By Swati Pandey

SYDNEY, Oct 7 (Reuters)The Australian government will issue bonds worth A$240 billion ($170.4 billion) in the current financial year, surprisingly unchanged from earlier projections despite a massive increase in spending to bolster the coronavirus-ravaged economy.

The Australian Office of Financial Management (AOFM), which manages the government’s debt, said on Wednesday the weekly bond tender would be between A$3 billion and A$4 billion in most weeks for the remainder of the 2020 calendar year, from A$4-A$5 billion now.

The AOFM added that A$117 billion of the A$240 billion expected issuances for the year-ending June 2021 has already been undertaken.

“An unchanged issuance task and no new bonds this calendar year mean a flatter curve and tighter spreads,” said Robert Thompson, Sydney-based rates strategist at RBC.

AOFM’s unchanged issuance target comes despite a larger-than-expected budget deficit estimate for the 2020/21 fiscal year of A$213.7 billion announced on Tuesday.

The AOFM now has more than A$100 billion on deposit with the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), which has been buying three-year government debt in the secondary market since mid-March to help keep borrowing costs low.

“The super-sized buffer seems to have allowed the AOFM to hold off on any task increases,” Thompson added.

“It also reinforces our suspicion that the AOFM took a much more conservative approach than Treasury back in July in forecasting debt raising requirements.”

Yields on three-year government bonds AU3YT=RR slipped for a second straight day to 0.145% on Wednesday, much lower than the RBA’s cash rate target of 0.25%.

Yields on the 10-year paper AU10YT=RR eased to 0.8% in anticipation long-term rates will remain low for some while yet.

The RBA has said it would keep policy accommodative until progress is being made toward full employment and inflation is back within its

The wealth of the world’s billionaires has surged by more than $2 trillion since the coronavirus pandemic began to reach an all-time high of $10.2 trillion.

The super-rich have been the big beneficiaries of the stock market rally from its March lows. Their total net worth rose by 27.5% between April and July to smash the previous record of $8.9 trillion set at the end of 2017. The number of billionaires has also grown from 2,158 in 2017 to 2,189. 

These are the findings of the 2020 UBS/PwC Billionaire Insights report. The annual study calculated that billionaires’ fortunes had fallen by 6.6%, or $564 billion, to $8 trillion through 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, in the run-up to the coronavirus crisis.

The scale of the bounce-back has surprised even the most seasoned wealth watchers.

“Billionaires did extremely well during and after the crisis,” said Josef Stadler, head of UBS Global Wealth Management’s family office division.

Some did far better than others though, depending on which sectors their businesses operate in. The pandemic has rapidly accelerated technology adoption as millions work from home and companies increasingly move their operations onto the cloud. At the same time, vast resources have been poured into the hunt for a Covid-19 vaccine.

“What we’ve seen is a dramatic polarisation of fortunes. Billionaire innovators and disruptors in tech, healthcare, and industrials are fast and massively pulling ahead of the rest of the universe,” Stadler said. 

This trend had been in evidence through 2018 and 2019, he added, but “Covid-19 has accelerated this divergence”. The numbers underline the pace of change and those classed as

Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc.  (BBBY) – Get Report shares surged higher Thursday after the home retailer posted surprise second quarter earnings that topped Wall Street forecasts as online sales continue to surge.

Bed Bath & Beyond said adjusted earnings for the three months ending on August 29, its fiscal second quarter, were pegged at 50 cents per share, well ahead of the Street consensus forecast of 23 cents per share. Group revenues, the company said, were essentially flat to last year at $2.7 billion, but topped analysts’ forecast of a $2.6 billion tally thanks in part to an 89% annual increase in online sales.

Comparable store sales were solid, as well, rising 6% from last year and notching the first positive growth rate since the fourth quarter of the retailer’s 2016 fiscal year.

“Our growth strategy is unlocking improved financial performance, and the marked improvement in our second quarter financial results reflects the potential of our digital-first, omni-always transformation and our efforts to build a modern, durable platform for success,” said CEO Mark Tritton. “We’ve taken direct action to stabilize our business, including reducing our cost structure, enhancing our financial flexibility, and investing where it matters most to our customers.”

“At the same time, we have assembled a world-class and experienced leadership team to rebuild our authority in Home and modernize our operations to deliver a truly customer-inspired and omni-always shopping experience,” he added.

Bed, Bath & Beyond shares were marked 23.3% higher in early trading following the surprise earnings release to  change hands at $18.47 each, the highest in more than a year and a move that would extend the stock’s six-month gain to nearly 390%.

Last week, Bed, Bath & Beyond named Scott Lindblom as chief technology officer to support what the company called its

The numbers: Consumer confidence rose in September to the highest level since the coronavirus pandemic began after the number of cases declined and the economic forged ahead, a closely followed survey showed.

The index of consumer confidence rose to 101.8 this month from 86.3 in August, the Conference Board said Tuesday. It was the biggest one-month increase in 17 years.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a smaller increase in the index to 89.6. The level of confidence in August was also revised slightly higher after initially showing the lowest reading since the pandemic began more than six months ago.

“A more favorable view of current business and labor market conditions, coupled with renewed optimism about the short-term outlook, helped spur this month’s rebound in confidence,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the board.

See:MarketWatch Coronavirus Recovery Tracker

What happened: An index that gauges how consumers feel about the economy right now jumped to 98.5 in September from 85.8 in the prior month.

Another gauge that assesses how Americans view the next six months—the so-called future expectations index—surged to 104 from 86.6.

The rebound in confidence almost certainly reflects a decline in coronavirus cases after a midsummer spike.

Perhaps more surprising, a reduction in federal benefits for the unemployed did little to dampen the optimism. A $600 federal unemployment stipend expired at the end of July. President Trump authorized temporary $300 payments, but the money is already running out and Congress is deadlocked on what to do next.

Big picture: The springback in consumer confidence after two straight declines is welcome news, suggesting a U.S. recovery is still on track even if growth has tapered off since the late spring. Although millions of Americans remain out of work, more people are returning to their jobs and