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Illuminated signs are displayed on the exterior of commercial buildings at dusk in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, Japan, on Saturday,April 4, 2020.

UK house prices drop most since 2009 under lockdown – Global coronavirus update

Illuminated signs are displayed on the exterior of commercial buildings at dusk in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, Japan, on Saturday,April 4, 2020.

Key Developments:

Top UK Statistics Official Questions Government Data

The UK’s statistics body criticized the government’s coronavirus-testing data, saying it falls well short of expectations. In a letter Tuesday to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, David Norgrove, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, said that the “aim seems to be to show the largest possible number of tests,” which gives them “limited value” in terms of analysis.

“It is not surprising that given their inadequacy, data on testing are so widely criticised and often mistrusted,” he wrote.

Norway’s $10 Billion Oil Aid Package Set for a Boost

Norway’s opposition lawmakers are set to beef up a 100 billion-krone ($10 billion) aid package for its ailing oil industry after executives complained the government’s proposal would do little to stimulate investments and save jobs.

The global oil industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak, which reduced demand for crude when the market was already struggling with a glut. In Norway, western Europe’s biggest producer of oil and gas, companies are cutting spending just as the country faces a dearth of big projects in coming years.

Dutch Deaths In Single Digits For Third Consecutive Day

The Netherlands reported five new fatalities, the third consecutive day of single-digit growth. The total tally stands at 5,967. Confirmed cases rose 0.2%, below the recent seven-day average, to 46,647. Hospital admissions are also hovering around a record low.

The Netherlands on Monday entered a new phase of easing its lockdown with bars and restaurants reopening under certain conditions.

UK Banking Giants to Back $18.8 Billion Small-Business Fund

An investment firm backed by the biggest UK banks is working on a 15 billion-pound ($18.8 billion) fund to inject money into smaller companies that could struggle to repay debt they’ve taken on during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Business Growth Fund is in talks with the government and investors such as insurers and pension funds on proposals for a public-private fund to invest in viable companies that have received loans of as much as 5 million pounds under a government crisis program, according to Chief Executive Officer Stephen Welton. About 46,000 loans totalling nearly 9 billion pounds have been made under the program so far, according to Treasury data.

France Vows Not to Hike Tax While Weighing How to Pay Virus Bill

France won’t raise taxes even with the economy suffering a deeper recession than previously expected because of the coronavirus lockdown, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

The contraction this year will amount to 11%, more than the 8% previously predicted. That’s also more than the 9% slump forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey.

“Today we have taxation that is very heavy, among the highest of all developed economies so good sense is not to increase pressure on French people,” Le Maire said on French radio RTL. “Yes, debt will have to be paid back, but not by raising taxes — by raising growth.”

India’s Biggest Airline Unable to Give Growth Guidance

IndiGo, operated by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., said it’s unable to give any guidance on future capacity growth as the coronavirus pandemic destroyed demand for air travel in one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets.

The airline posted a loss of 8.7 billion rupees ($115 million) for the three months ended March 31, compared with a profit of 5.9 billion rupees in the same period a year earlier.

Egypt Caps Costs for Treating Coronvirus at Private Hospitals

Egypt set a daily cap of 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($626) for treating coronavirus patients at private hospitals, citing complaints about inflated prices. The Health Ministry stipulated a top-tier payment of 7,500-10,000 pounds for patients in intensive care and who require a ventilator. It capped the daily cost for patients in isolation and not in an ICU or on a ventilator at 1,500-3,000 pounds, according to a statement.

UK House Prices Drop Most Since 2009 Under Lockdown

Property values dropped 1.7% in May, the biggest decline since February 2009, Nationwide Building Society said Tuesday.

Separately, the Bank of England said UK household borrowing plunged in April as the first full month of lockdown pummelled the economy. Households on balance repaid 7.4 billion pounds ($9.3 billion) of consumer credit in April, the most since comparable records began in 1993.

The cost of the UK’s virus-support measures has risen to 56 billion pounds as the government pays the wages of 8.7 million jobs, according to the latest figures from the Treasury.

China Vehicle Sales Likely Rose for a Second Month, Group Says

Wholesales of cars as well as commercial vehicles such as light trucks probably increased about 12% to 2.14 million units last month, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said Tuesday, signaling a recovery in the world’s largest car market is gathering pace.

In the first five months of the year, deliveries to dealers fell 23% to 7.9 million units, the trade body said in a statement, without giving further details.

Iran Reports Rise in Number of New Virus Cases

Iran’s daily number of new coronavirus cases edged up to 3,117 from 2,979 on Monday, bringing the total known infections to 157,562. The death tally rose to 7,942 with 64 more deaths in the past 24 hours.

South Korea Plans Third Extra Budget, Official Says

The government will submit a 35.3 trillion won ($28 billion) extra budget to parliament soon to lay the groundwork for post-pandemic growth, senior presidential secretary Kang Ki-jung said Tuesday during a meeting with opposition party officials, according to footage from Yonhap TV.

Virus-Linked Deaths in England, Wales Reach Lowest Since March

Almost 2,590 deaths registered in England and Wales mentioned the virus on the death certificate in the week ended May 22, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday. That’s a drop of 32% from a week earlier, and the lowest since the week of March 27, when the government introduced the lockdown.

Hong Kong Extends Gathering Limit of 8 People to June 18

Hong Kong extended its ban on public gatherings of more than eight people to June 18, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said, after the government found a local cluster of nine people infected by the coronavirus.

The city also prolonged the 14-day quarantine requirement for travelers from China, Macau and Taiwan to July 7 and other overseas visitors to Sept. 18. Hong Kong said it found four new local cases and two imported cases on Tuesday.

Tokyo to Issue Alert After Cases Spike, TBS Says

Tokyo’s government has decided to issue an alert, warning its residents that cases in the city are on a rising trend, TBS reported, without attribution. If the cases continue to rise despite the alert, Tokyo will consider reinstating business restrictions it began relaxing last week

Japan’s capital saw an unexpected spike in coronavirus cases with 34 new infections Tuesday. The jump is the most in a single day since May 9, and comes a week after a national state of emergency order was lifted in the Tokyo region.

Russia COVID-19 Recoveries Exceed New Cases, Deaths Pass 5,000

Russia reported 11,108 recoveries versus 8,863 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past day, according to data from the government’s virus response center.

The total number of cases rose by 2.1% to 423,741, while another 182 people died in the same period, bringing the overall death toll to 5,037.