Spain Deaths Rise; Record U.S. Unemployment Claims: Virus Update

Spain Deaths Rise; Record U.S. Unemployment Claims: Virus Update


(Bloomberg) — Spain reported 950 more deaths from the coronavirus, the most in a single day, taking total fatalities in the country to more than 10,000. China locked down a county again after a flare-up in cases and rejected U.S. claims that Beijing concealed infections.

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits more than doubled to a second straight record. Presidential hopeful Joe Biden said he expects the Democratic convention to be delayed until August, and Boeing offered buyouts to eligible employees.

Germany faces a deeper recession than during the financial crisis. In Britain, almost one million people have claimed welfare payments in the past two weeks, and a financial regulator proposed freezing some credit card repayments.

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Walgreens Flags Sales Downturn (9:43 a.m. NY)

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. executives said sales have started to decline at its drugstores as a result of the pandemic, though the full impact on its business won’t be known for months.

U.S. consumers had raced early last month to stock up on drugs, cleaning supplies and toilet paper as they prepared to stay at home to avoid getting or spreading Covid-19. Now, that rush appears to be ebbing.

Amazon Hires 80,000, Steps Up Warehouse Safety (9:24 a.m. NY)

Amazon.com Inc. said it has hired 80,000 people to help meet demand for online orders and has stepped up safety precautions at its U.S warehouses.

Dave Clark, Amazon’s logistics chief, said in a blog published Thursday that Amazon would probably go “well beyond” its previous estimate of an additional $350 million in costs to support a growing workforce.

Germany Backs Use of Euro-Area Bailout Fund (9:15 a.m. NY)

The government in Berlin says it’s ready to send an “unambiguous signal” to markets by letting countries tap the European Stability Mechanism, the euro area’s rescue fund, to help them deal with the fallout of the pandemic.

That’s according to a position paper seen by Bloomberg, which also advocates setting up a 50 billion-euro fund to guarantee loans to small and medium-sized companies, especially in countries that don’t have their own development banks. Germany also said it would welcome a European unemployment reinsurance.

U.S. Jobless Claims Doubled to Record Last Week: (8:38 a.m. NY)

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits more than doubled to a second straight record as the coronavirus widened its reach and closed more businesses.

A total of 6.65 million people filed jobless claims in the week ended March 28, according to Labor Department figures released Thursday, as many stores and restaurants were forced to close across the nation to mitigate the outbreak.

U.K.’s Johnson Still Has Mild Symptoms (8:24 a.m. NY)

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson continues to show mild symptoms after contracting Covid-19, his spokesman, James Slack, said at a briefing with reporters.

New Cases in Italy’s Lombardy Region Remain Flat (8:21 a.m. NY)

Lombardy’s trend of new virus cases remains flat, with no increases in the last 24 hours, the region’s governor, Attilio Fontana, said at a press conference on Thursday.

“It seems what our experts have predicted is happening, and that in a few days we might see a blessed decline in the pandemic trend,” Fontana said.

Germany Sees Economy Contracting 5% in 2020 (7:43 a.m. NY)

The national output is expected to contract more than 5% in 2020, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said. Germany’s economy could be in position for “reasonable growth” next year, he added. Angela Merkel’s government was widely anticipated to slash its forecast from the pre-crisis prediction of 1.1% growth.

Amgen Joins Hunt for Coronavirus Drug, DJ Says (7:35 a.m. NY)

Amgen Inc. and Adaptive Biotechnologies Corp. are partnering to develop a drug to treat the coronavirus, Dow Jones reported on Thursday, citing an interview with David Reese, Amgen’s executive vice president of research and development.

No Decisions on Domestic Travel Ban, Fauci Says (7:32 a.m. NY)

“It’s on the table,” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci says about whether the U.S. has any plans to restrict domestic travel. “We look at that literally every day,” he said. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he’s looking at domestic travel limits for virus hot spots.

HK Orders Bars, Pubs to Close (7:28 a.m. NY)

Hong Kong has ordered bars and pubs to close for 14 days from April 3. The city earlier reported 37 new cases, taking its total to 802.

Boeing Offers Voluntary Buyouts (7:24 a.m. NY)

Boeing Co. offered voluntary buyouts to eligible employees, in a bid to quickly shed costs and adjust its work force of 161,000 to a coronavirus crisis that’s quickly undermined the outlook for aircraft sales. The move will preserve much-needed cash at Boeing, which is facing a sharp contraction in demand along with its European rival Airbus SE.

Airline customers around the world have slashed schedules, with some parking their entire fleets as the coronavirus pandemic guts travel. About 44% of aircraft across the globe are in storage.

ECB Delays Strategic Review (7:21 a.m. NY)

The big policy rethink, which was supposed to become the hallmark of President Christine Lagarde’s presidency, will be completed by the middle of next year, or six months later than initially planned, the ECB said on Thursday.

