Global Covid-19 statisticsExplore the data in more detail
Several Midwest states set new records for daily Covid cases
Peter Wells in New York
Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio reported record single-day jumps in coronavirus infections on Tuesday, continuing a rising trend of new cases through the Midwest region.
A further 12,623 people in Illinois tested positive, the health department revealed, up from 10,573 on Monday and edging past the previous record of 12,438 in a single day on Saturday.
On Friday, authorities said it intended to report confirmed and probable cases as a single combined number. This resulted in the the web site of the Illinois health department showing an increase of 18,049 infections, but 7,673 of these were probable cases that were previously reported separately and were added as a one-time revision.
Wisconsin's health department revealed 7,073 new confirmed infections on Tuesday, topping the state's previous record from Saturday by eight cases. That was the first time Wisconsin reported more than 7,000 cases in a single day.
Ohio reported 6,508 new coronavirus cases, an increase of about 1,800 from Monday and cruising past the previous record of 5,549 cases that were reported on Saturday.
In neighbouring Indiana, cases rose by 4,879, up from 4,213 on Monday and compared to a record 5,007 on Saturday, as per health department data.
Wisconsin attributed a record 66 deaths to coronavirus on Tuesday. Illinois' health department revealed a further 79 deaths. Last Thursday the state had 97 fatalities, which was the biggest one-day increase since early June.
Deaths in Ohio rose by 23 and were up by 43 in Indiana.
Lyft revenues weighed down by pandemic
Dave Lee in San Francisco
The coronavirus pandemic continues to weigh heavy on the revenues of rideshare company Lyft, with revenues down by almost 50 per cent year on year, and overall losses deeper than Wall Street had hoped.
The company posted revenues of $499.7m, a strong improvement on the previous quarter and in excess of investor expectations. However, the company’s losses of $460m were worse than the $418m analysts had predicted.
The company logged 12.5m active riders in this year’s third quarter, up by more than 40 per cent on the hard-hit April-June quarter, but down from 22.3m this time last year.
Unlike rival Uber, which has made up for poor conditions in the US rideshare market with huge gains in food delivery and international recovery, Lyft’s business is almost entirely reliant on transporting people in the US and Canada. Last week, Uber reported its revenues were down by 18 per cent year on year.
Lyft’s stock fell by more than 2 per cent in after-hours trading, following gains of around 20 per cent earlier in the week due to news of positive progress in the effort to create a coronavirus vaccine.
Tech sell-off continues after Covid vaccine breakthrough
A global shift away from highly priced technology stocks continued on Tuesday as investors adjusted their portfolios following a breakthrough in the hunt for a Covid-19 vaccine.
The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite sank 1.4 per cent in New York, compared with a fall of 0.1 per cent for the blue-chip S&P 500 share index. Tech was also the worst-performing sector in Europe’s Stoxx 600 index, as other segments such as financials pushed ahead.
Meanwhile, the Russell 2000 grouping of small-cap stocks, seen as a barometer of the US economy, rose 1.9 per cent.
Read more on today's market moves here.
California becomes third US state to top 18,000 Covid deaths
Peter Wells in New York
California became the third US state to top 18,000 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, while hospitalisations hit their highest level since September.
A further 24 deaths were attributed by authorities to coronavirus, up from 14 on Monday and compared to 14 on Tuesday last week.
That took the total number of fatalities in the state since the start of the pandemic to 18,001. Only New York and Texas have more.
California's overall death toll was surpassed by Texas in early October, in part a function of higher - and rising - fatality rates in the latter. The seven-day average in California now stands at 45 a day, which is down 28 per cent over the past four weeks, whereas that same metric in Texas is about 96, a 28 per cent increase over the same period.
Other metrics of the pandemic have begun to trend higher in California. The seven-day average of cases topped 6,000 a day on Tuesday, the first time above that level since late August. That came on state data today that revealed a further 5,367 people tested positive over the past 24 hours, down from 7,212 on Monday and compared with 4,044 on Tuesday last week.
Some of that increase may be partly explained by a ramp-up in testing capacity, with California conducting an average of almost 140,000 tests a day over a 14-day period - a record. However, the 14-day average positivity rate rose to 3.7 per cent on Tuesday, a two-month high, and the number of people in California hospitals with coronavirus hit 3,799, also the highest in two months.
Arizona reports biggest daily jump since late July
Peter Wells in New York
Arizona reported more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, its biggest one-day jump since late July.
A further 3,434 people tested positive, the health department revealed this morning, up from a 435 on Monday, which was the smallest one-day increase since October 5.
Tuesday's jump in cases was the biggest single-day increase since the 3,740 on July 25, according to a Financial Times analysis of Covid Tracking Project data, and brought the seven-day average in the Grand Canyon state to 1,902 a day, which is the highest rate since August 5.
Arizona was among the sunbelt states that experienced a summer surge in cases, followed by increased hospitalisations and then fatalities, but statewide restrictions helped bring the virus's spread under control. Those downward trends have gone into reverse during autumn.
A further 28 deaths were attributed to coronavirus, up from zero on Monday and compared to 38 on Tuesday last week. The seven-day average of about 25 a day is hovering around its highest level in two months.
The number of people currently hospitalised in Arizona with coronavirus on Monday topped 1,200 for the first time since mid-August. That metric hit an historic low of 468 on September 28: When the state health department began reporting figures in mid-April, they were already above 500.
Nebraska governor to self-quarantine after Covid exposure
Peter Wells in New York
Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts and his wife will quarantine for a fortnight after coming into close contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus.
The move to self-quarantine comes one day after the Republican governor announced new coronavirus measures — including limits to the size of indoor gatherings, mandating 6ft of distancing in indoor settings and mask-wearing when that is not feasible — that take effect on Wednesday in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19 across the state.
The first couple on Sunday had dinner outside with three people, one of whom tested positive for coronavirus the following day, according to a statement from the governor's office on Tuesday morning.
Mr Ricketts — whose father founded broker TD Ameritrade and who is a part-owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team alongside other family members — and First Lady Susanne Shore will quarantine for 14 days. The governor plans to host regular Tuesday and Thursday briefings during the period virtually.
Neither the governor or first lady are showing any symptoms, and they will get tested at the appropriate time,” the statement said.
Midwest states such as Nebraska have been at the forefront of an autumn surge in coronavirus infections across the US. Nebraska averaged 1,758 cases a day over the past week, according to Monday data from the Covid Tracking Project, a record level for the state, while 794 people are in hospital, the state's highest level of the pandemic.
All of the 11 other states that make up the Midwest have seven-day averages of daily cases that are at record levels, while eight are reporting their highest level of hospitalisations of the pandemic.
Three state governors have tested positive for coronavirus since the outbreak began in the US. Oklahoma governor Mike Stitt, a Republican, tested positive in July. In late September, Missouri's Mike Parson, a Republican, and then Virginia's Ralph Northam, a Democrat, tested positive.
