Coronavirus latest: UK airline chiefs push for easing of travel restrictions

First-time claims for unemployment benefits rose to 861,000 last week, in a setback to the US labour market’s recovery from a winter Covid-19 surge. The number of jobless claims filed for regular state programmes increased by 13,000 in the week ending February 13, from 848,000 the previous week.

Fast quarterly growth rates “are not a boon” if levels of output remain below pre-pandemic levels and unemployment is high, said an external member of the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee. As the UK economy reopens, “we may see strong quarterly GDP growth rates in the second and third quarter”, Michael Saunders said.

Turkey’s central bank kept rates on hold for a second month as it stood firm on a promise to maintain a hawkish stance until double-digit inflation comes under control. The decision to hold the benchmark one-week repo rate steady at 17 per cent was in line with analysts’ expectations, according to a Bloomberg survey of 25 economists.

Nigeria’s drugs regulator has approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use, as Africa’s most populous nation is yet to begin inoculating its citizens. The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control said it had made the recommendation after reviewing the jab’s efficacy.

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About 40 per cent of Hong Kongers surveyed were willing to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, a university study in the city showed on Thursday. The results were published as local authorities gave final approval to Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac vaccines.

India has tightened rules for international travel after authorities detected cases of two more highly infectious variants of coronavirus. The health ministry said four people who had returned last month from South Africa, and another passenger from Brazil, were infected with the new variants found in the two countries.

Barclays said it would restart its dividend after a second-consecutive quarter of declining coronavirus loan-loss provisions. While the London-based lender reported a 68 per cent plunge in fourth-quarter net profit to £220m, that was better than analysts’ expectations for a £17m loss.

Air France-KLM is poised to receive more government bail-out funds after the fallout from the pandemic pushed the Franco-Dutch carrier to an annual €7.1bn net loss. The struggling airline warned there is more pain to come as the coronavirus crisis ravages the travel industry.

Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, posted its highest sales growth in five years on Thursday as the pandemic prompted consumers to spend more on pet care and dietary supplements. Sales growth, calculated on an organic basis, ticked up to 3.6 per cent for 2020 from 3.5 per cent a year earlier.

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