Origin debate risks reigniting trade tensions

This is CNBC’s live blog covering all the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak. This blog will be updated throughout the day as the news breaks.

  • Global cases: More than 3.8 million
  • Global deaths: More than 268,000
  • Most cases reported: United States (1,254,740), Spain (221,447), Italy (215,858), United Kingdom (207,977), and Russia (177,160). 

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University as of 7:54 a.m. Beijing time. 

All times below are in Beijing time.

12:05 pm: As US-China rivalry heightens, the pandemic could tilt global power in Beijing’s favor

The coronavirus pandemic will increase the already bad rivalry between the U.S. and China. Beijing is likely to use the crisis as an opportunity to raise its profile and expand its influence particularly over countries hard-hit by the pandemic, analysts say.

Both countries are squabbling on a few fronts, including the true extent and origin of the coronavirus outbreak.
China has been blamed by not just the U.S., but also the U.K. and Australia for its initial response to the outbreak, which was criticized as slow and non-transparent.

But that won’t stop the Asian giant from extending itself globally. —Weizhen Tan

11:00 am: Singapore’s second-largest bank reports 43% plunge in first-quarter net profit

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp, Singapore’s second-largest lender, announced a 43% year-over-year drop in first-quarter net profit to 698 million Singapore dollars ($494.6 million) — well below Refinitiv’s average estimate of 941 million Singapore dollars ($666.7 million).

The bank, like its Singaporean and overseas peers, set aside money for potential loan losses that could come as the coronavirus pandemic hits economies globally. OCBC increased its loan loss provisions to 657 million Singapore dollars ($465.5 million) from 249 million Singapore dollars ($176.4 million) a year ago. 

Singapore, a wealthy Southeast Asian country, is expected to register its worst economic recession in history this year. Its central bank warned last month that the trade-dependent economy could perform worse than the official forecast for an economic contraction of between 1% and 4%. —Yen Nee Lee

10:05 am: International tourist arrivals could fall by 60% to 80% this year

The pandemic has led to a 22% year-over-year drop in total international tourist arrivals in the first quarter of this year, according to the latest forecast by the United Nations World Tourism Organization. That number could accelerate to 60% to 80% for the whole of 2020, the UNWTO said in a report released on Thursday.

March was the worst hit month in the first quarter, with tourist arrivals declining 57% as many countries started to implement measures — including closing down borders and airports — to contain the virus spread, said the report.

The agency outlined three possible scenarios on how the pandemic would affect international travel in the coming months:

  • Gradual opening of international borders and easing of travel restrictions in early July would result in tourist arrivals falling by 58% in 2020 compared to a year ago;
  • If the opening of international borders and lifting of travel restrictions start in early September, decline in tourism would hit 70%;
  • If border closures and travel restrictions are eased in early December, tourist arrivals would plunge 78% year-over-year. —Yen Nee Lee

9:30 am: Mexico reports highest daily death toll so far at 257

Mexico on Thursday reported 1,982 new cases of the coronavirus and 257 deaths — the highest daily death toll for the country so far, Reuters reported.

That takes the total number of infected people to 29,616 and the death toll to 2,961.

The Mexican government has said the actual number of infections is significantly higher than the reported cases. —Huileng Tan

9:10 am: China reports 1 new case, no deaths

China reported one new coronavirus case and no deaths for Thursday. It did not report any imported cases from travelers.

That brought the total number of infected people to 82,886, said the country’s National Health Commission. The death toll remained at 4,633.

The NHC also said there were 16 new asymptomatic cases on Thursday, where patients do not display symptoms of the disease. —Huileng Tan

8:55 am: China reviews Labor Day holiday containment measures

The Chinese government is reviewing “proven effective practices” for containing the coronavirus and will issue guidelines to local governments for the resumption of regular activities, according to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was released after a Thursday meeting chaired by premier Li Keqiang.

Measures taken during the Labor Day holidays from May 1-5 will be reviewed. During the break, China recorded 115 million tourist trips domestically.

A task force will be issuing revised guidelines to local governments. “Better focused containment routines will in turn make it easier to open more consumer services facilities to spur consumer spending and more effectively bring life and work back to normal,” said the press release.

Authorities will also facilitate the reopening of schools and the reusmption of production and consumer services, it added. —Huileng Tan

8:30 am: An escalation in US-China tensions is ‘the last thing’ anyone needs, says JPMorgan

A reignition in U.S.-China trade tensions would be the “the last thing” anyone needs when the world is already reeling from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, said JPMorgan Asset Management’s Alexander Treves.

Treves comments came as Washington and Beijing dialed up the rhetoric in recent days, with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying that there was “a significant amount of evidence” suggesting that the virus came from a state laboratory in Wuhan, China where cases first emerged late last year.

China has vehemently rejected claims that the virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Most experts believe that the virus likely originated in a wet market in Wuhan and was then transmitted to humans via bats, or pangolins. —Eustance Huang

7:45 am: April’s record US job losses expected to exceed 20 million due to virus shutdowns  

The April employment report is expected to show that a record 21.5 million jobs were lost as the U.S. shut down to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

According to Dow Jones, the unemployment rate is expected to climb to 16%, the highest since 1939.

Economists expect a high concentration of job losses will be centered in the leisure and hospitality sectors and retail because those establishments were completely shut down. But they also see the losses extending more broadly into manufacturing and construction.

“This is the biggest and most acute shock we’ve seen in post-war history. It’s a dramatic loss of output in a very short period of time,” said Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Bank of America. —Patti Domm

Read CNBC’s coverage from the U.S. overnight: San Francisco targets May 18 for some businesses to resume as California unveils reopening guidelines

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