Is Bankruptcy The Light At The End Of Your Tunnel?

Is Bankruptcy The Light At The End Of Your Tunnel?

Many things can happen in life that can cause personal financial strain. It can be brought on by poor decisions, loss of income or even, a death in the family. No matter More »

How To Pick The Best Personal Bankruptcy Lawyer To Help Your Case

How To Pick The Best Personal Bankruptcy Lawyer To Help Your Case

Personal bankruptcy can be a scary situation for those who are facing repossession from the government and constant calls from debt collectors. If you find yourself in a hole that you cannot More »

Bankruptcy: What Are My Options And Limitations?

Bankruptcy: What Are My Options And Limitations?

Even though filing for personal bankruptcy can seem like something to put off, you should not wait too long to do it. Know what you are about to go through and then More »

Why Personal Bankruptcy Is The Best Option For Some People

Why Personal Bankruptcy Is The Best Option For Some People

Looking into bankruptcy can be like looking into a murky sea. With so many laws and regulations, how do you know what steps to take so you can file for bankruptcy and More »


US gasoline prices are below $2 per gallon on average for first time in four years

A Whataburger and Shell gas station sign shows coronavirus impacts on Alabaster, Alabama on March 22, 2020.

Michael Wade | Icon Sportswire | Getty Images

As the coronavirus outbreak wreaks havoc on global markets, U.S. consumers are catching a break in one area: at the pump.

For the first time in four years, the national average for a gallon of gas is below $2, AAA said in a statement Tuesday.

At $1.99, the current average price for a gallon is 18.4%, or 45 cents, lower than a month ago, and down 70 cents, or 25.8%, year-over-year.

The drop in prices comes as oil demand has evaporated with the pandemic halting travel and shuttering businesses worldwide. Crude prices have been pressured further in anticipation of a coming supply glut as OPEC nations including Saudi Arabia prepare to ramp up production in April.

The hit to supply and demand has sent crude prices tumbling to their lowest level in nearly 20 years. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude is on track for its worst month on record, after dropping more than 53%. For the quarter, WTI is down 67%, which is the steepest quarterly decline since the contract’s inception in 1983.

A recent poll from The Washington Post and ABC News found that roughly nine in every ten Americans are currently practicing social distancing and staying at home, thereby significantly cutting back on demand for gas.

“My quick workbook on this suggests whereas last April we spent $1.1 billion a day on gasoline, I think this April we’re looking at $350 million a day. We’re going to be saving $20 billion on gasoline this month,” Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at Oil Price Information Services, said to CNBC March 23.

And AAA expects prices to keep declining, with the national average falling to $1.75 or less in April. The association said that currently gas can be found for under $2 per gallon at 68% of gas stations in the U.S.

“Across the country, state averages are less than $3/gallon except in Hawaii ($3.36) and California ($3.05). Today, twenty-nine states have regular gas price averages under $2, with Oklahoma ($1.55) having the cheapest in the country,” the statement said.

Of course, more and more Americans staying home also means that consumers are not enjoying the benefit of low gas prices nearly as much as they usually would.

Lower fuel prices are also not necessarily going to be a boon to the economy, Bank of America said Tuesday. The firm found that between March 17 and March 24 spending on gasoline fell 37% year-over-year. Usually, the lower prices would allow people to utilize the additional money in their pocket by “driving more, spending on other discretionary goods and services, paying down debt, or building up their savings,” the firm said. 

But with people staying home and avoiding discretionary areas like movie theaters, for example, the money won’t flow back to the economy in the same way.

“Bottom line: the outbreak is causing a meaningful shift in the consumer basket and lower oil prices are unlikely to be the jet fuel for consumption that they would be in a more normal environment,” Bank of America said.

– CNBC’s Nate Rattner, Patti Domm and Michael Bloom contributed reporting.

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JPMorgan starts mandatory diversity training for managers after discrimination allegations

Pedestrians walk past an american multinational investment bank and financial services holding company JPMorgan Chase Bank branch.

Alex Tsai | SOPA Images | Getty Images

JPMorgan Chase said it was instituting mandatory diversity and inclusion training for its managers after a December New York Times article detailed racial discrimination at a branch in Arizona.

The bank, which admitted to failures tied to the report in January, said Tuesday in a staff memo it had targeted several areas where it could improve its culture and processes to prevent more incidents from happening. That includes diversity training for all of the bank’s 257,000 employees, with special training for managers, the New York-based lender said.

“Because the role of the manager is arguably the most critical role in promoting our culture deep into the organization, we will make additional manager training mandatory at the time of promotion to a people-manager role, and at the time of promotion to a senior leader role, in addition to other developmental moments for managers,” the bank said. 

“We know that it is essential for managers to be inclusive leaders and we will focus on helping them recognize ways they can be intentional about inclusion as they recruit, hire, retain and develop diverse talent,” the company added.

JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, also said it was improving the ways it takes in employee complaints, bolstering hiring programs, and simplifying how customers find products and services.

In the New York Times article, a black JPMorgan employee and customer experienced racial discrimination by managers at branches in the Phoenix, Arizona area, and had made audio recordings as evidence. In one case, the customer had difficulty attaining private client status despite moving a hundred thousand dollars to the bank.

“We are all the keepers of our culture and we are committed to ensuring that ours is one where all employees and customers are treated equally and fairly, and where all of us receive the opportunity and mutual respect we deserve,” the bank said.

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Consumer confidence tumbles in March as coronavirus cases surge

A measure of U.S. consumer confidence fell sharply in March as people grapple with the global coronavirus outbreak. 

The Conference Board said Tuesday its consumer confidence index dropped to 120 this month from 132.6 in February. To be sure, the print was better than the 110 number economists polled by Dow Jones expected.

“Consumer confidence declined sharply in March due to a deterioration in the short-term outlook,” Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said in a statement. “The intensification of COVID-19 and extreme volatility in the financial markets have increased uncertainty about the outlook for the economy and jobs. March’s decline in confidence is more in line with a severe contraction – rather than a temporary shock – and further declines are sure to follow.”

More than 800,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed globally, data from Johns Hopkins University shows. Of those cases, more than 164,000 are in the U.S. Italy also has over 100,000 confirmed cases. 

Countries around the world — including the U.S. — have taken measures to curb the spread of the virus. However, those actions raise concern over a potential economic blow and have sparked massive market volatility. 

Goldman Sachs economists expect the U.S. economy to contract by 34% in the second quarter and U.S. unemployment to surge to 15% before the fastest-ever recovery takes place. The S&P 500 has tumbled more than 20% from record levels seen in late February. 

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Stocks making the biggest moves in the premarket: Conagra, Carnival, RH, Visa & more

Take a look at some of the biggest movers in the premarket:

Conagra (CAG) – The food producer missed estimates by 2 cents a share, with fiscal third-quarter profit of 47 cents per share. Revenue also came in slightly short, however Conagra said it has seen significantly elevated demand for its food products over the past few weeks due to the virus outbreak. The company now expects to exceed its full-year sales and profit guidance.

Carnival (CCL) – The cruise line operator is suspending dividend payments and stock repurchases, as voyage suspensions continue amid the coronavirus outbreak. Carnival said it could not estimate the impact of COVID-19 on its business, but expects a net loss for fiscal 2020.

McCormick (MKC) – The spice maker earned $1.08 per share for its latest quarter, 5 cents a share above estimates. Its revenue was below forecasts, however, as results were impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. The company withdrew its prior financial forecast due to uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

RH (RH) – RH reported quarterly profit of $3.72 per share, beating consensus by 13 cents a share. The Restoration Hardware parent’s revenue was well short of estimates, however, amid lower traffic and more backorders during the holiday season. The furniture retailer also withdrew its financial guidance.

Amarin (AMRN) – Amarin received an unfavorable ruling from a Nevada court in a patent case involving its fish oil drug Vascepa, used to treat patients with high triglyceride levels. The court ruled in favor of Hikma Pharmaceuticals and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories (RDY), which want to make generic versions. Amarin said it would pursue all available legal remedies.

British American Tobacco (BTI) – BAT and rival British cigarette maker Imperial Brands both announced deals for new multi-billion dollar credit lines, although they also say they are not seeing any major impact on their businesses from the coronavirus outbreak.

American Airlines (AAL) – The airline plans to apply for up to $12 billion in government assistance, according to an employee memo seen by Reuters. That would mean no involuntary layoffs or pay cuts over the next six months.

Spirit Airlines (SAVE) – Spirit is canceling all flights to and from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, following warnings from US officials not to travel to the tri-state area because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yum Brands (YUM) – Yum sold $600 million in junk-rated debt, with the restaurant chain planning to use the money for “general corporate purposes.” The debt carries a yield of 7.75%, much higher than the 4.75% Yum paid in a debt issue in December.

Gap (GPS) – Gap will furlough most of its 80,000 retail workers, as many of the apparel retailer’s stores remain closed. Gap will also cut corporate jobs and executive pay.

Visa (V) – Visa said its transaction volume deteriorated during the second half of this month, as countries impose social distancing and sheltering in place due to the virus outbreak.

Domino’s Pizza (DPZ) – The restaurant chain withdrew its financial guidance, as many stores in international markets remain closed, although most U.S. locations remain open.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) – Norwegian extended its voluntary suspension of cruises through May 10, after originally suspending them through April 11.

Zoom Video Communications (ZM) – Zoom’s privacy practices are being investigated by the New York State attorney general’s office, according to a report in The New York Times.

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