Tariff threats spook markets | Calamatta Cuschieri

Markets fall as US threatens renewed trade tariffs against China

US markets marked a turbulent start to the month and fell on Friday after President Donald Trump revived a threat of new tariffs against China in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 622.03 points, or 2.55 percent, to 23,723.69, with the S&P 500 losing 81.72 points, or 2.81 percent, to 2,830.71. The Nasdaq Composite plunged 284.60 points, or 3.2 percent, to end the session at 8,604.95.

Most European and the Maltese markets remained closed during 1st May as nations celebrated their Labour Day public holidays however the UK’s FTSE 100 slumped 2.3 percent as the mining and travel sectors were hit by the worries over reduced business activity from the coronavirus pandemic and the prospect of renewed US threats of trade sanctions on China.

Roche gets approval for antibody test

Swiss drugmaker Roche has won emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for an antibody test to determine whether people have ever been infected with the coronavirus, the Basel-based company announced on Sunday. Governments, businesses and individuals are seeking such blood tests to learn who may have had the disease, who may have some immunity and to potentially craft strategies to help end national lockdowns.

Thomas Schinecker, Roche’s head of diagnostics, said the company aims to more than double production of tests from about 50 million a month to significantly more than 100 million a month by the end of the year. Similar antibody tests have also been developed by companies including U.S.-based Abbott Laboratories Becton Dickinson and Italy’s DiaSorin.

Eurozone manufacturing output falls

German factory output shrank at the fastest rate on record in April and firms in the export-oriented sector cut jobs at the fastest pace in almost 11 years, a survey showed on Monday, as the new coronavirus crushed demand. Companies in Germany have been closing facilities and switching workers to shorter hours under a government scheme aimed at avoiding mass layoffs.

French manufacturing output has also fallen to record lows as the country has been under lockdown orders banning non-essential activities since mid-March. The prospect of a gradual unwinding from May 11 is offering little relief to firms expecting a long slog back to work.