Ohio governor Mike DeWine had a close call in early August, testing positive before (and was therefore forced to cancel) a planned meeting with President Donald Trump, but a follow-up test came back negative. New Mexico governor Michelle Grisham undertook a 14-day quarantine in early October "out of an abundance of caution" after a staff member at the governor's residence tested positive. Illinois governor Jay Pritzker has undertaken self-quarantine several times this year after members of his staff tested positive for Covid-19. He has tested negative, though.
Carnival to sell up to $1.5bn in stock after vaccine-fuelled rally
Carnival, the world's largest cruise operator, filed to sell up to $1.5bn worth of shares after its stock rallied 33 per cent on Monday following news of progress on a Covid-19 vaccine.
The company, which has raised more than $10bn since the pandemic started, said it would use any funds raised for "general corporate purposes" and that the timing of the share sales would depend on a "variety of factors".
Since Monday's bounce, which lifted the company's share price more than 110 per cent compared with its lowest point in April, the value of its shares have fallen back by about 11 per cent, pricing in investor fears of dilution.
Cruise companies had high hopes of resuming sailings towards the end of the summer after European governments permitted some limited itineraries to begin under strict health protocols. But they have been held back in the US — the industry's largest market — where a ban on cruising was replaced last week by a strict "conditional sail order" that demands operators have on board laboratories for Covid-19 testing and perform a dummy run of a cruise in order to gain certification to resume sailing.
According to a survey done by Morgan Stanley, cruise booking volumes fell between 80 and 90 per cent last month compared with last year's figures, and demand for cash refunds instead of vouchers for future cruise trips has risen.
At the end of October, Carnival completed the sale of 67m common shares under a similar scheme to the one it announced on Tuesday.
Europe accounts for almost half of all daily Covid deaths
Europe's average daily coronavirus-related death toll for the past seven days has eclipsed the previous peak in April, meaning the continent accounts for almost half of global daily Covid-19 deaths.
The toll has risen to 7,842, more than 1,000 higher than in April, with France being the hardest hit in absolute terms, the EU agency for disease prevention and control said on Tuesday.
Europe's tally compared with the worldwide total has soared to 44 per cent from the lows over the summer when it recorded 5 per cent of daily global deaths. Coronavirus has spread so much that many EU countries are reporting hundreds of fatalities a day.
France has reported an average of almost 500 deaths for the past seven days, with an average of more than 50,000 daily cases, data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control showed. Those numbers put France second only to the US in terms of new positive tests.
Several countries have imposed strict national lockdowns in an attempt to curb this outbreak before hospitals become overwhelmed as winter approaches.
Croda shares soar on Pfizer contract
Shares in Croda surged 7 per cent on Tuesday after the FTSE 100 chemicals company said that it had signed a five-year coronavirus vaccine contract with Pfizer.
Croda will supply “novel excipients” to make Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate. Excipients are ingredients that act as the medium for a drug or other active substance to be delivered.
Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Monday that their Covid-19 vaccine candidate had been shown to be 90 per cent effective in late-stage trials – prompting a rally in the shares of companies that have been most hampered by virus-induced restrictions this year, including property groups and retailers. The vaccine still needs regulatory approval.
Croda will supply four of the vaccine’s component excipients over the first three years of the contract.
“I'm very proud of Croda's involvement in the battle to fight the most significant pandemic that we have seen in a generation,” said chief executive Steve Foots.
American Airlines to sell another $500m of stock
American Airlines is selling about $500m in equity, in addition to the $1bn sale it announced last month, as the prospect of a vaccine has lifted airline stocks.
The Texas-based carrier said in October that it would sell up to $1bn in shares into the market over time. That effort has raised $702m so far, the company said on Tuesday.
The 38.5m shares that American on Tuesday said it would sell are separate from that offering.
Like other airlines, American’s stock climbed 15 per cent on Monday to $13.20, after Pfizer said it had produced a vaccine that had proved 90 per cent effective in trials.
Airlines have suffered a calamitous drop in revenue this year as the coronavirus pandemic and the government restrictions aimed at combating it forced would-be travellers to stay at home. American reported a pre-tax loss of $3.1bn in the third quarter on revenue down 73 per cent from a year earlier.
The company has higher net debt, less cash and a faster burn rate than US rivals United or Delta airlines. In the third quarter, its cash burn averaged $44m a day.
The stock sales announced on Tuesday and in October should allow American to finish the fourth quarter with $14.5bn in liquidity, the company said.
US builder DR Horton forecasts strong home sales next year
US homebuilder DR Horton issued an upbeat forecast for sales in the next year after demand picked up during the coronavirus pandemic amid record-low mortgage rates.
The Texas-based company registered stronger results than expected in the three months to the end of September, boosted by a 26 per cent jump in the number of homes sold year on year. It expects to sell between 77,000 and 80,000 homes in financial 2021, more than the 75,982 units that analysts estimated. Home sales totalled 65,388 units in the just-completed year.
Homebuilders have faced rising costs this year with lumber prices reaching a record high. Some analysts have warned that higher home prices may price out budget-conscious shoppers. However, demand has been strong, making the US housing market a standout as the domestic economy rebounds from the damage inflicted by the pandemic.
The pace of US existing home sales, which account for the majority of transactions, hit a 14-year high in September, their fourth consecutive month of growth, as buyers take advantage of the decline in borrowing costs. Many buyers have also sought out homes offering more space in the suburbs.
David Auld, DR Horton’s chief executive, said during an earnings call there had been “continued strong sales trends in October”.
DR Horton booked net orders of 23,726 homes in its fourth quarter that ended in September, an 81 per cent gain from a year earlier.
Net income increased 64 per cent to $829m in the quarter. Earnings per share hit $2.24, up from $1.35 and beating analysts’ forecast of $1.76. Revenues were up 27 per cent at $6.4bn, while analysts had expected $5.9bn.
Shares in DR Horton rose more than 3 per cent in pre-market trading. Investors have bid up the stock by 23 per cent since the start of the year.
Brussels on brink of signing deal for 300m Pfizer-BioNTech doses
Michael Peel in Brussels
The European Commission is expected soon to sign a deal to buy up to 300m doses of a Covid-19 vaccine that has proved more than 90 per cent effective in trials.
Commissioners from the 27-country EU’s executive arm will on Wednesday discuss the proposed agreement to secure the treatment that has been developed by Germany’s BioNTech and Pfizer of the US.
The commission said the deal, which comes after months of talks, was not linked to Monday's breakthrough announcement for the vaccine but is rather the latest in a series of Covid-19 purchase agreements struck by the EU executive with drugs companies.
The European Investment Bank, the EU’s lending arm, said in June it would give BioNTech €100m debt financing to support the development of its vaccine and expand its capacity to manufacture the drug.
