• Bloomberg

    O.J., Accounting Fraud, Icahn: The Story of Hertz Going Bust

    (Bloomberg) -- The short version of Hertz Global Holdings Inc.’s bankruptcy story goes something like this: Global pandemic obliterates the travel business and lands an iconic 102-year-old company in court to seek protection from creditors.The long version is a fable about what happens when a company relies on accounting and consolidation to keep shareholders happy. It’s a tale of lurching from one CEO to another and management teams failing to stay attuned to consumer tastes.Enterprise Holdings Inc. and Avis Budget Group Inc. are suffering through the same Covid-19 drought, but Hertz’s own bad decisions and hard luck made it vulnerable at the worst time. One former top executive summed up its plight as a slow-moving train wreck.On its Chapter 11 petition, Hertz listed $25.8 billion in assets. It has over $1 billion in cash and $24.4 billion of debt. A company that began with a dozen Ford Model Ts and was taken for a spin by General Motors, Ford Motor and a group of private equity firms as parents over the decades now faces an uncertain fate that will be decided in a Delaware court.O.J., EnterpriseNo telling of Hertz’s history is complete without mention of perhaps the most disastrous end to a major celebrity-endorsement deal of all time.Hertz was owned by Ford in the summer of 1994 when police pursued O.J. Simpson in a white Bronco SUV for the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. As a Buffalo Bills running back two decades earlier, Simpson raced through airports and past children screaming “Go, O.J., go!” on his way into the company’s rental cars.The television ads were effective at emphasizing speedy service and boosted business. While the relationship was less beneficial to the company as their 19-year link wore on, Hertz stood by Simpson’s side even after a January 1989 charge for assaulting his wife. She personally convinced then-Chairman Frank Olson to stick with the star, the Washington Post reported.Hertz had some good years after the so-called trial of the century that ended in Simpson’s acquittal. But in November 1994, the same month that the jury was sworn in, the trade publication Auto Rental News ranked Enterprise its new No. 1 by fleet size and number of offices.Private Equity EraWhile Hertz was by some measures slipping in the rental industry pecking order, it was still earning tidy profits for an otherwise struggling Ford. The automaker sold the company in 2005 to two private equity firms and Merrill Lynch & Co.’s buyout unit for about $15 billion.The following year, Hertz poached the top executive at auto-parts maker Tenneco Inc., Mark Frissora, to be CEO and lead the company through a re-listing. Frissora cut costs, eliminated thousands of jobs and was paid handsomely. His $19.2 million compensation package in 2006 was more than Ford awarded its CEO last year.After weathering the global financial crisis, Hertz started pursuing a costly and drawn-out deal for Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc. It tried buying the company for $1.2 billion in 2010 but ultimately paid $2.6 billion after a two-year bidding war with its rival Avis.The deal boosted Hertz’s market share by rounding out its business-traveler stronghold with a greater presence in the budget-minded leisure segment. But the acquisition also added to Hertz’s debt pile, which already was substantial thanks to the earlier leveraged buyout. The company ended 2012 with $20.8 billion in total liabilities.Dollar ShortProblems abounded with integrating the two companies, according to Maryann Keller, a longtime auto-industry consultant who was on Dollar Thrifty’s board at the time of the acquisition.The two had different computer systems that couldn’t talk to each other. Frissora lost some talented executives by moving the two companies, which had been based in New Jersey and Oklahoma, to a new headquarters in Florida.Hertz hoped to combine airport lots for the three brands to save money, but wasn’t able to do so at many locations. The company also found that Dollar Thrifty had let the tires on its cars get thinner than Hertz allowed, and many had to be replaced at a cost of $30 million. Neither problem surfaced during due diligence.In the end, a merger that was supposed to save Hertz about $100 million in the first year ended up costing it another $70 million, two people familiar with the matter said.Accounting IssuesAs expenses related to the acquisition dragged on earnings, Frissora sought other ways to keep profit up.To tamp down on vehicle depreciation, the biggest source of costs for rental companies, Frissora tried keeping cars longer, some for as many as 50,000 miles, long past the industry norm of about 30,000, former executives told Bloomberg News. His plan was to put older vehicles into the fleets of the company’s budget brands: Dollar, Thrifty and Firefly.Because cars depreciate most in their first year, holding on to them longer would slow the rate