Airlines end a strong summer, but the Delta variant stifles momentum.

United Airlines and Delta Air Lines said that they expected to see the recovery resume once coronavirus cases peak.

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A Delta Air Lines employee helping travelers at Los Angeles International Airport in August.Credit…Mario Tama/Getty Images

Airlines ended the traditional summer travel season on a high note, but hopes for the fall have dimmed as employers delay office reopenings and the Delta variant of the coronavirus has eroded sales and driven up cancellations in recent weeks.

United Airlines said in a securities filing on Thursday that it no longer expected to turn a profit, before taxes, for the three months ending in September and that revenue would probably be down about a third compared with the same period in 2019. Nevertheless, the airline said that it still expected to reap previously predicted cost savings.

Delta Air Lines appeared to be in a stronger position. The airline said in a filing that it still expected a pretax profit for the quarter, but that revenue would probably be at the lower end of a forecast it made earlier this summer. Costs were at the higher end of expectations as Delta staffed up to keep operations running smoothly through the rebound.

“The story for the quarter really has been about the amazing surge in demand that we’ve witnessed,” Ed Bastian, Delta’s chief executive, said at a Thursday conference hosted by Cowen, an investment bank.

Both United and Delta said that they expected to see the recovery resume once virus cases peak, with Mr. Bastian adding that the airline was already seeing a rebound in the South, where infections began rising sharply earlier in the summer. United and Southwest Airlines said in filings that the latest wave of infections has had less of an effect on the business than previous jumps in coronavirus cases.

Delta said it performed better than expected in July, but the pace of the recovery paused in August. The rebound in business travel froze, too, as companies delayed or scaled back plans to reopen offices. Still, Delta said that ticket sales had generally stabilized in the last 10 days.

For Southwest, a slower-than-expected September will be a drag on revenue, but the company said it still expected to end the quarter within the range it had predicted. Corporate travel was down nearly two-thirds in July and August compared with the same months in 2019 and is expected to remain down a similar amount in September. Mr. Bastian said Delta was seeing similar trends in corporate travel.

For much of the summer, which is the industry’s busiest season, airlines were flying about 80 percent as many customers as in 2019. That figure started to sag in the second half of August, but rebounded over the Labor Day holiday, according to Transportation Security Administration passenger screening data.

Though it’s early still, Southwest said it was seeing “fairly typical” sales for holiday travel at the end of the year.

The European Central Bank said on Thursday it would slow down the pace of its pandemic-era bond-buying program, one of the main tools it has used to support the eurozone economy through lockdowns, citing “favorable financing conditions” and the inflation outlook.

The program, which has lately been purchasing about 80 billion euros, or $95 billion, of mostly government bonds each month, is a way to keep borrowing costs low and encourage economic growth.

Other policy measures were left unchanged. Interest rates were held steady, including the so-called deposit rate, which remained at negative 0.5 percent. Policymakers also maintained the size of the bank’s other bond-buying program that was restarted in 2019 to head off a regional recession.

In the eurozone, inflation is rising faster than expected, supply chain disruptions and product shortages are pushing costs higher for manufacturers, and there are early signs that the economic recovery is slowing down.

It’s a concoction that has created divisions among the central bank’s policymakers about when to slow and then end its enormous bond-buying program. It began in March 2020 as the pandemic spread across Europe, and is meant to buy a total of 1.85 trillion euros in bonds and run until at least next March. The slowdown would help ensure the purchases end on schedule, though the central bank hasn’t ruled out an extension.

“Based on a joint assessment of financing conditions and the inflation outlook, the Governing Council judges that favorable financing conditions can be maintained with a moderately lower pace of net asset purchases,” the central bank said in statement on Thursday.

Thursday’s decisions are the first test of the central bank’s updated forward guidance. In July, policymakers said they were willing to overlook short-term jumps in inflation and would raise interest rates only once it was clear the annual inflation rate would reach 2 percent “well ahead” of the end of the central bank’s projection horizon and stay around that level over the medium term.

New projections for inflation and economic growth will be published later on Thursday when the central bank’s president, Christine Lagarde, will hold a press conference.. The previous forecasts, in June, predicted inflation would peak at 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter and decline to 1.5 percent in 2022 and 1.4 percent in 2023.

But inflation has already risen to 3 percent in August, the highest in nearly 10 years, the region’s statistics agency said last week. So far, policymakers have been betting that the jump in inflation will be temporary, like other central banks around the world.

In recent years preceding the pandemic, the inflation rate was below the bank’s 2 percent target.

