Powerscourt

By Powerscourt on 31/08/2020

Powerscourt Coronavirus Briefing – 31 August 2020

ANALYSIS

India, already with the third-highest death toll globally (behind the USA and Brazil) hit a new all-time high of nearly 79,500 new cases on Sunday — more cases than ever detected in any other country in a single day.

U.S. cases approached 6 million and cases in the U.K. rose by 1,715, the highest since June 4 and above the previous seven-day average of 1,164.

Senior Tories and business chiefs have warned Chancellor Rishi Sunak that putting up taxes on businesses and pensions to pay huge coronavirus costs could damage the economy. Mr Sunak has identified the pension triple lock as one target and is reportedly considering raising corporation tax from 19 per cent to 24 per cent. The Treasury is also considering reforming capital gains tax so that it is paid at the same rate as income tax and is considering the foreign aid commitment of 0.7 per cent of income.

US employment data, out on Friday, will show whether the number of jobs added in August has extended a rebound that began in May as lockdowns eased. Economists expect non-farm payroll figures to show 1.58m jobs were added in August, down from 1.76m in July. Europe’s jobless figures for July are published on Tuesday. The unemployment rate for the eurozone increased from 7.2 per cent in March to 7.8 per cent in June. On average, economists expect the rate to dip slightly to 7.7 per cent in July.

 

WHAT ARE COMPANIES SAYING?

 

Retail

Saga
Saga, the UK over-50s travel and insurance specialist, is planning to raise £150m in fresh capital and bring back its former chief executive and chairman Roger De Haan, as it seeks to shore up its badly bruised cruises and package holidays business. Sir Roger will invest up to £100m as part of the equity raise and will replace Patrick O’Sullivan as the company’s non-executive chairman, while Euan Sutherland will remain as chief executive, Saga said in a statement. It will seek to raise the remaining £50m from existing shareholders. The amount being raised is almost equivalent to Saga’s current market capitalisation, which has plunged to £153m. Saga’s shares have fallen 75 per cent since the beginning of 2020, after the coronavirus pandemic hit its travel division hard.

 

Industrials 

Sinopec
Sinopec, China’s biggest oil refiner, posted its first ever half-year loss on the back of collapsing oil prices and the impact of coronavirus on demand for fuel in the country. The state-backed company reported a loss of Rmb21.7bn ($3.2bn) in the six months to the end of June – the first of its kind since the group listed in Hong Kong in 2000, and far below a profit of Rmb32.2bn for the same period last year. China’s biggest oil companies have during the past week unveiled the scale of losses resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to put pressure on its largely state-controlled energy industry even as the country enters a period of gradual economic recovery.

 

Financials & Real Estate 

Berkshire Hathaway
Warren Buffett has placed a $6bn contrarian bet on Japan’s five biggest trading houses, the century-old commodity specialists that are increasingly transforming into global venture capital and private equity businesses. Buffett’s move follows an unprecedented $132bn exodus of foreign investment from Japanese equities over the past 32 months on fading optimism about Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic programme. It makes his investment company Berkshire Hathaway one of the biggest shareholders in Mitsubishi Corp, Mitsui & Co, Itochu Corp, Sumitomo Corp and Marubeni Corp. The investment in Japan also marks a decisive lunge beyond the familiarity of his home market in the US, where technology stocks have surged to record highs but other industrial investments have suffered heavy setbacks because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

IN THE NEWS

Coronavirus: reluctant office staff defy government call to commute – The Times

UK spending on coronavirus consultants tops £100m – The Financial Times

Tax rises could ‘choke off’ recovery, Rishi Sunak is warned – The Telegraph




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