Canada nears 50,000 cases as it plans to ease foreclosure
Canada has confirmed nearly 50,000 cases of Covid-19 as several regions prepare to relax the lock-out measures.
Health Canada reported 49,014 confirmed cases on Tuesday morning, with 2,766 pandemic deaths.
“We are not out of the woods yet,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He warned that the blockages would be lifted too early and said the measures taken so far have helped slow the spread of the virus.
On Monday, Canada’s two largest provinces made plans to ease restrictions on social displacement. Quebec has said all daycare centers and elementary schools will reopen by May 19. Ontario has presented details of a phased reopening of workplaces and public spaces for 6 to 12 weeks, but has not set a date by which measures will begin to be relaxed.
Trudeau said the federal government will soon release guidelines for a “gradual and prudent” reopening of the economy, which have been accepted by provincial governments who will each manage the relaxation of their lockdowns.
House of Representatives will not return to Washington next week
Lauren Fedor in Washington
Congressional leaders have abandoned plans for the US House of Representatives to be in session starting next week as concerns persist about the spread of the coronavirus in Capitol Hill and Democrats and Republicans fighting the best way to go.
Steny Hoyer, the leader of the Democratic majority in the House, said on Tuesday that the Democrat-controlled lower house “should not sit” as of May 4 on the advice of the attending physician.
The Republican-controlled Senate, meanwhile, is expected to resume normal operations next week.
Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republican majority in the Senate, said on Monday: “We will change our routines in a smart and safe way, but we will respect our constitutional duty to the American people and do business in person.”
McConnell’s spokesman said on Tuesday that the majority leader’s position was unchanged.
The two chambers have been on hiatus for more than a month, with many members worried about the spread of the coronavirus on Capitol Hill, an overcrowded complex where lawmakers, staff, journalists and the public are often nearby. Many lawmakers are over the age of 65 and are at higher risk for Covid-19.
Lawmakers, however, returned to Washington periodically for key votes on economic relief measures.
Democratic proposals for “remote voting” in the House are stuck in the middle of the Republican opposition.
Peter Wise in Lisbon
The President of Portugal has declared that gradual measures will be taken to facilitate the country’s foreclosure against coronaviruses from next week and that a state of emergency, which came into effect on March 18, will end on May 3.
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said Tuesday that the economy would be reopened in small stages, but stressed that life would not return to normal yet.
The end of the state of emergency does not mean that the virus has stopped spreading or that we no longer need containment measures.
“Every small step” towards relaxing the restrictions should be assessed by experts and politicians, he said.
António Costa, Portuguese Prime Minister, said earlier that social distancing and individual protection measures would remain in place after the lifting of the state of emergency. According to Portuguese media, the easing of the closure should start with a limited reopening of small shops and kindergartens.
Portuguese health authorities reported a total of 24,322 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, an increase of 295 cases, or 1.2%, from the previous 24 hours. The number of coronavirus-related deaths increased by 20, or 2.2%, over the same period to a total of 948.
Russia extends lockout by two weeks
Henry Foy in Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin extended the national lockdown to May 11 and warned that the country was still in a dangerous phase of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have done so much, but it is still not enough,” he said in a televised speech. “We have been able to slow the spread of the virus … but the situation remains very complex.”
Russia has not yet reached the peak of infection, he added.
On Tuesday, Russia reported a record daily increase in coronavirus cases and deaths from the virus. Its total number of infections is 93,558.
Putin announced a national holiday to keep workers at home in late March, which was complemented by measures to ban people from leaving their homes in major cities, with a few exceptions.
France exposes plans to reopen its economy
Victor Mallet in Paris
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has presented his plans to ease the closure of the coronavirus from May 11 to avoid the risk of economic collapse.
“We must protect the French without immobilizing the country to the point where it is collapsing,” he told the National Assembly in Paris when laying down rules for businesses, schools, public transport and households. “A little too carefree and the epidemic will resume; a little too careful and the whole country will be stuck. “
More than 23,000 deaths from Covid-19 have been recorded in French hospitals and retirement homes since early March. The government imposed a lockout on March 17 to stop the spread of the pandemic that threatened to overwhelm hospitals in the hardest-hit regions of Paris and eastern France.
Businesses can reopen from May 11, with the exception of cafes, restaurants and large meeting places such as major museums and cinemas. Telework should be continued as much as possible for at least the first three weeks, said Philippe.
Public transport will be largely restored, the Paris metro and buses to provide 70% of normal services. Businesses will be encouraged to stagger working hours to avoid rush hour congestion. Long distance trips will remain reserved for those who have an urgent professional or family activity.
Schools will gradually reopen, starting with nursery and primary schools and attendance according to the parents’ agreement; the class size will be limited to 15.
Football season in France ends without high-level match until September
Murad Ahmed in London
No professional football will take place in France before September due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which means that the current season for its top leagues will end immediately.
Other major European leagues, such as the English Premier League, the German Bundesliga and the Italian Serie A, have started planning to resume matches in the coming weeks.
Edouard Philippe said that France would not risk a new epidemic of coronavirus and could not allow the return of sports equipment before the fall.
“Big sporting affairs cannot happen before September,” Philippe said at the French National Assembly on Tuesday. “The 2019-20 professional football season cannot return. “
The Professional Football League, the governing body of the league, will meet next month to discuss how to conclude the season, such as the rules for promotion and relegation places and the teams that will participate in the lucrative European competitions of the next season.
Other leagues, such as the Netherlands and Scotland, ended their seasons earlier.
Germany chooses SAP and Deutsche Telekom to create tracking application
Joe Miller in Frankfurt
The German government has chosen software company SAP and Deutsche Telekom to build its Covid-19 tracking application, which it says is essential to help lock out the country.
The development of the smartphone app, slated for mid-April, has raised concerns about data privacy.
Sunday, Angela Merkel’s government abandoned a local model it had supported for weeks, in favor of a model supported by Google and Apple, pressuring France to follow or risk not being able to follow the cases of coronavirus across borders.
Health Minister Jens Spahn has warned that the German app will not be available for several weeks.
In a statement, SAP said the two companies would release details of the software design and that the application would eventually be distributed by the German health agency, the Robert Koch Institute.
Jon Gray: don’t handcuff private capital in this crisis
For FT Opinion, Jon Gray, President and Chief Operating Officer of Blackstone writes
It’s easy to get discouraged by headlines. The effects of the coronavirus epidemic and an unprecedented downturn in the global economy are being felt in markets, businesses and individuals.
Even the most deserving businesses may not have access to capital when they need it most for their survival, job preservation and growth. The resulting domino effect creates an environment that perpetuates market difficulties, hampers recovery and punishes workers. And governments can only do the same to consolidate things.
In the vacuum, long before the “clear” sign was called on this slowdown, private capital must flow.
I know from experience that this will inevitably come up against cries that private equity, real estate funds and private lenders are vultures rushing to take advantage of the economic suffering. There will also be terrible warnings about the expansion of shadow banking. And yet the potential consequences are clear. Without private capital, more businesses will fail.
Read the full article here
US subprime lender Santander Consumer reports loss of $ 4 million
Robert Armstrong in New York
Santander Consumer USA, one of the largest subprime car lenders in the United States, reported a quarterly net loss of $ 4 million due to $ 440 million in provisions for credit losses.
However, the current loan performance has remained solid and the company has maintained its dividend.
Investors applauded the first quarter results, pushing the lender’s shares up 12% at the start of the session.
CFO Fahmi Karam noted that despite the coronavirus crisis, the company had access to capital: “After the end of the quarter, we were one of the first ABSs [asset-backed security] Issuers to execute a transaction since the start of the pandemic, issuing approximately $ 1 billion in securities. “
The company’s 60-day delinquency rate was 4.6%, up 40 basis points from the previous year. Loan write-offs, at $ 593 million, decreased by $ 22 million. After taking additional provisions, Santander’s credit loss provisions represented 18% of its loan receivables.
Goldman Sachs has advised its customers to buy battered energy assets as it expects the price of oil to rise from its current lows for several years.
In a note on Monday evening, the American bank’s energy strategists said:
We believe we are close enough to a cyclical dip in oil prices and energy sentiment to increase exposure to energy stocks. “
Extreme price swings have rocked the oil markets in recent sessions. The Brent international benchmark is trading around its lowest levels in two decades at $ 20 a barrel. The US price, which is prone to serious storage problems, changes hands at $ 12 a barrel and fell briefly negative last week.
The US bank has said it expects the price of oil to rise, driven by lower supply, and that global demand should start to recover in the coming months.
“Falling supply and a trough in demand should limit historic excess supply and begin to rebalance the market,” wrote the team led by Brian Singer.
Last week, Bank of America advised customers that the time may have come to buy “humiliated” oil assets.
Virus claims 5% of previously healthy patients in English hospitals
Camilla Hodgson in London
More than 1,000 people who were previously healthy have died after being hospitalized in England with Covid-19 – 5% of all deaths in hospital since the start of the pandemic.
