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Japan’s economy sinks into recession: Global virus update

Key Developments:

Japan’s Economy Sinks Into a Recession

Japan’s economy sank last quarter into a recession that’s likely to deepen further as households limit spending to essentials and companies cut back on investment, production and hiring to stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gross domestic product shrank an annualized 3.4% in the three months through March from the previous quarter, the Cabinet Office reported. Economists had forecast a 4.5% fall, as the start of social distancing last quarter crimped consumer spending, while supply-chain disruptions and sliding exports hurt manufacturers.

China’s Virus Vaccine Will Be Global Public Good, Xi Says

China will make its coronavirus vaccine a global public good once one is available, President Xi Jinping told the World Health Organization’s governing body.

Xi’s comments come amid growing concern that countries will put national interests first in the quest for a virus. The WHO is pushing a proposal that aims to ensure broad access to COVID-19 treatments and vaccines while offering an appropriate reward to creators.

Chinese Oil Demand Is Almost Back to Pre-Crisis Levels

China’s oil demand is all but back to levels last seen before the imposition of a national lockdown, according to people with inside knowledge of the country’s energy industry.

China is the world’s second-largest oil consumer, behind the U.S., and the country’s quick turnaround has helped tighten the petroleum market sooner than forecast. West Texas Intermediate crude, which a month ago plunged below zero, surged on Monday above $30 a barrel.

In a remarkable turnaround after Chinese demand dropped by about 20% after the February lockdown, consumption of gasoline and diesel has fully recovered as factories reopen and commuters drive rather than use public transport, these people said.

Iran Records Acceleration in New Cases

Iran reported 2,294 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the largest daily increase in more than six weeks, according to Health Ministry figures.

The rise took the overall tally to 122,492 confirmed cases, with more than 7,000 deaths, Kianush Jahanpur, a spokesman for the ministry, said in a televised statement. Iran last month began lifting some restrictions imposed to curtail the virus.

Many Bankers in Denmark May Stay Home Permanently

In Denmark, bankers and their bosses have been so content with the quality of the work they do from home that almost one-third plan to continue some form of the regime once the crisis is over, according to a survey.

Denmark’s economy was shuttered in mid-March, as the government imposed restrictions on movement earlier than many other countries. Since then, about 70% of its finance industry has worked from home. Of the Danish financial firms surveyed in three polls conducted jointly by employers’ and workers’ unions, 85% said they were “very satisfied” or “partly satisfied” with productivity levels during the lockdown.

Germany Hopes to Ease Travel Restrictions

Germany hopes talks with 10 European Union partners Monday will make progress toward lifting a global travel warning and enabling citizens to take vacations this summer, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.

Germany has a worldwide travel warning in place through June 14 on unnecessary leisure trips. Although they are being scaled back, controls will remain in place on Germany’s borders with France, Austria and Switzerland until June 15, as well as for arrivals by air from Spain and Italy.

Indonesia Rules Out Easing Lockdowns as Cases Spike

Indonesian President Joko Widodo ruled out an immediate easing of social distancing rules and ordered officials to strictly enforce a ban on travel during the busy holiday season to prevent a spike in new coronavirus cases.

With new infections soaring 73% so far in May, Jokowi, as the president is known, asked officials at a cabinet meeting to increase the surveillance of industrial clusters and focus on enforcing mobility restrictions at the village level. While the government is preparing scenarios for reopening the economy, no deadline has been set yet, he said.

Germany’s New Cases Rise, Fatalities Drop

Germany recorded a small increase in the number of new coronavirus cases, though the daily death toll fell. There were 617 new cases in the 24 hours through Monday morning, bringing the total to 176,369, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. This compares with 519 new cases reported on Sunday. Fatalities rose by 15 to 7,962.

Singapore Tests 30,000 Preschool Staff

Singapore is testing 30,000 preschool staff in batches from May 15-26 as the government prepares for the reopening of preschools, according to a message sent via its gov.sg WhatsApp channel. More than 6,000 staff have already been swabbed.

“Many have asked whether general services at preschools will resume on 2 June,” Desmond Lee, the city-state’s Minister for Social and Family Development, said in a Facebook post on Sunday. “We are assessing the situation, and hope to be able to make an announcement on this soon.”

Thailand’s Economy Contracts for First Time Since 2014

Thailand’s economy contracted in the first quarter for the first time since 2014 as the coronavirus outbreak cut off tourist arrivals and shuttered commerce. Gross domestic product shrank 1.8% from a year ago, the National Economic and Social Development Council said.

South Korea Nightclub Cases Rise to 168

South Korea’s health ministry said coronavirus cases related to nightclubs in Seoul increased to 168 as of midnight. The ministry said there has been no drastic increase in the outbreak, with findings of about 10 cases a day on average.

About 65,000 people possibly exposed through the nightclubs have been tested so far, as South Korea tries to prevent a possible second wave of infections in the country.

China Reports Seven New Cases

China reported seven new coronavirus infections, with three of them locally transmitted cases in Jilin province and Shanghai, while four are imported cases in Inner Mongolia.

Total deaths in China rose to 4,634, after the National Health Commission said on Sunday that Jilin province revised its fatality count by one.

Jilin, in northeastern China, has locked down several cities in the province. President Xi Jinping has called for strengthened controls in the region as a growing cluster of infections near the Russia and North Korea borders threatens to become a second wave.

Apple to Reopen 25 US Stores, 12 in Canada

Apple Inc. said it’s reopening more than 25 stores across the US and 12 stores in Canada this week, adding to nearly 100 global locations that have reopened to customers after the novel coronavirus outbreak forced them to close. Some stores will offer only curbside or storefront service, the company added in an emailed statement.

Brazil Delays Naming Health Minister

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro held back from replacing his health minister Sunday, instead joining supporters who marched in front of the presidential palace as the coronavirus crisis deepened.

The country was awaiting an announcement following Nelson Teich’s resignation Friday after 29 days on the job as health minister. He had taken over the post in April after Bolsonaro fired his predecessor amid public discord over social distancing.

Brazil has 241,080 cases — the fourth-highest in the world — and 16,118 deaths so far, according to data released on Sunday.

Trump Wants Stadiums ‘Loaded’ With Fans

Donald Trump said the return of professional sports is essential for the “psyche of our country” in rebounding from the pandemic but signaled impatience with plans to play games without spectators.

“We want big stadiums loaded with people,” Trump said as he called into the broadcast of a charity golf event. “We don’t want 15,000 people watching Alabama-LSU.”

US Cases Rise 1.5%, Below Week’s Average

US cases increased 1.5% from the same time Saturday to 1.48 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The rise was below the average daily increase of 1.6% for the past seven days.

Deaths rose 1.1% to 89,207.

New York reported 1,889 new cases, bringing the total to 350,121, new deaths were 139 — a seven-week low — as the state total rose to 22,619.

UK First to Get AstraZeneca Vaccine

AstraZeneca Plc will make as many as 30 million doses of vaccine available to the UK by September and deliver 100 million this year. The UK will get first access to the vaccine should it be successful.

The vaccine, being developed at the University of Oxford, will get 65.5 million pounds ($79 million) of funding, UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma said. The inoculation is being studied in humans and could reach late-stage trials by mid-year. Another 18.5 million pounds will go to Imperial College London as trials accelerate.