Senate Approves Bill Replenishing Funds for Small Business Stimulus

Key Takeaways:

Congress reached agreement on $484 billion measure designed largely to fund the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which depleted the original $349 billion it was allotted within two weeks

Of the total, approximately $310 billion will fund the PPP, serving to provide small businesses with loans

These loans are forgivable if several provisions are met:

· Keeping/rehiring staff

· Using 75% of money for payroll

· Funds used within eight weeks

· Additional criteria

The bill will also provide $75 billion for hospitals and health care, and $25 billion for COVID-19 testing

White House Issues Guidance on Easing Restrictions on Activity

Key Takeaways:

· The White House has issued guidance for state and local governments outlining a three-stage plan for rolling back restraints on activity

· Key hurdles before beginning reopening include a two-week downtrend in COVID-19 cases, assurance that health care facilities have adequate capacity, and robust testing

· The three phases include gradually opening up restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, schools, and sporting venues with continued adherence to social distancing and sanitation, and special considerations for vulnerable populations

· Cautious thawing of restrictions while maintaining positive momentum on health front could ease job losses and support economic growth

Home Sales Activity Falls

Key Takeaways:

· Existing home sales dropped 8.5 percent in March as concerns over healthcare crisis and economic uncertainty weighed on buyers purchase decisions

· Many of the March closings were put under contract in January and February, so the full extent of the impact on sales is not yet fully reflected in the data

· Home buyer traffic index declined more than 50 percent from February to March pointing to continued weakness in the coming months