the company had to show on its books. But not enough of the older models made it out of Hertz’s fleet, and business travelers were turned off by the aging selection of rides to choose from, Keller said.And according to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company committed fraud. The regulator said that from February 2012 through March 2014, Hertz materially misstated pretax income due to accounting errors. Investors including billionaire Carl Icahn pushed for Frissora’s ouster in September 2014, and the company restated results the following year.Hertz settled with the SEC for $16 million and Frissora wasn’t charged. A spokesman for the former CEO said he presided over operational improvements during his eight-year tenure. Hertz’s 2015 earnings restatements have no bearing on the company’s current financial situation and Frissora didn’t direct any improper accounting or engage in any wrongdoing, the spokesman said.Still, Hertz sued Frissora and three other ex-senior managers last year, seeking to claw back $70 million in bonuses over the executives’ roles in the accounting scandal. Frissora and the other executives filed their own suits in Delaware Chancery Court seeking to force the company to cover their legal bills in the clawback fight. Judge Kathaleen S. McCormick granted those requests last year. One executive reached a settlement for undisclosed terms.In an amended complaint filed in federal court in New Jersey this month, Hertz demanded that Frissora and former general counsel Jeffrey Zimmerman hand over $56 million in incentive pay because of their involvement in accounting errors that overstated Hertz’s pre-tax income. That led to the $200 million restatement and the duo’s ouster, according to court filings.Icahn EntersIcahn entered the picture after a 2014 dinner in New York that an industry analyst had with Dan Ninivaggi, who was then CEO of Icahn Enterprises. Ninivaggi was told Hertz had a good brand and solid foundation but needed discipline and better management. Icahn was swayed and bought up shares. By year-end, his holding was worth more than $1.13 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.The head of Hertz’s equipment-rental business took over the company for a few months before a fateful decision. Rather than hire former Dollar Thrifty CEO Scott Thompson to run the company, Icahn went with John Tague, an ex-COO of United Airlines.Icahn “didn’t put the best people in place” and “had a revolving door of managers,” said Keller, who believes Hertz would not be in the position it’s in today if it had hired Thompson. Icahn didn’t respond to requests for comment.Tague updated Hertz’s fleet but did so with passenger cars just as U.S. consumers began fleeing sedans for sport-utility vehicles. Consumers went looking to other rental counters for SUVs, and depreciation costs mounted as sedans retained less of their value. He also tried raising prices, figuring the industry’s oligopoly would follow suit. But Enterprise and Avis didn’t and instead picked off more of Hertz’s customers.In an interview Saturday, Tague said growth wasn’t his priority. He started tilting the fleet mix toward SUVs, but had a lot else on his plate: finishing the accounting investigation and restating earnings, integrating Dollar Thrifty, rebuilding the management team hollowed out by the Florida move and spinning off the equipment-rental business.“Upon my arrival, it was clear that many things had to be addressed with a sense of urgency,” he said in a phone interview. “That’s what I undertook.”Future JourneysTague retired at the beginning of 2017 and was replaced by Kathryn Marinello, who had been on the board of GM and truckmaker Volvo AB. The results of her early efforts to shrink the fleet and further the shift toward SUVs were undercut by the emergence of Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc.Marinello did make progress. Hertz reported nine consecutive quarters of earnings growth and expanded revenue in 10 straight.But when the pandemic decimated the rental industry, Hertz still had too little cash and a mountain of debt. Marinello resigned May 16, less than a week before the bankruptcy filing.“With the severity of the Covid-19 impact on our business and the uncertainty of when travel and the economy will rebound, we need to take further steps to weather a potentially prolonged recovery,” Hertz’s new CEO Paul Stone said in a statement announcing the company’s bankruptcy. “Our loyal customers have made us one of the world’s most iconic brands, and we look forward to serving them now and on their future journeys.”The main bankruptcy case is In RE: The Hertz Corporation, 20-111218, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware (Wilmington)(Updates with clawback lawsuits against former executives starting in 21st paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Dow Jones Futures: Breakouts Slowing In Coronavirus Stock Market Rally, But These Five Titans Are Near Buy Points
    Investor's Business Daily

