China, the world’s top pork consumer, imported a record 400,000 tonnes in April, up nearly 170% from a year earlier, customs data showed, as buyers took advantage of low prices to stock up on meat. China imported 1.35 million tonnes of pork in the first four months of this year, surging 170.4% from the same period a year ago, after a plunge in domestic production kept prices much higher than other markets. The deadly African swine fever disease has reduced China’s pig herd by at least 40%, slashing pork output and sending prices of the country’s favorite meat to record highs. China has been buying from overseas markets, including the United States, where pork prices are among the cheapest in the world, and initially fell as infections with COVID-19 began spreading in the country, hitting demand. Though Chinese pork prices have also fallen steadily since early February, they are still about double where they were a year ago, and were three to four times U.S. pork prices in March, before plant shutdowns caused the latter to spike in mid-April. That U.S. price jump is likely to reduce imports in the coming month, while Chinese pork prices are also still falling on weak domestic demand.
Japan will lift a state of emergency for Tokyo and remaining areas still facing restrictions on Monday, while the Nikkei reported a plan for new stimulus worth almost $1 trillion to help companies ride out the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing curbs were loosened for most of the country on May 14 as new infections fell, but the government had kept Tokyo and four other prefectures under watch. Japan’s economy minister told reporters on Monday the government had received approval from key advisers to remove the state of emergency for all remaining regions. It would be the first time the country has been completely free from the state of emergency since it was first declared a month and a half ago. The world’s third-largest economy has escaped an explosive outbreak with some 17,000 infections and 825 deaths so far; however, the epidemic has tipped it into a recession and plunged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s popularity to multi-year lows. An Asahi newspaper poll conducted at the weekend showed Abe’s support rate at 29% - the lowest since he returned to power in late 2012 - and disapproval at 52%. The results mirrored a Mainichi newspaper survey published on Saturday. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has previously said the capital would move into “stage one” of loosening restrictions, once the state of emergency was removed. That would allow libraries and museums to reopen, and restaurants to stay open until later in the evening. Subsequent stages would see theatres, cinemas and fairgrounds reopen.
Domestic flights will resume across India on Monday after a day of “hard negotiations”, the civil aviation minister said on Sunday, after some states sought to limit the number of flights. Flights will restart under an easing of restrictions imposed over the coronavirus, though the number of new cases rose by a record 24-hour amount on Sunday. The 6,767 new cases took the total to over 131,000. Airlines are preparing to resume about a third of their domestic flight operations from Monday, even without clarity over what quarantine rules may apply to passengers. Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu agreed to operate limited flights from Monday, while southern state of Andhra Pradesh would allow flights from Tuesday, India’s civil aviation minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, said on Twitter late on Sunday. West Bengal urged the central government to postpone the resumption of passenger flights to Kolkata as it focuses on rescue work after Cyclone Amphan hit the city. India’s federal structure gives its 28 states flexibility to set their own rules, complicating government efforts to kickstart the economy. The health ministry on Sunday asked states to design quarantine plans based on symptoms of passengers where those with moderate or severe symptoms would be taken to dedicated facilities. Those with mild symptoms must stay at home.
A gauge of Asian stocks pared early gains on Monday amid souring relations between China and the United States, with Hong Kong shares extending losses on mounting fears about future stability in the city. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS fell 0.1% after starting higher with China's blue-chip CSI300 index down 0.2%. Hong Kong's HSI index dived 1.4% to a two-month low after sinking 5.5% on Friday. South Korea, Australia and New Zealand were trading higher while E-minis for S&P500 were also slightly upbeat. Japan's Nikkei jumped 1.5% after the Nikkei newspaper reported the country was considering a fresh stimulus package worth over $929 billion that will consist mostly of financial aid programmes for companies hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Global equity markets have surged around 30% since hitting a low in early March, driven largely by policy stimulus. Global financial markets were already struggling to deal with mammoth economic uncertainty emanating from COVID-19 lockdowns with central banks slashing interest rates and pumping in huge sums of money into banking systems. Governments across countries have also announced heavy spending to support economic growth. But optimism around economic re-openings and stimulus is fading. Investors were rattled on Friday when China proposed imposing national security laws on Hong Kong as Beijing unveiled details of the legislation that critics see as a turning point for the former British colony.
Gold declined on Monday as Japanese equities rose on news of a potential stimulus programme that boosted investors’ risk appetite, though fresh tensions over Hong Kong limited the metal’s fall. Spot gold fell 0.4% to $1,728.06 per ounce by 0252 GMT. U.S. gold futures were down 0.4% at $1,728.50. “I think the play into stocks and other risk assets has probably supported the risk appetite, and diminished the appeal for gold in the short term,” said IG Markets analyst Kyle Rodda. “There still seems to be the broad issue of gold prices trying to break too far above the 1,740, 1,750 mark.” Gold on Friday rose as much as 0.8% to touch $1,739.51, before paring gains. Japan's Nikkei jumped 1.5% following the report. Highlighting a return of political uncertainty, thousands rallied on Sunday to protest against Beijing’s plan to impose national security laws on Hong Kong. The proposed national security legislation for Hong Kong could lead to U.S. sanctions and threaten the city’s status as a financial hub, White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said on Sunday. Gold is seen as a safe-haven asset during political and economic uncertainties. Palladium gained 0.3% to $1,951.63 per ounce, while platinum was down 1.8% at $824.68 and silver fell 0.5% to $17.09.