Leaders across Europe weighed steps to exit quarantines. Spain reported its fewest new coronavirus cases since March 20, and German infections dropped for the fifth consecutive day.
The International Monetary Fund predicted that the “Great Lockdown” recession would be the steepest in almost a century.
JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s first-quarter profit tumbled to the lowest in more than six years, and Johnson & Johnson cut its outlook for the year. Stocks climbed on signs the coronavirus outbreak is either leveling off or easing.
Virus Tracker: Cases surpass 1.93 million; deaths top 120,900Trump defends coronavirus record with anger and a videoEurope economy to slump more than 10% amid lockdownsChina IPhone shipments bounce; trade fell less than expectedSanofi, Glaxo join forces to develop vaccine
U.K. Reports Larger Number of Deaths (9:48 a.m. NY)
A further 778 people have died in U.K. hospitals from the coronavirus, up from 717 on Monday, as the country decides how long to continue its lockdown. Confirmed cases rose to 93,873 from 88,621, Department of Health and Social Care figures show. Before today, the rate of increase in deaths and cases had been decelerating, according to Bloomberg calculations.
Portugal Cases Rise; Netherlands Slows (9:22 a.m. NY)
Portugal reported an increase in confirmed coronavirus cases and patients in intensive-care units as it plans to extend its state of emergency for two more weeks. There were 514 new cases in a day, taking the total to 17,448, the government said on Tuesday. Total deaths rose to 567 from 535.
In the Netherlands, confirmed cases rose 3% to 27,419, the slowest rate since the country reported its first case in late February. Deaths from the virus increased 4% to 2,945, but the figure may reflect an administrative processing backlog over the Easter weekend.
Scotland Questions Equipment Distribution (8:48 a.m. NY)
Scotland is investigating a claim that personal protective equipment is being redirected to England as tension grows within the U.K. over the handling of the outbreak.
“I am not prepared for the Scottish government to stand by and be treated unfairly regarding the distribution of PPE,” Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told reporters in Edinburgh on Tuesday.
Swedish Deaths Top 1,000 Amid Controversy (8:11 a.m. NY)
Sweden reported 1,033 deaths from Covid-19. The development adds to controversy surrounding the country’s decision not to impose a lockdown, and instead leave schools, bars, cafes and restaurants open. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has said stricter measures may be needed.
U.K. Fiscal Watchdog Sees 35% Real GDP Drop (7:20 a.m. NY)
The U.K.’s Office for Budget Responsibility sees real GDP falling 35% in the second quarter under a scenario that assumes a three-month lockdown followed by another three months where measures are partially lifted. OBR sees unemployment jumping to 10% in second quarter and the deficit climbing to 218 billion pounds ($274 billion) relative to March forecasts under this scenario.
Singapore to Enforce Masks, Close More Workplaces (7:17 a.m. NY)
“The minute you leave your house you have to wear a mask when you go out,” Minister of National Development Lawrence Wong said, adding that first offenders will get a S$300 fine ($212). The government will also cull the number of industries allowed to stay open.
The measures were announced as virus cases escalated in tightly packed dormitories housing mainly low-paid foreign workers. More than 200,000 of the migrants serving key industries such as construction from across Asia live in 43 of the facilities in Singapore. The cramped accommodation complicates efforts to enforce social distancing rules.
Singapore on Tuesday recorded 334 new cases, the second day figures have exceeded 300, bringing the tally so far to 3,252. No imported cases were reported, while 122 cases are unlinked. Monday recorded a new high of 386, the largest single-day spike.
Sanofi, Glaxo Join Forces to Develop Vaccine (7 a.m. NY)
Sanofi will combine its experimental coronavirus vaccine with GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s adjuvant technology, which may allow more doses of a shot to be produced. The drugmakers said they plan to start human trials in the second half of this year, with the goal of having a vaccine available by the second half of 2021 if the studies are successful.
The collaboration brings together two of the world’s biggest vaccine makers with manufacturing might in the race to deliver a Covid-19 vaccine. Dozens of companies from Moderna Inc. to Johnson & Johnson, along with universities, are pursuing a shot to halt the rapidly spreading pathogen
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.
JPMorgan reported first-quarter provision for credit losses of $8.3 billion, a $6.8 billion increase from the prior year’s quarter, on reserve builds to reflect a deteriorating economy due to the Covid-19 pandemic and continued pressure on oil prices. “The company entered this crisis in a position of strength, and we remain well capitalized and highly liquid,” Dimon said.
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 French 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.
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