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Talking Points

June numbers in services sector show strong rebound


Activity in services sector shows record rebound in June

Activity in the US services sector rebounded strongly last month, but those gains are now being threatened by the resurgence of coronavirus cases in many parts of the country. The Institute for Supply Management said its service sector index rose to 57.1 in June, up from 45.4 in May. Any reading above 50 means the sector, where the majority of Americans work, is expanding. The June advance was 11.5 percentage points higher than the May reading. It was the largest percentage point gain in the history of the services index, which goes back to 1997. The April decline had been the biggest point drop on record. Before the April and May setbacks, the index had been in expansion territory for 122 months. Last week, ISM reported its manufacturing index rebounded to a reading of 52.6 after registering big declines in the two previous months. The reading for the services index was better than expected — but amid concerns about what rising virus cases could do to efforts by restaurants, bars, and other businesses to stay open.— ASSOCIATED PRESS


Amazon analysts can’t keep up as shares eclipse $3,000

Amazon.com rallied again Monday, with its stock extending a recent advance into record territory and topping $3,000 for the first time. The shares ended the day up 5.8 percent at 3,057.04 for their fourth straight daily gain. The stock has climbed about 80 percent since a March low, resulting in a market capitalization of $1.5 trillion. Amazon has seen accelerating demand for its e-commerce and cloud-computing services during the pandemic, which has closed brick-and-mortar rivals and led more people to work remotely. Many analysts expect these trends to outlast the pandemic. Amazon remains a consensus favorite on Wall Street. Only one firm tracked by Bloomberg recommends selling the stock, compared with the 52 that advocate buying it. Four have the equivalent of a hold rating. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Heads up, Jeep — the Bronco’s back

When it comes to rugged vehicles that go off-road, over rocks, and into the mud, Jeep for years has cornered the US market. But Ford is reviving the Bronco brand in an effort to take a slice. This month the company will introduce two new off-road vehicles, a Ranger pickup-size Bronco that will come in two- and four-door versions, and the smaller Escape-size Bronco Sport, both aimed at taking sales from Jeep, Fiat Chrysler’s top brand. It may not be easy for a brand known as O.J. Simpson’s ride in a 1994 low-speed chase by Los Angeles police, who wanted him on murder charges. Ford moved the date it would unveil the SUVs from July 9, Simpson’s birthday, to July 13. It believes the Bronco name will evoke good memories from its off-road heritage during a three-decade run that ended in 1996. At its introduction in 1965, Ford called the Bronco a new line of sport utility vehicles, the first reference to SUVs from an American automaker, the company said. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Cruise CEOs insist ships are safe, prepare new health protocols

Two of the world’s largest cruise operators insist their ships are no more vulnerable to the spread of the coronavirus than other public places. The cruise industry has long rejected the idea that ships’ close quarters are disease-prone. Major players still maintain that position, though there have been more than 3,000 COVID-19 cases and dozens of deaths associated with ships, according to the Cruise Lines International Association. Top executives at Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean Cruises were asked Sunday to acknowledge that people are more likely to get coronavirus on a cruise ship. “No, I don’t believe [that],” said Frank Del Rio, Norwegian’s CEO, adding that “because it is a controlled environment” a ship can be “among the safest places on Earth.” The CEOs said they have formed a partnership on health protocols, the Healthy Sail Panel, led by former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb and former Health and Human Services secretary Mike Leavitt. The Miami Herald has identified 3,644 coronavirus cases associated with cruise ships. A New York Times report, which used CDC data, said the numbers are far higher. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Judge orders Dakota Access pipeline shut down pending review

A judge on Monday ordered the Dakota Access pipeline shut down for additional environmental review more than three years after it began pumping oil — a victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and a blow to President Trump’s efforts to weaken health and environmental protections he views as obstacles to businesses. US District Judge James Boasberg in Washington, D.C., wrote that he was “mindful of the disruption’’ but the pipeline must be shut down within 30 days. Energy Transfer Partners, the owner, plans to seek an expedited appeal, a spokeswoman said. Boasberg said in April that a more extensive review was necessary than what the Army Corps of Engineers had conducted. “Given the seriousness of the Corps’ NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] error, the impossibility of a simple fix, the fact that Dakota Access did assume much of its economic risk knowingly, and the potential harm each day the pipeline operates, the Court is forced to conclude that the flow of oil must cease,” he said Monday. The pipeline was the subject of months of protests in 2016 and 2017, sometimes violent, during its construction near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on the North Dakota-South Dakota border. The $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile pipeline crosses beneath the Missouri River just north of the reservation. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Israeli airline El Al reaches bailout deal with government

El Al, crippled by the pandemic, has reached a bailout deal with the Israeli government that could lead to the airline’s nationalization. Since the coronavirus outbreak, El Al has suspended passenger flights indefinitely and carried out scores of layoffs. The company will receive loans of $250 million, most of which will be guaranteed by the state. It’s expected to raise an additional $150 million by selling shares that, if they aren’t sold entirely to the public, will be bought by the state. The agreement awaits a parliamentary committee’s approval. The company was previously state-owned until it was privatized more than 15 years ago. It has struggled over the years, including with the arrival in Israel of international low-cost carriers. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Facebook temporarily stops Hong Kong data requests

Facebook will temporarily stop processing Hong Kong government requests for user data as the company reviews a sweeping national security law that has chilled political expression in the city. The review of the law, which has been used to arrest people who have called for Hong Kong independence, would include human rights considerations, Facebook said. The decision, a rare public questioning of Chinese policy by an American Internet company, raises questions about how the security law will be applied in Hong Kong, where the Internet is not censored as it is in the rest of China. Facebook’s move will probably put pressure on other US tech giants like Apple and Google, which have not clarified how they intend to deal with data requests. Twitter said it paused all data and information requests immediately after the law went into effect last week. Telegram, a messaging app popular with protesters, said it would suspend providing user data until a consensus was reached on the new law. Late Monday, Hong Kong released new rules that give police powers to take down Internet posts and punish companies that do not comply with data requests. — NEW YORK TIMES