BioNTech to price vaccine ‘well below’ market rates
Harry Dempsey and Sarah Neville in London
BioNTech said its potential Covid-19 vaccine developed with Pfizer would be priced “well below” market rates and be made cheaper for poorer countries.
The vaccine will be priced “well below typical market rates, reflecting the situation we’re in”, said Ryan Richardson, head of strategy at the Nasdaq-listed biotech company, as he defended his company profiting from a much-awaited drug that received funding from the German government.
“BioNTech has been a loss-making company since our inception 12 years ago and we’ve invested over $1bn to develop our mRNA technology platform,” he said at a Financial Times conference on Tuesday. “To translate science into products requires an immense amount of risk capital.
“I would expect there to be differential pricing in certain regions of the world,” he added, emphasising BioNTech’s aim to ensure broad access to the vaccine everywhere.
On Monday, Pfizer and BioNTech raised hopes everywhere of life returning to some normality when they said their treatment had been found to be 90 per cent effective in phase 3 trials involving more than 43,000 participants.
The companies aim to produce 1.3bn doses of their vaccine by the end of 2021, with 50m doses to be delivered by the end of this year and to have a “significant supply” ready by the first half of next year.
That would help vaccinate about 650m people, given that two doses are required to build immunity to the virus.
Mr Richardson is confident the vaccine will be distributed widely, but acknowledged logistical challenges, particularly in developing countries without the right infrastructure. However, he warned against complacency lowering the momentum in the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to develop vaccines.
In its third-quarter results, the group said it would apply for emergency use authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration once it had passed a safety requirement, which it expects to do next week. BioNTech generated €67.5m in sales in the three months ending in September, compared with €28.7m in the same period a year earlier.
Eli Lilly, a rival US pharmaceuticals group, became the first to receive emergency approval for a Covid-19 antibody treatment on Tuesday.
The FT's pharmaceutical and biotechnology digital conference will continue into Wednesday.
Wales scraps 2021's summer national school exams
Andy Bounds in Huddersfield
Wales has cancelled key national summer exams because of the coronavirus pandemic, replacing them with teacher assessments and tests taken in the classroom.
Education minister Kirsty Williams said it would be unfair to sit exams because the time students spent in school was so varied. Many have had to self-isolate after contracting or being exposed to coronavirus.
The new qualifications will include assessments that will be externally set and marked but delivered within a classroom environment under teacher supervision.
Wales, which runs its own education system, is cancelling A-levels, taken by school leavers, and GCSEs taken at the ages of around 16.
“We remain optimistic that the public health situation will improve, but the primary reason for my decision is down to fairness," Ms Williams said. "The time learners will spend in schools and colleges will vary hugely and, in this situation, it is impossible to guarantee a level playing field for exams to take place.
“We have consulted with universities across the UK and they have confirmed that they are used to accepting many different types of qualifications.”
Ministers in England are committed to exams although they have delayed most by three weeks.
Scotland has cancelled National 5 exams, roughly equivalent to GCSEs, but is keeping the Highers and Advanced Highers used for university entry.
Gold rises as vaccine hopes unlikely to dent demand for haven asset
Gold prices rebounded a day after a sharp sell-off as analysts said the announcement of a Covid-19 vaccine would not dent demand for the precious metal.
Gold rose more than 1 per cent on Tuesday, having fallen by 5 per cent in the previous session after Pfizer said its Covid-19 vaccine was found to be more than 90 per cent effective in a trial.
The metal erased its gains for the month as it hit $1,890 a troy ounce.
Analysts at Commerzbank said it was not all negative for gold. It would take time for sufficient quantities of any vaccine to be produced, the bank said. In addition central banks will probably continue their loose monetary policy, which is good for gold since it keeps interest rates low.
“We therefore regard yesterday’s gold price slide more as a brief setback rather than the start of a prolonged phase of weakness,” they said.
UBS said that stronger US growth and inflation could be supportive of gold, if the vaccine became widely available next year.
The Federal Reserve is likely to keep interest rates low while the US is set to launch a stimulus package between $500bn to $1tn, the bank said, which would raise inflation expectations.
The Swiss bank kept its target for gold to rise to $2,000 an ounce in the coming months.
UK pound gains on Covid vaccine optimism
Sterling has hit a nine-week high against the euro, propelled by hopes that a Covid-19 vaccine can heal the pandemic-stricken UK economy.
The pound has risen 0.8 per cent against the common European currency, to purchase €1.123. Against the dollar, sterling is up 0.7 per cent to $1.325.
The UK currency’s performance against the euro was “likely on the Covid-19 vaccine hope, given the UK’s struggles with [the virus’s] resurgence”, strategists at Saxo Bank said. “The sharp recent GBP-USD rally is mostly a function of USD weakness,” they added.
The Bank of England last week forecast a double-dip recession for the UK economy, which shrank by 19.8 per cent in the second quarter compared with the previous three months, and increased its monetary stimulus spending plan by £150bn to £895bn until the end of 2021.
A vaccine, traders have speculated, means the BoE may not have to go further and implement negative interest rates, which are designed to encourage borrowing by businesses and consumers and therefore stimulate extra spending.
The exporter-heavy FTSE 100 index, which often falls when sterling strengthens, rose 1.4 per cent on Tuesday, driven by oil, healthcare and real-estate stocks that could benefit from an end to global lockdowns once a proven vaccine is available.
Investor confidence in German recovery evaporates
Martin Arnold in Frankfurt
Investors turned increasingly gloomy about the impact of reimposing coronavirus lockdowns on the German economy, according to a survey of investors that was carried out before news of a successful vaccine trial boosted sentiment.
The Zew November poll of German investors found sentiment about the outlook for Europe’s largest economy had fallen to its lowest level since April, reflecting concerns that restrictions introduced to counter the second wave of the virus will hit activity and confidence.
“There are also fears that the German economy could fall into recession again,” said Achim Wambach, Zew president. “Neither the developments in the Brexit negotiations nor the outcome of the US presidential election currently have an impact on economic expectations for Germany.”
The survey of 183 analysts and investors last week found that sentiment about the German economic outlook had suffered its second monthly fall, dropping by 17 points to 39 in November, slightly below consensus economists expectations.
The Zew indicator remained well above deeply negative levels reported after the pandemic started in March and investor sentiment has since been boosted by the announcement of a potential Covid-19 vaccine that fuelled a global market rally on Monday.
“Another recession is likely,” said Michael Holstein, chief economist at DZ Bank. “However, the macroeconomic damage caused by the new restrictions is likely to be much less dramatic than in the spring. In addition, the hope of a radical recovery in the course of 2021 has been fueled by yesterday's news about vaccine development.”
Sentiment about the outlook for the eurozone economy fell 19.5 points to 32.8, which was also its lowest point since the first wave of the pandemic peaked in April.
