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Business

Hawaiian Airlines CEO says hard to predict short-term industry outlook

CHICAGO (Reuters) – While no U.S. airlines have requested a bailout to date, the head of Hawaiian Airline said on Monday that it was difficult to predict what would happen in the weeks and months ahead for the industry as travelers cancel flights amid coronavirus uncertainty.

Speaking to investors, President and Chief Executive Peter Ingram said that a sharp drop in travel demand was driven by fear around “a number of unknowns” on the virus and called on government authorities to provide “good, current and factual” information.

Hawaiian Airlines, part of Hawaiian Holdings Inc (HA.O), does not have any immediate liquidity needs, Ingram said.

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Politics

Labour leadership guide: What do Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long Bailey stand for?

Sir Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long Bailey are vying for Labour Party members votes, as is Wigan MP Lisa Nandy who is also in the leadership race. The three have been travelling around the country to take part in hustings and televised debates.

What do Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long Bailey stand for?

Sir Keir is the frontrunner in the race and managed to secure the support of the UK’s biggest trade union Unison.

Ms Long Bailey is seen as the Corbyn continuity candidate and she is backed by Momentum, the grassroots group set up to support Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.

The two candidates do have some policies in common.

They both support nationalising the railways, want more power distributed to regions, want to scrap Universal Credit and tuition fees, and they back the Board of Deputies pledges on anti-Semitism.

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On Brexit, Sir Keir has accepted the result but will scrutinise the Conservatives’ deal with the EU as much as possible.

He will want a deal that protects the economy, jobs, workers and the environment.

Patrick Diamond, a senior lecturer in British politics from Queen Mary University London’s School of Politics and International Relations said: “Although he was a strong advocate of a second referendum before the general election, it looks as if he will accept Brexit.

“But he will argue that the Government’s deal is flawed and problematic.”

Ms Long Bailey also supported a second referendum though she was opposed to it initially.

She believes Labour must accept Brexit and move on.

She wants the UK should maintain a trading relationship with the EU that protects jobs.

Dr Diamond said: “She said Labour lost the election because they were unconvincing on Brexit.”

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Sir Keir has said he would bring back EU citizens’ freedom of movement to UK and has backed Labour’s election stance on limited continued migration from the bloc.

He says any new migration system should not be based on numbers or targets.

Ms Long Bailey has said there is no evidence to suggest that immigration pushes down wages is ‘in favour’ of free movement but does not guarantee it for EU.

She believes any new migration system should be based on values, not targets.

When it comes to defence, Long Bailey wants to keep Mr Corbyn’s pledge to suspend arms sales and said she would be prepared to use nuclear weapons, but she “isn’t a warmonger”.

Sir Keir, who voted against UK military action in Syria but for replacing Trident, would like a Prevention of Military Intervention Act to “stop illegal wars”.

Closer to home, Sir Keir would abolish the House of Lords and support an elected chamber for nations and regions.

He likes the idea of a “federal UK” and has signalled support for a more proportional voting system.

Long Bailey is also a fan of scrapping the House of Lords and said she would not appoint any new peers.

She would like to see it replaced with a Senate outside of London whose members are elected via proportional representation.

She also wants to consult members on using proportional representation for local and general elections.

Ms Long Bailey has spoken of her support for further devolution to regions and nations in the UK.

As for housing, she has backed Labour’s Campaign for Council Housing pledge that would see 100,000 council homes built a year.

She would end Right to Buy and wants to commit a £75bn infrastructure fund over five years.

Sir Keir has promised indefinite tenancies and rent controls, and to help tackle the climate crisis wants new builds to be zero-carbon.

He has called for a “new generation of council and social homes” but didn’t back Labour Campaign for Council Housing pledge.

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World News

Saudi Arabia detects another five cases of new coronavirus: state TV

CAIRO (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s health ministry said on Monday it has detected five new cases of the new coronavirus, state TV reported.

Four Saudi citizens were diagnosed with the disease, three of whom had arrived from Iran and Iraq. The fifth case is of an Egyptian man who arrived from Egypt to the kingdom, the ministry added.

This brings the total of coronavirus cases detected in the kingdom to 20.

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Business

Coronavirus fears, oil price plunge pummel world markets

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – Global stock markets plunged on Monday and oil prices tumbled by as much as a third after Saudi Arabia launched a price war with Russia, sending investors already spooked by the coronavirus outbreak fleeing for the safety of bonds and the Japanese yen.

