PARIS: French Prime Minister Jean Castex said there would be no easing for at least two weeks of the country's second COVID-19 lockdown, with the number of people in hospital with coronavirus now higher than at the peak of the first wave. As officials across Europe warned against COVID-19 complacency following this week's announcement by Pfizer of a potentially effective vaccine, Castex said his government intended to intensify policing of the lockdown in Paris. "It would be irresponsible to soften the lockdown now," the prime minister told a news conference on Thursday. "The gains are fragile." Shortly after Castex spoke, French health authorities said the number of people hospitalised with the disease increased by 737 to reach an all-time high of 32,638, almost 350 higher than the previous April 14 peak of 32,292. And the number of COVID-19 fatalities rose by 425, to 42,960, meaning the seven-day moving average, at 560, was beyond the 500-threshold for the fourth day in a … [Read more...] about French PM says easing COVID-19 lockdown now would be ‘irresponsible’
WASHINGTON: The number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits increased further last week, suggesting that an explosion in new COVID-19 infections and business restrictions were boosting layoffs and undermining the labour market recovery. Still, the economy got off to a solid start in the fourth quarter, with consumer spending and business investment in equipment topping analysts' expectations in October. Businesses also reported a sharp rebound in profits in the third quarter. That was, however, insufficient to lift the heavy cloud over the economy. Personal income dropped last month and could decline further with about 13.6 million Americans due to lose government-funded unemployment benefits a day after Christmas. The benefits, part of a more than US$3 trillion government coronavirus relief package which has largely expired, contributed to record economic growth in the third quarter. Another package is expected only after President-elect Joe Biden is … [Read more...] about Slowing US labour market, rising COVID-19 cases cast cloud over economic recovery
SEOUL: He was earning 620,000 won (S$710) a month, but Koo Young-gyu had four credit cards that gave him a combined monthly credit limit of 60 times that amount. Flush with the extra liquidity, he went on an 18-month spending spree; he went on a trip to Jeju Island and splurged on things like shoes and a camcorder. “I thought, ‘Let’s live this year in abundance,’” he said. “I felt uncomfortable when I spent like that. But it was hard to stop.” He racked up nearly 87 million won of credit card debt in his late 20s and did not know how to get out of it. For almost a year, debt collectors harassed him. “When my family found out about (my debts) in 2016, I thought I shouldn’t live any more because of the shame,” he said. In despair, he attempted suicide three times — by cutting himself, overdosing on pills and poisoning himself with a potent mix of alcohol. His failed suicide attempts are hardly the exception. Between 2014 and 2018, more than 800 people tried to kill … [Read more...] about Rich, but household debt is growing: A time bomb for South Korea?
MEXICO CITY: Amazon.com Inc said on Thursday it has invested US$100 million in opening new warehouses in Mexico, including its first shipping centers outside the populous capital area, in a bid to offer faster deliveries. The new sites include two so-called fulfillment centers - one near the northern city of Monterrey and another near the central city of Guadalajara - as well as a support building in the State of Mexico, just outside Mexico City. Amazon also opened 12 delivery stations, bringing its total to 27 across the country, it said. "The construction of a solid infrastructure network allows the company to stay closer than ever to clients, and thanks to that, it's possible to offer fast deliveries," Amazon said in a statement. Monterrey and Guadalajara are the two biggest metropolitan zones of the country after the sprawling Mexico City area. The new facilities represent 69,000 square meters (742,710 sq ft) altogether and create 1,500 direct and indirect jobs, Amazon … [Read more...] about Amazon announces US$100 million logistics investment in Mexico