May 28, 2024

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Europe Looks to Ease Curbs; Cases Slow in Spain: Virus Update

Europe Looks to Ease Curbs; Cases Slow in Spain: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) —

Spain reported its fewest new coronavirus cases since March 20 and Germany reported a drop in infections for the fifth consecutive day. Austria and Denmark are starting to ease curbs as leaders across Europe weigh steps to exit lockdowns.

U.S. governors formed coalitions for the reopening of their economies, even as President Donald Trump insisted he alone has that authority and complained that governors hadn’t done more to prepare their states for the pandemic.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. first-quarter profit tumbled to the lowest in more than six years and Johnson & Johnson cut in its outlook for the year. Europe is seen heading for a double-digit slump but China’s exports and imports declined less than expected, in a sign that supply chains may be adapting.

Key Developments

Virus Tracker: Cases surpass 1.92 million; deaths top 120,000Trump defends his coronavirus record with anger and a videoChina trade fell less than expected as supply chains may be adaptingEurope economy to slump more than 10% amid virus lockdownsIndia, France extend lockdown; U.K. weighing similar steps

JPMorgan Profit Plunges to Lowest Since 2013 (6:57 a.m. NY)

JPMorgan Chase & Co. said first-quarter profit tumbled 69% to the lowest in more than six years as credit costs surged, giving investors a first glimpse at the extent of the damage Covid-19 is wreaking on bank results.

The bank set aside $8.29 billion for bad loans, the biggest provision in at least a decade and more than double what some analysts expected, as it grappled with the effects of the pandemic on the economy. That prompted the bank’s first drop in profit since the fourth quarter of 2017.

Barclays Won’t Cut Jobs (6:53 a.m. NY)

The plan to dismiss staff outlined in the early stages of the crisis is now on hold, Financial News reported, citing a memo. Barclays says it will also provide additional financial support for laid-off staff.

J&J Cuts 2020 Outlook (6:40 a.m. NY)

The company lowered guidance for 2020 to reflect the impact of Covid-19. For the full year, J&J said it expects sales of $79.2 billion to $82.2 billion. Previously, it had forecast revenue for the year of $85.8 billion to $86.6 billion.

However, J&J posted stronger sales and earnings for the first quarter compared with a year ago, and boosted its quarterly dividend.

Carmakers Begin Rebooting European Plants (6:37 a.m. NY)

Volkswagen AG’s Audi unit is among automakers gradually reopening factories in Europe, even as lockdowns drag on across much of the region. Hyundai’s car-making facility in Nosovice, Czech Republic, is resuming output with two shifts instead of the usual three, CTK reported. And Renault is working on restarting factories in Portugal, Romania and Russia, Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard said on Friday.

Rokos’s Macro Hedge Fund Has Best Month Ever (6:12 a.m. NY)

Billionaire Chris Rokos’s macro hedge fund had its best month ever, gaining 14% in March amid market chaos fueled by the pandemic. That takes the fund’s advance for the year to about 20%, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. About a quarter of this year’s returns have come from short equities trades as the longest-running bull market in stocks came to an end.

Portugal Doesn’t Plan to Ease Restrictions Yet (6 a.m. NY)

Portugal doesn’t plan to ease restrictions on the movement of people and on certain activities when the state of emergency is extended later this week, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said in an interview with Observador.

Portugal initially declared a state of emergency on March 18 and President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said on Friday that he plans to extend it until May 1. The government on Monday reported the smallest daily increase in confirmed cases since March 24.

U.K. Banks Give 1.2 Million Home Loan Breaks (5:55 p.m. HK)

More than one in 10 mortgage borrowers in the U.K. have taken a payment holiday, less than a month after banks offered relief to those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. About 1.2 million customers were granted a mortgage holiday between March 17 and April 8, according to lobby group U.K. Finance. Banks trebled the number of breaks they gave in the latest two weeks the data covers, granting 61,000 customers per day a break on their repayments.