Data released Tuesday by the NHS England brought the number of deaths from people diagnosed with the virus but with no known underlying medical condition to at least 1,003 – out of 19,301 hospital deaths.
These patients were between 13 and 102 years of age. The data do not provide a full breakdown of their age, sex or race.
The exact figure is unclear as the NHS England changed the way it reports deaths in late March. He had previously specified the number of daily deaths of people belonging to “vulnerable groups, including with underlying conditions”, but went on to report the number “with no known underlying health problems”.
Most days since March 25, at least one person under the age of 50 with no known medical condition died in hospital.
James Politi in Washington
Steven Mnuchin, the US Secretary of the Treasury, said the Trump administration would audit any loan of more than $ 2 million disbursed as part of a $ 659 billion program to help small businesses, while it went wild against the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team for participating in the program.
“I will announce this morning that for any loan over $ 2 million, the Small Business Administration will conduct a comprehensive review of this loan before it is canceled,” Mnuchin told CNBC Tuesday morning.
Launched as part of a $ 2 billion coronavirus stimulus package adopted last month, the so-called pay check protection program has been overwhelmed by huge demand from struggling businesses across the country and was to be replenished from its original $ 349 billion capacity to add an additional $ 310. bn.
But the rollout of the program was overshadowed by questions about unequal access, as some large companies and public companies received funding from the start, thanks to their close ties to financial institutions, while small entities couldn’t guarantee the money.
Some companies have returned money after a strong public and political reaction to which the Trump administration has clung.
“I am encouraged by the number of people who paid them back,” said Mnuchin. He added that he “never expected in a million years” that the LA Lakers would take out a $ 4.6 million loan.
I’m a big fan of the team, but I’m not a big fan of the fact that they took out a $ 4.6 million loan. It is outrageous and I am glad they returned it, otherwise they would have a responsibility.
Leo Lewis in Tokyo and Robin Wigglesworth in Oslo
Bank of Nook savers are forced to speculate on turnips and tarantulas, as the most popular video game in the coronavirus era mimics global central bankers by drastically cutting interest rates.
The estimated 12 million players in Nintendo’s cartoon Animal Crossing: New Horizons were informed last week of this decision, in which the Bank of Nook reduced interest paid on savings by about 0.5% only 0.05%.
The total interest available on any amount of savings is now capped at 9,999 bells – game currency that can be purchased online at a rate of around $ 1 per 1.9 million bells.
The abrupt policy change, imposed by a mandatory software update on April 23, sparked an online rage that a once solid income stream had been reduced to a net with the pencil stroke of a raccoon banker washer.
You can read more about how the Bank of Nook rate cut reflects the efforts of monetary authorities around the world here.
Top spy to help design the British coronavirus app
Helen Warrell in London
One of Britain’s highest ranking spies has been appointed to advise the government on how to secure the NHS contact tracing application – an essential part of the UK’s plan to lift lock restrictions in the coming weeks.
Ian Levy, technical director of the National Cyber Security Center, a branch of the British communications intelligence agency GCHQ, advises the UK health service on how it can encrypt data and ensure confidentiality, people say knowing the provisions.
The tracking application will use Bluetooth signals to notify people if they have been in contact with someone with coronavirus and advise quarantine measures for those at risk. Privacy activists have expressed concern that the government is also using the app to collect sensitive population health information on a large scale.
Read the full story here
Laura Hughes in London
Downing Street has downplayed reports that the government may announce a foreclosure exit strategy this week.
A spokesperson said the UK has yet to pass the five tests that will be applied before any relaxation of the draconian restrictions, introduced on March 23.
These include a requirement that the NHS should have sufficient anti-virus testing capacity and personal protective equipment.
Ministers should also be confident that the NHS could face any return of the disease, that the number of daily deaths is declining steadily, that infection rates are reduced to manageable levels – including in care homes – and that the risk remains that a second peak could overwhelm hospitals.
Asked about easing the lockdowns, a spokesperson for Group No. 10 said: “It is important that they stay in place for the time being. We need to pass five tests before we think about moving on to the next phase of the coronavirus response. We are not there yet. “
What we need to focus on is that everyone respects the rules of social distancing and makes sure that we have full control over the spread of this virus.
Responding to reports that the Scottish government advises people to use “face covers”, Downing Street said: “There have been points of response so far where announcements have been made at times very slightly different, but overall, we have approached by four nations. “
Unions challenge UK government over protective equipment figures
Jim Pickard in London
Labor party challenged government over claim that more than 1 billion pieces of personal protective equipment were delivered to front-line workers after figures appeared to include paper towels and individual gloves.
Cabinet Office Shadow Minister Rachel Reeves Raised Allegations After BBC Disclosure Panorama Monday evening.
Michael Gove, Minister of Cabinet, said that the way the gloves were counted in the data reflected the fact that “depending on the surgical setting, the gloves are sometimes delivered in pairs or in groups of four or in different batches.” Mr. Gove said that 547 m of gloves had been delivered.
Downing Street said that gloves are counted in different ways. “Sometimes they are single, sometimes they are pairs, and often they are counted as four in high-risk areas,” said a spokesperson. “It is not correct to say that they are all counted individually, they are counted in different ways. “
Scotland advises citizens to cover their faces in public
Mure Dickie in Edinburgh
Scottish government advises people to use “face blankets” when in confined spaces in the immediate vicinity of others, claiming that scarves or other cloth can help reduce transmission of coronaviruses .
The new directive, which is not mandatory, marks a step from previous layoffs of the role that public use of face masks could play in the Covid-19 decision.
During his daily briefing on coronaviruses, Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Prime Minister, stressed that she did not advise the public to use surgical masks or other medical grade masks, but said that there were evidence that a person wearing a face cover may be less likely to transmit the virus.
“Wearing facial coverings is an additional precaution that you can – and we suggest you take – take. This may do good in certain limited circumstances, but it is not and should not be seen as a substitute for other rules and guidelines, “said Ms. Sturgeon.
Bellwethers Caterpillar, UPS and 3M count the cost of the pandemic
Industrial bellwethers Caterpillar and 3M reported better than expected Wall Street first-quarter profits, while UPS managed to raise better-than-expected revenues, giving a silver lining to first-quarter performance that took a hit from the and resulting from a coronavirus pandemic. abandon their financial outlook for the year.
3M, which has established itself as the maker of N95 masks coveted by doctors and first responders, saw total revenues increase 2.7% from a year ago to $ 8.1 billion. in the first quarter, with increased sales of its healthcare and its consumers. divisions helped offset declines in other segments. Analysts forecast total revenue of $ 7.9 billion.
Reported earnings of $ 2.22 per share were up from $ 1.51 a year ago and ahead of analysts’ forecasts of $ 2.01. The company has announced that it will suspend its share buyback program to prioritize organic investments and its dividend.
Earth-moving equipment maker Caterpillar said revenue fell 21% from last year to $ 10.6 billion in the first three months of 2020, slightly outside the average forecast $ 10.9 billion among analysts polled by Refinitiv.
Reported earnings of $ 1.98 per share, boosted by a tax gain from the settlement of a non-US retirement obligation and short-term incentive compensation charges for executives, fell sharply from $ 3.25. a year ago, but ahead of Wall Street forecasts for $ 1.78. Taking into account the tax gain, adjusted earnings of $ 1.60 were 46% lower than a year ago and analysts’ forecasts were not $ 1.69.
UPS, which ships everything from letters to industrial machinery parts, posted a 5% increase in total sales to $ 18 billion in the first quarter from the previous year. A 9.3% increase in sales from domestic activities compensated for the weakness of its international activities and helped overall sales exceed Wall Street forecasts by $ 17.2 billion.
Earnings of $ 1.11 per share were down from $ 1.28 a year ago and missed market forecasts for $ 1.29. The company also said it would suspend share buybacks for 2020 and spend about $ 1 billion less on capital investment than expected.
On Tuesday, in the pre-market trade, investors reacted better to 3M’s results and pushed stocks up 3.3%. Caterpillar’s shares increased 0.3%, while UPS’s shares declined 2.5%.
Pfizer Increases Research Budget As Sales Fall In First Quarter
Donato Paolo Mancini in London
Pharmaceutical company Pfizer has announced an 8% drop in overall sales for the first quarter, but has supported its annual forecast of adjusted diluted earnings and earnings per share as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc on businesses of all sectors.
The company also suspended recruitment for some of its clinical research and delayed most new studies.
Reported net income fell 12%, he said, while overall income fell to $ 12.03 billion. The company said it has and will maintain the capacity to meet its liquidity needs “for the foreseeable future.” It has increased its forecast for adjusted research and development spending from $ 500 million to a range of $ 8.6 billion to $ 9 billion as it moves to investigate possible Covid-19 interventions .
A merger of its generics division, Upjohn, with Mylan is expected to end in the second half, which Pfizer revealed last month.
