World News

Andy Puzder: Signs of a 'V'-shaped recovery — a welcome bounce back in economy

President Trump touts ‘historic’ jobs report: ‘Shattered expectations,’ economy roaring back

The early economic signs indicate that we may already be in a “V”-shaped recovery — or at the very least a strong checkmark-shaped recovery — as we cautiously emerge from the coronavirus shutdown.

As Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Jay Powell admitted earlier this week, we have experienced a welcome “bounce back in economic activity,” and “have done so sooner than expected.” The economic data from the past two months make the point.

The May jobs report gave us the first indication that the post-pandemic rebound would be something special, revealing that employers had created a record-shattering 2.5 million jobs in a single month, beating economists' expectations for a loss of around 9 million jobs.


Most economists anticipated that the trend would continue, but few foresaw just how stellar the June jobs report turned out to be. Last month, the country gained a mind-boggling 4.8 million new jobs, blowing past consensus expectations of around 3.7 million. As an added bonus, last month’s total was revised upward by nearly 200,000 jobs, bring the two-month gain to 7.5 million jobs.

Even though the labor force participation rate rose sharply, meaning more people began looking for work, the nationwide unemployment rate nonetheless plummeted in June by more than two full percentage points, falling from 13.3 percent to 11.1 percent, also beating economists’ expectations of a 0.8 of a percentage point decrease to 12.5 percent.

Those are some incredible numbers! But what else were we seeing in the economy?

In May, retail sales increased by a record 17.7 percent, soundly beating economists’ expectations of around 8.4 percent. This increase in retail sales — following three months of declines — bodes well for a return to positive economic growth. Consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of our economic output, and retail sales account for about a quarter of consumer spending.

New home sales, a leading indicator of housing market health, were up 16.6 percent in May, beating economists’ expectations of a 1.9 percent increase — with many economists having forecasted negative sales in May.

The renaissance is taking place across the board as state and local officials roll back their lockdown orders.

The National Association of Realtors recently reported that its index of pending home sales, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rebounded by a record-setting 44.3 percent in May, driving the index to 99.6, the highest month-over-month gain since its inception in January 2001.

So how about June? It’s obviously early, but we have some data in addition to the jobs numbers.

Manufacturing, which represents about 11 percent of the U.S. economy, saw a big positive jump in June for the second straight month. The Institute for Supply Manufacturing survey showed that 52.6 percent of companies said their businesses are growing, up from 43.1 percent in May. That’s the best score since April of 2019 — and, of course, it beat economists’ expectations of 49.5 percent.

Consumers saw the writing on the wall in June even if the economists missed it — again. The Conference Board, a New York-based research organization, said that its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 98.1 in June from 85.9 in May, the biggest jump since 2011 and beating economists’ expectations of 90.5.

Not wanting to miss out on all the positivity, the stock markets — which are forward-looking — closed up nearly 20 percent for the quarter ending June 30, their best quarterly percentage increase since 1998.

Bottom line: the economic improvements over the past two months have been tremendous.


The renaissance is taking place across the board as state and local officials roll back their lockdown orders, though the gains are naturally being led by industries that were hit hardest by the pandemic, including leisure and hospitality (2.1 million new jobs), retail (740,000 new jobs), education and health services (568,000 new jobs), and manufacturing (356,000 new jobs).

There are plenty of lockdown orders still in place all over the country, meaning we’ve got ample potential for additional growth just by continuing to responsibly return to normal, even if we occasionally need to douse the embers of the pandemic here and there.

This unprecedented “V”-shaped recovery is exactly what President Trump predicted at the height of the COVID-19 downturn. Based on his track record of presiding over record-setting economic prosperity before the foreign pandemic reached our shores, I’ve always had confidence in the president’s ability to guide us through this crisis.


Now that the bounce-back has begun, I’m excited to see how his pro-growth economic agenda of middle-income tax cuts, targeted deregulation and genuinely free trade will fuel our national resurgence.

The “V”-shaped economic recovery has only just begun, and while there may be some coronavirus flare-ups along the way that force us to slow things down, we’ll have nothing to worry about as long as we keep President Trump’s pro-growth economic policies in place.


