Advertisements


AstraZeneca (AZN) COVID-19 Booster Dose Useful Against Omicron

Data from multiple studies support the use of AstraZeneca's (AZN) COVID vaccine booster against several variants of concern, including Omicron. AstraZeneca AZN announced positive data from a preliminary analysis of an ongoing study, which evaluated the safety and immunogenicity of the third/booster dose of Vaxzevria, AZN’s COVID-19 vaccine.The D7220C00001 study involves administering a third/booster dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine after three months to individuals who had completed the primary two-dose regimen of either AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine or an mRNA-based COVID vaccine developed by Pfizer PFE/BioNTech BNTX or Moderna MRNA.Data from the D7220C00001 study demonstrated that the third dose of Vaxzevria elicited increased antibody responses against the Alpha, Beta, Delta and Gamma variants of concern. In fact, an additional analysis of data also showed that a third dose of Vaxzevria boosted antibody responses against the Omicron variant. AstraZeneca plans to report further analysis from this study in first-half 2022.The data reported by AstraZeneca is in line with the data from a laboratory study conducted by the investigators at the University of Oxford released last month. The study supported Vaxzevria protection against Omicron. We note that Vaxzevria was developed by AstraZeneca in partnership with the University of Oxford.AstraZeneca plans to use data from these studies as a proof, suggesting that the third dose of its COVID vaccine is effective, both as a homologous or heterologous booster against various COVID variants, including Omicron. Data from these studies will be used by AZN to support the submission to the health regulators worldwide, seeking authorization for a booster dose of Vaxzevria. AstraZeneca’s booster dose of COVID vaccine is not yet authorized for use in any country.In the past year, shares of AstraZeneca have risen 13.3% compared with the industry’s 15.7% increase.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchWhile AstraZeneca vaccine shots are approved for use in more than 90 countries worldwide, the same is yet to be approved in the United States. In fact, the COVID vaccine market in the United States is dominated by vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and J&J. In fact, the booster doses of the vaccines developed by these three companies are also approved in the United States, both for homologous and heterologous administration.The Omicron variant is rapidly spreading and affecting millions of people, including those who completed the primary vaccine series. With the rise in COVID-19 infection cases worldwide, there is a huge need for COVID vaccines, including booster doses.Both Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna demonstrated that the booster doses of their COVID vaccines showed effectiveness against the Omicron variant.Last month, Pfizer and BioNTech announced data from a pseudovirus neutralization test, which demonstrated that the three doses of their COVID vaccine Comirnaty (BNT162b2) neutralize the Omicron variant.Moderna is also evaluating its multivalent booster and Omicron-specific booster candidates in phase II/III studies. Last month, Moderna announced preliminary data from a pseudovirus neutralization titer assay study, demonstrating that its COVID-19 vaccine booster increased neutralizing antibody levels significantly against the Omicron variant.While Pfizer/BioNTech expect to deliver an Omicron-specific booster by March, Modernais planning to advance its Omicron-specific booster into clinical studies in early 2022.In a separate press release, AstraZeneca announced that it entered into a partnership with the privately-held Scorpion Therapeutics wherein it will utilize the latter’s discovery platform to develop and market novel treatments for cancer proteins, which are difficult to target. Per the collaboration terms, Scorpion will receive $75 million as an upfront payment from AstraZeneca and will also be eligible for potential milestones and royalties.AstraZeneca PLC Price AstraZeneca PLC price | AstraZeneca PLC QuoteZacks RankAstraZeneca carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. Infrastructure Stock Boom to Sweep America A massive push to rebuild the crumbling U.S. infrastructure will soon be underway. It’s bipartisan, urgent, and inevitable. Trillions will be spent. Fortunes will be made. The only question is “Will you get into the right stocks early when their growth potential is greatest?” Zacks has released a Special Report to help you do just that, and today it’s free. Discover 5 special companies that look to gain the most from construction and repair to roads, bridges, and buildings, plus cargo hauling and energy transformation on an almost unimaginable scale.Download FREE: How to Profit from Trillions on Spending for Infrastructure >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report AstraZeneca PLC (AZN): Free Stock Analysis Report Pfizer Inc. (PFE): Free Stock Analysis Report Moderna, Inc. (MRNA): Free Stock Analysis Report BioNTech SE Sponsored ADR (BNTX): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksJan 14th, 2022

