Aviation sector workers be vaccinated on priority after health workers: MoCA to MoHFW


New Delhi: Frontline workers in the aviation sector should be considered for COVID-19 vaccination on priority basis after health workers have been given the jabs, the civil aviation ministry has told the Union health ministry.

As per the guidelines issued by the health ministry on December 28 last year, initially around 30 crore Indians will be vaccinated, including around three crore healthcare and frontline workers, and approximately 27 crore people of over the age of 50 years.

 

The frontline workers mentioned in the December 28 guidelines does not include aviation sector employees but personnel from the armed forces, prison staff, municipal workers, among others.

In a letter dated January 20, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), Pradeep Singh Kharola told his counterpart in the health ministry Rajesh Bhushan: “You will agree with me that the crew, engineers, technicians, ground staff, frontline workers in aviation have certain risk elements while performing their duties in a most diligent manner and make air transportation a safe mode of transport.”

 

Recently, airlines and airports had approached MoCA and highlighted the need to vaccinate their staff on priority basis, albeit once the medical personnel are covered, Kharola mentioned in the letter, which has been accessed by PTI.

“Considering that the frontline workers of airlines and airports are also involved in movement of vaccines, this MoCA recognizes the merit in the proposal and requests the MoHFW (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) to include frontline workers of airlines and airports along with frontline workers mentioned in the operational guidelines released on December 28, 2020,” he added.

 

If the request is considered favourably, MoCA would coordinate for enumeration of these personnel to be covered under the vaccination programme, Kharola noted.

He said airlines and airports have been in forefront in extending their services to passengers and movement of cargo within the country and across the borders.

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Brazil’s services sector expands in Dec for 4th month, but pandemic fears linger – IHS Markit


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BRASILIA — Brazil’s services sector expanded in December for a fourth straight month and at a slightly faster pace than the month before, a purchasing managers’ survey showed on Wednesday, although underlying data painted a more mixed picture.

Services have lagged manufacturing and industry in the rebound from the COVID-19 crisis but have recently shown signs that the bounceback is underway, a view strengthened by hopes a vaccine will soon be available.

IHS Markit’s headline Brazil services PMI rose to 51.1 from 50.9 in November. It was the fourth consecutive reading above 50.0, the threshold that separates expansion from contraction.

The slight rise in services accompanied the second consecutive manufacturing PMI decline, however, meaning the composite PMI encompassing both sectors slipped to 53.5 in December from 53.8 in November, IHS Markit said.

That marked the fifth straight month that business activity in Brazil’s private sector has grown, but COVID-19 worries still linger.

“While the latest data provide some welcome reassurance that the service economy continues to show resilience to the pandemic, the sustainability of the recovery comes into question when we look at the jobs data and anecdotal evidence from survey participants,” said Pollyanna De Lima, economics associate director at IHS Markit.

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Finnish restaurant sector advocacy worried by possibility of tighter restrictions


THE FINNISH HOSPITALITY ASSOCIATION (Mara) has expressed its concern about the notion of imposing stricter restrictions on restaurants to manage the coronavirus situation in Finland.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) on Sunday told YLE that the emergence of new, more transmissible coronavirus variants may warrant a shift toward a strategy that aims to smother the epidemic.

The shift, in turn, could translate to measures such as school and restaurant closures, Kirsi Varhila, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, stated to MTV.

Timo Lappi, the managing director of Mara, on Monday expressed his bafflement with the notion of slapping additional restrictions on restaurants, arguing that there is neither legal nor material justification for shutting down restaurants.

“The coronavirus has not spread from restaurants. Restaurants have been linked only to isolated mass exposures or infections. The [Parliament’s] Constitutional Law Committee has noted that all restrictions must be necessary and proportionate. Shutting down restaurants would not be that,” he stated.

Finnish restaurants, he added, have done a lot in terms of self-monitoring during the epidemic and generally succeeded in preventing the virus from spreading.

“You cannot shut down restaurants just in case,” he stressed.

Concerns about the role of restaurants in the spread of the virus have recently re-emerged together with footage of holidaymakers in Finnish Lapland. Lappi, however, reminded that the entire industry should not be stigmatised because of certain isolated excesses.

“Some restaurants that have operated in a way that violates the coronavirus strategy have been mentioned in the media. If an official detects this kind of activity, the individual restaurant should be shut down rather than imposing strict restrictions on the entire industry, not to mention putting a stop to all operations,” he said.

“It is clear that if restaurant operations were suspended, there would be an increase in bankruptcies and unemployment.”

The Finnish restaurant industry comprises around 10,000 employers and 77,000 employees.