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Solar Stocks at Cusp of Long-Term Uptrend

Solar stocks are holding up well despite the pandemic, which slowed commercial and residential construction to a crawl, especially in places like California that imposed virtual contracting halts. The state is now underpinning a steady sector bid, with a new law that mandates solar energy for all new construction. Solar tariffs against China have also bolstered sales and installations by local operators that include Arizona's First Solar, Inc. (FSLR) and Utah's Vivant Solar, Inc. (VSLR).

High oil prices were required to support sector uptrends in prior years, so April's crude oil collapse into negative numbers should have undermined buying interest. This didn't happen because political pressure has taken control of the tape, with growing calls by millennial and Gen-Z environmental groups for an end to fossil fuel use. While their long-term success isn't ensured, center and left-of-center voters have been lining up at a rapid pace to support that goal.

Financing costs now provide a strong tailwind for sector growth, with collapsing yields allowing major installers and small consumers to tap clean solar energy without breaking the bank. On the flip side, the Federal government is now winding down healthy subsidies paid directly to consumers, with the 26% maximum tax credit dropping to zero in 2022. However, that could change if a Democrat wins the White House in November.

First Solar came public at $24.50 in November 2006 and entered a momentum rally that posted an all-time high at $317 in the second quarter of 2008. It then collapsed with world markets, cutting through $100 and dropping to $85 in November. That level held support into a 2011 breakdown that pierced the IPO opening print before bottoming out at an all-time low in the lower teens in 2012. The subsequent uptick failed within 10 points of new resistance in 2014, while a 2016 breakout attempt also failed to clear the barrier.

The stock sold off to a four-year low in April 2017 and failed another breakout attempt in the first half of 2018. It then entered a broad declining channel that carved a series of lower highs and lower lows, culminating in March 2020's three-year low at $28.47. The second quarter bounce has now reached within 10 points of channel resistance, which needs to be mounted on healthy volume to set off a buying signal.

A rising channel has contained price action since 2012, setting a long-term target at $90 if the stock can mount smaller-scale channel resistance. As you can see from the blue line, the rising channel will align with the 2011 triple top breakdown in about three years, lowering the odds that the stock will trade in the triple digits in 2021 or 2022. However, the target would still offer healthy gains from currently traded price levels.

Vivant Solar is a small-cap installer that is well positioned to profit from California's solar construction mandate. The stock posted an all-time high at $18.71 during the first public session in October 2014 and rolled into a brutal downtrend that hit an all-time low at $2.16 in 2016. Price action since that time has alternated between months of apathy, vertical rally waves, and bone-shattering declines.

The 200-day exponential moving average (EMA) reveals a steady uptrend under the surface, lifting from $3.50 in 2017 to $7.50 this year. The stock posted a four-year high in February 2020 and plunged to a two-year low a few weeks later, while the second quarter bounce has recouped about 70% of the losses. The on-balance volume (OBV) accumulation-distribution indicator has held up remarkably well through the volatile action and is now trading at an all-time high, predicting that price will soon test the 2020 high.

The Bottom Line

Solar stocks are making a comeback, with macro tailwinds likely to grow in coming years.

Disclosure: The author held no positions in the aforementioned securities at the time of publication.

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World News

How to take advantage of today's low mortgage rates: Credible CEO

Pending home sales in May doubled expectations

Credible founder and CEO Stephen Dash says all regions saw some growth in the housing market due to low-interest rates, pent up demand and economies reopening.

The number of Americans buying homes rebounded in May to a record 44.3 percent after a steep decline in April due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported earlier this month the average rate on the key 30-year loan declined to 3.13 percent from 3.21 percent — the lowest level since Freddie began tracking average rates in 1971.

FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo noted on Tuesday that finding a dream home may be challenging with “severe shortages creating bidding wars for what’s available.”

In turn, Credible Founder & CEO Stephen Dash offered tips on "Mornings with Maria" to those potential homebuyers as the housing market surges.

“Before you start looking for a home, tip No. 1 is: Get a pre-approval online,” Dash suggested. “This is a letter that takes into account your specific situation. It’s not a rate range or a market rate, it’s a real preapproval and it tells you what your buying power is."


