Monday Sunrise Briefing: Historic oil deal offers stability

REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani/File Photo
A man wears a protective face mask while overlooking flare stacks at Nahr Bin Umar oil field, near Basra, Iraq March 9, 2020.

A historic oil agreement Sunday puts an end to a damaging price war, and provides some stability to oil and stock markets. A group of 23 oil-producing nations agreed to an unprecedented cut of nearly 10 million barrels, or a tenth of global supply. As of Friday, U.S. crude was trading at $22.76 per barrel, down 63% year-to-date. Oil prices would have fallen anyway as factories and commuters worldwide went on coronavirus lockdown, but the decline was exacerbated by a feud between Saudi Arabia and Russia. President Donald Trump praised the deal on Twitter, saying it would save “hundreds of thousands of energy jobs” in the U.S. “This is at least a temporary relief for the energy industry and for the global economy,” oil analyst Per Magnus Nysveen told the Associated Press. 

2. Europe emerging. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was released from the hospital Sunday. The U.K. hasn’t flattened the coronavirus curve yet, but across Europe the first steps to lift lockdowns are underway. WHO officials say it’s premature. But in Denmark, schools and day care centers will reopen Monday. In Spain, some factories and construction sites will reopen this week, while the general public remains under stay-at-home orders until April 26. In Germany, officials plan to meet Wednesday to discuss plans to return to work.

Mr. Johnson released a video expressing profound gratitude for U.K. doctors and nurses, calling out “Jenny from New Zealand” and “Luis from Portugal,” who he said “stood by my bedside for 48 hours when things could have gone either way.” 

Why We Wrote This

Good morning! Welcome to your Monday, April 13, 2020, sunrise briefing.

Here are three news events from this past weekend (while you may have been hunting Easter eggs, kite surfing, and enjoying an offline life). Also, what to look for in the news this week.

3. Easter expressed. Christians around the world, mostly forbidden to gather, celebrated Easter Sunday in novel ways. Many congregations met online. Some congregated in their cars in church parking lots, obeying social-distancing rules. In Kentucky, state police handed out quarantine notices and wrote down license plate numbers of the dozens of people who met at a Baptist church. In New York, members of churches from across the city stayed home and sang “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” from balconies and windows. “Even if you didn’t hear everyone, God heard everyone," said Kathy Keller, of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, who helped organize the Easter2020 event. 

Andrea Bocelli sang his message of hope at the cathedral in Milan, Italy, which was live-streamed on Youtube. “I believe in the strength of praying together; I believe in the Christian Easter, a universal symbol of rebirth that everyone — whether they are believers or not — truly needs right now," Mr. Bocelli said.


REUTERS/Alex Fraser
Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli at Duomo square on Easter Sunday, in Milan, Italy, April 12, 2020.

 Editor’s note: As a public service, all our coronavirus coverage is free. No paywall.

Look Ahead

Wednesday, April 15

Leadership test. South Korea is the first country to hold a major election amid the coronavirus crisis. Voters will choose all 300 members of the parliament. President Moon Jae-in and his party have benefited by getting the outbreak under control relatively quickly. 

Roadmap for recovery: G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meet via video to discuss plans for handling the pandemic as well as how to restart the global economy.

Peacock premieres. Yes, another streaming service. NBC Universal debuts "Peacock" on Comcast cable before rolling out to more audiences this summer. With free and paid tiers, the service offers reruns of old TV and movie favorites, as well as new programming, such as “Division One” with Amy Poehler starring as a women’s college soccer coach.

Thursday, April 16

HORSE hoops. You can watch the finals of this week’s HORSE tournament, where current and former NBA and WNBA stars face off (on their own courts) with $200,000 being donated to coronavirus relief efforts. Broadcast by ESPN. Players will take turns calling their shot and trash-talking while their opponent tries to duplicate it. If they fail, they get a letter. First to spell HORSE loses. 

Friday, April 17

Sports, sort of: The WNBA draft starts tonight on ESPN at 7 p.m. The likely No. 1 pick is Sabrina Ionescu of Oregon, but there’s also buzz around two of her Ducks teammates, Satou Sabally and Ruthy Hebard.

Saturday, April 18

COVID-19 concert.  A bevy of stars and late-night hosts will join Lady Gaga for the “One World: Together At Home” benefit concert for the World Health Organization. Ms. Gaga has already raised more than $35 million by lobbying 68 CEOs, reports Vogue. 

Generosity Watch

Rustic Marlin via Facebook
On Easter Sunday, someone bought a sign of hope at a kiosk in Hanover, Massachusetts.

Sometimes a sign of hope is, well, literally a sign of hope. 

In Hanover, Massachusetts, the Rustic Marlin sign shop is making signs of appreciation for coronavirus frontline workers, collecting donations to help small businesses, and boosting  community spirit. 

The “Signs of Hope” initiative was launched by Melanie and Brian O’Neil, who started their sign making business in their garage in 2012. Now, they employ a team of more than 30 designers, artists, and craftsmen. But the coronavirus lockdown hit their small business as hard as any other. That’s when they hatched the idea. For $20, you can buy a sign with a heart or “hope” and give it to a frontline worker - a grocery store clerk, a doctor, a fireman, a nurse. All profits go to Rustic Marlin employees and other area small businesses. They’ve raised more than $30,000 so far. 

“The idea is to use the profits to assist ordinary people that just a few weeks ago had jobs within a small business but now their world has been turned upside down because the company they work at had to close,” Mr. O’Neil said in a statement.

There’s one more wrinkle: the couple is banking on the integrity of the public. The little signs are sold at half-a-dozen unmanned kiosks south of Boston on the honor system: pick a sign and leave a check or send the money digitally via Venmo. 

Hidden gem

Start your week with a recent story that inspired Monitor readers:

Lapping the living room: Lockdown marathoners get creative

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our story about Leonardo Pavkovic, owner of the world’s most unusual boutique record label, MoonJune Music. 

Finally, check out the Monitor’s selected stories from Friday's subscription-only Daily Edition:

  1. In scramble for supplies, states start banding together
  2. As Britain battles a pandemic, a volunteer spirit stirs
  3. Coronavirus gives some protesters new mission: Preserving life
  4. Coronavirus crunch: One city block reveals small businesses at risk
  5. To reach his flock in a crisis, one minister turns to the old tools

Editor’s note: As a public service, all our coronavirus coverage is free. No paywall.

This is a beta test - an experiment with an early Monday morning news update. Please give us your feedback via the link below and let us know what you think. Thank you!

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