Business News

Coronavirus: ‘Relief’ for Leicester businesses out of lockdown – BBC News

Staff wiping down surfaces at Leicester Racecourse Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Businesses across the city – including Leicester Racecourse – have put extra safety measures in place

Owners of restaurants, pubs and hairdressers in Leicester have spoken of their “relief” at being able to open for the first time since March.

Businesses which were preparing to open with the rest of England on 4 July were told on 29 June to remain shut as a local lockdown was announced.

At the end of last week it was announced some hospitality businesses in Leicester could reopen.

Restaurant owner Dharmesh Lakhani said he was “really happy” to get to work.

Image copyright Dharmesh Lakhani
Image caption Restaurant owner Dharmesh Lakhani said he was “really, really excited” to be reopening

Mr Lakhani, who runs Bobby’s in the city’s Belgrave Road, is opening at midday and said he was worried it would take businesses in Leicester longer to recover because people would be reluctant to travel there due to the “stigma” of the local lockdown.

“Four-and-a-half months we have been shut. It is quite demoralising,” he said.

“We are already one month behind the rest of the country. That was the toughest part. It made us feel inadequate.”

However, although he said he believed it would be a “slow start”, he said he was “really, really excited to finally get a chance to open the business and get into some sort of routine and normality”.

Image caption Blake Edwards said there could be a “rocky road ahead” for many businesses

Blake Edwards, of the Flappers and Gentlemen hair salon, will be opening on Tuesday for the first time since March.

He said he felt a “massive relief” at finally being able to open, adding he wanted to make people feel proud of Leicester again.

He said the lockdown had “cost the businesses immensely”.

“We know there is a rocky road ahead,” said Mr Edwards.

“We are happy but aware safety is the number one priority. We don’t want any more setbacks.”

He said as well as affecting the mental health of people working in Leicester, the lockdown had taken a toll on business owners like himself who had to go to bed “working out whether they can still carry on employing the team”.

He said: “You really have had to be mentally strong.”

He added he hoped the reopening of businesses would “hopefully start pushing Leicester in the direction it deserves”.

Image caption Pub manager Sarah Gillett said she hoped people would not be nervous to visit

Sarah Gillett, manager of the Market Tavern, in Market Place, said the pub would be opening at 10:00 BST.

She said she felt “very relieved”, adding “it has been a long time coming”.

She said: “We don’t know how it is going to be. We don’t know whether people will still come out or be nervous.

“I don’t know how everyone is going to take the rules and regulations. If everyone does what they are told it will be fine.

“Alcohol and common sense don’t mix well but we don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun.

“I am a bit apprehensive but this time next week we will wonder what we were worried about, I’m sure.”

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Uppsala Reggae Jam Festival 2020 wins in celebrating culture – Jamaica Gleaner

To celebrate Emancipation Day is to celebrate roots and culture, and what better way than through the dynamic showcase of reggae music. It was definitely a winning move for Uppsala Reggae Jam Festival, who last Saturday premiered a spirited, live virtual concert at the legendary Harry J Studio.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has caused travel restrictions and minimised mass physical contact, thereby creating a new norm in how we consume entertainment. But that hasn’t stopped the entertainment arena from thriving.

Instead of cancelling touring plans entirely, Uppsala Reggae Jam Festival drummed up an ingenious idea of executing in the musical mecca of Kingston to bring fans the best melodies and beats Jamaica has to offer. All this without the patrons leaving the comfort of their homes. Seeing great value in the initiative, the Jamaica Tourist Board, Ministry of Youth, and the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport jumped onboard.

Boasting top local acts for the world to see, the recording artistes were equally grateful for the opportunity to put their passion on sweet display. Talents like Dean Fraser, Kumar, Chevaughn, Sherieta Lewis, Chezidek, Mackeehan, Samory I, Zhayna France, Kim Ashe, Voicemail, EarthKry, Ras I, Lutan Fyah, Mortimer, Duane Stephenson, Jesse Royal, and Kabaka Pyramid gave stellar performances in honour of the monumental occasion.