Moscow imposes curfew and makes universities work remotely
Henry Foy in Warsaw
Moscow's mayor has introduced tighter quarantine measures in the Russian capital and warned of a sharp rise in coronavirus infections as cases surged.
Bars, restaurants and cafes will be subject to a 11pm curfew and colleges and universities will work remotely, while theatres and cinemas will be limited to 25 per cent capacity. All spectator events are suspended under the restrictions that will apply from Friday until mid-January.
The curbs come as Russia recorded 20,977 coronavirus cases on Tuesday - the fifth consecutive day of more than 20,000 infections - following a record high on Monday.
About 7.5 per cent of coronavirus tests in Moscow have a positive result, from 1 per cent in mid-August, mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Tuesday, warning that "in the coming weeks we can expect a further deterioration in the situation".
"In these conditions, the existing measures to counter the coronavirus are becoming insufficient. Additional restrictions are required to - as far as possible - break the chains of transmission of the virus and reduce the incidence of disease," he said in a statement posted on his website.
"The new restrictions are an extremely unpleasant but enforced measure. I hope that they will work and save thousands of lives," Mr Sobyanin added.
Iran accuses US of blocking medical imports to fight virus
Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Tehran
Iran has accused the US of blocking imports of medicine from east Asia but expressed hope that the next administration under president-elect Joe Biden would relent to help one of the Middle Eastern states hit hardest by the pandemic.
“Today, we have received reports that the US administration...has blocked imports of medicine and basic commodities from South Korea and Japan,” Ali Rabiei, a spokesperson for the Iranian government, said at a press conference on Tuesday.
He added that: “The world is waiting to see how the new US administration will terminate the big law-breaking which has cost the Iranian nation its wealth and lives under the coronavirus pandemic.”
Iran’s health ministry announced that 453 coronavirus patients died over the past 24 hours, with fatalities remaining above 400 on most days over the past two weeks. So far, 39,202 Iranians have died out of 703,288 confirmed cases.
Authorities say the fatalities could be up to three times higher than the official numbers that only include those who tested positive. Iran’s testing capacity is low partly because of its financial inability to import test kits.
The government of Hassan Rouhani has so far resisted calls for a lockdown because of falling revenues caused by the US sanctions that make it unaffordable for authorities to shut down the country.
The heads of 65 medical universities released a statement this week that if the country failed to go into a lockdown for at least two weeks, there could be a “horrifying winter” awaiting the 83m-strong nation.
Covid vaccine hopes prompt investor move from tech shares
Covid-19 vaccine prospects have sparked a rotation out of “stay-at-home” stocks in the technology sector as investors load up on banks, energy and real estate shares, early indications suggest.
Energy, financial and real estate shares were the top performers on the European Stoxx 600 index on Tuesday morning, one day after stock markets burst into exuberance on news that Pfzier and its German partner BioNTech’s experimental Covid-19 vaccine appeared to be 90 per cent effective.
Technology shares did the worst, while futures contracts on the technology-focused Nasdaq 100, which is dominated by the likes of Apple, Amazon and Facebook, fell 1 per cent.
“Is this the start of a major rotation? Quite possibly,” said Johanna Kyrklund, chief investment officer at Schroders. “We may finally have found the catalyst to spark a move away from the stay-at-home stocks that have benefited from lockdown towards recovery stocks.”
Energy, financial and real estate stocks fell sharply from March, as coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions plunged major economies into deep recessions.
Energy companies sold off as demand for fuel fell, commercial property groups took a hit from homeworking and lockdowns, while banks suffered from ultra-low interest rates after the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank undertook massive monetary stimulus programmes.
The prospect of a vaccine and life returning to normal meant “there would no longer be a need to pay a large premium for the few areas for growth,” Ms Kyrklund said.
John Hardy, strategist at Saxo Bank commented that the vaccine "reverses the outlook" for many big tech stocks while other investors said the rotation towards economically sensitive sectors could prompt a selloff of tech companies that have not yet made a profit.
The vaccine, said SEI portfolio manager Eugene Barbaneagra, was "bad news for long-duration overpriced positions, such as growth without earnings".
German health minister seeks rapid EU vaccine deal
Guy Chazan in Berlin
German health minister Jens Spahn said he expected the EU to sign a contract with BioNTech and its partner Pfizer "in the coming days" for the supply of their potential vaccine against Covid-19.
Speaking on German TV channel ZDF, Mr Spahn said the EU already had a preliminary contract with BioNTech and Pfizer, but "I would like us to reach a final agreement in the EU in the coming days".
He added that he would "put pressure on the EU and the [European] Commission to ensure that a contract is signed quickly".
Mr Spahn was speaking a day after Pfizer and BioNTech announced that the vaccine they are developing is more than 90 per cent effective. There are now hopes that the shot could be made available for use by the end of the year, if drug authorities give it the green light.
The EU is in the final stages of negotiating a deal for 300m doses of the potential vaccine, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said on Monday.
Asked if there was a danger that stocks of the vaccine would go to other countries outside of Europe, Mr Spahn said: "As German health minister, I would find it very difficult to explain a situation where a vaccine produced in Germany is deployed more quickly in other parts of the world than in Germany itself."
England and Wales record fewer Covid deaths than in spring
Chris Giles in London
England and Wales registered fewer than 1,000 excess deaths in the week ending October 30, indicating a significantly lower level of mortality in the second wave of Covid-19 than in the spring.
The figure of 996 excess deaths recorded in the latest week compared favourably with the daily figures from the government, with an average delay between someone dying and their deaths being registered, official figures showed on Tuesday.
An analysis of death certificates however demonstrated that Covid-19 was much more likely to cause death than flu: 1,416 people who had tested positive in the previous 28 days died in England and Wales in the week ending Oct 26, the Office for National Statistics said.
In March and April, rather than being lower than the daily figures, excess deaths tended to be twice the number of daily reported Covid-19 deaths because so few people who were sick were able to be tested.
The number of excess deaths reported by the ONS was lower than the 1,379 people whose death certificates mentioned coronavirus.
Italian September factory output falls more than expected
Valentina Romei in London
Italy’s industrial production reversed previous gains and fell more than expected in September, while manufacturing production in the eurozone showed resilience.
Output in Italy’s factories contracted 5.6 per cent in September compared with the previous month, the first fall in four months, official statistics showed on Tuesday.
However, the decline, worse than the 2.2 per cent drop expected by economists polled by Reuters, was largely a correction from the exceptionally strong growth in August, possibly reflecting a shift in factories closing and catching up on orders.
Italy’s industrial production was 5.1 per cent down compared with the same month last year.
Italy’s figures are released as French industrial production rose 1.4 per cent in September compared with the previous month, driven by a recovery in the hard-hit aircraft production.
Aircraft production rose nearly 12 per cent in September but, despite the monthly rise, it was 20 per cent below February’s levels, before the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is a much more depressed level than across all industries where output is 5.1 per cent below February’s level or 6 per cent below the level in September last year. It was also much more depressed than in the automotive production, where French output was back to “normal”.
