With the number of deaths in hospitals hitting 18,738, ministers are working to roll out a mass testing and tracking programme to try to reduce the rate of transmission and possibly ease stringent measures that have all but shut the economy. Ministers have been struggling to explain high death rates, limited testing and shortages of protective kit, and the reality of the damage to the world’s fifth largest economy hit home on Thursday. “We are experiencing an economic contraction that is faster and deeper than anything we have seen in the past century, or possibly several centuries,” Bank of England interest-rate setter Jan Vlieghe said.
The IHS Markit/CIPS Flash UK Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to a new record low of 12.9 from 36.0 in March – not even close to the weakest forecast in a Reuters poll of economists that had pointed to a reading of 31.4.
The UK will issue 180 billion pounds ($222 billion) of government debt between May and July, more than it had previously planned for the entire financial year.
The country’s debt mountain exceeds $2.5 trillion and its public sector net borrowing could reach 14 percent of gross domestic product this year, the biggest single year deficit since World War Two.
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5.46am update: Asian shares fall on Friday over coronavirus drug testing concerns
Asian shares and U.S. stock futures fell on Friday, spurred by doubts about progress in the development of drugs to treat COVID-19 and new evidence of US economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.4 percent. US stock futures, the S&P 500 e-minis, were down 0.72 percent.
Shares in China, where the coronavirus first emerged late last year, fell 0.25 percent.
The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq turned negative at the close on Thursday after a report that Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral drug remdesivier had failed to help severely ill COVID-19 patients in its first clinical trial.
Gilead said the findings were inconclusive because the study conducted in China was terminated early.
Published at Fri, 24 Apr 2020 04:39:00 +0000