Merck lowers forecast for full year as prescriptions suffer
Hannah Kuchler in New York
Merck has lowered its forecast for the full year, the US drug maker has warned that sales of products, including its cancer drug Keytruda, a contraceptive implant and vaccines, all of which must be administered by a doctor, will be struck by patients who will stay away from distancing health care providers.
Merck shares fell 1.5% to $ 82.75 in pre-market trading after declaring it now plans annual sales of 46.1 and $ 48.1 billion, compared to analysts’ average estimate of $ 51.7 billion, including a negative 2.5% currency impact.
About two-thirds of Merck products must be administered by a doctor. Merck said that despite “underlying strong demand,” the coronavirus pandemic will have an impact on these sales because social distancing, the number of regular checkups, and delays in elective surgeries mean that fewer of these drugs are administered.
In the first quarter, the company exceeded expectations on profits and revenues. Non-GAAP earnings per share were $ 1.50, compared to the consensus forecast of $ 1.34. Net profit was $ 3.8 billion. Keytruda’s sales were $ 12 billion, higher than analysts’ average estimate of $ 11.5 billion.
Home-made snacks boost Pepsico sales
Alistair Gray, correspondant consommateur américain
Pepsico s’en tient à son intention de remettre 7,5 milliards de dollars aux actionnaires cette année alors que les consommateurs confinés à la maison grignotent ses collations, telles que les chips Lay’s et Walkers, aidant la société de produits alimentaires et de boissons à compenser la baisse de la demande pour ses boissons dans les bars et restaurants.
La poussée des grignotages a aidé Pepsico, également derrière les céréales Quaker Oats, à générer 13,9 milliards de dollars de ventes au premier trimestre, en hausse de 7,9% d’une année sur l’autre en termes biologiques.
« Les consommateurs passant plus de temps à la maison, nous avons constaté une augmentation du petit-déjeuner et une tendance à grignoter davantage pendant la journée », a déclaré Ramon Laguarta, directeur général de Pepsico.
Cependant, le groupe coté à New York, dont les marques de boissons comprennent le thé glacé 7Up et Lipton ainsi que les boissons gazeuses éponymes, a averti que la fermeture des lieux hors domicile nuirait aux ventes au cours des trois mois suivants.
Hugh Johnston, directeur financier, a déclaré qu’il s’attendait à ce que la croissance organique des revenus diminue à un taux à un chiffre au deuxième trimestre et a également déclaré que la marge d’exploitation de la société serait « affectée négativement par la faiblesse des canaux de consommation immédiate ».
Pepsico prévoit néanmoins de verser des dividendes d’une valeur de 5,5 milliards de dollars et de racheter pour 2 milliards de dollars d’actions au cours de cet exercice. « Nous avons une grande flexibilité pour répondre aux besoins d’investissement de notre entreprise et rendre l’argent aux actionnaires », a ajouté M. Johnston.
La boulangerie britannique Greggs présente son plan de réouverture
Alice Hancock à Londres
Les consommateurs britanniques n’auront pas à passer un été sans rouleaux de saucisses, car Greggs, la chaîne de cafés-boulangeries, a annoncé son intention de rouvrir tous ses magasins d’ici début juillet.
La société, qui a connu des améliorations de bénéfices successives au cours de la dernière année en raison de sa capacité à adapter ses produits de boulangerie traditionnels à de nouveaux marchés, effectuera un petit essai de 20 magasins dans la région de Newcastle, où elle a son siège, le mois prochain. .
Dans un e-mail adressé au personnel, vu par le Financial Times, le directeur général de Gregg, Roger Whiteside, a déclaré que cela serait étendu en premier à 700 de ses 2000 magasins en juin, le reste devant début juillet.
Les protocoles envisagés pour les magasins rouverts comprennent des zones délimitées pour imposer la distanciation sociale, des systèmes à sens unique, des paiements par carte uniquement et des écrans en plastique à la caisse.
Les magasins rouverts ne serviront que les clients à emporter et à livrer.
L’UE offre aux banques un allègement des fonds propres dans le but de stimuler les prêts
Jim Brunsden à Bruxelles
Bruxelles a offert aux banques un allègement temporaire des capitaux qui, selon les responsables, pourrait augmenter les prêts de 450 milliards d’euros cette année, arguant que l’ampleur des dommages économiques causés par Covid-19 justifiait un assouplissement «ciblé» des réglementations après le krach financier de 2008 .
La Commission européenne a déclaré que les modifications des règles bancaires amélioreraient la transmission de la politique monétaire et permettraient à l’économie de tirer pleinement parti des programmes gouvernementaux pour maintenir la fluidité du crédit.
Les plans, qui nécessitent l’approbation des gouvernements et du Parlement européen, comprennent le report de la mise en œuvre complète des normes comptables qui pourraient éroder le capital des banques, ainsi qu’un traitement réglementaire plus léger des prêts garantis par le gouvernement.
Bruxelles a également soutenu l’appel des régulateurs mondiaux au sein du Comité de Bâle sur le contrôle bancaire visant à reporter l’introduction d’une nouvelle norme de fonds propres pour les grandes banques de 2022 à 2023. La règle, connue sous le nom de coussin de levier financier, augmenterait le nombre de banques de capitaux doivent avoir en pourcentage de leur actif total.
« Nous utilisons toute la flexibilité des règles bancaires de l’UE et proposons des modifications législatives ciblées pour permettre aux banques de garder les robinets de liquidité ouverts, afin que les ménages et les entreprises puissent obtenir le financement dont ils ont besoin », a déclaré Valdis Dombrovskis, vice-président exécutif de la Commission européenne. -president in charge of financial regulation.
Les responsables de l’UE ont déclaré que le chiffre de 450 milliards d’euros était « une projection très informelle » qui reflétait l’augmentation des ratios de fonds propres des banques qui proviendrait de l’ajustement des règles comptables.
Lufthansa soupèse la protection contre l’insolvabilité, selon un syndicat
Joe Miller à Francfort
Lufthansa envisage de lancer une procédure de protection contre l’insolvabilité, alors que les négociations sur les aides d’État à Berlin sont plongées dans des revendications politiques, selon le syndicat des équipages de cabine Ufo.
Le transporteur allemand, qui a averti la semaine dernière qu’il ne pouvait plus lever de fonds sur les marchés des capitaux, envisage « une procédure de blindage dite de protection similaire à la faillite du chapitre 11 aux États-Unis », a déclaré un porte-parole du syndicat au Financial Times.
La procédure, connue sous le nom de Schutzschirmverfahren, permettrait à Lufthansa de se restructurer.
Lufthansa, qui consomme 1 million d’euros en espèces par heure, a demandé un financement d’urgence aux gouvernements de Bruxelles, Vienne et Berne et a eu des discussions détaillées avec l’administration d’Angela Merkel cette semaine.
Cependant, les partenaires de la coalition allemande se sont disputés pour savoir s’il fallait exiger une participation majoritaire dans le groupe et si une aide gouvernementale devait être subordonnée à des garanties d’emploi.
Lufthansa a refusé de commenter.
Southwest Airlines sombre dans une perte au premier trimestre
Claire Bushey à Chicago
Southwest Airlines a perdu 94 millions de dollars au premier trimestre sur des revenus qui ont chuté de près de 18% par rapport à l’année précédente dans le contexte de la pandémie de coronavirus.
La société de Dallas a versé 639 millions de dollars en dividendes et rachats d’actions au cours du trimestre. La compagnie aérienne a déclaré lundi que les paiements aux actionnaires étaient désormais suspendus indéfiniment.
Cette perte était une inversion du bénéfice net du premier trimestre de l’année dernière de 387 millions de dollars.
« C’est une période sans précédent pour notre pays et l’industrie du transport aérien », a déclaré le PDG Gary Kelly. «L’économie américaine est au point mort et les perspectives actuelles pour le deuxième trimestre 2020 n’indiquent aucune amélioration significative des tendances du transport aérien.»
Southwest Airlines, l’un des meilleurs clients de Boeing, a déclaré qu’il n’inclurait pas le 737 Max dans son horaire de vol publié avant le 30 octobre.
« Compte tenu de l’environnement actuel, nous sommes en train de réviser notre carnet de commandes d’avions avec Boeing et continuerons de nous associer à Boeing selon un calendrier de livraison raisonnable », a déclaré M. Kelly.
Most British people would prefer to delay lifting lockdown measures until the virus is “fully contained”, and would feel worried about leaving their homes even once rules have been eased, according to a poll by Ipsos Mori.
As many as 70 per cent of UK residents said they were concerned about restarting the economy prematurely, while 71 per cent expected they would be “nervous” about venturing outside once businesses had reopened.
The results suggest that Britons are more cautious than other nations that took part in the survey of 28,000 people, conducted between April 16-19.
