Trump Angry at China; Australia House Prices Fall: Virus Update

Trump says in Twitter post that he’s ‘more and more angry at China’ over the pandemic. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease specialist, warned lawmakers that coronavirus infections could rise to 100,000 a day if behaviors don’t change.

Texas reported record new cases, while hospitalizations in California reached a new high. The European Union extended a travel ban for Americans, deeming the U.S. response to the outbreak insufficient. Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed to spend billions of pounds on infrastructure to rebuild the U.K. economy.

Australian house prices fell for a second straight month in June, as the coronavirus shutdowns continue to weigh on the property market. The Japanese government is considering starting talks with China, South Korea and Taiwan as soon as this month to ease travel restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Asahi reports, citing unidentified government officials.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases near 10.4 million; deaths top 508,000
  • How do people catch Covid-19? What experts say: QuickTake
  • Trump’s Surgeon General Says ‘Please, Please, Please’ Wear Mask
  • Airlines risk extinction as India refuses to rescue billionaires
  • U.S. states beg, borrow and cut to close massive budget gaps
  • Reopened Los Angeles sleepwalks into resurgent pandemic

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus.

Australia House Prices Fall for Second Month as Shutdowns Bite (08:00 a.m. HK)

Australian house prices fell for a second straight month in June, as the coronavirus shutdowns continue to weigh on the property market.

Home values in major cities fell 0.8% last month, accelerating from a 0.5% decline in May, according to CoreLogic Inc. data released Wednesday. The slide was led by Melbourne and Perth, where prices dropped 1.1%. In Sydney, prices fell 0.8%.

While the decline in property prices from the coronavirus outbreak has been milder than initially anticipated, “the downside risks remain significant,” said Tim Lawless, head of research at CoreLogic.

Goldman Estimates 40% of U.S. Has Reversed or Halted Re-Opening (07:59 a.m. HK)

More than 40% of the U.S. has now reversed or halted economic re-opening moves, after steps taken across the Sun Belt in recent days, according to estimates by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economists. The bank also calculated that the share of the population in states where policies are getting more restrictive up to 30% over five days.

“With case growth still accelerating nationwide, states are likely to continue to take further targeted measures to attempt to mitigate virus spread and maintain available healthcare capacity at sustainable levels,” Goldman analysts including Jan Hatzius, Alec Phillips and Blake Taylor wrote in a June 30 note.

Aeromexico Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection on Virus (07:54 a.m. HK)

Grupo Aeromexico SAB, Mexico’s second-largest airline, said it filed for bankruptcy in the U.S., becoming the latest in a string of Latin American carriers to seek court protection after the Covid-19 pandemic caused a severe downturn in travel.

The carrier will “continue operating and use Chapter 11 as a way to strengthen its financial position and liquidity,” according to a statement to the Mexican stock exchange Tuesday. Aeromexico said the goal will be “protecting and preserving its operations and assets and implementing the necessary operational adjustments to face Covid-19-related impact.”

China Reports 3 New Coronavirus Cases June 30, All From Beijing (07:48 a.m. HK)

China reported 3 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, and all of them are Beijing local cases, according to a statement from China’s National Health Commission. Three asymptomatic cases are reported and all of them are imported, the statement says, adding that China has 100 asymptomatic coronavirus cases under medical observation.

Japan Eyes Easing China, S. Korea Travel Restrictions: Asahi (07:17 a.m. HK)

The Japanese government is considering starting talks with China, South Korea and Taiwan as soon as this month to ease travel restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Asahi reports, citing unidentified government officials.

Japan plans to prioritize business travelers and then open borders to students, while tourists will be the last to be allowed entry, the report says.

U.K. Bounceback Hopes Weakened as Firms See Record Sales Slump (07:01 a.m. HK)

Hopes of a swift recovery for the U.K. economy could be dashed, according to a survey that revealed the parlous state of Britain’s businesses.

Measures of sales, orders and cashflow in the nation’s dominant services sector have plunged by the most in the 31-year history of the British Chambers of Commerce’s quarterly survey. Demand for goods from manufacturers also dropped in the three months through June, with sentiment in the industry sliding to the weakest level since the financial crisis.