Pfizer Says 3 Doses Of Its Jab Can "Neutralize" Omicron Variant

Pfizer Says 3 Doses Of Its Jab Can "Neutralize" Omicron Variant Update (0800ET): During an interview on CNBC's Squawk Box, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla appeared to contradict his own company's data by claiming that his company's jab will "not lose any efficacy against omicron" because the "mode of action is not on the spike...it's working on a different element of the virus." However, data out of South Africa appears to show that even patients who have been vaccinated are testing positive for omicron. And keep in mind, the lab-only results Pfizer shared today aren't nearly as reliable. "The ultimate proof is coming from real world data ... by the end of the month holistically we will have enough data to say if #omicron the solution will be just a third dose," says $PFE CEO @AlbertBourla. "Or if we need to go to a specific against omicron variant vaccine." pic.twitter.com/VUNdhePE6U — Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) December 8, 2021 "Three doses of our vaccine against #omicron basically is equivalent to two doses of our vaccine with the original strain," says $PFE CEO @AlbertBourla. "This is good news." pic.twitter.com/81aRZKPtDf — Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) December 8, 2021 "If they have two doses, it is very likely you're better protected than if they don't have any or if they only have one," says @pfizer CEO @AlbertBourla on vaccine protection to those ineligible for a booster shot. pic.twitter.com/o25guP2gZn — Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) December 8, 2021 "I expect we will not lose any efficacy against #omicron because the mode of action is not on the spike. It's working on a different element of the virus," says $PFE CEO @AlbertBourla on the company's oral monoclonal #covid treatment. pic.twitter.com/Fv5MXKL7ff — Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) December 8, 2021 "I think we will need a fourth dose. I have said that multiple times," says @pfizer CEO @AlbertBourla on Israel's roll out of a fourth Covid vaccine dose. "If there is a need for something different, better, we will be able to have it in months." pic.twitter.com/FFA28uXgs7 — Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) December 8, 2021 He's doing his job - trying to sell more vaccines. * * * Last night, data released out of South Africa showed that the Pfizer vaccine, supposedly the world's gold standard in terms of COVID jabs, was less effective against the omicron variant than earlier variants of SARS-CoV-2. And on Wednesday morning, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech pushed back by releasing data showing that three full doses of their best-selling jab were effective enough to neutralize the omicron variant in lab tests (not in actual humans). However, two vaccine doses resulted in significantly lower neutralizing antibodies but that a third dose of their vaccine increased the neutralizing antibodies by a factor of 25. Using blood obtained from patients that had their booster shot a month ago, the scientists found that it neutralized the Omicron variant about as effectively as blood after two doses fought off the original Wuhan strain. As the partners behind the world's best-selling jab scramble to produce an omicron-specific version of their jab, the data released this morning showed that a third dose increased antibodies as much as 25-fold compared with only two doses, the companies said. But that doesn't mean only having two doses won't prevent serious illness - it will. US equities welcomed the latest data from Pfizer and BioNTech in premarket trade. Pfizer's latest batch of data offered yet another opportunity for astute readers to watch the media reshape the narrative in real time. Real time narrative shaping: before, and 30 minutes later pic.twitter.com/GC8ZZ2jlZx — zerohedge (@zerohedge) December 8, 2021 The (extremely preliminary) data released by Pfizer showed that companies' early findings come a day after scientists in South Africa reported findings from early lab tests indicating the Pfizer jab generated only one-fortieth of the infection-fighting antibodies against omicron than against the original version of the virus. While omicron appears to be spreading rapidly, only preliminary data are available so far. And although researchers can't say it for certain, it appears the new variant causes more mild infections than earlier variants, even if it is more transmissible. The lab data released by Pfizer and BioNTech didn't offer any new insights on whether fewer doses actually does offer more scaled-back protection. Other scientists have come to less flattering conclusions. According to Reuters, a group of scientists at the university hospital in Frankfurt found a reduced antibody response to omicron even after three shots. Speaking on CNBC Wednesday morning, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla seemed a little flustered about omicron, but he told viewers that they would be protected if they simply got their boosters. But eventually, a fourth dose of the jab will likely be needed. The takeaway: just get another jab (or booster) and you'll be fully protected from a virus that would most likely only leave you with a runny nose. Tyler Durden Wed, 12/08/2021 - 08:57.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 8th, 2021

CDC recommends Pfizer-BioNTech booster for 12-to-17-year-olds

Walensky says booster dose will provide 'optimized protection’ against omicron variant......»»

