(Kitco News) – Gold prices remain under pressure, but well off their session lows after the European Central Bank (ECB) signaled it would unleash new monetary policy stimulus measures in December as the European economy continues to feel the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
ECB president Christine Lagarde said in a press conference following the ECB ’s monetary policy decision that it is clear the European economy will need further support as a second wave of the coronavirus forces countries to institute new lockdown measures.
“We have little doubt that circumstances will warrant a recalibration and implementation of monetary policy,” she said.
The dovish outlook is helping gold prices recover from Wednesday sharp selloff. Panic selling has swept through financial markets this week as investors shift their expectations on global growth. December gold futures last traded at $1,871.80 an ounce, down 0.39% on the day.
The comments come as the ECB continues to see significant risk to the European economy heading into the new year. Wednesday, both France and Germany announced new lockdown measures as both countries have seen a surge in new COVID-19 infections.
“The risks surrounding the euro area growth outlook are clearly tilted to the downside,” Lagarde said in her opening remarks. “This largely reflects the recent resurgence in COVID-19 infections, the associated intensification of containment measures and a highly uncertain timeline of the pandemic and its implications for economic and financial conditions.”
Lagarde said that the staff are currently analyzing its programs ahead of December ’s meeting. The December meeting will also see the release of the central bank ’s updated economic projections. She added that this recalibration will touch on all of the central bank ’s tool to find the best mix to support lending conditions and the European economy.
“On the basis of this updated assessment, the Governing Council will recalibrate its instruments, as appropriate, to respond to the unfolding situation and to ensure that financing conditions remain favorable to support the economic recovery and counteract the negative impact of the pandemic on the projected inflation path,” Lagard said.
Lagarde ’s dour outlook came after the ECB said that it maintained its interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.00%, 0.25%, and -0.50%, respectively.
The central bank also said that it would maintain the current pace of its emergency stimulus measures.
Ontario reports more than 1800 new cases of COVID-19, ICU admissions continue to rise – CTV Toronto
Ontario reported a rise in the number of patients battling COVID-19 in the province’s intensive care units Thursday, as it also marked a single-day increase in the number of new cases.
Health officials confirmed 1,824 new cases of the novel coronavirus after several days of case numbers above the 1,700 mark, but clarified that the number might be slightly skewed due to a data processing error.
The province suggested that today’s case total might have been smaller if the data processing error had not occurred. Due to the error, officials said the province’s case total on Thursday included 127 cases from Middlesex-London Health Unit, which counted infections reported over the past three days.
On Thursday, officials also reported that 14 more people have died due to COVID-19. Just the day before, the province stated that 35 more people died due to the disease. Most of the patients who died were residents of long-term care homes.
More than 600 people are battling the disease in hospitals across the province with 195 patients now in intensive care. Of those patients, 107 are on ventilators.
The province has said that once the number of COVID-19 patients in Ontario’s intensive care units surpasses 150, it becomes more difficult for hospitals to support medical needs not related to the disease. Once that number surpasses 300, the government says it becomes nearly impossible.
Latest modelling data presented by health officials on Nov. 26 predicted that more than 200 COVID-19 patients would need to receive care in ICUs in Ontario “under any circumstance” in December. The data suggested that the number might climb over the 300 mark by mid-December.
The total number of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario now stands at 121,746, including 3,712 deaths and the 103,239 recoveries.
Where are the COVID-19 cases in Ontario?
The three COVID-19 hot spots continue to be the most impacted regions in the province. Locally, Peel Region confirmed 592 new cases, Toronto confirmed 396 new cases and York Region confirmed 187 new cases.
Toronto and Peel Region are currently in lockdown in order to curb the spread of the disease. The province closed non-essential businesses in these regions, including shopping malls, personal care services and gyms, for 28 days.
Several other regions in Ontario reported COVID-19 case numbers in the triple and double digits on Thursday.
Waterloo reported 87 new cases, Halton Region reported 68 new cases, Windsor-Essex reported 62 new cases, Durham Region reported 57 new cases, Hamilton reported 56 new cases and Ottawa reported 42 new cases.
Most of the new cases of COVID-19 reported on Thursday involve people under the age of 80. Seventy-eight infections involved people over the age of 80.
There were 728 cases in people between the ages of 20 and 39, at least 499 in people between the ages of 40 and 59 and 251 in people between the ages of 60 and 79. There were 261 cases in people under the age of 19.
COVID-19 testing in Ontario
The province marked an increase in testing numbers on Thursday, saying they completed 52,873 tests over a 24-hour period. Ontario’s COVID-19 positivity rate now stands at 4.4 per cent.
For a number of days now, the province had been reporting testing numbers below their daily goal of 50,000.
In total, Ontario has processed more than 6.4 million tests since the pandemic began in January. There are 58,320 COVID-19 tests still under investigation.
Lack of raw materials blamed for slashed supply target of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine – CBC.ca
A lack of raw materials used in the manufacture of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine played a role in the company’s decision to slash its 2020 production target, a spokeswoman told Reuters.
Pfizer has said in recent weeks that it anticipates producing 50 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine this year. That is down from an earlier target of 100 million doses. Pfizer’s vaccine relies on a two-dose regimen, meaning 50 million doses is enough to inoculate 25 million people.
A company spokeswoman said the “scale-up of the raw material supply chain took longer than expected.” She also cited later-than-expected results from Pfizer’s clinical trial as a reason for the smaller number of doses expected to be produced by the end of 2020.
The spokeswoman added that the modifications to Pfizer’s production lines are now complete and finished doses are being made at a rapid pace.
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report the news. It reported that an unnamed person directly involved in the development of the Pfizer vaccine said “some early batches of the raw materials failed to meet the standards,” which caused production delays.
Pfizer applied in November for emergency authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine from U.S. regulators. U.S. officials said they expect its vaccine to get regulatory clearance this month. The U.S. government expects its first allocation of the vaccine to include 6.4 million doses, with more to follow.
Regulators in the U.K. have already authorized Pfizer’s vaccine for use in that country.
Pfizer slashing COVID-19 vaccine doses from 100M to 50M due to ‘production quality issues’ – 680 News
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is now expecting to ship only half of its COVID-19 vaccines it originally planned for by the end of this year because of supply-chain problems.
A company spokesperson tells the Wall Street Journal that the scaling up of the raw material supply chain took longer than expected.
Pfizer and it’s German-based partner hoped to roll out 100 million vaccines world-wide by December 31; that plan has now been reduced to 50 million.
The company still expects to ship more than a billion doses in 2021.
In mid-November, Ontario’s Health Minister Christine Elliott said that Canada is expected to receive millions of doses in the coming months.
The country is expected to receive four million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine and two million doses of Moderna’s between January and March.
Subsequently, Elliott said that Ontario will get roughly 1.6 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine and around 800,000 of Moderna’s for proper distribution.
On Wednesday, Pfizer and BioNTech won permission for emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine in Britain. The move allowed Britain to become one of the first countries to begin vaccinating its population.
In a series of tweets, Canada’s Health Minister, Patty Hajdu, described the United Kingdom’s decision to authorize the Pfizer’s vaccine as “encouraging.”
The federal government has been facing criticism on vaccines since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted last week that other countries with domestic vaccine production are likely to inoculate their citizens first before shipping doses to Canada.
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