COVID-19 to Cause 17% Unemployment in June

U.S. unemployment is expected to hit 17% in June as the economy contracts due to efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic, economists predicted, and the economy is expected to start rebounding in the second half of the year.

A monthly Wall Street Journal survey found economists expect gross domestic product to shrink 6.6% this year, measured from the fourth quarter of 2019, a downgrade from the 4.9% contraction economists predicted in last month’s survey. While economists expect a deeper contraction in the second quarter, a majority—85%—continue to expect the recovery will start in the second half of the year. They predict an annualized growth rate of 9% in the third quarter, up from 6.2% in the prior survey. Growth is expected to clock in at 6.9% in the fourth quarter, up slightly from last month.


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“The trough will occur in May or June, with activity starting to pick up,” said Chad Moutray, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers. “With that said, growth will remain well below pre-recessionary levels likely until at least 2022.”

Business and academic economists in this month’s survey expect, on average, that gross domestic product will contract at an annual rate of 32% in the second quarter. That represents a worsening from the April survey of economists, when they expected GDP to shrink 25% from April to June. The annualized rate, however, overstates the severity of any drop in output because it assumes that one quarter’s pace continues for a year.

In the May survey, 68.3% of economists said they expect the recovery to be shaped like a “swoosh.” Named after the Nike logo, it predicts a large drop followed by a gradual recovery. The survey results echo recent comments by corporate executives.

As states start to loosen stay-at-home orders, economists were split on whether this is the right moment to do so. Some 29.8% said the reopening measures are happening at the right time. 14% said such measures were overdue, while 31.6% described it as too soon. Just under a quarter, 24.6%, were unsure whether the timing is right.

“In the absence of a vaccine or some therapeutic drug, opening the economy now would certainly trigger a spike in new infections and will be followed by economic shutdown 2.0,” said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at The Economic Outlook Group, who currently views the reopening as premature.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell received good grades for his performance as Fed chair during the coronavirus pandemic, with 71.9% of economists assigning him an A grade, while 24.6% gave him a B. Just 1.8% gave him a C and F respectively.



“Like a good engineer, [Mr. Powell] opened the floodgates to drain the reservoir in advance of an impending flood of demand for liquidity,” said Georgia State University economist Rajeev Dhawan.

The grades marked an improvement from December, when 63.8% of economists gave Mr. Powell a B. Seventeen percent assigned him an A grade and 14.9% gave him a C.

To fight the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. central-bank officials cut rates to near zero, purchased huge quantities of government debt and began lending to American businesses.

Those purchases of debt are expected to get bigger. Economists project the central bank’s portfolio of bonds, loans and new programs will swell to $7.74 trillion in June from less than $4 trillion last year. The portfolio stood at $6.72 trillion on May 4.

Economists see the Fed’s balance sheet swelling to $9.29 trillion by December, $9.63 trillion by December 2021 and $11.27 trillion by December 2022. In that range, the portfolio would be more than twice the size reached after the 2007-09 financial crisis.



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Coronavirus: Australian Scientists Find Drug That ‘Completely Stops’ COVID-19 From Replicating

Tests showed the drug reduced levels of the virus by 99.8 per cent within 48 hours.

A drug prescribed for scabies has been shown to stops the coronavirus in its tracks and may help fight the infection, according to a study.

Ivermectin is used on the NHS and in the US for parasitic infections – but researchers in Australia believe it could be useful against COVID-19. Tests showed the drug reduced levels of the virus by 99.8 per cent within 48 hours. It had been completely eliminated after three days.

It’s believed the drug works by paralysing the SARS-CoV-2 virus and ‘overwhelming its nervous system’, preventing it from replicating.

Scientists at the Royal Melbourne Hospital believe ivermectin may in turn reduce the severity of the life-threatening disease. They are now urging for ivermectin to be trialled on coronavirus patients, as experts continue the race against time to find a cure.

Ivermectin was discovered in the 1970s and has fast become an essential medicine for a vast number of parasitic infections, such as head lice and scabies.

It’s branded as Stromectol, an oral tablet for scabies, or Soolantra, a skin cream for rosacea. It’s on the World Health Organization‘s List of Essential Medicines, the safest and most effective medicines needed in a health system.

In recent years, researchers have shown ivermectin has anti-viral activity against a broad range of viruses.

Most of this research has only been ‘in vitro’ – cells in the laboratory – which has prompted calls for human trials. That’s based on the fact that SARS, a coronavirus closely related to the new one, has a weak link in its DNA which the team said could be a potential target for ivermectin.

