Coronavirus, China loan prime rate, currencies in focus

Stocks in Asia were set to trade lower as the number of coronavirus cases stateside soared again.

Futures pointed to a lower open for Japanese stocks. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 22,265 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 22,280. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 22,478.79.

Shares in Australia were also set to decline. The SPI futures contract was at 5,854.0, as compared to the S&P/ASX 200’s last close at 5,942.60.

Investors will watch for market reaction to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the U.S., with more than 30,000 new infections reported on Friday and Saturday — the highest daily totals since May 1 — according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, an official said Sunday that the Chinese capital of Beijing is capable of screening almost 1 million people a day for the coronavirus, according to Reuters.

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Workers seeking redress face delays as tribunal backlog grows

Workers treated unfairly by their employer face waiting up to two years for legal redress, because a backlog of cases in the employment tribunal system has become much worse during the coronavirus lockdown.

Courts have been struggling to deal with a steady increase in employment cases since 2017, when the Supreme Court ruled that workers should not be charged fees for bringing lawsuits against their employers. Lawyers fear the system will be unable to deal with a surge of new claims as the pandemic presents employers with dilemmas over recalling or laying off furloughed staff.

“I’m expecting chaos,” said Angela Brumpton, a partner at the law firm Gunnercooke. “There are going to be lots and lots of redundancies — and every one is open to challenge.”

New claims by individuals in January to March of this year were 18 per cent higher than in the same period of 2019, according

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UK to tighten takeover rules for groups vital to virus response

The UK government will immediately tighten takeover laws to ensure British businesses critical to tackling the coronavirus pandemic are less susceptible to hostile foreign takeovers owing to the economic downturn.

On Monday, business secretary Alok Sharma will amend legislation to allow the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to intervene if companies — such as protective equipment manufacturers and those in the food supply chain — are deemed critical to the UK’s pandemic response but are struggling financially and facing a takeover by foreign powers.

Boris Johnson’s government has pledged to introduce tougher powers to intervene when businesses face being taken over by companies based in countries that are deemed unfriendly to the national interest. There is a particular concern among Tory MPs about the role of China, which has aggressively pursued businesses seen to be crucial to the UK’s strategic interests.

The new measures, to be voted on

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Rishi Sunak eyes VAT cut in bid to boost UK economy

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is considering a cut to value added tax to boost consumer spending and help the hard-hit hospitality sector as pressure mounts on the chancellor from business groups and his own MPs to take early action to support the UK’s economic recovery.

The plans under discussion, confirmed by Treasury officials on Sunday, come as Boris Johnson’s government prepares to scrap the two metre social distancing rule and replace it with “one metre plus” guidelines that will probably include further use of masks and physical screens.

But the move to temporarily lower VAT at considerable cost to the exchequer comes with a sting in the tail, as Mr Sunak is also working on plans for deferred tax rises and cuts to public spending in an Autumn Budget.

There are still serious misgivings in the Treasury over the effectiveness of cutting VAT as a stimulus and officials say decisions on

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