    Dow Jones Futures: Breakouts Slowing In Coronavirus Stock Market Rally, But These Five Titans Are Near Buy Points

    Dow Jones futures: The coronavirust stock market rally is roaring on, but breakouts are slowing. Apple, Tesla, Microsoft, Google and AMD are near buy points though.

  • Stocks Trade Mixed Amid Mounting China Tensions: Markets Wrap

    Stocks Trade Mixed Amid Mounting China Tensions: Markets Wrap

    (Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks began the week in mixed fashion as traders weighed more signs of economies reopening around the world against the rise in U.S.-China tensions.Hong Kong shares extended Friday’s slide, following police clashes with protesters marching against China’s move to crack down on dissent. Stocks climbed in Tokyo and Sydney, and fluctuated in Seoul and Shanghai. S&P 500 futures nudged higher, building on a rally from late in the Friday session. Oil dipped. Trading volumes may be light with holidays in the U.S., U.K. and Singapore. China set its daily yuan reference rate at the weakest level since 2008 after the increasing tensions drove the currency to a seven-month low.On the virus front, Japan’s government is expected to lift the state of emergency in Tokyo and its surrounding regions later Monday, while more Australian children returned to schools and a hard-hit region in northern Italy reported zero fatalities for the first time. Still, the U.S. is considering restricting travel from Brazil, which now has the second-highest number of cases.Fresh turmoil in Hong Kong that spilled over into street protests this weekend is threatening to damage an already souring Sino-U.S. relationship. The U.S. should give up its “wishful thinking” of changing China, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, warning that American leaders are potentially pushing toward a new Cold War. Bullish sentiment is prevailing for now and global equities remain about 30% higher than the March lows, spurred by stimulus measures and optimism for a swift rebound from the virus.“One big threat to the recovery in markets is the escalating war of words between the U.S. and China,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd. in Sydney. “The main focus will likely remain on continuing evidence that the number of new Covid-19 cases is slowing in developed countries, progress towards medical solutions, the reopening of economies and signs that economic activity is picking up.”Here are some key events coming up:U.S. markets are closed Monday for Memorial Day holiday, while the U.K. is shut for the Spring bank holiday.Earnings continue with companies including Nissan Motor, British Land, Royal Bank of Canada and HP Inc.Singapore’s parliament on Tuesday is expected to announce another stimulus package.Thursday brings the U.S. jobless claims reading for the week ended May 23.Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell participates in a virtual discussion on Friday.These are the main moves in markets:StocksFutures on the S&P 500 rose 0.1% as of 10:22 a.m. in Tokyo. The gauge rose 0.2% on Friday.Japan’s Topix index advanced 1%.Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slid 0.9%.Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 1.5%.South Korea’s Kospi Index dipped 0.1%.CurrenciesThe yen was little changed at 107.64 per dollar.The offshore yuan held at 7.1495 per dollar.The euro bought $1.0899, little changed.The Aussie dipped 0.1% to 65.32 U.S. cents.BondsThe yield on 10-year Treasuries fell one basis point to 0.66% on Friday. Futures opened flat.Australian 10-year yields ticked up to 0.87%.CommoditiesWest Texas Intermediate crude fell 1.1% to $32.90 a barrel.Gold dipped 0.5% to $1,726.95 an ounce.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Stashing some gold? Here’s why that could soon be illegal, according to one notable hedge-fund bear

    Stashing some gold? Here’s why that could soon be illegal, according to one notable hedge-fund bear

    Crispin Odey explained in a note posted on Bloomberg News Wednesday why he believes that private gold ownership could be banned if/when the government loses control of inflation.