The Gleaner had a one-on-one interview with Lutan Fyah after he blazed the stage. “This was a great move for the promoters. It was a great performance. I am a musician; this is what I do every day. I was playing with five experienced musicians. And we understand that we have to perform for the camera. And a lot of people sitting in their houses on their couch, cooking dinner and ah watch it. So we affi gi dem a vibe. So we do it as if we were performing in front of 40,000 people.”

Some scheduled artistes got so caught up in their performances that once their 15 to 20 minutes of fame flew by in the blink of an eye, they could be heard asking for more time, raring to go for an encore. But the promoter kept everything in check and on cue – short and spicy was the order of the day.


To keep the live stream more engaging and to facilitate flipping through the smooth transition of performances, Tara Johnson, owner and proprietor of Harry J Studios, explained that the dedicated team staged two locations. One stage basked in the bliss of all things natural by day: the breeze, swaying trees and sunshine. While the other set indoors presented a performance platform of vibrant cultural colours by night.

The Emancipation Day celebratory event was enjoyed by audience members hailing from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Sweden, Germany, and of course, Jamaica.

Business News

India’s factory activity contracted at a sharper pace in July – The Indian Express

By: Reuters | Bengaluru | Published: August 3, 2020 10:45:00 am

A further decline in new orders and output signaled weakness in overall demand despite factories again cutting their prices, leading firms to reduce their workforces for a fourth month in a row. (Representational image)

India’s factory slump deepened in July as renewed lockdown measures to contain surging coronavirus cases weighed on demand and output, raising the chances of a sharper economic contraction, a private business survey showed on Monday.

Asia’s third-largest economy, which has the third-highest coronavirus caseload globally, is expected to shrink at its sharpest pace since 1979 this fiscal year, a Reuters poll found last week.

Reinforcing that grim outlook, the Nikkei Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, compiled by IHS Markit, fell to 46.0 last month from 47.2 in June, below the 50-level separating growth from expansion for a fourth straight month and marking its longest spell of contraction since March 2009.

“The survey results showed a re-acceleration of declines in the key indices of output and new orders, undermining the trend towards stabilisation seen over the past two months,” noted Eliot Kerr, an economist at IHS Markit.

“Anecdotal evidence indicated that firms were struggling to obtain work, with some of their clients remaining in lockdown, suggesting that we won’t see a pick-up in activity until infection rates are quelled and restrictions can be further removed.”

A further decline in new orders and output signaled weakness in overall demand despite factories again cutting their prices, leading firms to reduce their workforces for a fourth month in a row.

A persistent decline in both input and output prices raises the chance that overall inflation would ease, after spiking above the upper bound of the Reserve Bank of India’s medium-term target of 2-6% in June.

That might give the RBI more room to ease policy further, after having cut its repo rate by 115 basis points (bps) since March to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic.

The central bank was forecast to cut its key interest rate by another 50 bps by year-end, according to a Reuters poll.

With more monetary stimulus expected, business optimism about the coming 12 months hit a five-month high in July, the PMI showed.

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World News

US entering ‘different’ phase of coronavirus outbreak – BBC News

A woman wears a mask and gloves as he shops at a fruit stand in New York Image copyright Reuters
Image caption America has reported around a quarter of the world’s infections

One of President Trump’s top medical advisers has warned that the US is entering a new phase in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Deborah Birx told CNN the disease was “extraordinarily widespread” across the country and a greater threat than when the outbreak first began.

She said it was now affecting rural areas as well as big cities.

She said rural communities were not immune and should wear masks and practice social distancing.

The US has recorded more cases and deaths than any other country.

According to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, more than 4.6 million infections and at least 154,834 deaths have been confirmed in America.

Worldwide, nearly 18 million cases and at least 687,072 deaths have been reported.

What did Birx say?

“To everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus,” said Dr Birx, a leading member of the White House’s coronavirus task force.

“This epidemic right now is different and it’s more widespread and it’s both rural and urban.”

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Deborah Birx has urged people to return from holidays in any outbreak hotspots

She also shared her concerns about people taking holidays in hot spots, citing what she had seen while visiting 14 states during the last three weeks.

“As I travelled around the country, I saw all of America moving,” Dr Birx said. “If you have chosen to go on vacation into a hot spot, you really need to come back and protect those with co-morbidities and assume you’re infected.”

