Governments and companies in developing nations borrowed on foreign markets at a record pace in early 2021, but investors say the risks are mounting as some countries endure a resurgence of coronavirus. Borrowing through eurobonds reached a new quarterly peak in the three months to March, with fundraising reaching $191bn.
Activity in the eurozone services sector returned to growth in April for the first time since last summer despite continuing restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus, while factories reported a record expansion. The IHS Markit eurozone flash purchasing managers’ index for services rose to 50.3 in April, from 49.6 in March.
Senior bankers and business leaders have cautioned that take-up of the UK’s new Recovery Loan Scheme has been slow, blaming more stringent checks and higher interest rate charges compared with other pandemic support schemes. Applications were in the “low thousands” in the first week, with fewer accepted as potential borrowers.
The UK opposition party on Friday called on the government to explain why Greensill Capital was approved to provide loans through a Covid-19 support scheme last year, despite it being clear at the time that the company was in financial trouble. Labour demanded chancellor Rishi Sunak publish all records of text messages, calls and informal meetings.
US regulators have recommended healthcare providers resume using Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine after concluding benefits outweighed risks of serious blood clotting issues. The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday they were lifting their earlier recommended pause.
Global oil activity is picking up but US shale’s recovery from last year’s crude price crash remains subdued, Schlumberger, the world’s biggest oilfields services company, said on Friday. The company reported a fall in fourth-quarter revenue but beat analyst forecasts for net income and earnings per share.
Volkswagen has warned top managers to brace for a bigger production hit in the second quarter than the first because of the global chip shortage. The crisis, which began last year but was exacerbated by Texas storms and a fire at a chip factory in Japan, comes just as manufacturers were banking on a post-pandemic recovery.
US consumers are leading the rebound in travel and entertainment spending, according to American Express, but weak demand could mean overall travel spending will not recover for years. By the end of 2021, the company expects travel and entertainment spending across the group will recover 70 per cent from pre-pandemic levels.