New story in Business from Time: Global Stocks Plunge as Coronavirus Fears Deepen

Global stocks plunged to four-month lows, government debt yields sunk to unprecedented levels and crude oil extended declines as anxiety over the spread of the coronavirus deepened.

The S&P 500 tumbled 4.4% to close at the lowest levels of the day. It whipsawed investors earlier, turning lower late after California’s governor said the state was monitoring 8,400 people for signs of the virus after they traveled to Asia. The decline of more than 10% since last Friday has the benchmark on pace for its worse week since the 2008 global financial crisis and helped push the index into what is known as a correction. The MSCI All-Country World Index fell to the lowest since October, while the Stoxx Europe 600 also entered a correction.

“Stocks and bonds say we’re doomed,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist for MUFG Union Bank. “Anyone who has a better idea for what lies ahead please let us know because right now the direction ahead for the economy is straight down.”

The outbreak has the potential to become a pandemic and is at a decisive stage, the head of the World Health Organization said Thursday. The global economy is on course for its weakest year since the financial crisis as the virus damages demand in China and beyond, Bank of America predicted. Earlier, Goldman Sachs slashed its outlook for U.S. companies’ profit growth to zero. Germany is examining potential stimulus measures to stem the economic impact. Saudi Arabia halted religious visits that draw millions.

Haven assets continued to be in demand, and the yen strengthened as yields on 10-year U.S. and Australian government bonds hit fresh record lows. Oil sank further. The pound reversed a gain after the U.K. told the European Union it could walk away from the negotiating table in June if progress isn’t being made toward a trade deal.

Investors are pricing in a Federal Reserve easing in April followed by another rate cut in July, swaps data show, while bets for easing from Japan to Australia have also increased after the International Monetary Fund cut global growth forecasts.

Losses continue to mount as investors weigh each gloomy headline on the virus. U.S. health authorities on Wednesday said they found the first case of the illness that does not have ties to a known outbreak. Microsoft Corp. joined an expanding list of companies warning over the impact of the virus on operations.

“The way the market is going down, it’s happening pretty quickly, but it’s very difficult to say that it’s over,” said Sameer Samana, senior global market strategist for Wells Fargo Investment Institute. “Bottoming is a multistep process and you’re probably still in step one.”

Earnings keep rolling in from companies including: Baidu Inc., Occidental Petroleum Corp. and Dell Technologies Inc. on Thursday after the close of U.S. trading, and London Stock Exchange Group Plc on Friday.Here are some key events still to come this week:

  • Japan industrial production, jobs, and retail sales figures are due on Friday.

These are the major moves in markets:


  • The S&P 500 Index sank 4.4% to 2,978.48 as of 4:02 p.m. New York time, hitting the lowest in 19 weeks with its sixth consecutive decline and the largest tumble in more than eight years.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average decreased 4.4% to 25,763.96, reaching the lowest in six months on its sixth consecutive decline and the biggest dip in about two years.
  • The Nasdaq Composite Index sank 4.6% to 8,566.48, the lowest in almost 12 weeks on the largest tumble in more than eight years.
  • The MSCI All-Country World Index sank 3% to 521.99, reaching the lowest in 19 weeks on its sixth consecutive decline and the biggest tumble in almost four years.


  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index dipped 0.3% to 1,211.80.
  • The euro gained 1% to $1.0989, the strongest in almost three weeks on the biggest climb in 21 months.
  • The Japanese yen appreciated 0.5% to 109.85 per dollar, the strongest in more than a week.


  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell five basis points to 1.28%, reaching the lowest on record with its sixth straight decline.
  • The yield on 30-year Treasuries declined four basis points to 1.78%, hitting the lowest on record with its sixth straight decline.
  • Britain’s 10-year yield fell three basis points to 0.47%, reaching the lowest in almost 20 weeks on its eighth straight decline and the biggest fall in almost four weeks.
  • Germany’s 10-year yield dipped four basis points to -0.54%, the lowest in almost 20 weeks.


  • Gold weakened 0.1% to $1,637.44 an ounce.
  • West Texas Intermediate crude declined 3.8% to $46.68 a barrel, hitting the lowest in 14 months with its fifth straight decline and the largest drop in almost seven weeks.

