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Governments face more pressure to curb virus economic damage – CTV News

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SEOUL, KOREA, REPUBLIC OF —
South Korea reported fewer than 10 new coronavirus cases Sunday for the first time in two months as U.S. governors ease lockdowns amid pressure worldwide from businesses and the public to limit the pandemic’s economic damage.

Orthodox Christians celebrated Easter under curbs that left churches empty. The leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Christians held a service in a desert monastery that was shown on television.

In Brazil, hundreds of people protested Saturday in major cities against anti-virus lockdowns. France reported a decline in numbers of intensive care patients, but its health agency warned the public to stick to strict isolation measures.

The pandemic that began in China in December is believed to have infected more than 2.3 million people worldwide. While most recover, at least 155,000 have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University based on figures supplied by health authorities around the globe.

South Korea, the first country after China to report a surge in cases, announced its number of new infections fell Sunday to eight. That raised its total to 10,661, including 234 deaths.

Infections in South Korea have fallen from a peak of 909 on Feb. 29, but officials have warned that a “quiet spread” is possible as people relax social distancing.

“We must not let down our guard until the last confirmed patient is recovered,” President Moon Jae-in said Sunday.

Japan reported 568 new cases for a total of 10,361, with 174 deaths. Pakistan reported 16 deaths and 514 new cases, raising its fatality toll to 159 and infections to 7,993.

Taiwan reported 22 new cases — a student who returned from the United States and 21 crew members of a naval ship that visited the Pacific island nation of Palau.

Even as case numbers rise, governments face pressure to reopen factories, shops, travel and public activities.

Shutdowns that began in China in late January and spread to the U.S., Europe and elsewhere have plunged the world into its most painful economic slump since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Millions of workers have lost their jobs.

The International Monetary Fund expects the global economy to contract by 3% this year — a far bigger loss than 2009’s 0.1% after the global financial crisis.

“Government efforts alone aren’t enough,” said South Korea’s Moon. He called for “public solidarity” to revitalize the economy.

In Egypt, Pope Tawadros II held Easter services at the Monastery of Saint Pishoy, in the desert valley of Wadi Natrun west of Cairo known as Wadi Natrun. The handful of clerics who attended stood apart from each other.

Christians comprise about 10% of Egypt’s 100 million people. The country has 3,032 coronavirus cases, including 224 deaths.

On Saturday, supporters of President Donald Trump protested in several states demanding governors end controls on public activity.

Texas, Indiana and some other states have announced plans to allow some retailing and other activity to resume. Florida and South Carolina are reopening beaches.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has criticized the federal response as inadequate, rejected pressure to reopen businesses. New York’s daily death toll fell below 550 on Saturday for the first time in two weeks, but Cuomo said hospitals are reporting nearly 2,000 new patients a day.

“We are not at a point when we are going to be reopening anything immediately,” Cuomo told reporters.

Massachusetts had its highest single-day death toll of 159 on Friday. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, citing health experts’ advice, said states should wait until infection rates and hospitalizations decline for about two weeks before acting.

Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has criticized anti-virus shutdowns imposed by state governors, said Saturday he would recommend reopening its borders with Paraguay and Uruguay.

Bolsonaro has downplayed the threat of the disease. On Friday, he fired his health minister, who supported anti-disease controls, and indicated he expects the new minister to protect the economy.

Trump is pushing to relax the U.S. lockdown by May 1, a plan that hinges partly on more testing.

Vice-President Mike Pence delivered a speech at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado, on a trip aimed at showing the country is on course to reopen.

In Austin, Texas, several hundred people outside the state capitol chanted “Let us work!” Many clamoured for an immediate end to restrictions in a state where more than 1 million have filed for unemployment.

In Indianapolis, more than 200 people stood close together outside the governor’s mansion, carrying American flags and signs demanding that Gov. Eric Holcomb lift restrictions.

Indiana’s state health department reported 529 new cases between April 7 and midday Friday, raising the total to more than 10,600. The number of deaths rose by 26, to 545.

Elsewhere, demonstrators waved signs outside the Statehouse in New Hampshire, which has had nearly 1,300 cases and more than three dozen deaths.

“Even if the virus were 10 times as dangerous as it is, I still wouldn’t stay inside my home,” said one of the protesters, talk show host Ian Freeman.

In Asia, McDonald’s suspended operations in Singapore after seven employees tested positive for the conronavirus. The company said it will keep paying more than 10,000 employees in 135 outlets during the closure, due to last through May 4.

In Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government bowed to demands by religious leaders and agreed to keep mosques open during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. Pakistan has been blamed for contributing to the virus’s spread by refusing to stop a gathering of tens of thousands of religious missionaries. Nearly 2,000 confirmed cases have been traced to them.

In Europe, there are tentative signs that anti-disease curbs are working.

France and Spain started dismantling some field hospitals. The number of active cases in Germany has declined over the past week as people recover.

Still, France’s health agency urged the public to stick to confinement measures that have been extended until at least May 11. “Don’t relax our efforts at the moment when confinement is bearing fruit,” the agency said.

Albania’s government plans to allow its mining and oil industries to reopen Monday, along with hundreds of businesses including small retailers, food and fish processing, farming and fishing.

——

McDonald reported from Beijing. Associated Press reporters worldwide contributed to this report.

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US services index shows biggest part of economy is stirring – BNNBloomberg.ca

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U.S. service providers started to emerge in May from a pandemic-induced tailspin as nationwide lockdowns on business and social interaction began to lift.

The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday that its non-manufacturing index rose 3.6 points to 45.4.

While the monthly increase was the largest in more than two years, the gauge remained below the 50 mark that shows most service-related industries continued to contract.

The purchasing managers group’s gauge of business activity, which parallels the ISM’s factory production index, jumped 15 points, the most in records dating back to 1997, to a still-tepid 41. Along with an improvement in new orders, the figures are a welcome sign that the economy is stabilizing and will gradually recover from a deep recession.

The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for an improvement to 44.4 in the overall non-manufacturing index.

The report, however, also showed the labor market remains severely disrupted by the pandemic. The ISM measure of employment at services, which represent almost 90 per cent of the economy, only rose 1.8 points from the worst reading on record in April.

A Labor Department report on Friday is projected to show another 8 million decline in May payrolls after an unprecedented 20.5 million slump in April. The unemployment rate is forecast to soar to nearly 20 per cent.

A pickup in demand as states lift lockdowns and businesses begin to reopen is needed to help stabilize the job market. The ISM’s report showed an index orders at service providers climbed 9 points to a still-weak 41.9.

Meanwhile, the index of supplier deliveries in non-manufacturing industries fell for the first time in four months, indicating an easing in supply-chain bottlenecks and transportation delays.

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Posthaste: Here are three promising data points that show the Canadian economy is ready to rebound – Financial Post

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Good morning!

Rays (plural) of good news are piercing through the gloom surrounding the Canadian economy.

And not surprisingly, the country’s resilient housing sector is among the first to report a rebound.

Home sales jumped 53.2 per cent in May month-over-month, suggesting that April’s dramatic plunge in sales may have been the market’s low point.

Another crucial statistic was new listings that rose 47.5 per cent during May, compared to April, according to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver had also reported on Tuesday that homes sales jumped an unadjusted 34 per cent in May from April, while prices remained flat month-on-month. Benchmark prices rose 2.9 per cent to $1.03 million from a year ago.

Of course, these averages look good as the economy was wallowing in complete uncertainty in April, decimating homes sales and upending market trends.

While home sales in Toronto remain 53.7 per cent lower than May 2019, the decline was less than the 67.1 per cent year-over-year decline reported for April 2020.

“The MLS Home Price Index Composite Benchmark price was virtually unchanged in May 2020 compared to April 2020,” TRREB noted. “On a year-over-year basis, the composite benchmark was up by 9.4 per cent. The average selling price for all home types combined was up by three per cent compared to May 2019 to $863,599. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the average selling price was up by 4.6 per cent month-over-month compared to April 2020.”

A May poll by TRREB showed 27 per cent of the Greater Toronto Area households were looking to purchase a home over the next year, suggesting that sales may improve further in the coming months provided the economy is not adversely hit by new waves of the pandemic.

“As we move toward recovery, the housing sector will be a key driver of growth as consumer confidence increases and more households look to take advantage of very low borrowing costs,” said TRREB CEO John DiMichele.

Investors will also be watching a key metric that indicate where prices are headed next, especially in the pricey Vancouver real estate market.

Sales-to-active listings ratio for May 2020 was 15 per cent in the Vancouver region, detached homes at 13.5 per cent, 18.9 per cent for townhomes, and 14.8 per cent for apartments.

“Generally, analysts say downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips below 12 per cent for a sustained period, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it surpasses 20 per cent over several months,” noted the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

TRREB is expecting prices to remain stable over time, with some possible uptick.