Helsingin Sanomat on Monday reported that youth unemployment increased dramatically from the previous year during the coronavirus-disrupted year, in part due to a lack of job opportunities in the service industry.

In Helsinki, the newspaper highlighted, the number of under 25-year-old people without a job increased momentarily by as much 111 per cent and that of 25–29-year-old people by 96 per cent.

“Tourism, restaurant and accommodation services and the whole service sector have suffered, and this is evident especially in the situation of young people who have often found their first job opportunities [in the sector],” said Ilkka Haahtela, the head of immigration and employment affairs at the City of Helsinki.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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Insurers chase data as sector fights for relevance


Hospital memberships were up 0.3 per cent for the quarter, but the gains came from older Australians, while more than 9000 younger Australians left the system.

Against this backdrop, funds have been determined to use technology to better engage with their members, as well as collecting information that could help their members manage claims better over the long term.

NIB boss Mark Fitzgibbon says the insurer has increased its focus on data over the past year, after announcing a $20 million joint venture with insurance giant Cigna. Credit:Louie Douvis

“We’re spending much more [on] data on data science to identify risk based on profiles,” says chief executive of nib Group, Mark Fitzgibbon.

All funds want to target their offers better, but it can be an expensive process.

“Unless you are very precise about it, you can end up spending a lot of money on people who are not that much at risk,” Fitzgibbon says.

Nib has had a strong focus on data over the past year, after announcing a $20 million joint venture with insurance giant Cigna in December 2019.

The deal saw the establishment of Honeysuckle Health, a data science business that collects “as much data as it possibly can about you” to measure risk of disease and help with preventative health planning for nib members. It currently has 80 staff based in Newcastle and nib is its key customer – however, Fitzgibbon hopes in time other health insurers may be able to tap into the company’s tools for their own members.

“Technology is driving health and longevity. Data science has taken us to another level,” he says.

That data science only works if members buy in, however: without consent to share information with funds, the equation doesn’t work.

“Nobody is ever going to be forced to share their data. Honeysuckle Health has been through the ringer in terms of privacy. But members have to believe the reward is worth the risk [of sharing]. They have to have trust and faith that it will work.”

Meanwhile, AIA Insurance chief executive Damien Mu says his fund is focused on incentivising members to take “small steps to improve their health”.

“We adhere to the strictest data privacy guidelines. We do not use members’ data collected through AIA Vitality in our insurance underwriting,” he says.

The Hong-Kong listed insurer is trying to get its members engaged with preventative screenings and health checks through its Vitality app, however. Its offers include online health check tools and the ability to link their health trackers through to the app.

Damien Mu, CEO of AIA in Australia and New Zealand.

Damien Mu, CEO of AIA in Australia and New Zealand.Credit:Paul Jeffers

The fund says the online offers have helped shape its offer for younger members. “This is particularly true for engaging younger members, with data collected through AIA Vitality enabling us to shape and inform the way we incentivise and deliver specific initiatives that appeal directly to this younger demographic,” Wu says.

Digital-first

Beyond data collection, the way that funds capture new members is also starting to change. Earlier in 2020, Medibank boss Craig Drummond told this masthead that the ASX-listed fund was seeing online channels overtake its bricks-and-mortar shopfronts when it comes to selling new memberships.

The rise of telehealth throughout the pandemic has also seen funds extend extras coverage to digital health services. Bupa’s managing director of health insurance Emily Amos welcomed the federal government’s decision in November to make telehealth coverage permanent.

“Leveraging the flexibility that comes with remote healthcare is vital for attracting tech-savvy young Australians to private health insurance,” she says.

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Whether these extras are enough to entice cash-strapped Australians into the system remains to be seen.

“Young people have a lot of pressures on them at the moment,” chief executive of Private Healthcare Australia, Dr Rachel David, says.

The federal government is set to review regulation of the sector into 2021, including considering whether the policies like private health insurance rebate are working.

“One thing we are looking at is it is possible to give young people a bigger discount for the entry level product,” David says.

However, she questions whether discounts by themselves is enough to bring in new members.

“My personal view is that doing that [discounts] is not enough in isolation.”

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EU trade deal brings little progress for UK’s giant financial sector


LONDON: The European Union cannot decide yet on granting Britain access to the bloc’s financial market, even though London and Brussels have agreed a trade deal, a European Commission official said on Thursday.

While the landmark trade deal agreed on Thursday set rules for industries such as fishing and agriculture, it did not cover Britain’s much larger and influential finance sector.

There were hopes the trade deal would pave the way for more access to the EU for Britain’s finance industry, but the EU indicated it was in no rush to grant it.

Brussels has only granted financial market access, known as “equivalence”, for two financial activities from Jan. 1, when Britain will have left the EU’s single market.

