Japan’s February machinery orders rise in sign of business resilience By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A robot designed by Toyota Motor Corp drops an empty bottle in the waste bin at the offices of Toyota Research Institute – Advanced Development, Inc. (TRI-AD) in Tokyo

By Daniel Leussink

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s core machinery orders unexpectedly rose in February, suggesting business investment remained resilient even as companies braced for a major jolt to demand from the coronavirus pandemic.

Core machinery orders, a highly volatile data series regarded as an indicator of capital spending in the coming six to nine months, rose 2.3% in February from the previous month, Cabinet Office data showed on Wednesday.

The rise followed a 2.9% gain in January and was better than a 2.7% decline predicted by economists in a Reuters poll.

Many analysts expect the global economy to slip into recession due to the widening impact from the pandemic, which has already triggered financial market turmoil in recent weeks as investors brace for a sharp contraction.

Analysts expect the hit to consumption from the coronavirus to worsen in coming months after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency on Tuesday that is seen paralysing activity in major cities.

“Given that other activity indicators and the manufacturing surveys held up well, the resilience of machinery orders in February is not a surprise,” said Capital Economics Japan Economist Tom Learmouth.

“A sharp downturn is in the pipeline though, which should partly be reflected in the March data. We’re forecasting a 3% quarter-on-quarter fall in non-residential investment this quarter.”

Abe unveiled a stimulus package of almost $1 trillion on Tuesday that includes 39.5 trillion yen ($363 billion) in direct fiscal spending, largely to offset the immediate damage from the pandemic.

Japanese business confidence soured to a seven-year low in the quarter through March, a Bank of Japan (BOJ) survey showed last week, as the pandemic hit sectors from hotels to car makers.

By sector, manufacturers’ orders edged down 1.7%, weighed by chemicals, while core orders from the service-sector rose 5.0%, led by gains in the transport and postal business.

The BOJ is set to hold its next meeting in three weeks after easing monetary policy last month by pledging to buy exchange-traded funds at double the current pace, joining global central banks in fighting the pain from the pandemic.

Analysts see Japan’s economy, which shrank in the final quarter of last year, contracting over the following two quarters as the pandemic worsens.

From a year earlier, core machinery orders were down 2.4% in February, largely in line with a 2.9% decline seen by economists in a Reuters poll and after a 0.3% fall in January.

($1 = 108.6900 yen)

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Japan’s real wages rise in February for second straight month By Reuters


© Reuters. Employee works at Japanese brewer Kirin Holdings’ factory in Toride, Japan

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s inflation-adjusted real wages rose for a second straight month in February, official data showed on Tuesday, in a sign of relief for an economy under threat of a deep downturn over the coronavirus pandemic.

The world’s third-largest economy is expected to have slipped into recession – marked by two quarters of negative growth – in the March quarter as the coronavirus hit demand, led to travel bans and disrupted supply chains.

Real wages, a gauge of household purchasing power, gained 0.5% in February from a year earlier, labour ministry data showed, following a downwardly revised 0.4% rise in the previous month.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday said the government would launch a stimulus package of around 108 trillion yen. It was not immediately clear how much of that package would be new government spending.

The monthly wage data showed nominal total cash earnings rose 1.0% in the year to February after a revised 1.2% gain in January.

One-off special payments were up 21.5% in February after a downwardly revised 9.5% gain in January. Regular pay – or base salary, which makes up most of total cash earnings and determines a wage trend – grew 0.7%, the data showed.

Overtime pay, a barometer of strength in corporate activity, dropped 1.2% in February from a year earlier, down for a sixth straight month.

Revelations last year that labour ministry officials used faulty polling methods cast doubt on the accuracy of the ministry’s wage data from 2004 to 2017. The flaw has made it harder to gauge the actual wage trend.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Huawei posts 5.6% rise in 2019 profit, smallest increase in three years By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Huawei company logo is pictured at the Shenzhen International Airport in Shenzhen

By David Kirton

SHENZHEN, China (Reuters) – China’s Huawei Technologies reported its smallest annual profit increase in three years, hurt by weak overseas sales amid an intensifying U.S. campaign to restrict its global expansion due to security concerns.

Net profit for 2019 came in at 62.7 billion yuan ($8.9 billion), up 5.6% compared with a 25% jump a year earlier.

Its carrier business, which includes 5G mobile network equipment, saw sales rise just 3.8%.