America’s outbreak has gained pace over the summer, particularly in southern and western states.

In another development, US House Speaker and leading Democrat Nancy Pelosi attacked Dr Birx, linking her to “disinformation” spread by President Trump.

Dr Birx responded that she always based her decisions on scientific data.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media caption‘We’re still waiting at home for them to come back’
Forex News

ForexLive Asia FX news wrap: USD/JPY little changed after swing higher retraced – ForexLive

Forex news for Asia trading Monday 3 August 2020

USD/JPY strengthened 50 points to above 106.40 in morning Asia trade, the move higher occurring over the course of only about 30 minutes before slowly retracing the whole move over the following hours. There were a number of factors involved including:

  • follow through buying from Friday’s huge move up lows under 104.20 with a round of stops finally taken out above 106.10
  • news of a M&A move out of Japan, Seven Eleven’s parent company to buy out a US convenience store operation

Other currencies, too, followed through on Friday moves with a higher USD against EUR, AUD, NZD, GBP and again, a subsequent unwind of the Asia morning move to leave them all not a lot changed on the session (with some variance by currency of course).

Further US-China tensions were evident in weekend remarks from US Sec State Pompeo who said in a TV interview that action would be taken against Chinese companies, not just TikTok. News came out during the session here that TikTok parent ByteDance has been given 45 days to negotiate a deal to sell the app to, at this stage at least, Microsoft.

Coronavirus news centred on harsher lockdown restrictions announced in UK citiy of Manchester and Australian city of Melbourne. There will be further restrictions announced for Melbourne in the next couple of hours.

Late Friday in the US Fitch affirmed the US rating but downgraded the outlook for the country from stable to negative.

usd yen wrap 03 August 2020

Economy News

A private survey showed China’s manufacturing activity expanded at the fastest pace in nearly a decade – CNBC

Results of a private survey on Monday showed China’s manufacturing activity expanded for the month of July — the fastest pace in nearly a decade, according to records.

The Caixin/Markit manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) came in at 52.8 for July, marking its third straight month of expansion.

Companies registered the fast expansions in output and new orders since January 2011 amid reports of firmer customer demand, noted Caixin and IHS Markit in their report of the survey results.

“As production and demand expanded, measures for purchases and stocks of purchased items both remained strong,” said Wang Zhe, senior economist at Caixin Insight Group.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected Caixin/Markit manufacturing PMI to come in at 51.3 for July as compared to 51.2 for June.

PMI readings above 50 indicate expansion, while those below that signal contraction. PMI readings are sequential and indicate on-month expansion or contraction.

China’s manufacturing sector has been battered as factories were shut earlier in the year due to large-scale lockdowns to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Demand was also hit as the virus spread globally. The gauge for new export orders remained in contractionary territory for the seventh consecutive month in July.

“Although the pace of the contraction slowed, overseas demand remained a drag on overall demand,” Wang wrote in a report.

While recently there was some resurgence of the virus in parts of China, supply and demand both improved, he added.

“Overall, flare-ups of the epidemic in some regions did not hurt the improving trend of the manufacturing economy, which continued to recover as more epidemic control measures were lifted,” said Wang.

However, employment remained weak in July, he said.

Policy stimulus helped

The private survey showed that policy stimulus is helping the world’s second-largest economy in its recovery from the pandemic, said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics, a consultancy.

That is as the gauge for export orders remained low at 48.3. Most of the strength in the gauge for new orders — which came in at 54.4 — was therefore due to the rebound in policy-driven domestic demand, Evans-Pritchard said in a note after the release of the survey results.

“The survey data are consistent with our view that policy stimulus has paved the way for a period of above-trend growth in construction and industry,” he wrote. “In the near-term this should help offset continued weakness in consumption and services activity, allowing the economy as a whole to return to its pre-virus trend by year-end,” he added.

Official manufacturing survey results release last week also painted a picture of recovery.

On Friday, China reported official manufacturing PMI that came in at 51.1 in July as compared to 50.9 in June, beating economists’ forecasts of 50.7. The expansion in China’s official PMI for the fifth straight month was due to demand for electrical and pharmaceutical goods.

