Brazil Tops Russia, Japan Success Puzzles Experts: Virus Update

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Brazil added a record number of cases, overtaking Russia as the nation with the world’s highest number of coronavirus cases after the U.S.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump declared houses of worship as essential and directed governors to let them open “right now,” even though legal experts said he lacks the authority to override stay-at-home orders. The CDC warned though that singing can speed transmission and recommended against sharing items like collection plates.

Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’s top infectious disease expert, said it may be time to consider a cautious reopening of the economy. Oxford University and AstraZeneca started recruiting for advanced human studies of one of the fastest-moving experimental vaccines, while a Russian institute said it used laboratory staff in a successful unofficial test on a potential vaccine.

25,294 in U.S.Most new cases today

-14% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1.​073 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-4.​8% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), April


The World Health Organization said the virus has spread now to every country in Africa, where cases have topped 100,000.

Key Developments:

  • Virus Tracker: Cases top 5.1 million; deaths around 335,000
  • Here’s what your cruises will look like after Covid-19
  • We need a name for the greatest economic crisis this century

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus. For a look back at this week’s top stories from QuickTake, click here.

Japan’s Success in Managing Outbreak Puzzles Experts (7:20 a.m. HK)

Japan’s state of emergency is nearing its end with new cases of the coronavirus dwindling to mere dozens. It got there despite largely ignoring the default playbook.

No restrictions were placed on residents’ movements, and businesses from restaurants to hairdressers stayed open. And even as nations were exhorted to “test, test, test,” Japan has tested just 0.2% of its population -- one of the lowest rates among developed countries. Yet the curve has been flattened, with deaths well below 1,000, by far the fewest among the G7 nations. While the possibility of a more severe second wave is ever-present, Japan is set to leave its emergency in just weeks, and likely to exit completely as early as Monday.

Gilead’s Remdesivir Helped Only Those on Oxygen, Study Says (7 p.m. HK)

Gilead Sciences Inc.’s remdesivir, which was authorized to treat Covid-19 in adults and children who need supplemental oxygen, a ventilator or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), only significantly helped those on supplemental oxygen, not the latter two types, a pivotal study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found.

Brazil Overtakes Russia as Second-Most Infected Nation (6:28 p.m. NY)

Brazil added 20,803 cases, bringing the total to 330,890 -- topping Russia’s 326,448 infections. The number of deaths increased by 1,001 to 21,048. That’s still behind some of the most-affected countries in Europe including the U.K., Italy and Spain, along with the U.S..

With the worst-performing stock market and currency globally this year, Latin America’s largest economy no longer seems like a bargain for investors, as a bungled response to the pandemic turned the country into the world’s fastest-growing virus hotspot.

U.K. Police Question Johnson Aide (5:37 p.m. NY)

Boris Johnson’s chief adviser was interviewed by police for potentially breaking the U.K. government’s lockdown rules when he self-isolated with coronavirus symptoms. Police spoke to Dominic Cummings after he was seen more than 250 miles (400 kilometers) from his London home shortly after he went into isolation at the end of March -- a time when the prime minister and Health Secretary Matt Hancock had both tested positive.

At the time, U.K. citizens were under orders not to travel, and to stay at home. Cummings, a divisive behind-the-scenes figure within the administration, lives in London while his parents live in Durham, in northern England. Earlier Friday, Home Secretary Priti Patel said passengers arriving in the U.K. will be forced into quarantine for two weeks and face fines of 1,000 pounds ($1,200) if they break the rules.

Peru Continues Reopening Economy (5:15 p.m. NY)

Peru authorized more businesses to reopen, including hairdressers, electricians and online clothes retailers along with mining, fishing and construction companies that were cleared to reopen this month. The lockdown, which was set to expire Sunday, will continue through June 30, President Martin Vizcarra said.

Peru is battling South America’s biggest coronavirus outbreak after Brazil, with total cases surpassing 100,000 this week. Strict lockdown measures in place since mid-March have taken a heavy toll on the economy, with economic activity slumping 16% in March and more than a million jobs lost in Lima in the three months to April.

CDC Cites Choirs, Collection Plate in Guidance (4:15 p.m. NY)

Religious groups should consider suspending or limiting choirs or singing during services and avoid passing a collection plate, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in guidance issued hours after Trump demanded governors immediately open houses of worship. “The act of singing may contribute to transmission of Covid-19, possibly through emission of aerosols,” the CDC warned.

Churches should stay in contact with local and state officials as reopening decisions are made, and provide protection for staff or congregants who are at higher risk of infection. The guidance encouraged hand washing, use of face coverings and increased cleaning and disinfection measures.

U.S. Cases Increase 1.8% (4 p.m. NY)

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased 1.8% as compared to the same time yesterday to 1.59 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. That’s above the 1.5% average of the past week. Deaths rose 1.7% to 95,490.

  • New York cases rose 0.5% to 358,154, in line with the average increase over the past seven days, according to the state’s health department.
  • Florida cases rose 1.6% to 49,451 on Friday, compared with an average increase of 1.7% in the previous seven days, according to data from the state’s health department. Deaths rose 2.1% to 2,190.
  • Cases in California rose 2.6% to 88,444 while deaths increased 2.5% to 3,630, according to the state’s website.