Accusing Huawei of being a threat to national security, Washington placed the company on its so-called Entity List, which restricts sales of U.S.-made goods and some other items made abroad that contain U.S. technology.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is also preparing further measures that will seek to restrict the supply of chips to the company, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters this month.

The United States alleges the Chinese government could use Huawei equipment to spy, an accusation Huawei has rejected.

“We will need to further adapt to the long-standing restrictions imposed by the Entity List, while also addressing the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Liang Hua, chairman of the board, said in a report posted on its website.

Overall revenue rose 19% to 858.8 billion yuan, helped by a 34% jump in sales for its consumer business unit which includes smartphones.

That was mainly driven by China, where sales surged 36.2% to 506.7 billion yuan. In contrast, revenue from the Asia-Pacific region excluding China fell 13.9%, while in Europe and the Middle East sales grew just 0.7%.

Huawei dominated smartphone sales in China, taking a 38.5% share of the market in 2019 compared with 27% a year earlier, according to research firm Canalys. This was in part due to a boost in nationalist sentiment after the company came under increasing pressure from the United States.

It spent 15.3% of its revenue, or 131.7 billion yuan, in research and development last year. Cash flow from operating activities jumped by more than one fifth to 91.4 billion yuan, thanks to a strong performance in its home market.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

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U.S. pending home sales rise 2.4% in February By Reuters


© Reuters.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Contracts to buy previously owned homes rose for the second straight month in February, the National Association of Realtors said on Monday.

The NAR’s pending home sales index increased to a reading of 111.5, up 2.4% from the prior month. January’s index was revised slightly to 108.9 from 108.8.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast pending home sales falling 1.0% last month.

Pending home contracts generally are seen as a forward-looking indicator of the health of the housing market because they become sales one to two months later.

But Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, noted that the data did not capture the significant fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, which is likely to derail the housing market as layoffs surge and the economy falters.

U.S. existing home sales surged to a 13-year high in February, data earlier this month showed.

Compared to one year ago, pending sales were up 9.4% in February.

 

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



‘Rocks Don’t Go Bankrupt:’ Experts Say Shale Shall Rise Again By Bloomberg


© Reuters. ‘Rocks Don’t Go Bankrupt:’ Experts Say Shale Shall Rise Again

(Bloomberg) — The American shale industry shocked the world with its rebound after the 2014-2016 bust, setting records for output that pushed the U.S. to the top spot among oil-producing countries. A handful of experts is saying that will happen again.

The comeback trail would be steep and long. The spread of coronavirus is crushing demand while Saudi Arabia and Russia are creating a glut. Everybody agrees U.S. production will take a bigger hit than last time, when it dipped before soaring. As many as 70% of the 6,000 shale drillers may go bankrupt, and one-third of shale-patch workers are expected to lose their jobs. Wall Street, which financed the last boom, has cut off the cash spigot.

But some experts are saying the future, however far off, will be better. They’re looking past the dire forecasts and vertical chart lines and cautioning against despair. They’re echoing a widespread view that’s mostly unspoken during the market meltdown: Yes, America can shock the world again. The boom-and-bust cycle will shift, and shale is in a position, with its infrastructure, its ability to ramp-up quickly and its plentiful reserves, to rise from the ashes stronger than ever.

When the dust settles in the Permian Basin and other American shale fields, the survivors will be leaner and more tech savvy, according to Daniel Yergin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning oil historian and vice chairman of IHS Markit Ltd. That means lower production costs and a greater ability to respond to the next price rebound with the last thing Moscow and Riyadh want — another boom.

“Companies go bankrupt, but rocks don’t go bankrupt,” Yergin said in an interview. “When this all shakes out, there will be other people to develop shale.”

Noah Barrett also believes the growth engine of production will be humbled, but won’t flicker out. That’s because shale has extensive infrastructure that isn’t going anywhere.

“The resource is still there, the pipeline capacity, the processing capacity,” said Barrett, a Denver-based energy analyst at Janus Henderson Investors. “Those are still there.”

Even if predictions are correct, that overall American oil output will slide to 8 million or 9 million barrels a day, down about one-third from the current 13 million, the U.S. would still count among the world’s very top producers, Barrett said.

Fereidun Fesharaki is a shale believer, too. The chairman of global energy consultant FGE said he also expects the price squeeze to force explorers to become more efficient and cost-competitive.

Still, any rays of optimism must penetrate a very dense, dark cloud. In the market cataclysm that’s still unfolding, crude and fuel prices around the world have sunk to levels not seen in nearly two decades.

