French and Riviera News Tuesday 22nd March 2022

News

Corsican nationalist Yvan Colonna has died - Corsican nationalist activist Yvan Colonna has died from his injuries following an attack in prison by a fellow inmate.  The Corsican independence activist was serving a life sentence for the assassination of the prefect Claude Erignac back in 1998. Colonna had always claimed his innocence following his arrest in July 2003.

Ukrainian refugees - The Prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes has said that just over 12,100 Ukrainian refugees have passed through the La Turbie toll booths on the A8 motorway since the start of the conflict in Ukraine. Speaking on France Bleu Bernard Gonzalez said that the services of the Alpes-Maritimes Prefecture have been mobilized to issue residence permits to the large number of refugees arriving in the department.

850 million euros of assets seized - Meanwhile France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has announced that France has seized around 850 million euros of Russian oligarchs’ assets. Le Maire added that authorities have immobilised 539 million euros in real estate on French territory, corresponding to some 390 properties and sequestered two yachts with a value of 150 million euros.

Presidential elections - According to the latest opinion poll of voting intentions from the Elabe Institute Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron remains in the lead, despite a notable setback. Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon continue their progression, while Éric Zemmour and Valérie Pécresse lose points. After a sharp rise two weeks ago (8.5%), Emmanuel Macron is down for the second week in a row. He is now credited with 27.5% of the vote, down 3.5 points from our poll last week.

Meanwhile the candidate of the National Rally Marine Le Pen, who retains second place in voting intentions in the first round, is progressing for the second consecutive week. With +2% in one week, she is now credited with 20% of the votes. 65% of people who voted for her in 2017 would vote for her again, which corresponds to an increase of 3% in one week.

Latest regional covid figures - Latest regional figures for covid have shown that the incidence rate in the PACA region remains slightly lower than the incidence rate nationwide, with 683 positive cases per 100,000 inhabitants compared to 687 throughout France.  The incidence rate in the Alpes-Maritimes has been rising steadily since March 3rd, 2022, with the number of hospitalizations experiencing a slight increase. Also, over the past 7 days, the Alpes-Maritimes has experienced 20 new deaths from covid. Since the start of the epidemic, 2,261 people have died of covid in hospitals in the Alpes-Maritimes. In the Var where the incidence rate has risen sharply in recent days the number of hospitalizations is down with 25 new hospital admissions. Only one person was admitted to intensive care, which represents a drop of more than 50% in one week. Over the past seven days the Var has experienced 22 new deaths from covid. Since the start of the epidemic, 2,276 people have died of covid in hospitals in the department.

In Monaco 48 new cases of covid were identified on Monday bringing the total number of people affected to 10,175. Twelve people are currently in hospital and 152 are being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre. The Monaco government is organizing a new large-scale covid screening campaign in the Principality's schools. Several thousand self-tests are being made available to the entire educational community including teachers, non-teachers and students. The aim is to allow as many people as possible to test themselves.

Business

Asian markets have risen this morning with miners, banks and energy stocks leading the way as investors braced for aggressive US rate hikes and further disruption to oil supplies. Oil has risen by more than 3 percent this morning while the dollar has firmed and Treasuries extended losses after Fed Chair Jerome Powell warned of more aggressive monetary policy tightening than previously anticipated. While investors appear to have digested the fact that central banks will be raising interest rates, Mr Powell sparked a rout on bond markets overnight after he told the US National Association for Business Economics that the central bank was prepared to “do what it takes” to control inflation and that “bigger than usual” rate hikes would be deployed if necessary.

US futures are down this morning while benchmark 10 year Treasury yields hit a near three-year high of 2.3330 percent. The Chair of the US Federal Reserve has said that the central bank will have to move “expeditiously” and possibly “more aggressively” to raise interest rates to prevent the upward spiral in prices from becoming entrenched. In a keynote speech to the US National Association of Business Economics on Monday, Jerome Powell said that the labour market is very strong and inflation is too high. He said that if it was considered appropriate, the Fed would move more aggressively by raising the Federal Funds rate by more than 25 basis points at a meeting or meetings. Stocks fell on the news and markets are moving towards factoring in a better than even chance of 50 basis point increases at each of the Fed’s next two meetings in May and June. That would lift rates to between 2.25 and 2.5 percent by the end of the year-higher than the 1.9 percent that Fed policymakers anticipated just a week ago.

In the UK, the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) says that Indian agency workers hired to replace P&O Ferries crew in Dover are being paid just 1 pound 81 an hour. The union says that the low pay is a “shocking exploitation” and a betrayal of those who have been sacked. P&O says that the rate quoted by the union is “inaccurate” but refused to say how much agencies pay workers on ferries. Some of the firm’s ships are registered in Cyprus which means that they don’t have to pay the minimum wage required by UK law. P&O sacked more than 800 workers last week after saying that it was a last ditch measure to save the firm which has been losing money owning to the pandemic. Workers on minimum wage are paid 8 pounds 91 per hour under British law. The government has said that it’s reviewing all of its contracts with P&O while the opposition Labour Party accused ministers of “failing to act” to prevent the sackings.

Sport

Football - Manchester United are reported to have drawn up a 4 man shortlist to take up the role of manager. United are said to be interested in the PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino as well as the Ajax manager Erik ten Haag with Antonio Conte of Spurs and Thomas Tuchel of Chelsea also favoured. Tuchel appears to have ruled himself out of the job after saying that he’s happy at Chelsea. United will appoint a new head coach when Ralf Ragnick ends his interim term or possibly sooner.

Rugby Union - The English Rugby Football Union has said that it has “complete confidence” in coach Eddie Jones despite the side’s lacklustre performance in the 6 Nations. The RFU says that there’s been “solid progress” under Jones despite England losing three of their 5 Six Nations games and just over a year from the World Cup in France. England were beaten finalists at the last World Cup but they appear to have been going backwards since then. Jones will meet with the RFU board over the next two weeks but it appears that his position as head coach is not in doubt.

Cricket - The interim men’s Test head coach Paul Collingwood says that he would like a permanent role with the team. England have drawn the first two Tests against West Indies with the decider starting on Thursday. Collingwood says that he believes the team are already in a “better and stronger” place and that he’d relish the chance to take on the job full time.

Golf - The three time champion Phil Mickelson will not compete at the Masters next month for the first time in 28 years. The 51-year-old is taking a break from the game after apologising for his criticism of the regime in Saudi Arabia. Mickelson’s name was omitted from a list of active players competing at the tournament. The PGA champion was involved with a Saudi Arabian backed golf series but faced a backlash for comments that he made in November.

Weather

Clear skies with moderate easterly winds. Top temperatures 14-16 degrees. Overnight lows of 5-8 degrees and 1-4 degrees inland with clear skies.

Wednesday and Thursday - Clear skies with highs of 14-16 degrees.

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