Category: topSource: washpostJan 5th, 2022

Futures Tread Water With Traders Spooked By Spike In Yields

Futures Tread Water With Traders Spooked By Spike In Yields After futures rose to a new all time high during the Tuesday overnight session, the mood has been decided more muted after yesterday's sharp rates-driven tech selloff, and on Wednesday U.S. futures were mixed and Nasdaq contracts slumped as investors once again contemplated the effect of expected rate hikes on tech stocks with lofty valuations while waiting for the release of Federal Reserve minutes at 2pm today. At 730am, Nasdaq 100 futures traded 0.3% lower amid caution over the impact of higher yields on equity valuations, S&P 500 Index futures were down 0.1%, while Europe’s Stoxx 600 gauge traded near a record high. The dollar weakened, as did bitcoin, while Brent crude rose back over $80. “The sharp rise in U.S. yields this week has sparked a move from growth to value,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda Asia Pacific. “Wall Street went looking for the winners in an inflationary environment and as a result, loaded up on the Dow Jones at the expense of the Nasdaq.” Concerns related to the pandemic deepened as Hong Kong restricted dining-in, closed bars and gyms and banned flights from eight countries including the U.S. and the U.K. to slow the spread of the omicron variant. Meanwhile, a selloff in technology stocks extended to Asia, where the Hang Seng Tech Index tumbled as much as 4.2%, sending the gauge toward a six-year low. Traders are now caught in a quandary over deepening fears on global growth combined with a faster tightening by the Federal Reserve. “Earlier we thought that rate hikes wouldn’t be on the table until mid-2022 but the Fed seems to have worked up a consensus to taper faster and hike sooner rather than later,” Steve Englander, head of global G-10 FX research at Standard Chartered, said in a note. “But we don’t think inflation dynamics will support continued hiking. We suspect the biggest driver of asset markets will be when inflation and Covid fears begin to ebb.” Data on Tuesday showed mixed signs on U.S. inflation. Prices paid by manufacturers in December came in sharply lower than expected. However, figures showing a faster U.S. job quit rate added to concerns over wage inflation. With 4.5 million Americans leaving their jobs in November, compared with 10.6 million available positions, the odds increased the Fed will struggle to influence the employment numbers increasingly dictated by social reasons. The data came before Friday’s monthly report from the Labor Department, currently forecast to show 420,000 job additions in December. In premarket trading, tech giants Tesla, Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices were among the worst performers. Pfizer advanced in New York premarket trading after BofA Global Research recommended the stock. Shares of Chinese companies listed in the U.S. extended their decline after Tencent cut its stake in gaming and e-commerce company Sea, triggering concerns of similar actions at other firms amid Beijing’s regulatory crackdown on the technology sector. Alibaba (BABA US) falls 1.2%, Didi (DIDI US) -1.8%. Here are the other notable premarket movers: Shares in electric vehicle makers fall in U.S. premarket trading, set to extend Tuesday’s losses, amid signs of deepening competition in the sector. Tesla (TSLA US) slips 1.1%, Rivian (RIVN US) -0.6%. Beyond Meat (BYND US) shares jump 8.9% premarket following a CNBC report that Yum! Brands’ KFC will launch fried chicken made with the company’s meat substitute. Recent selloff in Pinterest (PINS US) shares presents an attractive risk/reward, with opportunities for the social media company largely unchanged, Piper Sandler writes in note as it upgrades to overweight. Stock gains 2.3% in premarket trading. Senseonics Holdings (SENS US) shares rise 15% premarket after the medical technology company said it expects a U.S. Food and Drug Administration decision in weeks on an updated diabetes- monitoring system. MillerKnoll (MLKN US) shares were down 3.1% in postmarket trading Tuesday after reporting fiscal 2Q top and bottom line results that missed analysts’ estimates. Annexon (ANNX US) was down 23% postmarket Tuesday after results were released from an experimental therapy for a fatal movement disorder called Huntington’s disease. Three patients in the 28- person trial discontinued treatment due to drug-related side- effects. Wejo Group (WEJO US) shares are up 34% premarket after the company said it’s developing the Wejo Neural Edge platform to enable intelligent handling of data from vehicles at scale. Smart Global (SGH US) falls 6% postmarket Tuesday after the computing memory maker forecast earnings per share for the second quarter. The low end of that forecast missed the average analyst estimate. Beyond Meat (BYND) shares surge premarket after CNBC KFC launch report UBS cut the recommendation on Adobe Inc. (ADBE US) to neutral from buy, citing concerns over the software company’s 2022 growth prospects. Shares down 2% in premarket trading. Oncternal Therapeutics (ONCT US) shares climb 5.1% premarket after saying it reached consensus with the FDA on the design and major details of the phase 3 superiority study ZILO-301 to treat mantle cell lymphoma. In Europe, the energy, chemicals and car industries led the Stoxx Europe 600 Index up 0.2% to near an all-time high set on Tuesday. The Euro Stoxx 50 rises as much as 0.6%, DAX outperforms. FTSE 100 lags but rises off the lows to trade up 0.2%. Nestle dropped 2.4%, slipping from a record, after Jefferies cut the Swiss food giant to underperform. Utilities were the worst-performing sector in Europe on Wednesday as cyclical areas of the market are favored over defensives, while Uniper and Fortum fall following news of a loan agreement.  Other decliners include RWE (-2.4%), Endesa (2.1%), Verbund (-1.3%), NatGrid (-1.2%), Centrica (-1.2%). Earlier in the session, technology shares led a decline in Asian equity markets, with investors concerned about the prospects of higher interest rates and Tencent’s continued sale of assets. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell as much as 0.6%, the most in two weeks, dragged down by Tencent and Meituan. The rout in U.S. tech spilled over to Asia, where the Hang Seng Tech Index plunged 4.6%, the most since July, following Tencent’s stake cut in Singapore’s Sea. Declines in tech and other sectors in Hong Kong widened after the city tightened rules to curb the spread of the omicron variant. Most Asian indexes fell on Wednesday, with Japan an exception among major markets as automakers offered support. The outlook for tighter monetary policy in the U.S. and higher Treasury yields weighed on the region’s technology shares, prompting a rotation from growth to value stocks.   Read: China Tech Selloff Deepens as Tencent Sale Spooks Traders Asian equities have underperformed U.S. and European peers amid slower recoveries and vaccination rates in the past year. With omicron rapidly gaining a foothold in Asia, there is a risk of “any further restriction measures, which could cloud the services sector outlook, along with disruption to supply chains,” said Jun Rong Yeap, a strategist at IG Asia Pte.  Philippine stocks gained as trading resumed following a one-day halt due to a systems glitch. North Korea appeared to have launched its first ballistic missile in about two months, just days after leader Kim Jong Un indicated that returning to stalled nuclear talks with the U.S. was a low priority for him in the coming year. India’s key equity gauges posted their longest run of advances in more than two moths, driven by a rally in financial stocks on hopes of revival in lending on the back of capex spending in the country. The S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.6% to 60,223.15 in Mumbai, its highest since Nov. 16, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index advanced 0.7%. Both benchmarks stretched their winning run to a fourth day, the longest since Oct. 18. All but six of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. climbed, led by a gauge of banking firms. “I believe from an uncertain, volatile environment, the Nifty is now headed for a directional move,” Sahaj Agrawal, a head of derivative research at Kotak Securities, writes in a note. The Nifty 50 crossed a significant barrier of the 17,800 level and is now expected to trade at 19,000-19,500 level in the medium term, Agrawal added. HDFC Bank contributed the most to the Sensex’s gain, increasing 2.4%. Out of 30 shares in the Sensex, 18 rose, while 12 fell In FX, Bloomberg Dollar Spot index slpped 0.2% back toward Tuesday’s lows, falling as the greenback was weaker against most of its Group-of-10 peers, SEK and JPY are the best performers in G-10, CAD underperforms. Scandinavian currencies and the yen led gains, though most G-10 currencies were trading in narrow ranges. Australia’s dollar reversed an Asia-session loss in European trading. The yen rebounded from a five-year low as investors trimmed short positions on the haven currency and amid a decline in Asian stock markets. Treasuries were generally flat in overnight trading, with the curve flatter into early U.S. session as long-end outperforms, partially unwinding a two-day selloff to start the year with Tuesday witnessing a late block sale in ultra-bond futures. 10-year yields traded as high as 1.650% ahead of the US open after being mostly flat around 1.645%; yields were richer by up to 2bp across long-end of the curve while little change from front-end out to belly, flattening 2s10s, 5s30s spreads by 0.5bp and 1.8bp; gilts outperformed in the sector by half basis point. Focus expected to continue on IG issuance, which has impacted the market in the past couple of days, and in U.S. afternoon session FOMC minutes will be released. IG dollar issuance slate includes EIB $5B 5-year SOFR and Reliance Ind. 10Y/30Y/40Y; thirteen borrowers priced $23.1b across 30 tranches Tuesday, making it the largest single day volume for U.S. high-grade corporate bonds since first week of September. European peripheral spreads widen to core. 30y Italy lags peers, widening ~2bps to Germany with order books above EU43b at the long 30y syndication. Ten-year yields shot up 8bps in New Zealand as its markets reopened following the New Year holiday. Aussie yields advanced 4bps. A 10-year sale in Japan drew a bid-cover ratio of 3.46. In commodities, crude futures were range-bound with WTI near just below $77, Brent nearer $80 after OPEC+ agreed to revive more halted production as the outlook for global oil markets improved, with demand largely withstanding the new coronavirus variant. Spot gold puts in a small upside move out of Asia’s tight range to trade near $1,820/oz. Base metals are mixed. LME nickel lags, dropping over 2%; LME aluminum and lead are up ~0.8%.  