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Post by thelivyjr » Sun Jun 28, 2020 1:40 p

"Churchill: Who's to blame for Albany's spike in shootings? - City experiencing a dramatic rise in gun violence, and some are blaming Mayor Sheehan"

Chris Churchill, Albany, New York Times Union

June 27, 2020 | Updated: June 27, 2020 11:04 a.m.

ALBANY — One reader who writes regularly is alarmed, understandably, by the frightening spike in violence this summer.

He thinks I should take Albany's mayor to task for it.

"I know you like to kick Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the shins when you can, but why are you as quiet as a church mouse regarding Kathy Sheehan?" he wrote, noting that he, a lifelong Albanian, has never seen anything like the mayhem of recent weeks.

"How long will you stay silent on her mishandling of the crime issue in Albany?" he asked.

"What is the limit of dead and wounded that you are willing to tolerate before asking questions about her policing policy?"

No doubt, the violence has been both shocking and sickening.

This month alone, through Friday, there were at least 36 shootings and four killings in the city.

So far this year, eight people have been killed, more than double last year's total.

My letter writer isn't the only one pointing a finger at Sheehan.

You can easily find similar thoughts on talk radio and social media.

And if I thought the mayor was to blame, I'd be more than willing to join in.

I don't think she is.

Sheehan didn't put guns in the hands of the young men who open fire even in broad daylight.

She didn't give them a callous disregard for life.

She isn't responsible for the national economic policies that have created neighborhoods of despair and anxiety in American cities.

Moreover, Albany is not alone in experiencing a surge in violence.

Shootings in New York City have doubled this month, for example, and cities around the country, from Milwaukee to Los Angeles, are reporting similar spikes.

What's happening is not a local phenomenon.

If you're looking for something to blame, blame the coronavirus.

Sheehan and Eric Hawkins, the city's police chief, say the pandemic has kept officers (and social workers) from the efforts that stop crime.

Much of that work is focuses on stemming the urge for revenge.

There may be other pandemic-related causes.

Lisa Good, the executive director of Urban Grief, an Albany non-profit focused on helping gun-violence victims, told me she believes that with more people indoors, shooters feel emboldened by the relative absence of potential witnesses.

In other words, there are fewer of what author and activist Jane Jacobs called "eyes on the street."

Busy streets are safer, but cities have been noticeably emptier during the pandemic.

I think the link between the virus and violence may go deeper.

Polls show that American happiness has plummeted to the lowest level since we started trying to record it 50 years ago.

The economy has been destroyed.

People are restless and frightened.

None of that is a justification for shooting.

But if the country as a whole is anxious, frustrated and despairing, its poorest and most desperate neighborhoods are especially anxious, frustrated and despairing.

The country is a tinderbox right now, and the violence is one way the tension is showing.

How is that Sheehan's fault?

Some of you, I know, will blame the violence on Black Lives Matter movement and calls for police reform.

I don't buy it, despite what Fox News says.

Maybe it's true that cops are feeling demoralized, but in reality the movement has changed very little about policing.

Police departments haven't been defunded just yet — and most never will be.

Obviously, public safety is a significant factor in how mayors are judged, as it should be.

You can't have economic growth without safety.

You can't have good schools without safety.

It's the foundation for liveable cities. and any mayor who presides over a sustained increase in crime can expect to be voted out of office.

But if Sheehan is to be blamed for the recent rise in violence, fairness mandates she be credited for several noteworthy periods of peace since her 2013 election, including a remarkable 14-month stretch when there were no killings at all in Albany.

Consider this: The city's violent crime rate in the six completed years after Sheehan took office is lower than for the six years before her tenure, when Jerry Jennings was the mayor.

Property crime, meanwhile, has declined every year under Sheehan and is down 27 percent since her election.

The statistics, then, belie claims that "Sheehan is mishandling the crime issue," as my letter writer suggests, or that the men who proceeded her were somehow better at maintaining law and order.

The stats suggest Sheehan's emphasis on community policing has been working, despite what critics want to believe.

Still, if you argue that not enough progress is being made against terrifying crimes, I won't debate.

The stubborn resilience of violence in Albany (and elsewhere) is frustrating and dispiriting.

We have too many guns in the hands of too many lost young men.

But the mayhem of recent weeks is bigger than Albany.

It's bigger than Kathy Sheehan, too. ■ 518-454-5442 ■ @chris_churchill ... 369001.php

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Post by thelivyjr » Sun Jun 28, 2020 1:40 p

"Albany chief tries to bridge the blue and Black Lives Matter - Eric Hawkins talks about the sometimes exhausting work of supporting officers, responding to calls for change"

Massarah Mikati, Staff writer, Albany, New York Times Union

June 28, 2020 | Updated: June 28, 2020 6:05 a.m.

ALBANY — One month ago, Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins was surrounded by a throng of impassioned protesters in Arbor Hill, demanding answers about holding local police officers accountable for violence against black residents.

He was chided with comments such as, “I’m tired with the political responses,” and “You’re not here to be silent, Chief.”

Some people called Hawkins, who is black, a sellout and an Uncle Tom.

Eventually, he took the megaphone.

“I get social injustice because I’ve heard the stories from my parents, I’ve heard it from my grandparents, I lived it,” said Hawkins, 52, a married father of an adult son and daughter.

“That’s one of the reasons why I wear a uniform."

"Because change comes from the inside many times in many types of institutions …"

"So how do I take what’s personally inside of me and use it to help my organization relate better to my communities?”

The death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed when a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, has sparked protests against police brutality and systemic racism across the country for the past month.

And as civilians hurl criticism at law enforcement for its treatment of black Americans, Hawkins is one of the thousands of law enforcement officers of color who have found themselves in the middle.