  • Scroll to continue with content
  • Recession Ahead? Time To Shift Your Stock Mutual Funds To Cash?
    Investor's Business Daily

    Recession Ahead? Time To Shift Your Stock Mutual Funds To Cash?

    Experts say a recession has begun. Is now the time to go to cash in stock mutual funds in your retirement savings accounts?

  • Forget bonds — here are 5 safe tech stocks offering dividends and growth

    Forget bonds — here are 5 safe tech stocks offering dividends and growth

    These established, well-known technology leaders boast staying power in all markets, writes Michael Brush.

  • Don’t even think of owning stocks unless you’re willing to buy and hold for at least 10 years

    Don’t even think of owning stocks unless you’re willing to buy and hold for at least 10 years

    If you want a 95% probability of stocks outperforming bonds, you better plan on 20 years, writes Mark Hulbert.

  • These 4 stocks are investment pros’ favorites — and not one is a ‘FAANG’ stock

    These 4 stocks are investment pros’ favorites — and not one is a ‘FAANG’ stock

    It takes guts to be a value investor these days. According to a recent analysis from Research Affiliates, value has lagged growth now for more than 13 years — the longest stretch in recorded U.S. market history. This has led to a seemingly-endless series of pronouncements in recent years that value investing is dead.

  • Exclusive: U.S. accuses China of blocking U.S. flights, demands action

    Exclusive: U.S. accuses China of blocking U.S. flights, demands action

    The U.S. government late on Friday accused the Chinese government of making it impossible for U.S. airlines to resume service to China and ordered four Chinese air carriers to file flight schedules with the U.S. government. The administration of President Donald Trump stopped short of imposing restrictions on Chinese air carriers but said talks with China had failed to produce an agreement. The U.S. Transportation Department, which is trying to persuade China to allow the resumption of U.S. passenger airline service there, earlier this week briefly delayed a few Chinese charter flights for not complying with notice requirements.

  • Notable Insider Buys This Past Week: Berkshire Hathaway, Sysco And More

    Notable Insider Buys This Past Week: Berkshire Hathaway, Sysco And More

    * Insider buying can be an encouraging signal for potential investors. * Directors stepped up to make sizable share purchases last week. * Some of those transaction came in the wake of earnings reports.Conventional wisdom says that insiders and 10% owners really only buy shares of a company for one reason -- they believe the stock price will rise and they want to profit. So insider buying can be an encouraging signal for potential investors, particularly during periods of uncertainty.Insiders continued to add shares despite overall market volatility and global economic gloom. Here are some of the most noteworthy insider purchases reported in the past week.Sysco Activist investor Nelson Peltz and one other SYSCO Corporation (NYSE: SYY) director each indirectly added 103,700 shares of this food services giant to their stakes. At per-share prices ranging from $50.29 to $52.27, that totaled more than $10.74 million altogether. Note that these two directors also purchased 600,000 shares each in the previous week.Sysco's disappointing fiscal third-quarter earnings posted earlier this month were followed by lowered price targets. The stock ended last week's trading at $51.75 per share, still within the above purchase price range. The share price is up more than 47% since its year-to-date low in March.Berkshire Hathaway Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-B) saw a director purchase nearly 1,000 shares of this Omaha-based conglomerate last week at $173.30 per share. The same director also bought eight of the class A shares via family trust. Those cost $261,002.63 apiece. The total for these transactions was more than $2.26 million.CEO Warren Buffett has been uncharacteristically cautious so far this year. The B shares ended last week up about 3% to $175.07, while the A shares were last seen trading at $263,094.00 apiece. The timing of that director's purchases seems fortunate.Mercury General Mercury General Corporation (NYSE: MCY) founder and board chair George Joseph stepped up to the buy window again last week. He bought more than 84,000 shares for $38.72 to $38.86 apiece, which totaled almost $3.28 million. Joseph also purchased over 447,000 shares in the previous week.Shares of this Los Angeles-based insurer closed most recently at $39.24 a share. That is above the most recent purchase price range. It is also more than 10% higher than the year-to-date low during the pandemic panic selling back in March, and the analysts' consensus price target is up at $44.See also: Activist Investor Nelson Peltz Says He Is Putting New Capital To WorkIn addition, note that there was some amount of insider buying at Arch Capital Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: ACGL), Arconic Corp (NYSE: ARNC), Carrier Global Corp (NYSE: CARR) and Green Dot Corporation (NYSE: GDOT) last week as well.At the time of this writing, the author had no position in the mentioned equities.Keep up with all the latest breaking news and trading ideas by following Benzinga on Twitter.See more from Benzinga * Barron's Picks And Pans: Berkshire Hathaway, Carvana, Madison Square Garden And More * Bulls And Bears Of The Week: Caterpillar, Facebook, Microsoft And More * Barron's Picks And Pans: Berkshire Hathaway, Disney, SoftBank And More(C) 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

