News Roundups

Fed officials warn pandemic response is hobbling economic rebound, Clean energy hiring stalled in July, and more

Daily stimulus and recovery news headlines from August 13, 2020.

Fed Officials Warn Pandemic Response Is Hobbling Economic Rebound

Federal Reserve officials said a recent slowdown in U.S. economic activity was likely to persist because of difficulties states have encountered in suppressing the coronavirus pandemic, which could require more government spending to support the economy.

“Limited or inconsistent efforts by states to control the virus based on public health guidance are not only placing citizens at unnecessary risk of severe illness and possible death but are also likely to prolong the economic downturn,” Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren said on Wednesday in a webinar with the South Shore Chamber of Commerce in Massachusetts.

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Clean energy industry hiring stalls in July

A rebound in clean energy industry employment stalled in July, leaving more than a half-million workers in the sector without jobs because of the economic disruption from the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research released Wednesday.

The new analysis from BW Research Partnership found the U.S. clean energy sector added 3,195 jobs in July, leaving a total of 511,075 workers unemployed. That represents a decline of nearly 15 percent in employment levels from pre-pandemic levels.

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Oil & Gas Drilling Industry Outlook Not Appealing to Investors

The Zacks Oil and Gas - Drilling industry consists of companies that provide rigs on a contractual basis to explore and develop oil and gas. These operators offer drilling rigs (both land-based/onshore and offshore), equipment, services and manpower to exploration and production companies worldwide.

The slump in oil prices and coronavirus-induced demand shock has pushed drilling activity lower by introducing tremendous uncertainty around the exploration and production (E&P) spending outlook. From supermajor ExxonMobil (XOM) to smaller players like Oasis Petroleum (OAS), all have made drastic cuts to their capital expenditures in an attempt to preserve cash and stay afloat. Obviously, this translates into lesser work for the companies that make it possible for upstream players to drill for oil and gas. In a nutshell, the oil and gas drilling fundamentals remain extremely bearish with most of the companies entirely focused on survival. With no real chance of E&P capex cut reversal this year, drilling activity is expected to remain weak over the near-to-medium term.   

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Long-Term Investors Now Hold Sway Over ESG

Long-term investors—those who have perpetually flagged the kind of systemic and workforce issues that now face companies everywhere—are having an outsized influence during this global crisis.

Part of that is the surge in interest in ESG investing. UBS this week said it saw flows to ESG funds and pandemic bonds of more than $71 billion in the second quarter, bringing its ESG assets under management to $1 trillion for the first time. Citing Morningstar data, the firm found that 56% of sustainable funds outperformed their peers in the second quarter. Sustainable investors will likely keep the wind at their backs as governments push green stimulus, the Swiss bank's analysts said.   

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Chevron’s True Motive Behind Its Noble Acquisition

Chevron’s interest in the giant offshore Leviathan gas field in the Mediterranean is the starting point for what ended as a $5-billion acquisition of Noble Energy, Reuters reports, citing a regulatory filing.

The filing reveals that Chevron initially planned to take a 50-percent stake in the Israeli field that Noble Energy is developing in partnership with local Delek. The field’s development will cost billions of dollars, so Noble was on the prowl for a partner to shoulder part of the burden.

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OPINION: While Congress Deadlocks Over Pandemic Rescue Package, Federal Reserve Spends Trillions – No Questions Asked

Despite the expiration of enhanced $600 federal unemployment checks and the end of a moratorium on tenant evictions, Congress remains deadlocked on negotiating a coronavirus rescue package. While the House passed a $3.4 trillion pandemic stimulus bill in mid-May, the Republicans who control the U.S. Senate are unwilling or unable to negotiate desperately needed funding legislation.

Into this void President Trump launched a series of symbolic executive actions that give the appearance of a White House taking charge, but in reality, will likely provide little or no help to ordinary Americans.

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