Air Travel Within China is Nearly at Pre-Pandemic Levels

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Here’s what you need to know: China’s success at curbing the pandemic was largely responsible for the relatively quick recovery of its aviation business.Credit…Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters Domestic air travel in China has nearly returned to normal levels, according to data released on Wednesday, a significant milestone for the country where […]

Here’s what you need to know:

Credit…Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Domestic air travel in China has nearly returned to normal levels, according to data released on Wednesday, a significant milestone for the country where the coronavirus pandemic started.

Airline bookings in China reached about 98 percent of last year’s levels in the second week of August, according to ForwardKeys, a company that tracks travel reservations globally. And domestic arrivals stood at 86 percent. Based on current trends, China’s domestic aviation market should fully recover by the beginning of September, the company said.

“This is a highly significant moment because it is the first time since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak that a major segment of the aviation market anywhere in the world has returned to pre-pandemic levels,” Olivier Ponti, vice president of insights at ForwardKeys, said in the statement.

The achievement comes as most of the world’s airlines prepare for a long, painful recovery. In most countries, domestic travel has recovered first, while international flying has lagged far behind, thwarted by travel restrictions and people’s unwillingness to go on long trips. In the United States, domestic travel is down about 44 percent, according to Airlines for America, an industry group, as airlines prepare to cut tens of thousands of jobs if Congress does not extend aid to the industry.

China’s success at curbing the pandemic was largely responsible for the relatively quick recovery of its aviation business — and its economy. Travel has also been boosted by the start of the school year and lower ticket prices have encouraged people to overcome any reluctance they may have had to get on planes, according to ForwardKeys.

Since hitting bottom in February, China’s airlines have slowly built back their businesses with the help of tourists and group tours, according to ForwardKeys. It also helped that the Chinese government was able to contain a surge in infections this summer in Beijing. About 1 in 15,000 people in mainland China have been infected since the pandemic began, compared to 1 in 56 people in the United States.

American officials’ inability to control the virus hindered a recovery in air travel, which stalled last month as infections spread across the country. In recent weeks, travel has picked up again, and about 30 percent as many people passed through airport security checkpoints in recent days as a year ago.

Credit…Samuel Corum for The New York Times

For more than a year, the Federal Reserve has wrestled with how to achieve its twin goals — maximum employment and stable inflation — in an era of tepid price increases and very low interest rates, and officials have revisited their policy tools for good and bad times.

On Thursday at 9:10 a.m. Eastern time, Jerome H. Powell, chair of the Fed, is scheduled to update America on that soon-to-conclude framework review.

Mr. Powell is slated to speak at the Kansas City Fed’s annual research conference, a storied gathering of elite economists that has been held behind closed doors in Jackson Hole, Wyo., since 1982. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the event will be held remotely and streamed on the Kansas City Fed’s YouTube page (and on this site), allowing the public to tune in for the first time ever.

Mr. Powell may stop short of offering up the full set of final results during his remarks. Many economists expect him to signal that the Fed plans to commit to a more flexible approach to targeting 2 percent inflation, one that would explicitly allow for periods of overshooting. That would, in turn, pave the way for longer periods of low rates and sustained bouts of very low unemployment.

The central bank has long seen low joblessness as a warning sign that inflation is coming, and it used to make a habit of lifting interest rates to guard against overheating. But inflation has been consistently weak since the Great Recession, and the Fed has come to believe that the unemployment rate can stay lower for longer without creating painful economic excesses. These days, officials are more worried about excessively slow price gains than exceedingly rapid ones.

The formal framework update could put that newfound modesty into writing, as the Fed becomes more patient about rate hikes and more humble about its ability to guess what level of unemployment the economy can sustain.

Mr. Powell could also give an update on the current economic situation in his speech. His comments will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

Credit…Saul Martinez for The New York Times

The Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency authorization to Abbott Laboratories for a cheap and portable coronavirus test that gives results in 15 minutes, the company said on Wednesday.

Abbott’s new test is an antigen test, which works by rapidly detecting fragments of virus in a sample. Antigen tests tend to miss more infections than slower tests based on a technology called polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R. But Americans have faced delays of days and weeks receiving results of P.C.R. tests from labs.

The BinaxNOW Covid-19 Ag Card is a credit card-sized device that opens like a book to reveal a small well. A health practitioner takes a swab from the patient’s nostrils, adds a few drops of chemicals into a hole in the card and inserts the swab.

The F.D.A. had in March approved another rapid test developed by Abbott that was later criticized for missing a significant number of infections. Abbott said its new test detected the virus in 97.1 percent of people who have it, and accurately found no presence of the virus in 98.5 percent of negative cases.