The official PMI survey typically polls a large proportion of big businesses and state-owned companies. The private Caixin and IHS Markit survey features a bigger mix of small- and medium-sized firms.

World News

Mexico crime: Mexican police seize alleged oil theft crime boss The Sledgehammer – BBC News

A handout photo made available by the Guanajuato State Attorney's Office showing the arrest of José Antonio Yépez, 2 August 2020 Image copyright EPA
Image caption Security forces showed off their captive

Mexican security forces have seized the head of a criminal gang specialising in stealing fuel from pipelines in the central state of Guanajuato.

José Antonio Yépez, better-known as El Marro – or The Sledgehammer – was one of the most wanted men in the country.

Mexican police had been closing in on him in recent months and had taken his mother and sister into custody.

Their arrests prompted him to release a bizarre, tearful video last month, declaring war on the security forces.

The women have since been released.

Police arrested the suspect in an early morning raid on Sunday on two houses in Guanajuato, also freeing a kidnapped businesswoman and seizing weapons.

Eight other people were at the two sites, most of them suspected gang members.

The 40-year-old allegedly heads the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel, which has been engaged in a turf war with other criminal organisations, including the powerful Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

BBC World Service Latin American editor Leonardo Rocha says his capture marks a significant victory for the Mexican government, which has struggled with a surge in violence that even the coronavirus pandemic has failed to contain.

Left-wing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took power in December 2018 promising to “achieve peace and end the war” in the country, but more than 31,000 people were murdered in 2019 alone and thousands more have disappeared.

He vowed to create a new national guard to tackle violence, however few have signed up to the force.

World News

Two cruise ships hit by coronavirus weeks after industry restarts – The Guardian

Covid-19 has been detected on at least two cruise ships – one in the Arctic and one in the Pacific – just weeks after cruising holidays restarted.

At least 40 passengers and crew from the MS Roald Amundsen have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and authorities are trying to contact trace hundreds of passengers from two recent Arctic voyages the ship took.

Four crew members on the MS Roald Amundsen were hospitalised on Friday when the ship arrived at the Norwegian port of Tromsø, and later diagnosed with the respiratory illness. Tests showed another 32 of the 158 staff were also infected.

But 178 passengers were allowed to leave the ship in Tromsø, triggering a complex operation to locate them in order to contain any potential spread.

So far, four of the 387 passengers who travelled on the ship on two separate cruises since 17 July have been found to carry the virus, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) and the Tromsoe municipality said.

“We expect that more infections will be found in connection to this outbreak,” Line Vold, a senior FHI executive, said. Passengers have been told to self-isolate.

The Hurtigruten line, owner of the MS Roald Amundsen as well as 15 other vessels, in mid-June became the first to return to oceangoing cruises following a three-month halt due to the pandemic.

Asked later on Sunday whether the authorities had by now located and tested everyone potentially infected aboard the cruise liner, an FHI spokesman said: “Messages have been sent to all the passengers. We’re now seeking to verify that the information has been received and understood.”

In March, the Roald Amundsen was stranded at sea for several days with more than 100 passengers on board, after Chile refused it entry to port because of confirmed coronavirus cases on the ship.

In the Pacific, passengers aboard the Paul Gauguin – docked in Papeete, Tahiti – have been told to stay in their cabins after Covid-19 was detected on board by the ship’s doctor, French Polynesian press reports.

The Paul Gauguin was sailing between Bora Bora and the Rangiroa islands, when a positive case was detected in a crew member. The ship immediately turned around to head back to its home port.

It is not known how many passengers are on board – numbers have been reduced as part of the Ponant company’s strict coronavirus protocols – but infectious disease specialists will test every person on board.

Ponant has been contacted for comment.

The Paul Gauguin resumed sailing on 18 July for local residents, and on 29 July for international guests. French Polynesia opened its borders to all nationalities on 15 July.

Travellers to French Polynesia must take a Covid-19 test – and return a negative result – within three days of leaving for the islands. A further test is required shortly after arrival.

with Reuters

Economy News

Shocking economic data creates dark cloud over global outlook – Sydney Morning Herald

The US experienced its biggest post-war economic contraction, a 9.5 per cent slump from a March quarter in which the economy also shrunk slightly as the first effects of the pandemic started to emerge. Annualised, the decline in GDP would be almost 33 per cent, although it is most unlikely it will plumb those depths.