A benchmark pan-Europe index entered bear market territory and a 7% slide in the S&P 500 at the open on Wall Street triggered a circuit-breaker put in place after the financial crisis a decade ago, halting U.S. stock trading for 15 minutes.

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note slid as low as 0.318% – a level unthinkable just a week ago – and German government debt yields set fresh record lows as investors rushed to cut risk assets and snap up safe-havens. Gold briefly topped $1,700 an ounce for the first time since 2012 and is up more than 10% so far this year.

The rout’s depth, sparked after Saudi Arabia stunned markets on Sunday with plans to hike oil production sharply following the collapse of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ supply-cut agreement with Russia, unnerved investors.

“The oil price plunge adds a huge disruptive dynamic to markets that are already very fragile,” said Paul O’Connor, multi-asset head at Janus Henderson in London.

“We are seeing this week, finally, a full-scale liquidation and signs of capitulation, full-scale panic – we see this in every asset,” O’Connor said.

Mike Loewengart, managing director of Investment Strategy at E*TRADE Financial Corp, said in an email that as markets move at breakneck speeds wide price swings are never comfortable.

“Consistent patterns of whipsawed equities and plummeting Treasury yields have certainly unnerved investors and the latest domino to fall is severe oil losses,” Loewengart said.

“No doubt, many are taking a hard look at their portfolio.”

Jim Vogel, interest rate strategist at FHN Financial in Memphis, Tennessee, said “nobody thought that Saudi Arabia would start a price war. Suddenly you have to re-evaluate what else could impact this.”

Saudi Arabia’s grab for market share was reminiscent of a drive in 2014 that sent prices down by about two-thirds, while the renewed plunge on Wall Street came exactly 11 years after U.S. stocks touched bottom during the financial crisis. [O/R]

Brent LCOc1 and U.S. crude CLc1 futures slid $14 a barrel to as low as $31.02 and $27.34 in volatile trade.

Both crude benchmarks recouped some losses but still fell almost 25% in their biggest daily drop since 1991, the start of the first Gulf War. [O/R]

Brent LCOc1 fell $10.91 to settle at $34.36 a barrel, while U.S. crude CLc1 settled down $10.15 at $31.13 a barrel.

The Dow fell a record 2,000 points when trading opened and the S&P 500 posted its largest single-day percentage drop since December 2008, the depths of the financial crisis.

All three of Wall Street’s major benchmarks – the Dow industrials, S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite – were roughly 1 percentage point shy of bear territory.

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The Dow .DJI fell 2,013.76 points, or 7.79%, to 23,851.02. The S&P 500 .SPX lost 225.81 points, or 7.60%, to 2,746.56 and the Nasdaq .IXIC dropped 624.94 points, or 7.29%, to 7,950.68.

Equity markets in Frankfurt .GDAXI and Paris .FCHI tumbled about 8.5% and London .FTSE tanked 11%. Italy’s main index .FTMIB slumped 14.3% after the government over the weekend ordered a lockdown of a northern swath of the country, including the financial capital, Milan.

The pan-regional STOXX 600 fell into bear territory from an all-time high in February. Oil stocks bore the brunt of losses, with giants BP (BP.L) 19.5% lower and Royal Dutch Shell </RDSb.L> off 18.2% as the European energy sector .SXEP slid to its lowest since 1997.

The losses in Europe amplified declines in Asia. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares ex-Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS lost 4.4% in its worst day since August 2015 and Japan’s Nikkei .N225 dropped 5.1%. Australia’s commodity-heavy market closed down 7.3%, its biggest single-day fall since 2008.

‘DO SOMETHING!’

Investors piled into safe-haven debt, driving the 30-year U.S. Treasury yield US30YT=RR below 1% on bets the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates by at least 75 basis points when policymakers meet next week. The Fed last week cut rates by half a percentage point after an emergency meeting.

The number of people worldwide infected with the coronavirus rose above 111,600, and 3,800 have died.

There were mounting worries that debt-heavy U.S. oil producers would be unable to meet financial obligations as the drop in prices slashes their revenue.

“No one expected this. We were trending downwards, but no one expected this magnitude,” said Donald Selkin, chief market strategist at Newbridge Securities in New York.

“The lower oil price is going to decimate oil stocks, the oil industry, the shale producers and the record low interest rates are going to decimate the banks,” he said.