Eurozone’s manufacturers have shown more resilience than the services sector, which bears the brunt of social distancing measures and new restrictions.
Meggitt warns operating profit to halve on Covid aviation hit
Meggitt, the aerospace and defence supplier, warned that it expected operating profits to halve in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, as it signalled softer than expected trading in the final quarter.
However, the group reiterated its pledge to stem the outflow of cash by the end of the year and hit the upper end of its forecast for underlying operating profits of £180m to £200m this year.
The guidance was reinstated after it was suspended in light of the devastation wrought by the pandemic in the aviation and aerospace industries. Last year Meggitt turned in underlying operating profit of £402.8m.
Tony Wood, chief executive, said expectations of the extent of the recovery in civil aerospace in the important final quarter had softened in recent weeks. As the fourth quarter began, the group’s performance was “slightly lower than our base case”, which had assumed a progressive improvement.
“As a result of the onset of a second wave of Covid-19 across many countries, the environment in civil aerospace has softened, with airlines reducing short-term planned capacity, moderating our expectations of the extent of a progressive recovery in activity levels in the final quarter,” the group said.
But Mr Wood said that he remained confident the group would meet its guidance. While trading was "slightly" below the group's base case at the start of the fourth quarter, Meggitt was "a long way" from the worst case scenario of a 15 per cent drop in civil revenues for 2021. "Broadly speaking, the outlook is pretty solid. We feel pretty good about the outlook to the year end," he said.
Meggitt was on track to deliver £400m-£450m cash savings after cutting more than 15 per cent of its workforce and reducing spending, Mr Wood said. It aimed to deliver positive cash flow in the second six months, with expectations to be cash neutral for the full year.
“While we remain alive to the challenges which Covid-19 continues to pose, we are encouraged by recent news on vaccine development and the positive implications for air travel,” Mr Wood said. “We remain well placed for the recovery.”
French joblessness rises sharply after lifting of first lockdown
Martin Arnold in Frankfurt
France’s unemployment rate shot up in the third quarter after hundreds of thousands of people previously considered inactive started to look for a job again when the first national lockdown was lifted.
The reclassification of 801,000 people from inactive to unemployed caused the French jobless rate to rise from 7.1 per cent in the second quarter to 9 per cent in the third, which the national statistics institute Insee said was the sharpest increase since its records started in 1975.
The number of people classed as inactive had risen by 765,000 in the second quarter, when many gave up trying to find a job or were unable to look for work during the lockdown. That caused the unemployment rate to unexpectedly fall after the coronavirus pandemic started. The third-quarter rise takes it back up above its level of 8.4 per cent a year ago.
Insee said the latest rise in the jobless rate was “partly mechanical, as a consequence of the trompe-l’oeil decrease linked to the lockdown”. It added that its subsequent rise above last year’s level “nevertheless clearly shows a marked deterioration in the labour market”.
The increase in the unemployment rate over the past year has hit younger people and women the hardest. The jobless rate among young people rose 2.6 percentage points in the past year to reach 21.8 per cent in the third quarter. For young women it rose 4.1 percentage points to 22 per cent in the same period.
Adidas replaces €3bn government-backed emergency loan
Olaf Storbeck in Frankfurt
German sportswear maker Adidas has replaced a state-backed emergency loan secured during the first wave of the pandemic, a move that reopens the door for the group to resume dividend payments.
The company on Tuesday said it had repaid €500m of a €3bn credit facility, which had come with an 80 per cent guarantee from state-backed bank KfW. Adidas had to commit itself to suspend payouts to shareholders while it was relying on government-backed loans.
“The KfW loan has enabled us to bridge the exceptional circumstances resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and steer the company through the crisis,” Adidas chief financial officer Harm Ohlmeyer said in a statement. “We would like to thank the German government for its rapid support.”
In April, it shelved a planned dividend of €3.85 a share for 2019 after arranging the KfW loan. The company did not comment about its future dividend policy on Tuesday morning.
News of the replacement of the government-backed loan came as Adidas gave a cautious outlook for the year end. While it expects the Chinese market to return to growth in the fourth quarter, the German group is bracing for an overall sales decline similar to the one reported in the third quarter.
The government-backed loan was replaced with a new €1.5bn revolving credit facility arranged with a consortium of 12 banks led by Deutsche Bank and HSBC. After securing investment-grade ratings over the summer, Adidas in September also issued three bonds, raising another €1.5bn.
Landsec reinstates dividend despite losses
Landsec, one of the UK's biggest landlords, has reinstated its dividend despite reporting wider first-half losses and a 7 per cent drop in the value of its portfolio.
The company said on Tuesday that pre-tax losses increased from £147m to £835m in the six months to September, as the pandemic dealt a heavy blow to its retail, leisure and hotel assets. The total value of the FTSE 100 company’s portfolio has fallen by £945m since March to £11.8bn.
But management has reinstated the dividend at 12p per share, down from 23.2p a year earlier, noting that trading conditions had started to improve since payments were frozen at the height of the first lockdown in April. It added that demand for “high quality” London offices had been robust during the crisis and it sees “little sign of that interest waning”.
The group noted that the short-term outlook was “dominated by Covid-19” and though the exit route would be dictated by higher testing volumes, better treatment and a vaccine, the economic costs of the crisis were still unclear.
News that a vaccine developed by Pfizer and German’s BioNTech had been found to be more than 90 per cent effective sent Landsec’s shares soaring by a fifth on Monday afternoon.
Hancock expects vaccine inoculations from early 2021
George Parker and Harry Dempsey
Matt Hancock, health secretary, has said that his "central expectation" is that Britons can expect to receive vaccinations in the first part of next year if the Pfizer BioNTech passes all its regulatory checks.
Mr Hancock told the BBC that if the vaccine passed safety checks and was cleared for us, "we will be among the first countries in the world to start to do this".
In a separate interview on Sky News, he said that he had asked the NHS “to be ready from the start of December” to receive and distribute a vaccine for use in the UK with the support of the armed forces.
On Monday, Pfizer’s inoculation was found to be 90 per cent effective in phase 3 trials involving more than 43,000 participants, far exceeding the threshold required by regulators. Britain claims to have procured 40m doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, enough to vaccinate 20m people with the required two doses each.
The health minister praised the breakthrough on the drug but warned of the “enormous complexity” of distributing the vaccine to the population.
“This is a promising step but there are many steps still to come,” he said. "We will not license a vaccine unless it is clinically safe and we have not yet seen the final safety data. If it fails, it doesn't matter how effective the vaccine is: we won't deploy it."
He added that there were challenging logistical issues to distribute the vaccine such as requiring it to be stored in minus 70C temperatures and being unable to remove it from the freezer more than four times between manufacturing and use.