“The stars are much better aligned than they have been for a long time for the return of inflation back to 2 percent,” Klaas Knot, the governor of the Dutch central bank and a member of the governing council at the European Central Bank, said last week.

Jens Weidmann, the head of the German central bank, said that policymakers shouldn’t ignore the risk of “excessively high inflation” and that they should not “commit to our very loose monetary policy stance for too long.”

But the European Central Bank as a whole has been more cautious than the Federal Reserve and Bank of England about preparing markets for a return to normal policy. While the economy is rebounding — rising 2.2 percent in the second quarter from the first three months of the year — Ms. Lagarde has highlighted the uncertainty posed by the spread of the Delta variant.

Recently, Philip Lane, the central bank’s chief economist, said there were headwinds for the economy in the second half of the year, including supply-chain bottlenecks that could be more persistent than expected.

While the pandemic-era bond program might be approaching its end, the central bank is expected to maintain its older bond purchase effort, under which the bank buys 20 billion euros in assets a month. Many analysts expect policymakers to increase the size of purchases to keep providing stimulus to the economy even after the immediate impact of the pandemic has passed.


The disgraced founder of the blood testing start-up Theranos arrived at the federal courthouse and stood trial for two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 10 counts of wire fraud.CreditCredit…Mike Kai Chen for The New York Times

Lawyers for the government and the defense made their opening statements on Wednesday in the trial of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the blood testing start-up Theranos, and a former controller for the company began to testify before the proceedings ended for the day.

The trial will pause for a day and continue on Friday. [Read more about the trial’s opening statements.]

The government’s case

Robert Leach, an assistant U.S. attorney, methodically described the times that Theranos came close to going out of business. “Out of time and out of money, Elizabeth Holmes decided to lie,” he said, in what became a refrain

Mr. Leach described Theranos’s false claims that its technology was being used on battlefields. He showed apparently falsified reports that Ms. Holmes gave to investors from pharmaceutical companies endorsing Theranos’s technology. He said she had peddled wildly exaggerated revenue projections and had used the news media to execute her fraud.

“The scheme brought her fame, it brought her honor, and it brought her adoration,” Mr. Leach said.

The defense

The defense argued that Ms. Holmes was a hardworking, if naive, entrepreneur who did not succeed but did not commit any crimes.

“The villain the government just presented is actually a living, breathing human being who did her very best each and every day,” said Lance Wade, a lawyer with Williams & Connolly who represents Ms. Holmes. “Trying your hardest and coming up short is not a crime.”

Mr. Wade argued that the reality of Theranos’s failure was more complicated than the government’s presentation and that the company had built some valuable blood-testing technology.

There has been intense media interest in Elizabeth Holmes’s trial.Credit…Nick Otto/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The circus

Interest in the trial was so high that a line began forming to get into the federal courthouse before 5 a.m. Entering the windy alley in front of the courthouse at about 8 a.m., Ms. Holmes was swarmed by camera crews. She was escorted through the scrum by her boyfriend, Billy Evans, and family members.

Curious members of the public also showed up, as did a crew of three blond-haired women in black suits who resembled the defendant. At one point, Mr. Evans and the women in black passed around a padded seat for the courtroom’s hard benches.

Who’s Who in the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

Erin Woo?Reporting from San Jose, Calif.

Who’s Who in the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

Erin Woo?Reporting from San Jose, Calif.

Carlos Chavarria for The New York Times

Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder of the blood testing start-up Theranos, stands trial for two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 10 counts of wire fraud.

Here are some of the key figures in the case ->

Who’s Who in the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

Erin Woo?Reporting from San Jose, Calif.

Stephen Lam/Reuters

Holmes founded Theranos in 2003 as a 19-year-old Stanford dropout. She raised $700 million from investors and was crowned the world’s youngest billionaire, but has been accused of lying about how well Theranos’s technology worked. She has pleaded not guilty.

Who’s Who in the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

Erin Woo?Reporting from San Jose, Calif.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Ramesh Balwani, known as Sunny, was Theranos’s president and chief operating officer from 2009 through 2016 and was in a romantic relationship with Holmes. He has also been accused of fraud and may stand trial next year. He has pleaded not guilty.

Who’s Who in the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

Erin Woo?Reporting from San Jose, Calif.

Jefferson Siegel for The New York Times

David Boies, a prominent litigator, represented Theranos as its lawyer and served on its board.

He tried to shut down whistle-blowers and reporters who questioned the company’s business practices.

Who’s Who in the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

Erin Woo?Reporting from San Jose, Calif.