— With assistance from Luke Kawa and Claire Ballentine.

New story in Business from Time: From Disney+ to PB+J, How the Plus Sign Took Over the World

When Andrew Goetz and Matthew Malin set out to name their unisex beauty brand 16 years ago, they decided to follow in the tradition of successful companies like Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble, with one pointed exception. They linked their surnames just as those firms had, but they used a plus sign. “We didn’t even consider the ampersand,” the latter half of Malin+Goetz says.

The plus sign spoke to everything on the duo’s mood board, from an apothecary concept (echoing the crosses that mark pharmacies throughout Europe) to their balanced partnership both in business and in life. And it was the antithesis of &’s old-timey excess. “The plus sign is very modern,” Goetz says, “and it was very important for the brand to be minimalist and contemporary.” It was also important for the brand to stand out, which the symbol helped do back when Facebook was headquartered in a college dorm room.

That, however, has changed. “Now it’s everywhere,” Goetz says of the plus sign. “It’s literally all over the place.”

Most recently, the plus sign has become a sigil in the streaming wars (Apple TV+, Disney+, ESPN+). But that is just the latest sector to catch the fever, alongside industries ranging from fashion to food. There are plus-adorned handbags (Foley + Corinna), soaps (Etta + Billie), men’s clothing lines (Mizzen+Main) and wines (++ Double Plus ++). The enthusiasm some brands have for the symbol can hardly be contained. Monica + Andy, for example, makes children’s clothing that appeals to “you + your baby” and offers “events + classes” as well as “returns + exchanges.” boon eat + drink sources “seasonal + sustainable” ingredients in California to make “simple + tasty” food every “friday + saturday.” (Its proprietor, btw, also runs a “hotel + spa.”)

From branding, it is a small jump to marketing materials. High-touch realtors now advertise “featured listings + off market opportunities,” and event promoters for luxury brands promise “the full store shopping experience + of course fun activities.” The plus sign has even developed new cachet in casual communication, as breezy shorthand for adding people to email chains (“+ Kirk and Cody”) and calculated snark on social media, where Internet people wield it with the same flair as prepositional because. For example: “War is expensive, the most likely thing to bankrupt your nation-state, with highly unpredictable economic costs to future generations + it’s immoral af.”

As Goetz puts it, the plus sign “has become a new vernacular.”

On TIME’s behalf, Internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch fielded a poll to her Twitter followers asking whether they use the plus sign as a substitute for words like and or as well as and why. More than 58% of 400 respondents said they do. Of them, roughly 54% said that aesthetics were at least part of the reason, while 43.5% said the draw was purely functional.

Functionally, McCulloch says, the plus sign can save time and space, especially when writing by hand. It can also serve as a “DIY graphic design element,” both on labels and on platforms like Twitter that don’t allow for other visual cues like italics or differently sized fonts. It can attract eyeballs and aid comprehension by creating whitespace. Also, McCulloch notes, a lot of people can’t draw ampersands, while even people who sign their name with an “X” possess the skills necessary to successfully deploy the “+.”

For companies like Disney and Apple (which also tacked the symbol onto a new media product, Apple News+), there is a different kind of functional appeal. “The value of + is that it implies more, better, premium,” explains Maria Cypher, creative director at naming company Catchword, “without being specific as to content, scale, or degree of premium-ness.” It suggests customers will be getting something extra without making it at all clear what that extra thing might be. On top of that, Cypher notes, it bypasses red tape. “These media companies have to trademark globally, a monstrous task that innocent bystanders cannot begin to comprehend,” she says, “and appending a + to an existing name is an easy way to square the circle.”

For many, the aesthetic appeal of the plus sign is in its simplicity, which dovetails with a culture that fetishizes the raw, the elemental, the nostalgic — whether it is slow food or adult hide-and-seek. David Steele, one of the founders of the beloved, award-winning San Francisco restaurant Flour + Water, was also on the early side of the trend. When they decided to use the plus sign in 2008, before the restaurant opened, Steele had only seen it used by architecture firms. He liked it and told their graphic designers to draw it up. “I’d like to tell you that the plus sign represents inclusiveness,” Steele says, “but the truth is it just looked f—ing cool.”

