Across US and Europe, pandemic’s grip on economies tightens – The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The worsening of the viral pandemic across the United States and Europe is threatening their economies and intensifying pressure on governments and central banks on both continents to intervene aggressively.
In a worrisome sign of the harm the virus is inflicting in the U.S, the government said Thursday that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits jumped last week to 853,000 — the most since September. The surge in jobless claims made clear that many companies are still shedding workers as states reimpose business shutdowns and consumers avoid shopping, traveling or dining out.
Consumers thus far haven’t spent as much this holiday shopping season as they have in previous years, according to credit and debit card data, and last month U.S. employers added jobs at the slowest pace since April. Restaurants, bars and retailers all cut jobs in November.
Responding to similar pressures, the European Central Bank announced Thursday that it will ramp up its bond-buying program to try to hold down longer-term interest rates to spur borrowing and spending. The ECB’s action coincided with the highest single-day viral death toll in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, and the shutdown of restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters and museums in France.
The coronavirus “is having an impact on consumers, it is having a big impact on the labor force, it