The findings add weight to concerns the economy will struggle to rebound quickly from the pandemic.

Trump Says He’s ‘More and More Angry at China’ Over Pandemic (06:56 a.m. HK)

“As I watch the Pandemic spread its ugly face all across the world, including the tremendous damage it has done to the USA, I become more and more angry at China,” President Trump says in Twitter post.

“People can see it, and I can feel it!”, Trump says.

Iran to Lock Down Gulf Trade Hub (6:28 a.m. HK)

Iran will reintroduce lockdown measures on one of its busiest port cities on the Persian Gulf following a surge in cases.

Bandar Abbas, the capital of Hormuzgan province and a major trade hub on the Strait of Hormuz, is one of seven cities that will be closed for one week from Friday, Fereydoun Hemmati, the provincial governor told reporters, the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency reported.

The islands of Kish and Qeshm, which are major tourist attractions, will also face the measures, Hemmati said, adding that the lockdown will involve the closure of all schools, universities, most offices, cinemas, coffee shops, restaurants, public pools, gyms and parks.

Trump’s Task Force Boosts Call for Mask Use (6 a.m. HK)

The Trump administration’s coronavirus task force stepped up its calls for Americans to wear masks, but Vice President Mike Pence said there were no plans to override governors who have yet to require them.

“Please, please, please wear a face covering when you go out in public,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams, a member of the task force, said at a White House briefing Tuesday.

Adams delivered the strongest plea to the public yet from an administration that has often sidestepped direct recommendations to wear masks. Health Secretary Alex Azar and Pence both urged wearing a mask at the same event Tuesday in Rockville, Maryland, though Pence only said to do so if local authorities recommended it.

President Donald Trump has mocked his Democratic challenger Joe Biden for wearing a mask and has never publicly worn one, though he is facing calls to do so.

Minor League Baseball Cancels Season (5:40 p.m. NY)

The U.S. minor league baseball season was canceled for the first time in its history, which dates back to 1901.

“While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment,” Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner said in a statement.

Texas Daily Cases Hit Record (5:12 p.m. NY)

Texas posted its worst day yet for new cases, with 6,975 positive tests that pushed to total to 159,986, according to state health department figures. The 4.6% increase exceeded the seven-day average of 4.2%. Hospitalizations also increased by a record, with 620 new admissions, amid increasing warnings that the state’s medical infrastructure is under strain.

Caseload and fatality trends, however, continue to move in opposite directions. The Lone Star state recorded 21 Covid-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, the fifth straight day the death toll has expanded by less than 2%, state data showed. Fatalities peaked at 58 on May 14 and have only topped 50 on one day in the intervening seven weeks.

U.S. Cases Rise by More Than 48,000 (4 p.m. NY)

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased by 48,096 to 2.61 million as compared with the same time yesterday, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The 1.9% gain was above the average daily increase of 1.6% over the past week. Deaths rose 0.5% to 126,512.

  • Florida reported 152,434 cases, up 4.2% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 5.6% in the previous seven days. Deaths rose 1.7% to 3,505.
  • Arizona reported 4,682 new cases, a 6.3% increase, bringing the total to 79,215. The increase covers a two-day period after the state announced that a reporting issue meant all new cases weren’t counted Monday. The state also reported 44 new deaths, marking a total of 1,632.
  • California reported 6,367 new cases, its second-biggest daily jump, for a total of 222,917, according to state data. The 2.9% increase exceeded the seven-day average of a 2.8% gain. Deaths climbed by 0.7%, or 44, to 5,980.

Biden Rips Trump for Pandemic Response (3:30 p.m. NY)

Joe Biden assailed Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, arguing the president has failed to protect Americans and exacerbated a crisis that other countries have managed to control.

Biden, the Democratic nominee, laid out his plan to fight the virus and safely reopen the economy, and he urged Trump to adopt his proposals. The moment, he said, required the president to lead and move beyond politics.

