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  • JPMorgan, Goldman, other banks jumpstart Q1 earnings season: Morning Brief
    Business
    Yahoo Finance

    JPMorgan, Goldman, other banks jumpstart Q1 earnings season: Morning Brief

    Top news and what to watch in the markets on Thursday, April 15, 2021.

  • The Latest: Serbia to produce Russia's Sputnik V vaccine
    Health
    The Canadian Press

    The Latest: Serbia to produce Russia's Sputnik V vaccine

    BELGRADE, Serbia —Serbia has announced it will begin packing and later producing Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, which would make it the first European state outside Russia and Belarus to begin manufacturing the jab. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Thursday visited an institute in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, where he said the Russian vaccine will be manufactured in a “few months.” He said for now, the vaccine will be packed in Belgrade after receiving its components from Russia. Although the European Union drug regulator, EMA, has not yet approved Sputnik V, the vaccine has been registered for use in dozens of countries worldwide. Serbia has one of the highest inoculation rates in Europe, mainly thanks to the government’s large purchases of the Sinopharm vaccine from China and the Sputnik V vaccine. The country also is administering the vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca. Serbia also plans to start producing the Sinopharm vaccine. ___ THE VIRUS OUTBREAK: — J&J vaccine to remain in limbo while officials seek evidence — With 200,000 new infections in 1 day, India skyrockets past 14M virus cases — French families decry toll of pandemic as nation nears 100,000 deaths — Bangkok nightlife clusters expose Thailand’s virus stumbles — Homeless Americans who have been left off priority lists for coronavirus vaccinations are finally getting their shots as vaccine supplies increase. — A look at which U.S. states are leading at vaccinating and which states are struggling is beginning to resemble America’s electoral map. ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine ___ HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING: PARIS — France is expected Thursday to pass the grim milestone of 100,000 COVID-19 deaths, after a year of hospital tensions, on-and-off lockdowns and personal loss that have left families nationwide grieving the pandemic’s unending, devastating toll. The country of 67 million will be the eighth in the world to reach the symbolic mark, and the third in Europe after the United Kingdom and Italy. The cumulative death toll since the start of the epidemic totalled 99,777 on Wednesday evening. In recent days, French health authorities have been reporting about 300 new daily deaths from COVID-19. Lionel Petitpas, president of the association “Victims of COVID-19,” told the Associated Press that the number of 100,000 deaths is “an important threshold.” After months of people getting accustomed to the virus, the figure “is piercing a lot of minds. It is a figure we thought would never be reached,” he said. France plunged into a third, partial lockdown at the beginning of April, as new infections were surging and hospitals getting close to saturation. An overnight nationwide curfew has been in place since mid-December, and all France’s restaurants, bars, gyms, cinemas and museums have been closed since October. ___ HONG KONG — Hong Kong is expanding its vaccination drive to include residents below 30 as it sought to boost the city’s slower-than-expected uptake of COVID-19 vaccines. Residents between 16 and 29 will be able to register to get inoculated beginning April 23, according to Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip. The expansion of the vaccination program comes amid widespread hesitancy among residents towards getting inoculated and a deepening mistrust in its government, following the deaths of several chronically ill patients after they received the vaccines as well as reports of residents getting the wrong jab. As of Wednesday, only about 8.4% of residents in the city of 7.5 million have received vaccines. Hong Kong began administering COVID-19 vaccines to residents starting in late February, and its vaccination rate has lagged behind countries like Singapore, which started vaccinating just a week before Hong Kong but has since achieved a nearly 20% vaccination rate. Currently, Hong Kong is offering residents the choice of the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine and the Pfizer vaccine, known as BioNTech in the city. ___ NAIROBI, Kenya — The Africa CDC director says he hopes India will lift export restrictions on COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible, warning that “India is not an island.” John Nkengasong spoke as the African continent of 1.3 billion people doesn’t know when second doses of key vaccines will arrive and India sees a resurgence in infections. The country is a major vaccine producer and a critical supplier to the U.N.-backed COVAX initiative that aims to bring shots to some of the world’s poorest countries. “If you finish vaccinating your people before Africa or other parts of the world, you have not done yourself any justice because variants will emerge and undermine your own vaccination efforts,“ Nkengasong said. He said the uncertainty around the arrival of second doses puts the African continent in a “very dicey situation.” African officials aim to vaccinate 750 million people over the next two years but just under 14 million vaccine doses have been administered across the 54 countries. ___ BANGKOK, Thailand — Thailand’s coronavirus cases surpassed 1,500 on Thursday to set another record, sparking concerns the country's outbreak may spiral out of hand. More than 8,000 cases have been recorded since April 1 in a fresh outbreak linked to nightclubs and bars in central Bangkok. The 1,543 new cases pushes the country’s tally to 37,543, with 97 deaths. Dr. Chawetsan Namwat from the Department of