Coronavirus latest: Hong Kong’s latest ‘ambush’ lockdown of tenements finds no new infections

The rate of the US economy’s rebound from the coronavirus-fuelled downturn slowed in the fourth quarter, weighed down by a deadly surge of cases over the holiday season. Gross domestic product advanced 4 per cent on an annualised basis, according to figures published on Thursday by the US commerce department.

The Scottish government will be able to borrow up to £300m more a year for three years and draw down strategic reserves after forecasts of a sharp contraction in output this quarter met the criteria for a “Scotland-specific economic shock”, finance secretary Kate Forbes announced on Thursday.

The EU’s Covid-19 vaccination plan is nearing crisis point after several regions suspended inoculations over the shortage of jabs and Brussels moved to restrict exports. A German commission recommended the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab not be used for people aged over 65, piling pressure on the bloc’s vaccine effort.

Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, promised more coronavirus vaccines manufactured in India, as the south Asian country’s drive to immunise its population of 1.4bn gathers pace. He said on Thursday that more than 2.3m healthcare workers have been inoculated against coronavirus during the 12-day-old vaccine rollout.

A healthcare worker waits for people at a makeshift Covid-19 testing centre in a Frankfurt tequila bar closed during the pandemic

Diageo’s US sales of tequila surged 80 per cent in the last six months of 2020. Sales of one brand, Casamigos, more than doubled. Half-year sales growth thus breezed past market expectations with North America — Diageo’s biggest and most profitable market — delivering a rollicking 12.3 per cent.

Sky is set for a tough period in 2021 as higher costs and pandemic-related disruptions to sport continue to hinder growth at the European broadcasting and broadband group, its owner Comcast has warned. The UK-based business, which Comcast acquired in 2018, returned to growth in the last quarter of 2020.

Manfred Knof, Commerzbank’s new chief executive, will axe one in three jobs in Germany in a last-ditch attempt to turn around the fortunes of the ailing lender, shares of which have dropped 90 per cent over the past decade. The bank said on Thursday it has earmarked 10,000 jobs to be cut in the next three years.

Governments and companies in the developing sold a record $115.23bn of international bonds in the first 27 days of 2021, surpassing the previous monthly high of $112.78bn set last January, according to Bond Radar. Cash-strapped governments had to increase borrowing as the pandemic battered public finances.

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