Amid record COVID-19 surge, Seoul orders businesses to close early

SEOUL, Dec. 4 (UPI) — As the Seoul metropolitan area saw a record number of COVID-19 cases on Friday, Acting Mayor Seo Jeong-hyup declared a “desperate crisis” and announced measures that include forcing most businesses to close early each night.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported about 300 cases in the capital city on Friday amid a nationwide outbreak that reached a nine-month high.

Metro Seoul has been under Level 2 physical distancing guidelines, the third-highest level on South Korea’s 5-tier system, since Nov. 24. Seo said, however, current measures aren’t doing enough to stem the spread.

“The number of confirmed cases is snowballing,” the mayor said at an online press briefing. “It is impossible to respond to the crisis with the measures taken so far.”

Under the new restrictions, which take effect Saturday and will last for at least two weeks, restaurants, cafes and most stores must

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Business Live: Shares hit record highs as central bank keeps rates steady; RBI says economic growth to turn positive in H2

The benchmark stock indices opened the day on a bullish note looking ahead to the RBI’s policy announcement.

Join us as we follow the top business news through the day.

2:00 PM

COVID-19: Zydus Cadila gets DGCI nod for phase 3 clinical trials with biological therapy

Drug firm Zydus Cadila on Friday said it has received the approval from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to start phase 3 clinical trials with its biological therapy PegiHep in COVID-19 patients.

The company had completed the phase 2 clinical trials with PegiHep last month.

In a regulatory filing, Zydus Cadila said it has received approval from the DCGI to start the phase 3 clinical trials in COVID-19 patients with its biological therapy Pegylated Interferon alpha-2b or PegiHep.

The trials, which will commence in December, will be conducted on 250 patients across 20-25 centres in India, according to the filing.

Sharvil Patel,

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Asian shares mixed after S&P 500 sets fresh record high

Asian shares advanced Wednesday after Wall Street kicked off December with more milestones, as a broad rally pushed the S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite to new highs.

Australia reported its economy expanded 3.3% in the July-September quarter as the country recovered from pandemic lockdowns. That lifted the country out of recession, although in annual terms the economy contracted 3.8% from a year earlier.

“The rebound in Q3 GDP reversed around 40% of the decline during the first half of the year and we expect output to return to pre-virus levels by mid-2021,” Ben Udy of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

Renewed talk of a possible U.S. stimulus package failed to drive major gains in Asia, however, as investors adopted a “wait and see” stance after so many failed attempts to forge an agreement on additional help as the U.S. endures fresh waves of coronavirus infections and precautions.

Hong Kong’s

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This Weekend Marked a Record Online Shopping Day. Here’s Where the Dollars Went

The kickoff of holiday shopping of years past–think midnight doorbuster sales on Black Friday and clogged department stores– is no longer. Instead, the lasting impact of the Covid-19 pandemic produced the largest online shopping day in U.S. history, continuing a holiday shopping season that’s already been thriving since October, despite the decline of in-person shopping.

According to the National Retail Federation, the number of in-store shoppers on Thanksgiving Day dropped by 55 percent from last year and those on Black Friday dropped by 37 percent. These drops can be attributed to consumers staying home because of pandemic fears and because large retailers like Target, Walmart, and Best Buy didn’t open for Black Friday deals on Thanksgiving day. 

But online sales picked up the slack. Based on Adobe Analytics data, which tracked one trillion visits to U.S. retail sites, a record $10.8 billion was spent online by the end of Cyber

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Small businesses who pivoted to e-commerce saw record sales during Black Friday weekend

Almost one-quarter of small businesses closed their doors during the pandemic — but for the few who survived, and pivoted to online sales, Black Friday weekend provided a much-needed boost.

Over the course of the holiday season so far, small retailers have seen an average 110 percent increase in online sales, according to Adobe Analytics.

“That was pretty heartening to see,” said Vivek Pandya, a senior digital insights manager with Adobe Analytics. “There has been a lot of demand and a lot of opportunity for retailers of all sizes to support shopping demand online.”

Small businesses have long made ends meet by offering unique in-store experiences. The pandemic changed that.

