By Powerscourt on 02/09/2020

Powerscourt Coronavirus Briefing – 02 September 2020


The UK housing market is on fire and recorded the fastest one month rise since 2004, according to a respected survey produced by Nationwide, the UK’s largest building society. The society said that prices rose by 2% in August and are at an all time high.

Shopping areas have had their best week since lockdown started with the Eat Out to Help Out scheme taking credit. Footfall across all UK retail sites rose by 6% last week, according to data firm Springboard. Shopping centres saw a 9.1% increase in visitors week on week.

Given travel restrictions, it will be more difficult to stimulate aviation. Airbus shared data with customers and trade partners that illustrated the shock to the system. Of the 10,404 Airbus planes in global fleets, one third had not flown in the previous five days, according to an August 24 company newsletter reported by Bloomberg. China is leading the way back for the industry.

Thailand offers some hope for travel, saying it wants to reopen tourism this winter. The country celebrated a remarkable milestone yesterday: 100 days without a locally sourced case. This is attributed in part to super-strict border controls and supervised quarantine.

The news from the US is also encouraging. Numbers hospitalised in Miami are falling rapidly, down two thirds since June. Florida, Texas and California all seem over the worst.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the leading US epidemiologist, sounded an optimistic note in an interview with Kaiser Health News when he said that he thought vaccine trials might end early if the results were sufficiently positive. There will be a month of vaccine news with updates on a number of trials.

The American government has invested $11billion in its Operation Warp Speed project whose goal is to get 300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine to citizens by the end of 2020. Numerous vaccines are being manufactured, even before trials are completed.

Maybe the project is going to plan because, according to the Washington Post, the Trump administration says it will not join a global effort to develop a vaccine, in part because the World Health Organization is involved. More than 170 countries are in talks to participate in the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) Facility, which aims to speed vaccine development, secure doses for all countries and distribute them to the most high-risk segment of each population.

And finally, new figures from the UK Office for National Statistics show that the odds of catching Covid-19 in England are about 44 in a million a day. The Sun says that there is a one in two million chance of dying from Covid-19 in England, making coronavirus as risky as taking a bath or skiing — and considerably less risky than scuba diving or sky diving.





The automotive retailer announced a strategy update this morning, in which it highlighted that during the lockdown period it advanced its digital and fulfilment capabilities with the addition of online payment and home delivery. Additional “efficiency gains” in the form of unprofitable store closures and workforce reduction will deliver £37m annual benefit, it said.

The Gym Group
The company reported its interim results, highlighting that its gyms were closed for more than half the reporting period which resulted in a pre-tax loss of £26m. CEO Richard Darwin said: “We anticipate the long-term structural growth of low-cost gyms will continue to be driven by the underlying interest in health and fitness, which is accelerating as a result of COVID 19 and the Government’s initiative to reduce obesity. With the likelihood of a challenging economic environment in the coming months, gym-goers will increasingly look for great value and as the lowest-priced high quality gym operator we are well placed to meet this demand.”



The airline released its August traffic statistics, which showed a 53% fall from the same period last year. 7m passengers flew with the company in August, down from 14.9m in 2019, as Ryanair operated 60% of its normal schedule with 73% load factor. The announcement cites COVID-19 restrictions as impacting the numbers.

Wizz Air
The airline also released August statistics, showing a 41% fall in passengers from 2019. The company operated at 80% capacity with 71% load factor. It also announced four new aircraft and new routes.


Financials & Real Estate

Barratt Developments
The housebuilder announced its full year results, reporting a 45.9% fall in pre-tax profit and an almost 30% drop in completions. The company said COVID-19 and the lockdown significantly reduced completion volumes, increased costs and impacted profits. CEO David Thomas said: “Although uncertainties remain, all of our sites are operational, we are seeing very strong consumer demand and our robust financial position means we enter the new financial year with cautious optimism.”



Boris Johnson quizzed over claim workers have returned to offices The Financial Times

Rise in mortgage approvals points to recoveryThe Times

UK to ramp up return-to-workplace campaign after COVID slumpReuters