The Bank of England has said there could be disruption in markets if no further access is allowed.

Just minutes after Britain and the EU hailed their agreement on trade, the bloc’s executive said it wanted a “series of further clarifications” on how Britain will diverge from EU rules after Dec. 31.

“For these reasons, the Commission cannot finalise its assessment of the UK’s equivalence in the 28 areas (under discussion) and thus will not take decisions at this point in time. The assessments will therefore continue,” the official said.

The City of London finance hub secured no special treatment, leaving it on a par with arch rival New York 3,500 miles away as the EU seeks to reduce reliance on UK financial services.

The trade deal refers to financial services in the same way as the bloc’s other trade agreements, the official said.

Both sides will discuss how they can move forward on equivalence, stopping short of any commitment to grant access, Britain said.

The two sides will also aim to agree by March 2021 a memorandum of understanding on regulatory cooperation in financial services. Countries such as Canada and the United States already have such cooperation.

“There’s some good language about equivalence for financial services, perhaps not as much as we would have liked, but it is nonetheless going to enable our dynamic City of London get on an prosper, as never before,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Britain was unable to replicate its trade deal with Japan that streamlines financial market access paperwork and avoids heavy conditions on data handling.

“We hope it (the trade deal) can lay the foundations for a collaborative future partnership as independent partners,” said City of London leader Catherine McGuinness.

Simon Morris, a financial services partner at law firm CMS, said Britain was probably still aiming for a separate agreement covering financial services.

Luxembourg for Finance said the trade deal should make Brussels more amenable to granting equivalence beyond the 18 months for derivatives clearing, and six months for settling Irish securities agreed so far.

Without an extension to derivatives trading, New York is poised to pick up business from London next month.

Britain’s finance ministry, which had no immediate comment, has said changes to rules will not lower standards. Banks and trading platforms in Britain have opened hubs in the EU to avoid disruption to customers.

“The City now needs to take its future in its own hands,” said Daniel Pinto, founder and CEO of Stanhope Capital Group.



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Apprehensions Jump 182 Percent in One Texas Border Sector



Del Rio Sector Border Patrol officials report an increase of 182 percent of migrants apprehended after illegally crossing the border from Mexico into Texas. The report compares November 2019 to the same month this year.

Del Rio Sector agents arrested 8,472 illegal aliens who crossed the border between ports of entry in November. This compares to 3,008 who were arrested in November 2019, officials said in a written statement.

The bulk of the increase in apprehensions came in the category of Single Adult Aliens. Agents arrested 7,951 single adults in November 2020 compared to 1,793 in November 2019, the report states. This marks an increase in the arrest of single adults of more than 340 percent.

The nearly 8,000 single adults arrested in this single border sector represents more than 13 percent of the 61,000 single adults arrested along the entire southwestern border with Mexico.

“There has been a significant increase in arrests of single adults attempting to illegally enter the United States in our area of responsibility,” said Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Austin L. Skero II. “The men and women of Del Rio Sector work to detect, deter, and apprehend anyone seeking to violate the immigration laws of the United States.”

Following their arrest, all apprehended migrants undergo a medical screening and criminal background investigation. Once cleared, they are nearly immediately expelled to Mexico under Title 42 coronavirus protection protocols put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Information obtained from U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows that about 90 percent of apprehended migrants are expelled within two hours of their arrest.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior news contributor for the Breitbart Texas-Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Price is a regular panelist on Fox 26 Houston’s What’s Your Point? Sunday-morning talk show. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.





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COVID-19: Tier 4 restrictions could put thousands of jobs at risk, retail sector warns | Business News


Britain’s retail sector has warned of “severe” consequences from new Tier 4 restrictions, meaning non-essential shops in affected areas will have to close in the week before Christmas.

The British Retail Consortium said thousands more jobs could be at risk – in an industry already devastated by months of pandemic disruption.

It criticised the government’s “stop-start approach” as “deeply unhelpful” and joined other groups in calling for an extension of a business rates holiday to help struggling firms.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said the Tier 4 announcement, which will affect London and much of the South East, was “hugely regrettable” after retailers had invested hundreds of millions making their premises COVID-secure.

“The consequences of this decision will be severe,” she said.

“This decision comes only two weeks after the end of the last national lockdown and right in the middle of peak trading which so many are depending on to power their recovery.

“Faced with this news – and the prospect of losing £2bn per week in sales for the third time this year – many businesses will be in serious difficulty and many thousands of jobs could be at risk.

“The government will need to offer additional financial support to help these businesses get back on an even keel – an extension to business rates relief in 2021 is the best place to start.”