  • Mortgage rates fall to near-historic low on concerns about coronavirus pandemic

    Mortgage rates fall to near-historic low on concerns about coronavirus pandemic

    Mortgage rates fell to near-record lows — and there’s reason to think they will drop even lower in the future. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.24% for the week ending May 21, down four basis points from a week ago, Freddie Mac (FMCC)  reported Thursday. For the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, the average rate dropped two basis points to 2.7%.

  • Prepare for the post-coronavirus-vaccine world by selling stocks that are hot today but will lose earnings momentum

    Prepare for the post-coronavirus-vaccine world by selling stocks that are hot today but will lose earnings momentum

    Now investors should look ahead to the post-vaccine world: Sell stocks that are hot today but will experience deteriorating earnings momentum after a vaccine comes out and buy quality stocks with good balance sheets that will experience positive earnings momentum in that new era. This chart compares the Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (DIA) to seven stocks that I am using to illustrate shifts in money flows. • Zoom Video (ZM) has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of coronavirus.

  • Are stock investors too complacent about a full-scale blowup between China and the U.S.? Here’s what Wall Street experts say

    Are stock investors too complacent about a full-scale blowup between China and the U.S.? Here’s what Wall Street experts say

    China and the U.S. are back in the headlines — but are investors paying sufficient attention to the risks of a geopolitical clash?

  • Is The Stock Market Closed On Memorial Day?
    Investor's Business Daily

    Is The Stock Market Closed On Memorial Day?

    Is the stock market closed on Memorial Day? It is. The New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and bond markets will be fully closed on Memorial Day, which lands on Monday May 25 this year. Stock market futures will trade as usual, starting at 6 p.

  • An emerging market debt crisis could be the next front in U.S.-China conflict

    An emerging market debt crisis could be the next front in U.S.-China conflict

    Rising tensions between the U.S. and China over coronavirus culpability have helped reignite trade and economic debates, but the next front in the conflict between the world’s two largest economies could be over a brewing emerging-market debt crisis

  • Coronavirus update: U.S. death toll approaches 100,000 as CDC’s testing practices are criticized by health experts

    Coronavirus update: U.S. death toll approaches 100,000 as CDC’s testing practices are criticized by health experts

    The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 edged closer to 100,000 on Friday, as the news emerged that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been combining the results of two different types of tests for the illness in a move that has been sharply criticized by health experts.

  • China Roundup: A blow to US-listed Chinese firms and TikTok's new global face

    China Roundup: A blow to US-listed Chinese firms and TikTok's new global face

    Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch’s China Roundup, a digest of recent events shaping the Chinese tech landscape and what they mean to people in the rest of the world. It's been a tumultuous week for Chinese tech firms abroad: Huawei's mounting pressure from the U.S., a big blow to U.S.-listed Chinese firms, and TikTok's high-profile new boss. Over the years, American investors have been pumping billions of dollars into Chinese firms listed in the U.S., from giants like Alibaba and Baidu to emerging players like Pinduoduo and Bilibili.