He is both black and in uniform; he has experienced racism at the hands of police, but also has respect and admiration for his fellow officers; he is hearing the exact same cries today that he heard when Rodney King was brutally beaten by Los Angeles police in 1992, when he first joined the Southfield, Mich., police department, but has also seen many improvements in law enforcement in the past 30 years.

“It is the toughest part of my job right now,” said Hawkins, 52, a married father of an adult son and daughter.

“And what is so exhausting for me is maintaining that balance of supporting my officers, making sure that there are consequences for those officers who do bad things, but also conveying to the community that I do hear and that I do understand, and that I'm not just this token that's been propped up to appease the black community.”

Some community voices complain that Hawkins' effort to find balance has led him to sway his stance on certain issues, or refrain from bolder actions on others.

He’s also drawn criticism for his handling of a March 2019 incident on First Street in which Officer Luke Deer dragged a black man out of his home and beat him when responding to a noise complaint.

Hawkin has also been accused of eroding Albany’s community policing program, though the chief insists the program has become more robust under his almost two years of leadership.

Many advocates have also been calling to defund the police, or shift financial resources from the police department to agencies in charge of housing and mental health support to treat the root causes of crime.

“I’m not fundamentally opposed to that," Hawkins said in a June 17 interview with the Times Union.

"I see some value to that."

"I just think we have to be very careful when we're talking about diverting funds from policing, that that's going to impact the basic function of policing.”

But in a follow-up interview four days later, Hawkins said, “I am strongly against any defunding of the police."

"I think there’s a way to do that and structure our budgetary priorities and still fully fund our police department and fund these other programs to help other entities and individuals.”

Hawkins' change of heart coincided with the recent spate of violence in Albany, where 26 people were shot — four fatally — within the span of two weeks.

The chief pointed to the diminished police presence in the city since early March due to the COVID-19 pandemic as a clear reason violence has surged.

“COVID-19 changed how police departments across this country operate,” he said.

“But in the meantime, there are individuals in the community who didn’t care about COVID-19, and they were determined to get retribution for some previous grievances because there would be fewer police out in the streets, fewer witnesses, and they would be able to do these things and potentially get away with it.”

Hawkins sat down with the Times Union to talk about the Black Lives Matter movement, and what it’s like to be a black police chief today.

(This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.)

Tell me about growing up black, and what the conversation about police was like.

In the mid-‘70s, we're just coming out of the Civil Rights protests of the ‘60s.

And so things were still raw in terms of relations between police and minorities, especially African Americans.

And so growing up, for me, talking with my parents and my uncles and other relatives, the message was, "Try not to antagonize the police; try not to be threatening to the police — because if you are, you may not come home."

There were some times when I would get stopped, when I was with people.

And I would wonder why I was stopped, and they would always tell me, "Oh, no, we just got stopped because we were black."

I had friends who were harassed or victims of brutality or both, and they would tell the stories about how when they were arrested, the cops would take them someplace and beat them up in the back seat and take them to the station house.

But the odd thing about it was it was just accepted.

Why did you decide to be a police officer?

My first thought was, why would I want to do this?

Everything I've heard about policing and law enforcement was that it’s anti-black, was oppressive to people who look like me — well, I don't want to do that.

But then I thought, "Let me change perceptions."

"Then I can change what (my community’s) realities may be."

And then also, just kind of get inside the institution itself.

Have you seen a change in law enforcement throughout your career?

I was a rookie cop when the Rodney King riots occurred out of Los Angeles, and I can remember the aftermath of that.

And in hearing what the African-American community said about law enforcement in general back then, no question, the frustration, the anger — they were just upset about the institution of law enforcement itself.

So what’s a little disheartening for me now is that 30 years later, I'm still hearing the same thing.

You can almost take the comments that we were hearing 30 years ago, and pan to now from members of the African-American community and they would still fit; they'll still apply.

So that's a little frustrating, but I know that there's been a lot of progress over the 30 years.

I've seen a lot in terms of an awareness that the law enforcement community needed to build better bridges with minority communities.

I've seen programs in place that were designed to do that.

I’ve seen, over 30 years, much more diversity in law enforcement.

So we're getting that diversity of thought into law enforcement, where people — especially at the highest levels in law enforcement — are now willing to look at this whole institution and say, “Have we been doing enough?"

"Has there been enough change?"

"Have we really listened to those, particularly in the minority community, about how they want to be policed?”

How do you dismantle systemic racism in an institution that has a long history of brutality toward black people – and in some places in the U.S. traces its origin to policing slaves?

That is a big bite of an apple to take in terms of totally dismantling, and so I don't know if that's realistic at this point.

But I think that what certainly can happen is a reimagining of this whole institution.

For me, what that means is rethinking the way that we deliver this service.

For so many years, we’ve always thought that it’s an us-versus-them kind of mentality in law enforcement.

And so we've had this idea that we've got to impose a policing style on our communities based on our experience, and what we know about safety and security.

So I think that a reimagining of the fundamental way of delivering services has to happen.

And it doesn't mean tearing down or dismantling the institution itself.

There's so much good in law enforcement.

And we've got to preserve that piece of it, but also realize that we may have to make some fundamental adjustments in how we police.

It's an inescapable fact that for all that we do good in law enforcement, we are having some problems connecting and delivering services to the African-American community.

And we've got to accept that that fact exists, and then figure out a way to reimagine our total services so that we're making that part of society feel that they are being policed in a dignified way, in a way that gives them a voice, a way that makes them feel safer, in a way that makes them respect the men and women who are actually helping them to feel safer in our communities.

How do you envision that?

