The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits in the last three weeks likely totalled a staggering 15 million as tough measures to control the novel coronavirus outbreak abruptly ground the country to halt, which would cement views the economy was in deep recession.
Thursday’s weekly jobless claims report from the Labor Department, the most timely data on the economy’s health, would strengthen economists’ expectations of job losses of up to 20 million in April.
The government reported last Friday that the economy purged 701,000 jobs in March. That was the most job losses since the Great Recession and ended the longest employment boom in U.S. history that started in late 2010.
Oil prices rose on Thursday on expectations the world’s largest oil producers would agree to cut production at a meeting later in the day as the industry grapples with a coronavirus-driven collapse in global oil demand.
Brent crude LCOc1 futures rose 1.2%, or 41 cents, to $33.25 a barrel as of 0529 GMT. The contract rose to an intra-day high of $33.90, climbing for a second day. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 futures were up 3.3%, or 82 cents, at $25.91 a barrel, after earlier climbing by as much as 6.1%.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies including Russia - a group known as OPEC+ - are set to convene a video conference meeting on Thursday.
The meeting is expected to be more successful than their gathering in March, where they failed to agree to extend supply cuts and triggered a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Jamaica’s imports for January to December 2019 were valued at US$6,339.2 million, an increase of 2.7 per cent when compared to US$6,170.5 million which was spent for the similar period in 2018 according to the International Merchandise Trade (IMT) Bulletin released on March 31, 2020 by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN).
The December 2019 IMT Bulletin further outlined that revenue from exports amounted to US$1,586.4 million for the current review period, 19.1 per cent lower than the US$1,960.7 million earned in the similar period in 2018.
Expenditure on imports from the United States of America (USA) – Jamaica’s main trading partner – were valued at US$2,848.8 million. This is 3.9 per cent above the US$2,740.7 million recorded in the period January to December 2018.
Earnings from total exports to the USA amounted to US$614.4 million, an increase of 4.4 per cent when compared to the US$588.5 million earned for January to December 2018.
The Government is spending $240 million to purchase excess produce from farmers impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19).
Hutchinson noted that the objective is to bring fresh produce to market and minimise the threat of waste, resulting from the fall-off in demand from the tourism sector, due to COVID-19.
He said the Ministry is aware that some farmers, who would normally supply the hotel and hospitality sectors, have had excess supplies of fruits and vegetables available for redistribution to local consumers.
Panama’s fiscal deficit will widen in the coming quarters as stimulus measures designed to mitigate the economic impact of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and subdued revenues weigh on the fiscal balance.
That said, sustained interest in Panamanian debt and a long-term commitment to fiscal consolidation will help keep borrowing costs modest in the coming years.
Fitch has revised its 2020 and 2021 fiscal deficit forecasts to 4.8% and 4.6% of GDP, from 2.9% and 2.6% previously, significantly wider than Panama's estimated 3.1% shortfall in 2019.
Mexico’s deputy health minister said on Thursday there are no plans for border closures even as the country’s death toll from the coronavirus jumped to 50 from 37 in a day.
The deputy minister, Hugo Lopez-Gatell, said “there’s no plan, because there’s no intention to use the border closure mechanism as if it were a useful mechanism for controlling the epidemic,” during his regular evening news conference.
However, Lopez-Gatell reiterated earlier calls on Mexicans resident in the United States to not make non-essential visits to Mexico to help avoid spread of the coronavirus. So far, the Health Ministry has reported 1,510 cases.
The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet increased to a record $5.86 trillion this week and the central bank reported greater use of some of its newly launched liquidity facilities, all part of its efforts to keep markets functioning smoothly amid heightened volatility related to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the three weeks since the Fed’s effort to limit the economic damage from the outbreak kicked into overdrive, the central bank’s balance sheet has mushroomed by roughly $1.5 trillion. It is now the equivalent of a quarter or more of the size of the U.S. economy before the crisis struck, and will certainly grow larger in the weeks ahead as the Fed keeps piling on assets and the economy likely shrinks.
The central bank continued to snap up Treasury securities, mortgage bonds and other assets, according to data released on Thursday. The Fed’s holdings of mortgage-backed securities increased to $1.46 trillion from $1.38 trillion. Treasury holdings rose to $3.34 trillion from $2.98 trillion.
Oil prices fell on Friday, coming off their biggest one-day gains in the previous session, reflecting market scepticism about a deal U.S. President Donald Trump said he had brokered between Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut output.
Brent crude futures fell 3.2%, or 97 cents, to $28.97 per barrel as of 0636 GMT, after having soared 21% on Thursday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 4.1%, or $1.04, to $24.28 a barrel, after having surged 24.7% on Thursday.
Analysts said it was hard to see a deal to call off the Saudi-Russian price war going ahead without the participation of other major producers, or whether any such deal could come quickly enough and be large enough to balance the market in the face of a deep economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Jamaica will experience a recession in 2020 as its economy faces a combination of public health measures aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19 that significantly disrupt day-to-day commerce, a collapse of tourism and reduced goods export demand.
As a result, Fitch has revised down its 2020 real GDP growth forecast, for the Jamaican economy, from 0.1% y-o-y previously to -2.6%. Growth is expected to recover slowly in H220, before reaching 1.1% in 2021.
A more pronounced slowdown in global economic activity and an extended coronavirus outbreak pose downside risks to Jamaican economic activity. In other words, a slower-than-expected rebound in global economic growth or extended travel restrictions would lead to a deeper contraction in Jamaican economic activity.