May 7, 2020

U.K. May Ease Lockdown Monday; Poland Delays Vote: Virus Update


(Bloomberg) — The U.K. is set to ease parts of its nationwide lockdown Monday, with companies warning that continuing social distancing will hurt any economic recovery.

The World Health Organization is considering a new mission to seek the source of the coronavirus in China. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo again criticized China’s handling of the pandemic, while easing off of claims the virus escaped from a laboratory there.

Key Developments

Virus Tracker: cases pass 3.7 million; deaths top 263,000China’s exports unexpectedly riseWHO considers mission to seek source of virus in ChinaBlackRock’s Fink warns of grim outlook for corporate AmericaFor some JPMorgan staff, remote work may become permanentU.K.’s virus app could be another misstep

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus. See this QuickTake on unanswered questions about the virus.

India Lures Companies Out of China (12:32 p.m. HK)

India is seeking to lure U.S. businesses, including medical devices giant Abbott Laboratories, to relocate from China. The government in April reached out to more than 1,000 companies in the U.S. and through overseas missions to offer incentives for manufacturers seeking to move out, according to Indian officials who asked not to be identified, citing rules on speaking with the media. India is prioritizing medical equipment suppliers, food processing units, textiles, leather and auto part makers among more than 550 products covered in the discussions, they said.

Kenya Emergency Facility Approved (12:27 p.m. HK)

The International Monetary Fund approved $739 million in emergency funding for Kenya as the Covid-19 pandemic takes a serious toll on the East African nation’s economy and creates external financing needs.

The Rapid Credit Facility will boost Kenya’s international reserves to help cover balance of payments shortfalls this year. It will also provide the resources to boost public health and support for households and companies hit hard by the crisis.

Frontier Withdraws Seat Charge (12:13 p.m. HK)

The carrier withdrew a policy that would give passengers an option to pay extra to keep the middle seat empty on flights after political pressure, Reuters reported, citing a letter sent by CEO Barry Biffle to U.S. lawmakers. Carrier wanted to provide customers with an option for more space.

Testosterone-Reducing Therapy May Aid Against Virus (12:10 p.m. HK)

Therapy to reduce testosterone and other hormones in men with prostate cancer may have a protective effect against the new coronavirus, a study of thousands of Italian patients showed.

Men with the disease who got hormone therapy had a fourfold lower risk of virus infection than patients who didn’t get such treatment, the study showed. The difference was even more pronounced when the research team compared prostate cancer patients on hormone therapy with people who had any other type of cancer.

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China’s Exports Unexpectedly Rise (11:15 a.m. HK)

China’s exports unexpectedly rose in April even as the coronavirus pandemic damaged global demand. Imports fell. Exports rose 3.5% in dollar terms in April from a year earlier, while imports dropped 14.2%. That left a trade surplus of $45.3 billion for the month. The earliest indicators for the economy showed the nascent rebound was already losing momentum in April.

Philippines Economy Contracts (10:17 a.m. HK)

The economy contracted for the first time since 1998. Gross domestic product fell 0.2% in the first quarter compared to a year ago, using 2018 as the new base year. It was worse than the median estimate of 2.9% in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

Japan Set to Approve Remdesivir (9:59 a.m. HK)

Japan is set to approve on Thursday the antiviral drug remdesivir for use against the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

The relatively quick move by Japan’s usually conservative authorities is expected days after the U.S. approved Gilead Sciences Inc.’s drug for emergency use. Multiple trials of the drug are still under way. In April, the World Health Organization prematurely and accidentally published results of a China trial but retracted it soon after.

Brazil Approves Bills (8:15 a.m. HK)

Brazil’s Congress approved two stimulus bills that will provide financial help to states and municipalities, and set aside 700 billion reais ($122 billion) for the economic recovery from the pandemic while also allowing the central bank to buy corporate bonds.

The first constitutional amendment — dubbed the “war budget” — allows the government to bypass fiscal responsibility laws during the coronavirus crisis. It was approved by 477-1 votes during a remote session of the lower house Wednesday.

China Has Two New Cases (8:10 a.m. HK)

China reported two additional coronavirus cases by end of May 6 and both are from abroad, according to statement from the country’s National Health Commission. Six asymptomatic cases were reported and none of them from abroad. China has 880 asymptomatic coronavirus cases under medical observation.

U.K. Could Ease Lockdown Monday (8:01 a.m. HK)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament Wednesday that he wants to start relaxing some measures starting next week “if we possibly can.” A full statement on his plans is due Sunday. The premier is under pressure to get the British economy moving again without causing another surge of the virus, after the U.K. became the first European nation to record more than 30,000 deaths from the pandemic.

To read the full story, click here.

