The Latest: Fiat Chrysler Idles Most Plants In Europe

AP News
March 16, 2020 - 8:14 am

A view a street in downtown Milan, Italy, Sunday, March 15, 2020, as most people remained home following the indications of doctors and the government in order to slow down the spread of the new coronavirus. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some, it can cause more severe illness, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems. (Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP)

The Latest on financial markets (all times local):

The daughter of billionaire investor Warren Buffett has been exposed to the new coronavirus and has isolated herself at her Omaha home for two weeks.

Susie Buffett told the Omaha World-Herald on Sunday that she feels fine and doesn't think she's contracted COVID-19, which is caused by the virus that originated in China.

She says she's not the least bit worried and says she hopes talking about her exposure brings down the fear in other people. She also says she hasn't been around her 89-year-old father, Warren, since her exposure last week.

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Major airlines are scaling back flights dramatically in response to the coronavirus crisis that has seen Europe and the wider world go into lockdown.

Budget airline EasyJet said it is making big cancellations that will continue on a rolling basis. It said that could result in the grounding of the majority of its fleet.

BA's parent company, IAG, which also owns Spain's Iberia, said that for April and May it plans to reduce capacity by at least 75% from the previous year. It also said it is reducing operating expenses, including through voluntary leave options.

Ryanair, Europe's busiest airline, said it expects to ground the majority of its fleet across Europe over the next 7-10 days.

Travel company Tui is suspending the vast majority of travel operations until further notice, including package travel, cruises and hotel operations.

A day earlier, United Airlines had said it needs to cut flying capacity by 50% in April and May, while American Airlines announced a 75% cut to international flights.

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The Swedish government presented Monday an economic package that will allow all firms in Sweden to defer tax payments for up to a year.

The package is expected to cost more than 300 billion kronor ($21 billion), or some 6% of GDP.

The center-right government, sided by the center-right opposition, is introducing with immediate effect a system where companies can reduce employees' work hours by 60% but retain 90% of their salary.

“Just to be clear, Sweden has a heavy and stressful time ahead,” Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson told a news conference when presenting the package.

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All Disney owned hotels at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, will close at 5 p.m. on March 20, the company said early Monday.

The closure also includes Disney’s Vero Beach Resort on Florida’s Atlantic Coast.

In a tweet, the company said the Friday closure will give guests the ability to make other arrangements.

In addition, the company announced it is closing all Disney stores in North America, beginning Tuesday. This includes the shops in Orlando’s Disney Springs and Downtown Disney in Anaheim, California. Online shopping will still be available.

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is suspending production across most of its European plants through March 27 as businesses large and small take a hit from nationwide lockdowns to contain the virus outbreak.

The Italian-American carmaker said Monday it is closing six plants in Italy that make cars under the Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Maserati nameplates as well as a plant in Serbia that makes the Fiat 500L and one in Poland that makes the Fiat 500.

The production suspension was taken beyond measures already undertaken to sanitize work and rest areas, create greater distance between workers and facilitate remote working, which is now available to employees across the globe.

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Global stock markets and U.S. futures have fallen in a rebuke from investors to emergency central bank action to shore up economic growth as anti-virus controls shut down business and travel.

The selloff followed the Federal Reserve's surprise decision to slash interest rates.

Benchmarks in London and Frankfurt were down about 7%. Sydney's benchmark plunged 9.7% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 4%. Japan's benchmark sank 2.5% after the Bank of Japan announced it was expanding its monetary easing and providing 0% loans for companies that are running short of cash due to the virus outbreak.

Brent crude, the international oil standard, fell almost 9% while gold gained. Futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow industrials fell 5%, triggering a halt in trading.