Looking at the day ahead, data releases include the December services and composite PMIs from the Euro Area, Italy, France, Germany and the US. On top of that, there’s the ADP’s December report of private payrolls from the US, the preliminary December CPI report from Italy, and December’s consumer confidence reading from France. Separately from the Federal Reserve, we’ll get the minutes of the December FOMC meeting. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures little changed at 4,783.25 MXAP down 0.4% to 193.71 MXAPJ down 0.9% to 626.67 Nikkei up 0.1% to 29,332.16 Topix up 0.4% to 2,039.27 Hang Seng Index down 1.6% to 22,907.25 Shanghai Composite down 1.0% to 3,595.18 Sensex up 0.7% to 60,300.47 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.3% to 7,565.85 Kospi down 1.2% to 2,953.97 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.1% to 494.52 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.09% Euro up 0.2% to $1.1304 Brent Futures down 0.4% to $79.72/bbl Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,819.73 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.13% to 96.13 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The U.S. yield curve’s most dramatic steepening in more than three months has little to do with traders turning more optimistic on the economy or betting on a more aggressive timetable for raising interest rates The surge in euro-area inflation that surprised policy makers in recent months is close to its peak, according to European Central Bank Governing Council member Francois Villeroy de Galhau Some Bank of Japan officials say it’s likely the central bank will discuss the possible ditching of a long-held view that price risks are mainly on the downward side at a policy meeting this month, according to people familiar with the matter Turkish authorities are keeping tabs on investors who are buying large amounts of foreign currency and asked banks to deter their clients from using the spot market for hedging-related trades as they struggle to contain the lira’s slide Italy is trying to lock in historically low financing costs at the start of a year where inflationary and political pressures could spell an end to super easy borrowing conditions North Korea appears to have launched its first ballistic missile in about two months, after leader Kim Jong Un indicated he was more interested in bolstering his arsenal than returning to stalled nuclear talks with the U.S. A More detailed breakdown of overnight news from Newsquawk Asia-Pac equities traded mostly in the red following the mixed handover from Wall Street, where the US majors maintained a cyclical bias and the NDX bore the brunt of another sizeable Treasury curve bear-steepener. Overnight, US equity futures resumed trade with mild losses and have since been subdued, with participants now gearing up for the FOMC minutes (full Newsquawk preview available in the Research Suite) ahead of Friday’s US jobs report and several scheduled Fed speakers. In APAC, the ASX 200 (-0.3%) was pressured by its tech sector, although the upside in financials cushioned some losses. The Nikkei 225 (+0.1%) was kept afloat by the recent JPY weakness, whilst Sony Group rose some 4% after its chairman announced EV ambitions. The KOSPI (-1.2%) was dealt a blow as North Korea fired a projectile that appeared to be a ballistic missile, but this landed outside of Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Hang Seng (-1.6%) saw its losses accelerate with the Hang Seng Tech Index tumbling over 4% as the sector tackled headwinds from Wall Street alongside domestic crackdowns. China Huarong Asset Management slumped over 50% as it resumed trade following a nine-month halt after its financial failure. The Shanghai Comp. (-1.0%) conformed to the mostly negative tone after again seeing a hefty liquidity drain by the PBoC. In the debt complex, the US T-note futures held a mild upside bias since the resumption of trade, and the US curve was somewhat steady. Participants also highlighted large short-covering heading into yesterday’s US close ahead of the FOMC minutes. Top Asian News Asian Stocks Slide as Surging Yields Squeeze Technology Sector China’s Growth Forecast Cut by CICC Amid Covid Outbreaks BOJ Is Said to Discuss Changing Long-Held View on Price Risks Gold Holds Gain With Fed Rate Hikes and Treasury Yields in Focus European equities (Stoxx 600 +0.1%) trade mixed in what has been a relatively quiet session thus far with the final readings of Eurozone services and composite PMIs providing little in the way of fresh impetus for prices. The handover from the APAC region was predominantly a soft one with Chinese bourses lagging once again with the Hang Seng Tech Index tumbling over 4% as the sector tackled headwinds from Wall Street alongside domestic crackdowns. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Comp. (-1%) conformed to the mostly negative tone after again seeing a hefty liquidity drain by the PBoC. Stateside, the ES and RTY are flat whilst the NQ lags once again after yesterday bearing the brunt of another sizeable treasury curve bear-steepener. In terms of house views, analysts at Barclays expect “2022 to be a more normal yet positive year for equities, looking for high single-digit upside and a broader leadership”. Barclays adds that it remains “pro-cyclical (Industrials, Autos, Leisure, reopening plays and Energy OW), and prefer Value to Growth”. Elsewhere, analysts at Citi stated that “monetary tightening may push up longer-dated nominal/real bond yields, threatening highly rated sectors such as IT or Luxury Goods. Alternatively, higher yields could help traditional value trades such as UK equities and Pan-European Financials”. Sectors in Europe are mostly higher, with auto names leading as Renault (+3.4%) sits at the top of the CAC, whilst Stellantis (+0.6%) has seen some support following the announcement that it is planning for a full battery-electric portfolio by 2028. Elsewhere, support has also been seen for Chemicals, Oil & Gas and Banking names with the latter continuing to be supported by the current favourable yield environment. To the downside, Food and Beverage is the clear laggard amid losses in Nestle (-2.6%) following a broker downgrade at Jefferies. Ocado (+5.5%) sits at the top of the Stoxx 600 after being upgraded to buy at Berenberg with analysts expecting the Co. to sign further deals with new and existing grocery e-commerce partners this year. Finally, Uniper (-2.4%) sits near the bottom of the Stoxx 600 after securing credit facilities totalling EUR 10bln from Fortum and KfW. Top European News U.K. Weighs Dropping Covid Test Mandate for Arriving Travelers German Energy Giant Uniper Gets $11 Billion for Margin Calls European Gas Extends Rally as Russian Shipments Remain Curbed Italian Inflation Hits Highest in More Than a Decade on Energy In FX, notwithstanding Tuesday’s somewhat mixed US manufacturing ISM survey and relatively hawkish remarks from Fed’s Kashkari, the week (and year) in terms of data and events really begins today with the release of ADP as a guide for NFP and minutes of the December FOMC that confirmed a faster pace of tapering and more hawkish dot plots. As such, it may not be surprising to see the Buck meandering broadly and index settling into a range inside yesterday’s parameters with less impetus from Treasuries that have flipped from a severe if not extreme bear-steepening incline. Looking at DXY price action in more detail, 96.337 marks the top and 96.053 the bottom at present, and from a purely technical perspective, 96.098 remains significant as a key Fib retracement level. JPY/EUR/AUD/GBP/NZD - All taking advantage of the aforementioned Greenback fade, and with the Yen more eager than others to claw back lost ground given recent underperformance. Hence, Usd/Jpy has retreated further from multi-year highs and through 116.00 to expose more downside potential irrespective of latest reports via newswire sources suggesting the BoJ is expected to slightly revise higher its inflation forecast for the next fiscal year and downgrade the GDP outlook for the year ending in March. Similarly, the Euro is having another look above 1.1300 even though EZ services and composite PMIs were mostly below consensus or preliminary readings and German new car registrations fell sharply, while the Aussie is retesting resistance around 0.7250 and its 50 DMA with some assistance from firm copper prices, Cable remains underpinned near 1.3550 and the 100 DMA and the Kiwi is holding mainly above 0.6800 in the face of stronger Aud/Nzd headwinds. Indeed, the cross is approaching 1.0650 in contrast to Eur/Gbp that is showing signs of changing course following several bounces off circa 0.8333 that equates to 1.2000 as a reciprocal. CHF/CAD - The Franc and Loonie appear a bit less eager to pounce on their US peer’s retrenchment, as the former pivots 0.9150 and latter straddles 1.2700 amidst a downturn in crude pre-Canadian building permits and new house prices. SCANDI/EM - Little sign of any fallout from a slowdown in Sweden’s services PMI as overall risk sentiment remains supportive for the Sek either side of 10.2600 vs the Eur, but the Nok is veering back down towards 10.0000 in line with slippage in Brent from Usd 80+/brl peaks reached on Tuesday. Elsewhere, the Zar is shrugging off a sub-50 SA PMI as Gold strengthens its grip on the Usd 1800/oz handle and the Cnh/Cny are still underpinned after another PBoC liquidity drain and firmer than previous midpoint fix on hopes that cash injections might be forthcoming through open market operations into the banking system from the second half of January to meet rising demand for cash, according to China's Securities Journal. Conversely, the Try has not derived any real comfort from comments by Turkey’s Finance Minister underscoring its shift away from orthodox policies, or insistence that budget discipline will not be compromised. In commodities, crude benchmarks are currently little changed but have been somewhat choppy within a range shy of USD 1/bbl in European hours, in-spite of limited fresh newsflow occurring. For reference, WTI and Brent reside within USD 77.26-76.53/bbl and USD 80.25-79.56/bbl parameters respectively. Updates for the complex so far include Cascade data reporting that gas flows via the Russian Yamal-Europe pipeline in an eastward direction have reduced. As a reminder, the pipeline drew scrutiny in the run up to the holiday period given reverse mode action, an undertaking the Kremlin described as ‘operational’ and due to a lack of requests being placed. Separately, last nights private inventories were a larger than expected draw, however, the internals all printed builds which surpassed expectations. Today’s EIA release is similar expected to show a headline draw and builds amongst the internals. Elsewhere, and more broadly, geopolitics remain