A new challenge for private tertiary providers and schools as the Government signals no foreign students will come this year and lower levels next, plus the rise and rise of gold.

No foreign students expected for the rest of the year

International education providers have been dealt a further blow after being told by Education Minister Chris Hipkins yesterday they shouldn’t expect any foreign students for the remainder of the year, adding that students will only be allowed to return when it is safe to do so. Releasing its long-term plan to help stabilise New Zealand’s damaged international education sector, the Government will provide $51.6 million of funding to help keep skills in the country and ensure New Zealand’s brand remains visible.

International education had become one of the country’s major export earners in recent years, worth around $5 billion annually to the NZ economy. Announcing a multi-pronged recovery plan to stabilise the sector, including shoring up its regulatory settings and policies and accelerating the transformation signalled in a 2018 strategy paper, Hipkins said the government is targeting the value of export education to increase to $6 billion by 2025.

The funding to support the international education sector will come from the $20 billion covid recovery fund. It will provide $20 million for state and integrated schools to keep specialist staff employed and provide care for international students already in NZ and $10 million to support private training establishments.

Wellington Airport considering new bond offer

Wellington International Airport is considering a six-year fixed rate bond offer of up to $75 million, with the ability to accept $25 million in oversubscriptions. The airport operator has appointed ANZ Bank as the arranger and Forsyth Barr as joint lead manager to coordinate the bond offer, which is expected to open on August 3. Last month, Wellington Airport’s shareholders, Infratil and Wellington City Council, committed to a $75 million support via redeemable preference shares, if needed.

Gold price reaches new record high

Gold has touched record prices as worries over the coronavirus pandemic as well as US-China tensions weighed on investor sentiment. Yesterday in Asian trading, spot gold traded above US$1,931.11 per ounce after earlier trading as high as US$1,943.92 per ounce. Those levels eclipsed the previous record high price set in September 2011.

The move in prices of the precious metal came as tensions have been heating up between Washington and Beijing. China announced on Friday that it ordered the United States to shut its consulate in Chengdu, following the US demanding the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston. Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases globally continues to rise. More than 16 million people have been infected, with the US accounting for roughly a quarter of that figure, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

New report forecasts UK economic recovery longer and slower

The UK’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis could take 18 months longer than expected with hopes of a V-shaped recovery fading fast, according to a leading economic forecaster.

Britain’s economic output is not expected to return to its 2019 level until the end of 2024, according to international business consultants EY. It had previously expected GDP to match the size of fourth-quarter 2019 in early 2023. EY predicts Britain’s economy will shrink by a record 20 percent in the April to June quarter, rather than 15 percent as it forecast last month.

The economists also downgraded their 2020 forecast for the UK to an 11.5 percent contraction, worse than the 8 percent decline forecast in June. It has pencilled in a bounce back in growth of 6.5 percent next year, up from 5.6 percent predicted in June.

New Asian Nasdaq launches

Trading on Hong Kong’s new Nasdaq-like technology index got off to a rocky start yesterday as the Asian financial hub looks to cement its status as a base for Chinese tech, while tensions between the United States and China continue to escalate. The Hang Seng TECH Index — which tracks the 30 largest tech firms that trade in the city, including Alibaba — briefly jumped 2.2 percent in early trade but it then reversed course and fell 1.4 percent.

Hang Seng Indexes announced its creation recently saying the tech sector had taken on an increasing level of importance in Hong Kong as companies including Alibaba And NetEase, all of which trade in New York — have in recent months held secondary listings in Hong Kong. And Ant Group, the company behind the Chinese mobile payments business Alipay, announced last week that it has chosen both Hong Kong and Shanghai for its initial public offering.

Covid impact slams budget airline Ryanair

European budget airline Ryanair has warned a second wave of coronavirus this autumn is its “biggest fear” as the low-cost carrier revealed a net loss of €185m in the first quarter of this fiscal year, compared with a net profit of €243m in the same period the previous year. “The past quarter was the most challenging in Ryanair’s 35-year history,” the carrier said in a statement.

Over 99 percent of its flights were grounded and the number of passengers fell from 42 million to just 500,000 in April-June as the lockdown took hold. As a result, revenue fell by almost €2.2bn, to €125m. The airline said a second wave of Covid-19 cases across Europe in late autumn is its biggest fear right now. The losses came despite an 85 percent reduction in costs, including significant redundancies and pay cuts. The carrier announced in May that it would cut up to 15 percent of its workforce, warning it would take at least two years for a return to pre-Covid levels.

Andrew Patterson is Newsroom's Markets Editor and has worked for decades as a financial journalist, radio presenter and editor with Australia's ABC, Radio Live and NBR.

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