EU Says It Should Have Acted Faster to Help Italy (7:05 a.m. NY)

In a letter to Italian newspaper la Repubblica, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen admitted the bloc was late in understanding the scale of the outbreak in Italy and slow to act. She said Brussels has done far better recently.

The unusual admission comes amid fear that Italy’s debt market is still vulnerable to a mass exodus by investors, even with the European Central Bank offering support through its 750 billion-euro ($820 billion) bond-buying program. The country’s yield spread over Germany, a key gauge of risk in the country remains elevated after last month’s virus-induced rout.

Biden Says Sees Democratic Convention Delayed to August (7 a.m. NY)

“I think it’s going to have to move into August,” Biden said in an interview on “The Tonight Show.” “I doubt whether the Democratic convention is going to be able to be held in mid-July.”

Norway’s Wealth Fund Lost a Record $113 Billion in 1Q (6:41 a.m. NY)

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund lost a record 1.17 trillion kroner in the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic roiled stock markets. The loss comes as the fund for the first time faces forced asset sales to cover emergency spending by the government to weather the impact on the richest Nordic economy.

Stanchart CEO Says U.K., U.S. Acted Too Late (6:35 a.m. NY)

Standard Chartered Plc Chief Executive Officer Bill Winters said authorities in London and Washington have been too slow in ordering the type of lockdown that China used to control the outbreak. Speaking on Bloomberg Television, Winters became one of the highest-profile CEOs to criticize the Western response to the pandemic, saying the U.S. and U.K. had acted “too late.”

“I find it interesting to listen to the debate now that we in the West, or in the U.K., or in the U.S., couldn’t have done what the Chinese did because we don’t have that kind of society,” Winters said. “Well, we are doing what the Chinese did; we’re just doing it too late.”

EU’s Borrell Warns of Pandemic ‘Spiraling Out of Control’ (6:30 a.m. NY)

European Union foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc must mobilize help for poor countries. “Globally, it is to be feared that the worst is yet to come,” Borrell said in a letter to foreign ministers as they prepare to hold a video conference tomorrow. “Countries already affected by conflicts or mismanagement are particularly vulnerable.”

Jobless Claims Soar As Lockdowns Bite (6:20 a.m. NY)

Thursday’s U.S. jobless claims report may serve as a more timely barometer than Friday’s monthly payrolls figures. Filings for unemployment benefits are expected to total 3.7 million in the week ended March 28, compared with 3.28 million previously.

Earlier on Thursday, Spain said claims rose by a record 302,265 in March. Spain, one of the countries at the center of Europe’s outbreak, already has an unemployment rate that’s among the highest in the developed world.

Almost a million people have claimed welfare payments in Britain over the past two weeks and even Finland, one of the world’s best-funded welfare states, is starting to crack. In Ireland, more than 300,000 people are on government support and 200,000 are classed as unemployed — that’s a total of about half a million people in a country where around 2.3 million were in work before the crisis.

And one-third of Thailand’s population has registered for government cash handouts designed to soften the blow of the novel coronavirus outbreak, far exceeding the funds available for the policy.

Brexit Delay May Be Inevitable (6 a.m. NY)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he won’t delay Britain’s final parting with the European Union at the end of the year. Empty meeting rooms across Whitehall suggest delay is all but inevitable.

Business lobbyists say government officials have canceled most meetings to prepare for Brexit as civil servants are pulled away to deal with the growing coronavirus pandemic. It’s now only a question of how Johnson will sell a delay to the British public, rather than whether or not one will happen, they say.

Iran Cases Top 50,000 (5:43 p.m. HK)

Iran reported 2,875 new cases and 124 new deaths in the past day, bringing the total to more than 50,000 cases and 3,100 fatalities.

Netanyahu Quarantined Again (5:40 p.m. HK)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu entered quarantine for a second time after the country’s health minister tested positive for coronavirus, his office said. Yossi Cohen, head of the Mossad intelligence agency, has also entered quarantine after meeting the health minister, the Ynet website reported.

Earlier, the country took the unprecedented step of nearly sealing off an ultra-Orthodox Jewish city where a coronavirus outbreak is raging after many residents flouted social distancing orders.

Spain Reports Rise in Cases, Infections (5:31 p.m. HK)

Spain reported 950 new coronavirus fatalities on Thursday, the largest toll in a single day and taking the total number of deaths past 10,000. Total deaths rose to 10,003 in the past 24 hours, from 9,053 Wednesday, according to Health Ministry data. The number of confirmed cases increased by 8,102, bigger than Wednesday’s 7,719 gain, to 110,238.

Spain is dealing with the second-most severe outbreak in Europe after Italy.

Tokyo Finds 97 New Coronavirus Cases (5:28 p.m. HK)

Tokyo found a record 97 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, national broadcaster NHK reported, a number quickly approaching a level medical professionals warned would merit more pronounced measures from the government.

