In a Government press conference at 4pm this afternoon the Chief Minister John Le Fondre announced a further relaxation of restrictions, Indoor sports are to reopen (with restrictions) Gyms, Swimming pools and changing rooms and dance classes etc can all resume from Monday 15 March. From the same date Household mixing will also be allowed up to a maximum of 10 people. Singing indoors for Groups of up to 10 people may also resume from this date. On April 12 Alcoholic drinks may be served without food in hospitality venues and pubs that have no food service will also be allowed to reopen.
In Jersey the number of Covid cases has fallen to single figures for the first time since last August. As of today there are 7 Covid cases with 1 person in hospital and in Guernsey there are 9 cases with also just the one person in hospital.
Beginning today Islanders who are above 80 years old and those who work in health and social care will start to receive SMS text messages or emails from the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme confirming the date and time of their second dose appointment.
Head of the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, Becky Sherrington said: “I’m pleased we can start administering second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to ensure our most vulnerable and at-risk Islanders receive the full course of the vaccination which offers optimum protection”.
As of 28 February 33,511 Islanders had received their first vaccine which equates to 31% of the population.
The big announcement this week was of course the UK Budget. Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out the government’s tax and spending plans, which included measures to support the UK’s economic recovery and a series of tax-raising plans to rebalance public finances. In the Chancellor’s speech he confirmed that the UK economy shrank by 10% in 2020 but forecasted a rebound in 2021, with predicted annual growth of 4%, returning the economy to pre-Covid levels by the middle of 2022, with growth of 7.3% next year.
700,000 people have lost their jobs since the pandemic began. Unemployment is expected to peak at 6.5% next year, lower than 11.9% previously predicted. However all this comes at a price with UK borrowing at a peacetime record of £355bn
British Airways (BA) was in the news again with a £3.9bn loss for 2020, accounting for more than half of the airline’s owner IAG total loss for the year. BA’s loss dwarfed that of its stablemates Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling recording losses of €563m, €1.4bn, and €880m respectively, adding up to IAG’s total operating loss of $7.1bn.
Despite the enormous losses, IAG’s share price has performed very well in recent days, rising another 6.9% during the week.
In other news Budweiser announced plans to invest £115m in its UK breweries. Proving that the UK remains attractive to international investors.
The investment will allow it to brew an extra 630m pints a year. Paula Lindenberg, President of the Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I, said: “Like many in the UK, we are focused on a strong recovery of the UK economy”, so it goes to prove that if you drink more, confidence in the economy grows at the same rate as beer bellies.The city watchdog has banned ex-City of London trader Adrian Geoffrey Horn after he engaged in ‘wash trading’, a form of market abuse.
Stocks & Markets
On Monday all US indices registered gains. The DJ30 climbed 2%, the SPX500 jumped 2.4% and the NASDAQ100 up 3% in its best day in almost 9 months. Stocks linked to the economic reopening rose as a third vaccine received approval, and tech stocks recouped from some sharp losses last week. Another contributing factor was the yield on the 10-year US Treasury that fell back after its surge last week, tempering investor fears about the Federal Reserve raising interest rates faster than expected. Bitcoin reached just above $50K before dropping to under $49K. Crypto received a major endorsement from a Citigroup report which said that Bitcoin could become “the currency of choice for international trade.” The majority of top 10 cryptos were up early in the week: Binance Coin up10%, Ethereum 7% and Litecoin 4%
Zoom Telecommunications stock rose almost 10% on Monday on the back of its fourth ¼ earnings being $70 million and earnings per share 43 cents greater than expected. For 2020, sales were up by 369% and profits soared more than 700%
Oil dipped below $60 yesterday, following concerns that OPEC may decide to increase production in its meeting this week, coupled with concerns that demand in China may be dwindling.
Boeing jumps more than 5%: Boeing stock rose by almost 6% on the heels of good news. United Airlines will be buying 25 more 737 Max airplanes, receiving deliveries of new planes ahead of schedule and a successful first flight test with a pilotless like fighter jet in collaboration with the Royal Australian Airforce.
Big tech shows recovery: Several big tech registered impressive gains this week including Tesla (6.3%), Apple (5.4%), Facebook(2.8%), Google (2.2%) and Microsoft (1.96%).
By close on Wednesday, the S&P500 was down 1.3%, the DJ30 1.1% and the NASDAQ100 2.1%.
London markets had closed before the US Federal Reserve Chair’s comments though the UK100 was still down 0.4% on the day. Mining shares fell, Rio Tinto down 8.7%. Antofagasta, Glencore and Anglo American were all down sharply too. A mining sector sell-off was driven by a drop-off in the price of copper, which follows a mammoth run-up in the price of the commodity.
Oil prices shot up this week after OPEC announced it would not increase oil output through April.European markets were down mid-week. The UK FTSE100 was down 47 points to 6613, the GER DAX30 tumbled 103 points, and the FRA CAC40 dropped 39 points.
Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports.
The research, conducted by the University of Minnesota, identifies a virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them.
“These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information,” Davis Logsdon, one of the scientists who contributed to the study, said. “And yet, somehow, they have developed defenses that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those faculties totally inactive.”
While reaffirming the gloomy assessments of the study, Logsdon held out hope that the threat of fact-resistant humans could be mitigated in the future. “Our research is very preliminary, but it’s possible that they will become more receptive to facts once they are in an environment without food, water, or oxygen,” he said.