Abbott said it will begin shipping millions of tests in September, ramping up to 50 million a month beginning in early October. It will cost $5.

This is the fourth coronavirus antigen test to win an emergency authorization from the F.D.A. Earlier this month, the agency cleared one made by LumiraDx, a British firm.

  • Stocks on Wall Street rose on Wednesday, led higher by a rally in technology companies. The S&P 500 rose 1.02 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite gained 1.73 percent, extending record-setting streaks for both indexes.

  • Shares of big technology companies like Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft, which influence the broader market because of their sheer size, were all higher. Salesforce was the best performing stock in the S&P 500, surging about 25 percent after the maker of cloud software reported a jump in revenue in the second quarter as customers turned to its tools in the coronavirus pandemic. Netflix and Adobe and Facebook were also sharply higher.

  • Tuesday’s announcement by American Airlines that it would cut up to 19,000 workers this fall sent a chill through the airline industry, where there has been little sign that the pandemic-induced reluctance to travel was diminishing. The statement may also add to the pressure on Congress and the Trump administration to strike a deal on another coronavirus stimulus package.

  • In Germany, lawmakers agreed late Tuesday to extend benefits for furloughed workers through next year, and continue other relief measures, as the country prepared for additional months of economic pain caused by the pandemic.

  • Investors are also keeping an eye on an annual conference of central bankers, where the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, is set to speak Thursday. Some expect that he will propose a monetary policy that will accommodate higher inflation, allowing the Fed to keep interest rates low for a longer period of time.

Credit…Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Bicycles, golf and at-home fitness helped fuel a record quarter for Dick’s Sporting Goods, a bright spot in a challenged retail environment, as Americans sought to stay active and play outdoors amid travel restrictions and social-distancing measures.

“We are in a great lane for what’s going on right now in the country from an outdoor standpoint — the golf business, the camping business, kayaking, fitness, running,” Edward W. Stack, chief executive of Dick’s, said Wednesday on an earnings call.

The company had one of the best-performing stocks on Wall Street on Wednesday, rising more than 15 percent.

Dick’s, which also owns Golf Galaxy stores, has benefited especially from a newfound national interest in golfing, which is a particularly pandemic-friendly pastime.

“There’s a number of young people who have come into the game because they’re not playing football or soccer or some other sports,” Mr. Stack said. “So they’re out playing, guys are out playing golf because they’re not at their kids’ games. Men, women, and kids all really have jumped into this game, and we expect that to continue through the balance of the year, too.”

Dick’s net sales rose 20 percent to about $2.7 billion in the three months ended Aug. 1 and it posted a net profit of $278 million, its highest-ever quarterly sales and earnings, it said on Wednesday. Store sales jumped, despite temporary closures, and ecommerce sales, which includes a booming curbside pickup operation, nearly tripled.

The company will continue to lose sales tied to team sports in the fall and the typical back-to-school shopping season, but that was being offset by the interest in its other merchandise. Dick’s, based in Pittsburgh, operates more than 700 U.S. stores.

Credit…Joey Yu

Nearly two years ago, the British government seemed to be on the verge of doing something truly novel about racial and ethnic inequality.

Theresa May, the prime minister at the time, had suggested the government require companies and other large employers to report the disparities in pay among their employees based on ethnicity, as they had recently been made to do for gender.

But after a three-month public comment period closed in January 2019, little more was heard about it, until a surge of anti-racism protests this summer, provoked by the killing of George Floyd while in the custody of the Minneapolis police, revived the idea. In June, a petition to make ethnicity pay gap reporting mandatory amassed more than 100,000 signatures. In response, the government said that it would publish an update by the end of the year, having received more than 300 comments from businesses and other organizations.

The failure to demonstrate progress for a year and a half was not lost on David Isaac, the departing chairman of the government’s Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Amid mounting outrage about inequalities, ethnicity pay gap reporting is something that could be done quickly, Mr. Isaac said in an interview with The New York Times in early August, in part because of the work already done by Ms. May’s government to collect data about ethnic disparities across society.

Kemi Badenoch, the equalities minister in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government, said it was “just simply not true” that the government had dragged its heels on the issue. For example, she said, policymakers were working toward adopting most of the recommendations from a 2017 review of how “Black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals” were treated in the criminal justice system. Among the proposals was collecting more complete ethnicity data across the system and recruiting a more diverse prison staff.

Credit…Ringo Chiu/Zumapress, via Alamy

Two Black-led banks are merging in a deal that will create the nation’s largest Black-owned depository institution insured by the federal government and the first with assets of more than $1 billion.

