Headlines

The coronavirus outbreak will push Germany into recession in the first half of this year and could result in output in Europe’s largest economy contracting by up to 5.4% this year, Germany’s council of economic advisers said on Monday, Reuters reported. Germany is in virtual lockdown, with more than 57,000 people infected and 455 deaths from the virus. Schools, shops, restaurants and sports facilities have closed and many firms have stopped production to help slow the spread of the disease.

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Brazil’s government is considering an emergency loan package for energy distributors struggling with lower energy use and facing lost revenues because of the coronavirus outbreak, an industry group told Reuters on Monday, Reuters reported. Marcos Madureira, president of Brazilian energy distributors association Abradee, said the package being negotiated by companies and the government could involve loans from state development bank BNDES or a pool of banks, but that the value of the loans and other details was not yet settled.

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Economic sentiment across Europe has suffered its worst monthly fall since records began in 1985, according to data that was mostly collected earlier this month before countries enforced lockdowns to fight coronavirus, the Financial Times reported. The European Commission’s monthly survey of business confidence across the EU tumbled 8.2 percentage points in March from 103 to 94.8, below the long-term average of 100 for the first time since January 2015.

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Italian restaurant chain Carluccio’s and rent-to-own retailer BrightHouse have collapsed into administration, putting 4,500 jobs at risk after government-enforced closures exacerbated problems at both groups, the Financial Times reported. Carluccio’s was declared insolvent on Monday, three days after it had appointed restructuring firm FRP Advisory to consider its options, and administrators at Grant Thornton took control of BrightHouse.

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Banks in the UK are braced for the country’s top financial supervisor to put a stop to £7.5bn of dividend payments due over the next few weeks in a move designed to shore up capital levels during the coronavirus outbreak, the Financial Times reported. The Prudential Regulation Authority, the supervisory arm of the Bank of England, is running out of time to make a decision on whether to block the payments, with Barclays due to pay a full-year dividend of 6p per share on Friday.

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South Africa’s rand weakened to a record low, dollar bonds plunged and banking stocks dropped after the country lost its last investment-grade credit rating. Investors anticipate it may slide even deeper into junk as the spread of the coronavirus hammers the economy, Bloomberg News reported. The currency dropped as much as 2.5% to 18.09 per dollar, breaching 18 for the first time. It traded 1.1% down at 17.82 by 12:46 p.m. in Johannesburg, still the worst performance among major emerging-market currencies after the Mexican peso.

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EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou has lashed out at critics who have questioned his family’s acceptance of a £60m dividend this month from the low-cost carrier he created more than 20 years ago, which he has said risks insolvency unless it cancels a multibillion-dollar aircraft order from Airbus, the Financial Times reported. This weekend Sir Stelios, whose family controls 34 per cent of easyJet, threatened to launch a campaign to oust the group’s non-executive directors one by one if the board did not cancel the orders from the European aerospace manufacturer, which he estimated

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A decade after the global financial crisis pushed Dubai’s real estate sector -- known for its outlandish projects such as man-made palm-shaped islands -- to the brink of collapse, the deadly coronavirus pandemic threatens to send it back there again, Bloomberg News reported. S&P Global Ratings is warning that home prices could slump to 2010 levels as unemployment across key sectors such as tourism and retail eviscerates demand. Prices are currently about 5% to 10% above what they reached a year after the debt crisis in 2009, according to data from real estate services firm Asteco.

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Supplies to Sardinia and other Italian islands are at risk after ferry operator Moby SpA suspended some of its services, Bloomberg News reported. Italy’s officials called for an emergency meeting with administrators of Tirrenia, an insolvent company whose assets were bought by Moby in 2011, after they seized the accounts of one of the operator’s unit on Monday, according to a statement from the ministry of transport. Moby has failed to pay a deferred installment for the acquisition. The company responded to the seizure by halting ferry services, it said in an emailed statement.

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Argentina said it will still try to avoid a costly default, even as it extends a nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus. President Alberto Fernandez said that the country would still prioritize avoiding a default on its overseas debt, even though the already struggling economy will be hampered by a government-ordered lockdown, now in effect until April 12, Bloomberg News reported.

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