* Global stocks hit a record high and oil climbed after strong US and Chinese economic data bolstered expectations of a solid global recovery from the coronavirus-induced slump.
* China is willing to strengthen cooperation with France and Germany to cope with climate change, President Xi Jinping told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese state media reported on Friday.
* India pledged on Friday to raise monthly production of its own COVID-19 vaccine about tenfold to nearly 100 million doses by September, as immunisations have slowed in the country despite a surge in new infections.
* President Vladimir Putin discussed retaliatory sanctions against the United States on Friday with Russia’s security council after Washington hit Moscow with an array of punitive measures, the RIA news agency quoted the Kremlin as saying.
* Brazil is in talks with Spain and other countries as hospitals are running out of emergency drugs, its health minister said on Thursday amid reports of the seriously ill being tied down and intubated without effective sedatives.
* No decision has been made yet on whether the European Union should sign new contracts for vaccines with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, a French junior industry minister said.
* Negotiating teams for Iran and the United States will return home for internal discussions on how to rescue the 2015 nuclear deal, a European Union official said on Friday, after Tehran’s decision to ramp up uranium enrichment complicated talks in Vienna.
* India on Friday called for a ceasefire in Afghanistan and said it was deeply concerned about targetted killings of people in that country.
* Thailand will close schools, bars and massage parlours, as well as ban alcohol sales in restaurants, for at least two weeks starting from Sunday after a jump in cases, a senior official said.
* Food prices in West Africa have jumped more than 30% since last year to their highest levels in nearly a decade due to coronavirus lockdowns and a decline in cereal production, the World Food Programme (WFP) said Friday.
* Greece’s centre-right government said on Friday it wanted a “positive agenda” with Turkey despite differences, a day after their foreign ministers clashed during a news conference, while President Tayyip Erdogan defended Ankara’s response.
* German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged lawmakers to approve new powers that would allow her to force lockdowns and curfews on areas with high infection rates.
* The French government is working on gradually re-opening some cultural and leisure venues from mid-May onwards, government spokesman told France Info radio.
* Finland said it would allow all restaurants to reopen next week after a steady fall in infection rates over the past month.
* Denmark said it would reopen the economy sooner than expected as infections decrease, allowing indoor service at restaurants and cafes and football fans to cheer from the stands from April 21.
* Sweden will ease restrictions on those, mostly elderly, citizens who have had at least one vaccination shot against COVID-19, the Public Health Agency said.
* London’s FTSE 100 rose above the 7,000-mark for the first time since the pandemic pummelled financial markets last year.
* Portugal has lifted its ban on flights to and from Britain and Brazil for work and studies but not for tourism, the government said on Friday, while restrictions on travel by land and sea to Spain will stay in place for another 15 days.
* A shortage of coronavirus shots may force the Madrid region to close down mass vaccination centres next week, the regional public health chief said on Friday, as infections in the Spanish capital outpace the national average.
* People in their 30s showed up in their hundreds on Friday morning as Latvia offered the AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone who wanted it in order to clear a growing backlog of the shot often refused by the old.
* Many Africans who have received their first vaccine do not know when they will get a second shot because deliveries are delayed, the continent’s top public health official said on Thursday.
* The coronavirus is killing one person every four minutes in Iran, state TV reported on Thursday.