Roundup: Baton Rouge courthouses / Shell slashes asset value / US home prices  

    Reopening: Courthouses across the state have been closed for months due to the COVID-19 health crisis, but that’s all set to change on Wednesday, July 8, and officials who oversee the downtown Baton Rouge courthouse are preparing the facility for the return of jurors, WBRZ-TV reports. EBR District Attorney Hillar Moore says many people in the courtroom will be wearing face shields, which allow their facial expressions to be visible, instead of masks. He also says those in the courtrooms will be seated far apart from one another in harmony with social distancing guidelines. Read the full story. 

    Industry impact: Energy producer Royal Dutch Shell warned this morning it will slash the value of its assets by $22 billion to account for lower oil and gas prices amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With the virus outbreak hurting the long-term prospects of the global economy, the company says it continues “to adapt to ensure the business remains resilient” in challenging times. Earlier this month, competitor BP also cut the value of its own assets by up to $17.5 billion. Read the full story. 

    On the rise: U.S. home prices gains accelerated in April even as sales have stumbled, a sign the coronavirus outbreak has had little impact on real estate values. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index climbed 4% in April compared with a year earlier, the largest gain since December 2018, up from 3.9% in March. Home sales have fallen sharply for three straight months to their lowest annual pace in nearly a decade in May. Yet the supply of available houses for sale has also declined, compared with a year ago, forcing remaining buyers to bid up prices. Read the full story. 

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