Covid-19 Deaths in England 15% Higher (5:40 p.m. HK)

Deaths involving Covid-19 in England are running 15% higher than the number reported by the National Health Service. The Office for National Statistics said 5,979 deaths up to April 3 had been registered by April 11. That compares with the 5,186 reported by NHS England, a number which is itself revised several days after the official daily tally from hospitals.

The discrepancy is important because the government is using data on deaths, hospital admissions and the impact of social-distancing measures to plan its response to the pandemic and eventually ease a nationwide lockdown.

Iran Death Toll Slows (5:30 p.m. HK)

Fatalities from coronavirus in Iran dropped to the lowest in a month. The country had 98 deaths overnight, taking total fatalities to 4,683. Cases rose to 74,877 after 1,574 tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours.

South Africa Cuts Rate to Record Low (5:15 p.m. HK)

South Africa’s central bank unexpectedly cut its benchmark interest rate to a record low. The repurchase rate was reduced to 4.25% from 5.25% after the May meeting of the monetary policy committee was moved earlier and took place on Tuesday.

“This comes as a result of the extension of the lockdown because extending for another two weeks is certainly going to have a far more severe impact on the economy,” said Gina Schoeman, Citibank South Africa economist.

Spain Cases Drop; EU Hopes to Gradually Ease Curbs (5:05 p.m. HK)

Spain reported the lowest number of new coronavirus cases in 3 1/2 weeks as the government comes under pressure to relax some of the measures brought in to slow the outbreak. There were 3,045 new infections in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 172,541. That was the smallest increase since March 20. The death toll rose by 567 to 18,056.

European leaders are starting to sketch out their strategy for putting the economy back to work once the coronavirus has been brought under control. Austria and Denmark are beginning to open up some schools and shops this week and President Emmanuel Macron on Monday said he wants to begin phasing out restrictions from May 11. Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to discuss her plans with German state premiers on Wednesday while the European Commission has drafted a plan to coordinate the moves.

Too Early to Tell if Spread Slowing in Germany (4:40 p.m. HK)

It is too early to judge if the virus spread in Germany is slowing down, as lower case numbers in recent days have been affected by the Easter holidays, the head of the country’s public health authority has warned. Authorities have conducted fewer tests and submitted less data in recent days, Lothar Wieler, President of the Robert Koch Institute said. “We cannot finally conclude if new case numbers are really falling,” he said.

His comments come after Germany saw its new cases drop for the fifth consecutive day, spurring hopes that the peak of the crisis has been reached. The daily increase in infections of 2,218 was the lowest this month and brought the total to 130,072, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on public broadcaster ARD that Germany might soon decide to lift some restrictions. “We have seen some successes the past few days,” he said. Schools and small shops could be reopened “step by step” without endangering the public health, he said. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Germany’s 16 state leaders will discuss on Wednesday about a possible easing of the country’s lockdown.

Indonesia Surprises by Keeping Rate Unchanged (4:08 p.m. HK)

Bank Indonesia held rates on Tuesday after two consecutive cuts this year, leaving its seven-day reverse repurchase rate unchanged at 4.5%. That was in line with the forecasts of nine of 28 economists in a Bloomberg survey; 18 had predicted a 25 basis-point cut, and one saw a 50-point reduction.

Russia New Cases Rise by 15% (3:57 p.m. HK)

Confirmed coronavirus infection cases rose by 2,774, the third straight day that number has risen, according to data from Russian consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor. Total cases have almost doubled in past five days and the number of new infections has been above 2,000 a day since Sunday. The death toll hit 170 with 22 people dying overnight.

Austria Eases Some Restrictions (3:43 p.m. HK)

Austrians lined up outside hardware and gardening stores that were reopening on Tuesday as the country became one of the first in Europe easing lockdown measures. The soft and partial restart in Austria, that had also been one of the first to clamp down on public life will be eyed by others in Europe as a rehearsal for how to lift the measures without provoking an increase in new infections. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has said he won’t hesitate to go back if the numbers were to go out of control again.

Poland will this week announce a plan to lift some restrictions, starting with easing access to shops and forests imposed due to the coronavirus outbreak, the government said.