  • TheStreet.com

    'Don't Fight the Fed' and 12 Other Investing Rules

    Over the past dozen years there has been one simple piece of market advice that has worked better than anything else. Marty Zweig, who was a well-known trader and investment advisor, is generally given credit for that succinct advice. Zweig had a number of investing rules in addition to "don't fight the Fed" that can be very helpful to review on a regular basis.

  • Palo Alto Networks stock surges as earnings, outlook boosted by work-from-home

    Palo Alto Networks stock surges as earnings, outlook boosted by work-from-home

    Palo Alto Networks Inc. shares surged in the extended session Thursday after the cybersecurity company’s quarterly results and outlook topped Wall Street estimates as its product portfolio benefits from the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Gold prices could move higher if these 2 things happen with the economy and market timers

    Gold prices could move higher if these 2 things happen with the economy and market timers

    Stronger consumer spending and more pessimism from market timers could set up a gold rally, writes Mark Hulbert.

  • A Taiwanese semiconductor titan is at the heart of the US-China tech fight

    A Taiwanese semiconductor titan is at the heart of the US-China tech fight

    The world's largest semiconductor foundry is finding it hard to maintain neutral between the two super powers.

  • Vaccine Progress Spurs Optimism in Emerging Markets

    Vaccine Progress Spurs Optimism in Emerging Markets

    (Bloomberg) -- Emerging-market stocks and currencies gained last week amid optimism progress is being made toward developing coronavirus vaccines, and as more nations roll back lockdowns. Sentiment was tempered as the week progressed by signs U.S.-China tensions are increasing once again, including escalating rhetoric from President Donald Trump and Senate legislation that may lead to delisting of Chinese companies from American stock exchanges. China announced plans to impose a national security law on Hong Kong, further adding to geopolitical frictions.The following is a roundup of emerging-market news and highlights for this week through May 22:Highlights:The U.S. threw its weight behind one of the fastest-moving experimental solutions to the coronavirus pandemic, pledging as much as $1.2 billion to AstraZeneca Plc to help make the University of Oxford’s Covid vaccineAn experimental vaccine from the U.S. biotechnology company Moderna Inc. showed signs it can create an immune-system response to fend off the coronavirusRead: U.S. Raises Ante in Vaccine Race With $1.2 Billion for Astra (2)Leading Chinese vaccine developer CanSino Biologics Inc. has signed a deal to test and sell a separate Canadian vaccine candidateFederal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank is prepared to use its full range of tools and leave the benchmark lending rate near zero until the economy is back on track; he reiterated that more fiscal aid may be neededFed policy makers saw the coronavirus posing a severe threat to the economy when they met last month and were also concerned by the risks to financial stabilityChina has abandoned its usual practice of setting a numerical target for economic growth this year due to the turmoil caused by the coronavirus; it reiterated a pledge to implement the first phase of its trade deal with the U.S.China projected defense spending growth of 6.6% this year, the slowest increase since at least 1991; the nation is pushing ahead with major investment in new infrastructure, assigning it top importance this yearChina announced plans to rein in dissent by writing a new national security law into Hong Kong’s charter, prompting democracy advocates to call for protestsPresident Donald Trump escalated his rhetoric against China, suggesting that leader Xi Jinping is behind a “disinformation and propaganda attack on the United States and Europe”The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation that could lead to Chinese companies such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Baidu Inc. being barred from listing on U.S. stock exchangesU.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo broke with past U.S. practice and issued a statement congratulating Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen ahead of her inauguration. China denounced the message as “wrong and very dangerous”Tsai urged China’s Xi Jinping to “find a way to co-exist” with the island’s democratic government as she started her second termArgentina will improve the terms of its offer to restructure $65 billion of overseas bonds after sinking into default when it failed to make an interest paymentSouth Africa’s Reserve Bank cut its benchmark rate for the fourth time in four months to support an economy forecast to slump deeper into recession; Turkey’s central bank delivered a ninth straight rate cut in less than a year after measures to prop up the lira drove out foreign