Evening Update Tuesday 14 April 2020

The French government has forecast that the economy will contract by 8% this year. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said that the forecast was included in new budget legislation which is currently being drawn up. The government also said that the forecast budget deficit was now 9% of GDP, up from 3.1% last year. The figure is the largest since the Second World War. M. Le Maire also said that the solidarity fund reserved for companies threatened with bankruptcy will be increased as will the amount to finance partial unemployment. President Macron announced plans to gradually lift the confinement period in France from May 11th by a gradual reopening of schools, nurseries and high schools.

President Macron said that restaurants, cafes and hotels will remain closed, which, according to a union in the hospitality sector, constitutes the "worst possible scenario" and an "economic disaster". The Mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, has this afternoon called for urgent support measures for the tourism sector. He said that professionals in areas such as hotels, restaurants, events and passenger transport "need a clear re-opening date target ...consistent with public health requirements."

A drive-in coronavirus testing facilitiy is planning to open in Cuers in the Var. The facility is being planned in association with the Regional Health Agency and aims to be open by the end of this month.

Six post offices are reopening in the Var as from today. The openings are part of a gradual increase in the number of post offices resuming operations across France as a result of public demand. 250 post offices reopened on the 6th of April and La Poste aim to have a total of 5,000 open across the country by the end of April. The reopenining post offices in the Var are in Bauduen, Montferrat, Mons, Correns, Entrecasteaux and Ginasservis.

A man has been arrested in Saint Laurent du Var for impersonating a police officer. Members of the public alerted authorities after being approached on the avenue Paul-Cezanne by an individual in a navy blue uniform with the word "gendarmerie" on it. When approached by police he was allegedly carrying a baton and tear gas. He was arrested and is undergoing psychiatric examination.



In the UK, the Office for Budget Responsibility has said that the UK economy may contract by 35% in the second quarter of this year. The OBR's calaculation is based on the country remaining in lockdown for 3 months followed by another 3 months of partial restrictions. It said that the figure isn't a forecast of what will happen as it didn't know how long the lockdown would last. The figures would mean that the UK economy would contract by 13% in 2020 but the OBR said growth should return to the pre-crisis trend at the end of this year.

Meanwhile, the IMF has released economic forecasts today which indicate that UK GDP may fall by 6.5% this year and grow by 4% next year. For the global economy, it predicts a 3% decline this year and growth of 5.8% next year.

US Bank JP Morgan Chase has reported a fall in profits of 69%  for the first quarter of this year, caused largely by increased provisions for losses on loans. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said that there was a "likelihood of a fairly severe recession".

Renault has announced that it's pulling out of it's join venture in China with local company Dongfeng. As a result, Renault will no longer sell petrol cars in China, but said it was concentrating on electric and light commercial vehicles in the country.

Amazon is creating up to 75,000 new jobs in the United States. It follows the hiring of 100,000 staff last month to deal with priority orders for food and medical equipment for existing customers. Amazon said that the new jobs, which are all in its warehouses, could be of interest to workers in severely affected sectors such as hospitality, restaurants, and travel until their previous employer is able to take them back.

Low cost airline Wizz Air has said it has suffered losses of 70 to 80 million euros as a result of hedging against fuel price rises. The price of aviation fuel has fallen heavily recently. The company said it was making 1,000 staff redundant and certain other staff would take a pay cut. However, it also said that it was confident about its future growth strategy.

UK fashion retailer Next has announced a limited re-opening of it's online store. The company had suspended online sales together with it warehouse and distribution operations last month because of concerns about the coronavirus. Next said that it had put in place "ver extensive" additional safety measures and plans to start selling in low volumes so that only a small number of staff are needed in its warehouses at any particular time.


The Tour de France looks set to be postponed following the  government's extension of a ban on mass gatherings because of the coronavirus pandemic. President Macron said in his TV address last night that restrictions on major public events would continue until at least mid-July. the Tour de France is currently scheduled for the 27 June to 19 July. The Giro d'Italia has already been called off, along with the Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. The Formula 1 French Grand Prix is also set to be postponed as it's scheduled to be held on 28 June at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille.

Luton Town Football Club chief executive Gary Sweet has warned that the future of clubs "at every level" is at risk unless there's "a swift and material aid package" to deal with the impact of the pandemic. he said that lower-league clubs are vulnerable because they are so reliant upon ticket income and "many Championship clubs" are vulnerable due to what he called "the severe overstretching of expenditure".

The Indian Premier Cricket League is expected to be postponed again after India extended its lockdown until 3 May to contain the spread of coronavirus. The original start date for the competition was 29 March, a date which had already been put back.

British Sailing have confirmed their Olympic team will remain unchanged for the postponed Tokyo Games in 2021. A 15-strong team had already been selected for the event before the postponment. Sailing was among a handful of sports to have already finalised squads to represent Team GB in Japan.


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