Part of the reimagining that I see is, no matter how good the service delivery is, no matter how great the relationship is with the community, every few years, let's bring all the stakeholders back and let's talk.

What type of changes have we seen over the last three years or four years or so?

And what type of changes are necessary or adjustments are necessary considering the discussions that we had?

There are two things that really stand out to me, and that is assessing the role of police officers in policing social issues: We’re talking mental health, substance abuse, homelessness, unhealthy family structures.

I think a major reform that can change fundamentally policing is having systems in place that minimize the context that police officers are having in those situations.

Because in many use-of-force situations, especially those that escalate to lethal force, we're saying that they started off with some sort of interaction or intervention with a police officer with some sort of social issue.

Maybe if we had somebody else who could have dealt with that, before it escalated to that point, maybe that would have resolved the situation instead of a police officer becoming involved.

The other thing I think is needed — and is probably going to happen — is some national standards in terms of use of force.

There’s some best practices that are out there by some of the major police organizations, but nothing that standardizes codes of conduct with major issues that police officers handle on a day-to-day basis.

In which case you end up seeing these issues being handled differently in different states and cities.

What that leads to is confusion and distrust.

What do you think about the recent surge of violence in the city, in the context of these calls to address the root causes of crime?

It's been very unsettling to me.

We’re seeing something very different this year.

COVID-19 changed how police departments across this country operate.

It changed how the Albany Police Department interacted with the community.

We went almost three months where we had almost minimal contact with the community.

We didn’t have face-to-face interaction for over three months.

What we’re seeing right now is clear to me: The aftermath of those grievances that were taking place during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s resulted in retaliation for some of those.

With each incident that we’ve seen, we suspect that the following ones have some sort of retaliation element to them.

The total dynamics changed in terms of interactions and interventions in our community.

It wasn’t just the police: our recreation department, education — it was so few face-to-face interactions and interventions that we’re starting to see the aftermath for that.

What do you think about the frustration of protesters in regard to holding police officers accountable?

As an African-American man, I know the sense of urgency.

And I know why there are people who are saying that we're tired of waiting.

And we want to see some tangible results, and we want to see them right now.

But on the other hand, working in this institution for 30 years, I understand that we're not going to change it so fast.

But we could make some incremental steps to make a change, and to make a big change over time.

My challenge is to help those who feel disenfranchised and victimized by law enforcement to see that there is some progress being made.

They hear it coming from me and they think, "Well, you’re just another black guy who got a position and things are good for you, and you forgot how it was on the streets and you forgot the pain and frustration of people who look like you."

When we had the protests out here, I heard the calls of being a sellout and being an Uncle Tom and just a token.

I hear and I understand, and it's painful to hear that, especially when I know that I have worked so hard to help this institution to understand the African-American community over the years.

But it's hard to convey change that's not real visible, and that's not proceeding at a pace that people want to see.

What is it like to be a black police chief in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement?

It’s just so exhausting right now.

And it’s almost like I’m caught right smack in the middle.

It’s painful to hear that my officers may not feel that they're getting the support that they need during a time like this.

And it's painful to hear that members of the African-American community feel that I'm not listening, that I don't care, that I've just sold out the community.

Those things are both painful to deal with, and so I've got to accept that to maintain this balance.

And sometimes it's hard to walk that middle ground because you end up antagonizing both sides.

I still have to be a law enforcement executive that's fair, and I still have to be a person that people in the African-American community can look to and say, "Well, he did it."

"He's there."

"He understands."

"He's making a difference in helping with change at the pace that he can within the system that he's working in."

What advice do you have for other people of color and black people who may also try to change institutions from within?

I think you have to go in with an open mind.

Understand that, yes, there are some problems, but let's just go in and let's get to meet the people.

Let's get to see how the systems really work.

And then find your place.

Share your perspectives — not in a defensive way, not necessarily in an aggressive way, but in a way where people will sit and listen and hear your perspective.

Because that's how things change; that's how cultures change.

That's how attitudes and ideas and behaviors within the organization change.

When they start to see different people, and they hear that diversity, it moves the needle.

Because people start thinking a little bit more — they start respecting that.

Written By Massarah Mikati

Massarah Mikati covers communities of color and breaking news for the Times Union. She was previously a state reporter for Johnson Newspaper Corp., covering the New York State Legislature for 10 counties in the Hudson Valley, Western New York and North Country. From 2017-2019, Massarah was a Hearst Fellow reporting on immigrants and refugees for the Times Union, then communities of color for the Houston Chronicle. Massarah graduated from The Ohio State University in 2017 with a B.A. in journalism, Middle East studies and Francophone studies.

Follow her on Twitter and send tips to ... 366066.php

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Post by thelivyjr » Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:40 p


"Oil prices end higher as hope for increased demand overshadows coronavirus-induced uncertainty"

By Myra P. Saefong and Mark DeCambre

Published: June 29, 2020 at 3:25 p.m. ET

Oil futures finished higher Monday, buoyed by some recovery in energy demand, even with that recovery threatened by the possibility of another round of shutdowns as global cases of COVID-19 top 10 million.

“As global demand recovers, oil’s natural inclination is to go higher, since current prices are below the economic threshold for most producers,” Manish Raj, chief financial officer at Velandera Energy, told MarketWatch.

The market saw upbeat economic data over the weekend from China, the world’s biggest importer of crude.

Industrial profits in China for May were up 6% from a year earlier, representing the first increase in 2020, official statistics released over the weekend showed.

There are also signs of further slowdowns in oil production.

“To sum up the American producers’ standpoint, domestic rig count is down 73% from last year,” so oil has resumed its trend upward, said Raj.

Still, “the greatest spoiler last week was the recovery in U.S. oil production by 500,000 barrels a day,” as reported by the Energy Information Administration, he said.

