Business Maverick

Business Maverick

March 5 : Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day

BEIJING, CHINA - MARCH 04: A family wear protective masks as they cross an intersection on March 4, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of the deadly new coronavirus COVID-19 being treated in China dropped to below 28,000 in mainland China Wednesday, in what the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global public health emergency last month. China continued to lock down the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus, in an effort to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease. Officials in Beijing have put in place a mandatory 14 day quarantine for all people returning to the capital from other places in China. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to over 2984 on Thursday, mostly in Hubei province, and cases have been reported in other countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, India, Iran, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and several others. The World Health Organization has warned all governments to be on alert and raised concerns over a possible pandemic. Some countries, including the United States, have put restrictions on Chinese travellers entering and advised their citizens against travel to China. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

The spread of the coronavirus is slowing in China. Biden beat Sanders, but it won’t be easy to shake him off. And Toyota is recalling 3.2 million cars. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today. 

Good News At Last?

New cases of the coronavirus are drastically slowing in China, while infections in the rest of the world are accelerating. Still, doubt remains over the Chinese government’s statistics. On Tuesday, China reported 119 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the lowest number in almost six weeks and the fewest since the national government started releasing data on Jan. 21. Of those, 115 cases were in Hubei province, where the virus first emerged in December and which still accounts for the majority of infections and deaths worldwide. Over the past three weeks, China’s number of recovered patients has surged both in Hubei and the rest of the country. But that may not show the full picture. One area of confusion has been over how to account for people who don’t have symptoms but test positive for the disease in a phenomenon known as asymptomatic infection. This means that provinces not counting asymptomatic cases in their official tally are likely under-reporting their numbers. Elsewhere, five more people were infected with the coronavirus in New York state, and total coronavirus cases globally topped 93,000, with cases surging in Iran, Malaysia, India and South Korea, where hundreds of thousands are now being tested. The international spread of the virus has even prompted the delay of the next James Bond movie.

Markets Rally

Asian stocks looked set to extend a global equity rally after an emergency U.S. spending bill to combat the impact of the coronavirus added to signs of support from policy makers. Treasuries and the yen retreated. Futures rose in Hong Kong, Japan and Australia, with regional shares set for a fourth day of gains. The S&P 500 Index surged more than 4% after Congress authorized nearly $8 billion for virus prevention. The Bank of Canada joined this week’s wave of global central bank stimulus and speculation grew that governments will provide more help as the outbreak claimed more lives. Joe Biden’s surprise surge in Tuesday’s presidential primaries added to bullish sentiment. In a sign investors see more U.S. stimulus coming, shorter-dated Treasury yields declined as 10-year ones advanced, steepening the curve. Australian bonds opened lower and gold slipped. The yuan strengthened, erasing all losses since the coronavirus outbreak. Elsewhere, oil fluctuated amid a split between Saudi Arabia and Russia over whether deeper production cuts are required to offset the demand hit from the coronavirus epidemic.

Toyota-l Recall

Toyota is recalling vehicles. 3.2 million of them. The safety campaign, which is designed to fix faulty fuel pumps, involves certain Lexus- and Toyota-brand cars and trucks for the 2013-2019 model years, a company spokesman said Wednesday. That includes about 1.8 million vehicles sold in the U.S. and another 158,262 in Canada. Toyota is almost doubling an initial recall in January that was limited to about 696,000 vehicles in the U.S. The action was necessitated by potentially defective fuel pumps that may stop operating and cause engine stalls that increase the risk of a crash, the company said. The carmaker issued a separate recall in January for about 2.9 million vehicles with electronic-control units that could affect the deployment of air bags in certain sedan models. Meanwhile, General Electric is standing by its annual financial forecast, despite a first-quarter blow in the order of $500 million from the coronavirus outbreak. And in still more car news, China’s vehicle sales had the biggest monthly plunge on record as the coronavirus kept shoppers away, intensifying the pressure on automakers already battling an unprecedented slump before the outbreak.

Biotech Bump

Investors were flipping shares of Inovio Pharmaceuticals more quickly than any other publicly-traded stock on Wednesday as retail investor enthusiasm grows surrounding the company’s hunt for a coronavirus vaccine. As of 10:54 a.m. in New York, the company’s trading volume was more than double any other individual company and higher than General Electric, Apple, Ford, and Microsoft combined, although the dollar value of shares traded in the larger companies still dwarfs Inovio. On Monday at a meeting at the White House, the company’s chief executive said it will start trials for the vaccine in April with a plan to deliver one million doses by the end of the year.

Biden Beat Bernie, For Now

Bill Clinton dubbed himself “the Comeback Kid” after experts wrote him off early in the 1992 Democratic primaries. After Tuesday night, Joe Biden can lay claim to the nickname. Left for dead after dreadful finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, the former vice president came storming back on Super Tuesday to edge ahead of Senator Bernie Sanders in the delegate count. Michael Bloomberg dropped out of the race, giving his endorsement to Biden, while Elizabeth Warren is assessing the future of her candidacy after a dismal performance. (Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.) Democratic voters face a stark choice about how best to take on President Trump: Pick Biden and follow the moderate path that delivered Democrats huge suburban gains in 2018 and control of the House of Representatives — or tack left to embrace Sanders’s message of generational change. With the field narrowing down to an establishment favorite and a liberal insurgent, some strategists fear the primary contest could soon mirror the contentious clash four years ago between Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

What We’ve Been Reading

This is what’s caught our eye over the past 24 hours.

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