World Newsletter

WORLD NEWS
25 March 2020

WORLD ON LOCKDOWN: BUSINESS ACTIVITY COLLAPSES AT RECORD PACE

 

Business activity has collapsed from Australia and Japan to Western Europe

at a record pace, as measures to contain the coronavirus hammer the world

economy, with data for the United States later on Tuesday expected to be

just as dire.

"The coronavirus outbreak represents a major external shock to the macro

outlook, akin to a large-scale natural disaster," analysts at BlackRock

Investment Institute said in a note.

Activity in the 19 countries that use the euro has crumbled as nations lock

down to curb the spread of the disease, shuttering shops, restaurants and

offices.

IHS Markit's flash composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for the

eurozone, seen as a good gauge of economic health, plummeted to a record low

of 31.4 in March.

That was by far the biggest one-month fall since the survey began in

mid-1998 and below all forecasts in a Reuters News Agency poll which gave a

median prediction of 38.8.

In France, services activity fell to a record low and manufacturing saw its

steepest drop since the global financial crisis more than 10 years ago.

"Taken together, these declines suggest GDP is collapsing at an annual rate

approaching double digits," IHS Markit economist Eliot Kerr said.

A PMI for the services sector in Germany, Europe's largest economy, showed a

record contraction in activity, while sister surveys showed the United

Kingdom's economy shrinking at a record pace.

IHS Markit said the March figures suggested the eurozone economy was

shrinking at a quarterly rate of about 2 percent, and the escalation of

measures to contain the virus could steepen the downturn.

US manufacturing and services PMI surveys are also expected to come in at

multi-year lows.

Entire regions have been placed on lockdown and in some places soldiers are

patrolling the streets to keep consumers and workers indoors, halting

services and production and breaking global supply chains.

Mirroring the emptying of supermarket shelves around the world, indebted

corporates have rushed into money markets to hoard dollars, with a global

shortage of dollar funding threatening to cripple firms from airlines to

retailers.

PMI surveys from Japan showed the services sector shrinking at its fastest

pace on record this month and factory activity contracting at its quickest

in a decade.

This was consistent with a 4 percent contraction in 2020, Capital Economics

senior economist Marcel Theliant said. The likely postponement of the Tokyo

Olympic Games is expected to deal a heavy blow to the world's third-largest

economy.

 

 

U.S. COULD BECOME VIRUS EPICENTRE: WHO

 

A WHO official on Tuesday said that the U.S. could become the next epicenter

of the coronavirus.

"We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S.," WHO

spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters, according to Reuters.

She said the U.S. has the "potential" to overtake Europe as the new

epicenter of the virus.

"We cannot say that is the case yet, but it does have that potential,"

Harris said.

WHO earlier this month said the epicenter of the virus had shifted from

China to Europe. Italy last week surpassed China as the country with the

most recorded deaths from the virus, reporting its highest total of new

deaths on Saturday with 793 fatalities.

The U.S. hit a grim milestone on Monday, with the death toll rising by more

than 100 in the span of a single day. Health officials report more than

50,000 cases in the country and 600 total deaths, according to Johns Hopkins

University.

Despite large increases in cases and deaths, President Donald Trump on

Tuesday said he is eyeing Easter Sunday to get the country "opened up and

just raring to go."

The president's message is starkly different from that of New York Gov.

Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday. Cuomo said he expects to see a peak in the virus in

14-21 days, a timeline that includes Easter.

WHO officials warned Monday that the virus is accelerating.

 

 

CORONAVIRUS | CHINA TO LIFT TRAVEL CURBS ON 50 MILLION PEOPLE IN HUBEI

 

China announced on Tuesday that a lockdown would be lifted on more than 50

million people in central Hubei province, where the coronavirus first

emerged late last year.

But fears rose over a second wave of infections in the country fuelled by

people arriving from overseas.

After two months living with draconian curbs on daily life, residents will

be allowed to leave Hubei from midnight on Tuesday if healthy, said

provincial authorities.

Wuhan city - the initial epicentre of the outbreak - will end restrictions

from April 8.

Hubei ordered the shutdown in January but has been gradually easing rules

and permitting people to move about within the province and return to work.

People who wish to travel in or out of Hubei or Wuhan will be able to as

long as they have a "green" health code issued by authorities, but schools

will remain closed.