As if by evil magic, the Covid-19 outbreak has chased tens of millions of people from streets, stores, factories and travel hubs, suddenly degrading demand for gasoline, jet fuel and diesel across the world’s largest economies.

Veteran crude analyst Roger Diwan expects global consumption to plunge by more than 14 million barrels a day — the biggest demand shock since the birth of the oil age. The pipeline that hauls 60% of the East Coast’s gasoline supply from the Gulf Coast is cutting capacity by one-fifth. In Chicago, wholesale gasoline tumbled to 15 cents a gallon, the lowest since at least 1992.

The virus-driven calamity has been compounded by the disintegration earlier this month of the Russia-Saudi cooperation pact that capped global crude supplies. Because of the rapidly expanding worldwide glut of crude, a barrel of oil in some parts of Texas recently fetched about $16. In Canada, oil traded for less than $10.

The price plunge instantly made thousands of prospective shale sites money-losing propositions. Companies have been in such a hurry to cut losses that some have paid early-termination penalties on rigs and other gear to halt work before contracts are up.

Slashing Spending

Even Chevron Corp. (NYSE:) is retrenching. The California giant, widely recognized as holding some of the richest acreage in the Permian, said Tuesday it was slashing spending by $4 billion and halting share buybacks to conserve cash.

In the final three months of 2019, nine explorers and six service companies filed for bankruptcy, according to Haynes and Boone LLC. That represented $13.5 billion in debt. This year’s churn is just getting started. Mizuho Securities analyst Paul Sankey expects as many as 70% of the 6,000 or so shale drillers to go bankrupt before the cycle turns.

But private-equity firms that swooped in to buy ailing explorers and tempting assets during the last bust won’t be able to unfurl a safety net this time. The buy-and-flip model that underpinned their foray into shale has disappeared, forcing those firms to become oilfield operators, which in turn means tapping their own credit facilities, said Ian Rainbolt, vice president of finance at Warwick Energy Group, the biggest owner of non-operated U.S. shale assets.

Only about one-third of the Permian and other U.S. fields count as sweet spots that can harvest oil profitably at $30 a barrel, he said. West Texas Intermediate traded at $22.60 on Thursday.

“Private equity’s going to be out of the game,” Rainbolt said. “It’s a very, very tough fund-raising market.”

In the meantime, service providers — the hired hands of the oil industry who do everything from stack steel pipes to frack wells — will experience extreme pressure, along with the explorers who are demanding price cuts, said Stacey Morris, director of research at Alerian, an indexing and research company. Pipeline owners are somewhat insulated because oil and still need to be shipped to refiners and export terminals, she said.

Shale Threshold

“The market is going to be out of balance for quite some time,” Morris said.

Yergin, the confidante of oil ministers and chief executives, sees the threshold for reinvigorating shale between $50 and $60 a barrel. U.S. crude was trading above the $50 level as recently as Feb. 26.

“At $50, we’ll start to see a recovery and a step up in investment, so long as people feel safe about the price floor beneath them,” he said.

It’s funny that Yergin should put it that way. A big part of shale’s resilience lies in its unique geology. Unlike the so-called conventional fields in Saudi Arabia and Russia, North American shale is rock so dense that it doesn’t degrade or collapse on itself if oil production is interrupted. In other parts of the world, disrupting output can do irreversible damage.

That’s why the bulk of Chevron’s $4 billion spending cut will take place in the Permian, CEO Mike Wirth said Tuesday. It’s a rare field where production can be turned off almost instantly without adverse long-term impacts.

With shale, “the assets don’t go away because you haven’t destroyed the field,” said Ken Medlock, senior director of Rice University’s Center for Energy Studies. “We’ll see a thinning of the herd but the assets will still be there.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.



Kraken Predicts Wealth Transfer will Cause BTC Rise to $350K by 2045 By Cointelegraph


Kraken Predicts Wealth Transfer will Cause BTC Rise to $350K by 2045

Millennials and Generation Xers in the United States currently practicing sheltering in place and social distancing may find some solace that — in addition to saving lives — they may stand to inherit almost $70 trillion from Baby Boomers in the years to come.

Kraken Intelligence, the in-house research team at the crypto exchange of the same name, released a new report entitled “Inheriting USDs & Acquiring BTCs: How ‘The Great Wealth Transfer’ Will Fuel ‘The Great Adoption.’”