“Traders now fear that at least some of the shut in wells...could quickly spring back and spoil the recent recovery.”

West Texas Intermediate crude for August rose $1.21, or 3.1%, to settle at $39.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, following a 3.4% weekly decline for WTI put in on Friday.

Global benchmark Brent oil for August delivery climbed 69 cents, or 1.7%, at $41.71 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, after notching a weekly decline of 2.8% on Friday, based on the most-active contract settlements.

The August contract expires at the end of Tuesday’s session.

Worries about the need to re-implement efforts to prevent the pandemic’s spread, and the likelihood that the moves would slow the recovery in oil demand, have climbed along with cases of the illness.

“Demand remains the chief concern for the current market, particularly in the U.S.,” which accounts for nearly 20% of global crude and product demand, said Robbie Fraser, senior commodity analyst at Schneider Electric, in a daily note.

U.S. demand has clearly rebounded from a record plunge in March/April, but “a continued rebound is likely to be challenged by the surge of COVID-19 cases in some states.”

The U.S. leads the world with a COVID-19 case tally of 2.55 million and death toll of 125,803, more than double the 1.34 million cases and 57,622 deaths recorded in Brazil.

Within the U.S., infections have climbed in 32 states over the past 14 days, according to a New York Times tracker, with California, Texas and Florida leading the way.

Traders also weighed the potential impact from the bankruptcy filing of Chesapeake Energy Corp. on Sunday.

The oil- and gas-price rout stoked by the coronavirus pandemic dealt a powerful blow to the U.S. pioneer in a unique oil extraction technique that would come to shift the balance of oil production in the world.

“Chesapeake was the undisputable master of U.S. shale gas,” wrote Magnus Nysveen, head of analysis at Rystad Energy, in a Monday report.

“The massive financial burden of investing first into the shale gas boom, then its failed attempt to grow a similar strong position on oil plays, have brought the giant to its knees,” he surmised.

Separately, Artem Abramov, head of shale research at Rystad, said that “a material portion of the U.S. light oil supply is now controlled by supermajors and large independents with access to the core acreage and strong balance sheets.”

Most of these companies “can gradually adapt even if oil prices of $35-40 WTI stay around for longer.”

Back on Nymex, prices for petroleum products were higher along with oil, ahead of the July contract expiration at Tuesday’s settlement.

July gasoline rose 2.7% to $1.1841 a gallon and July heating oil rose 2.6% to $1.1654 a gallon.

August natural gas settled at $1.709 per million British thermal units, up 10.7%.

“Natural gas markets are responding primarily to weather forecasts, as expectation of warmer days ahead provides a boost to prices that are in multiyear lows," said Raj.

Futures prices settled on Thursday at $1.482, their lowest since August 1995, according to Dow Jones MarketData. ... latestnews

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Post by thelivyjr » Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:40 p

MARKETWATCH Market Snapshot

"Dow surges 579 points, ending near session highs, on hope that shutdowns won’t be widespread as coronavirus cases top 10 million"

By Mark DeCambre and Joy Wiltermuth

Published: June 29, 2020 at 4:33 p.m. ET

The Dow booked its best one-day gain in about three weeks Monday, partly as upbeat economic data raised hopes, and also as Boeing shares surged.

But investors also were watching the persistence of coronavirus in hot spots, including Florida, Texas and California, fueling concerns about the economic outlook.

Financial markets in the U.S. will be closed on Friday in observance of the Fourth of July holiday.

How did benchmarks perform?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 580.25 points, or 2.3%, closing near a session high of 25,595.80, its best one-day percentage climb since June 5, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

The S&P 500 index advanced 44.19 points, or 1.5%, to finish at 3,053.24, as the consumer discretionary and industrials sectors climbed.

The technology-laden Nasdaq Composite Index picked up 116.93 points, or 1.2%, to end at 9,874.15.

On Friday, the Dow put the finishing touches on a weekly decline of 3.3%, falling 700-plus points on the day, while the S&P 500 notched a 2.9% weekly decline and the Nasdaq fell 1.9% for the week.

What drove the market?

Major U.S. stock indexes finished sharply higher Monday as economic data continued to surprise to the upside, even as several states with surging COVID-19 infections have been forced to reimpose limits on business activities and social gatherings.

Markets scored an early boost after a report showed that pending home sales in May spiked 44.3% compared with April, according to the National Association of Realtors.

That beat expectations of a 15% rise.

Sales were still 5.1% lower compared against the same time last year.

For owners who plan to use their residential properties as income, however, rents have been falling in many parts of the nation as millions of people remain out of work during the pandemic.

“We still have a lot of work to do, but certainly the economy has recovered faster than expected,” said Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Co. in Wisconsin.

“The rising case count does raise some issues,” he told MarketWatch, but he also said he thinks “the likelihood of a nationwide lockdowns appears remote.”

Coronavirus cases worldwide surpassed 10 million, with more than a half-million deaths.

A dozen states, including Florida, Texas, California and Arizona — now hot spots in the U.S. — reversed reopening plans and implemented tighter restrictions to prevent a further spread of the viral epidemic, the Wall Street Journal reported.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday said he may slow New York City’s broader Phase III reopening slated for next Monday, which would allow indoor dining at restaurants and more personal-care services and outdoor activities to resume.

New Jersey’s governor said Monday the state would postponed indoor dining indefinitely.

An inability to curtail the spread of COVID-19 would prove problematic for economic projections that factor in a sharp, V-shaped rebound, if business activity stalls or more closures are ordered to address the public health crisis.

