Oil Rebounds As US, Russia Agree To Talk

Iran's death toll from coronavirus climbs to 2,898

DUBAI (REUTERS) – Iran’s death toll from coronavirus has reached 2,898, with 141 deaths in the past 24 hours, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur told state TV on Tuesday (March 31), adding that the total number of infected cases has jumped to 44,606.

“In the past 24 hours, there has been 3,111 new cases of infected people. Unfortunately, 3,703 of the infected people are in a critical condition,” Jahanpur said.

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US gig economy workers strike over COVID-19 protection and pay

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads globally, so too have wildcat strikes across the US.

Workers are going on strike across the US to demand measures to protect their health during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, strike action was called at the grocery delivery service, Instacart. Workers say the company has failed to ensure their safety, requiring them to buy their own hand sanitiser and disinfecting wipes and not providing health insurance.

 

Al Jazeera’s Shihab Rattansi reports from the US capital, Washington, DC.

SpiceJet to cut 10-30% salary of all employees in March 2020

Other budget carriers IndiGo and GoAir have already announced similar moves earlier, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic that has severely affected the aviation industry

Budget carrier SpiceJet has decided to cut 10-30% salary of all its employees in March, with Chairman Ajay Singh opting for highest 30% trimming in compensation, the airline said in an e-mail communication to the staff on Tuesday.

“SpiceJet management has decided to implement a pay cut between 10-30 per cent in March across our employee base. Our Chairman and Managing Director (Ajay Singh), in fact, has opted for the highest cut of 30 per cent in compensation,” the airline said in the communication.

Other budget carriers IndiGo and GoAir have already announced similar moves earlier.

“These are extremely tough time and call for appropriate and exceptional measures to sale through the exceptional challenge,” it said.

As tough as it seems, most Indian carriers have already announced a pay cut for their employees, SpiceJet said.

“Unfortunately SpiceJet is not too immune to the situation which has unquestionably affected the airlines in the most severe form across the globe.

“Therefore in our bid to stay lean, and under absolutely unavoidable circumstances, we have been forced to take certain bold decisions, which will help the SpiceJet family surmount these difficult times,” the letter said.

Japan's MUFG to book $3.3 bln hit after Asian units' stock plunge due to coronavirus

TOKYO, March 31 (Reuters) – Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc (MUFG) said on Tuesday it would book a one-off charge of about 360 billion yen ($3.3 billion) for the year through March as the share price of its Asian units dropped due to the coronavirus. (Reporting by Takashi Umekawa, Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Russia postpones smartphone software law until January 2021:TASS

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia on Tuesday pushed back legislation that would require all smartphones, computers and smart TV sets sold in Russia to come pre-installed with Russian software, by six months until January 1, 2021, the TASS news agency reported.

The bill, which won approval from Russia’s lower house of parliament in November 2019, seeks to help Russian IT firms compete with foreign companies.

Belarus reports first coronavirus death: Belta cites Lukashenko

MINSK (Reuters) – Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Tuesday a patient who tested positive for coronavirus had died, the country’s first confirmed death resulting from the virus, the Belta news agency reported.

Belarus had 152 confirmed cases as of Monday.

Head of German state of Bavaria rejects 'corona bonds'

BERLIN, March 31 (Reuters) – The premier of the German state of Bavaria on Tuesday rejected the idea of so-called “corona bonds”, effectively eurobonds, to help European partners during the coronavirus crisis. Markus Soeder said he wanted to help Germany’s European neighbours and to send a signal to show that. “But I think that corona bonds are the wrong way to do that,” he told reporters. (Writing by Madeline Chambers Editing by Michelle Martin)

Oil Rebounds As US, Russia Agree To Talk

Oil prices rebounded from 18-year lows on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to talks aimed at addressing volatility in the global oil markets.

Trump and Putin agreed during a phone call on Monday to have their top energy officials discuss slumping global oil markets, the Kremlin said.

“Opinions on the current state of global oil markets were exchanged. It was agreed there would be Russo-American consultations about this through the ministers of energy.”

Benchmark Brent crude rallied 2.9 percent to $27.19 a barrel, after having closed at its lowest level November 2002 the previous day.

U.S. crude futures were up as much as 5.7 percent at $21.23 a barrel, after settling at their lowest level since February 2002 on Monday.

Energy demand is expected to drop substantially as it is now feared that the global coronavirus shutdown could last months.

The world economy, with the likely exception of India and China, will go into recession this year with a predicted loss of trillions of dollars of global income due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a latest UN trade report.

The economic fallout from COVID-19 is likely to get “much worse” before it gets better for some six billion people living in developing economies, the UN said and appealed for a $2.5 trillion rescue package to boost their resilience to further hardship.