That’s The Randle Report for June 26, 2020

Join us again Monday morning for all of the American South’s business, economic development and political news in real time and in one place. Use the sort buttons or the search window to find any story you need to find from last week, last month, last year or several years ago. Click on the headline above to access Southern Business & Development’s website, the economic development magazine of the American South; the third largest economy in the world.

Poll finds sharp partisan divide over coronavirus as cases spike

A new poll out from Pew Research Center on Thursday finds a sharp partisan divide over concerns about coronavirus, with 61% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents saying the worst is behind us while 76% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents think the worst is still to come. The poll comes as more than half the states see a spike in coronavirus cases. But despite that significant increase in infections across the US, especially in states like Texas and Florida, concern over coronavirus hasn’t increased, as 2 in 5 Americans say the worst is behind us. A majority across party lines — 71% — say that it will be necessary for President Donald Trump and Congress to pass an additional economic package. That includes 51% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and 87% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. CNN Money

Trump entrenched in failed strategy as virus surges and polling drops

A little more than four months before facing voters, President Donald Trump appears at one of the weakest points of his presidency, with few signs the mounting health and civic crises he currently faces will subside and a spate of national polls indicating if the election were held today, he would lose badly. Trump still enjoys the sizable advantages afforded an incumbent president and, particularly in his own era, five months can feel like several lifetimes. Yet people who have spoken to the President recently say he seems aimless as coronavirus cases surge and as a national racial reckoning reaches entities from NASCAR to Disney. Instead of engaging on those matters, Trump has retrenched into the very conduct many believe is the root of his current political predicament. CNN Money

Another 1.48 million workers are newly unemployed

Another 1.48 million people applied for unemployment for the first time last week, a slight decrease from the week before and the 14th straight week that more than 1 million people have filed for unemployment. Workers continue to file for jobless claims at record numbers, due to the economic shutdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus. By contrast, in February the weekly claims were roughly 200,000 a week. The previous record was 695,000 jobless claims in 1982. Another 730,000 people applied for the supplemental pandemic unemployment assistance program created by Congress for self-employed and gig workers for the first time last week, bringing the total number of first-time claims to 2.2 million. The Washington Post

GOP Sens. Cornyn and Cruz say they don’t understand why federal funds are being pulled from coronavirus testing sites

Members of the Texas congressional delegation on both sides of the aisle are asking the Trump administration to reconsider its decision to halt direct funding to several coronavirus testing sites in the Lone Star State, where there has been a surge of Covid-19 cases. The transition away from these federally funded sites began in April, but the latest debate over federal funding comes after President Donald Trump on Saturday lamented the rise in coronavirus cases in the US, blaming increased testing. At a campaign rally over the weekend, he said coronavirus testing was “a double-edged sword.” “I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please,’ ” the President added. CNN Money

Orders for US Big-Ticket Factory Goods Surge 15.8%

Orders to American factories for big-ticket goods rebounded last month from a disastrous April and March as the U.S. economy began to slowly reopen. The Commerce Department said that orders for manufactured goods meant to last at least three years shot up 15.8% in May after plunging 18.1% in April and 16.7% in March. Economists expected a rebound, but the May increase was stronger than expected. A category that tracks business investment — orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft — rose 2.3% after dropping 6.5% in April. Excluding the transportation sector, which bounces around from month to month, durable goods orders rose a more modest 4%. New orders for cars and auto parts surged 27.5% last month after falling 53.7% in April and 19.5% in March.

Only certainty in ocean trade is uncertainty

“Uncertainty” was a word repeated throughout a maritime trade forecast Tuesday. Judah Levine, the research lead for Freightos, said the overall sentiment throughout the maritime industry is one of uncertainty as the coronavirus pandemic lingers. “If consumer behavior is uncertain, then businesses are uncertain when to order and then carriers are uncertain about the level of capacity that needs to be in the market in order to manage the businesses,” Levine said during the MarineTraffic-hosted webinar, “Containers Don’t Lie: Global Trade Forecast.” Freightwaves

Supertanker rates collapse: ‘The dam has burst’

Some sayings pop up again and again in shipping circles: “The way to make a small fortune in shipping is to start with a big one.” “Moving cargo is what you do between buying and selling ships.” “If analysts say the market can only get worse, buy.” There’s also one that goes: “If there are 98 ships and 101 cargoes, boom, 98 cargoes and 101 tankers, bust.” Alas, there are now a lot more tankers than cargoes. Rates are sliding, owners are capitulating, and charterers have the upper hand. Rates for very large crude carriers (VLCCs; tankers that carry 2 million barrels of crude) from the Middle East Gulf (MEG) to Asia were down to $20,000 per day on Wednesday, with the global average assessed at $26,537 per day by brokerage Howe Robinson. “The dam has burst, and VLCC rates have taken an overdue nosedive,” said the brokerage Fearnleys in a new report. Freightwaves

Hyundai and Kia Heat Up Their EV Tech at plants in Alabama and Georgia

Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. have shared details on their innovative heat pump system, deployed in Hyundai’s and Kia’s electric vehicle line-up to maximize all-electric driving range in low temperatures. Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, in Montgomery, produces the Sonata, Elantra and Santa Fe vehicles. Kia Motor Manufacturing Georgia, located in West Point just across from the Alabama state line, is the automaker’s only manufacturing facility in the U.S. It produces the Telluride CUV, the Sorento CUV and the Optima midsize sedan. The heat pump maximizes the distance that EVs can travel on a single charge, scavenging waste heat to warm the cabin. This enables drivers to heat their car’s cabin in cold weather without significantly impacting driving range. Business Alabama

Still Reeling From Oil Plunge, Texas Faces New Threat: Surge in Virus Cases

HOUSTON — Things were looking up for Texas in recent weeks. Oil prices had managed an impressive rebound, more than doubling to just above $40 a barrel. Restaurants and small businesses were opening up in Houston, Dallas and elsewhere. And tens of thousands of people were getting back to work. But a recent surge in coronavirus cases in the state is messing up that neat recovery story. Small businesses that had just reopened are closing again and oil prices have slid below $40 a barrel after weeks of gains. Energy executives say they remain optimistic, but some analysts are worried about the Texas economy, which would be the world’s 10th biggest if the state were a country. Since businesses began reopening in early May, after a four-week statewide stay-at-home order by Gov. Greg Abbott that was only loosely enforced in some areas, optimism spread that the coronavirus pandemic was under control. People returned to their dentist offices, gyms and hair salons, and bars began doing brisk business, especially in the oil production hub of West Texas. The New York Times