When asked if they would favour opening the economy before the coronavirus pandemic is fully under control, 65 per cent of Mexicans were against, followed by 61 per cent of Australians and 59 per cent of Americans.
The majority of respondents agree that the economic shutdown should be lifted, however, as some global leaders begin to outline exit strategies.
Eurozone banks report surge in business loan demand
Martin Arnold in Frankfurt
Demand for loans from businesses in Europe has surged since the coronavirus pandemic started, while banks have moderately tightened their lending criteria, according to a European Central Bank survey published on Tuesday.
The tightening of credit availability by eurozone banks has so far been much milder than in previous downturns, such as the 2008 financial crisis, the ECB said after surveying 144 lenders in the two weeks to April 3.
The limited tightening of credit standards by eurozone banks reflects the unprecedented efforts of public authorities to avoid a credit crunch. European governments have guaranteed vast amounts of loans to struggling borrowers, while central banks have flooded the financial system with cheap loans and allowed lenders to become more indebted.
Banks’ balance sheets are coming under strain from both higher demand for loans as well as an expected rise in customer defaults because of the deep recession expected this year.
Loan demand from companies has shot up since the pandemic started, the ECB said, after finding a net 26 percentage point increase in the number of banks reporting increased demand for credit from corporate customers. The ECB said the proportion of banks expecting corporate loan demand to rise in the second quarter rose by a net 77 percentage points, a record since its survey started in 2003.
Credit standards for businesses were tightened by a net 4 percentage points of banks in the first quarter. However, the ECB said this was “contained” compared to the net 60 percentage points level of credit tightening reported during the 2008 financial crisis.
Ford to fire up production in Europe next month
Peter Campbell in London
Ford will re-open its European plants in May with plans to increase output over several months, as the US carmaker becomes the latest to restart operations across the continent.
From May 4, the carmaker will fire up production at Saarlouis & Cologne in Germany, Craiova in Romania, and Valencia in Spain. Valencia’s engine plant will re-open on May 18.
Its UK engine plants at Bridgend and Dagenham, which are closely linked to Jaguar Land Rover’s production sites, do not yet have a re-start date.
Production will begin slowly to fulfil dealer and customer orders, and “will gradually be ramped-up over the next few months before full production is resumed”, the company said.
Like many other carmakers, Ford is issuing its staff with protective equipment and requiring them to face temperature checks and other distancing measures in order to protect their safety.
Carmakers from Volkswagen to Toyota are cautiously reopening plants across Europe following last month’s shutdown because of coronavirus, but risk flooding showrooms with unwanted cars unless consumer demand recovers.
Some groups have taken a harder line in re-starts. France’s PSA, which owns the Peugeot and Vauxhall/Opel brands, has said it will not resume production until demand has recovered and dealerships are open again.
Revolutionary Guard support bolsters screening push in Iran
Monavar Khalaj in Tehran
The recruitment of half a million volunteers by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has expedited efforts to carry out a sweeping national screening programme, a senior military commander has said.
Iran has screened 72m out of its 80m person population for symptoms of coronavirus, as part of efforts to track the spread of the disease, with the military providing logistical support to the country’s health service.
“If they had not joined health teams, the screening would have taken much longer time,” Brigadier General Nasrollah Fathian, a senior member of the joint staff of the armed forces, said on Tuesday in a video conference call. “The armed forces have been a massive support for the health sector and the Iranian nation.”
Pro-reform Iranian analysts agree that the agility of the armed forces in joining medical teams across the country has been crucial in managing the crisis. The military teams have also set up 20,000 hospital beds and 500 make-shift clinics, as well as producing test kits.
Iranian health officials have said the screening of most Iranians has helped lower the death rate, which currently stands at 5,877 compared with 5,806 yesterday.
UK sets coal power-free record
Nathalie Thomas in Edinburgh
Environment groups are hailing a fresh record set early on Tuesday for the number of consecutive hours in Britain without coal power.
The run of coal-free electricity generation started at midnight on April 9 and is still going. By 6.10am on Tuesday, when the previous record was surpassed, Britain had clocked up 438 hours and 10 minutes without calling on any of the last remaining coal-fired power stations, according to National Grid.
The latest record has been aided by a combination of good weather conditions for solar and wind generation and a sharp fall in electricity demand since lockdown was imposed last month. Cheaper renewables, which are called on first to meet demand, are making up a greater proportion of the generation mix.
However, Britain has been setting such records in recent years as the country works towards being entirely coal power-free by the middle of the decade.
FCA tells banks advising on debt not to muscle into equity raising
The UK markets watchdog has warned banks they must not pressure companies looking to secure debt financing into giving lenders an unwarranted role — and a portion of the fees — on equity capital raising.
The Financial Conduct Authority threatened to take action over the practice, which raises questions over their treatment of companies that are battling to strengthen their finances to see them through the coronavirus pandemic.
The regulator said on Tuesday it had heard “credible reports” that a “small number of banks” may have put pressure on corporate clients when in negotiations over new or existing debt facilities.
Such clients would not otherwise have given those banks a role on their equity mandates, according to the regulator, which warned that banks may have breached its rules and principles.
“In some cases, these roles may be ‘in name only’, with few or no additional services being provided in exchange for a share of the fee pool. We will be looking into this further, but want any practice of this nature to cease immediately,” the FCA wrote in a letter to chief executives.
The regulator told banks that provide lending services and equity capital raising to review their systems and controls.
Quarterly earnings at pork processors WH Group nearly double
Primrose Riordan in Hong Kong
WH Group, the world’s biggest pork processor and owner of Smithfield Foods, said quarterly profits almost doubled even as five of their US plants closed when they became the site of mini-outbreaks of the virus.
The Hong Kong-listed group reported net profit, before biological fair value adjustments, for the three months to March rose 80 per cent to US$353m compared with the same period a year earlier.
The average hog price in China soared by 171 per cent compared with the same period in 2019, the company said on Tuesday, due to supply shortages caused by African swine fever. Strong export demand pushed prices up in the US.
Hundreds of Smithfield employees have tested positive for Covid-19 at plants such as the company’s one in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which accounts for almost 5 per cent of pork production in the US.
During April the plant had offered workers a « responsibility bonus » of $500 if they were not late or sick, according to a Centres for Disease Control and Prevention report revealed.
Pandemic slows in Spain as Sánchez prepares to outline lockdown exit
Daniel Dombey in Madrid
Spain’s downward trend in coronavirus deaths is continuing and the spread of the virus is slowing further, according to government figures released on Tuesday.
As the pandemic slows in Spain, one of the worst hit countries in human and economic terms, Pedro Sánchez, prime minister, is due on Tuesday afternoon to outline plans for phasing out its harsh six-week lockdown.
The ministry of health said that in the last 24-hour period, 301 people had died after contracting coronavirus, the second lowest count in five weeks and a reduction on the previous day’s toll of 331.
The official death toll, which includes proven but not probable deaths, peaked at 950 on April 2. Overall, the government says 23,822 people have died to date. The figures include information up to 9pm on Monday night.
The ministry added that 210,773 people had been found to be positive for coronavirus in so-called PCR tests – an increase of just 0.6 per cent on the day before. At points last month, the rate of increase was 30 per cent a day and above.
However, the latest figures do not include the less reliable but faster antibody tests authorities are rolling out across the country. According to Tuesday’s figures, 102,548 people have recovered from coronavirus.
Deaths in England and Wales highest on record in mid-April
Chris Giles in London
England and Wales recorded the highest number of death registrations on record in the week ending April 17, official figures showed on Tuesday, with 22,351 registrations — 11,854 higher than the average for that week.
Since the coronavirus outbreak began, England and Wales have recorded 27,000 more deaths than normal levels.
There were 7,316 deaths recorded in care homes between April 10 and 17, compared with a normal week of 2,400, for example, in the seven days ending March 20.
The figures demonstrate the high spread of Covid-19 throughout the UK’s care homes, which is far in excess of daily hospital death tolls announced by ministers.
Tianqi Lithium shares sink after doubling annual loss
Henry Sanderson in London
Shares in China’s largest lithium producer fell to their lowest levels in more than four years on Tuesday after it increased its provision against shares it holds in Chilean rival SQM due to the impacts of coronavirus.
The Chengdu-based company said it had increased its provision against the 24 per cent stake to Rmb3.07bn from Rmb2.2bn in February to account for lower sales in China, Europe and the US.
Tianqi Lithium is struggling to pay back a $3.5bn loan it took out from China’s state-owned Citic Bank to buy the stake in SQM in 2018, when lithium prices were higher.
To raise cash the company is looking to sell a part of its stake in the world’s largest lithium mine in Australia, the Greenbushes mine, according to people familiar with the deal.
Last week SQM said it may have to put $330m worth of expansion plans on hold this year if demand for lithium, which is used in electric car batteries, continues to fall.
Shares in Tianqi last traded down 7.6 per cent to 16.77 Rmb, making Tianqi one of the worst performers in China’s CSI 300 index.