“From our perspective, the virus surging in the South simply underscores our long-held view that it is the virus, not monetary or fiscal policy, controlling the economy’s recovery,” wrote TS Lombard’s chief U.S. economist Steven Blitz and head of strategy Andrea Cicione, in a client note.

“Because of the virus, habits have changed, the willingness to re-engage has declined, and the arc of consumption growth will be flatter.”

A survey of chief executive officers of the nation’s biggest companies released on Monday showed they expect the business impact of the pandemic to linger until at least 2021, according to the Business Roundtable’s second-quarter report.

Meanwhile, in China, industrial profits in May were up 6% from a year earlier, representing the first increase in 2020, official statistics released over the weekend showed.

Investors are expecting some turmoil due the holiday-shortened week and end-of-quarter activity among investment managers, including pensions and mutual funds.

“In summary, with two days left before the quarter dies, window dressing is likely to increase volatility, with some sectors gaining over others,” wrote Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities.

“However, the trend is likely to remain negative ahead of this week’s key macro indicators and the upcoming earnings season,” he said, referring to corporate quarterly results that kick of in earnest in the middle of July.

Which stocks were in focus?

• Facebook, Starbucks Corp. Unilever shares were in focus after announced Sunday that it is “pausing” advertisements on all social-media platforms, two days after consumer-products conglomerate said it was halting U.S. advertising on Facebook and Twitter through year-end over ineffective policing of hate speech, leading to a sharp Friday selloff in both stocks.

Shares of Facebook still rose 2.1%, while Twitter’s stock advanced 1.5% Monday.

Shares of Gilead Sciences Inc. closed nearly flat Monday after the drugmaker disclosed that remdesivir, its experimental COVID-19 treatment, will cost $2,340 for a course of treatment.

• U.S. air-safety regulators resumed key flight tests of Boeing Co.‘s 737 Max on Monday, with the aim of returning the planes to service around the end of the year.

Boeing’s shares surged 14.4%.

• Chesapeake Energy Corp. said Sunday that it had filed for bankruptcy protection as an oil- and gas-price rout stoked by the coronavirus pandemic proved to be the final blow for a shale-drilling pioneer long hamstrung by debt.

Its shares were halted.

• Shares of Coty Inc. soared 13.4% after the cosmetics, fragrance and skin-care company announced a deal with Kim Kardashian West to develop a beauty business globally.

• Southwest Airlines Co shares closed up 9.6% after a double upgrade from Goldman Sachs, amid hopes that testing could help travelers feel safer at airports even as record numbers of new coronavirus infections limit travel.

• Aurora Cannabis Inc. said Monday that co-founder and former chief executive, Terry Booth, is retiring from its board.

Its shares fell 0.9%.

• AMC Entertainment Holdings said Monday it would delay the planned reopening of its theaters for about two weeks until July 30.

Shares of the company gained 5.7%.

How did other assets perform?

West Texas Intermediate U.S. crude for August delivery rose $1.21 cents, or 3.1%, to close at $39.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In precious metals, gold futures closed modestly higher, up 90 cents, or 0.05%, to settle at $1,781.20 an ounce.

The 10-year Treasury note yield was unchanged at 0.636%.

Bond prices move inversely to yields.

The greenback was up 0.1% against a basket of its major rivals, based on trading in the ICE U.S. Dollar Index.

In European equities, the Stoxx Europe 600 index finished 0.4% higher and London’s FTSE 100 advanced 1.1%.

In Asian markets, the Japanese Nikkei lost 2.3%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1%, while South Korea’s Kospi declined 1.9%.

China’s CSI 300 retreated 0.7%, while the Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.6%. ... _headlines

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Post by thelivyjr » Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:40 p


"U.S. government bond yields hold steady, kick off holiday-shortened week"

By Mark DeCambre, MarketWatch and Joy Wiltermuth

Published: June 29, 2020 at 5:08 p.m. ET

U.S. Treasury yields were mostly unchanged Monday, after rates last week for long-dated debt hit a six-week low, amid rising cases of COVID-19 here and elsewhere in the globe.

Debt investors are anticipating that the equity and fixed-income markets could face some month-end and quarter-end gyrations as money managers rebalance their portfolios after a brisk run-up for stocks.

Markets will be closed on Friday in observance of the Fourth of July holiday and the bond market closes an hour early on Thursday due to the holiday.

What are Treasurys doing?

The 10-year Treasury note yield was unchanged at 0.636%, after the benchmark bond touched its lowest level since May 14 on Friday.

The 2-year note rate edged 0.8 basis point lower to 0.158%, extending a move to its lowest level since June 1.

Meanwhile, the 30-year bond yield added 1.8 basis points to 1.390%, snapping a three session streak of heading lower.

Bond yields fall as prices rise.

What’s driving Treasurys?

Growing cases in of coronavirus and the implications of a weaker global economy have helped to stoke appetite for government debt, keeping yields anchored lower as stocks have rallied on the back of optimism around positive economic data and a barrage of fiscal and monetary stimulus.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases topped 10 million around the world and the death toll surpassed a half million over the weekend, with Florida, South Carolina and Nevada all recorded their highest number of new infections in a single day.

New Jersey on Monday postponed allowing indoor dining ‘indefinitely,’ while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he might halt next Monday’s Phase III reopening, which would include allowing indoor dining and less restrictions on personal services, as well as outdoor activities.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar warned on Sunday that “the window is closing” for his country to take action to curb the virus, as he predicted rising deaths and hospitalizations in the next couple of weeks.

Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada and South Carolina are among the states that have become worrying focal points.

In Europe, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to spend tens billions of pounds to salvage the economy, building hospitals, schools, housing developments and “shovel-ready” road and rail projects, he said in an interview with The Mail on Sunday.

