job offers, giving store managers authority to make verbal offers right away, according to Dan Bartlett, executive vice president of corporate affairs. The applicants include high school and college students along with those let go from jobs at restaurants and hotels. Walmart last week pledged to hire 150,000 hourly workers, increasing its US work force by 10 percent amid a rapid economic shift due to the coronavirus pandemic. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

UTIILITIES

Market upheaval worries victims of California wildfires

Market turmoil from the coronavirus is spilling into the bankruptcy of California power giant PG&E Corp. Victims of wildfires blamed on PG&E’s equipment are concerned the sell-off on Wall Street could hobble stock payments that make up half of a $13.5 billion settlement over claims from the blazes, said Robert Julian, an attorney for the victims. Lawyers for the victims are being “inundated with questions” from clients because the “coronavirus is causing these impacts in real time,” he said during a bankruptcy hearing Wednesday. The attorneys have entered into mediation to resolve how long the victims’ trust will be required to hold shares, the impact of the sell-off and other issues. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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ECONOMY

Moderate 2.1 percent growth could be the best for a while

The economy grew by a moderate 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, but many economists believe that will be the last positive growth seen for some time as the country endures a sharp contraction due to the coronavirus. The Commerce Department said Thursday in its third and final look at the fourth quarter that growth was unchanged from its previous estimate but that the components were slightly altered with consumer spending slightly stronger but government spending and business investment a bit lower. Many economists believe GDP will turn negative in the current January-March quarter, based on the sudden stop to economic activity that is now occurring. Some see a drop of around 6 percent with much bigger declines in the second quarter. — ASSOCIATED PRESS