Hong Kong relaxes some border controls with mainland
Nicolle Liu in Hong Kong
Hong Kong relaxed border control with mainland China for certain groups, but extended wider measures to June, as the number of new confirmed coronavirus cases has remained low in the past weeks.
Students and business travellers arriving from mainland China and Macau will be exempted from compulsory quarantine starting from Wednesday.
However, the restrictions on other arrivals from mainland China, Macau and Taiwan were extended for another month to June 7.
Chief executive Carrie Lam today also announced that civil servants will return to offices from Monday. The territory had seen no new Covid-19 infections since Sunday, keeping the tally at 1037 cases, and four deaths.
European stocks make fragile gains
Equity markets in Europe shrugged off volatility in oil prices to edge higher in Tuesday morning. The European benchmark Stoxx 600 added 0.6 per cent, while London’s FTSE 100 and Germany’s Dax gained 0.4 and 0.5 per cent respectively.
Equity markets across Asia Pacific had also been largely unmoved by ructions in the oil market overnight.
Equities have held steady through unprecedented ructions in the oil market, soothed by massive interventions from the world’s central banks and a gradual easing of lockdowns in many major economies.
Futures trading tipped the S&P 500 to open up 0.3 per cent later in the day.
UBS profits jump 40% as wealth unit performs solid
Sam Jones in Zurich
UBS has warned that the coronavirus will disrupt its main profit drivers, even if the Swiss lender has given a confident tone about its ability to cope with the pandemic and has revealed a sharp increase in first quarter profits.
The group said the Covid-19 epidemic and government responses to it have “radically changed” the global economic outlook for the “foreseeable future”.
“Falling asset prices will reduce our recurring commission income, falling interest rates will wind against net interest income, and customer activity levels will likely decrease, affecting transaction-based income “, He said on Monday when he announced his quarterly results.
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Russia reports record number of new deaths
Henry Foy in Moscow
Russia registered a record number of both new coronavirus cases and deaths on Tuesday, as the country overtook Iran to become the world’s eighth most affected.
Russia reported 6,411 new cases of Covid-19 and 73 deaths from the virus, daily increases that take its total infections to 93,558 and death toll to 867.
While the infection continues to spread, the overall rate of increase has dropped, doubling every eight days from every five days a fortnight ago.
The Kremlin has said that it expects the outbreak to peak only in mid-May.
Sweden’s central bank has held interest rates at zero per cent and said it would maintain quantitative easing at current levels.
The Riksbank said cutting its benchmark repo rate was not « justified at this point », but left open the option of doing so in future to spur activity as the economy recovers. It said it would continue a SKr300bn ($30bn) programme of buying government and mortgage bonds up to the end of September.
« It was not deemed justified at this point in time to try to increase demand by lowering the repo rate when the downturn in the economy is due to imposed restrictions and people’s concerns about the spread of infection, » the bank said.
However, this does not rule out the possibility of the interest rate being cut at a later date if this is deemed an effective measure to stimulate demand and support the development of inflation in the recovery phase.
The move supported the krona, which strengthened 0.8 per cent against the dollar to SKr9.95.
Half a million Spaniards stopped work in March because of coronavirus
Daniel Dombey in Madrid
Over half a million Spaniards stopped working in the second half of March due to the coronavirus crisis, the Spanish statistics institute said on Tuesday.
The government body said 509,800 people had ceased working by the end of the quarter, noting that “this figure is unprecedented”.
Spain’s lockdown was imposed on March 15, causing an immediate and devastating impact on the economy.
According to the data, which covers the first three months of 2020, 286,000 people lost their jobs. This figure does not include those who went on temporary leave schemes known as ERTEs.
Spain’s unemployment figures are generally regarded as less reliable than social security data, which has already indicated that more than 800,000 people lost their jobs in March. The government says that around 4m people are now covered by the ERTE schemes.
What you may have missed
More … than 30m workers in Europe’s five biggest economies have applied to have their wages paid by the state via short-term leave schemes designed to stop unemployment skyrocketing.
Oil and gas companies in the UK’s North Sea fear as many as 30,000 jobs will be lost in the region as they brace for an “even more severe” crisis than the oil price crash of 2014.
Banco Santander put aside an additional €1.6bn in the first quarter to deal with an expected jump in bad debts, as it prepares for a “strong global recession”.
Singapore’s de facto central bank said it was unclear how deep and lasting the city state’s recession would be, with the economy potentially contracting more than expected due to the fallout from the pandemic.
New Zealand and Australia began easing social distancing restrictions with both countries reporting dramatic falls in new coronavirus infections over recent weeks.
Thailand is expected to announce an extension to its state of emergency for a further month to fight the spread of Covid-19. The current restrictions were due to expire on April 30.
Nissan has warned that it faces an annual net loss of up to ¥95bn ($886m) following a collapse in global vehicle sales.
Tyson Foods, the largest US meat company, has warned of shortages for consumers, saying the country’s complex food chain was “breaking” as Covid-19 spreads to refrigerated packing plants.
French consumer confidence suffered a record monthly fall in April, after households and businesses were placed into lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus, raising concerns about falling income and job losses.
As French prime minister Edouard Philippe prepared to outline plans for easing the country’s lockdown that has been in place since March 17 later on Tuesday, the national statistics office said its indicator of consumer confidence had fallen from 103 in March to 95 in April.
The survey found that household confidence about whether it was a good time to make large purchases had fallen 43 points to its lowest point since the survey started 48 years ago.
There were widespread fears among French consumers about job insecurity, with the survey finding that anxiety about unemployment had risen 42 points to its highest level for almost five years.
Earlier this week, the French labour ministry said jobless claims rose by a record 7.1 per cent between February and March, with an extra 246,100 people registering to look for work at state employment agencies.
About 863,000 companies in France have placed 10.8m people – more than half of all private sector workers in the country – on a state-subsidized furlough scheme, it added.
Japanese airline ANA plans $8.9bn credit line
Kana Inagaki in Tokyo
ANA Holdings said it plans to secure a credit line of ¥950bn ($8.9bn) to weather the coronavirus crisis after Japan’s largest carrier suffered a quarterly net loss of $550m.
Compared to its international rivals, ANA’s equity ratio – a measure of capital strength – remains robust at 41 per cent, but the group said it would seek a “broader safety net” in the wake of a shutdown of international and domestic travel.
For the fiscal year through March, ANA reported a net profit of ¥27.6bn ($258m) compared to a ¥110.7bn profit a year earlier.
“We have no funding issue for now,” Ichiro Fukuzawa, ANA’s chief financial officer, said at a news conference on Tuesday. “But we cannot rationally estimate the depth and longevity of the coronavirus impact so we plan to have a broad safety net in terms of funding.”
Its credit line consists of ¥600bn in loans from private banks and ¥350bn from the state-backed Development Bank of Japan.
Steve Bernard in London
The worldwide coronavirus death toll rose by 4,532 yesterday, according to data from Worldometers, representing the lowest increase on a Monday for four weeks.
Global new daily cases of Covid-19 rose by less than 70,000 for the first time since the end of March, as 69,223 diagnoses were confirmed on Monday, bringing the total to 2.99m.
Further support to the argument that the peak may have passed was provided by many of the worst-hit countries in Europe. UK, Italy, Spain, France and Germany all reported their lowest number of newly confirmed cases in several weeks.
Russia continues to struggle to contain the spread of coronavirus, adding 6,198 cases yesterday. This is the fourth consecutive day that more than 5,000 new diagnoses have been reported, bringing the total to 87,147.
The number of global recovered cases rose by 43,909 yesterday, leaving a total of 921,320 free from the virus.
Jim Pickard in London
Matt Hancock has said that it is “too soon” for the UK to come out of its lockdown amid a growing debate about when the current restrictions can be eased.
The intervention by Mr Hancock on LBC Radio comes as prime minister Boris Johnson is set to discuss with ministers this week how and when to begin the transition out of the lockdown for various sectors.
The health secretary said that the public were not yearning for an end to the lockdown.
« If you look at surveys among the public … if you look at how much the public are following the measures, the public are following the lockdown brilliantly, » he said
There’s a media debate about it and I understand that but the proportion of the public that supports the lockdown remains absolutely solid.
The number of people taking journeys had barely changed in the last three weeks, Mr Hancock said. However he admitted that there were “clear consequences” to continuing the lockdown indefinitely, citing an alarming drop in the number of people coming forward with suspected cancer symptoms.
There are clear consequences of the lockdown, there are social and economic consequences, and for some people…there are health consequences so we have to take that into account
Supermarket sales boosted by increased eating at home
Jonathan Eley in London
Supermarket sales grew 5.5 per cent over the four weeks to April 19, a sharp drop from the 20.6 per cent growth in the previous four-week period, according to Kantar.
The research group said that the increase was mainly due to a switch from eating out to eating at home, and masked substantial sales falls in other categories such as food on the go and clothing.
