UK public debt tops £2trn for first time on record as COVID-19 spending soars | Business News

Public debt has topped £2trn for the first time on record as spending soared in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The figure at the end of July was up by £227.6bn compared to the same month last year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Meanwhile, the data also showed borrowing had rocketed to a record £150.5bn in the current financial year – £128.4bn more than between April and July last year.

Responding, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, said: “This crisis has put the public finances under significant strain as we have seen a hit to our economy and taken action to support millions of jobs, businesses and livelihoods.

“Without that support things would have been far worse.

“Today’s figures are a stark reminder that we must return our public finances to a sustainable footing over time, which will require taking difficult decisions.

“It is also why we are taking action now to support the growth and jobs which pay for our public services, by helping businesses to reopen safely and, through our plan for jobs, protecting, supporting and creating jobs to ensure that nobody is left without hope.”

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Coronavirus: Apple market value tops $2trn for the first time | Business News

Apple has seen its market value hit $2trn (£1.52trn) for the first time as shares in US tech companies enjoy a surge in popularity amid the coronavirus crisis.

The iPhone maker’s stock reached the milestone, topping $468 per share, during early trading on Wall Street following a leap of almost 60% in the value of its shares during the year to date.

It was almost exactly two years ago that the company’s so-called market capitalisation hit $1trn.

Market experts have credited a wider surge in tech firm shares this year on resilience in the face of COVID-19 chaos for the global economy.

Demand has also been driven by the flood of cheap money created by the US central bank to support the economy as it recovers from its largest slump since the Great Depression.

A global catastrophe for stock markets worldwide in February and March was followed by the tech-focused Nasdaq hitting record levels in June.

The broad-based S&P 500, America’s main stock market, struck new highs on Tuesday – in sharp contrast to London’s FTSE 100 which remains almost 20% below its peak this year because its constituent companies are more exposed to the crisis.

In the case of Apple, the disruption it has experienced began early in the year as factories in China – where its core electronic products are made – entered lockdown.

The company also shut Apple stores globally.

TOPSHOT - Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks on-stage during a product launch event at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California on September 10, 2019. - Apple unveiled its iPhone 11 models Tuesday, touting upgraded, ultra-wide cameras as it updated its popular smartphone lineup and cut its entry price to $699. (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP) (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Demand for Apple’s premium products, which include the iPhone 11, have proved resilient

However, the manufacturing disruption proved short-lived and its stock rallied hard after it reported 11% growth in revenue during the April-June quarter and rising profits.

The performance eased concerns investors may have had that demand for top of the range iPhones and iPads would be knocked as millions of customers pondered whether they were at risk of losing their jobs.

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The bet now is that Apple will prosper more in the post-coronavirus world where more people are likely to be working from home.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 29: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law on Online Platforms and Market Power in the Rayburn House office Building, July 29, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mandel Ngan-Pool/Getty Images)

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The share price reaction that followed the last corporate results saw Apple surpass oil firm Saudi Aramco as the world’s most valuable listed company.

Online solutions such as cloud storage have helped tech rivals including Google-owner Alphabet and Microsoft also surge while Amazon stock has benefited too from its entertainment and massive online shopping capabilities.

Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, said the only potential threat to the tech rally ahead was the US presidential election.

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He wrote: “Tech stocks continue to solidify their lead over the rest of the market, and Apple’s push to $2trn in market cap is yet another lesson in how investors continue to back the winners, clinging to the proven performance of the smartphone titan and other FAANG stocks even as concerns grow about the pace of the economic recovery.

“The big theme driving this market is growth, and Apple, along with the other big tech stocks, has shown that it can still demonstrate this even in these rare times.”

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