Three airports in the province will resume flights from Wednesday, state

broadcaster CCTV reported.

 

 

TOKYO 2020: OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC GAMES POSTPONED BECAUSE OF CORONAVIRUS

 

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games have been postponed until next

year because of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

The event, due to begin on 24 July, will now take place "no later than

summer 2021".

"I proposed to postpone for a year and [IOC] president Thomas Bach responded

with 100% agreement," said Shinzo Abe, Japan's Prime Minister.

The event will still be called Tokyo 2020 despite taking place in 2021.

In a joint statement, the organisers of Tokyo 2020 and the IOC said: "The

unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the

situation in the rest of the world deteriorating.

"On Monday, the director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros

Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the Covid-19 pandemic is 'accelerating'.

"There are more than 375,000 cases now recorded worldwide and in nearly

every country, and their number is growing by the hour.

"In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the

WHO today [Tuesday], the IOC president and the prime minister of Japan have

concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled

to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the

health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the

international community."

 

 

TRUMP, DESPITE WARNINGS, WANTS US BACK ONLINE BY APRIL 12

 

Public health authorities, state governors, and even some members of his own

administration are pushing back against President Donald Trump's professed

desire to roll back measures intended to keep the coronavirus pandemic in

check and reopen the country for business.

In his regular daily briefing on Monday evening, Trump said the nation could

not afford to continue the lockdowns that have brought the country, and its

$20-trillion economy, to a virtual standstill during the past several days.

"America will, again, and soon, be open for business," Trump said. "Very

soon. A lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting.

Lot sooner. We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself."

In a town hall broadcast on Fox News on Tuesday, he reiterated his

preference for a quick return to normality and said he hoped to have the

country "opened up and just raring to go by Easter", which is April 12.

Trump's pronouncements run counter to the advice from health experts and

emergency management officials, who have said that unless Americans continue

to dramatically limit social interaction - staying home from work and

isolating themselves - the number of infections will overwhelm the

healthcare system and lead to many more deaths.

 

 

BANGLADESH TO RELEASE KHALEDA ZIA AMID CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK

 

Bangladesh on Tuesday initiated a process to "conditionally" release jailed

former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia for six months following the COVID-19

outbreak in the country.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party chief is serving a 17-year prison term in

two graft cases since February 8, 2018.

"The decision has been taken on humanitarian ground," Law Minister Anisul

Huq said.

He said the decision was taken in line with Prime Minister Shekh Hasina's

directives and considering the age of the former Prime Minister.

"... Zia will be released for a period of six months and she must stay in

her own house," the Minister said.

 

 

NEW ZEALAND ANNOUNCES MORTGAGE HOLIDAY, BUSINESS FINANCE SUPPORT TO CUSHION

VIRUS IMPACT

 

New Zealand said on Tuesday that retail banks will offer a six-month

principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and small

business customers whose incomes have been affected by the economic

disruption from COVID-19.

The government and the banks will also implement a NZ$6.25 billion ($3.62

billion) business finance guarantee scheme for small and medium-sized

businesses, to protect jobs and support the economy through this

unprecedented time, Finance Minister Grant Robertson told a news conference.

The scheme will include a limit of NZ$500,000 per loan and will apply to

firms with a turnover of between NZ$250,000 and NZ$80 million per annum.The

government will carry 80% of the credit risk, with the other 20% to be

carried by the banks, Robertson said.

He added that the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) has decided to reduce

banks' core funding ratios to 50% from 75%, further helping banks make

credit available.

 

 

AFTER CORONAVIRUS, MAN DIES OF HANTAVIRUS IN CHINA: OFFICIAL MEDIA

 

Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, a man in China's southwestern Yunnan

province has died of hantavirus---a disease spread by rodents---official

media here reported on Tuesday.

The person from Yunnan province died while on his way back to the eastern

Shandong province for work on a chartered bus on Monday, state-run Global

Times tweeted.

"He was tested positive for hantavirus. Other 32 people on bus were tested,"

the tweet said without divulging further details.

Hantaviruses are a family of viruses spread mainly by rodents and can cause

varied disease syndromes in people worldwide, according to the Centres for

Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which is the leading national public

health institute of the United State.

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