Europe

Budget airline Norwegian Air expects demand for European short-haul travel to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023 or 2024, it said as it presented a first-quarter pretax loss of 1.19 billion crowns ($145 million) and Reuters reported. The carrier this month said it aims to raise 6 billion crowns in fresh capital, up from the 4.5 billion originally planned, as part of a scheme to emerge from court-ordered bankruptcy protection next month.

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Shares rose in early European trading on Friday after retreating in Asia as the latest batch of economic data provided mixed signals about prospects for the recovery from the pandemic, the Associated Press reported. Two surveys showed Chinese manufacturing expanded in April but growth appeared to be slowing. Figures showed Europe’s economy contracted in the first three months of the year, while the U.S. economy steamed ahead, growing at a 6.4% annual pace.

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The eurozone is at risk of a “tsunami” of bankruptcies as COVID life-support schemes for businesses are wound up, regulators have warned and  The Telegraph reported. A report by the EU's key risk watchdog, which is chaired by European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde, said that companies may struggle to stay solvent the longer they relied on emergency financial support. This could cause debt to accumulate, increasing the risk of a pent-up wave of insolvencies.

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Airbus announced that it had returned to a profit in the first quarter following a 1.1 billion euro loss last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but its top executive warned that the economic toll would continue, the New York Times reported. “The first quarter shows that the crisis is not yet over for our industry, and that the market remains uncertain,” Guillaume Faury, chief executive of the world’s largest airplane maker, said.

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Fewer people are defaulting on loans due to the pandemic than expected, two major banks have said and the BBC reported. NatWest Group, which owns RBS, was able to release £102m it had set aside for bad loans in the first quarter after "better than expected" repayments. Standard Chartered meanwhile took a $20 million hit from bad loans in the same period — down by $354 million from the previous quarter. Earlier this week, HSBC and Lloyds both reported a similar trend.

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Ulster Bank swung into an operating profit of €13 million in the Republic in the first quarter of the year as it freed up money that was previously set aside to cover bad loans, while its U.K. parent said that plans to wind down the unit over the coming years remain “on track,” the Irish Times reported. The Dublin-based lender’s loan book dipped by €200 million to €19.8 billion during the first three months of the year, as loan repayment outpaced new lending, while deposits dipped by €100 million to €100 million to €21.7 billion, driven by a reduction in commercial balances.

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Global shares extended gains after the Federal Reserve said it was too early to consider rolling back emergency support for the economy, and U.S. President Joe Biden proposed a $1.8 trillion stimulus package, Reuters reported. The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 49 countries, was 0.2% higher, on course for its best month since November. The pan-European STOXX 600 opened 0.4% firmer, while E-mini futures for the S&P 500 index rose 0.4% and Nasdaq futures advanced 0.6%. U.S.

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U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being investigated by the country’s electoral watchdog following allegations that he failed to declare who funded an upgrade of his residence at 11 Downing Street, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Electoral Commission, which regulates political donations, said that it had been in contact with Johnson’s Conservative Party after concluding there “are reasonable grounds to suspect that an offense or offenses may have occurred,” amid allegations that undisclosed donors provide funds for a refit of his official residence.

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World shares advanced Thursday ahead of the release of U.S. economic growth data and following a speech by President Joe Biden outlining ambitious plans for beefing up early education and other family oriented policies, the Associated Press reported. London’s FTSE 100 jumped 0.7% to 7,013.40. In Paris, the CAC40 climbed 0.6% to 6,344.17. Germany’s DAX slipped 0.2% to 15,262.39 as a report showed weakening consumer confidence. The future for the Dow industrials rose 0.4% and that for the S&P 500 surged 0.6%. U.S.

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Heathrow, Britain’s biggest airport, said a first quarter loss of 329 million pounds ($459 million) took total losses since the start of the pandemic to nearly 2.4 billion pounds as travel continues to be hammered, Reuters reported. It said only 1.7 million passengers traveled through the London airport in the three months to March 31, down 91% compared to the first quarter of 2019.

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