Disease Control said the outbreak appeared to have spread beyond entertainment venues with new cases now linked to seminars, office meetings and student field trips. He said the National Infection Control Committee will meet later Thursday to discuss new measures. Up to 6,000 hospital beds will be added in Bangkok. Mass travel for the Thai new year holiday this week is fueling the surge, said Dr. Opas Karnkavinpong, director-general of the Disease Control Department. More worrying is that infections include a more contagious variant of the virus first found in the U.K. The outbreak as added pressure on the government to speed up its slow vaccination drive, which has seen less than 1% of its population inoculated. ___ SAN FRANCISCO — California Gov. Gavin Newsom is urging all schools in the state to reopen, saying there are no health barriers to getting children back into classrooms and ending distance learning. Speaking Wednesday, he said: “Money is not an object now. It’s an excuse.” His wishes remain an expectation rather than a mandate because California’s decentralized education system lets the 1,200 school districts govern themselves. Some of the largest school districts are reopening, including Los Angeles and San Diego. Newsom says more than 9,000 of California’s 11,000 schools have reopened or have set plans to reopen, but that is misleading because there is no uniformity in what it means for a school to be open. Some are offering one or two days of in-person instruction, mixed with distance learning on other days. ___ HONOLULU — State lawmakers in Hawaii are moving to delay pay raises scheduled for themselves, the governor and judges because of the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic. Pay raises of 10% were scheduled to take effect for state legislators July 1 as recommended by the state Salary Commission. Instead, a bill that the House initially approved Tuesday will defer the raises until January 2023. Gov. David Ige says he supports suspending the pay raises. Ige says he already told his Cabinet that he wouldn’t accept his raise. ___ ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The public school system in Albuquerque, N.M., is ramping up its efforts to get vaccines to students. Operations chief Gabriella Duran Blakey says 50 students were included in a vaccine clinic Wednesday as part of a partnership between the school district and city health workers. Next week, the school district says it will use the reach of its mailing lists and social media to encourage students to register for the vaccines being offered in New Mexico. As soon as next Wednesday, students could be eligible for vaccine clinics aimed specifically at them. Parents are required to attend in order to sign release forms. ___ ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey posted another record of 62,797 confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday. The ministry also reported 279 deaths in the past 24 hours, the highest since the start of Turkey’s outbreak. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday announced a partial lockdown during the first two weeks of the Muslim month of Ramadan in a bid to curb the infection rate. He also warned of more measures to come if the number of cases fail to decrease. The measures include bans on intercity travel, a return to online education, closing sports and leisure centres and expanding the length of night-time curfews. The health ministry says Turkey is going through its “third peak” in infections and about 85% of the cases in the country can be traced to the variant first detected in Britain. Turkey has registered more than 4 million cases, seventh highest in the world. Confirmed deaths stand at more than 34,000. ___ MISSION, Kan. — Kansas health officials say the coronavirus variant from Brazil has been detected for the first time in the state. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s announcement the P.1 variant has been detected in Sedgwick County. The agency says it is investigating how the person became infected and whether others may have been exposed. The state now has all three of the most widely spread variants. Adrienne Byrne, Sedgwick County Health Director reiterated the importance of getting tested for the coronavirus. This month, the South African variant was identified for the first time in Kansas in someone from Finney County. Another variant first identified in Britain was found in several Kansas counties. ___ DENVER — Colorado health officials say nearly 4,000 people who received COVID-19 vaccinations at a medical spa need to be re-vaccinated because they can’t verify the doses were properly stored. The department announced Tuesday it had stopped vaccinations at Dr. Moma Health and Wellness Clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday after county health officials observed problems in vaccine storage. The department says the shots given at the clinic are considered invalid and those who got one shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine there need to start the two-shot vaccination process over again. It says those who got two shots should get one more. ___ NEW YORK — U.S. health officials are weighing the next steps as they investigate a handful of unusual blood clots in women who received Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. The reports are exceedingly rare — so far, six cases out of more than 7 million inoculations. And it’s not clear if they are linked to the J&J vaccine. European regulators have declared such blood clots a rare but possible risk with the similarly made AstraZeneca vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. will debate in a public meeting Wednesday how to handle the J&J vaccine while authorities investigate. “Right now, we believe these events to be extremely rare, but we are also not yet certain we have heard about all possible cases as this syndrome may not be easily recognized,” says CDC Director Rochelle Walensky before the meeting. The Associated Press