Cells were infected with SARS-CoV-2, the scientific name designated to the novel coronavirus, for two hours. Then ivermectin was injected. After 24 hours, there was a 93 per cent reduction of virus DNA in the cells compared to cells which were not treated with ivermectin.

Results showed ‘the loss of essentially all viral material by 48 hours’, Dr Leon Caly and colleagues wrote in their paper.

They add: ‘These results demonstrate that ivermectin has antiviral action against the SARS-CoV-2 clinical isolate in vitro, with a single dose able to control viral replication within 24-48 h in our system.



‘Ultimately, development of an effective anti-viral for SARS-CoV-2, if given to patients early in infection, could help to limit the viral load, prevent severe disease progression and limit person-person transmission.

‘This brief report raises the possibility that ivermectin could be a useful antiviral to limit SARS-CoV-2.’

The team suggested that until a drug is proven to be beneficial against COVID-19 in a clinical setting – which has not happened yet – ‘all should be pursued as rapidly as possible’. They noted that ivermectin has already been proven to be safe for use – it is approved by the FDA and MHRA.

Dr Michael Head, a research fellow at University of Southampton with a speciality in scabies and other diseases, said ivermectin is one of the best treatments for scabies.

It works by paralysing the parasite and ‘overwhelming’ its nervous system.

How it works to fight off the coronavirus is not clear yet, but it likely inhibits the viruses replicating mechanism in some way. Dr Head said: ‘Ivermectin is a widely used medicine, often used to treat many infections such as scabies.

‘There is a huge amount of research ongoing looking at whether we can repurpose existing drugs as anti-virals to treat COVID-19 cases. This new interesting study show Ivermectin has shown some effectiveness against the novel coronavirus in the laboratory setting.


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‘However, there is a huge difference between laboratory studies, and safety and effectiveness in patients, and so we should be cautious about reading too much into these preliminary results.

‘It is likely most of the existing medicines being tested already will not end up being useful for treating patients against COVID-19.’

Remdesivir, chloroquine and favipiravir are just some of the drugs being investigated in a bid to find a cure to the killer coronavirus.





3 Food Delivery Stocks Set To Gain As COVID-19 Lockdowns Boost Demand

As the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly around the globe, infections in the U.S. are on the rise with at least 55,231 confirmed cases and 801 deaths reported.

To contain the pandemic in the U.S., states are taking lockdown measures to reduce the number of social interactions. The majority of states have prohibited dining at restaurants, permitting only delivery and pick-up options.



While Wall Street is on track to suffer its worst month since the Great Depression, some food delivery stocks are thriving on expectations that even more Americans will order in as they are confined to their homes in the weeks ahead. These three stocks are well-positioned to benefit:

1. Domino’s Pizza
Domino’s Pizza (NYSE:DPZ) is known for its delivery service, which accounts for about 55% of total orders. As an increasing number of people are opting for take-out, the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based pizza chain has been displaying robust relative strength amid the ongoing coronavirus market correction. Shares of the corporation, which are up about 22% over the past month-and-a-half, settled at $343.56 last night, giving it a market cap of roughly $13.4 billion.

The multinational pizza chain with 17,000 stores in more than 90 countries around the world officially began implementing its ‘Contact Free Delivery’ service due to the COVID-19 outbreak this week in the U.S. as well as other countries impacted by the virus, like India, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia.

The company announced last week that it expects to hire about 10,000 workers in the U.S. alone to meet increased orders at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in restaurants across the country laying off thousands of workers.

“Our corporate and franchise stores want to make sure they’re not only feeding people, but also providing opportunity to those looking for work at this time, especially those in the heavily-impacted restaurant industry,” CEO Ritch Allison said in a statement on March 19.

2. Blue Apron
Blue Apron (NYSE:APRN) is a New York-based online meal-kit company that delivers pre-measured ingredients, with which customers cook recipes of their choice. By making home cooking easy and accessible, Blue Apron has gained as the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. led more Americans to seek alternatives to shuttered restaurants and emptied grocery store shelves.

Even after Tuesday’s 15% drop, this month the stock has surged an astonishing 260%, bucking the broader market rout brought on by virus fears. Shares ended at $10.36 last night, giving the food-delivery service a market cap of $137.45 million.

Blue Apron said last week it has seen a “sharp increase” in demand for its meal kits and it is taking steps to meet the greater number of orders. “We are increasing our capacity for future orders and expect to fulfill this increased demand by the next available weekly cycle, starting on March 30,” Linda Findley Kozlowski, Blue Apron’s chief executive, said on March 19.