“Mr. President — the crisis is real — and it’s surging,” Biden said. “Promises and predictions and wishful thinking pulled out of thin air are not only doing this country no good, it’s making them lose more faith in their government.”

Houston Area’s ICU Beds at 97% Capacity (1:34 p.m. NY)

The Houston region’s intensive-care units reached 97% of normal capacity, up from 95% 24 hours earlier, according to the Texas Medical Center. Covid-19 patients occupied 460 ICU beds as of Monday night, a 3.4% increase from Sunday, and virus victims accounted for 35% of all intensive-care cases.

Given the rate of spread, Houston hospitals are on pace to swamp normal ICU capacity by Thursday night, which would force doctors to begin using so-called surge capacity, according to the medical center.

Governor Greg Abbott earlier expanded a ban on elective surgeries beyond the state’s biggest metro areas as the virus spreads. The prohibition, intended to conserve hospital capacity for virus patients, now includes the counties that encompass Brownsville, Laredo, Corps Christi and McAllen.

FDA Issues Vaccine Guidance (11:45 a.m. NY)

The Food and Drug Administration issued guidance on how it would assess vaccine candidates, saying it would only allow ones that are at least 50% more effective than a placebo.

“The American people should know that we have not lost sight of our responsibility to maintain our regulatory independence and ensure that our decisions related to all medical products, including those related to Covid-19 vaccines, are based on sound science and the available data,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn told the Senate health committee on Tuesday.

Infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci also told the panel that he’s “aspirationally hopeful” that a vaccine for Covid-19 will be ready in early 2021.

N.Y. Doubles Quarantine Travel Advisory (11:30 a.m. NY)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that travelers from eight additional states, including California, will be required to quarantine for 14 days when traveling to New York.

California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee now meet metrics to qualify for a travel advisory, Cuomo said. There are 16 total states on the travel advisory

The quarantine applies to any person arriving from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average.

— With assistance by Charlie Zhu, Kara Wetzel, and Chris Anstey

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World News

Russia Blasts Reports of Bounties on U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

Russia dismissed U.S. intelligence findings reported by American media that it paid bounties for the Taliban to kill American and allied soldiers in Afghanistan as “fake news.”

The intelligence assessments are part of the domestic political battle in the U.S. ahead of November presidential elections, said Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin’s envoy to Afghanistan. “It’s hard to explain otherwise the appearance of such stupidities,” Kabulov told Bloomberg by phone Monday.

Kabulov said he is due to speak soon via video-conference with U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad. “We won’t discuss this ‘fake news,’” he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump never brought up the issue in his conversations with Putin, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday. He dismissed the allegations as “lies,” highlighting Trump’s public rejection of them.

Russian military intelligence units offered the bounties to Afghan militants to kill U.S. and U.K. troops, according to the New York Times. The Washington Post reported Sunday that the bounties are believed to have resulted in the deaths of several American military personnel in Afghanistan, citing intelligence from interrogations of captured extremists.

READ MORE: Trump Says Report on Russian Afghanistan Bounties Isn’t Credible

READ MORE: Lawmakers Press Trump for Answers on Russia Bounty Reports (3)

Trump said in a Tweet late Sunday that intelligence officials had reported they didn’t find the claims credible and therefore didn’t brief him about them. “Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax!”

The reports of Russian bounties and whether Trump knew about them have sparked a fresh political crisis for the U.S. leader, who’s already under fire for his response to the coronavirus pandemic and continuing nationwide protests against police brutality and racism.

Russia sees the accusations as an attempt to discredit Trump, who’s sought to improve ties with the Kremlin and invited Putin to a Group of Seven meeting that the U.S. will host later this year, said Fyodor Lukyanov, head of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy.

“This scandal is aimed at Trump,” Lukyanov, whose research group advises the Kremlin, said by phone. “Putin here is just an instrument like many times before.”

Despite the growing controversy, the risk of more U.S. sanctions against Russia doesn’t seem too high for the moment because of Trump’s stance, said Ivan Timofeev, an analyst at the Kremlin-founded Russian International Affairs Council.

“The Democrats can put forward a bill with sanctions over this but right now it’s hardly likely to pass,” he said.

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