The plus sign can indeed project open arms, thanks to uses like LGBTQ+. It has a clean medical patina, which the contact lens brand Bausch & Lomb capitalized on when rebranding as Bausch + Lomb in 2010. When Dove launched Men+Care the same year, onlookers suggested the plus sign might be conveying masculinity. Others link its appeal to the “x” used to denote collaboration among artists (a construction that is also hot in the branding world).

And the list goes on. It can channel the childlike charm of scratching initials into a tree or the high-tech efficiency of C++ brogrammers. It’s hardly surprising to see it in the title of TechCrunch panel names. “The plus got a lot of traction through things like Google +,” says Nancy Friedman, founder of branding consultancy Wordworking. Friedman once named a design firm Post + Beam. “They really liked the plus symbol,” she says. It had a kind of “mathematical crispness” and a promise of an answer at the end of the equation.

In emails and tweets and texts, the plus sign gives off a “studied casualness,” McCulloch says: “If the plus sign is traditionally used in handwritten notes because it’s faster, it can still convey that ethos.” The irony is, of course, that it’s not actually faster to type “+” on a phone or computer than it is to type the word and. In electronic media, one might use “+” to save a couple characters, but it’s also possible that “you’re typing a plus sign because you want to be the type of person who types a plus sign,” she says.

The symbol has become its own form of trendiness-signaling, much like jettisoning all the vowels from one’s brand name or refusing to engage in that hackneyed ritual known as capitalization. Your mom might make a PB&J, but that artisanal coffee shop that provisions handcrafted food and beverage? They make a PB+J.

Over the past 16 years, Malin+Goetz has grown from one store to 15 located in countries around the world. Their $22 shampoos can be found in high-end hotels and gyms and the showers of your more fashionable friends. When asked how he would feel if he woke up tomorrow and every storefront and bottle contained an ampersand rather than a plus sign, Goetz says, “We’d be a law firm!”

As it happens, even law firms are dropping the fusty old ampersand like a broke client, explaining that they’re “changing with the times.” Last year, the American Bar Association Journal ran an op-ed lamenting how so many firms had forsaken the & and “announced their sleek new ampersand-less titles with the swagger of a smug middle-ager presenting a new trophy spouse.” Often these professionals are just doing away with the symbols all together: Boies, Schiller & Flexner becomes Boies Schiller Flexner. But some younger, hipper boutique firms have even adopted the plus sign instead.

For Steele, who has watched the plus sign grow popular with a furrowed brow, this was something of a breaking point. After all, Flour + Water had chosen the symbol in part to be different, because it was the typographical equivalent of punk rock compared to the establishment’s and or & (or, heaven forbid, ’n’). “Really? These white shoes are using the plus sign? Is it time for me to get a new angle on this?” he says of the first time he saw a law firm use it. “If I could redo the logo right now, I might.” Cypher of Catchword says her firm was recently asked to develop “+” names for a client and advised against it, in part because it risked sounding derivative.

While ‘n’ appears to be going the way of Linens ‘N Things, the ampersand is far from dead. Its baroque curls suit retro hipster establishments and the world has yet to witness the coming of Crate+Barrel or Bed, Bath + Beyond. But the plus sign suits the modern tendency toward narrow, nerd-chic sans serif fonts. The & feels more like embattled cursive writing.

Goetz is far too attached to the symbol to ever consider a redesign, however a la mode the plus sign might get. He too laments its ubiquity. (“As they say, imitation is the greatest form of annoyance.”) But it has evolved from mere branding into a motif of his life. He takes pictures of the symbols wherever he sees them – whether it’s on a computer screen or a street intersection viewed from above. He only half-jokingly describes “the rapture of the plus sign” as kind of guiding force, a bit of beauty that has been around, in some form or another, since the Romans were in charge.

“The world is filled with plus signs wherever you go. You just have to look for them,” Goetz says. “And now you don’t have to look that hard.”