in focus with Reuters sources reporting that a rocket attack has hit a military base in proximity to the Baghdad airport which hosts US forces. Moving to metals, spot gold and silver are once again fairly contained though the yellow metal retains the upside it derived around this point yesterday, hovering just below the USD 1820/oz mark. US Event Calendar 7am: Dec. MBA Mortgage Applications -5.6%, prior -0.6% 8:15am: Dec. ADP Employment Change, est. 410,000, prior 534,000 9:45am: Dec. Markit US Composite PMI, prior 56.9 9:45am: Dec. Markit US Services PMI, est. 57.5, prior 57.5 2pm: Dec. FOMC Meeting Minutes DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap As you may have seen from my CoTD yesterday all I got for Xmas this year was Omicron, alongside my wife and two of our three kids (we didn’t test Bronte). On Xmas Day I was cooking a late Xmas dinner and I suddenly started to have a slightly lumpy throat and felt a bit tired. Given I’d had a couple of glasses of red wine I thought it might be a case of Bordeaux-2015. However a LFT and PCR test the next day confirmed Covid-19. I had a couple of days of being a bit tired, sneezing and being sniffly. After that I was 100% physically (outside a of bad back, knee and shoulder but I can’t blame that on covid) but am still sniffly today. I’m also still testing positive on a LFT even if I’m out of isolation which tells me testing to get out of isolation early only likely works if you’re completely asymptomatic. My wife was similar to me symptom wise. Maybe slightly worse but she gets flu badly when it arrives and this was nothing like that. The two kids had no real symptoms unless being extremely annoying is one. Indeed spending 10 days cooped up with them in very wet conditions (ie garden activity limited) was very challenging. Although I came out of isolation straight to my home office that was still a very welcome change of scenery yesterday. The covid numbers are absolutely incredible and beyond my wildest imagination a month ago. Yesterday the UK reported c.219k new cases, France c.272k and the US 1.08 million. While these are alarming numbers it’s equally impressive that where the data is available, patients on mechanical ventilation have hardly budged and hospitalisations, while rising, are so far a decent level below precious peaks. Omicron has seen big enough case numbers now for long enough that even though we’ve had another big boost in cases these past few days, there’s nothing to suggest that the central thesis shouldn’t be anything other than a major decoupling between cases and fatalities. See the chart immediately below of global cases for the exponential recent rise but the still subdued levels of deaths. Clearly there is a lag but enough time has passed that suggests the decoupling will continue to be sizeable. It seems the main problem over the next few weeks is the huge number of people self isolating as the variant rips through populations. This will massively burden health services and likely various other industries. However hopefully this latest wave can accelerate the end game for the pandemic and move us towards endemicity faster. Famous last words perhaps but this variant is likely milder, is outcompeting all the others, and our defences are much, much better than they have been (vaccines, immunity, boosters, other therapeutic treatments). Indeed, President Biden directed his team to double the amount of Pfizer’s anti-covid pill Paxlovid they order; he called the pill a game changer. So a difficult few weeks ahead undoubtedly but hopefully light at the end of the tunnel for many countries. Prime Minister Boris Johnson noted yesterday that Britain can ride out the current Omicron wave without implementing any stricter measures, suggesting that learning to live with the virus is becoming the official policy stance in the UK. The head scratcher is what countries with zero-covid strategies will do faced with the current set up. If we’ve learnt anything from the last two years of covid it is that there is almost no way of avoiding it. Will a milder variant change such a stance? Markets seem to have started the year with covid concerns on the back burner as day 2 of 2022 was a lighter version of the buoyant day 1 even if US equities dipped a little led by a big under-performance from the NASDAQ (-1.33%), as tech stocks got hit by higher discount rates with the long end continuing to sell off to start the year. Elsewhere the Dow Jones (+0.59%) and Europe’s STOXX 600 (+0.82%) both climbed to new records, with cyclical sectors generally outperforming once again. Interestingly the STOXX Travel & Leisure index rose a further +3.11% yesterday, having already surpassed its pre-Omicron level. As discussed the notable exception to yesterday’s rally were tech stocks, with a number of megacap tech stocks significantly underperforming amidst a continued rise in Treasury yields, and the rotation towards cyclical stocks as investors take the message we’ll be living with rather than attempting to defeat Covid. The weakness among that group meant that the FANG+ index fell -1.68% yesterday, with every one of the 10 companies in the index moving lower, and that weakness in turn meant that the S&P 500 (-0.06%) came slightly off its record high from the previous session. Showing the tech imbalance though was the fact that the equal weight S&P 500 was +0.82% and 335 of the index rose on the day. So it was a reflation day overall. Staying with the theme, the significant rise in treasury yields we saw on Monday extended further yesterday, with the 10yr yield up another +1.9bps to 1.65%. That means the 10yr yield is up by +13.7bps over the last 2 sessions, marking its biggest increase over 2 consecutive sessions since last September. Those moves have also coincided with a notable steepening in the yield curve, which is good news if you value it as a recessionary indicator, with the 2s10s curve +11.3bps to +88.7bps over the last 2 sessions, again marking its biggest 2-day steepening since last September Those moves higher for Treasury yields were entirely driven by a rise in real yields, with the 10yr real yield moving back above the -1% mark. Conversely, inflation breakevens fell back across the board, with the 10yr breakeven declining more than -7.0bps from an intraday peak of 2.67%, the highest level in more than six weeks, which tempered some of the increase in nominal yields. The decline in breakevens was aided by the release of the ISM manufacturing reading for December, since the prices paid reading fell to 68.2, some way beneath the 79.3 reading that the consensus had been expecting. In fact, that’s the biggest monthly drop in the prices paid measure in over a decade, and leaves it at its lowest level since November 2020. Otherwise, the headline reading did disappoint relative to the consensus at 58.7 (vs. 60.0 expected), but the employment component was above expectations at 54.2 (vs. 53.6 expected), which is its highest level in 8 months and some promising news ahead of this Friday’s jobs report. Staying with US employment, the number of US job openings fell to 10.562m in November (vs. 11.079m expected), but the number of people quitting their job hit a record high of 4.5m. That pushed the quits rate back to its record of 3.0% and just shows that the labour market continues to remain very tight with employees struggling to hire the staff needed. This has been our favourite indicator of the labour market over the last few quarters and it continues to keep to the same trend. Back to bonds and Europe saw a much more subdued movement in sovereign bond yields, although gilts were the exception as the 10yr yield surged +11.7bps as it caught up following the previous day’s public holiday in the UK. Elsewhere however, yields on bunds (-0.2bps), OATs (-1.1bps) and BTPs (+0.9bps) all saw fairly modest moves. Also of interest ahead of tonight’s Fed minutes, there was a story from the Wall Street Journal late yesterday that said Fed officials are considering whether to reduce their bond holdings, and thus beginning QT, in short order. Last cycle, the Fed kept the size of its balance sheet flat for three years after the end of QE by reinvesting maturing proceeds before starting QT. This iteration of QE is set to end in March, so any move towards balance sheet rolloff would be a much quicker tightening than last cycle, which the article suggested was a real possibility. As this cycle has taught us time and again, it is moving much faster than historical precedent, so don’t rely on prior timelines. Balance sheet policy and the timing of any QT will be a major focus in tonight’s minutes, along with any signals for the timing of liftoff and path of subsequent rate hikes. Overnight in Asia markets are trading mostly lower with the KOSPI (-1.45%), Hang Seng (-0.85%), Shanghai Composite (-0.81%) and CSI (-0.67%) dragged down largely by IT stocks while the Nikkei (+0.07%) is holding up better. In China, Tencent cut its stake in a Singapore based company yesterday by selling $ 4 billion worth shares amidst China's regulatory crackdown with investors concerned they will do more. This has helped push the Hang Seng Tech Index towards its lowest close since its inception in July 2020 with Tencent and companies it invested in losing heavily. Moving on, Japan is bringing forward booster doses for the elderly while maintaining border controls in an effort to contain Omicron. Futures are indicating a weaker start in DM markets with the S&P 500 (-0.25%) and DAX (-0.11%) both tracking their Asian peers. Oil prices continued their ascent yesterday, with Brent Crude (+1.20%) hitting its highest level since the Omicron variant first emerged on the scene. Those moves came as the OPEC+ group agreed that they would go ahead with the increase in output in February of 400k barrels per day. And the strength we saw in commodities more broadly last year has also continued to persist into 2022, with copper prices (+1.12%) hitting a 2-month high, whilst soybean prices (+2.49%) hit a 4-month high. Looking at yesterday’s other data, German unemployment fell by -23k in December (vs. -15k expected), leaving the level of unemployment at a post-pandemic low of 2.405m in December. Finally, the preliminary French CPI reading for December came in slightly beneath expectations on the EU-harmomised measure, at 3.4% (vs. 3.5% expected). To the day ahead now, and data releases include the December services and composite PMIs from the Euro Area, Italy, France, Germany and the US. On top of that, there’s the ADP’s December report of private payrolls from the US, the preliminary December CPI report from Italy, and December’s consumer confidence reading from France. Separately from the Federal Reserve, we’ll get the minutes of the December FOMC meeting. Tyler Durden Wed, 01/05/2022 - 08:07.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 5th, 2022