“With home sales and new listings continuing to trend in unison in May, market conditions remained balanced. This balance was evidenced by year-over-year average price growth slightly above the Bank of Canada’s long-term target for inflation,” said Jason Mercer, TRREB’s chief market analyst. “If current market conditions are sustained during the gradual re-opening of the GTA economy, a moderate pace of year-over-year price growth could continue as we move through the spring and summer months.”

***
Another glimmer of hope that the economy is returning to some form of normalcy has come from the transportation sector.

The Canadian National Railway Co. said it saw a 4 per cent increase in volumes of good shipped in May compared to April.

While the recovery is expected to be slow, it’s a positive sign after shipments hit bottom last month, the company’s chief financial officer Ghislain Houle said Tuesday at the UBS Global Industrials & Transportation virtual conference, according to Bloomberg.

“I think we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” Houle said. “Hopefully, it will hold.”

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. also said it set a new record for shipping Canadian grain and grain products in May, moving 2.80 million metric tonnes in the month.

**
Finally, yet another sign consumers are ready to put COVID-19 behind them is the 113,224 new light vehicles sold in Canada in May, a 147 per cent jump over April’s sales, according to a report by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. Still, May 2020 car sales were down considerably compared to the same period last year.

“It’s a measure of the strange times in which we find ourselves in that a market decline of only 44 per cent can seem like a positive sign. However, following the estimated 74.6 per cent decline in April — which sent Canadian new light vehicle sales levels back in time to roughly the early 1950’s — May’s year over year decline can evoke a touch of cautious optimism as the first tentative shoots of recovery spring up from a badly damaged marketplace,” the consultants said in a statement.

“Of course, the ongoing situation remains in flux and an already trying year could prove to have a few tricks left up its sleeves yet,” the consultants warned.

They are wispy green shoots of recovery — but we will take it.

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PROTESTS GO GLOBAL: Protesters hold placards next to the statue of 19th century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli outside St George’s Hall in Liverpool, northwest England, on June 2, 2020, during demonstration after George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck during an arrest in Minneapolis, USA. – The city of Liverpool lit up their civic buildings in memory of George Floyd on June 2 the death of whom in Minneapolis while in police custody has sparked days of unrest in the US city and beyond. Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images

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  • Bank of Canada to make an interest rate announcement at 10 a.m. ET
  • Teck Resources Ltd. hosts a conference call to discuss its 2019 Sustainability Report and strategy
  • Quebec’s Treasury Board President Christian Dube and Finance Minister Eric Girard to discuss a bill to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and quickly revive the Quebec economy
  • A Papua New Guinea court is set to rule on whether Barrick Gold Corp. can proceed with a legal challenge over the government’s refusal to extend its lease on the Porgera gold mine
  • Case management conference for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver
  • Transport Minister Marc Garneau, CEO of Vancouver Fraser Port Authority Robin Silvester, Robyn McVicker, a vice-president at YVR and Tim Strauss, vice-president of Air Canada cargo take part in Transportation Forum 2020
  • Notable Earnings: Stingray Group Inc., Canada Goose Holdings Inc., AutoCanada Inc.
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Some of the biggest cannabis players when legalization took effect 20 months ago have successfully held on to their dominant positions, despite a year of bankruptcies, downsizings, revoked licences, executive firings, mass layoffs and a long market selloff, writes Vanmala Subramaniam.

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It is hard enough to make money in the stock market, even without the world shut down due to a global pandemic. In fact, studies have proven that the average stock actually goes down. So how does one make money? Well, it’s all in the math. A stock can “only” decline by 100 per cent. But if you have a big winner, you can make 1,000 per cent returns, or more. A winner or two can more than make up for many losers, writes Peter Hodson.

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Today’s Posthaste was written by  Yadullah Hussain (@Yad_Fpenergy), with files from The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg.

Have a story idea, pitch, embargoed report, or a suggestion for this newsletter? Email us at posthaste@postmedia.com, or hit reply to send us a note.

