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Ministers have asked businesses to help draw up policies on making flexible working the default option after the pandemic, despite concerns about the future of city centres should people continue to work from home.
Government officials have formed an advisory group of business associations, charities and trade unions to help draw up employment advice for flexible working. The group held its first meeting on Wednesday.
Officials raised questions about what a mixture of office and homework would mean for health and safety, productivity and data security, according to those familiar. The government is expected to allow companies to encourage staff to return to their workplaces from mid-June.
Ministers including chancellor Rishi Sunak expressed concern that urban economies could be stifled if too many people work from home. Many businesses, ranging from sandwich outlets to commercial landlords and newsagents, rely heavily on a flow of commuters.
- The rare blood clotting disorder linked to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine mostly affects younger adults, the UK medicines regulator found.
- Moderna’s chief executive said the company would increase its global Covid-19 vaccine supply to up to 3bn next year.
- The S&P 500 index recorded another all-time high and commodities rallied after the US reported that gross domestic product expanded 6.4 per cent on an annualised basis in the first quarter, its strongest growth rate since 1984.
- The head of Heathrow airport has warned of a crisis if overseas holidays resumes next month because of thinly staffed border forces struggling to cope with Covid-19-related passenger checks.
A coronavirus passport is seen as vital to restarting travel this summer. But in place of a unified global system, a mishmash of potentially conflicting initiatives is emerging. Watching TV during the pandemic, Simon Kuper was struck by a recurring theme: family downward mobility.
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In the news
Amazon reaps rewards With consumers shopping and streaming video online and homeworking boosting its cloud computing business, Amazon reported its second straight quarter of $100bn-plus sales, comfortably beating Wall Street’s targets. Twitter’s user growth fell short of expectations for the third consecutive quarter despite a broader digital advertising surge.
Chinese regulators summon tech groups Officials have instructed 13 tech companies including Tencent and ByteDance to “rectify prominent problems” on their platforms, a sign that the regulatory pressure on the fintech sector is extending beyond Jack Ma’s Ant Group. Sign up here to receive our #techAsia newsletter, your guide to the billions made and lost in Asia tech, in your inbox every Wednesday.
France to punish signatories of rightwing ‘call to arms’ The military command and the government have vowed to punish active officers and force rightwing reservists into retirement over an incendiary declaration that mourned the country’s “disintegration” because of Islamist radicalism and hinted at a coup d’état.
‘Chief heat officers’ Cities including Miami-Dade County, Athens and Freetown in Sierra Leone are responding to the threat of rising temperatures by creating dedicated “chief heat officer” executive positions to address a problem that will be accentuated by climate change.
“We’re known internationally for our risks from sea-level rise and flooding. What we’re not known for is this heat risk” — Jane Gilbert, Miami-Dade County’s incoming chief heat officer.
Israel stampede kills at least 38 Many more were injured in a stampede at the grave of a Jewish sage in northern Israel, according to rescue services and local media. The Israeli army was assisting civilian rescue workers at the “mass casualty event”.
Credit Suisse considers risk chief’s removal The board of the Swiss bank is weighing the removal of Andreas Gottschling ahead of its annual meeting today, according to people familiar with the situation. Several of Credit Suisse’s largest investors have said they will vote against Gottschling’s re-election after the Greensill and Archegos crises.
Quantum computing coming to markets Quantum computing could be brought to bear on some of the most complex calculations in financial markets within five years, considerably earlier than expected, according to research jointly conducted by Goldman Sachs.
MPs criticise UK industrial fund An influential group of lawmakers has called for an “overhaul” of one of the government’s flagship programmes to improve productivity and living standards. The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which has invested £1.2bn in 1,600 projects since 2017, was unable to demonstrate its value to the economy or the taxpayer, according to a committee report to be published today.
The days ahead
Eurozone GDP data Preliminary growth figures for the eurozone out today are expected to show the region contracted 0.8 per cent in the first quarter compared with the previous one. Sign up for our Europe Express newsletter, your essential guide to what matters in Europe every weekday morning.
Allied troops withdraw from Afghanistan US, UK and Nato forces will begin their withdraw from Afghanistan on Saturday ahead of a September 11 deadline.
Spain to submit EU recovery fund plans The country will submit its finalised plan to spend €140bn from the bloc’s coronavirus recovery fund for EU approval.
Earnings round-up A big day for oil: Chevron and ExxonMobil report, with the latter under pressure from activist hedge fund Engine No 1 to reduce reliance on carbon fuel. Also reporting are banks Barclays in the UK and BNP Paribas in France, as well as AbbVie, AON, AstraZeneca, Charter Communications and Colgate-Palmolive.
What else we’re reading
‘Scenes from Dante’s inferno’: a doctor on India’s Covid crisis The virus has shown the roots of India’s problem are systemic — in the chronic under-investment and neglect of public health, writes a consultant physician and researcher in Mumbai.
- The country’s catastrophic Covid-19 response has exposed a creeping erosion of democratic values and traditions under Narendra Modi, writes Ramachandra Guha.
N Ireland braced for more division The dramatic ousting of Northern Ireland’s first minister Arlene Foster looks set to deepen political divisions over a customs border in the Irish Sea and the use of the Irish language. Regional political parties insist collapsing the Stormont government is in no one’s interests.
A new deal for the young: saving the environment No generation should face a future blighted by climate and environmental devastation, writes our editorial board. All is by no means lost. Investment in renewables and other clean technologies has reached record levels, as have green bonds and electric car sales. Read more in our FT Series.
Tesla’s solar stumbles Five years ago, Elon Musk unveiled Tesla’s latest innovation: aesthetically pleasing solar panels. The product is finally rolling out in a significant way — but customers aren’t necessarily getting the products they were promised at the price they were quoted. (NYT)
Malcolm Gladwell: ‘My writing had better have changed’ Journalism doesn’t have a lot of superstars, but when Lilah Raptopoulos met Malcolm Gladwell, she said it felt less like meeting a celebrity and more like she had disturbed a college professor in the middle of a Big Thought. They discussed crime, challenging convention and changing one’s mind.
Podcast of the day
India’s wake-up call to the world Gideon Rachman talks to Abraar Karan, a physician at Harvard Medical School and a specialist in global health, about the surge in infections in India and why nationalistic approaches to curbing Covid-19 will not solve the health crisis.
ABBVIE Stock – FirstFT: Today’s top stories | Financial Times
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