FDA Approves Pfizer Booster For 12-15 Year Olds, Dismisses Risk Of "Mild" Heart Inflammation

FDA Approves Pfizer Booster For 12-15 Year Olds, Dismisses Risk Of "Mild" Heart Inflammation As expected, the FDA has finally approved Pfizer's COVID booster for children between the ages of 12 and 15, despite the fact that certain dangerous side effects are far more likely to occur in young patients. These dangerous side effects include myocarditis and pericarditis, two forms of heart inflammation that have been found in thousands of patients and have even contributed to some suspicious vaccine-linked deaths. But don't worry kids: Dr. Peter Marks, the FDA's vaccines chief, said that in the overwhelming majority, the cases of heart  inflammation that have afflicted younger patients have been "mild".  It's worth noting that Dr. Robert Malone, the inventor of mRNA technology who was recently banned by Twitter (and is now facing a crackdown by Facebook), has said the exact opposite: that these side effects could present a greater risk to young patients than the virus itself especially for younger patients. Unfortunately for some, those views are being more or less ignored. Marks said in his statement that the agency made its decision because a booster "may help provide better protection against both the delta and omicron variants" especially as omicron is "slightly more resistant" to the vaccine-induced antibodies that help fend off infection. The FDA didn't just approve boosters for younger patients, it also shortened the time in between shots. In a statement released Monday, the FDA said it had amended the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to shorten the time between the completion of primary vaccination and the first booster dose to five months, instead of six. The FDA will also allow a third dose for immunocompromised children 5 through 11 years of age, officially allowing the first patients as young as 5 to receive their first booster doses. The agency said the protective health benefits and the "continued protection against COVID and the associated serious consequences that can occur including hospitalization and death, outweigh the potential risks in individuals 12 through 15 years of age" outweighed any risks from side effects. All of this was based on "real-world data from Israel, including safety data from more than 6,300 individuals 12 through 15 years of age who received a booster dose of the vaccine at least 5 months following completion of the primary two-dose vaccination series." Additionally, the FDA said, "peer-reviewed data from multiple laboratories indicate that a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine greatly improves an individual's antibody response to be able to counter the omicron variant. Authorizing booster vaccination to take place at five months rather than six months may therefore provide better protection sooner for individuals against the highly transmissible omicron variant." The CDC must now review the FDA's recommendations and its director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, must sign off - but this is considered largely a formality. As for the children as young as five who are now eligible to get boosted, these patients include "children 5 through 11 years of age who have undergone solid organ transplantation, or who have been diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise, may not respond adequately to the two-dose primary vaccination series." Tyler Durden Mon, 01/03/2022 - 12:21.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 3rd, 2022