Cases Reach All African Nations: WHO (3:15 p.m. NY)

Every nation in Africa now has coronavirus cases, as the continent’s infection total exceeds 100,000, the World Health Organization said. The first Africa case was reported 14 weeks ago.

Africa’s mortality rate has been low, with 3,100 confirmed deaths. By comparison, when cases reached 100,000 in Europe, deaths topped 4,900, WHO said. Early analysis suggests the lower mortality rate may reflect that Africa is the youngest continent, with more than 60% of the population under age 25. In Europe nearly 95% of deaths occurred in those older than 60.

Italy’s Deaths, New Cases Remain Low (12:10 p.m. NY)

Italy’s new cases remained below 1,000 for a 10th day on Friday, as health authorities said the epidemic’s curve is consistently descending in all regions, including Lombardy, the hardest-hit area. Authorities reported 652 cases, up from 642 a day earlier, for a total of 228,658. Daily fatalities were 130, down from 156 on Thursday, bringing the death toll to 32,616.

China Vaccine Shows Promise: Lancet (11:20 a.m. NY)

An experimental vaccine developed by CanSino Biologics of China was safe and generated an immune response in an early study in humans. The vaccine stimulated production of both antibodies that can stop infection along with immune T-cells, according to a report Friday in The Lancet medical journal. Further research is needed to show its effectiveness against the virus. The study was funded by CanSino and conducted by researchers from the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology and other organizations.

“The challenges in the development of a Covid-19 vaccine are unprecedented, and the ability to trigger these immune responses does not necessarily indicate that the vaccine will protect humans from Covid-19,” Wei Chen, a professor at the Beijing institute that carried out the study, said in the report.

Russia Tests Covid-19 Vaccine on Researchers (8:10 a.m. NY)

A Russian government research institute said it conducted successful unofficial tests on a potential coronavirus vaccine. Laboratory staff who volunteered to receive the vaccine at the Gamaleya epidemiology institute in Moscow had no side effects and are healthy, said its director, Alexander Ginzburg, the state-run Tass news service reported. It didn’t state how many people took part in the trial.

— With assistance by Heather Smith, and Rachel Gamarski

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Asian Markets Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Monday despite the negative cues from Wall Street Friday after a report from the U.S. Labor Department showed that employment in the U.S. fell much more than expected in the month of March.

Investor sentiment received a boost amid optimism that the number of coronavirus cases in New York, a U.S. hotspot for the pandemic, may be peaking. New York State reported its first decline in the number of daily coronavirus-related deaths as well as hospitalizations on Sunday. The coronavirus-related death toll in France and Italy has also slowed.

The Australian market is notably higher amid optimism about the slowdown in the number of coronavirus-related deaths in New York.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 100.20 points or 1.98 percent to 5,167.70, after rising to a high of 5,177.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 100.30 points or 1.96 percent to 5,207.20. Australian stocks gave up early gains to close sharply lower on Friday.

In the oil sector, Santos is gaining more than 4 percent and Woodside Petroleum is higher by almost 3 percent after crude oil prices climbed 12 percent on Friday. Oil Search is in a trading halt ahead of an expected capital raising announcement.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is gaining more than 4 percent and Newcrest Mining is rising more than 3 percent as safe-haven gold prices also rose on Friday.

Among the four banks, Westpac, National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking are higher in a range of 1.1 percent to 1.6 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is adding almost 1 percent.

In the mining space, Fortescue Metals is rising more than 1 percent, while Rio Tinto and BHP are advancing almost 1 percent each.

Flight Centre Travel Group is tapping investors for $700 million and has secured an additional $200 million in loans from existing lenders due to the coronavirus pandemic. The travel firm’s shares are in a trading halt.

On the economic front, Australia will see the March inflation forecast from TD Securities as well as March data on job advertisements from ANZ today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local unit was quoted at $0.5998, compared to $0.6063 on Friday.

The Japanese market is surging as investor sentiment received a boost after New York State reported its first decline in the number of daily coronavirus-related deaths as well as hospitalizations on Sunday.

Meanwhile, reports indicated that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to declare a state of emergency in the country following a surge in the number of infections in Tokyo and other major cities.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 476.02 points or 2.67 percent to 18,296.21, after rising to a high of 18,419.57 earlier. Japanese shares ended flat with a positive bias on Friday after four days of losses.

Market heavyweight SoftBank is rising more than 3 percent and Fast Retailing is advancing more than 2 percent.

The major exporters are higher on a weaker yen. Sony is rising more than 2 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is advancing almost 2 percent, Panasonic is higher by more than 1 percent and Canon is adding 0.3 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest and Tokyo Electron are rising more than 2 percent each. Among automakers, Honda is gaining more than 5 percent and Toyota is higher by more than 4 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is advancing more than 4 percent and Japan Petroleum is higher by more than 3 percent after crude oil prices gained almost 12 percent Friday.