GAM, AB InBev: European Companies Roundup (3:20 p.m. HK)

GAM Holding AG said it will accelerate cost cutting after assets in its funds plunged by $13.2 billion in the first quarter, an early sign of how European asset managers have been hit by the virus. Brewing giant Anheuser Busch-InBev cut its final dividend by 50%, citing uncertainty and volatility caused by the virus pandemic. Wizz Air says it is making 1,000 positions redundant, representing a 19% workforce reduction.

Earlier, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said the planemaker’s customers have not canceled orders yet, but conceded this will likely happen soon. Renault is scaling back its already limited presence in China and Air France-KLM is seeking state support of around 10 billion euros ($10.9 billion). Read more here.

Astra to Test Cancer Medicine for Covid-19 Reaction (3 p.m. HK)

AstraZeneca Plc will start testing one of its new cancer medicines, Calquence, to see whether it can quell the excessive immune response Covid-19 triggers in some patients. The treatment for lymphoma may lessen the severity of respiratory distress by reducing the inflammation caused by the new coronavirus, the drugmaker said in a statement Tuesday.

Separately, Swedish Orphan Biovitrum jumped 13% after providing a first-quarter update that cited strong demand for rheumatoid arthritis drug Kineret due to the pandemic. The company said last month it would begin studying Kineret and its antibody emapalumab for the treatment of hyper-inflammatory syndrome, a serious complication experienced by some Covid-19 patients.

Europe Economy Seen Slumping More Than 10% (2:54 p.m. HK)

Europe is heading for double-digit slump in the first half of 2020 amid widespread lockdowns.

Bloomberg’s monthly survey of economists puts the contraction in the euro area at more than 10% in the January-June period, with most of the hit — 8.3% — in the second quarter. Even with an expected rebound later in the year, the bloc’s output will still decline more than 5% in 2020.

The French economy will contract 8% in 2020 after the government extended confinement measures to May 11, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said. Meanwhile, Liberum warned that every week of lockdown in the U.K. will reduce GDP by around 1.1%, and that the Covid-19 outbreak will cost between 7% and 9% of GDP in total.

Modi Extends India’s Lockdown Until May 3 (1:10 p.m. HK)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an extension of India’s three-week nationwide closure to May 3. India has reduced the impact of the coronavirus epidemic with its lockdown strategy, Modi said in an address to the nation.

The country “did not wait for a crisis to happen,” Modi said in his fourth address to the nation since infections began ticking up sharply in mid-March. India has so far reported 10,453 infections and 358 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Abe Sees Support Rate Slip as Virus Cases Rise (1:02 p.m. HK)

More Japanese voters disapprove than approve of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration for the first time in nearly two years, a survey showed, as criticism mounts over his handling of the virus outbreak. A poll released in the Yomiuri newspaper showed his government’s disapproval rating at 47%.

U.K. Likely to Announce Lockdown Extension: Raab (12:42 p.m HK)

British ministers will decide in the next three days on extending the country’s lockdown, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab telling reporters it was likely to carry on and the government’s chief scientific adviser saying he expects the daily rate of deaths to continue to rise.

Under the law passed last month to tackle the spread of coronavirus throughout the country, the government must decide by Thursday whether to renew the three-week lockdown period.

China’s Trade Fell Less Than Expected in March (12:15 p.m. HK)

China’s trade performed better than expected in March, with both exports and imports declining less than expected even as the coronavirus prompted business shutdowns around the world.

The data indicate that global supply chains may be adapting better than thought, and that China’s gradual economic restart is proceeding. At the same time, the full effect of a collapse in demand in developed economies like the U.S. and Europe may not be yet apparent in China’s trade data.

IPhone China Shipments Rebound (11:51 a.m. HK)

Apple Inc.’s iPhone shipments in China rebounded in March as the world’s second-largest economy worked to reboot its manufacturing industry following the disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Shipments of Apple’s marquee device jumped 19% in March from a year earlier to 2.5 million units, according to Bloomberg calculations based on monthly data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a government think tank. February saw iPhone shipments plunge more than 60% as factories remained shut past the Lunar New Year holiday break.” data-reactid=”94″>For more articles like this, please visit us at

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