Former FDA commissioner says schools should not mandate boosters for children

"I think this should be left up to the discretion of parents and their physicians," Scott Gottlieb said in an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation." Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb during a November 7 appearance on "Face the Nation."CBS News/Face the Nation Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said he doesn't think schools should require children to get the booster shot. "I think this should be left up to the discretion of parents and their physicians," Gottlieb said. This week, the FDA is expected to expand booster shot eligibility to children between the ages of 12 and 15. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on Sunday that he doesn't believe schools should require booster shots against COVID-19. "I certainly don't think schools should be mandating boosters. I think this should be left up to the discretion of parents and their physicians," Gottlieb said in an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation.""It's going to depend on the individual circumstances: What is the risk that the child's facing? Are they in a setting where they are more likely to come in contact with the infection? Do they have some underlying health conditions that put them at increased risk of bad outcomes?" Gottlieb continued.—Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) January 2, 2022The Food and Drug Administration in November gave the greenlight on booster shots for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, allowing all adults in the United States to receive one if they meet the qualifications.And just last week, news broke that the FDA plans to expand eligibility for Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots to children between the ages of 12 and 15. The announcement from the FDA is expected to come early this week. Eligibility expansions come as the Omicron variant continues to spread across the country. About 58% of all recent COVID-19 cases can be attributed to the Omicron variant, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The variant is believed to the most contagious strain of the virus. But a recent study found that a third dose against COVID-19 — the booster shot — reduces the risk of hospitalization by 88% within two weeks of getting it. Meanwhile, the omicron variant is sending kids to the hospital in droves. CDC data from the week of December 22 to December 28 showed the highest spike in hospitalization rates for children up to 17 years of age. Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 increased that week by 66% from the week prior. So far, about 62% of the US population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus — meaning that individuals either have both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. A booster shot is not counted in the definition of "fully vaccinated" at this time, though the CDC did say in October that that might change in the future. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 2nd, 2022