Earlier this month Tesco said that clothing sales were down 70 per cent in its most recent trading weeks, and full-year results from Sainsbury’s later this week are expected to show a similar pattern.
Shopping habits have changed too, with shoppers making fewer trips but buying more on each visit. While Friday and Saturday remain the most popular shopping days, the proportion of trips made between Monday and Thursday has risen as more shoppers find themselves either furloughed or working from home.
Online shopping accounted for 10.2 per cent of the total in the four-week period, against a more usual 7 per cent, with much of the increase accounted for by older people – over-65s spent 94 per cent more on delivered groceries than a year ago.
Convenience stores increased sales by 39 per cent in the latest four weeks to grab 16.3 per cent of the market, up from 12.4 per cent in the equivalent period a year ago.
Sales at Co-op, Ocado, Iceland, Lidl and independent groups such as Spar and Londis grew by more than the market average of 9.1 per cent over the 12 weeks to April 19.
Perhaps inevitably the British weather has played a part in the story of the country’s response to coronavirus.
The UK was taunted by the sunniest April on record this year, provisional data from the Met Office showed, just as the government ordered people to stay at home to control the spread of the virus.
The unusually good weather has been a headache for police trying to enforce the government’s lockdown measures.
Some London parks briefly shut due to crowds, while officers launched patrols over the Easter weekend to move on sunbathers. One English force provoked derision by flying a drone over beauty spots to highlight hikers on ‘non-essential’ journeys. People in the UK are allowed out for daily exercise, but must not stop to relax in public spaces.
Still, the problems seem sorted for now: forecasters predict a wet start to May.
Nissan warns of ¥95bn loss as car sales slide
Kana Inagaki in Tokyo
Nissan has warned that it faces an annual net loss of up to ¥95bn ($886m) following a collapse in global vehicle sales caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
Even before the outbreak, the Japanese carmaker, which has an alliance with France’s Renault, had already been lossmaking and was burning through its cash as it struggled to revive its sales in the US.
On Tuesday, the company blamed the profit warning on a decline in vehicle and components sales as well as reserves it has set aside for its sales finance business. Nissan had earlier projected a net profit of ¥65bn for the fiscal year that ended in March.
As its factories were shut down across the world, Nissan saw its sales in the US, Europe and China drop 45 per cent or more in March.
Due to the disruptions caused by the global pandemic, the group said it would also delay the release of its full-year earnings and its revised midterm business plan until May 28.
Burford Capital reports hit to profits in 2019 as activity slowed
Kate Beioley in London
Litigation funder Burford Capital reported double digit falls in profit and income in its annual results to the end of December caused by slowing activity in its portfolio, but predicted the aftermath of Covid-19 would result in a “time of significant demand”.
Burford posted a 15 per cent decline in total income to $356.7m and a 24 per cent fall in profit before tax to $239.7m.
It comes after a difficult year for Burford, which has been locked in a dispute with short-seller Muddy Waters over its accounting practices, and is also entangled in a court case in London over allegations its shares were manipulated.
The company said it had planned to file a US listing by the end of April but expected the audit process to be delayed due to Covid-19.
Burford said in April its chief executive and chief investment officer would use their bonuses to purchase Burford shares. The size of those cash bonuses was confirmed at $2.25m in cash on Tuesday.
The company closed the year with $206m in cash and cash-like assets on its balance sheet, down from $277m the previous year. Burford needs to raise cash in order to fund its commitments and has already filled its new Burford Opportunity Fund ahead of schedule.
Mr Bogart said: « Much as we share the world’s distress at our current health crisis, the reality is that we expect its aftermath to be a time of significant demand for our services and a moment when uncorrelated cash flows are especially attractive. “
UK corporate news round-up
Diageo, the spirits maker, launched and priced a $2.5bn SEC-registered bond offering as the group struggles with bar closures in most of its markets. It follows the announcement last month of a £1.9 billion euro and sterling bond issue.
Marks and Spencers said that it has undrawn credit available for the next 18 months, after its lenders relaxed or removed debt covenant tests up to September 2021 on its £1.1bn credit facility and it confirmed that it is an eligible issuer under the UK government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility. The retailer said that it expects “highly uncertain trading conditions” in a prolonged lockdown exit period for its clothing and home business.
BP reported a 66 per cent drop in first quarter earnings as the initial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic on the finances of the energy sector began to be felt, yet the oil major still announced a dividend of 10.5 cents a share.
Plus 500 said that a “significantly increased level” of customer activity is helping the online trading platform to continue momentum from an “exceptional” first three months of the year into the second quarter.
Litigation funder Burford Capital reported double digit falls in profit and income in its annual results to the end of December as a result of slowing activity in its portfolio, but predicted the aftermath of Covid-19 would result in a “time of significant demand”.
Games Workshop, a fantasy game manufacturer and retailer, will restart sales to independent vendors in Europe and North America this week and resume online orders from the beginning of May, after its factories and warehouses closed temporarily due to coronavirus. Most of its own stores remain shut with a few reopening in China, the Netherlands and Scandinavia, the group said.
Richard Milne, Nordic and Baltic Correspondent
SAS said it would permanently cut the jobs of about half of its staff as it warned it would take “some years” for its business to go back to normal.
The Scandinavian airline, part-owned by the Swedish and Danish governments, said it would cut up to 5,000 full-time positions as it adapts to lower demand due to coronavirus. SAS has 10,445 full-time employees, according to its latest annual report.
About 1,900 jobs would be cut in Sweden, 1,300 in Norway, and 1,700 in Denmark. Due to notice periods in its staff contracts of six months, SAS said it had to act “proactively”.
Chief executive Rickard Gustafson said:
Covid-19 has forced SAS to face a new and unprecedented reality that will reverberate not only in the coming months, but also during the coming years.
The job cuts came a day after low-cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle warned that its base-case scenario was that its aircraft would remain fully grounded for the next 12 months with a full recovery only in 2022.
Stock futures stable even as oil renews its slide
European stocks were on course for fragile gains at the opening bell, while the price of oil tumbled for a second day.
Futures pointed to gains of around 0.4 per cent for the FTSE 100 and Dax, following a steady session in Asia. S&P 500 futures were flat.
Equities have held steady through historic ructions in the oil market, soothed by massive interventions from the world’s central banks and a gradual easing of lockdowns in many major economies.
The rout in US oil prices gained momentum though, with the West Texas Intermediate contract for June delivery down more than 12 per cent to $11.20 per barrel, and fresh concerns that the contract could again fall into negative territory.
Brent, the global marker with less acute storage concerns, fell 4.5 per cent to $19.10 per barrel.
BP earnings tumble by two thirds
Anjli Raval in London
BP has reported a 66 per cent drop in first-quarter earnings as the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic on the finances of the energy sector began to be felt.
During the three-month period ending March 31, earnings under replacement cost – the definition of net earnings by BP and the measure most followed by analysts – amounted to $ 791 million, compared to almost $ 2.4 billion for the same period in 2019.
Although this amount is higher than consensus estimates of $ 710 million, BP said it had been hit by a drop in energy prices; lower demand for fuels and refined products, especially in March; weaker earnings from its oil trading business and its stake in Russia’s Rosneft.
BP, which recently had confidence in its ability to generate more cash at the start of the year, was plunged into a new crisis just as a new CEO took over the business.
“Our industry has been hit by supply and demand shocks on a scale never seen before,” said Bernard Looney, who took over as general manager in February. “We are taking decisive actions to strengthen our finances – reinforcing liquidity, rapidly reducing spending and costs, driving our cash balance point lower.”
Beijing detains Chinese journalists who published coronavirus reports
Christian Shepherd in Beijing
Beijing city police have detained three Chinese journalists who archived censored reports about coronavirus on open-source coding website Github, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.
On April 19, Beijing city policy detained Chen Mei, Cai Wei and Cai’s partner who had helped run a website called “Terminus 2049” where Chinese citizens could post articles about the outbreak, Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
The website was hosted on Github, which is not blocked in China, making it an online safe haven for Chinese rights and labour activists to discuss topics deemed sensitive by Chinese authorities.
The three are suspected of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” the organisation said. A friend of the three confirmed the detention.
“The lack of free flow of information about Covid-19 in China has contributed to a global pandemic,” Yaqiu Wang, China researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “Governments around the world should press Beijing to release the wrongfully detained activists and citizen journalists immediately.”
Santander sets aside additional €1.6bn on expectations for jump in bad debts
Nicholas Megaw in London
Banco Santander put aside an additional €1.6bn in the first quarter to deal with an expected jump in bad debts, as it prepares for a “strong global recession” caused by the coronavirus.
The eurozone’s largest retail bank said it felt only a “relatively limited impact” from the pandemic in the three months to March, but increased its net loan loss provisions by 80 per cent year on year in expectation of further declines later in the year.