Retail has been the sector worst affected by the coronavirus jobs crisis so far, according to a tracker of publicly announced job cuts compiled by Sky News.

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COVID-19: The economic virus

Arcadia – Sir Philip Green’s Topshop to Dorothy Perkins group – and Debenhams have been the most recent high-profile victims, with the collapses of those two alone putting 25,000 roles at risk.

Latest official figures showed a fall in retail sales in November as England’s lockdown took its toll and the new restrictions will mean the chance of a pre-Christmas high street sales recovery for the likes of toy shops and fashion stores is cut short.

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Christmas was already cancelled for many businesses, but even more will now suffer as a result of this last-minute decision.

“While government must act on public health concerns, it must also address the economic consequences of its actions.

“Will there be more help for firms being forced to shut their doors – and for those who have paid for stock they now can’t sell?

“With huge numbers of firms already on the edge, it would be unconscionable for further restrictions or closures to be announced without a more comprehensive package of support.”

Customers took advantage of price drops at Debenhams, which is closing after falling into administration
Image:
Debenhams is one of the most recent high-profile victims of the crisis

Martin McTague, vice chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “From shops to hairdressers, this would normally the one of the busiest times of the year.

“Many will have bought extra stock and increased staff hours, now their takings are to disappear literally overnight.”

Matthew Fell, chief UK policy director at the CBI, said: “It’s right the government takes steps to protect public health – but new restrictions in the South East will be a kick in the teeth for struggling businesses.”

Rachael Robathan, leader of Westminster City Council, said: “On every level this is devastating… for those businesses now staring into the abyss after having had a last gasp at pre-Christmas sales snatched from them.”

The tier announcement comes days after the extension of the UK’s furlough scheme – subsidising wages for temporarily laid-off workers during the pandemic at the cost of tens of billions of pounds – until the end of April.

Britain’s economy slumped to its worst recession on record earlier this year and is expected to shrink again in the current fourth quarter after the second lockdown – with the latest measures looking certain to add to the gloomier outlook.



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Government’s super changes a ‘gift’ to for-profit sector, industry funds claim | Superannuation


The industry super sector has rejected Josh Frydenberg’s “Your Money, Your Super” package of changes to superannuation as a “gift” to for-profit fund operators that will enable them to continue making billions in profits each year off dud retirement savings schemes.

According to Productivity Commission data, industry funds, which are run only for the profit of members, systematically outperform retail funds, which are run to profit financial institutions such as banks.

But peak body Industry Super Australia (ISA) will argue in submissions to a review of the package of laws that the proposed legislation would give the for-profit sector an unfair advantage by exempting many of its products from measures designed to curb fees and expose poorly performing funds.

In draft submissions to Treasury, seen by Guardian Australia, ISA also argues that changes that are claimed to force fund trustees to act solely in the financial best interests of members will drown them in red tape because almost every single piece of spending, no matter how small, will be subject to the test.

The submissions also echo concerns raised last week by Ian Silk, the chief executive of Australia’s biggest super fund, AustralianSuper, that the proposed laws would reverse the onus of proof if funds were pursued for breaches of the test by the prudential regulator.

The ISA chief executive, Bernie Dean, said the treasurer’s package could be salvaged but risked ignoring the “carnage” displayed at the Hayne royal commission in 2018, which heard evidence of widespread rip-offs in retail super but gave the industry sector a largely clean bill of health.

“It begins to look like what happens when foxes get in the henhouse,” he said – a reference to a controversial TV commercial ISA aired in 2017.

The ad, which compared banks to foxes determined to raid the henhouse of Australia’s super savings, outraged critics of the sector, who said it was an example of political spending that did not benefit members.

However, the banking royal commissioner, Kenneth Hayne, said the ad did not breach the law or community standards and recommended no law be made restricting the political speech of funds.

ISA is concerned a provision in the proposed laws allowing the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority to ban spending, even if it is found to be in the best interests of members, might be used to stop ads like the “fox and henhouse” spot or the “compare the pair” series that focuses on the investment performance of industry super.

Dean said the provision was a “kill switch” that “could lead to an unprecedented intervention into what is supposed to be a free market”.

“Don’t tell me we’re headed into a world where a regulator could ban a fund promoting its own out-performance,” he said.

“We are concerned that if these changes are passed by the parliament unamended, they could handcuff industry super and provide some of the worst performers in the retail sector with a free pass.”

Treasury’s consultation period on the proposed laws closes on 24 December.



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NSW public sector pay limit is hitting wages across the board


A cap on public servants’ wages growth imposed for almost a decade by the NSW government has stifled pay increases for a host of private sector workers across the state.

