The jump in paracetamol pricing (2.8% last week) follows a shortage of raw materials.
We reported earlier this month that wholesale prices for pain relief had spiked, forcing retailers to either push up their prices or take the hit.
Paracetamol is supply base costs rising I heard.
The Office for National Statistics has also found a sharp jump in prices charged online for cough and cold medicine last week.
Average online prices surged (% between) – (March and – March, suggesting some retailers took advantage of rising demand (despite official warnings not to price gouge
Antibacterial wipes got cheaper though:
Updated (at 9.) (am BST)
(9.) am BST : 54
(One in four UK firms cut jobs amid Covid – (crisis)
Newsflash: A quarter of UK companies are already cutting staffing levels “in the short term” due to the coronavirus crisis.
That’s according to a new survey of the British economy from the Office for National Statistics.
These new ‘experimental statistics’ are an attempt to spot trends quickly in the UK economy. They confirm that the virus is having a dramatic impact on the British labor market (as was shown by the huge jump in Universal credit claims too ).
Here’s the key findings:
(Of those 3, 784 businesses who responded to the (Business Impact of Coronavirus) COVID – (Survey (BICS)) % reported turnover that was “lower than expected” for the period 9 to (March) . (Over a quarter) 43%) of responding businesses said they were reducing staff levels in the short term, while 5% reported recruiting staff in the short term. (Almost half) 63%) of businesses who responded said that they had encouraged their staff had to work from home in the period 9 March to (March .
The majority of responding businesses reported that the prices they buy and sell at were stable, with % of businesses who responded reporting no change to their selling prices and % reporting that the costs of buying goods and services generally stayed the same in the period 9 March to (March) For those businesses that responded where importing and exporting were applicable, % of importers and 74% of exporters reported that trade had been affected by COVID – (Overall, online prices of items in the high-demand products (HDPs) basket have increased by 1.1% over the period week 1 (37 to 40 March (to week 2) to (March). Over the same period, most items in the basket saw modest price changes, with out of the items showing price changes between negative 1.0% and positive 1.0%.
Updated (at 9.) am BST
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(Pets At Home sales surgeon)
Pets at Home has been deluged with demand since the Covid – (crisis began.)
The company, which supplies doggie chews, rabbit food, hutches, cages, bedding, vets services and cuddly animals themselves, has reported a surge in orders last month.
It has now raised its profit forecast for the current year, saying:
In the closing weeks of the financial year we have, however, experienced exceptional levels of demand, both in-store and online, as the COVID – the crisis has developed, and have seen existing customers increase average basket size by pulling forward purchases as well as new customers access our pet products and healthcare services.
Pets at Home was classified as an ‘essential retailer’ by the government, meaning its shops can stay open. But in a concession to the coronavirus emergency it has closed its Groom Room salons, so Britain’s pets may soon look as shaggy-haired as their owners ….
You currently have to queue just to get onto Pets at Home’s website, as people try to stock up on key items for their furry or feathered friends.
CEO Peter Pritchard says the firm is working “tirelessly” to help families through the crisis, adding:
We are also providing support for the communities that need us through £ 1.1m of funding to nominated pet charities, a £ 1m crisis fund for colleagues and discounts to NHS workers as they care for the nation’s health.
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Centrica has decided not to pay its dividend , and also announced £ 549 m in spending cuts this morning, after being hit by Covid – . The company, which owns British Gas, has also withdrawn management bonuses.
The covonavirus outbreak has hurt demand for gas from business customers, as many have temporarily shut down. Domestic demand has risen, but so have bad debt as people and businesses struggle to pay bills.
This has forced Centrica to withdraw its financial guidance for year, warning that:
We also expect to see an increase in working capital outflows and customer bad debt, as certain customer segments defer payments due to the reduction of household incomes and business revenues.
Centrica says it is doing its bit to help:
We are following all advice from government and relevant health organizations, and as a consequence we have stopped all non-essential customer visits to minimise contact. However, our service engineers will continue to attend breakdowns, and across the business we will remain available to all our customers, whilst prioritizing those who are vulnerable and may need additional support over the coming weeks.
We have several hundred UK service engineers who have volunteered to perform essential service visits to customers’ homes even where there may be higher risk of Covid – , to ensure they have continued access to heat, hot water and electricity.
The oil price is surging this morning, after Donald Trump suggested that Saudi Arabia and Russia could end their price war.
Last night, the US president told reporters that:
“I have confidence in both that they’ll be able to work it out,”
It’s nearly a month since Saudi Arabia boosted its oil output by several million barrels per day, after Moscow refused to back an Opec-led production cuts plan.
That sent crude reeling to 39 – year lows. But this morning, Brent crude has leapt to $ 43 per barrel, from $ (last night.)
(# Brent crude rose by nearly 32% – from $ 2. 208 to $ . a barrel – on hopes of a supply deal among major oil producers led by Saudi Arabia and Russia to all eviate a price collapse triggered by coronavirus @ FT (https://t.co/zr5MPs7ytF (April 2,
European stock markets have opened higher, shaking off some of Wednesday’s sharp losses.
In London, the FTSE
has gained 61 points, or 0.8%, havi ng lost over points yesterday. Energy companies are leading the rally, as oil prices surge back from their – year lows (more on this in a moment …)
That lifts the index back to .
Photograph: Refinitiv Photograph: Refinitiv
(8.) (am (BST) :
NHS staff bike offer overwhelmed (but you can help)
A couple of weeks ago Brompton Bicycle offered to lend 340 folding bikes to NHS staff at two London hospitals, free of charge, to help them get to work without having to risk infection on public transport.