Investors have been bracing for sharp increases in provisions across the European banking sector this week, following on from a brutal first quarter earnings season in the USA.
Last week UniCredit, Italy’s largest bank, boosted provisions by €900m, while loan losses at Credit Suisse jumped 600 per cent.
The surge in provisions caused Santander’s net profit to drop by 82 per cent year on year, to €331m. Nevertheless, executive chairman Ana Botin said the bank entered the crisis from “a position of strength”, and said the bank’s underlying strategy would remain unchanged.
She said the bank would review its targets “once we have a more complete understanding of the full impact of the crisis.”
Contact tracing and isolation can help reduce infection rates, study shows
Contact tracing and isolation reduce the time during which cases are infectious in the community, a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal shows.
The research performed by scientists in Shenzhen’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, from January 14 to February 12, at the height of China’s struggle with the emerging epidemic, looked at 391 patients who were confirmed to have been infected with the virus and 1,286 of their close contacts.
Scientists in the southern Chinese city found that contact tracing increased the speed at which new cases were confirmed by two days from an average of 5.5 days, if surveillance was based on finding people with symptoms, to 3.2 days with contact tracing.
A contact was defined as someone who lived in the same apartment, shared a meal, travelled, or interacted socially with a confirmed coronavirus patient as much as two days before their symptoms began.
Contact tracing also reduced the amount of time it took to isolate infected people by nearly two days from an average of 4.6 days, for those who had been identified only after presenting with symptoms, down to 2.7 days, the study found.
New Zealand and Australia start to open after coronavirus successes
Jamie Smyth in Sydney
La Nouvelle-Zélande et l’Australie ont commencé à assouplir les restrictions sur la distance sociale mardi, les deux pays signalant une baisse spectaculaire des nouvelles infections à coronavirus au cours des dernières semaines.
«Nous pouvons dire avec confiance que nous n’avons pas de transmission communautaire en Nouvelle-Zélande. L’astuce consiste maintenant à maintenir cela », a déclaré Jacinda Ardern, le Premier ministre.
La nation du Pacifique a réduit son alerte Covid-19 du niveau 4, le plus haut niveau de restrictions. Certaines entreprises non essentielles, y compris les plats à emporter, les services de santé et d’éducation seront autorisées à rouvrir.
L’Australie a réalisé un record tout aussi positif, les autorités ayant rouvert mardi la célèbre plage de Bondi à Sydney aux nageurs et surfeurs locaux après une fermeture d’un mois.
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Singapore warns of greater economic hit from pandemic
Stefania Palma in Singapore
Singapore’s de facto central bank on Tuesday said it was unclear how deep and lasting the city state’s recession would be, with the economy potentially contracting more than expected due to the fallout from the pandemic.
« The near-term outlook for the Singapore economy is fraught with uncertainty, and hinges on the evolution of the Covid-19 situation globally, » said the Monetary Authority of Singapore. « Given the likely protracted nature of this pandemic, containment measures can only be wound down in a gradual manner and intermittent rounds of such measures may be required, thus hampering a decisive rebound in economic activity. “
The MAS said Singapore’s 2020 contraction in gross domestic product could fall below the forecast range of -4 to -1 per cent, but added that government measures including a record relief scheme of S$63.7bn ($44.8bn) should alleviate the disease’s economic impact.
A small, open economy reliant on trade and tourism, Singapore has been hit hard by travel restrictions worldwide, fall in global demand and supply chain disruptions.
The country’s oil industry — which accounts for 4 per cent of GDP — is among the sectors hit by the pandemic, with tumbling global demand and excess supply leading to drops in oil prices.
The wholesale fuel trade, which involves a relatively small number of players in Singapore, is of particular concern, said the MAS. « The performance of each entity could thus have a significant influence on the entire industry ».
Singapore-based Hin Leong, one of Asia’s largest traders of bunker fuel, is seeking to restructure almost $4bn of debt after admitting to $800m of undisclosed losses.
Vietnam trade ministry proposes end to ban on rice exports
John Reed in Bangkok
Vietnam’s trade ministry has proposed lifting restrictions on rice exports from early May and ending a ban put in place due to food security concerns caused by Covid-19.
Vietnamese state controlled media reported on Tuesday that it made the recommendation after assessing output for the upcoming crop and concluding that the country could export 1.3m tons of the grain between May and mid-June.
However, to ensure food security the ministry recommended that exports be allowed only through international border gates and that steps be taken to crack down on smuggling.
Vietnam is the world’s third-largest rice exporter after India and Thailand, and the suspension of exports angered farmers keen to cash in on rising world prices.
The export restrictions, put in place in March, caused concerns in the nearby Philippines, which relies on Vietnam as its biggest source of rice imports.
Local media reports highlight desperation of India’s migrant workers
Benjamin Parkin in New Delhi
As India’s coronavirus lockdown extends into its sixth week, desperation is setting in among the country’s migrant workers. Many find themselves stuck without work in large cities where the virus is spreading, often separated from their families.
Local media report the case of one man who went to extreme lengths to circumvent the travel restrictions and return from Mumbai, where he lived in a slum, to his home in Prayagraj some 700 miles away.
Prem Murti Pandey, who works in Mumbai’s airport, spent around Rs300,000 ($3,900) to buy around 25 tonnes of onions and rent a truck to make the three-day trip back home. Onions are seen as essential commodities so their shipment is permitted even under lockdown.
The case of Mr Panday, who was apparently ordered into quarantine, highlights the strain on India’s legions of migratory labourers. The poorest face hunger after losing their income, and some have resorted to extreme measures to get back home — including walking hundreds of miles.
India’s lockdown, which brought all but essential travel to a halt, is currently due to end on May 3, although officials have expressed the wish to remain cautious. India’s confirmed number of coronavirus cases is currently approaching 30,000.
Singapour lutte pour réduire les infections à coronavirus
Stefania Palma in Singapore
Singapore has overtaken Japan to become the Asian country with the third-highest number of coronavirus infections, recording a daily triple-digit rise in the number of new cases.
La cité-état a enregistré 799 nouveaux cas lundi, portant son total à 14 423. The sharp increase in a country that won plaudits for seemingly keeping the pathogen under control has highlighted the difficulty in fighting the disease.
The number of coronavirus patients reported in Singapore has almost quintupled in the past two weeks, as the city-state stepped up its tests, placing it behind China and India in terms of infections.
Read more here.
Moscow flight brings 20 coronavirus infections to China’s Shaanxi province
Christian Shepherd in Beijing
A flight from Moscow has brought 20 new cases of coronavirus to China’s central Shaanxi province, as Russia has become the country’s leading source of imported infections.
State broadcaster CCTV reported that the batch was discovered during testing of passengers on an Air China flight from Moscow that stopped in Shaanxi’s capital Xi’an en route to Beijing, its final destination. An additional five individuals tested positive but displayed no symptoms.
All passengers on the flight are now quarantined and under medical observation; none of them have been able to travel elsewhere in Shaanxi, CCTV said.
China in early April shut its land border with Russia after hundreds of Chinese nationals with Covid-19 crossed from Siberia into the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, leading to fresh lockdowns in the border town of Suifenhe.
How Alibaba hit the limelight as PPE supplier to the world
Ryan McMorrow and Nian Liu in Beijing
Alibaba visait déjà une expansion mondiale – mais l’épidémie de coronavirus a donné à la plus grande société de commerce électronique de Chine l’occasion d’accélérer cette vision.
Au cours des dernières semaines, le géant de la technologie basé à Hangzhou est devenu un intermédiaire crucial entre les usines chinoises et l’immense demande mondiale d’équipement nécessaire pour lutter contre la pandémie – des masques de protection aux désinfectants pour les mains et aux ventilateurs.
Cela est en partie dû aux efforts de don du fondateur Jack Ma et de la branche caritative d’Alibaba, qui a expédié plus de 40 millions d’articles de protection individuelle dans 150 pays et s’est engagé à donner 101 millions de masques à l’Organisation mondiale de la santé.
Mais la nouvelle compétence d’Alibaba en matière d’EPI l’a également ouverte à un énorme nouveau marché potentiel, alors que les consommateurs mondiaux se tournent vers le géant chinois du commerce électronique pour la première fois et découvrent ce qu’il a d’autre à leur offrir.
Learn more here.
Nicolle Liu in Hong Kong
Hong Kong civil servants will begin returning to work from next week, the government announced on Tuesday, after two weeks of the territory reporting daily new coronavirus cases in the single digits.
Chief executive Carrie Lam said that most government services would resume and outdoor sports facilities and libraries would reopen. However, indoor sports grounds and some performance venues will remain closed.
Government workers have been asked to work from home to slow down the spread of coronavirus since late March after the number of new infections threatened a second wave of cases.
The government will decide later whether other social distancing measures, such as travel restrictions and limiting public gatherings, will be relaxed.