Among the other major gainers, Fujifilm Holdings is climbing more than 7 percent, KDDI Corp. is higher by almost 7 percent, and NTT Docomo is rising almost 6 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 108 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Singapore and Indonesia are rising almost 2 percent each, while Hong Kong and Taiwan are modestly higher. New Zealand is losing more than 2 percent and Malaysia is edging lower.

The markets in China and Thailand are closed on Monday for the Qingming Festival and Chakri Day, respectively.

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply lower on Friday after a report from the Labor Department showed employment in the U.S. fell much more than expected in the month of March. The report said employment plunged by 701,000 jobs in March after jumping by an upwardly revised 275,000 jobs in February. Economists had expected employment to slump by 100,000 jobs compared to the addition of 273,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

The Dow tumbled 360.91 points or 1.7 percent to 21,052.53, the Nasdaq plunged by 114.23 points or 1.5 percent to 7,373.08 and the S&P 500 slumped 38.25 points or 1.5 percent to 2,488.65.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Friday. While the German DAX Index fell by 0.5 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index plunged by 1.2 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices rose sharply on Friday, climbing up for a second successive day amid rising hopes of deep production cuts by major oil producers, including Russia and Saudi Arabia. WTI crude oil futures for May ended up $3.02, or almost 12 percent, at $28.34 a barrel.

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Russia, OPEC want to bankrupt US industry. Here's what to expect next

Trump meets with oil company execs

President Trump meets with oil executives and lawmakers at the White House in an effort to soothe the economic blow they have received from coronavirus and the ongoing disputes between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

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Over the past few months, America has fallen under siege. While our lives are threatened by a global pandemic and our markets are being burdened by social distancing, foreign nations have started an assault on America’s oil and gas industry. As a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I believe that the American energy sector will not only overcome this challenge but will dominate the future energy market.

Since January 2020, global oil prices fell steadily as quarantines across the globe reduced energy demand.

CORONAVIRUS OIL PLUNGE LEADS TRUMP TO OFFER STORAGE UNTIL PRICES RECOVER

On March 9, the oil market collapsed after Russia and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, better known as “OPEC”, failed to negotiate new production cuts. Both OPEC, specifically Saudi Arabia, and Russia have long been known to leverage their production capacity to distort global markets and advance their geopolitical position. This playbook is not new.

In the short term, both Russia and OPEC desire to starve each other to create a better bargaining position. In the long term, the true target is the United States shale industry. The American shale revolution has enabled our nation to become the global leader in energy production in less than a decade.

OIL SOARS AS OPEC PLANS PEACE TALKS ON PRICE WAR

It is the shale revolution that provided affordable, reliable energy to our growing economy. Especially in my home state of Texas, this revolution created millions of jobs and billions in tax revenues for our schools, roads, and first responders.

Nonetheless, because retrieving oil from shale requires more capital-intensive processes and technologies, specifically horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, the industry requires the price of oil to be above a certain level to remain profitable. By subsidizing exports, Russia and OPEC hope to push the price of oil low enough for long enough to bankrupt American industry. U.S. industry is the true target of this oil war.

So how will this impact American consumers? Americans across the country are already enjoying low gas prices, which are desperately needed in today’s uncertain economic climate.

Most Americans have never seen our economy shift so dramatically or so quickly, and I’m grateful lower energy prices are a silver lining. We must be mindful that this will not last.

This oil war may not be fought with tanks and guns but is nonetheless an opportunity for American ingenuity and persistence to overcome adversity.

Low oil prices have the potential to put many shale companies and suppliers out of business. It is not hard to imagine a world in the not so distant future where oil prices rapidly increase if U. S. production capacity is significantly reduced. Americans may see a swing in their energy bills from very low to unbearably high.

TRUMP SAYS DEAL MAY CUT 10-15M BARRELS DAILY

Then why am I still so optimistic? First and foremost, I believe that this coronavirus will not drastically alter the world’s growing need for energy in the medium and long-term. The Energy Information Agency projects that between 2018 and 2050, global demand for energy will increase by 50 percent and natural gas demand alone will increase by 40 percent.

Hundreds of millions of people around the world live without electricity. Clean American energy exports are the solution. This oil crash will temporarily hurt U.S. industry, but the skills and technologies that have prioritized America’s resources remain ready for long term success.

As the oil war rages on, what role should the federal government take?

President Trump is right to request the Strategic Petroleum Reserve be filled while prices are low and this should be considered in any future coronavirus response legislation. This purchase could increase America’s energy security at a reduced price and temporarily stabilize the market so American businesses can develop plans for the coming months.

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Ultimately, however, market forces are what incentivize companies to work better, quicker, and more efficiently. While our competitors risk bankrupting their countries with heavy-handed central planning and extravagant subsidies for politically connected producers, I believe it is the very dynamism of America’s energy sector that will enable us to emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.

As General George S. Patton once said: “Americans love to fight. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle… Americans play to win all the time.”

This oil war may not be fought with tanks and guns but is nonetheless an opportunity for American ingenuity and persistence to overcome adversity.

One day, we will look back on this time and see that America’s energy producers seized the moment to improve their efficiency, refine their techniques, and respond to the needs of consumers both here and around the world for clean, reliable energy.

Republican Michael C. Burgess, M.D. represents Texas's 26th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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