Daily Press Briefing
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps lead the daily briefing, commenting was that there are
tentative signs we are making progress, as the public adhere to social distancing
measures. The transport secretary says the government are also launching a transport
support unit, utilising the spare capacity created due to the reduced transport service
which could be used for essential freight services. Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny
Harries stated that the total number of cases has risen and represents an epidemic curve,
despite a fluctuation in reporting. She did add that the curve is flattening, saying that with
increased testing of health and care workers we can expect to see an increase in cases as
time goes on. Dr Harries also commented that the critical care capacity continues to
increase across the NHS. The use of drones is being investigated to get supplies between
the mainland and the Isle of Wight.
Yesterdays headline news was an increase in testing for essential workers and their
families. Those eligible could book a Covid-19 test online via gov.uk. Health Secretary Matt
Hancock yesterday said that the ability for testing was now at 50,000 tests per day,
meaning capacity is halfway to the 100,000 a day testing target. The eligibility stated on
the government website shows criteria to be;
The website opened this morning and 20,000 applications were made before the website
was reported as crashed. When quizzed by the press this afternoon, Mr Shapps stated that
the website had not crashed, it was paused as all testing centre slots had been taken and
more testing slots will become available tomorrow. Mr Shapps also confirmed that the test
booking system would mean that 10.72 million essential worker households are now
eligible to request a test through the website should they be showing symptoms, stating
that there is no point taking the test unless you think you currently have symptoms.
Daily Updates on the Markets
With so much in the business news on the topic of oil prices, I thought it useful to discuss
why oil prices have such an impact on the global economy. Monday saw US oil prices turn
negative for the first time ever as the coronavirus crisis caused global demand to collapse.
The reason oil has such an effect is that it is the most traded commodity.
Like any commodity, price is driven by supply and demand. The fall in oil price is a striking
illustration of just how much economic activity has slowed worldwide. A collapse in demand
for crude products such as petrol and jet fuel. Prices have weakened sharply as global
demand for oil decreased and the knock-on effect of this has been a worldwide shortage
of storage space for oil. Usually a fall in oil prices would be greeted by consumers and
firms due to the lower prices and costs, normally lower oil prices aid an economic recovery.
However, this fall is due to the sharp drop in travel and talk of economic recession from
the coronavirus. Therefore, there is little expectation that the lower oil prices will have any
positive economic effect. As we are all cutting back on travel, cheaper petrol and fuel
prices, don’t make much difference. At the moment, the balance has been shattered which
would suggest bad news economically.
Interestingly, the AA Motoring Group today said that they estimate motorists are being
over charged by more than £5 a tank, raising the question about fairness of pump prices
during this oil crash.
(Brent Crude Oil Futures performance over the last 12-month period, BBC website)
Other financial news today;
The FCA announced new measures to support borrowers of Motor and High Risk
Credit, which will come into effect on Monday;
3 month freeze on repayments for Motor Credit
1 month no interest payment freeze for High Risk Credit
UK retail sales continue to slow
European Purchasing Managers Index results were very low, showing little faith in a
quick economic recovery
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