The city has reported daily new confirmed Covid-19 cases in the single digits since April 12, and no new cases in the past two days. There have been only four fatalities since the virus outbreak started and a total of 1,037 confirmed cases.
Thailand expected to extend state of emergency for a further month
John Reed in Bangkok
Thailand is expected to announce the extension of its state of emergency for a further month later today as it continues to fight the spread of Covid-19. The current restrictions were due to expire on April 30.
Some of the strict provisions of the lockdown are expected to be lifted, however. The kingdom will keep a nighttime curfew and other emergency measures in place, authorities said, but allow business such as shopping malls and hair salons to begin opening from May 1.
The decision to extend rule under an emergency decree was confirmed by a government spokesman on Monday, and is due to be approved by Prayuth Chan-ocha’s cabinet at a meeting later today.
Thailand has been under emergency rule since late March, and its airspace closed to most arriving passenger flights — a provision which the country’s Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand on Monday extended for another month.
The coronavirus has hammered the country’s export- and tourism-reliant economy, but Thai media quoted Taweesilp Visanuyothin, head of Thailand’s Covid-19 administration centre, as saying that Mr Prayuth supported a “public health-led economy”, where more consideration was given to health and safety than to the immediate state of business.
The country has reported 2,931 cases of Covid-19, resulting in 52 deaths, with the rate of infections slowing in recent days.
Robin Harding in Tokyo
Japan’s ratio of open jobs to applicants fell sharply in March in a sign that coronavirus was already hitting the economy hard even before the declaration of a state of emergency in early April.
The closely-watched ratio, regarded as one of the timely indicators of change in Japan’s labour market, fell by 0.06 points to 1.39. That is the lowest since mid-2016 and well below the recent peak of 1.63, indicating a significant cooling in the labour market.
The figures came as new data showed a rise in Japan’s unemployment rate to a one-year high of 2.5 per cent in March.
The slackening of the labour market is a reminder that Japan’s economy was in a fragile condition even before the virus struck, following a rise in consumption tax from 8 to 10 per cent last October. Economists expect to see a larger rise in unemployment in April.
Clothing retailer Esprit to close stores across Asia
Primrose Riordan in Hong Kong
Hong Kong-listed German women’s clothing retailer Esprit said it will close its 56 retail stores in Asia and “wind down” its business in mainland China in a desperate bid to cut costs.
The company’s German subsidiaries in March had already applied for bankruptcy protection under Germany’s protective shield proceedings, which are similar to Chapter 11 proceedings in the US.
The retail sector has been badly hit as a result of the coronavirus outbreak in the region even though many cities in Asia have not been subject to the strict lockdowns instituted in parts of mainland China or some European cities.
Esprit operates stores in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau — all of which it said would close by the end of the financial year. It also operates stores through a joint venture in mainland China. The company said it was “winding down its business in mainland China” without giving details.
“After the proposed store closure, the group will continue its . . . wholesale and licence business in Asia, and focus on its core markets in Europe,” the company said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange.
China reports 6 new coronavirus cases, no new deaths
Health authorities in China recorded six new coronavirus cases to the end of Monday with no new deaths linked to Covid-19.
Of those new cases, three were found in people who had recently traveled overseas while three were found in Heilongjiang, a province bordering Russia. Officials in Heilongjiang have rushed to stem the number of Chinese citizens returning home over a land border after a large number tested positive for coronavirus.
China has now reported 82,836 coronavirus cases and 4,633 deaths.
There were 40 new cases of people who tested positive for coronavirus but showed no symptoms.
Here are some of the latest news you may have missed
The United States
The Federal Reserve has expanded the eligibility criteria for a loan facility put in place to support municipal bond markets, which will allow small towns and counties in the United States to access liquidity from the US central bank.
Almost a third of financial executives in business, America expects layoffs in the coming month, up from about a quarter two weeks ago.
New York officials have canceled the state’s democratic presidential primary, scheduled for June 23, after more than a dozen other states delayed their primaries over the spread of Covid-19.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said he plans to extend foreclosure measures to parts of New York State beyond May 15, when it released new test results on Monday showing that almost one in four New Yorkers wore antibodies to the coronavirus.
Uefa, the governing body of European football, has decided to support its 55 member associations through the coronavirus pandemic with the extension of 236.5 million euros in funding.
Families from the United Kingdom National health service and social workers dying on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis will receive £ 60,000 under a new “life insurance scheme”.
Total number of new Covid-19 cases in Italy Monday was the smallest daily increase since the week of March, when the country first introduced its national lockdown, bolstering Rome’s efforts to reopen part of the economy early next month.
Turkey will send a shipment masks, overalls and other protective gear in the United States, announced President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Airbus is on leave more than half of workers at its wing manufacturing plant in Wales are signaling future job cuts as demand for planes plummets in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
And by the way
The State Comptroller of Mexico, a close ally of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, testé positif for coronavirus but is in good health with only mild symptoms, the government said.
Nigeria to extend lockout from its Lagos shopping center and the capital Abuja for another week, President Muhammadu Buhari announced in a national speech Monday evening.
Asia-Pacific stocks mixed as countries move to ease lockdowns
Stock markets in Asia-Pacific lost momentum on Tuesday after a global rally at the start of the week as countries prepared to lift restrictions amid hopes that the peak for coronavirus infections had passed.
Japan’s Topix dipped 0.3 per cent, while the Kospi in South Korea gained 0.4 per cent and the S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.1 per cent.
Overnight in the US, the S&P 500 ended 1.5 per cent higher following on from gains in Asia and Europe, with investors closely monitoring steps taken by a series of state governors to ease lockdowns. Attention remained on central bank meetings this week with the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank set to meet.
The number of deaths linked to Covid-19 slowed to multi-week lows in the UK, Italy, Spain, France and Germany, suggesting the peak for infections had passed.
West Texas Intermediate, the US crude benchmark, fell 25 per cent on Monday as the world’s largest oil-back exchange traded fund began selling all its short term contracts. In Asia trading on Tuesday morning, WTI was 2.8 per cent lower at $12.42 a barrel.
White House makes new push to expand coronavirus testing
James Politi in Washington
Donald Trump is making a new push to expand coronavirus testing alongside US retailers such as Walmart and CVS, after facing criticism that the current testing capacity was insufficient for many states to feel comfortable lifting restrictions on economic activity.
“We want to get our country open and testing is not going to be a problem at all,” the president said at a news conference on Monday afternoon.
Lacklustre testing has dogged the Trump adminstration’s response to the pandemic from the beginning of the outbreak, but has become an even more urgent priority to address as the White House pushes state governors to safely begin to reopen their economies.
Previous attempts to encourage pharmacy groups and retailers to set up drive-through testing in parking lots have had a very limited impact, but the Trump administration and industry executives, including commercial labs, held a meeting on Monday afternoon after which they pledged to sharply ramp up their efforts and make testing more widely available over the coming months.
“We’re going with maximum testing,” Mr Trump said, adding that US testing capacity would be doubled shortly. Mike Pence, the vice-president, said more than 5m tests had already been completed since the start of the pandemic.
Le Texas et l’Ohio prennent des mesures pour relancer les économies
Matthew Rocco in New York
Le Texas ne renouvellera pas sa commande de séjour à domicile après son expiration jeudi, ajoutant à une liste croissante d’États américains qui ont pris des mesures pour assouplir les arrêts liés au coronavirus.
L’État – dont l’économie se classe au deuxième rang des États-Unis derrière la Californie – permettra aux entreprises de rouvrir par étapes à partir de vendredi, lorsque les restaurants, bars, magasins de détail et cinémas pourront ouvrir avec une occupation initialement plafonnée à 25%. The occupation will drop to 50% on May 18 in the second phase of the state’s reopening plan.
Les professionnels de la santé agréés par l’État seront autorisés à rouvrir leurs bureaux début mai avec certaines précautions. Hospitals must reserve at least 15% of their capacity for Covid-19 patients.
« Nous n’allons pas simplement nous ouvrir et espérer pour le mieux », a déclaré lundi le gouverneur Greg Abbott. « L’ouverture du Texas doit se faire par phases. “
During the first phase of the plan, the elderly and other “vulnerable populations” should stay at home as much as possible, he said.
Les mesures détaillées lundi sont survenues après la réouverture des parcs d’État du Texas et ont permis aux détaillants d’offrir un ramassage en bordure de la rue la semaine dernière.
Le gouverneur de l’Ohio, Mike DeWine, a également annoncé un plan pour relancer progressivement l’économie de l’État.
General offices, manufacturers, distribution centers and construction companies will open on May 4. Retail stores and other consumer businesses, such as hair salons and salons, may open on May 12. The restaurant service in restaurants and bars will remain closed. .
Les établissements médicaux peuvent reprendre les procédures électives vendredi si les patients n’ont pas besoin de passer la nuit.
DeWine noted that employers must maintain social distancing protocols and clean up workplaces. L’État rendra obligatoire la couverture du visage des employés.