  • Rupee Goes From Asia’s Best to Worst in Two Weeks on Covid
    Business
    Bloomberg

    Rupee Goes From Asia’s Best to Worst in Two Weeks on Covid

    (Bloomberg) -- The Indian rupee has turned into Asia’s worst-performing currency from being the best in the previous quarter. It’s poised for more losses as a resurgence in coronavirus cases to a record threatens to hamstring the economy.The rupee weakened past 75 per dollar for the first time in eight months this week. Federal Bank Ltd. expects it to fall further to 76 by year-end. The currency’s slide may be exacerbated by unwinding of short dollar positions against the rupee, which ICICI Bank Ltd. estimates has grown to $50 billion.The mayhem is also weighing on dollar bonds from the nation’s issuers, which have under-performed Asian peers this month, as India overtook Brazil as the second-worst-hit Covid nation in the world. Stricter restrictions on movement across the country are reviving memories of last year when extended lockdowns squeezed demand and pushed the economy into its worst contraction in nearly seven decades.“Economic growth is going to get more impacted than what we are expecting,” said V Lakshmanan, head of treasury at Federal Bank Ltd. in Mumbai. “We are underplaying the impact of Covid.”Record Covid Rise Reverses a Rally in Dollar Debt: India CreditThe rupee has slumped 2.5% against the dollar so far in April after falling 0.1% in the quarter ended March. It fared better than other Asian currencies in withstanding rising U.S. yields in the last three months thanks to a rare current-account surplus, economic recovery and heavy foreign inflows.The Indian currency rose 0.1% to 74.9650 per dollar on Thursday, paring a loss of as much as 0.4%, amid speculation that the RBI may have sold dollars in the forwards market to support the rupee, according to two Mumbai-based traders, who didn’t want to be cited as they aren’t authorized to speak publicly. Traders are concerned that the rupee’s tailwinds could start fading. Rising commodity prices may push the current-account into a deficit in the fiscal year that started in April, while the central bank’s quantitative easing announced last week is seen adding to the liquidity glut, worsening the rupee’s woes.However, Barclays Plc expects the Reserve Bank of India to defend the rupee using its massive foreign reserves.“The RBI will likely sell USD into this bid as this move is relatively outsized,” said Ashish Agrawal, head of FX and emerging markets macro strategy research. He expects the rupee to climb to 73 per dollar by year-end and sees the latest bout of weakness as a catchup to losses suffered by other emerging market currencies in March.(Updates with the rupee levels in the sixth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Euro Area’s $714 Billion Boom Hope Hinges on Senior Savers
    Business
    Bloomberg