Meanwhile, in China, industrial profits in May were up 6% from a year earlier, representing the first increase in 2020, official statistics released over the weekend showed.

U.S. pending homes sales in May staged a historic rebound, soaring 44.3% in May as compared with April, the National Association of Realtors reported Monday, potentially signaling that the worst in residential real-estate may have passed.

What are market participants saying?

“Now that U.S. Treasury yields have joined Japanese and eurozone government bond yields at levels below 1%, the global search for yield has intensified as the pool of even moderately-yielding assets is shrinking,” said Peter Wilson, Wells Fargo Investment Institute’s global fixed-income strategist, in a note Monday. ... cle_inline

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Post by thelivyjr » Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:40 p


"Debt from AT&T and other corporate giants saw biggest purchases from the Fed"

By Sunny Oh

Published: June 28, 2020 at 2:54 p.m. ET

The Federal Reserve unveiled on Sunday further details of an emergency lending program buying corporate debt, showing which U.S. businesses have benefited from its unprecedented measures to support the flow of credit in the economy.

Through its lending facilities, the Fed is buying individual corporate bonds from the market in amounts in line with an index of its own construction, which would eventually see the central bank snap up a large cross-section of U.S. investment-grade and some sub-investment-grade debt.

Bonds from these companies were the 10 biggest beneficiaries as of June 17.

Issuer Purchase amount ($)

AT&T 16,476,295.05

UnitedHealth Group 16,451,866.25

Comcast 13,315,346.67

Anthem 12,937,095.56

Walmart 8,758,531.52

Constellation Brands 8,465,435.00

Ford 8,051,573.33

CVS Health 7,762,008.33

Boeing 7,648,612.66

AbbVie 7,394,459.72

It’s early days, so the Fed’s biggest purchases don’t line up neatly with the biggest constituents of the bond-market index.

The six biggest constituents of the Fed’s new debt index are Toyota, Volkswagen, Daimler, AT&T, Apple and Verizon Communications, yet only AT&T made the top 10 list of purchases.

These differences are expected to be ironed out over time as the central bank snaps up more debt.

The Fed has purchased 119 bond issues in the two days of trading as of June 17, even as the index is made up of 794 issuers.

The discrepancy between the Fed’s purchases and the index underpinning the central bank’s bond buying is also reflected in how the share of credit ratings of the bonds purchased differ with the proportion of ratings reflected by the Fed’s debt benchmark.

For example, around 54.8% of the bonds included in the Fed’s broad market index carry a credit rating of triple-B, the biggest but lowest letter rating in the investment-grade bond market.

But 48.3% of the bonds bought through the Fed’s secondary credit facility, however, sport a rating of triple-B.

For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 3.3%, the S&P 500 notched a 2.9% decline, and the Nasdaq fell 1.9% for the period. ... _headlines

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Post by thelivyjr » Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:40 p


"Pending home sales staged a historic rebound in May, meaning the worst may have already come for the real-estate market"

By Jacob Passy

Published: June 29, 2020 at 10:41 a.m. ET

The numbers:

After two consecutive months of decline, the index of pending home sales soared 44.3% in May as compared with April, the National Association of Realtors reported Monday.

The monthly increase was the largest ever since the National Association of Realtors started the index in January 2001.

“This has been a spectacular recovery for contract signings, and goes to show the resiliency of American consumers and their evergreen desire for homeownership,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said in the report.

“This bounce back also speaks to how the housing sector could lead the way for a broader economic recovery.”

The index measures real-estate transactions for previously-owned homes where a contract was signed but the sale had not yet closed, benchmarked to contract-signing activity in 2001.

Compared with a year ago, contract signings were still down 5.1%, a sign of how steep the declines in March and April were given the record monthly increase in May.

What happened:

Every region saw a monthly increase in pending home sales, led by the West (up 56%) and the Northeast (up 44%).

Only the South saw a year-over-year uptick in contract signings.

With the improved outlook on home sales, Yun said the National Association of Realtors now expects existing-home sales to reach 4.93 million this year and new home sales to reach 690,000.

The big picture:

The rebound in pending home sales means that there likely won’t be repeats of May’s significant downturn in existing-home sales for months to come.

Together with last week’s new home sales report for May, which also measures contract signings, it appears that home buyers are eager to re-enter the housing market.

As such, the typically busy spring home-buying seasons appears to have been delayed for most buyers rather than foregone outright.

Research has shown that the job losses related to the coronavirus pandemic have largely occurred for lower-paid workers who are less likely to be home buyers, so the people looking to purchase a home have weathered the recession well to this point.

And record-low mortgage rates are proving to be a major incentive.

Still, buyers will face trouble finding homes to buy.

Sellers are still somewhat reluctant to list their homes because of concerns about the coronavirus and the economy.

Before the pandemic began, the U.S. already saw a very short supply of homes for sale.

For buyers in today’s market, that means they can expect more competition and higher prices for the properties that are available.

What they’re saying:

“New home sales took a similar upward turn last week, but today’s pending data is a more important indicator of market activity since it covers existing homes which made up roughly 80 to 90 percent of sales in recent years."

"This move confirms that May closings could represent a low-point for home sales, with June and July numbers looking much better,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at

Market reaction:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were both up slightly in Monday morning trading on the heels of the housing data, despite a continued rise in COVID-19 cases. ... cle_inline

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Post by thelivyjr » Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:40 p


"Shooting in Seattle’s CHOP zone leaves one dead, another in critical condition"

By Yaron Steinbuch and Tamar Lapin

June 29, 2020 | 12:51pm

One man was killed and a 14-year-old boy was wounded in a shooting early Monday in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone, or CHOP, a patch of the city occupied by demonstrators rallying against police brutality and racism, according to reports.