Dash offered another tip: Optimize your credit score and down payment.

“When you’re going through the search process for a home or an apartment, make sure you take care of your credit through that time,” Dash mentioned, adding that aspect is "really important.”

He reminded people that it's not a good idea to take out a loan or open a new credit card when checking your credit as they can often impact your score.

“Don’t let your credit card debt run more than 30 percent of the limit," Dash also cautioned.

He encouraged people to double-check their credit reports to make sure there aren't any mistakes.


“Your credit report is really important, as is your down payment,” Dash explained.

Dash encouraged to save as much as possible for a down payment. Most importantly, potential homebuyers should check their rates before locking in a mortgage.

“Take into account the total cost of a mortgage including appraisal fees, mortgage insurance and other closing costs,” he said.

 Credible is majority-owned by Fox Business Network's parent company, Fox Corporation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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World News

Call of Duty Warzone update adds 200-player mode TODAY – with 50 four-person squads

CALL of Duty is getting a 200-player version of Warzone today.

The mammoth mode will be added as part of a Season 4 update.

Warzone is the popular free-to-play portion of Call of Duty Modern Warfare.

Anyone can play the game without paying for Modern Warfare itself.

It's a Fortnite-style Battle Royale, where players – alone or as part of a "squad" – fight and flee to remain the last person(s) standing.

Currently, Warzone pits as many as 150 players against each other.

But the new update will let 200 player battle it out, split up into 50 four-person squads.

The playlist was actually leaked in the middle of June.

And Infinity Ward head Patrick Kelly previously said that a 200-player mode would be added at some point after launch.

The new mode will likely make Warzone games even more hectic.

And you'll probably spend less time out of combat while battling your way across Verdansk.

It's a contrast to other battle royale games like Fortnite, which cap their matches at 100 players.

The only downside is that it's not clear how long 200-player Warzone battles will be sticking around.

In a blog post, Activision confirmed that the game mode would be available for a "limited time".

However, popular game modes often return regularly – so even if it disappears, it might come back further down the line.

The Call of Duty Season Four Reloaded update is available today.

It'll be a fairly sizeable download of between 22GB and 36GB for people who already have the full Modern Warfare game installed.

Console owners will need to install a secondary downloaded of around 3.5GB for Multiplayer.

If you're a standalone Warzone player, you'll have to download a 22GB to 30GB installation.

And Activision says this update – once completed – will reduce the overall size of Warzone on your machine.

But anyone with the full-fat Modern Warfare will have even more storage space occupied on their devices.

In other news, KFC recently unveiled a "4K gaming console" with a built-in "chicken chamber".

Here are the best PS5 price and release date predictions.

And here's the full list of 25 PS5 games revealed during last week's Sony 'The Future of Gaming' event.

We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at [email protected]

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World News

Beware of these important red flags in home inspections

Real estate watcher: Seeing ‘boom’ in single-family homes

Compass Vice President Mike Aubrey argues even before the coronavirus outbreak, many families were moving out of cities and into the suburbs.

Whether it's a $300,000 condo or a $4,000,000 home, stuff happens. If you're buying a piece of real estate, reserve a 10- to 20-day contingency period to do your due diligence, which includes a thorough physical inspection, termite inspection, sewer line inspection, chimney inspection and mold inspection. Even though the fees you will pay to complete all these inspections can come to $1,000 or more, it is well worth it in the long run!

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If the news you receive after an inspection is really bad and you are still within your contingency period, you can abandon your purchase completely and receive your full deposit back.


If you choose to move forward with your purchase, you can negotiate repairs with the seller, although the seller is not obligated to say OK to all, or even any, of your requests.

If the deal falls apart, however, the seller is obligated by the laws of disclosure to disclose the content of your inspection to subsequent buyers and forward the inspection reports upon request.

Particularly in today's robust market, you'll usually hear the seller say, "It's an old house, and it's being sold as is." I often hear buyers say, "We're paying top dollar, and we should not have to pay for deferred maintenance and urgent repairs."

