US stocks close higher but oil is at an 18-year low: March 30, 2020

By CNN Business

Updated 4:34 p.m. ET, March 31, 2020
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4:28 p.m. ET, March 30, 2020

Stocks kick off the week by closing with healthy gains

From CNN Business Paul R. La Monica

Wall Street enjoyed a solid start to the week Monday, with all three major indexes closing strong even as the death toll from the Covid-19 outbreak mounted. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) was the biggest gainer in the Dow, surging 8% after saying it hoped to have an experimental coronavirus vaccine ready for human testing by September.

Energy stocks were among the few market losers as crude oil prices settled just above $20 a barrel, their lowest level since 2002.

3:33 p.m. ET, March 30, 2020

Citrix at all-time high due to work from home boom

From CNN Business' Paul R. La Monica

Zoom Video (ZM) and Slack (WORK) may be getting a lot of attention as stocks that are benefiting from the work from home trend in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. But there's another software firm that's roaring as well -- S&P 500 constituent Citrix Systems.

Shares of Citrix (CTXS) were up more than 3% Monday and hit an all-time high in the process. Citrix makes so-called virtualization software, which makes it easy for workers to access software and files on their office desktop remotely.

The stock is now up 30% this year. But is the move overdone? Wall Street analysts are currently predicting that Citrix's earnings will fall about 6% this year compared to last year. And of the 18 analysts who follow the stock, nine rate it a hold and one even has it a sell recommendation -- compared to eight buy ratings. The consensus price target is more than 12% below its current price as well.

Citrix is one one of the stocks that got Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and her husband Jeffrey Sprecher, CEO of New York Stock Exchange owner Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) and chairman of the NYSE, in hot water when they bought it after she and other lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus before it spun out of control in the US.  

3:02 p.m. ET, March 30, 2020

Oil has collapsed by 68%

From CNN Business' Matt Egan

Oil prices haven't been this cheap in 18 years.

US crude tumbled nearly 7% Monday, finishing at $20.09 a barrel.

At session lows, oil touched $19.27 a barrel -- the weakest intraday price since February 2002.

The latest wave of selling was driven by intensifying fears about the sharp decline in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Bank of America warned that global oil demand will plunge by an unprecedented 12% during the second quarter.

US oil has now lost 68% of its value since the recent peak of $63.27 a barrel on January 6.

Its collapse has hammered energy stocks and will likely set off a wave of bankruptcies and layoffs in the debt-riddled oil patch.

1:24 p.m. ET, March 30, 2020

Disney's top executives take pay cuts because of coronavirus

From CNN Business' Frank Pallotta

Disney executives are taking a pay cut because of the coronavirus outbreak, the company's CEO Bob Chapek said in an email to employees on Monday. 

Bob Iger, the company's executive chairman, will forgo all of his salary while Chapek, who was named CEO in February, said that he would taking a 50% pay cut. Chapek added that other Disney executives would have their pay cut by 20% to 30% depending on title.

The news comes after the company announced that its Disneyland and Walt Disney World resort would remain closed until further notice because of the outbreak. 

Chapek wrote in the email that in a matter of weeks, Disney has "experienced widespread disruption across our company" from its parks and resorts closing to its film and TV production being halted.  

"While I am confident we will get through this challenging period together and emerge even stronger, we must take necessary steps to manage the short and long-term financial impact on our company," he wrote.

Iger's compensation was $48 million in 2019.

12:50 p.m. ET, March 30, 2020

Microsoft says Skype use is up 70% during outbreak

From CNN Business' Paul R. La Monica

If you've watched the news at all during the past month, you've probably noticed a lot of guests (and even some TV hosts) broadcasting from home offices and living room studios via Skype as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

That's great news for Skype owner Microsoft.

Shares of Microsoft (MSFT) surged 6% Monday after the software and cloud computing giant announced that 40 million people are now using Skype daily -- an increase of 70% over the past month.

"Recently, we have seen significant increases in Skype usage... we are seeing a 220% increase in Skype to Skype calling minutes month over month," said Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft's corporate vice president for modern life and search & devices, in a blog post.

Microsoft has also benefited from increased demand for its Teams collaborative software, which competes with Slack. But Slack has also experienced an uptick and is holding its own with its much larger rival.

That's a big reason why both Microsoft and Slack (WORK) have held up better than the broader market lately. Slack's stock is up 5% in the past month and more than 26% this year, while the S&P 500 has plunged.

The work-from-home trend has been an even bigger boon for video conferencing company Zoom (ZM), whose shares have soared nearly 130% in 2020.

12:47 p.m. ET, March 30, 2020

Six Flags isn't re-opening anytime soon

From CNN Business' Jordan Valinsky

Getting a jumpstart on summer will have to wait a little longer: All of Six Flags' parks are closed until at least mid-May.

The theme park company said Monday said the new date reflects "federal and local restrictions in place to mitigate the spread of Covid-19." President Donald Trump extended the country's social distancing policies until April 30.

Six Flags also said that salaried workers will have their pay slashed by 25% to "enhance the company’s financial flexibility."

Six Flags (SIX) stock slumped 7% on the news. It's down 70% for the year.

Theme parks have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic:

  • SeaWorld (SEAS) is temporarily furloughing more than 90% of its employees as of April 1.
  • Disney (DIS) closed its eleven theme parks across North America, Europe and Asia in mid-March.
  • Universal Orlando Resort is closed until at least April 19.
11:25 a.m. ET, March 30, 2020

Dow edges higher mid-morning

From CNN Business' David Goldman

The Dow continued to move modestly higher, kicking off this week on the right foot. Last week was its best in more than 80 years.

  • The Dow was up about 300 points, or 1.5%.
  • The S&P 500 was up 2%
  • The Nasdaq was the leader, rising 2.5%.

Every sector but energy was up Monday. Energy stocks were hurt by oil's continued decline: US oil prices fell 6%, briefly sinking below $20 a barrel.

11:20 a.m. ET, March 30, 2020

Macy's is furloughing a majority of its 125,000 employees

From CNN Business' Jordan Valinsky

With its stores closed and sales slowing as the coronavirus pandemic continues, Macy's said it will keep the "absolute minimum workforce needed to maintain basic operations."

That means a "majority" of its 125,000-strong workforce will go on furlough beginning this week, it said in a press release. Affected employees will still receive health care.

Macy's said there will be "fewer furloughs in our digital business, supporting distribution centers and call centers so we can continue to serve our customers online."

Macy's (M), which also owns Bloomingdales and Bluemercury, stock fell 3%. It's down 70% for the year.