He said he had allocated £150m more to GPs this winter but that pharmacists and "big vaccination site" would be used, adding that doses would also be delivered to vulnerable people in care homes.
Premier Foods upgrades guidance as England goes into lockdown
Premier Foods has raised its profit guidance as the maker of Mr Kipling cakes and Bisto gravy granules expects demand for its homely products to pick up as England moved into its second lockdown.
Sales rose 15 per cent to £421.5m in the six months ending September, the UK-listed food manufacturer said on Tuesday. Trading profit, which excludes gains or losses related to financing or sale of assets, rose 29 per cent to £66m.
Demand for Premier Foods' products, which include desserts such as Ambrosia, Angel Delight and Bird's custard, was "exceptional" during the half year, particularly during lockdown as more meals were consumed at home, said chief executive Alex Whitehouse on Tuesday.
The group expects an "increase in demand for our brands due to the impact of recently increased government restrictions on eating out", which was likely to last for as long as the strict rules on social distancing remained in place, he said.
"Although we have tougher comparatives in the fourth quarter, we anticipate that trading profit for the full year will be ahead of current market expectations," he added.
Premier Foods last week sold its bread brand Hovis to private equity group Endless in a £37m deal.
Households had in recent years been moving away from bread to perceived healthier options, but the Hovis deal ended up attracting a bidding war after the pandemic renewed consumers' demand for comfort foods and well-known brands.
Activists block Unibail €3.5bn capital raise
Leila Abboud in Paris
Activist investors have blocked a heavily dilutive €3.5bn capital increase at Europe’s biggest shopping centre owner, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, and won three board seats at the company.
The heavily indebted owner of high-end shopping centres such as London Westfield and Carrousel du Louvre in Paris said that it had not attained the two-thirds of votes required for the capital hike.
“The majority was in favour but not the two-thirds,” said chief executive Christophe Cuvillier on a call with reporters. “A new period will begin now with the activists joining the board. I hope that we can work together in a calm and constructive way.”
The activists, telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel and real estate investor Leon Bressler, who led Unibail himself for 14 years until 2006, will join the board at the next meeting.
The battle at Unibail has been a potent reminder of how hard the Covid-19 pandemic has upended the commercial property market, causing some tenants to stop paying rent and others to seek lower rates. Unibail had been among the most shorted stocks in Europe with nearly 30 per cent of shares out on loan to investors betting against the company, according to IHS Markit data on Bloomberg.
But on Monday the shares rose nearly 25 per cent when Pfizer reported early positive results from its Covid-19 vaccine trials, as investors bet on a recovery.
The vote cut out one key plank of Unibail’s €9bn plan to shore up its balance sheet, which was announced in September. The plan also included selling €4bn in retail and office properties in Europe, a dividend cut, and further cost cuts.
The moves were intended to cut the company’s €24bn debt load, much of which was incurred in 2018 when it bought Australian mall operator Westfield for $24.7bn to create what was at the time the world’s second-biggest mall owner by market value.
Mr Cuvillier said the company would now look for other ways to cut debt, such as additional asset sales.“The potential progress towards a vaccine may give us more options to do divestments since it improves sentiment to the real estate market,” he said, while cautioning that it was too early to draw firm conclusions.
Persimmon to pay second dividend as trading is 'robust'
Persimmon is to return more capital to shareholders as the UK housebuilder pointed to "resilient" demand from customers for its properties, adding its sites are still operating during the second national lockdown.
The company plans to pay a second interim dividend of 70p per share, after making a 40p per share payout in September, the group said on Tuesday. Persimmon this year postponed its planned 110p per share 2019 dividend because of the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus crisis.
"Persimmon continues to perform robustly despite the significant challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic and we are currently on course to deliver a good result for 2020,” said chief executive Dean Finch.
Persimmon’s strategy of returning cash to shareholders contrasts with that of rival Taylor Wimpey, which this year raised about £500m from investors to take advantage of opportunities in the land market. Taylor Wimpey on Monday said that it had bought a year’s worth of land in five months.
On Tuesday Persimmon said that it had been “cautious in its assessment of land opportunities”, and had spent £260m in the 10 months to October.
Record quarterly job losses push up UK unemployment rate
Delphine Strauss in London
The UK unemployment rate rose to 4.8 per cent in the three months to September, driven by the largest quarterly number of redundancies on record, official data showed on Tuesday.
The figures reflect a wave of job cuts made by employers as they prepared for the phasing out of the government’s furlough scheme, which has now been extended until the end of next March.
Redundancies climbed to a record high of 314,000 in July to September, a rise of 195,000 from the previous year and 181,000 from the previous quarter, the Office for National Statistics said.
Weekly figures showed especially strong growth during the first two weeks of September, when large companies would have begun consulting on job cuts in preparation for the furlough scheme’s scheduled October end.
The UK employment rate was 75.3 per cent in the three months to September, 0.8 percentage points lower than a year earlier and 0.6 percentage points down on the quarter.
However, early signs showed the labour market starting to pick up over the autumn before the spread of local coronavirus restrictions and the announcement of a second national lockdown.
Norwegian warns of dwindling cash pile
Richard Milne in Oslo
Norwegian Air Shuttle burnt through almost a third of its cash pile in the third quarter and warned that it would need fresh working capital early next year to survive.
Europe's third-largest low-cost airline said its net cash had shrunk by NKr1.6bn ($180m) to NKr3.4bn by the end of September as it revealed a third-quarter net loss of NKr980m.
"The company currently estimates that it will need additional working capital during the first quarter of 2021 to meet its obligations in the upcoming 12-month period," the group said, adding it could restructure its debt, issue fresh capital or sell assets.
The comments came a day after Norwegian's chief executive refused to rule out bankruptcy as an option after Norway's centre-right government declined to give the low-cost airline a second bailout.
Student’s suicide in India sparks anger over inequality
Benjamin Parkin in Mumbai
The suicide of a financially struggling student at a top Indian college has provoked nationwide outrage, drawing attention to how the pandemic is worsening inequality and undoing years of hard-earned educational and economic gains.
The 19-year-old maths undergraduate at New Delhi's Lady Shri Ram College for Women, one of India's most prestigious educational institutions, committed suicide earlier this month after being required to leave her student housing.
The daughter of a motorcycle mechanic from southern India, the student’s scholarship payment was delayed and she couldn't afford a laptop to keep up with online classes, according to local media.
The case has drawn attention to how India’s lockdown and the ensuing severe economic fallout has devastated the lives of millions of people on the cusp of entering a fragile middle class, the beneficiaries of increased educational or employment opportunities prior to the pandemic.
The death has prompted protests by students and alumni who accused the elite institution of creating “an atmosphere where structural inequalities are [exacerbated] . . . No student should have to choose between quality education and their life”.
Study suggests 31m in Indian state Karnataka have had coronavirus
A study in India’s southern state of Karnataka, home of the IT hub Bangalore, found that more than half the state’s urban population and 43 percent of the rural population has antibodies indicating past exposure to the virus that causes Covid-19.