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Why the disconnect between stocks and the economy is worrying – CNN

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A version of this story first appeared in CNN Business’ Before the Bell newsletter. Not a subscriber? You can sign up right here.
What’s happening: MSCI’s All Country World Index is now up more than 35% from its low point on March 23. The index has notched seven straight day of gains.
America is in turmoil and stocks are booming. Is the market broken?
That’s despite ongoing concerns about the health of the global economy, little visibility on corporate earnings, uncertainty about the pace and shape of the rebound from coronavirus and widespread social unrest in the United States sparked by the death of George Floyd.
“The fundamental problem is market psychology and whether the narrative shifts from the summer of hope to the summer of discontent, where first consumers and then investors become jaded by a post Covid-19 hangover compounded by a White House running out of options on all front[s], be it domestic or foreign policy,” Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at AxiCorp, told clients Wednesday.
But beyond worrying that assets like stocks are due for a nasty correction, there’s another reason to be concerned about the disconnect between stocks and the wider economy, Jan Dehn, head of research at Ashmore Group, an investment management firm focused on emerging markets, told clients this week.
Dehn argues that stocks and bonds — which have been buoyed by record support from governments and central banks — have effectively become too big to fail.
“If central banks were to allow asset prices to reflect the actual underlying fundamentals — record levels of debt, record low productivity growth, record unemployment, record populism — the resulting crashes in financial markets would be so large that most Western economies would be plunged into deep and lasting depressions,” Dehn told clients.
This isn’t a viable outcome — which means investors have bet that they can count on central banks to keep propping up markets. “So far, they have been right,” Dehn said.
See here: The European Central Bank on Thursday is expected to expand its massive coronavirus-era bond buying program, providing fresh support.
So why is this a problem? Dehn said he’s worried that volatility will decline, hitting investment margins. Productivity, he fears, will also decrease as markets cease to weed out the laggards and encourage risk taking.
“As markets are put out of action through ever greater government intervention — de facto shifts towards old fashioned state planning — then markets cease to perform one of their most important functions, namely to bring down unsustainable economic systems,” he said. “Instead, the system is condemned to a slow death from the inside.”

IPOs are back as the stock market soars

lPOs had been put on hold by the pandemic as stock market volatility kept companies on the sidelines.
Now, with the VIX — a measure of S&P 500 volatility — at its lowest level since February, firms are once again looking to tap funding from public investors.
The latest: The Financial Times reports that Warner Music Group did not price its IPO on Tuesday to observe an industry-wide shutdown in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
But the company is expected to go ahead Wednesday morning with a deal that could value Warner Music, the record group behind popular artists such as Cardi B, Lizzo and Bruno Mars, between $11.7 billion and $13.3 billion.
Others are set to follow. ZoomInfo Technologies is due to list shares on Thursday, according to the Wall Street Journal. The marketing data company on Tuesday boosted its target range for shares to between $19 and $20 due to strong demand.
It’s a sign of how much sentiment has changed since the US stock market hit its low point in late March. But PitchBook analyst Cameron Stanfill thinks it’s too early to claim a rebound is in full effect.
“Some of the biotech companies will continue to list and a handful of other companies that need or want to try their luck in the public markets,” Stanfill said. “But I don’t expect that to be near the volume we had the last two years.”
The data: In 2019, an estimated 178 companies went public in the United States, according to PitchBook. From March 1 to May 31, however, just 21 companies held IPOs. Eight of those were smaller and didn’t occur on formal exchanges.

The number of black leaders at US companies is still dismal

True corporate diversity can’t be achieved unless it’s reflected at the top. And given the persistent dearth of black professionals in power roles at major companies, corporate America has a long way to go, my CNN Business colleague Jeanne Sahadi reports.
Companies are not required to disclose the race and ethnicity of their C-suites and boards, so the statistics that do exist are often collected by hand or extrapolated from surveys.
Here’s what we know from a variety of sources:
  • Black professionals in 2018 held just 3.3% of all executive or senior leadership roles, which are defined as within two reporting levels of the CEO, according to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  • Among Fortune 500 companies, less than 1% of CEOs are black. Today there are only four, down from a high of six in 2012, according to Fortune.
  • Black Enterprise’s 2019 Power in the Boardroom report found that among S&P 500 companies, there were 322 black corporate directors at 307 companies. Of those, 21 were chairmen and lead directors. But the report also found that more than a third of S&P 500 companies did not have any black board members whatsoever.
What gives? One problem is that corporate leaders aren’t doing enough to develop a pipeline of black talent to promote into the C-suite and to be named to boards, per Cari Dominguez, former chair of the EEOC and a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors. Read the full story.
Campbell Soup (CPB), Cinemark (CNK) and Canada Goose (GOOS) report earnings before US markets open.
Also today:
  • The ADP report on US private employment arrives at 8:15 a.m. ET.
  • The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index for May, a closely-watched gauge of the US services sector, follows at 10 a.m. ET.
Coming tomorrow: The latest data on initial and continuing US unemployment claims.

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