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Large US corporate bankruptcies are running at a record pace this year and set to surpass the levels of the financial crisis in 2009. As of August 17, 45 companies with assets of more than $1bn filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a common way for distressed businesses to reorganise, according to New Generation Research.

US stocks this week hit a record high, back losses inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic. But share prices of a fifth of S&P 500 companies were more than 50 per cent below their all-time highs on Friday and the average stock in the index is 28.4 per cent below its peak, according to Cornerstone Macro, a research group.

Frantic buying by Malaysian retail investors of hot stocks such as rubber glove makers has driven trading volumes on the country’s stock exchange to record highs, prompting the bourse to consider steps to curb the frenzy. Turnover in the year to date has already topped last year’s total by 20 per cent at 143.8bn ringgit ($34.5bn).

The French champagne industry cartel of growers and producers last week agreed to a sharp cut to the annual grape harvest as sales have collapsed during the coronavirus pandemic. “Champagne is synonymous with partying,” said David Faivre of Champagne R. Faivre. “And the whole world isn’t doing that right now.”

UK business activity stood at its strongest level in almost seven years in August, according to the latest purchasing managers’ index, rising to 60.3 from 57 in July. Tim Moore, economics director at IHS Markit, said “staycations” and the “eat out to help out” scheme, pictured, would boost service-sector growth in August.

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Hedge fund Gammon Capital has chalked up a 600 per cent gain so far this year, ranking it as one of the world’s best performers, thanks to well-timed bets on volatility during the coronavirus-driven market ructions. The New York firm, correctly wagered on soaring volatility in early March.

Nippon Paint has agreed to a $12bn deal that will combine it with Singapore’s Wuthelam Holdings to create a regional titan. Masaaki Tanaka, Nippon chief executive, warned the effects of Covid-19 had been severe, particularly for the automotive paint business once expected to deliver strong growth in China.

The cost of London’s east-west Crossrail rail line has ballooned to nearly £19bn, with the heavily delayed project now not expected to open fully until mid-2022 as the pandemic compounded engineering problems. The price tag was expected to rise to £18.7bn, more than £450m over the last estimate in November.

Via Financial Times