If the news you receive after an inspection is really bad and you are still within your contingency period, you can abandon your purchase completely and receive your full deposit back.

The question then becomes "What is a code violation, a health and safety hazard or an urgently needed repair versus a cosmetic need, a typical aging system still in operative condition or a complete upgrade of no urgency?"

For this you need a trained eye to read and understand your inspection reports. A good realtor will walk you through the process and help identify the most significant issues, prioritizing issues from urgent to not so significant or urgent.


If you are without the assistance of a trained realtor or adviser, look first at mold, water intrusion and drainage issues, as these are the most difficult to remedy and the most expensive to fix.

Water intrusion can affect foundations, walls and structure, leading to health issues and impacting resale and future property value.

Next, look for dry rot in the roof, roof eaves, windows, subfloor and door jams, all of which would be noted in your termite inspection.

Also, take serious note of your sewer inspection and chimney inspections. Depending on where your sewer ties into the city lines, a sewer replacement could cost $10,000 to $25,000, most often closer to $12,000.

Correcting poor drainage involves diverting water away from the foundation, which might necessitate French drains and additional rain gutters. These costs totally depend on how many drains are needed and where they would tie into the city disposal. Costs might range from $8,000 to $25,000.

A cracked chimney that is deemed a fire hazard will need to be replaced from the break, usually at costs averaging $10,000, more likely $15,000 in a two-story home.

Hillside properties are another animal completely. They require the opinion and guidance of a qualified geologist, and perhaps even a structural engineer and a civil engineer. This is serious stuff, so do not cut corners by going to someone inexperienced.


Also, be savvy about an overloaded, antiquated, old-style electrical system; the modern lifestyle puts a lot more pressure on the electrical system than a toaster oven and a few floor lamps.

The roof is an expensive item to be conscious of, and earthquake retrofitting is something to look at, too, if it has not been handled previously. After that, most items are of less of financial consequence but still worth being considered.

Don't skimp on inspections, qualified advice and repair estimates. Pick your battles based on the significance and urgency of the repairs needed and the costs associated.

Be sure your request for repairs is well written and supported with realistic cost estimates. And finally, be sure you are in the hands of a competent, qualified and caring real estate broker who will guide you through the process.

Ron Wynn has been among the top 100 agents in America for over 10 years, as noted on REAL Trends/Wall Street Journal. Ron has represented over 2,200 sales totaling over $1.5 billion in sales volume in his 30-plus-year career as a real estate broker in California.


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Nike warns of job cuts during shift to digital 'swoosh'

Economy will see ‘Nike swoosh’ recovery in next year: Investment strategist

Yardeni Research President Ed Yardeni discusses the impact of new coronavirus cases on the economy and the future of the markets.

Nike Inc on Friday warned of job cuts as the world’s largest footwear-maker ramps up efforts to sell directly to customers through its online and retail channels.

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Ticker Security Last Change Change %
NKE NIKE INC. 93.67 -7.73 -7.62%

The planned layoffs come after the company on Thursday reported a $790 million quarterly net loss, its first in more the two years, as its wholesale business bore the brunt of footwear retailers and department stores shutting down due to the coronavirus outbreak.


Shares of the Dow component were down 6% in morning trading on Friday.

“We are shifting resources and creating capacity to reinvest in our highest potential areas, and we anticipate our realignment will likely result in a net loss of jobs,” Nike said in an e-mail statement.

Nike on Fifth Avenue in New York City on June 2, 2020. (FOX Business)

“Reductions are not being done for cost savings. Any savings will be reinvested into our priorities,” the footwear-maker said.

Chief Executive Officer John Donahoe told analysts on Thursday the company would now aim for digital to account for 50% of its overall business, up from the 30% recorded in the reported quarter.


“Our vision is to create a clear and connected digital marketplace … So we’re accelerating our approach,” he said.

Donahoe, a former ServiceNow CEO and eBay executive, joined Nike earlier this year as the company was bolstering its direct-to-consumer business.

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EBAY EBAY INC. 50.89 +1.49 +3.02%

According to media company Complex, Donahoe in a letter to employees said the company does "not yet know how many jobs will be reduced, nor who will be specifically impacted."