Continue Reading on Coin Telegraph

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Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



South Korea’s March 1-20 exports rise, but virus-led demand slump seen weighing By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A truck drives between shipping containers at a container terminal at Incheon port in Incheon

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean exports rose 10.0% in the first 20 days of March from a year earlier, customs data showed on Monday, though a deepening slump in overseas demand triggered by the coronavirus pandemic is expected to weigh on the full month data.

Average exports per working day slid 0.4% during the period when eliminating the calendar effect. There were 1.5 more working days compared with the same period last year.

Exports to China, where the virus originated, rose 4.9% on-year in the 20-day period, the Korea Customs Service data showed. China is South Korea’s largest trading partner which takes in a quarter of total overseas sales.

Outbound shipments of semiconductors, the nation’s major export, jumped 20.3%.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Rates on commercial paper continue to rise after Fed action By Reuters



By Kate Duguid

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The cost for companies to borrow short-term loans increased again on Thursday, suggesting investors remained skeptical that the Federal Reserve’s facility announced on Tuesday would significantly improve liquidity in the commercial paper market.

The Fed will reinstate an operation used during the 2008 financial crisis called the Commercial Paper Funding Facility (CPFF) to get credit directly to businesses. But the price the Fed is asking is far higher than it was in 2008 and may not do much to encourage prospective issuers or to anchor costs.

The rate to borrow both low- and high-grade 90-day paper – the longest maturity on offer – rose by about 20 basis points each on Thursday, according to two sources active in the commercial paper market. For overnight paper, the rate for lower-grade paper rose by 10 basis points, and by 5 for higher-grade paper.

There were some signs that stress was beginning to ease, however.

Overnight rates had also risen on Wednesday, according to Fed data posted Thursday, though the spread between overnight low- and high-grade rates, which had on Tuesday risen to the widest level since 2008, narrowed slightly.

Spread widening suggests investors are demanding higher premiums to hold risky debt.

The FRA-OIS spread , a proxy for risk in the banking sector, widened by 6.4 basis points on Thursday, though it was off the post-financial-crisis high hit on Monday. The widening spread this week has indicated that investors bet that companies will continue to draw on existing lines of credit at banks, potentially putting them under stress.

Companies including Boeing Co (N:), Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc (N:) and SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (N:) have drawn on lines of credit with banks in recent weeks.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

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Calls Rise for Emergency Dollar Funding, With Strains Escalating By Bloomberg



(Bloomberg) — Emerging signs of a rush for dollars in the global financial system have spurred calls for the world’s central banks to use a key tool deployed during the credit crisis more than a decade ago: currency swap lines.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index climbed more than 1% for the second time this week on Thursday, reaching a three-year high. The Japanese yen, so often a haven in times of stress, closed little changed despite the biggest stock slide on Wall Street since the 1987 crash. Emerging-market currencies including South Korea’s won and Mexico’s peso have tumbled this week, evidence that foreign investors are yanking money and scrambling into the greenback.

Gauges of dollar demand for traders have shown rapidly mounting strains. While central banks including the Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan have been injecting liquidity into domestic money markets, they have yet to tap into swap lines that were set up more than a decade ago to avoid a paralyzing shortage of the world’s main reserve currency.

“Additional liquidity measures will likely be needed,” Evercore ISI analysts Krishna Guha and Ernie Tedeschi wrote in a note Thursday, after the U.S. central bank ramped up the amount of cash it’s prepared to inject into funding markets. Further action could address the “distribution of dollars globally as companies hit by cash-flow interruptions look to draw down dollar credit lines.”

The swap lines were set up in 2007, terminated in 2010 and then revived as the euro crisis emerged later that same year. In 2013, the Fed made the arrangements with five developed-nation counterparts a standing facility. Given that they involve the provision of currency to foreign agents, the lines have faced political opposition: Some in the U.S. Congress criticized the Fed for extending dollars to foreign entities in the past.

One option is for countries outside the U.S. to draw down their foreign-exchange reserves. But that could quickly turn into a race among traders to see how much of those stockpiles officials would be willing to run down. The Fed swap lines provide the easiest solution, because they have no pre-set limit.

Yen three-month cross-currency basis swaps slumped by 15 basis points Friday, speaking to the rising cost of dollar funding.

The BOJ, European Central Bank, Bank of England, Swiss National Bank and Bank of Canada are the five with current arrangements with the Fed. During the global crisis the U.S. expanded the access to a number of others, including the central banks of Brazil and South Korea, though no emerging market currently has access.

