French and Riviera News Wednesday 30th March 2022

News

Monegasque Red Cross raises 1.5 million euros for Ukraine – The Monegasque Red Cross has already raised 1.5 million euros in donations for Ukraine representing 40 euros per inhabitant. At the start of the conflict a month ago, the Monegasque Red Cross released an aid of 80,000 euros and launched an appeal for donations in the Principality.

Decathlon suspends activities in Russia - Meanwhile French sports retailer Decathlon is suspending its activities in Russia. In an e-mail to employees, the company said that supply chain disruption due to international sanctions meant it could no longer operate in the country.

Ukrainian refugees housed on board a Corsica Linea ferry – And the first Ukrainian refugees have been housed on board a Corsica Linea ferry which has been specially commissioned by the French government. Up to 1,600 refugees will reportedly be housed on the vessel on a temporary basis. The ship is docked in Marseille where it will remain for two months before resuming its journeys for the summer season. 

Cost of a baguette set to increase - France could see a rise in the price of a baguette. Due to the increase in production costs since the invasion of Ukraine the price of a baguette is expected to increase by a few centimes in the coming weeks. According to figures from INSEE in 2021 a classic baguette was sold for on average 90-euro cents.

Merger of the department and the Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolis - Elected officials in La Turbie have opposed the merger of the Department and the Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolis. During a vote on Tuesday officials voted against the merger, which had been suggested on March 17th by French President Emmanuel Macron, during the presentation of his programme ahead of the elections. Speaking to local media the mayor of La Turbie Jean-Jacques Raffaele said that “he did not want the history of our region to be questioned, due to a purely administrative approach”.

New rail route faces opposition – “Stop LGV Sud” a collective which is opposed to the new rail line Provence Côte d’Azur project has announced plans to consider an appeal before France’s Council of State. During a public meeting, the president of the collective reiterated his opposition to the entire project carried out by the SNCF and has called on elected officials in the region to get involved.

French President supports PACA region for the winter Olympics - French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed his support for the PACA region's candidacy for future Winter Olympics. During the ceremony for the Beijing Olympics and Paralympic medalists on Tuesday, the French head of state gave his full support for the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region’s candidacy and the mayor of Nice for the 2034 Winter Olympics. According to the president of the region Renaud Muselier the Southern Alps had expressed interest in January in the organization of the Winter Olympics in 2034 or 2038.

Business

Asian markets have joined the global rally this morning on hopes for a negotiated settlement to the Ukraine crisis while bonds are down again on concerns that aggressive hikes in US interest rates could damage the economy. On Tuesday, Ukraine proposed adopting a neutral status in a bid to move peace talks with Russia along although there are still reports of heavy fighting on the ground and there was scepticism about Russia’s pledge to scale back military operations around Kyiv. Nevertheless, away from the war, the mood is one of apprehension about what several rate hikes might do to the US economy as bond yields rose and ten year Treasuries dipped below two year rates. Rising US yields are also dragging Japanese government bonds in their wake putting pressure on the country’s ultra-loose monetary policy. On the currency markets, the euro has firmed on hopes of a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine while oil prices have remained firm owning to supply tightness.

The US Federal Reserve is walking a tightrope with it’s monetary policy as it grapples with the twin problems of inflation and a risk of the economy weakening. While data out on Tuesday showed that demand for workers is still strong and consumer confidence is still buoyant, signs of anxiety in the bond market are giving cause for concern with some analysts suggesting that a recession could be on the cards if the Fed acts too aggressively to curb inflation. The biggest risk, as highlighted in Tuesday’s action in the bond market is that the Fed has lost control of inflation and is forced to act more aggressively than expected thus killing off economic expansion. Some say that a recession is now inevitable as a result of the central bank waiting until this month to raise interest rates even as inflation was accelerating last year. Yield curve inversions as happened on Tuesday usually come later in a rate-hiking cycle as bond investors sense that the central bank may have gone too far in raising borrowing costs and begun to slow the economy. This time around the Fed is only just getting started which may cause trouble sooner than expected.

In the UK, a surge in credit card borrowing has raised concerns that low-income households are turning to expensive ways of lending to cope with the spiralling cost of food, clothing and fuel. Figures from the Bank of England showed that credit card borrowing jumped by 1.5 billion pounds in February to a record 59.5 billion pounds. With shoppers turning to cheaper brands to make ends meet, increasing numbers of people are reporting that they’re being forced to choose between “heating or eating” and anti-poverty charities say they’re concerned that consumers are getting out of their depth on credit spending. The Bank of England said on Tuesday that the annual growth rate for all forms of unsecured credit rose from 3.2 percent to a two year high of 4.4 percent last month raising the total outstanding consumer credit balance to 199.5 billion pounds. Credit card interest rates are currently averaging 18.26 percent with standard credit loans at 6.14 percent.

Sport

Football - Portugal and Poland have both qualified for the World Cup finals after winning their playoff games last night. Portugal beat North Macedonia 2-0 while Poland defeated Sweden 2-0. There were also a number of international friendlies with England beating Ivory Coast 3-0, the Republic of Ireland 1-0 winners over Lithuania, Northern Ireland losing 1-0 at home to Hungary, Austria and Scotland drew 2-2 and Wales and the Czech Republic drew 1-1. France thrashed South Africa 5-0 and the Netherlands and Germany drew 1-1.

Motorsport - The former president of the FIA Max Mosely shot himself after learning that he had terminal cancer. Mr Mosely, who was 81 had been in debilitating pain after developing diffuse large B-cell lymphoma which was aggressively attacking his immune cells. An inquest into his death has concluded that he took his own life and had told his wife before eating a final meal with her and leaving a suicide note. Max Mosely led the FIA from 1993 to 2009 and initiated widespread reforms of safety procedures in Formula 1 following the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994.

Rugby Union - The Leicester coach Steve Borthwick has played down reports linking him to the England job and says that he has “plenty on his plate” at the moment. Borthwick, who’s 42 is a leading contender for the England head coach position with the RFU saying that they hope to replace Eddie Jones after next year’s World Cup. Borthwick has led a revival at Leicester with the club currently way ahead at the top of the Gallagher English Premiership but he says that he wants to concentrate on “what is immediately in front of him”. There have been calls for Eddie Jones to go before the World Cup following two disappointing 6 Nations campaigns.

Golf - Tiger Woods has fuelled speculation that he’s about to return to competition and may play in next month’s Masters in Augusta. The 46-year-old has been recovering from multiple injuries that he suffered in a car crash 14 months ago but on Tuesday it was reported that he played all 18 holes at the Augusta National and was “looking good”. Woods is on the list of 91 competitors for the first Major of the year next week and it had been thought that the hilly course might prove too demanding. He has until the start of next week to decide whether he’ll compete in the tournament and bid to add another Major to his career haul of 15.

Weather

Overcast with light rain giving way to sunshine and showers this afternoon with moderate to strong easterly winds. Top temperature 16 degrees. Overnight lows of 8-11 degrees with partially cloudy skies.

Thursday and Friday - Sunshine and showers with highs of 15-20 degrees.

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