Getty Images

The journalist John Carreyrou wrote stories exposing fraudulent practices at Theranos.

His coverage for The Wall Street Journal helped lead to the implosion of Theranos.

Who’s Who in the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

Erin Woo?Reporting from San Jose, Calif.

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, via Getty Images

Tyler Shultz and Erika Cheung are former Theranos employees and were whistle-blowers. They worked at the start-up in 2013 and 2014.

Shultz is a grandson of George Shultz, a former secretary of state who was on the Theranos board.

Who’s Who in the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

Erin Woo?Reporting from San Jose, Calif.

Eric Thayer for The New York Times

James Mattis, a retired four-star general, was a member of Theranos’s board.

He went on to serve as President Donald J. Trump’s secretary of defense.

Who’s Who in the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

Erin Woo?Reporting from San Jose, Calif.

Edward Davila, a federal judge for the Northern District of California, will oversee the case.

Kevin Downey, a partner at the Washington law firm Williams & Connolly, is the lead lawyer for Holmes.

Robert Leach, an assistant United States attorney for the Northern District of California, will lead the prosecution for the government, along with other prosecutors from the U.S. attorney’s office.

Read more about Elizabeth Holmes:

Aug. 30, 2021

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Spanish households are paying roughly double what they paid for electricity a year ago, prompting protests against utility companies.Credit…Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Wholesale prices for natural gas are at their highest in years — nearly five times where they were at this time in 2019, threatening to become a drag on the economies of Europe and elsewhere, Stanley Reed and Raphael Minder report for The New York Times.

Spanish households are paying roughly 40 percent more than what they paid for electricity a year ago as the wholesale price has more than doubled, prompting angry protests against utility companies.

Citing record natural gas prices, Britain’s energy regulatory agency, Ofgem, recently gave utilities a green light to increase the ceiling on energy bills for millions of households paying standard rates by about 12 percent, to 1,277 pounds, or $1,763, a year.

Gas prices in the United States have risen as well, but they are only around a quarter of those being paid in Europe. The United States has a big price advantage over Europe because of its large domestic supply of relatively cheap gas from shale drilling and other activities, while Europe must import most of its gas.

Europe imports around 60 percent of its gas, with supplies coming by pipeline from Russia and to a lesser extent Algeria and Libya. READ THE ARTICLE ->

The Biden administration wants the nation to move toward producing almost half of its electricity from the sun by 2050.

That was the goal in a new report released on Wednesday by the Energy Department, according to Ivan Penn, one of our energy reporters. To achieve that from the current level of 4 percent, the country would have to double the amount of solar energy installed every year over the next four years and then double it again by 2030.

It is not clear how hard the administration will push to advance solar energy through legislation and regulations. Many details will ultimately be decided by Congress.

Still, the Energy Department said its calculations showed that solar panels had fallen so much in cost that they could produce 40 percent of the country’s electricity by 2035 — enough to power all American homes — and 45 percent by 2050.

Solar panels are now the cheapest source of energy in many parts of the country. The use of solar and wind energy has also grown much faster in recent years than most government and independent analysts had predicted.

But getting there will mean trillions of dollars in investments by homeowners, businesses and the government. The electric grid would have to be almost completely remade with the addition of batteries, transmission lines and other technologies that can soak up electricity when the sun is shining and to send it from one corner of the country to another.

Building and installing enough solar panels to generate up to 45 percent of the country’s power needs will strain manufacturers and the energy industry, increasing demand for materials like aluminum, silicon, steel and glass. The industry will also need to find and train tens of thousands of workers and quickly. Some labor groups have said that in the rush to quickly build solar farms, developers often hire lower-paid nonunion workers rather than the union members Mr. Biden frequently champions.

U.S. stocks rose slightly in early trading on Thursday, with indexes pointing to its first day of gains after three days of losses. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq composite both ticked up 0.2 percent.

Initial jobless claims in the United States dropped 35,000 to 310,000 last week, the Labor Department reported on Thursday.

European indexes fell, with the Stoxx Europe 600 down 0.2 percent. The European Central Bank said on Thursday it would slow down the pace of its pandemic-era bond-buying program, one of the main tools it has used to support the eurozone economy through lockdowns.

GameStop stock fell 9 percent in early trading after the video game retailer reported on Wednesday a net loss of $61.6 million in the quarter that ended in July.

Shares for Lululemon Athletica rose 11 percent after the apparel company reported on Wednesday that its revenue rose 61 percent compared with the same time last year.

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