Asia opens higher as deaths slow: 5 Things to start your day
There are signs coronavirus deaths might be slowing, though world leaders are warning of more dire times ahead. The world’s largest oil producers are racing to come to an agreement to stem the plunge in prices. And Australia’s dealmakers are focused on keeping companies in business as M&A deals dry up. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.
After days of sobering developments, the reported daily death toll in some of the world’s coronavirus epicenters was lower on Sunday. New York State fatalities fell for the first time. Italy had the fewest deaths in more than two weeks. France reported the lowest number in five days and Spain’s tally fell for three days in a row. Even so, U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders warned of rising death tolls to come, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said it was too early to say if the outbreak had reached a peak in New York — the center of the American outbreak. In a dire warning, Trump warned “a very horrendous” phase in the pandemic is approaching. Johns Hopkins data show U.S. virus cases top 1 in 1,000. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was taken to an undisclosed hospital for tests after suffering from the coronavirus for 10 days and failing to shake off its symptoms. Downing Street said it was “a precautionary step.” Meanwhile billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said Sunday the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. could be “well short” of recent estimates from top health officials if social distancing measures are done properly. Read the latest virus updates here.
Currency markets opened mixed after the daily reported death toll in some of the world’s coronavirus epicenters provided some respite to the onslaught of recent negative virus headlines, though traders will also be keeping close tabs on the start of U.S. equity futures trading to gauge sentiment. The pound dipped as the U.K. prime minister was admitted to hospital. Traders are also watching for the start of oil trading with a meeting of supplier nations planned for April 9. Oil fell sharply in Asia after a delay to a planned meeting of top producers to discuss output curbs raised doubts over the prospects for an agreement: Brent futures dropped as much as 12% after surging Friday. Stocks ended down last week, paring some of the prior week’s rally, after a plunge in U.S. hiring hinted at the extent of the pandemic’s toll on the world’s biggest economy.
Saudi Arabia, Russia and other large oil producers are racing to negotiate a deal to stem the historic price crash as diplomats said some progress was made on Sunday. The talks still face significant obstacles: a meeting of producers from OPEC+ and beyond —already delayed once — is only tentatively scheduled for Thursday. Russia and Saudi Arabia want the U.S. to join in, but Trump had only hostile words for OPEC on Saturday, and threatened tariffs on foreign oil. Oil diplomats are trying to stitch together a meeting of G20 energy ministers for Friday, part of an effort to bring the U.S. on board, according to two people familiar with the situation. Crude prices have fallen 50% this year, as the economic effects of the pandemic have knocked out about a third of global demand.
Dealmakers are helping Australian companies with everything from urgent equity raisings to restructuring, after the coronavirus pandemic brought mergers and acquisitions to a standstill. The country’s deal activity delivered the worst start of a year since 2013. Announced deals in Australia dropped to $13.8 billion in the first quarter this year, a 32% plunge from the first three months of 2019, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Australian bankers are joining their counterparts in other parts of the world in focusing more on keeping their clients in business as the coronavirus devastates the global economy.
India Drug Ban
India banned all exports of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug that President Donald Trump has repeatedly touted as a “game changer” in the fight against Covid-19. The trade regulator had last month restricted overseas shipments of the drug, allowing only limited exceptions such as on humanitarian grounds and for meeting prior commitments. The ban reflects India’s rising concern over the rapid spread of the coronavirus, with risks of community spread rising in the country of 1.3 billion people. At a press conference on Saturday, Trump said he spoke to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and appealed for the release of shipments U.S. has already ordered. India is giving his request “serious consideration,” he said.
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