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Hospice reps accused of sneaking into hospitals, nursing homes amid coronavirus

A Florida hospice chain prodded its sales reps to sneak into hospitals and nursing homes in search of terminally ill patients at the height of the coronavirus pandemic — even if it meant falsely posing as staff, a new lawsuit claims.

Vitas Healthcare of Miami improperly declared its sales staffers “essential” to get around government-ordered lockdowns — and then sent them to scour for new business in ways that endangered the health of both staffers and patients, according to a class-action complaint filed in California state court by a Bay Area sales rep.

Vitas, nation’s biggest for-profit hospice chain, knew that its sales reps could be turned away, so it “openly encouraged sales representatives to skirt entry checkpoints at hospitals by posing as hospital employees,” the lawsuit claims.

It also urged staffers to take selfies with health-care administrators on their visits and send them to their colleagues, the complaint says. That resulted in pictures with patients and at least one doctor on sales calls they likely could have made over the phone, according to the lawsuit and photos shared with The Post.

One photo shared by Kay Van Wey, a lawyer handling the case, allegedly shows a staffer bragging in a text message about sneaking boxes of donuts into a facility that had banned outside food.

Vitas, which makes much of its money on taxpayer-funded programs like Medicaid, was encouraging this behavior despite pleas from vulnerable nursing homes and other health-care centers to keep nonessential staff away, the suit alleges.

The company’s actions were also in “direct violation” of orders by Bay Area health officials, who asked that essential companies only have employees report to work if they couldn’t perform their jobs at home, the suit says.

“Worse still, sales representatives were instructed to visit multiple facilities in the course of a day, increasing the amount of potential exposure for patients and healthcare workers,” the complaint reads.

The suit is specific to California, but the lawyers involved say they are concerned that Vitas may have engaged in similar tactics in other parts of the country. The company serves more than 19,000 patients in 14 states and the District of Columbia.

“We believe that this is all about money,” Van Wey told The Post. “The sales reps that were asked or forced to violate the safety orders were not providing essential services.”

The June 9 lawsuit was brought by Kristina Eisenacher, a Vitas representative in northern California who accused the company of retaliating against her after she complained about its practices.

Vitas did not address Eisenacher’s specific situation. But the company said its representatives are essential because they ensure health-care providers and their patients can access hospice care.

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World News

Attackers targeted dozens of corporations, eight Fortune 500 companies: Symantec

How to protect your data while working remotely

Firewalla co-founder Jerry Chen created a device that combats online threats while working from home. Fox News Headlines 24/7 Radio Host Brett Larson with more.

Symantec, a division of technology firm Broadcom, said Thursday that it identified a string of ransomware attacks against American corporations, including eight Fortune 500 companies, in what appeared to be an effort to demand millions of dollars in ransom.

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The company said it alerted customers about the attacks, which featured hackers attempting to deploy the WastedLocker ransomware onto networks to cripple each company's IT infrastructure.


"The attackers had breached the networks of targeted organizations and were in the process of laying the groundwork for staging ransomware attacks," a Symantec blog reads.

At least 31 organizations were attacked, the company said, adding the figure could be much higher.


The end goal of the breaches is to encrypt the ransomware on computers and servers to set the stage of a multimillion-dollar ransom demand.

WastedLocker has been attributed to "Evil Corp," a cybercrime outfit responsible for the development and distribution of the Dridex malware. Two Russians were indicted last year in connection with using the ransomware to extort millions in alleged hacking and banking fraud offenses.

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AVGO BROADCOM LIMITED 308.85 +1.88 +0.61%

The attacks discovered by Symantec were spotted on a number of customer networks, it said.

"This discovery enabled us to identify further organizations that had been targeted by WastedLocker and identify additional tools, tactics, and procedures used by the attackers, helping us to strengthen our protection against every stage of the attack," the blog said.


All but one of the targeted companies are based in the United States. The other is a U.S.-based subsidiary of an overseas multinational company.

"Had the attackers not been disrupted, successful attacks could have led to millions in damages, downtime, and a possible domino effect on supply chains," Symantec said.

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