Broadway Federal Bank, a Los Angeles-based lender founded in 1946, will combine with City First Bank in Washington, which opened in 1998, the banks announced on Wednesday.

Brian E. Argrett, chief executive of City First, will be chief executive of the combined company, which will use City First as its banking brand but will keep the publicly traded Broadway Financial Corporation as its bank holding company. Wayne-Kent A. Bradshaw, Broadway’s chief executive, will be the chairman of the combined company.

The newly enlarged bank will specialize in three areas of financing: multifamily affordable housing, small businesses and nonprofit development, Mr. Argrett said in an interview.

“We need to scale up our impact,” he said. “Having a larger capital base is important so we can direct more resources into underserved communities.”

Both Broadway and City First are Community Development Financial Institutions, which are lenders that focus on low- and moderate-income communities and typically serve minority borrowers and entrepreneurs who lack the assets to get traditional loans. The new company will be designated a Minority Depository Institution, a federally insured institution that is majority owned by minority shareholders.

There are 143 Minority Depository Institutions in the United States, according to the government’s latest data, but just 20 are Black-led.

The desire to grow and create an organization with a larger capital base inspired the merger, Mr. Argrett said. The company plans to maintain a major presence in Southern California and Washington.

Broadway recently fended off a hostile takeover attempt by the Capital Corps, another minority-focused lender.

Community lenders have been especially prominent lately in dealing with the economic shocks of the coronavirus crisis and the protests that roiled many cities this summer. They were a vital link in getting government relief funds and other resources to businesses and entrepreneurs in areas neglected by larger banks.

“In the midst of a global pandemic, unprecedented unemployment and the very important social unrest going on in our country, C.D.F.I.s are the answer,” Mr. Argrett said. “By building a bicoastal and national platform, we have the opportunity to become a very attractive platform for impact investors looking to join this space.”

Credit…Filip Singer/EPA, via Shutterstock

Germany’s governing coalition agreed late on Tuesday to extend benefits for furloughed workers and otherwise prepare the country for additional months of economic pain caused by the pandemic.

The decision came amid signs that although the German economy is rebounding, a full recovery will take years. The number of infections is also rising as Germans return from vacations abroad.

Employees placed on furlough or working reduced hours will be able to receive partial reimbursement for lost income until the end of 2021, under the measures agreed by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and their governing partners, the Social Democrats. Previously “short work” benefits were limited to one year.

The political parties also agreed that, until the end of the year, troubled businesses would be exempt from regulations requiring them to file for insolvency if they cannot pay their bills. The exemption was to have expired at the end of September.

Other measures extend financial aid to small and midsize businesses, provide basic income to artists and freelancers, and provide lunches for children whose schools or kindergartens are closed.

Credit…Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

If you decided to ride out the pandemic at your out-of-state vacation house or with your parents in the suburbs, you may be in for an unpleasant reality: a hefty tax bill.

Given the complexity of state tax laws, accountants are advising their clients to track the number of days they spend working out of state. Some states impose income tax on people who work there for as little as a single day.

Even before the pandemic, conflicting state tax rules were creating issues for the increasing number of people who were working remotely, said Edward Zelinsky, a tax professor at Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law.

“In the last six months, this has gone from a big problem to a humongous problem,” Mr. Zelinsky said. He knows from personal experience: He lives in Connecticut but works in New York and has paid tax on his New York-based salary to both states.

Here are some answers to common questions about how moving to work remotely could affect your taxes.

  • Bed Bath & Beyond will cut about 2,800 jobs across its corporate headquarters and retail stores, the company said Tuesday, as it tries to move more of its business online. The layoffs will save the retailer about $150 million a year before taxes, it said in a statement.

  • Salesforce, a maker of cloud software, saw surging revenue and profit in the second quarter as customers have increasingly turned to its tools in the coronavirus pandemic. The company’s revenue rose to $5.15 billion, up 29 percent from a year ago, driven by the demand for its customer-relations software and new Work.com tools, which help people return to work. Profit jumped to $2.6 billion, up from $91 million a year ago, helped by a change to its international corporate structure that created tax benefits.

  • The Trump administration may levy additional penalties on Vietnam for undervaluing its currency in a trade case over tires. It would be the first application of a novel trade rule that is designed to prevent foreign competitors from trying to unfairly undercut American producers and allows the administration to impose a so-called countervailing duty when other countries “subsidize” their products by weakening their currencies. The Treasury Department said that Vietnam had undervalued its currency by about 4.7 percent against the U.S. dollar.

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