Headlines

Argentina’s debt restructuring talks with creditors will continue for at least two more weeks after the centre-left government failed to meet its deadline of March 31 to cut a deal, the Financial Times reported. The deadline had been considered to be ambitious by investors and economy minister Martin Guzmán admitted on Tuesday that the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which has now claimed 27 lives in Argentina, had further delayed progress in negotiations.

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Zambia’s bonds have slumped after the country’s government called in advisers to help restructure its debt, as investors worry that the coronavirus crisis could trigger a wave of defaults in emerging markets, the Financial Times reported. The copper exporter was already struggling with a growing debt burden, much of it in the form of loans from China, before the pandemic caused big outflows from emerging-market debt funds and a plunge in metals prices.

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Bankruptcies among Swedish restaurants and hotels jumped by 123% in March as measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic stopped people from making trips and socializing, Bloomberg News reported. The transport sector was also hit hard with bankruptcies rising by 105% in March compared to the same month a year ago, according to a statement from the business and credit reference agency UC. The overall number of companies going bust in Sweden last month increased by 9%, it said.

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China Evergrande Group’s pledge to remake itself as a leaner company with a focus on controlled growth has been met with skepticism, with analysts concerned margins will suffer and others saying investors need more clarity, Bloomberg News reported. China’s most indebted developer unveiled a three-year plan on Tuesday titled ‘Growing Sales, Controlled Scale & Reduced Leverage’. The aggressive strategy includes cutting total debt load by 50%, boosting sales and trimming its land bank. Evergrande also Tuesday reported its first fall in annual profit in four years.

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Foreign investors sold a record $16bn of Indian stocks and bonds in March as the economic tumult caused by coronavirus prompted a flight from emerging markets, the Financial Times reported. The selling by overseas investors came during a dire month for India’s financial markets. The Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensex index fell 23 per cent in March to its lowest level since 2017, while the rupee dropped to a record low of more than 76 to the dollar. Foreign investors sold Rs620bn ($8.2bn) of equities in March and Rs603bn in bonds, according to data from India’s securities depositories.

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After suffering its worst quarter since the global financial crisis, Canadian stocks slumped on Wednesday as investors digested worsening U.S. coronavirus figures and assessed the pandemic’s impact on corporate profits, Bloomberg News reported. The S&P/TSX Composite Index lost 3.8% on the first day of the second quarter, with 10 out of its 11 sectors in the red. Gold stocks rallied as market jitters led to a surge in haven assets. Montreal-based Dollarama Inc.

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Almost one million people have claimed “universal credit” welfare payments in the U.K. in the past two weeks, exposing the massive economic hit from Boris Johnson’s coronavirus lockdown, Bloomberg News reported. Between March 16 and March 31, 950,000 people successfully applied for universal credit payments, up from about 100,000 in a normal two-week period, according to government figures.

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Record numbers of hotels and restaurants went bankrupt in March in Sweden as customers stayed at home to avoid spreading the coronavirus, figures from credit information firm UC showed on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Bankruptcies in the restaurant and hotel sector shot up 123% in March compared with the previous year, with the transport sector also seeing a big jump, up 105%. “In the next stage, this is going to hit banks and real estate firms which will have to negotiate debt write-downs with these firms,” Richard Damberg, economist at UC said in a statement.

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German department store chain Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof is seeking protection from creditors to stay afloat, it said on Wednesday, after nationwide store closures to help to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Reuters reported. Galeria said that all its outlets have been closed since March 18, leading to about 80 million euros ($87.5 million) of lost weekly revenue while the company continues to incur the bulk of the costs.

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Spanish bankers and lawyers are bracing for a steep surge in insolvencies, amid the country’s rising death toll and strict lockdown measures. In an attempt to offset the economic cost, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez last month announced a 117 billion euros ($128 billion) fiscal stimulus, but some business leaders say aspects of the government’s response risk making things worse, Bloomberg News reported. All those who work in non-essential services must remain at home over Easter, but the government says that companies must pay employees in full during that time.

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