investors; Indonesia’s central bank unexpectedly left its benchmark unchanged to bolster the currency; Bank of Thailand cut its key rate to a record and said it was ready to use additional policy tools if neededIndia’s central bank cut interest rates in an unscheduled announcement, ramping up support for an economy it expects will contract for the first time in more than four decadesBrazil overtook the U.K. to become the world’s third most-infected nation and reported record daily deaths; government still hasn’t picked a new health minister following Nelson Teich’s resignationRussia sees its economy contracting 5% this year, according to updated forecast from Russian Economy MinistryPresident Vladimir Putin may announce a snap ballot within weeks on proposed changes to the constitution that allow him to sidestep term limits, said people familiar the matterAsia:Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to make any coronavirus vaccine universally available once it’s developed, part of an effort to defuse criticism of his government’s response to a pandemicChina’s regulator and some lenders have discussed extending loan relief beyond a June 30 deadline for corporates hurt by the virus outbreakChina is considering targeting more Australian exports including wine and dairy, according to people familiar with the matterShanghai Stock Exchange has started a trial program to allow companies to issue short-term local bondsChina’s house-price growth accelerated in April as the central bank’s credit easing gave the property market a lift out of the coronavirus shutdownBank of Korea said it will provide 80% of a special purpose vehicle’s 10 trillion won ($8.1 billion) of funds to buy corporate debt including lower-rated bonds and commercial paperSouth Korean students are returning to their classrooms after a five-month break as government health officials declared the country may have avoided a second wave of infectionsInitial South Korea trade figures for May signaled deep global trade weakness as the coronavirus smothers global economic activity. Though the value of shipments to China fell 1.7%, this was far less than in previous monthsIndia’s coronavirus infections crossed the 100,000 mark and are escalating at the fastest pace in Asia, just as Prime Minister Narendra Modi further relaxed the country’s nationwide lockdownThe biggest cyclonic storm over the Bay of Bengal in two decades wreaked havoc along India’s east coast and in Bangladesh, flooding low-lying areas and affecting power supplyIndia’s capital market regulator has allowed some categories of debt mutual funds to invest more in government bonds and treasury billsIndia’s government said the central bank will increase support for troubled shadow lenders, to stave off defaults as record repayments come due next monthIndonesian President Joko Widodo ruled out an immediate easing of social distancing rules and ordered officials to strictly enforce a ban on travel during the busy holiday season to prevent a spike in new coronavirus casesIndonesia will extend $10 billion in financial support to a dozen state-owned companies to tide over the impact of the coronavirus, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati saidThailand sees its economy contracting as much as 6% this year as the coronavirus outbreak cuts travel to the tourism-reliant nation and shutters commerceGovernment agreed to extend state of emergency as suggested by National Security Council, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak saidThe Philippine central bank sees “no apparent and immediate” need to avail itself of the new short-term liquidity line being offered by IMF to members as part of pandemic response, according to Governor Benjamin Diokno; policy space is still sufficient, he said separatelyThe Philippines is considering downsizing lockdowns to villages from regions, as it balances further reopening its economy with stemming the virus outbreakMalaysia’s king warned lawmakers against resorting to hostility and slander, as he spoke at the country’s first parliament sitting since its chaotic change of government two-and-a-half months agoThe trial of Malaysia’s former leader Najib Razak resumed on Tuesday, as a settlement deal by his stepson spurred concern over how the new government is handling the 1MDB casesTaiwan’s unemployment rate has reached the highest level in more than 6 years, according to government data released today. The coronavirus pandemic sent April’s jobless rate to 4.1% leaving over 480,000 people unemployedEMEA:Russia sold the most debt on record in its weekly bond auctions, benefiting from low borrowing costs to fund stimulus plansRussia’s Finance Ministry placed 112 billion rubles ($1.6 billion) of bonds due in October 2027 at its first auction on Wednesday, the most ever for a single offeringTrump has decided to withdraw from the Open Skies treaty, an arms-control pact designed to promote transparency between U.S. and Russia, claiming Russian violationsTurkey