The eurozone’s numbers were even worse: a 12.1 per cent June-quarter fall in activity for an annualised collapse in activity of about 40 per cent. That followed a 3.6 per cent decline in the March quarter.

Spain’s quarter-on-quarter slump was 18.5 per cent; Italy’s 12.4 per cent; France’s nearly 14 per cent and Europe’s economic powerhouse, Germany’s, 10.1 per cent.

Europe is, however, reopening its economies, albeit cautiously, and may well have passed its low point if the virus continues to be kept under control.

The outlook for the US, which is critical to the health of the global economy, is more clouded and exacerbated by the stand-off between the Democrats, Republicans and the White House over a new relief package.


The US, after bringing the initial hot spots under control, appeared to be bouncing back. About 7.5 million of the 20 million jobs lost in April were recovered in May and June, raising hopes of a “V-shaped” recovery.

It’s now likely that some of those jobs that were recovered have again disappeared, with the jobs report due this Friday likely to show another uptick in unemployment numbers.

If Congress isn’t able to agree a new stimulus/relief package, or the Republicans have their way and the level of income support in the original response to the pandemic is slashed by two-thirds, the impact on employment and the wider economy is likely to be pronounced, and not in a positive way.

As Victorians can now attest, attempts at an economic recovery in the midst of a pandemic are fragile and vulnerable even in economies that took extreme measures in response to the emergence of the virus. The spectre of an imminent reversal and another lockdown overshadows any attempt to reopen economies.

The alternative of allowing the virus to spread largely unchecked, as the US is discovering, is equally, if not more unpalatable and costly. Lockdowns without sufficient support for businesses and individuals magnify and prolong the longer-term economic costs.

With the US job numbers and latest Purchasing Managers’ Index (which provides an insight into manufacturing and service sector activity) due to be released this week, there’ll be a better insight into the extent to which there was a rebound in activity in the US before the virus flared up in states that had previously been largely spared.

Sharemarkets have become almost irrelevant as barometers of economic health and the optimism capitalised into them is misleading.

The US Federal Reserve Board, which has been urging Congress to provide more stimulus – has made it clear the fate of the US economy depends on the course of the virus and that the central bank continues to “plan for the worst” even though it has already taken unprecedented action to try to protect the US economy and financial system.

The US stockmarket, which sets the tone for markets around the world, continues to trade blithely on as if the virus was of little concern – despite consensus forecasts that the June quarter reporting season will produce an average 37 per cent decline in corporate earnings.

The bond market isn’t as sanguine – the yield on inflation-protected 10-year Treasury bonds was minus 1.03 per cent on Friday – implying years of very low interest rates and growth.


There not a hint of a “V-shaped,” or “U-shaped” recovery or anything but a long and painful crawl back to modest growth over the next couple of years – at best – priced into bond markets.

The Australian 10-year bond yield is about 0.8 per cent and is only positive (momentarily?) in real terms because the June quarter CPI fell 1.9 per cent as the worst impacts of the pandemic flowed through to petrol prices and education services.

Gold prices at record levels and a US dollar whose value has cracked, giving rise to debates about its ability to maintain its status as the world’s reserve currency, are probably better guides to the outlook than equity markets inflated by central bank interest rate and liquidity settings.

The only bright spot in the bleak picture of the global economy provided by Friday’s data is China, where a survey of factory managers showed growth in manufacturing activity for the third successive month.

By itself, however – and even without the ever-deepening and widening hostilities between it and the US – China can’t underwrite a global recovery even if the signs of life in the eurozone economies are sustained.

Sharemarkets have become almost irrelevant as barometers of economic health and the optimism capitalised into them is misleading. At best, even with a vaccine that is quickly and widely distributed, the world will remain in low-growth and uncertain mode at least through 2021, if not beyond.

If there were no vaccine…

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Stephen is one of Australia’s most respected business journalists. He was most recently co-founder and associate editor of the Business Spectator website and an associate editor and senior columnist at The Australian.

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Forex News

FX option expiries for Monday August 03 at the 10am NY cut – ForexLive

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