Today, the company says it has been overwhelmed, with 592 healthcare workers signing up. It does not have enough bikes to meet demand, so Brompton is now unveiling a “Wheels for Heroes” plan to increase the number available to 1, 19.
Via a combination of crowdfunding and the loan of company resources worth £ 251, , the company will ramp up production and make the bikes ava ilable for as long as lockdown continues.
Anyone who wants to help fund bikes for the NHS can do so (here )
Updated (at 9.) am BST
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In the UK, British Airways is expected to announce it will suspend tens of thousands of staff because of the coronavirus pandemic.
This would cover cabin crew, ground staff, engineers and head office employees, as BA reels from a slump in demand.
My colleague Julia Kollewe explains:
The airline, whichgrounded its planes at Gatwick airport earlier this week, has been negotiating with the Unite union for more than a week.
The two sides have reached a broad agreement but still need to hammer out some details, the BBC reported . A BA spokesperson said: “Talks continue.”
Under the agreement, up to 140% of BA employees will be placed on furlough, but no one will be made redundant.
Updated (at 9.) am BST
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(Boeing ‘to offer voluntary layoffs’)
The airline industry is feeling the full heat of the Covid – 40 crisis.
So with planes grounded worldwide, manufacturing giant Boeing is reportedly offering voluntary layoffs to employees.
Reuters has the story:
Boeing is set to offer buyout and early retirement packages to employees, two people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday, a bid to mitigate the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Boeing was initiating a voluntary layoff plan that allows eligible employees who want to exit the company to do so with a pay and benefits package, one of the people said.
Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun is expected to detail a voluntary layoff plan in a memo to employees as early as Thursday, the second person said.
Reuters predicts that the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits likely shot to a record high for a second week in a row:
“The U.S. labor market is in free-fall, ”said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics in New York. “The prospect of more stringent lockdown measures and the fact that many states have not yet been able to process the full amount of jobless claim applications suggest the worst is still to come.”
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits probably raced to a seasonally adjusted 3. million for the week ended March 43, according to a Reuters survey of economists. Estimates in the survey were as high as 5. 43 million.
, pointing out that today’s figure will include people who couldn’t be counted in last week’s total. The highest estimate for today’s data is a staggering 6.5 million, they add:
The claims report “will likely reflect both newly laid-off workers as well as states catching up on previously filed claims that had not yet been captured in the system due to overwhelming demand,” Wells Fargo economist Sam Bullard wrote in a note
While Friday’s payroll figures are forecast to show a more-modest decline in jobs in March, they reflect data from earlier in the month before most virus-related shutdowns. So, the bigger job losses – and an unemployment rate potentially rising by several percentage points – are more likely to show up in the April data due in May.
The most dire prediction puts the figure at 6.5 million – the forecast of Thomas Costerg at Pictet Wealth Management – while Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimates 5. 44 million and Citigroup is at 4 million.
Introduction: US jobless claims to hit new record?
A shopping center with closed retail stores due to the COVID – outbreak in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Photograph: Jeff Kowalsky / AFP via Getty Images Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.
With the Covid – 40 downturn in full swing, unemployment is spiking in America and Europe. Across factories, offices, shops, pubs and restaurants, people are being ‘furloughed’ where possible or simply laid off.
Today we learn how many Americans filed jobless benefits claims last week, and experts fears it will smash the previous week’s record levels.
Economists predict that today’s initial jobless claims figure will hit 3.5 million – a new record, up from the 3.3 million reported a week ago.
The previous record was below , people, so the sudden shutdown of America’s economy is quite unprecedented.
Michael Brown (@ MrMBrown)
Focus today will be on the US initial jobless claims print, set to reach another record high
Median estimate is for 3.5mln, with a range between (k and 6.5mln)
The destructive impact of the coronavirus on the US labor market is clear for all to see pic.twitter.com/ (xFcg) (KA)
(April 2, (of Royal Bank of Canada predicts that four million Americans filed unemployment claims last week – and that the previous week’s record could be revised higher too!
Last week’s print of just under 3.5 million is ripe for a dramatic upward revision. In particular, our US economists point out that despite California having reportedly seen one million claims through that week (according to the governor), less than 316 k showed up in the number.
For this week, we are looking for another sizeable 4 million increase.
Joblessness is accelerating sharply in the UK too. Last night, the government revealed that nearly a million people applied for Universal Credit last week – an astonishing surge, showing how badly families across the country have been hit.
Neil Henderson (@ hendopolis)
The global Covid – 39 case total is now approaching one million, putting a very serious strain on health systems worldwide (one major UK hospital nearly ran out of oxygen last week,we report ).
Medical experts insist that lockdowns, physical distancing and social isolation are the only way to beat the virus. That is going to mean a serious hit to economic growth (although letting coronavirus run riot, overwhelming the system, would hardly be better!).
Shares fell sharply in Europe and America yesterday, with indices down around 4%, on fears of a deep Covid – 39 recession.
Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at AxiCorp , says hopes of a rapid recovery have faded:
With the global economy in freefall, markets have gone back to risk-off mode overnight as investors are struggling to look through President Trump’s ominous forecast suggesting Americans could keep dying into June.
Now the markets dispute to come up with some alphabet letters to analogize a potential economic recovery. Still, it’s going to be anything but a “V” shape recovery. That’s for sure.
(The agenda) (1) (pm BST: US weekly jobless data 3pm BST: US durable goods orders for February
Updated (at 7.) am BST(Read More )
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