“Brick and mortar was our strength, and the website [used to be] just a marketing tool,” said Brian Miller, president of Geppetto’s, a San Diego, California-based toy store. “But when Covid-19 happened, we enhanced the website and improved it and

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Exxon Logs Record Writedown, Slashes Long-Term Spending Plan

(Bloomberg) — Exxon Mobil Corp. plans to write down the value of U.S. and South American natural gas assets by as much as $20 billion, the largest impairment in its modern history, and is slashing long-term capital spending.

The company said Monday it will take a non-cash impairment charge for the current quarter after removing some gas fields from its development plan. Capital spending won’t exceed $25 billion a year through 2025, a $10 billion reduction from the company’s pre-pandemic target.

The announcement comes in the waning days of a grueling year for the Texas oil giant, which has reversed course on many ambitious growth projects as the Covid-19 outbreak decimated demand for crude. Spending and job cuts are in large part aimed at defending the company’s dividend, the third-highest in the S&P 500 Index.

chart, bar chart: Big Oil's Big Writedowns

© Bloomberg
Big Oil’s Big Writedowns

Unlike its European peers, Exxon has so far chosen

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Online shopping set a Black Friday record as consumers stayed home.

This year’s Black Friday looked nothing like a usual one. Crowds at suburban malls and city shopping districts were comparatively sparse. With the coronavirus touching virtually every corner of the United States, social distancing, restrictions on business activity and health concerns kept many people home.

They shopped online, however.

According to Adobe Analytics, which scans 80 percent of online transactions across the top 100 U.S. web retailers, consumers spent $9 billion on Friday. That’s a 21.6 percent increase over Black Friday in 2019 and the second-biggest number for online retailers Adobe has ever tracked. In the four days from Thanksgiving through Sunday, consumers spent $23.5 billion online, a 23 percent increase over last year, according to Adobe.

Another research firm, Facteus, which monitors millions of debit and credit card payments made in the United States, found that department stores’ in-person sales fell significantly on Friday, but that their online sales

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After a record November, will these bombed-out cheap shares outperform in 2021?

With November heading to a close, we look back with relief on a remarkable month for UK shares and global stocks. As I write, the FTSE 100 hovers around 6,381 points, up 805 points since Halloween. That’s a bumper monthly gain of more than a seventh (14.4%) — the highest since the Footsie started in 1984. It’s a similar story worldwide, with the US S&P 500 ahead almost 370 points (11.3%) and the European Stoxx 600 index leaping 51 points (14.9%) in November. But I believe there are plenty of cheap shares still lurking in the FTSE 100.

It’s been a bruising year for UK shares

Although stocks have surged globally in November, it’s been a tough year for UK shareholders. Even after this month’s record rise, the FTSE 100 remains more than 1,160 points down in 2020. In other words, the UK’s main market index has dived by 15.4%

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Gold Prices Today Record Highest Monthly Drop in Four Years, Silver Too Becomes Cheap

a close up of a cake

© Sharmita Kar | Business Desk

Gold Price, Silver Price Today: Gold prices today slipped its worst in four years in the global market as hopes for a coronavirus vaccine-led economic revival continued to grow. Spot gold dropped 1.2 per cent to $1,766.26 per ounce, taking the monthly worth for gold down about 6 per cent. This is the biggest monthly decline since November 2016. Meanwhile, in India, commodity exchange MCX is closed on Monday for the morning session on the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti.

Silver rates too tumbled 3.2 per cent to $21.96 per ounce, while the rate for platinum slipped 0.9 per cent to $954.64 in the global markets. Trading in India will start at 5 PM today.

Speculations are rife that gold price in India may fall below its previous rate of Rs 40,000 per 10 gram in the next four months as prices continued

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Value investing has had a record month. This cheap share is up 32%, but I’d buy now

With November almost over, what a month it’s been for UK shareholders. News of Joe Biden’s US election victory gave cheap shares an early boost. Then news of three effective Covid-19 vaccines lit the fuse and shares skyrocketed like fireworks. So far in November, the FTSE 100 index has soared by 790 points since Halloween, up over 14% in four weeks in a record-breaking comeback. It’s a similar tale across the Atlantic, with the S&P 500, NASDAQ and Dow Jones Industrial Index all setting record highs in the past week.

The FTSE 100 has had a rough year

Although this month has seen a record-breaking rebound, the FTSE 100 has had a poor 2020. It’s down nearly 16%) this calendar year, even after November’s fireworks. With few big tech stocks and heavy weightings in banks, oil & gas, and miners, the Footsie has fallen out of favour among global

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