ECB MEETING

The European Central Bank meets on Thursday and will be under intense pressure to act, but rates are already deeply negative.

The 10-year Bund yield DE10YT=RR – the euro zone’s leading safe asset – fell to a record low of -0.906%, while inflation expectations for the euro zone sank below 1% for the first time.

Data suggested the global economy toppled into recession this quarter. Figures from China over the weekend showed exports fell 17.2% in January-February from a year earlier.

The fall in U.S. yields and Fed rate expectations pushed the dollar to its largest weekly loss in four years before it recovered some ground. =USD. [USD/]

The dollar extended its slide to 101.20 yen JPY=, depths not seen since late 2016. It was last down 3.1% at 102.07.

The euro shot to the highest in over 13 months at $1.1492 EUR= and was last at $1.1431.

Gold XAU= retreated from the $1,700 level it briefly touched as investors sold bullion to cover margin calls in plummeting securities, overshadowing the metal’s safe-haven status.

U.S. gold futures GCcv1 settled up 0.2% at 1,675.70 an ounce.

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World News

Movement restricted across Italy in dramatic coronavirus crackdown: PM

ROME (Reuters) – Movement across Italy will be sharply restricted within hours, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced on Monday, in an unprecedented clampdown aimed at beating the coronavirus in Europe’s worst-affected country.

Conte told reporters that measures introduced just two days ago in much of the north were no longer sufficient after a jump in deaths tied to the highly infectious disease, and said the entire nation had to make sacrifices to stop its spread.

“The right decision today is to stay at home. Our future and the future of Italy is in our hands. These hands have to be more responsible today than ever before,” Conte said.

Italy’s 60-million people will only be able to travel for work, medical reasons or emergencies until April 3. All schools and universities, which were closed nationwide last week until March 15, will now not reopen before next month.

The contagion only came to light near Italy’s financial capital Milan on Feb 21. Since then there have been some 9,172 confirmed cases and 463 deaths, putting the national health system under massive strain.

Conte said any public gatherings, including in the open air, would be forbidden and announced that all sports events, including top flight Serie A soccer matches, would be suspended.

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World News

Coronavirus probe as radio host pictured ‘licking bins’ to catch killer virus

A radio presenter has been slammed for licking bins in a bid to catch the deadly coronavirus.

The Swiss radio show presenter has attracted a storm of criticism after announcing she wants to catch the epidemic causing virus.

Punk, hardcore and metal music DJ Lea Inderbitz, launched a bizarre infection campaign when she was spotted licking the hand of a Swiss comedian, Hazel Brugger, at this year’s Swiss Music Award.

Despite being challenged about her unhygienic behaviour, the presenter of the show "3Fach" which means "triple" announced that she actually wanted to catch the bug.

She then went onto the streets, where she was spotted licking a ticketing machine, various buttons and handles on a public bus and even a litter bin.

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However, people were unable to see the funny side of the stunt.

One person said whatever she was up to it was not funny, and another commented under her YouTube post: "You really disgust me! I hope you and your radio are severely sanctioned.

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"Apart from this virus, what you did is absolutely disgusting and also repulsive for other people have to touch those surfaces."

The radio star was defended by the programme controller, David Largier, who said: "I guess the sort of humour that we have is not something that would be appreciated by everyone."

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He said that the aim of the video was to get people to relax a little in the current climate but added: "People should under no circumstances imitate this."

She later claimed that the video was a fake saying that she had actually secretly disinfected everything that she licked before touching it with her tongue in order to make it sterile.

She said: "It was all sanitary and safe."

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The move has resulted in complaints to the Swiss radio ombudsman especially in the wake of the government campaign for social distancing in which people should try and limit personal contact in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

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The ombudsman confirmed that although many of the complaints regarding the video, which is not in his remit, one did refer to the promotion of the stunt on the radio programme and this would be investigated.

Politicians also angered by the stunt, noting that the government subsidises the youth radio channel yearly with a £461, 500 sponsorship.

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World News

UK moving on stage 2 of Covid-19 containment plan as many to quarantine

Anyone suffering even a minor fever or respiratory illness will need to self-isolate within around two weeks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the Chief Medical officer has warned.

Professor Chris Whitty, who is the most senior government advisor on health matters, has said you may need to quarantine for around a week even if you have minor symptoms of the disease.

