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Tesla dismissing contractors from Fremont, Nevada factories: sources

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Tesla Chief Executive Office Elon Musk speaks at his company’s factory in Fremont, California.

Noah Berger | Reuters

Tesla is letting go of contractors from its U.S. car and battery plants, according to three workers and correspondence shared with CNBC.

The company is cutting contractors from its workforce, both in its vehicle factory in Fremont, California, and at the Gigafactory outside of Reno, Nevada, where Tesla makes the signature battery packs that power its electric vehicles and energy storage products. The cuts affect hundreds, according to estimates from the people familiar with the move, who asked for anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to press about internal matters.

Temps — many of whom worked at Tesla for years, some hoping to jump into full-time roles — were notified by their staffing agencies about the cuts late this week. 

A memo from Balance Staffing to dismissed workers said: “It is with my deepest regret that I must inform you that the Tesla factory shutdown has been extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result, Tesla has requested to end all contract assignments effective immediately.”

The staffing agency told workers that they would remain Balance Staffing employees, and could find other work via their business. Balance Staffing also promised it would work hard to bring the contractors back to Tesla in the future if at all possible, and reassured the workers that the dismissals from Tesla were not a reflection of the quality of their work, but rather difficult business conditions. 

Contractors hired through other temp agencies were getting similar notices on Thursday and Friday, according to the workers who spoke to CNBC.

Tesla and Balance did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

On Friday, Tesla shares rose more than 5% on a down day for markets after the company reported first-quarter vehicle deliveries that pleased investors  — Elon Musk’s electric car venture delivered approximately 88,400 vehicles, and produced 103,000 in Q1 2020. 

On the way to achieving those numbers, Tesla fought local health orders in Alameda County, where its car assembly plant is based, which would have required it to wind down to minimum basic operations as early as March 17th. Instead, it kept the Fremont plant fully operational until the end of the day on March 23rd, about a week longer than other businesses in the area, while wrangling with local authorities over whether or not Tesla was deemed an “essential business” and therefore exempt from the orders.

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Asia Pacific stocks set to jump as U.S.-China tensions ramp up

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress on Wednesday that Hong Kong was no longer autonomous from China, raising questions over the special administrative region’s favorable trade relationship with the U.S.

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Huawei CFO loses major battle in extradition fight

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Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co., leaves the Supreme Court in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019.

Trevor Hagan | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou lost a major legal battle in her fight against extradition to the U.S. to stand trial on fraud charges.

In the Wednesday ruling, the Supreme Court of British Columbia found that the case against Meng meets a standard called “double criminality,” where the acts the U.S has accused her of are also illegal in Canada. The next phase of proceedings will begin next month. 

Diplomatic tensions are rising as Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, will have to remain in Vancouver on bail during a lengthy extradition process. 

Shortly after the court’s decision, the Chinese Foreign Ministry urged Canada to release Meng immediately and ensure her return to China. The Global Times, which is aligned with the Communist Party of China, blamed the U.S. for the ruling, saying Canada’s judicial and diplomatic independence has fallen to “U.S. bullying.” 

Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunication supplier, has been a flashpoint for the Trump administration’s trade battles with China. Shortly after Meng was arrested in December 2018, President Trump weighed in on the extradition case, telling Reuters he might consider “intervening” in the case if it would help the U.S.- China trade war. On Wednesday afternoon, legislation calling for sanctions against China passed both houses of Congress; President Trump has not said whether he intends to sign it into law.

The U.S. Commerce Department has also targeted Huawei. It blocked shipments of semiconductors to the company from chip-makers. That followed the administration’s move to keep Huawei on the U.S. Entity List, a blacklist that restricts American firms doing business with the company. The ban is hitting Huawei’s bottom line. The company reported it saw slowing revenue growth in 2019

Huawei said it was “disappointed” in the ruling and maintained Meng’s innocence.

Meng is due back in court June 15.

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Dow futures point to modest gains after index pops back above 25,000

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A trader walks by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on the first day that traders are allowed back onto the historic floor of the exchange on May 26, 2020 in New York City.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 ticked higher Wednesday evening as investors looked to add to Wall Street’s robust gains so far this week.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 57 points, indicating an opening gain of about 92 points when regular trading resumes on Thursday. S&P 500 futures also pointed to a 0.2% advance on Thursday; Nasdaq-100 futures dipped into negative territory.

The overnight moves Wednesday evening promised to add to sharp rallies in the major stock indexes so far this week.

The Nasdaq Composite, S&P 500 and Dow all extended week-to-date gains during Wednesday’s regular trading session and finished the day up 0.77%, 1.48% and 2.2% respectively. The broad S&P 500 closed at its highest level since March, above 3,000; the Dow jumped 553 points to finish Wednesday’s session north of 25,000, its own highest close since March.

The S&P 500, Nasdaq Composite and Dow are up 2.7%, 0.9% and 4.4% since the start of the holiday-shortened week. The Dow is on track for its best week since the week ended April 8.

Traders say this week’s rally is in large part thanks to optimism about the reopening of the U.S. economy.

Equity of companies that stand to benefit the most under reopenings, such as the airlines and retailers, led the major indexes higher Tuesday and Wednesday. Kohl’s, Nordstrom and Gap all rose at least 14% on Wednesday while airlines Delta, American, Alaska and United rose 2.6%, 7.5%, 2% and 3.8%, respectively.

Meanwhile, those stocks that outperformed as stay-at-home orders went into effect in March have lagged in recent sessions. Zoom Video dropped 1.2%; Shopify, Amazon and Teladoc Health fell 2.3%, 0.6% and 1.1%, respectively. 

Thursday’s forthcoming update to the U.S. unemployment claims threatened to keep the week’s optimism in check.

The Department of Labor is scheduled to release the latest update to initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET Thursday morning. Though economists polled by Dow Jones expect the government to announce yet another deceleration in the pace of claims, the consensus estimate predicts another 2.05 million Americans filed for insurance during the week ended May 23.

Last week, the Labor Department reported another 2.44 million Americans had filed claims in the week ended May 16, which brought the coronavirus crisis total to some 38.6 million, by far the largest loss in U.S. history.

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