One victim was rushed to Harborview Medical Center in a private car shortly after 3 a.m. while the second was taken via ambulance a few minutes later, hospital spokesperson Susan Gregg told KOMO News.

“When investigators arrived, they found a white Jeep Cherokee riddled with bullet holes on 12th Avenue between Pike and Pine,” Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best told reporters.

“Officers were told two men in the vehicle had been shot, but both were gone when officers got there.”

It appeared the crime scene was tampered with following the shooting, Best said.

“Our homicide detectives searched the Jeep for evidence but there wasn’t much we could find,” Best said.

“The typical things we search for in a shooting like this weren’t there.”

“It’s abundantly clear to our detectives that people had been in and out of the car after the shooting.”

Detectives are relying on witnesses to figure out what happened, but Best said that, as with the other shootings in the area, “people are not being cooperative with our requests for help.”

President Trump slammed the “Seattle Looters, Agitators, Anarchists and ‘Protestors’” on Twitter on Monday, saying they “are now refusing to leave the ‘CHOP’ Zone.”

He added: “They have ZERO respect for Government, or the Mayor of Seattle or Governor of Washington State!"

"Not good!”

The gunfire that erupted Monday near 12th Avenue and Pike Street marked the fourth shooting in the area where the Seattle police’s East Precinct was headquartered.

Police haven’t provided any further details about what led to the shooting and have not mentioned any suspects.

Protesters calling for racial justice and an end to police brutality have occupied several blocks around the police station — which cops abandoned — and Cal Anderson Park for about two weeks.

“I’m aware of three shootings and one murder that was a result of a shooting in the zone,” Police Chief Carmen Best told CNN on Sunday before the latest shooting occurred.

“We’ve also had some assaults, sexual assaults, a robbery, and a couple of arsons."

"So the level of violence that is starting in that area certainly increased over time and it is no longer a block party."

"It’s a real public safety issue,” she added.

On June 20, a 19-year-old demonstrator was fatally shot in the zone near Cal Anderson Park.

Trump last week threatened to intervene if authorities did not crack down on the protesters.

“They don’t do something with Seattle, we’re going to do that."

"We’re going to go in there,” the president told Fox News host Sean Hannity in a town hall.

“What is happening, they’re taking over American cities."

"In all cases, its Democrats."

"They’re Democrat-run, in all cases.”

City officials said barriers at CHOP would be dismantled Sunday, but they remained there as of Monday morning, KING 5 reported. ... -critical/

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Post by thelivyjr » Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:40 p

"Bumpy's employees walk out amid protest against alleged racist operator - Hundreds rally against ice cream shop owner's alleged racist text messages"

Cayla Harris

June 28, 2020 | Updated: June 28, 2020 8:22 p.m.

SCHENECTADY – More than 200 people gathered on Sunday outside Bumpy's Polar Freeze, a popular ice cream parlor, to rally against store owner David Elmendorf, who allegedly sent text messages using racial slurs and saying he doesn't hire black people.

The demonstration was peaceful and passionate, with protesters blocking part of State Street in front of the restaurant for more than two hours.

The protest culminated in the shop shutting down for the evening around 6:15 p.m. – three hours earlier than usual – and three employees walking out, saying they'd quit.

"We set this up today ... to eradicate white supremacy in our home."

"There's no space for it here," said organizer Mikayla Foster, 21, who was born and raised in Schenectady.

"It looks a lot of different ways."

"I think people get it confused, that the only thing we're fighting against is police brutality, but that's not the case."

"We're fighting against every system that is set to discredit us, disenfranchise us, dismantle us as a people."

Foster, who works with the community organizing group All of Us, led the crowd for much of the protest, kicking off the event by directing a group of roughly 75 people who had shown up at 4 p.m. from a side road to the sidewalks in front of Bumpy's and much of State Street, blocking traffic.

Within an hour, more than 200 people had arrived with signs ranging from "Shut racists down" to "Be kind."

They chanted and danced together in front of the shop.

"We are active and ready to move forward against oppression, against black and brown people dying, against white supremacy – the same white supremacy you see at Bumpy's over here today," Foster said at the start of the protest.

"They have been operating on systems of racism and oppression for years now."

"It's a damn shame, because they didn't know that Schenectady came with heat like this."

"So, today, what the (expletive) we're going to do is shut it the (expletive) down."

The group did what was promised - at least for Sunday.

There were at least five employees inside Bumpy's Sunday afternoon, and by the end of the event, three had walked out.

All were black men.

The protest gradually moved from the street to the lot directly outside the ice cream parlor, as demonstrators held a sit-in in front of the venue for about an hour.

As attendees inched closer to the shop around 5:15 p.m., some protesters started collecting money for the employees, saying they would buy them out of working for the restaurant.

Attendees raised at least $270 for each of the men who left and promised to help them find new jobs.

One of the workers, Shameil McCoy, was wearing a Bumpy's shirt – and took it off as protesters cheered.

Some demonstrators later jumped on it and threw it in the pool next to the establishment.

Meanwhile, Bumpy's was open Sunday despite the owner racking up daily fines of $2,000 earlier in the week for ignoring a Schenectady County health department shutdown order over a minor code violation.

Schenectady County Attorney Chris Gardner has said Elmendorf was charged Wednesday with obstructing governmental administration for allegedly tearing down and ripping up notices posted at the State Street business for it to close down.

Organizer Khalifa Jackson, 27, of the group BLX, said Sunday's protest was just the first step in taking down a number of businesses in local communities "that are built on the foundation of white supremacy and are allowed to thrive in these environments."

Her organization also helps locate and augment community resources for black children; she advertised a community cleanup at Jerry Burrell Park scheduled for July 19.