Five people have so far died in the UK from Covid-19, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson holding an emergency cobra meeting on Monday to discuss coronavirus.

Following that meeting, the Prime Minister told a press conference the UK is now gearing up to move from the first step of containing the virus to delaying its spread.

Boris Johnson added: "I want to stress the following things. First, we are doing everything we can to combat this outbreak based on the latest scientific and medical advice.

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"Second, we have a truly brilliant NHS where staff have responded with all the determination, compassion and skill that makes their service so revered across the world and they will continue to have this Government's full support, my support, in tackling this virus on the front line.

"Third, we will set out further steps in the days and weeks ahead to help people protect themselves, their family and in particularly the elderly and vulnerable.

"Finally, while it is absolutely critical in managing the spread of this virus that we take the right decisions at the right time based on the latest and the best evidence, so we mustn't do things which have no or limited medical benefit, nor things which could turn out actually to be counterproductive, there is no hiding from the fact that the coronavirus outbreak will present significant challenges for the UK just as it does in other countries.

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"But if we continue to look out for one another, to pull together in a united and national effort, I have no doubt that we can and will rise to that challenge."

Professor Whitty explained why the public will soon have to take the more drastic step of self-isolating if they have a fever or respiratory problem.

He said: “At the moment, the ratio between people who’ve got coronavirus in the UK and other significant respiratory tract infections is very very low.

“That is going to shift over time for two reasons… the actual amount of coronavirus is steadily going to increase, and we’re expecting the numbers to increase initially slowly but really quite fast after a while.

“And we have to catch it before the upswing begins.

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“And secondly the other causes of coughs and colds that are seasonal at this time of year are at their tail end of maximum activity in the UK.

“So the ratios are going to shift very significantly.

“So we are now very close to the time, probably within the next 10-14 days, when the modelling would imply we should move to a situation where we say everybody who has even minor respiratory tract infections, or a fever, should be self-isolating for seven days afterwards.

“And this is going to be the next step – we have not yet reached that step, but we are going to be reaching that step in the really quite near future.”

He also revealed how hospitals are increasing their handling of patients with pneumonia.

Professor Chris Whitty said: "We're going to make one additional change on the health side tomorrow.

“At the moment we are screening everybody who’s in intensive care for coronavirus if they have symptoms that are compatible with coronavirus – so if they have a very bad pneumonia.

“We’ll be extending that out now, as from tomorrow, to everybody who has a significant enough pneumonia or other respiratory tract infection to get into hospital at all.

“So that's a medical advance."+

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Professor Whitty also acknowledged that the public is likely to have to change their lives.

He said: "I think what we’re moving now to is a phase when we will be having to ask members of the general public to do different things than they would normally do.”

But he stressed the importance of timing because "anything we do, we have got to be able to sustain" throughout the peak of the outbreak.

"There is a risk if we go too early people will understandably get fatigued and it will be difficult to sustain this over time," he said.

"So getting the timing right is absolutely critical to making this work."

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World News

Coronavirus row: Commuter loses it at ‘disgusting’ woman who coughs at him on busy train

A heated row broke out on a packed train in Australia over the continued spread of coronavirus across the world. A Sydney man and woman clashed as he accused her of being “disgusting” for not covering her mouth when she coughed. At the time of writing there are 85 confirmed cases of coronavirus Covid-19 in Australia.

The footage was captured by an ABC journalist called Andy Park in a quiet carriage on Sydney’s intercity V-set train.

It shows a man and woman arguing after he asked her to cover her mouth when she coughed.

She angrily told him: “I did not open my mouth when I coughed. I coughed inside my mouth.”

The man told her: “That’s disgusting.”

The woman shot back: “Yes well you’re disgusting too.”

She then deliberately coughs in his direction.

The man appears shocked and immediately takes off his headphones.

He furiously says: “Are you serious? Did you just cough at me?”

The woman quickly replied: “Yes. I don’t have a pandemic.”

There have been a total of four deaths from the virus so far in Australia.

Three of these were in New South Wales and one in Western Australia.

21 people have recovered in the regions of Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.

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In Mainland China, where the virus originated, there have been over 80,000 confirmed cases.

Just over 3,000 people have died in the country.

In the UK there have only been 319 confirmed cases in comparison. Of these, five people have died. 

Italy is the biggest-hit country in Europe, with over 7,000 confirmed cases in the country and over 450 deaths.

