By Powerscourt on 13/07/2020

Powerscourt Coronavirus Briefing – 13 July 2020


While Florida reported 15,299 new cases on Sunday, a record one-day total for any US state, just 1,000 miles to the North, New York City had a far more auspicious landmark. On Saturday, it had its first day apparently free from Covid-19 deaths since March 13.

New York has been very tender in easing its restrictions and appears to be benefiting.

Florida, meanwhile, is trying to muscle its way back to “normalcy”, although the number of new cases being diagnosed in the state daily is such that it exceeds that of most countries.

If Florida were a country, it would rank fourth in the world for the most new cases in a day behind the United States, Brazil and India, Reuters reported.

At the same time, Walt Disney World, the iconic theme park based in Florida, has reopened, albeit with temperature checks and other restrictions in place, the Republican National Convention is set to begin in Jacksonville in August, and now Florida governor Ron DeSantis is ordering schools to reopen.

The picture being played out across the Southern and Western United States underlines the prevailing mood of the Trump administration, anxious economic reopening and the polarising influence the virus has had on an already divided nation. While editorials in the Trump-hating New York Times excoriate Donald Trump for “politicising” the virus, libertarians march in Michigan and Missouri, arguing health restrictions are a violation of their personal freedoms. The weaponising of the virus response, with recriminations on one side and denial on the other, is set to be the incendiary backdrop for the next US General Election on November 3.

In the UK, with reopened nail bars the latest sign of the nascent but slow recovery, health secretary Matt Hancock argues test and trace programmes will underpin the road back to normality. He suggests that robust testing should be able to support the country locate, isolate and control outbreaks on a localised basis and prevent the UK spiraling out of control again. But with some northern cities showing rising levels of the virus, the jury is still out.

European countries may currently be in a better place in terms of the management of the virus. But a study by Amnesty International found that health workers in the UK have a higher risk of death than any other country in the world apart from Russia.

Meanwhile, the impact of coronavirus on corporate debt is is eye-watering. Companies around the world are poised to take on nearly $1 trillion of new corporate debt, taking the total figure to nearly $9.3 billion, according to figures from Janus Henderson. The figures reflect the reopening of lending after markets slammed shut in March, fueled by government bond-buying programmes around the world.

Asian markets started the week in positive territory, typically up 2% while European markets have opened up 1%.




Consumer & Retail 

John Lewis
The retail giant is to follow in the footsteps of Primark and William Hill and reject the job retention bonus, which could see it receive £1000 for every furloughed employee brought back to work. The department store chain furloughed 14,000 people at the start of the crisis, meaning it could be eligible for up to £14 million from the Treasury via the scheme. It has already announced that eight of its 50 stores will not reopen after the pandemic due to a slump in sales.

The food chain is exploring restructuring options as the coronavirus crisis continues to impact the high street. It has appointed advisers to look at options including a company voluntary arrangement, saying that it is committed to taking step that are “in the best interests of staff, customers and creditors”. 


Industrials & Transport 

Heathrow Airport
The airport has called on the government to take action to protect jobs, as the pandemic continues to weigh on travel demand with a drop in passenger numbers of over 95% compared to the start of last year’s summer season. Whilst steps toward travel corridors in July provided some hope for an initial recovery, the airport has urged that further pace is needed to move past quarantine. CEO John Holland-Kaye has said: “Travel corridors were a great first step and now we need to go further to protect jobs and kickstart the economy, by allowing healthy passengers to travel freely between the UK and the rest of the world”. 

The security services company announced today that it has delivered a resilient trading performance throughout June, and expects underlying earnings for the first six months of 2020 to be significantly above market consensus. As a result of this, the Group is planning to bring forward its H1 2020 results announcement to next week. 

The gold miner has reported higher than forecast gold production of 130,994 in the second quarter, increasing 5 per cent from 125,090 in the first quarter. It included in the statement that operations, supply chains and shipments have not been materially impacted by Covid-19 to date. CEO Martin Horgan said: “Whilst we continue to actively manage the potential future impacts of COVID-19, we remain confident we are on track to meet guidance and have narrowed the production range to 510,000 to 525,000 ounces and kept cost guidance unchanged”. 



High street revival fizzles out as long queues deter shoppers – The Times

Airports ‘may cut 20,000 jobs’ unless rates relaxed – The Daily Telegraph

About 30,000 jobs at risk in UK events industry – The Financial Times