Covid-19 news you might have missed

New applications for US unemployment benefits fell below 1m for the first time since the start of the pandemic, although the pace of claims eased for a second straight week as businesses slowly emerged from the coronavirus restrictions. Initial jobless claims totalled 963,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis last week, compared with 1.19m a week earlier.

US stocks ended the day mixed with the S&P 500 falling 0.2 per cent, pressured by losses in energy and the defensive real estate sector. The index briefly rose above the record closing high it set in February. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite fared better, gaining 0.3 per cent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.3 per cent.

Mexico’s central bank has lowered its benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points, bringing it down to 4.5 per cent, after the country’s economy recorded its fifth straight quarter of contraction. The bank said that the global economy, after the sharp falls registered in March and April, began to show some improvement in May and June.

Fewer employees have returned to Manhattan offices than previously expected even with the city in phase four of its reopening, a survey has found. Just 8 per cent of employees were back at the office as of mid-August, according to a survey of 146 employers by the Partnership for New York City, a non-profit business group.

US companies’ confidence in a rapid recovery has ebbed since the early months of the pandemic, according to a poll that found 38 per cent of chief executives expect to cut their workforce over the next year. Just 62 per cent of chief executives surveyed in late July said they expected a recovery over the next six months, down from 71 per cent three months earlier.

Despite the near total cancellation of sports events because of the pandemic, sports betting revenues in the US have grown year-on-year, demonstrating the popularity of the activity, which was only made legal in 2018. Total revenues from sports betting were up 10.4 per cent in the year to date to $324.9m, outweighing a 46 per cent decline in the second quarter.


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