A study by analytics firm AlphaBeta reviewed wages growth in private sector occupations which have a “high connection” to the public sector – such as jobs in education and health – and compared that to wages in occupations with less connection to the public sector – such as construction and retail.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet defends public sector wage caps but a new study finds they suppress wages across the economy Credit:AAP

It revealed that since a 2.5 per cent annual growth cap on public sector wages was introduced in 2011, private sector workers in occupations with a high connection to the public sector had wages growth one third slower than jobs with little connection to the public sector.

Private sector occupations affected by slower wage growth due to the public sector cap included private school teachers, vocational trainers, child carers, personal carers, administrators, information officers, security workers, nurses, midwives and other health workers.



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Nifty: Dalal Street week ahead: Market to remain stock & sector specific; watch Dollar Index


The domestic stock market added more strength and piled up incremental gains during the week gone by. Nifty has not only stayed above the crucial two-year-long pattern resistance trend line, but also added some directional bias to it by moving higher.

The market stayed much less volatile than expected, which added consensus to the directional move. After staying in a 450-point trading range during the truncated week, the index ended with gains for the fifth week in a row.

The benchmark Nifty50 closed with net weekly gains of 289 points, or 2.23 per cent. As Nifty moves past the two-year-long trend line pattern resistance, it has shifted the support higher to 12,800 level. This means even if Nifty tests the 12,800 level in the near future due to profit taking, the trend would remain intact.

It would reverse only if Nifty slips below the 12,850-12,800 zone. However, this reading does not take away from the fact that the rally has been powered mainly by FII flows due to severe weakness in the dollar. Any pullback in the DXY (Dollar Index) has a potential to disrupt the rally.

Volatility has dropped as the India VIX has slipped 9.03 per cent to 18.03. The market is likely to see some consolidation at higher levels in the coming week. With the market now in the uncharted territory, the 13,300 and 13,485 levels are likely to act as resistance, while supports will come in at 13,100 and 12,850 levels.

Agencies

There are high possibilities that the trading range may widen in the coming days. The weekly RSI stood at 72.21; it remains in the mildly overbought zone above the 70 mark. It has marked a fresh 14-period high, which is a bullish signal. However, it remains neutral and does not show any divergence against the price. The weekly MACD is bullish and remains above the signal line.
The slightly widening slope of the Histogram showed an acceleration in the momentum over the past couple of weeks. Apart from a white body that occurred, no other important formations were seen on the candles.

The coming week is likely to be crucial and will keep us on our toes. FII flows remain strong and that is causing an unabated rise in the market.

The Dollar Index has been miserably weak, and this is aiding FII flows to emerging markets in general, and India in particular. That said, it will now be important to keep a close eye on the Dollar Index, which is likely to remain oversold in the near term. There is a possibility of some technical rebound within the downtrend, which may cause a minor disruption in the ongoing trend.

Given the current technical setup, we do not recommend initiating heavy shorts, but to keep chasing the momentum in an extremely watchful way. The market will remain highly stock and sector specific and one should stick to those stocks and sectors which are exhibiting either strong or improving relative strength against the broader market. A cautiously optimistic approach is advised for the week ahead.

In our look at the Relative Rotation Graphs®, we compared various sectoral indices against CNX500 (Nifty500 Index), which represents over 95 per cent of the free-float market-cap of all the listed stocks.

Graph 2Agencies
Graph 3Agencies

A review of the Relative Rotation Graphs (RRG) showed Bank Nifty, Financial Services and Services Sector Indices are placed in the leading quadrant. The Metal Index has entered the leading quadrant following a strong rotation from the weakening quadrant. The Realty Index has also entered the leading quadrant following strong rollover from the improving quadrant. These sectors are set to show strong relative outperformance against the broader Nifty500 index collectively.

Nifty IT and Auto Indices are in the weakening quadrant along with the IT and the Midcap100 Indices.

While staying in the lagging quadrant, Nifty Commodities and Energy groups trying to improve their relative momentum along with the Infra index. Nifty PSE and PSU Bank indices are getting rolled over strongly and moving in the improving quadrant. The FMCG and Consumption indices, however, seems to be taking a breather.

The Pharma and Media Indices are languishing in the lagging quadrant and may exhibit relative underperformance against the broader market.

Important Note: The RRGTM charts show relative strength and momentum in a group of stocks. In the above chart, they show relative performance against the Nifty500 Index (broader market) and should not be used directly as buy or sell signals.

(Milan Vaishnav, CMT, MSTA is a Consultant Technical Analyst and founder of Gemstone Equity Research & Advisory Services, Vadodara. He can be reached at milan.vaishnav@equityresearch.asia)





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