“We need an extended version of the swap lines we saw in 2008,” Alicia Garcia Herrero, chief Asia Pacific economist at Natixis SA told Bloomberg Television on Monday. “The point is to get the liquidity where it is needed, and that is not rate cuts.”

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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Coronavirus infections rise above 100,000 worldwide as outbreak wreaks financial havoc


LONDON/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The number of people infected with the new coronavirus across the world surpassed 100,000 on Friday as the economic damage intensified, with business districts beginning to empty and stock markets tumbling.

A man is seen wearing a protective face mask at Waterloo station in London, Britain, March 6, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

An increasing number of people faced a new reality as many were asked to stay home from work, schools were closed, large gatherings and events were cancelled, stores cleared of staples like toiletries and water, and face masks became a common sight.

In London, Europe’s financial capital, the Canary Wharf district was unusually quiet. S&P Global’s large office stood empty after the company sent its 1,200 staff home, while HSBC asked around 100 people to work from home after a worker tested positive for the illness. 

In New York, JPMorgan (JPM.N) divided its team between central locations and a secondary site in New Jersey while Goldman Sachs (GS.N) sent some traders to nearby secondary offices in Greenwich, Connecticut and Jersey City.

The outbreak, which has killed more than 3,300 people globally, has radiated across the United States, surfacing in at least four new states plus San Francisco.

More than 2,000 people were stranded on the Grand Princess cruise ship after it was barred from returning to port in San Francisco because at least 35 people aboard developed flu-like symptoms. Test kits were delivered at sea to the vessel.

Moves by some major economies including the United States to cut interest rates and pledge billions of dollars to fight the epidemic have done little to allay fears about the spread of the virus and the economic fallout with supply chains crippled around the world, especially in China.

“There’s concern that while there has been a response from the Fed, given the nature of the problem, is this something the central bank can really help with?” said John Davies, G10 rates strategist at Standard Chartered Bank in London.

SINKING MARKETS

European stocks continued their slide after the Japanese market dropped to a six-month low, with 97% of shares on the Tokyo exchange’s main board in the red. [MKTS/GLOB]

Airline and travel stocks have been among the worst affected as people cancelled non-essential travel. Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWC.OL), the hardest-hit stock among European carriers, has fallen almost 70% since the start of February.

U.S. stock index futures dropped sharply over fears about the epidemic, which has prompted a sharp cut to global economic growth forecasts for 2020. The benchmark S&P 500 .SPX looked set to close out the week more than 10% below its record-high close on Feb. 19.

“If this really ramps up, we could see a lot more kitchen-sinking updates from the travel industry and airlines,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG. “What’s impressive about the current move is it probably understates the degree of disruption we could be facing across the U.S. and Europe.”

Yields on long-dated U.S. Treasury bonds fell to record lows, while gold was on course for its biggest weekly gain since 2011 as investors fled to assets seen as safe havens.

In Europe, British 10-year gilt yields GB10YT=RR also dropped to a record low, while German Bund yields DE10YT=RR fell to within striking distance of record lows.

Yields fall as prices rise.

CABIN CREW MEMBER INFECTED

More than 100,000 people have been infected in over 85 countries, according to a Reuters tally based on statements from health ministries and government officials.

Mainland China, where the outbreak began, has seen more than 3,000 deaths, but the epidemic is now spreading faster elsewhere. The death toll in Italy, which has suffered Europe’s worst outbreak, was at least 148.

About 3.4% of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus – known as COVID-19 – have died, far above seasonal flu’s fatality rate of under 1%, the World Health Organization said this week.

Singapore reported 13 new infections on Friday, its biggest daily jump, including a cabin crew member from Singapore Airlines (SIAL.SI).

In the United States, the world’s economic powerhouse, at least 57 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed as the virus struck for the first time in Colorado, Maryland, Tennessee and Texas, as well as San Francisco in California. Some 230 people have been infected in total and 12 have died.

Slideshow (6 Images)

Google (GOOGL.O), Facebook, Amazon (AMZN.O), and Microsoft (MSFT.O) advised employees in the Seattle area to work from home, after some caught the virus. The companies’ work-from-home recommendation will affect more than 100,000 people in the area.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed an $8.3 billion bill to combat the outbreak, joining a slew of countries including China and South Korea in bolstering their war chests.

Additonal reporting by Steve Gorman and Cath Turner in Los Angeles, Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo, Pamela Barbaglia, Karin Strohecker, Thyagaraju Adinarayan, Ritvik Carvalho and Tommy Wilkes in London, Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Writing by Pravin Char; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Nick Macfie



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