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Business

Wall Street pummeled by crude crash, virus spread

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street tumbled on Monday and recession fears loomed large as plummeting oil prices and ongoing coronavirus worries sparked a panic-driven sell-off, sending investors fleeing risk for safety on the anniversary of the U.S. stock market’s longest-ever bull run.

All three major U.S. stock averages opened sharply lower in a plunge so steep it triggered a trading halt due to safeguards put in place to avoid a repeat of 1987’s “Black Monday” crash. The Dow dropped a record 2,000 out of the starting gate.

S&P 500 was on track for its largest one-day percentage drop since December 2008, the height of the financial crisis.

The index is now about 18% below its all-time high set on Feb. 19. A bear market is confirmed when stocks reach 20% below record peak.

“It’s a perfect storm,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance in Charlotte, North Carolina. “You’ve got a lot of uncertainty in terms of how far the virus will spread in the U.S. You layer onto this the oil price cut.”

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“Today is all about oil being the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Zaccarelli added.

Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York agreed.

“There’s a lot of fear in the market and if the price of oil continues to move lower it’s an indication that a global recession is not far away,” Cardillo said.

The CBOE Volatility index , a gauge of investor anxiety, touched its highest level since December 2008.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields briefly sank to 0.318%, a record low.

The rout began over the weekend when the oil supply pact between Saudi Arabia and Russia collapsed and both countries vowed to hike production amid weakening global demand due to the coronavirus and signs of an economic slowdown.

Oil prices crashed to their lowest since the 1991 Gulf war, with Brent crude futures LCOc1 last down 22.05% and front-month WTI falling 22.3%, sending the S&P Energy index .SPNY down 19.3%, which would be its largest one-day decline since October 2008.

Global markets were already on edge as worldwide confirmed cases of COVID-19 surged past 110,000, causing widespread supply disruption and large scale quarantine measures as governments scramble to contain the outbreak.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 2,017.64 points, or 7.8%, to 23,847.14, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 221.98 points, or 7.47%, to 2,750.39 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 578.54 points, or 6.75%, to 7,997.08.

All 11 major sectors of S&P 500 were deep in red territory, with energy and financial .SPSY stocks suffering the largest percentage losses.

Boeing Co (BA.N) was the biggest drag on the Dow, tumbling 13.0% following the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) rejection of the planemaker’s proposal regarding wiring systems in place on its grounded 737 MAX aircraft.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) shares fell 6.8% after data showed the company sold fewer than 500,000 smartphones in China in February amid the coronavirus crisis.

Chipmakers set a path for their largest drop since January of last year, with the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index falling 7.8%.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 18.82-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 19.48-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 1 new 52-week highs and 226 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 9 new highs and 970 new lows.

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Business

Exclusive: CBOE VIX options froze at open – exchange official

(Reuters) – Trading in options on Wall Street’s fear gauge was impossible in the first minutes of Monday’s session due to a complete absence of prices from the market makers on whom trading depends, a representative of index operator CBOE Global Markets Inc (CBOE.Z) said. CBOE Senior Trade Desk Specialist Ryan Stone told Reuters that VIX options were tradable at 9:51 a.m. ET (1351 GMT) but a lack of liquidity led to a lag of about seven minutes until the first trade, around 9:58 a.m. ET.

When activity in options resumed, the VIX surged to its highest level since December 2008. The volatility spike occurred as global stock markets were melting down on fears about the spreading coronavirus and crashing oil prices.

It followed 15-minute trading halts across U.S. exchanges, triggered by an opening 7% decline in the S&P 500 .SPX that set off circuit breakers.

The S&P was last 7.7% down and the VIX was up 13 points at 55.04.

According to CBOE’s website, the VIX Index is calculated using standard S&P 500 options and weekly S&P 500 options that are listed for trading on CBOE Options.

“What caused the delay in opening SPX & VIX – with these being products – is we had to manually open them,” Stone said.

“We gave market makers the delay to ensure they were getting proper market data so they could properly quote these.”

In line with its own rules, CBOE had earlier taken a “precautionary measure” to not open the VIX to trading before the bell as it was not able to calculate the index value at the time, after E-mini futures on the S&P 500 EScv1 hit their 5% lower limit in premarket trade.

The VIX index is widely used by traders as a measure of expected volatility of the S&P 500 over the following 30 days and is traders main way of protecting against or betting on sharp moves in stocks.

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