China GDP Target (7:57 a.m. HK)

China is considering an option of not setting a target for economic growth this year given the uncertainty caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.

What may instead be unveiled at the upcoming National People’s Congress later this month is a description of the goal for gross domestic product growth, one of the people said. Last year the target was a range of between 6% and 6.5%.

To read the full story, click here.

Poland Delays Presidential Vote (7:36 a.m. HK)

Poland will delay Sunday’s presidential election by several months, seeking to quell concerns that holding it during the brunt of the pandemic through an untested mail-in ballot system may not be free or fair.

With the European Union’s largest former communist country under coronavirus lockdown, the ruling Law & Justice Party has been fighting to push through sweeping last-minute legislation to the election law that critics say favor its candidate, President Andrzej Duda.

Budweiser APAC Posts Loss (7:15 a.m. HK)

The Asia-Pacific beer unit of Anheuser-Busch InBev NV posted a loss for the March quarter compared with a profit in the same period a year ago as strict lockdown measures kept restaurants and bars shut through February and March in China. Business, however, has been improving since mid-March, driven by a recovery in China and South Korea.

U.S. Cases Rise 1.9% (4 p.m. NY)

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose 1.9% as compared to the same time yesterday, to 1.22 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. It was a second day with an increase of 1.9%, below the average daily increase of 2.5% over the past week. Deaths rose 2.8% to 72,233.

New York reported 2,786 new cases taking its total to 323,978. Deaths rose by 232, 25 of which were in nursing homes, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.Florida reported 38,002 cases, up 1.5% from a day earlier, according to the state’s health department. Deaths increased 4.6% to 1,539.Deaths in Texas rose 4.6% to 948, its biggest daily jump in fatalities in a week, according to state health department data. Total cases increased 3.2% to 34,422.California reported 2,603 new infections, its biggest one-day increase in cases, according to the state’s website. The number of daily deaths spiked to 95 from 63 the previous day.Kentucky had the biggest daily increase in cases, which rose 11% to 5,822.

California Cases Jump (2:45 p.m. NY)

California reported 2,603 new infections, its biggest one-day increase in cases. The number of daily deaths spiked to 95 from 63 the previous day.

The jumps come as Governor Gavin Newsom takes steps to slowly restart the economy. He has said he’ll issue guidelines Thursday for some businesses to reopen as soon as this week, such as retailers for curbside pickup. But he’s also said that a lifting of restrictions depends on data showing a sustained improvement in the outbreak.

Dutch Shutdown Further Eased (1:45 p.m. NY)

The Netherlands will allow hairdressers, nail salons and beauty parlors to start work again on May 11, accelerating its plan to reopen more of the economy by at least a week amid signs the coronavirus outbreak is under control.

Restaurants, bars and movie theaters will be allowed to reopen starting June 1, with restrictions to comply with the “1.5 meter society” which will remain in place for the foreseeable future, Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters at a televised briefing in The Hague on Wednesday. Prostitution, which is legal in the Netherlands, is allowed restart on Sept. 1, according to the current timeline.

U.S. Outbreak Worsening, Cuomo Says (1:22 p.m. NY)

The U.S. coronavirus outbreak is clearly seen to be worsening if New York is excluded from the data, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, makes up about one-fourth of cases and one-third of deaths nationwide. As New York data show a decline in the spread of the disease, the situation in other states is still worsening even as they encourage commerce to restart, Cuomo said Wednesday at a press briefing.

U.S. fatalities from Covid-19 have climbed 61% in two weeks, to 65,307 as of May 5. Excluding New York, deaths have jumped 78%.

WHO May Seek Coronavirus Source (12:22 p.m. NY)

The World Health Organization is considering sending a mission to China, with an academic focus on finding the zoologic source of the coronavirus.

“Without knowing where the animal origin is, it’s hard to prevent it from happening again,” Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist, said at a press briefing Wednesday.

Putin Cautions on Easing Lockdown (12:18 p.m. NY)

Russian President Vladimir Putin told regional governors not to rush to ease the coronavirus lockdown even as his top government ministers warned that pressure on the economy is intensifying.

Economic activity contracted by a third since lockdowns were enforced across most of the country at the end of March, Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikovsaid at the meeting. Tax collection declined by 30% in April, while a quarter of Russian companies are in industries affected by the pandemic and will need support, Federal Tax Service chief Daniil Egorov said.

Denmark Considers Further Reopening (11:10 a.m. NY)

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said restaurants, shopping malls and big retailers may reopen as early as Monday after seeing positive results from its early response to the pandemic.

Frederiksen spoke to media ahead of a debate among party leaders on the next phase of the containment measures. The current restrictions are set to expire Sunday.

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