The study, carried out by the IDFC Institute, highlights how widely the pathogen has spread among India’s 1.4bn people, and suggests the country’s official confirmed case count has severely underestimated the true spread of the virus.
India has the world’s second-highest official coronavirus caseload after the US, with nearly 8.6m confirmed infections, and more than 127,000 known coronavirus fatalities.
But epidemiologists say the full extent of the outbreak is undoubtedly far greater, as many infections are asymptomatic and many people who were mildly ill were never tested.
The IDFC said its seroprevalence study, carried out from mid-June to August, found 53.8 per cent of residents of Karnataka’s urban areas had antibodies indicating exposure to the virus.
That figure, coupled with a 43 per cent of rural residents with antibodies, implied that more than 31m people in Karnataka alone had been exposed to Covid-19.
Evidence of the pathogen’s wide spread could also explain the continued decline in new confirmed infections, despite widespread reopening of the economy and public fatigue with social distancing.
Nationwide, India’s new cases have fallen sharply from their mid-September peak of an average of 93,000 per day to an average of around 46,000 per day.
On Monday, India reported 37,211 new cases, though the low number also reflected limited testing on Sundays.
Delhi shopkeepers test positive as city focuses on crowded markets
New Delhi city officials have identified high coronavirus infection levels among shopkeepers in the city’s crowded markets, which may be fuelling the spread of the virus as consumers go on shopping sprees ahead of the Diwali festival.
Authorities in West Delhi have carried out rapid testing of storekeepers at busy markets as the city struggled with a surge of more than 7,000 new infections every day.
Of 225 shopkeepers tested in three busy markets in West Delhi, 41 — or more than 18 per cent — tested positive for Covid-19, raising concerns that they could be transmitting the virus to customers. Infected shopkeepers have been ordered to close their shops for three days.
The true number of infections among shopkeepers is likely to be higher, as the rapid tests used return a higher proportion of false negatives than other tests.
Indians weary of the austerity and severe social restrictions of the last eight months are now preparing for the upcoming festival of lights, which is the peak of the country’s annual consumer spending cycle. Shopkeepers are also eager to recoup losses after months of meagre sales.
But in packed traditional markets, social distancing is virtually impossible and face mask use is inconsistent, raising concerns about a looming surge of cases.
New Delhi’s health infrastructure is already grappling with the recent surge in infections, with the severity of illness exacerbated by severe seasonal pollution that has engulfed the Indian capital.
Global equities extend rally on Covid-19 vaccine breakthrough
Hudson Lockett in Hong Kong and Leo Lewis in Tokyo
A global equities rally extended into Asia on Tuesday as promising results from a Covid-19 vaccine trial boosted confidence in an economic recovery from the pandemic, but gains were tempered by inflation data that suggested weakening consumer demand in China.
The announcement by US drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech that their vaccine was more than 90 per cent effective in late-stage trials helped send Tokyo’s Topix up 1 per cent on Tuesday morning and boosted Hong Kong’s Hang Seng by 0.7 per cent.
The news added a tailwind to markets already buoyed by optimism over the prospects of further US stimulus following Joe Biden’s presidential election victory.
“This offers a ray of hope that the market did not hesitate to take advantage of,” said Tai Hui, chief Asia market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management. Investor reaction “is in line with our expectations of what would happen if there are signals that some normality can return to our lives”, he added.
Mr Hui said a successful vaccine deployment would accelerate a global economic recovery and ease concerns for hard-hit industries including aviation, travel and energy.
But China’s CSI 300 index of Shanghai- and Shenzhen-listed stocks was flat following data showing consumer prices rose at their slowest pace in more than a decade in October — with non-food inflation ceasing altogether. The figures suggested weakness in the world’s second-largest economy, which has broadly led the global recovery from the pandemic.
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Beyond Meat’s shares plunge after consumers slow purchases
Emiko Terazono in London
Shares in Beyond Meat lost more than a quarter of their value on Monday after the company said consumers had stuffed their freezers full of its plant-based burgers during lockdown earlier this year and dramatically slowed purchases since.
Meanwhile, sales at restaurants and fast-food chains that carry its products were still not fully recovered, the company said, delivering a second blow and leaving third-quarter revenues sharply below Wall Street’s forecasts.
The California-headquartered meat substitute company said revenues for the three months to September 26 rose 2.7 per cent from a year ago to $94.4m — a wildly different outcome from the 48 per cent rise predicted by the consensus of analysts’ forecasts.
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Brazil suspends trial of Chinese-made Covid-19 vaccine
Christian Shepherd in Beijing
Brazil has suspended final stage trials of Chinese-made coronavirus vaccine CoronaVac, in a blow for one of China’s leading developers that has already distributed the drug widely domestically and overseas.
Beijing-based Sinovac, the group that developed the vaccine, has been at the forefront of China’s efforts to win the global race to tackle Covid-19. Its vaccine uses a chemically inactivated version of the virus to spark an immune response.
Following positive results in early stage safety and efficacy clinical trials, Sinovac has been conducting phase 3, or final stage, trials to test effectiveness of its vaccine in the general population in Brazil, Indonesia and Turkey.
Sinovac, alongside domestic rivals developed by state-backed pharmaceutical giants Sinopharm and CanSino, which are also conducting phase 3 trials, has been forced to carry out final tests overseas because the coronavirus outbreak has been nearly halted within China.
Brazil’s national health agency Anvisa said late on Monday that the trial of 9,000 people, carried out jointly with São Paulo’s Butantan Institute, a biomedical research centre, had been halted due to an adverse reaction reported on October 29.
No new volunteers would take the vaccine until a study into the risks and benefits of concluding the trail were complete, the agency said.
Beijing and its leading vaccine developers have made grand promises to manufacture and deliver vaccines across the developing world, as part of a charm offensive to soothe anger over China’s early mishandling of the outbreak.
Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people within China have been administered the experimental vaccines as part of sweeping “emergency use” efforts ahead of final stage trials, a move that has raised ethics and safety concerns from some international public health experts.
Philippine economy shrinks 11.5% in third quarter
John Reed in Bangkok
The Philippine economy contracted by 11.5 per cent year on year in the third quarter, as the country struggled with one of Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreaks and its first recession in 29 years.
The drop was narrower than the 16.9 per cent contraction reported in the second quarter, but was still a sharp fall for what used to be one of south-east Asia's fastest-growing economies.
Dennis Mapa, the Philippines’ national statistician said in a release that the hardest hit sectors were construction, which declined 39.8 per cent in the three months to end-September; real estate, down 33.5 per cent; and manufacturing, down 9.7 per cent.
However, financial and insurance activities expanded by 6.2 per cent during the quarter, Mr Mapa’s office said, and public administration and defence expanded by 4.5 per cent year on year.