The Japan Medical Association warned this week that the jump in cases the nation’s most populous cities is putting more pressure on medical resources and that the government should declare a state of emergency to prevent collapses seen overseas from happening in Japan. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told lawmakers in parliament today the government can hold off from taking that action now, which would give local governors more powers to step up their response to the epidemic.

Belgian Death Toll Tops 1,000 (5:20 p.m. HK)

Belgian health officials reported 183 more deaths, up from 123 the day before. The country of 11.4 million has now joined the list of nations where the coronavirus pandemic has claimed more than a thousand lives.

EU Says Each Month of Lockdown Causes 3% Annual GDP Slump (5:10 p.m. HK)

Each month of lockdown causes a 3% annual GDP drop, EU economy chief Paolo Gentiloni said in a Bloomberg TV interview. Besides this estimate, the European Commissioner for Economic Affairs didn’t have a forecast on the depth of recession in the euro area this year, in the absence of clarity about the length of the crisis. He said mitigating measures can boost growth later in the year and cushion the blow.

German Coronavirus Outbreak May Peak at Easter (5 p.m. HK)

The virus may peak in Germany at Easter, World Medical Association Chairman Frank Ulrich Montgomery said. However, he cautioned against aiming to begin loosening restrictions on public life at a specific date, “as if the virus knows what Easter is.”

A better gauge is to look at when the outbreak slows so the number of new infections doubles only every 14 days, Montgomery said, a rate that he said would ensure a slow enough turnover of patients in intensive care that beds are available for those who need them. Confirmed cases in Germany rose by more than 6,000 on Thursday to 77,981, after several days with a lower number of new infections. Deaths rose to 931 from 775.

Germany is deploying 15,000 armed forces personnel to help civil authorities tackle the outbreak. “The fight against corona will be a long one,” Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in an interview with public broadcaster ARD. “It’s a marathon, and in the end it will be about everyone being able to stay the course.”

Meanwhile in Austria, one of the first EU countries that clamped down on public life, the number of deaths fell for the fourth day, to 12, or 8%, in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said. That brings the number of total victims to 158. The Alpine country had 10,769 positive cases Thursday morning; the daily increase has been less than 10% for 5 days.

Moody’s Cuts Outlook for Indian Banks (4:50 p.m. HK)

Moody’s Investors Service slashed the outlook for the Indian banking system to negative from stable citing disruptions to economic activity from the pandemic that will worsen the ongoing slowdown and impair lenders’ asset quality.

German Companies Apply for State Aid Worth $11.6 Billion (4:30 p.m. HK)

“We expect to see a significant increase in the volume and number of applications in the next few weeks,” said Guenther Braeunig, head of state development bank KfW, which is tasked with shoring up the finances of the country’s virus-hit companies. So far, a total of 2,500 companies have applied for liquidity help.Trump, Pelosi Put 2017 Tax Law on Table in Next Aid Round (4 p.m. HK)

Global Food Prices Fall to Five-Month Low (4 p.m. HK)

World food prices fell 4.3% from the prior month to 172.2 points in March, the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization said. The drop to the lowest level since October was driven by demand contractions because of the pandemic.

Global cereal markets are expected to remain “balanced and comfortable” despite worries over the impacts of COVID-19, the agency said.

Russia Reports 28% Increase in Cases (3:34 p.m. HK)

Russia reported 771 new cases overnight, bringing the total number of infected to 3,548, Interfax reported, citing Russian consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor. Moscow accounts for 595 out of the new cases.

China Rejects U.S. Intelligence Claim ( (2:53 p.m. HK)

China rejected the American intelligence community’s conclusion that Beijing concealed the extent of the coronavirus epidemic, and accused the U.S. of seeking to shift the blame for its own handling of the outbreak.

Hua was responding to a Bloomberg News report saying that the U.S. intelligence community had concluded in a classified report to the White House that Beijing under-reported both total cases and deaths from the disease. “Some U.S. officials just want to shift the blame,” Hua said.

China’s public reporting on cases and deaths is intentionally incomplete, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing three officials, who asked not to be identified because the report is secret. Two of the officials said the report concludes that China’s numbers are fake. President Donald Trump said he hadn’t received the report, but said “their numbers seem to be a little bit on the light side.”

U.K. Proposes Freeze on Credit-Card Payments (2:19 p.m. HK)

The Financial Conduct Authority, the U.K.’s top market regulator, set out its expectations of firms to offer a temporary payment freeze on loans and credit cards where consumers face financial difficulties from the virus.

Philippine Lockdown Protesters Can Be Shot (1:09 p.m. HK)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gave authorities the green light to shoot dead protesters who attempt to riot or disrupt food distribution during a lockdown prompted by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Outbreak Approaches Key Milestones (12 p.m. HK)

The world will hit 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases this week. While the real figure is almost certainly past that mark due to undercounting or lack of testing, the official tally may surpass 1 million in the next 24-48 hours.

The U.S. will also shortly have twice as many confirmed cases as any other country. If you’re in America, this may possibly happen by the time you wake up in the morning. Read more here.

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