Coronavirus, Wall Street, currencies in focus

Stocks in Asia Pacific were set for a mixed start to the trading day on Tuesday following gains on Wall Street that saw the Nasdaq Composite touching a record closing high.

Futures pointed to a higher open for Japanese stocks, with the Nikkei futures contract in Chicago at 22,680 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 22,570. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 22,437.27.

Meanwhile, shares in Australia were set to dip. The SPI futures contract was at 5,935, as compared to the S&P/ASX 200’s last close at 5,944.50.

Investors will watch to see if overnight momentum on Wall Street carries through into the Asia Pacific session. The Nasdaq Composite posted a record closing high as it advanced 1.1% to 10,056.47 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 153.50 points, or 0.6%, to end its trading day at 26,024.96. The S&P 500 closed 0.7%  higher at 3,117.86.

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Johnson to overrule scientists and press on with lockdown easing

Boris Johnson will on Tuesday reject misgivings from some leading scientists and press ahead with a plan to cut England’s contentious 2-metre social distancing rule, as he adds cinemas, galleries and museums to the list of premises able to reopen on July 4.

Pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers will also be given approval to reopen their doors with coronavirus precautions in place on July 4, to the relief of Conservative MPs who have been urging the prime minister to press ahead with further lockdown easing.

In a sign of increasing efforts to boost the economy amid the Covid-19 crisis, Mr Johnson is hoping to announce in the next few days the lifting of the UK’s 14-day quarantine arrangements for travellers arriving from countries including Belgium, France, Germany, Greece and Spain.

The “travel corridors” between the UK and certain European nations would facilitate Eurostar services from Paris and Brussels to London

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Japan rushes UK to agree first post-Brexit trade deal

Japan has given the UK just six weeks to strike a post-Brexit deal, putting Boris Johnson’s government under pressure to agree one of the fastest trade negotiations in history — and Britain’s first in more than 40 years.

Time is so short that both sides will need to “limit their ambitions”, warned Hiroshi Matsuura, Tokyo’s chief negotiator, in comments that dash UK hopes of winning deep trade liberalisation from Japan.

While meeting the timetable would hand Mr Johnson an early trade victory, it also highlights the risk of the UK being bounced into bad deals before the Brexit transition expires at the end of the year.

Striking a trade agreement with Japan is one of the main priorities for Liz Truss, the UK’s trade secretary, who hailed the start of talks as a “historic moment” for both countries. When the talks began two weeks ago, she said the UK and

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Apple WWDC: iPhones chases Google Android features with new iOS updates | Science & Tech News

Apple came out chasing Google in an event on Monday which announced dozens of new features for the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac lines.

With attendees forced to tune in remotely for its annual worldwide developers conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company stressed its products privacy features and performance.

The company’s chief executive Tim Cook opened WWDC with a keynote address dedicated to those campaigning in the US against racism in all levels of society, expressing his company’s corporate initiatives to address systemic problems especially facing African Americans.

“Our mission has always been to make the world a better place,” he said. “And we’re committed to being a force for change.”

Tim Cook addresses the issue of racism

Among the key claims which the company made on Monday was that its Safari browser was now 50% faster than Google Chrome, as well as much more privacy conscious.

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