The country, despite some of Asia’s strictest and longest-running local lockdowns, has the Asean region's second-biggest Covid-19 caseload after Indonesia, reporting 398,449 total cases and 7,647 deaths from the disease to date.
Chinese consumer prices rise at slowest pace since 2009
Thomas Hale in Hong Kong
A fall in pork prices helped push China’s consumer price inflation to its lowest level in 11 years, in a sign that household demand remains weak despite a wider recovery.
The consumer price index added 0.5 per cent in October, official data shows, below economists’ expectations of a 0.8 per cent rise.
That compares to 1.7 per cent in September and 2.4 per cent in August, when flooding in China pushed up food prices.
Pork prices, which have recently traded at elevated prices in China due to African swine fever, fell 2.8 per cent — their first year-on-year drop since March 2019.
Core CPI, which excludes food and energy, was 0.5 per cent and has remained at that level, which is the lowest since 2010, for several months.
The producer price index, a measure of factory gate prices, fell 2.1 per cent.
Correction: in the original post we said that pork prices fell by 2.6 per cent. This should have been stated as 2.8 per cent.
‘Lockdown’ named word of the year by Collins Dictionary
Alice Woodhouse in Hong Kong
“Lockdown” has been named the word of the year by the Collins Dictionary as phrases linked to the coronavirus pandemic dominated the shortlist.
Lockdowns have come to define life in countries around the world in 2020 as governments imposed restrictions on movement in efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus.
“With its heavy, clunking syllables and heavier associations, is the condition we’ve most dreaded in 2020 – a state of national stasis, where almost everything that constitutes normal public life is suspended,” Collins said on its blog.
The word lockdown was originally used in prisons when prisoners had to be confined to their cells because of a disturbance.
Unsurprisingly, coronavirus also topped the dictionary’s list, having recorded a 35,000-fold increase in usage compared with last year.
The ways the pandemic has affected daily behaviour featured heavily on the annual list, with the phrase “social distancing” becoming a verb in the English language: “to socially distance”.
There was some respite from pandemic-related language, such as Megxit, the word coined by British tabloids to describe Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to step down and senior members of the British royal family.
BLM, an acronym for Black Lives Matter, also gained traction on the back of antiracism protests in the US and around the world that erupted in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota in October.
New US coronavirus cases hold above 100,000 for sixth day
Peter Wells in New York
The US reported more than 100,000 cases for the sixth day running on Monday, while the number of hospitalisations is within striking distance of its April peak.
States revealed a further 118,497 people had tested positive, according to Covid Tracking Project data, up from 110,838 on Sunday and compared with 82,248 on Monday last week.
About 789,000 people in the US have tested positive over the past seven days, a record, according to Financial Times analysis of Covid Tracking Project data.
If that weekly caseload were a single country, it would rank 13th globally among cases confirmed by countries for the entirety of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
While Donald Trump has sought to downplay rising cases as a function of testing, which has been ramped up to a record level since the summer, trends in hospitalisations and fatalities are on the rise.
The number of people currently in US hospitals being treated for Covid-19 rose to 59,274 from 56,793 on Sunday. That is an ominous 666 patients shy of the record 59,940 hospitalisations on April 15, when northeast states were hit hard by the first wave of coronavirus.
A further 580 deaths were attributed by authorities to coronavirus, up from 487 on Sunday. However, daily fatalities had topped 1,000 for the previous five days and the seven-day average today topped 1,000 deaths for the first time since August 22.
Every US state and the District of Columbia has a seven-day average of Covid-19 cases that is higher than a week ago for the first time since early April.
Five states had record one-day jumps:Michigan (9305, but making up for no reported data on Sunday), Kansas (5,920, but making up for no data the previous two days), Iowa (4,381), Tennessee (4,919) and Maine (195). Several Midwest states, including Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio reported daily case numbers that were down from record single-day increases over the weekend.
Seven-day averages hit record highs in 31 states on Monday, the highest proportion since early April.
Figures on Monday tend to be lower than other days of the week owing to weekend delays in reporting.
Asia-Pacific equities rise after Covid-19 vaccine breakthrough
Alice Woodhouse in Hong Kong
Asia-Pacific stocks climbed on Tuesday, joining a global rally after Pfizer and BioNTech announced a breakthrough in the development of a vaccine for Covid-19.
Both Japan’s Topix and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 1.5 per cent and the Kospi in Seoul was up 0.1 per cent. Futures tip the Hang Seng to open 1.9 per cent higher.
The drugmakers said on Monday that their vaccine candidate had been found to be more than 90 per cent effective, meaning it could become available for use before the end of the year.
The news sent airline, hotel and energy groups surging. The S&P 500 closed up 1.2 per cent on the news while the Stoxx 600 in Europe added 4 per cent.
S&P 500 futures were up 0.2 per cent on Tuesday morning in Asia.
Eli Lilly secures emergency use authorisation for antibody treatment
Hannah Kuchler in New York
Eli Lilly has received the first emergency use authorisation for a Covid-19 antibody treatment, sending shares up 4.6 per cent in after hours trading.
The US drugmaker’s bamlanivimab has been authorised for mild to moderate patients, who are at risk of developing a more serious condition.
The treatment - designed to boost a patients’ immune system with artificially engineered antibodies — is the first drug for patients this early in the disease.
David Ricks, Eli Lilly’s chief executive, said it was a “valuable tool for doctors fighting the now-increasing burden of this global pandemic”.
The US government will allocate 300,000 doses to high risk patients, with no out-of-pocket costs for the medication, Lilly said in a release. The federal government will allocate supplies based on Covid-19 rates in different regions in the previous seven days.
The EUA is based on a phase two study that found it reduced viral load, symptoms, and hospitalisation in mild-to-moderate patients.
New coronavirus infections in Texas slow to two-week low
Peter Wells in New York
Texas reported its smallest daily increase in coronavirus infections in two weeks on Monday, but is shrinking the gap with California to rank as the US state with the highest overall number of Covid-19 cases.
A further 3,816 people tested positive over the past 24 hours, the health department revealed, down from 5,404 on Sunday and compared with 4,763 on Monday last week.
It was the smallest single-day increase since October 25, but comes after cases topped 8,300 on Thursday, which was the biggest one-day jump in nearly three months.
Authorities have for months been adding older cases from backlogs of tests at commercial laboratories to the statewide tally, although these are excluded from the daily count.
More than 550 historical cases were revealed today by the health department, including 136 from the region around Houston and 107 from the area around San Antonio.
That all took the total number of cases in the Lone Star state to 963,019, second only to California's 971,851 infections.
The number of people currently in Texas hospitals being treated for coronavirus edged up by 23 to 6,103, the highest level since mid-August.
A further 26 deaths were attributed to coronavirus, down from 43 on Sunday and compared with 20 on Monday last week.
Monday figures tend to be lower than other days of the week due to weekend delays in reporting.
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