What to watch: Demand for cars and flights plummets, stocks rally, and US borrowing to jump

Car sales in the UK have collapsed. (Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:

Demand for cars and flights plummets

Global stay at home orders have led to plummeting demand for cars and flights.

New figures on car sales and passenger stats from Ryanair (RYA.L) and Wizz Air (WIZZ.L) on Tuesday all underlined the huge challenges facing the transport and mobility sectors.

UK car sales hit their lowest level since 1946 in April, with just 4,321 cars sold. It marks a 97% slump compared to the same month a year earlier.

Meanwhile, Ryanair and Wizz Air both warned of huge slumps in passenger numbers. Ryanair said passengers fell 99.6% in April, while Wizz Air record a 97.6% decline.

Ryanair said is expects the slump in business to continue throughout May and June.

Stocks, oil rallies

European markets bounced back on Tuesday after a session of steep losses, spurred by a late rally for Wall Street overnight and a recovery for oil prices.

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) opened 1.5% higher, France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) climbed 1.7%, and Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) improved 1.5%.

The rise in continental European markets signalled a mild recovery after a day of heavy selling on Monday that left the CAC and DAX both down over 3.5%. The sell-off was driven by fears that US president Donald Trump could hit China with fresh tariffs over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wall Street enjoyed a late rally on Monday night. All three major US stock markets managed to close in the green despite spending much of the day in loss territory. The strong finish spurred optimism in Europe on Tuesday morning.

“After looking set to continue their fall yesterday a late rally saw US stocks finish slightly higher as oil continued to recover,” Jim Reid, a strategist at Deutsche Bank, wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday.

Crude prices (CL=F) rose 9.8% to $22.39 a barrel and Brent (BZ=F) climbed 7.2% to $29.16.

US futures were pointing to a higher open in New York later today. S&P 500 futures (ES=F) were trading 0.8% higher, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures (YM=F) were up 1%, and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) were up 0.8%.

US borrowing to jump

The US government expects to borrow a record $3tn (£2.4tn) in just three months in a bid to shore up the economy against the coronavirus crisis.

The US Treasury department confirmed the borrowing plans for the second quarter between April and June late on Monday. The figures are more than five times higher than the previous record, according to Reuters.

It far exceeds the near $1.8tn borrowed in a whole year during the global financial crisis in 2009, but officials believe there is enough market demand for the debt issuance. More details will be announced on Wednesday.

UK economic shock to be 'deeper than anything in living memory'

The UK private sector is experiencing its fastest downturn in decades, further outlining the extent to which the country’s economy is experiencing an economic shock without precedent in modern times.

A closely watched survey from IHS Markit found that the country’s composite purchasing managers’ index reading came in at 13.8 in April.

The shock will be “far deeper and more widespread than anything seen in living memory,” according to Tim Moore, the economics director at IHS Markit.

A reading of 13.4 painted a bleak picture for the services sector, with 79% of survey respondents reporting a drop in business activity and record declines in new work, backlogs, and employment.

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