As infections surpass the city government’s initial target, two weeks into its final phase of loosening of virus curbs, officials have repeatedly said they see no need to declare a new state of emergency.Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters he didn’t think the conditions for issuing a fresh state of emergency were met.”We’ll continue to pay attention to the infection situation in the area with a sense of urgency, and work to both prevent spreading of infection and support economic activity,” he said.Officials have also said the medical system can handle existing infections and that increased testing partly explains the rise in confirmed cases. Topics : Despite more cases in Tokyo, Japan, with about 19,000 cases and 976 deaths, has reported a lower overall rate of infection than many countries.More than 10.7 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and over 515,000 have died, according to a Reuters tally.This week, the Tokyo government said it would move away from numerical targets in favor of more reliance on expert advice to rein in the virus and avert more economic damage. Tokyo confirmed 107 more novel coronavirus infections on Thursday, a Tokyo government official said, the highest daily tally in two months in the city at the center of Japan’s outbreak.The jump comes after the city of 14 million had initially sought to hold new daily cases at fewer than 20 after the government lifted a state of emergency on May 25, only to see its tally consistently exceed 50 over the past week.Tokyo’s daily count last topped 100 on May 2. On Wednesday, it confirmed 67 new cases.
European pension funds should re-evaluate their equity holdings in the light of US president Donald Trump’s escalating war of words with China over trade tariffs, commentators have warned.Markets around the world tumbled earlier this week following president Trump’s announcement that he was considering adding tariffs on a further $200bn (€170bn) of Chinese goods following China’s retaliatory imposition of levies on $34bn of US goods.On Tuesday, the Dow Jones closed down by almost 300 points – wiping out any gains over the year. Asian markets rallied on positive US housing data, having seen the main markets in Singapore and Japan fall by 1% and 0.8% respectively a day earlier.“This is certainly something that pension fund investors should be aware of and concerned about,” said Alastair George, chief investment strategist at Edison Investment Research. George has advised caution “for some time”, he said, not just because of the burgeoning trade dispute but because markets were likely to trade sideways following moves by the US and Europe to wind down monetary stimulus programmes.“At this stage you’re talking about running a defensive portfolio position – not that you fear a calamity, but because you have relatively little upside,” he said. How US, Chinese and European equities have performed this year. (Total return, priced in dollars)Source: FE Analytics“If the markets trade sideways, then whether you are worried about a trade war or a peak in the economic cycle your response would be broadly similar in terms of your equity allocation: avoid globally traded commodities, the resources sector and emerging markets.”Last week, the US president announced a 25% tariff on $50bn of Chinese products ranging from cars to agricultural products, taking effect from 6 July. The US has also threatened imposing tariffs on products imported from Canada and the European Union.China, meanwhile, has threatened a 25% tariff on imports of US coal, oil and gas.“Europe is very exposed as it is very open [to trade],” said Tapan Datta, head of global asset allocation at Aon. “There are a lot of European industrials that would be impacted – but at the margin the move will boost some US stocks.“Over the course of these things, there will always be some winners and it is likely that some US stocks will win [over the short term].”Datta added a note of optimism, however: “It is still too early to get alarmist that the markets will tank.”In a note published on Wednesday, State Street Global Advisors lauded the “stellar first quarter results” of S&P 500 companies, which were now on track to “post a nearly 25% increase in earnings compared to last year”.The S&P 500 is approximately 4% up year to date.Pal Sarai, managing director and head of client consulting for EMEA, Australia and Asia at consultancy Bfinance, said the events unfolding in Washington and Beijing could prove to be a “major geopolitical risk that may derail the nascent global economic recovery”.Insuring against equity risk has come to the fore recently, he added: “There has been a trend in recent months towards strategies that may protect against equity market falls, and this could support the continuing appetite for such strategies.”Two UK public sector schemes – for the counties of South Yorkshire and Worcestershire – have employed significant equity protection strategies in recent weeks.Ultimately, the escalation of the trade dispute between the US and China should “have investors worried”, added Seema Shah, senior global investment strategist at Principal Global Investors.“Recall that the original tariffs on about $50bn-worth of Chinese imports motivated sharp declines in equity markets, despite not being expected to have a meaningful impact on the global economy,” she said. “The latest ratcheting up in the trade dispute may trigger even more severe market turmoil.”Trading blows: Who said what, and when, in the war of words US president Donald Trump and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau at the G7 gathering earlier this monthJanuary: US imposes tariffs on steel products from India and ChinaFebruary: Anti-dumping duties levied on iron and aluminium from ChinaMarch: US adds to tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminiumApril: China retaliates, imposing tariffs on US products such as cars and aircraft; Donald Trump threatens more tariffs on $100bn of goodsMay: “Ceasefire” announced by China and US8 June: Trump criticises France and Canada over trade ahead of G7 meeting in Quebec15 June: US imposes 25% tariff on $50bn of Chinese goods; China retaliates with levies on $34bn of US products19 June: Trump threatens 10% tariff on additional $200bn of US goods; China said to consider levying oil, gas and coal imports