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Donald trumps positive diagnosis for coronavirus injects a new level of uncertainty into an already turbulent us presidential campaign.
It was not immediately clear if mr trumps quarantine would be over by the date of the next presidential debate on october 15, and how his ability to campaign in the final 32 days of the race would be affected.
The president confirmed in the early hours of friday morning that he and first lady melania trump had tested positive for the virus after one of his closest aides, hope hicks, had contracted the disease just two days after the president shared the debate stage with democratic rival joe biden in cleveland, ohio.
Global equity markets came under pressure. the blue-chip s&p 500 stock index in the us opened 1.5 per cent lower and the tech-heavy nasdaq fell 1.8 per cent. shares were lower in europe as investors moved out of risky assets and into safer bets. us treasuries, considered to be a haven asset, rose modestly in price, pushing yields slightly lower.
At 74, mr trump is in a high-risk age group. on average, someone in their mid-seventies who tests positive for coronavirus has about a 20 per cent chance of requiring hospitalisation and a5 per cent chance of dying, explains our science editor clive cookson. mr trump is the latest in a string of global figures to have been diagnosed with the virus.
The us has had 7.2m confirmed cases and more than 200,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to data from johns hopkins university more than any other country.
Investors were already braced for an unpredictable final month of campaigning in the us election, but the presidents diagnosis adds to market nerves in the run-up to polling day. the vix index often referred to as wall streets fear gauge rose on friday to 29, against a long-term average of 20. were in a situation where there are more questions than answers, said robert rennie, head of market strategy at westpac. investors were likely to shun riskier assets until there was greater clarity on mr trumps health.
Oil prices extended their slide on friday to hit their lowest level since june in one of the starkest risk-off market moves following the president's positive test. brent crude, the international benchmark, was down about 4.3 per cent to $39.17 a barrel. west texas intermediate shed 4.4 per cent to $37.03 a barrel, reversing gains held by the us marker in the second half of september.the yen gained almost half a per cent against the dollar to a one-week high with one unit of the us currency purchasing 104.95 before falling back to 105.23 per dollar. the yen, which western investors view as a haven from economic uncertainty and which also strengthens when japanese investors sell foreign holdings, rose 0.6 per cent against the euro in european morning trades.
Pfizers chief executive has criticised the politicisation of the covid-19 vaccine. albert bourla, who leads the company with the best chance of submitting a vaccine for authorisation before the us election, said he would not be pressured to move more quickly or slowly in what he described as a hyper-partisan year.
Amazon said close to 20,000 of its staff had tested positive for coronavirus or are presumed to have had covid-19, as it seeks to dispel concerns over workforce safety and a lack of transparency over outbreaks. the company said that, following a study of all of its almost 1.4m amazon and whole foods frontline workers in the us between march and mid-september, it had found 19,816 were positive or presumed positive. the study refers to amazon and whole foods warehouse and cashier staff, not delivery drivers who are contractors.
Boeing will stop making the 787 dreamliner in washington state and consolidate production at its non-unionised plant in south carolina. the move comes aftercoronaviruscrippled the market for the widebody aircraft used on long-haul routes, which are expected to recover slowest from the drop in demand for air travel. unions have been unable to win recognition at the southern us plant, which operates under different labour laws.
The final monthly us employment data release before the election highlighted the slowdown in americas economic recovery. the economy added 661,000 jobs last month compared to an average of 1.6m in july and august. the unemployment rate of 7.9 per cent means donald trump will be shouldering the worst september jobless rate of any incumbent us president in postwar history and underlines the urgency of talks between republicans and democrats on a new stimulus package for the economy.
Germany is to press ahead with plans to give employees the legal right to work from home. in an interview with the financial times, labour minister hubertus heil said the draft law would seek to reinforce workers rights and set clearer boundaries forthe increasingly blurred lines between personal life and work. he hit back at critics who argue his plans could weaken workers ability to engage in collective bargaining and could encourage companies to outsource jobs abroad. we cannot stop the changes in the world of work, nor do we want to, he said.
Madrid is to impose newrestrictionson people entering and leaving the city. under the rules, people will not be able to enter or leave the spanish capital except for work, education or other permitted reasons. bar service will be banned, restaurants forbidden to accept new customers after 10pm and residents asked to avoid unnecessary journeys.
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Chara richterberg, from lafayette, louisiana, has moved across four continents with her husbands job in the oil and gas industry, but recently moved back to the us. she is not the only economic migrant opting to return home due to the fallout from the pandemic. workers from ireland, new zealand, the us and germany have been rethinking their living arrangements. but whether it is elective or unwanted, repatriation can be a tough experience.
What is the true measure of civilisation? american journalist matthew yglesias suggested that a civilised nation is one with ice cubes, which he claims are missing in europe.ice-loving europeans were livid, flooding social media with photographic evidence of the insides of freezer drawers rammed full of ice trays. it was as though all the pent-up aggression of a plague year would be vented in a transatlantic war over kitchen appliances, writes cordelia jenkins.