Jobless Data to Show the Pandemic’s Toll on the Economy: Live Updates

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Credit…Philip Cheung for The New York Times

New economic data on Wednesday is expected to show the precarious state of the economy before a new injection of federal aid.

Forecasters expect the Labor Department to report that applications for state jobless benefits remained high last week as the surge in coronavirus cases prompted a new round of layoffs. Separate data from the Commerce Department is expected to show that personal income and consumer spending both fell in November.

Help could be on the way. After months of delays, Congress on Monday passed a $900 billion economic relief package providing aid to unemployed people, small businesses and most households. Most urgently, it would prevent jobless benefits from expiring at the end of this week for millions of people. But on Tuesday evening, President Trump demanded sweeping changes to the bill, throwing into doubt whether he would sign it.

Recent data shows the toll that the delays in aid — along with rising infections — have taken on the economy. After making rapid gains in the spring and summer, a variety of economic measures showed slower growth this fall, and some recent indicators have suggested that the recovery could be going into reverse. Some forecasters expect the December employment report to show a net loss in jobs.

“That huge looming cliff that everyone’s been talking about for months on end, that’s been averted,” said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist for the hiring site Indeed. “But there’s no momentum forward. It feels like we’re just stuck. Hopefully the new stimulus package will help get a little more wind in our sails.”

The new pandemic relief bill includes money to help ensure that no one’s internet is cut off for nonpayment.

The bill would offer up to $50 per month in assistance (or $75 for people living on tribal land) to tens of millions of people with low incomes, including households with a Pell grant recipient or a child qualifying for free school lunch. Also eligible: Everyone who can document a “substantial” decline in income because of a job loss, furlough or successful unemployment benefits application.

It will take at least 60 days for regulators to set rules for the benefit, and it will last only as long as the $3.2 billion in allocations does. If you think you might be eligible, start asking your internet provider about it in January.

The measure includes other provisions to help ease problems with bills: The agreement would provide $25 billion to be distributed through state and local governments to help renters who have fallen behind, and would extend a moratorium on renter evictions through Jan. 31.

Some homeowners may also be protected from foreclosure: Single-family homeowners with loans backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac shielded through at least Jan. 31, regulators said this month. And the Federal Housing Administration, which often insures loans to borrowers who make smaller down payments, said on Monday that it would extend its foreclosure and eviction moratorium through Feb. 28.

Michel Barnier, the chief Brexit negotiator for the European Union, on Tuesday. Talks on a trade deal with Britain are continuing as the Dec. 31 deadline nears. 
Credit…Pool photo by John Thys
  • Global stocks headed upward on Wednesday, bolstered by an agreement that reopened France’s ports to trucks from Britain and hints that London and Brussels could be nearing a Brexit trade deal in time for Christmas.

  • Wall Street futures, which tumbled overnight after President Trump objected to the $900 billion stimulus passed by Congress, rebounded, signaling an upbeat start to trading.

  • Mr. Trump, who sat out the negotiations on a major bipartisan coronavirus stimulus bill, unexpectedly called it a “disgrace” on Tuesday evening and said it should provide bigger payments to U.S. taxpayers. The bill passed Congress with overwhelming veto-proof majorities.

  • The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 climbed 0.3 percent in late morning trading, and the Dax index in Germany gained 0.7 percent. Asian markets ended the day higher: In South Korea, the Kospi rose 1 percent, and the Shanghai Composite in China rose 0.8 percent.

  • Markets will shut early on Thursday and remain closed on Friday for the holidays. This time of year, the number of trades can be smaller than usual, exacerbating moves in stock indexes.

  • A late-night deal between Britain and France has reopened the Port of Dover and the Eurotunnel for about 4,000 Europe-bound trucks that have been stuck in England near the border since Sunday night. France shut its border to control the spread of a variant of the coronavirus spreading through England. But the logjam may take days to ease, because drivers must present a negative coronavirus test before entering France.

  • The talks to reach a Brexit trade deal by Dec. 31, the end of Britain’s transition period, have repeatedly blown past deadlines. But there have been vague signals of progress in recent days, including reports of secret phone calls between Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, and a Christmas Eve deadline set by Michel Barnier, the chief E.U. negotiator. Traders seemed to pick up on the optimism: the British pound was rising against the U.S. dollar and euro.

  • Oil futures were unchanged, and the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasuries was rising.

Credit…Charlotte Kesl for The New York Times

There are at least three provisions in the pandemic aid bill related to food stamps.

First, the monthly benefit for SNAP (the official name of the program) would increase by 15 percent through June 30, 2021. As ever, qualification rules remain complex; consult our primer on the eligibility process here.

Second, people collecting unemployment benefits would have an easier time qualifying for SNAP. The bill has language that would exclude those benefits from the income eligibility calculation in many instances.

Finally, college students would have an easier time qualifying. This is also complicated, but people who are eligible for a federal or state work-study program or whose financial aid application yielded an expected family contribution of zero dollars should check to see whether they would be eligible.

College administrators who wish to help students can find more resources on the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice’s website. The center’s director of policy and advocacy, Carrie R. Welton, also posted a Twitter thread with more detail.

A future data center in San Jose, Calif., for Equinix, one of the largest global data center companies.
Credit…James Tensuan for The New York Times

The shift to digital work and play from home, hastened by the pandemic, has wreaked havoc on commercial real estate. But experts say it has also generated one surprising bright spot for the industry: data centers.

“You think about data as an intangible asset, but data has to be stored somewhere,” said Milena Petrova, an associate professor at Syracuse University who teaches real estate and corporate finance.

The growing reliance on cloud-based technology — and the big, blocky buildings that house its hardware — has created greater opportunities for developers and investors as businesses and consumers gobble up more data in a world that has become increasingly connected, writes Martha C. White for The New York Times.

And companies that provide data storage are preparing for even greater demand as new technologies like 5G and artificial intelligence become more widely used.

And investors have taken note. “Over the past 90 days, we’re seeing a massive shift in capital toward this industry by big investment funds,” said Andy Cvengros, senior vice president and a member of the technology solutions practice at JLL, a real estate services and investing company.

  • Goldman Sachs announced in October an investment of up to $500 million in data center infrastructure.

  • The private equity firms Blackstone and KKR have recently announced data center investments.

  • Real estate investment trusts focused on data centers delivered returns of 19 percent in the first half of 2020, according to a recent report by JLL.

“It’s an acknowledgment that this is not a niche real estate market anymore,” said Patrick Lynch, senior managing director of the data center solutions group at the real estate services and investment firm CBRE.

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