secured a fresh source of foreign exchange from Qatar, leaning again on the gas-rich Gulf nation that’s consistently come to the rescue as part of an alliance born after a coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip ErdoganRomania’s surprise first-quarter economic growth may help the country avoid a credit-rating downgrade next month as investors rush to buy its debt, the finance minister saidAbu Dhabi raised more money from international debt markets just weeks after a $7 billion bond sale as it took advantage of a drop in borrowing costs to bolster its financesThe emirate sold an additional $3 billion of its three-tranche deal priced in April, according to people familiar with the matterEgypt may reduce financing in local markets over coming weeks as it tries to cut debt-service costs for one of the Middle East’s most indebted countries, the Finance Ministry saidEgypt raised $5 billion in its first sale on international bond markets since NovemberLebanese banks urged the government to sell state assets and defer maturities to avoid defaulting on its domestic debt and driving the country’s finances into an even deeper crisisSaudi Aramco became the first major global oil producer to see its stock recover to the level it traded at before the price war between Russia and Saudi ArabiaZambia is seeking to restructure its debt after years of “over-ambition” in borrowing to plug an infrastructure deficit, the Finance Minister saidBank of Zambia cut its key interest rate for the first time in more than two years to counter the impact of the coronavirus on the economy, even as inflation surged to a 43-month high in AprilMoeketsi Majoro became Lesotho’s new prime minister, a day after his predecessor resigned amid an investigation into the murder of his ex-wifeZimbabwe’s supply of foreign exchange has increased by 35% since restrictions on using the U.S. dollar for domestic payments were eased, the central bank Governor saidSouth African factory output contracted for the ninth month in February even before a nationwide lockdown aimed at limiting spread of the coronavirus pandemic shuttered all non-essential activityInvestors declined to take up all of the five-year bonds on offer at an auction in Kenya this weekRwanda plans to increase budget spending for the coming fiscal year by 8%, saying it needs more money to fend off the Covid-19 pandemic, the Finance Minister saidNigeria’s early move to tap cheap loans improved its risk perception among foreign investors, leading to a decline in the country’s borrowing costsLatin America:Argentina’s economic activity slid 9.8% in March, a record biggest monthly decline, amid a nationwide lockdownA video of a controversial meeting between Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and members of his cabinet became public on Friday, fueling a political crisis that embroils the president just as the coronavirus pandemic grips the countryBrazil overtook Russia and is now second in number of virus cases in the world, trailing only the U.S.Health Ministry loosened protocols for the use of chloroquine, under orders of the president, who ordered the military to ramp up production of the drugThe city of Sao Paulo brought forward holidays to increase social isolation rates, which are typically higher on weekends and holidaysBolsonaro asked for state governors and congress to support his veto on an increase in public servants wagesCentral bank President Roberto Campos Neto promised to step up currency intervention if neededInvestors holding debt protection for Ecuador are in line to share compensation of about $60 million after the nation struck a deal with creditors to suspend coupon payments on its foreign debtAshmore Group Plc and BlackRock Inc. are joining together to present a united front for restructuring talks in EcuadorIDB approved a $250 million loan to Ecuador and nation is launching a $1.2 billion program to revive the economyEcuador is launching a program with $1.15 billion of funding from international partners to support workers and entrepreneurs, the Finance Minister saidChile’s economy is bracing for a contraction even after activity unexpectedly grew in the first three months of the year during the onset of the coronavirus pandemicQuarantine in capital Santiago was extended for a weekMexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he is working on a new indicator to measure growth and progress as the country’s economy heads to its biggest contraction in almost a centuryMexico’s interest rates will continue to be cut, central bank board member Jonathan Heath saidInflation quickened more than expected in early May as food prices jumpedPeru’s economy contracted in the first quarter as the country entered what may be its deepest slump since the 1880s. GDP fell 3.4% from a year earlierCountry extended its nationwide quarantine for five weeks, while the reopening of the economy will enter its second phase as plannedFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.