However, any boost in business for Blue Apron will likely taper off after the immediate threat of the COVID-19 outbreak passes and consumers return to eating out. Prior to its recent surge, shares of Blue Apron had fallen about 98% from its 2018 IPO price, plunging to $2 in late February, due to growing competition and disappointing revenue.

3. Chewy
Chewy (NYSE:CHWY) is the leading online seller of branded and private-label pet food and grooming supplies in the U.S. The Florida-based company allows customers to browse a wide variety of foods for different animals through its website and mobile applications, then receive the package directly to their door.

Like the two other companies mentioned above, Chewy has also seen its shares rise despite the broader market selloff. The online pet products retailer has benefitted as its in-home delivery model mitigates the public health concern of consumers shopping for their pets at brick-and-mortar retailers.

Shares of the online pet products seller, which are up more than 27% over the past two weeks, closed at $33.65 yesterday, giving it a market cap of $12.8 billion. The stock touched a record high of $34.99 on March 19.

Chewy next reports earnings on Thursday, April 2, after markets close. Consensus calls for a loss of 15 cents per share for the fourth quarter, while revenue is forecast to total $1.35 billion.



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Coronavirus Cases Globally Exceed 100,000 As Countries Fail To Contain Spread

There were 100,329 confirmed cases of the virus world-wide, more than a fifth of which were in countries other than China, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. South Korea, the second worst-hit country, reported another jump in infections, bringing its tally to 6,593. The novel coronavirus is now in around 90 countries, less than three months after it was first identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December.

Chinese health authorities on Friday reported 143 new infections, but said that for the first time there were no new cases in the wider Hubei province outside of its capital of Wuhan in the previous day. The vast majority of China’s 80,555 cases have been in Hubei province, and authorities in late January locked down Wuhan and neighboring cities to help contain the disease’s spread.

corona-virus-Vaccine

Globally, 3,406 individuals have died from the illness known as Covid-19 and 55,694 have recovered. In the U.S., there have been 233 confirmed cases and 12 deaths, mostly in the state of Washington, where some schools in the Seattle area will be closed for two weeks and companies have told employees to work from home.

On Friday, a top Hong Kong university released research that surmised the “fatality risk” for symptomatic Covid-19 patients was 1.4%, based on data its researchers analyzed from the city of Wuhan.

That is lower than the 3.4% mortality rate cited earlier this week by the World Health Organization, which was calculated from the number of deaths relative to the total number of confirmed infections.

U.S. health officials, in contrast, have said they think the mortality rate for the novel coronavirus is likely between 0.1% and 1%, in part because there could be many unreported cases or asymptomatic carriers of the virus.

Gabriel Leung, dean of the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong, said that the estimated 1.4% mortality rate among people who showed symptoms means Covid-19 is deadlier than the 2009 swine flu epidemic, though less so than the 1918 influenza pandemic.

And given the large and rising global tally of coronavirus infections, “that means a lot of lives,” he added.

Dr. Leung’s organization—which is a WHO Collaborating Center for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control—calculated the disease’s mortality rate from its own estimates of how many people in Wuhan had symptoms of the disease before Feb. 25, rather than using case numbers reported by the Chinese government, which some experts suspect are understated. During the period they studied, there were 2,080 reported deaths.

On Friday, global stocks fell again and investors piled into safe government bonds on rising expectations that central banks will take more decisive action to cushion the economic blow from the coronavirus epidemic.

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A day earlier, a top WHO official warned that many countries weren’t doing enough to help contain the epidemic. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director general, said that while the bulk of coronavirus cases are currently concentrated in a few countries, other governments need to respond more forcefully to the global spread by activating emergency plans, educating the public, readying hospitals and increasing their capacity for testing for the virus.

“This epidemic can be pushed back, but only with a collective, coordinated and comprehensive approach that engages the entire machinery of government,” Mr. Ghebreyesus told a briefing at the U.N. health agency’s Geneva headquarters late Thursday. “This is not a drill,” he added.

Other countries in Asia reported higher case numbers on Friday. Japanese authorities said there were 31 new cases, taking the country’s total to 348. Of those, 35 showed no symptoms.

A report from the Asian Development Bank on Friday estimated the coronavirus epidemic could reduce the world’s economic output by $77 billion-$347 billion, or 0.1%-0.4%, of global gross domestic product.

It said the virus will have a significant impact on developing Asian economies through numerous channels, including sharp declines in domestic demand, lower tourism and business travel, trade and production linkages, supply disruptions and health effects.






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