"I think we had a really good turnout today," Jackson said.

"A lot of people are very passionate here, so of course emotions run high."

"We're very frustrated, we're tired at the end of the day – but I feel like we definitely maintained our initial purpose and mission, which was to shed light on what is going on in this establishment and bringing the community together to remind them just how much we're worth and how much our lives are valued."

The protest was swiftly organized after racist text messages allegedly sent by Elmendorf surfaced on social media last week.

By Friday, Gardner had asked the state attorney general's office to conduct an immediate civil rights investigation into Elmendorf's "discriminatory and illegal actions."

It wasn't clear if Elmendorf was present at the shop during Sunday's protest, and he could not be reached for comment.

The parlor was open as usual and took a few customers at the beginning of the event, as demonstrators yelled nearby.

The shop also had two "Blue Lives Matter" flags flying from the restaurant.

One customer, 23-year-old Billy Cohn, said he bought ice cream Sunday before he was aware that officials were asking for an investigation into the text messages.

Cohn has frequented the establishment for years and thought the messages were fake – but changed his mind after a brief confrontation with demonstrators who informed him of the cause.

"I regret it," he said of buying the ice cream, adding that he will "never" shop at Bumpy's again.

Cohn ended up staying on scene to livestream the rest of the protest.

Written By Cayla Harris

Cayla Harris is based at the Capitol in Albany covering politics for the Times Union. She graduated in May 2019 from the George Washington University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. During her time in D.C., she interned for the Hearst Washington bureau. Reach her at ... ief&stn=nf

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Post by thelivyjr » Tue Jun 30, 2020 1:40 p


"Oil posts hefty quarterly climb, but coronavirus cases, oversupply worries feed year-to-date loss"

By Myra P. Saefong and Mark DeCambre

Published: June 30, 2020 at 3:44 p.m. ET

Oil futures ended lower on Tuesday as persistent concerns about the rising number of cases of COVID-19 offset upbeat data suggesting both China’s manufacturing and service sectors are recovering.

Despite a significant rebound for oil prices in the second quarter, U.S. oil prices still ended the first half of the year with losses of close to 36%.

“The second quarter will not soon be forgotten by energy traders given that WTI crude oil futures plunged into negative territory for the first time in history, and decidedly so, in the month of April,” said Tyler Richey, co-editor at Sevens Report Research.

That was “due to logistics issues in the physical supply chain, most notably a critical lack of available storage for freshly lifted crude barrels in the U.S.”

On April 20, WTI oil futures fell 306% to settle at negative $37.63.

“Since then, oil and refined product markets have staged an equally historic rebound with prices poised to end the second quarter nearly 100% higher than where they ended Q1 due to a swift recovery in consumer demand as well as sharp output cuts by global oil producers,” Richey told MarketWatch.

On Tuesday, West Texas Intermediate crude for August fell 43 cents, or 1.1%, to settle at $39.27 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

So far this year, prices based on the front-month contracts, were nearly 36% lower, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

For the quarter, however, prices rose nearly 92%.

Global benchmark Brent oil for August delivery shed 56 cents, or 1.3%, to end at $41.15 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

Front-month contract prices fell by almost 38% year to date, but was up nearly 81% for the quarter.

The August contract expired at the end of the session.

The new front month September contract fell 58 cents, or 1.4%, to $41.27.

The global tally for confirmed cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 rose to 10.3 million on Tuesday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

The number of deaths climbed to 505,518, while the number of people who have recovered reached 5.2 million.

A steady climb in the number of infections has raised the threat of delaying or reversing efforts to reopen economies that have been facing lockdowns to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

On top of that, investors were monitoring Libya to see if the oil exporter would resume oil production which has been almost entirely blockaded since January amid the country’s civil war, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers for June rose to 50.9 from 50.6 in May, while the services PMI rose to 54.4 from 53.6, suggesting the second-largest economy and biggest importer of oil is continuing to show signs of recovery from the virus that was first identified in Wuhan.

“As we move into the second half of the year, the energy rebound is showing signs of stalling, however, as traders assess the threat of the recent resurgence in COVID-19 cases and the looming possibility of more economic shutdowns in the back half of the year,” Richey said.

“If this most recent wave of the outbreak peaks in the coming days or weeks, and the process of economic reopenings resumes, then normalizing market conditions should see WTI crude oil prices continue to grind back towards the pre-pandemic price range between $50 and $60 a barrel as the market becomes more balanced,” he added.

Oil prices very briefly trade modestly higher during Tuesday session, with Richey attributing the move to a reported explosion in Tehran that “triggered a geopolitical fear bid as the reason for the blast and resulting fire remain unknown” and tensions between the U.S. and Iran have been on the rise this week.

Oil products on Nymex settled higher at the end of Tuesday’s session, which marked expiration of the July contracts.

July gasoline rose about 1.4% to $1.2001 a gallon, with prices based on the front-month contract more than doubling for the quarter.

Still, they were down 29% year to date.

July heating oil added 1.1% to $1.1781 a gallon, with prices up over 16% for the quarter, but down around 42% so far this year.

August natural gas ended at $1.751 per million British thermal units, up 2.5% Tuesday.

Prices saw a quarterly rise of nearly 7% and a loss of 20% for the year to date.

Weekly data on U.S. petroleum supplies will be released by the American Petroleum Institute, a trade group, late Tuesday.

The Energy Information Administration’s data are due out Wednesday.

On average, the government report is expected to show crude inventories declined by 2.7 million barrels last week, according to analysts polled by S&P Global Platts.

The analysts also forecast a supply decline of 2.7 million barrels for gasoline and an increase of 900,000 barrels for distillate inventories. ... latestnews

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