    Euro Area’s $714 Billion Boom Hope Hinges on Senior Savers

    (Bloomberg) -- For the euro area to achieve a jumpstart in economic growth with a consumption boom, a whole generation of citizens who hoard money rather than spend it would need to seize the day and splash out.That’s because a mass of savings built up by wealthier households stuck at home without restaurant visits or vacations during the coronavirus crisis is concentrated among older Europeans, who are less likely to open their wallets than younger counterparts.Whether that cohort of consumers will break with the norm and use their freedom to go out and spend when the pandemic abates is crucial in judging the recovery of most advanced economies. It’s most important in Europe however, which has the highest median age of any region of the world.The wall of money that could be unleashed is vast, with Barclays Plc estimating accumulated excess savings at 600 billion euros ($714 billion). But that bank is among those concerned that the clustering of that wealth among citizens known to be conservative with their cash may limit any benefits.“You should have a gradual release of savings,” said Davide Oneglia, an economist at TS Lombard. “Perhaps less pronounced than many expect, because a lot of these savings are sealed in a sector where households are particularly wealthy and less inclined to consume.”What Bloomberg Economics Says...“We estimate 300 billion euros more than might normally be expected poured into bank accounts last year. That cash pile is the biggest upside risk to our economic forecasts, if only consumers feel safe enough to spend it.”-Maeva Cousin. To read the full report click hereDeutsche Bank AG estimates pent-up demand could add about 1 percentage point to 2021 growth -- a sizable chunk for an economy the International Monetary Fund sees expanding 4.4%. UBS Group AG economist Dean Turner sees savings constituting a “substantial proportion” of the post-pandemic rebound, with consumer expenditure growth of 2.9% this year.Such a quantum would be critical to fueling a euro-area boom, not least because the region needs additional growth drivers as its recovery, hindered by slow vaccinations, lags that of the U.S. and China. Germany’s prolonged lockdowns prompted research institutes there to cut their joint 2021 growth forecast by a full percentage point to 3.7% on Thursday. Retail-sales data for the euro-area show spending on goods has generally held up well, even during later lockdowns. But it’s less clear how much of a rebound there will be in consumer-facing services when businesses reopen.Policy makers aren’t holding their breath. European Central Bank data show extra cash chiefly accrued to those older than 50 over the past year, while people aged 16 to 49, with a greater propensity to spend and a higher risk of unemployment, saw their financial situation deteriorate.For Gloria Sattél and Alfons Pribek, an Austrian couple whose pre-crisis spending habits included frequent restaurant meals, regular opera and theater visits, week-long spa stays twice a year and also trips to Greece, Germany and France, an end to lockdowns might not revive their old consumption habits any time soon.“We’ll be heading to the spa as soon as it opens, but beyond that we’re holding off on planning anything,” said Sattél, 78, who lives with her 81-year-old husband in central Vienna. “We’ve been generous with ourselves in the last year, but there’s money left over and there simply won’t be that many opportunities to spend it.”With such people in mind, the ECB is taking a cautious view. Its latest forecasts assume the savings rate, which nearly doubled to 25% during lockdowns last year, would eventually return to pre-crisis levels -- while excess hoarding during the period wouldn’t be substantially reduced.Cash HoardThe sheer size of the cash hoard waiting on the sidelines is giving some euro-zone officials pause for thought about the possibility of a spending binge. The Bundesbank reckons excess savings in Germany increased by 110 billion euros last year, and its counterpart in France estimates households there hoarded as much as 120 billion euros.Even so, a recent German survey suggests pent-up demand is much lower than additional savings. There’s also the issue of economic uncertainty, which may brake spending, particularly if people worry their jobs might be on the line once labor-market support programs expire.“The absolutely key factor for transforming these savings into spending and direct support for activity is confidence,” Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau told France Culture radio this week.European Commission data show euro-area households’ savings patterns are improving though their interest in a major purchase over the next 12 months is still only somewhat above average.“People are aware that a lot of government support underpinning the economy and the labor market specifically will have to be unwound,” said Aline Schuiling, economist at ABN Amro Bank NV. “So they’re cautious about spending money on things that aren’t essential.”(Updates with German economic outlook in seventh paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.