Gross Domestic Product, 4th Quarter and Year 2019 (Second Estimate)

Gross Domestic Product, 4th Quarter and Year 2019 (Second Estimate)
Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The growth rate is the same as in the “advance” estimate released in January. In the third quarter, real GDP also increased 2.1 percent. Full Text

Published February 27, 2020 at 08:30AM

New story in Business from Time: Airlines Are Using Disinfectant That Kills Herpes and MRSA to Clean Planes in Wake of Coronavirus Outbreak

Airlines are turning to some of the world’s hardest-hitting disinfectants, capable of stopping everything from sexually transmitted diseases to the MRSA superbug, in the fight against the coronavirus.

Qantas Airways, Korean Air Lines and Singapore Airlines’ Scoot unit are among carriers that helped evacuate people from the outbreak’s epicenter, the Chinese city of Wuhan, and from a cruise ship off Japan. They’ve stepped up aircraft-cleaning efforts as a result, trying to ensure that planes used in rescue missions are safe to be put back into commercial use.

The standard vacuum-and-wipe cleanup on board has turned into hospital-grade sterilizations. How was this done? And are there any risks for passengers using the planes when they return to service? Here are some answers:

What cleaning products are used?

Qantas used Viraclean, a hospital-grade disinfectant made by Sydney-based Whiteley Corp. It’s a pink, lemon-scented liquid that kills a range of bacteria and viruses including Hepatitis B and herpes simplex, according to the manufacturer. Surfaces heavily soiled with blood or sweat should be soaked with undiluted Viraclean. Gloves and eye protection are recommended, Whiteley says.

Korean Air opted for MD-125. That’s a diluted version of D-125, a cleaning solution made by Microgen and used in industries from health care to poultry farming. The company says MD-125 acts against 142 bacteria and viruses, including salmonella, avian flu, HIV and measles.

How are the planes cleaned?

Qantas used the same Boeing Co. 747 on its two flights from Wuhan and another from Tokyo back to Australia. It was cleaned for 36 hours. Pillows, blankets, magazines and headphones were all thrown out, the airline said. The cabin was sprayed twice with disinfectant, which covered all the seats, floors, armrests, tray tables, overhead luggage bins and walls. The cabin was then wiped down. The plane’s air filters, which are similar to those used in surgical theaters, were also replaced. The 747 was back on the Sydney-Santiago commercial route this week, according to data from

Korean Air used one Boeing 747 on two flights from Wuhan, and an Airbus SE A330 for the third. As well as spraying and wiping down the cabin, cleaning teams replaced seat covers and dividing curtains near the galleys and disinfected the luggage hold, the airline said. The planes were only allowed back into service with the approval of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Korea.

Scoot, a low-cost carrier owned by Singapore Airlines, sprayed a mist of “industrial-grade disinfectant” throughout the cabin — a process known as fogging.

What about the future?

It might be possible to disinfect the inside of a plane without any chemicals at all. ACT.Global, whose cleaning system has been used in hotels and on cruise ships, developed a spray-on film that allows a plane cabin to essentially clean itself — for 12 continuous months. When the transparent coating is exposed to light, a photo-catalytic reaction occurs that kills microbes and purifies the air, according to the Danish company. Chief Technical Officer Christopher Lüscher said the product, which is called Premium Purity, has tested effective against coronavirus strains.

What’s being done right now?

Many airlines have stepped up normal cleaning procedures to limit the risk of contamination.

Singapore Airlines removed hot towels on some services and took away some of the shared reading material that’s usually found in the back of seats. After each flight, meal trays and television screens are disinfected, while headsets, headrest covers, pillow covers and blankets are all changed, the company said. The cabin air filter system has similar performance to those used in hospital operating rooms, according to the airline.

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., perhaps the airline outside mainland China most affected by the health crisis, says it is disinfecting all cabin surfaces after each flight, including baby bassinets. Any plane with a confirmed coronavirus case is cleaned and disinfected again, Cathay said. Hot towels, pillows, blankets and magazines are no longer provided on flights to and from China, while inflight duty-free sales have been suspended. Korean Air has removed pillows and blankets on flights to mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mongolia.

–With assistance from Sanjit Das.