2021 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead

2021 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead One year ago, when looking at the 20 most popular stories of 2020, we said that the year would be a very tough act to follow as there "could not have been more regime shifts, volatility moments, and memes than 2020." And yet despite the exceedingly high bar for 2021, the year did not disappoint and proved to be a successful contender, and if judging by the sheer breadth of narratives, stories, surprises, plot twists and unexpected developments, 2021 was even more memorable and event-filled than 2020. Where does one start? While covid was the story of 2020, the pandemic that emerged out of a (Fauci-funded) genetic lab team in Wuhan, China dominated newsflow, politics and capital markets for the second year in a row. And while the biggest plot twist of 2020 was Biden's victory over Trump in the presidential election (it took the pandemic lockdowns and mail-in ballots to hand the outcome to Biden), largely thanks to Covid, Biden failed to hold to his biggest presidential promise of defeating covid, and not only did he admit in late 2021 that there is "no Federal solution" to covid waving a white flag of surrender less than a year into his presidency, but following the recent emergence of the Xi, pardon Omicron variant, the number of covid cases in the US has just shattered all records. The silver lining is not only that deaths and hospitalizations have failed to follow the number of cases, but that the scaremongering narrative itself is starting to melt in response to growing grassroots discontent with vaccine after vaccine and booster after booster, which by now it is clear, do nothing to contain the pandemic. And now that it is clear that omicron is about as mild as a moderate case of the flu, the hope has finally emerged that this latest strain will finally kill off the pandemic as it becomes the dominant, rapidly-spreading variant, leading to worldwide herd immunity thanks to the immune system's natural response. Yes, it may mean billions less in revenue for Pfizer and Moderna, but it will be a colossal victory for the entire world. The second biggest story of 2021 was undoubtedly the scourge of soaring inflation, which contrary to macrotourist predictions that it would prove "transitory", refused to do so and kept rising, and rising, and rising, until it hit levels not seen since the Volcker galloping inflation days of the 1980s. The only difference of course is that back then, the Fed Funds rate hit 20%. Now it is at 0%, and any attempts to hike aggressively will lead to a horrific market crash, something the Fed knows very well. Whether this was due to supply-chain blockages and a lack of goods and services pushing prices higher, or due to massive stimulus pushing demand for goods - and also prices - higher, or simply the result of a record injection of central bank liquidity into the system, is irrelevant but what does matter is that it got so bad that even Biden, facing a mauling for his Democratic party in next year's midterm elections, freaked out about soaring prices and pushed hard to lower the price of gasoline, ordering releases from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve and vowing to punish energy companies that dare to make a profit, while ordering Powell to contain the surge in prices even if means the market is hit. Unfortunately for Biden, the market will be hit even as inflation still remain red hot for much of the coming year. And speaking of markets, while 2022 may be a year when the piper finally gets paid, 2021 was yet another blockbuster year for risk assets, largely on the back of the continued global response to the 2020 covid pandemic, when as we wrote last year, we saw "the official arrival of global Helicopter Money, tens of trillions in fiscal and monetary stimulus, an overhaul of the global economy punctuated by an unprecedented explosion in world debt, an Orwellian crackdown on civil liberties by governments everywhere, and ultimately set the scene for what even the World Economic Forum called simply "The Great Reset." Yes, the staggering liquidity injections that started in 2020, continued throughout 2021 and the final tally is that after $3 trillion in emergency liquidity injections in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic to stabilize the world, the Fed injected almost $2 trillion in the subsequent period, of which $1.5 trillion in 2021, a year where economists were "puzzled" why inflation was soaring. This, of course, excludes the tens of trillions of monetary stimulus injected by other central banks as well as the boundless fiscal stimulus that was greenlighted with the launch of helicopter money (i.e., MMT) in 2020. It's also why with inflation running red hot and real rates the lowest they have ever been, everyone was forced to rush into the "safety" of stocks (or stonks as they came to be known among GenZ), and why after last year's torrid stock market returns, the S&P rose another 27% in 2021 and up a staggering 114% from the March 2020 lows, in the process trouncing all previous mega-rallies (including those in 1929, 1938, 1974 and 2009)... ... making this the third consecutive year of double-digit returns. This reminds us of something we said last year: "it's almost as if the world's richest asset owners requested the covid pandemic." A year later, we got confirmation for this rhetorical statement, when we calculated that in the 18 months since the covid pandemic, the richest 1% of US society have seen their net worth increase by over $30 trillion. As a result, the US is now officially a banana republic where the middle 60% of US households by income - a measure economists use as a definition of the middle class - saw their combined assets drop from 26.7% to 26.6% of national wealth as of June, the lowest in Federal Reserve data, while for the first time the super rich had a bigger share, at 27%. Yes, the 1% now own more wealth than the entire US middle class, a definition traditionally reserve for kleptocracies and despotic African banana republics. It wasn't just the rich, however: politicians the world over would benefit from the transition from QE to outright helicopter money and MMT which made the over monetization of deficits widely accepted in the blink of an eye. The common theme here is simple: no matter what happens, capital markets can never again be allowed to drop, regardless of the cost or how much more debt has to be incurred. Indeed, as we look back at the news barrage over the past year, and past decade for that matter, the one thing that becomes especially clear amid the constant din of markets, of politics, of social upheaval and geopolitical strife - and now pandemics -  in fact a world that is so flooded with constant conflicting newsflow and changing storylines that many now say it has become virtually impossible to even try to predict the future, is that despite the people's desire for change, for something original and untried, the world's established forces will not allow it and will fight to preserve the broken status quo at any price - even global coordinated shutdowns - which is perhaps why it always boils down to one thing - capital markets, that bedrock of Western capitalism and the "modern way of life", where control, even if it means central planning the likes of which have not been seen since the days of the USSR, and an upward trajectory must be preserved at all costs, as the alternative is a global, socio-economic collapse. And since it is the daily gyrations of stocks that sway popular moods the interplay between capital markets and politics has never been more profound or more consequential. The more powerful message here is the implicit realization and admission by politicians, not just Trump who had a penchant of tweeting about the S&P every time it rose, but also his peers on both sides of the aisle, that the stock market is now seen as the consummate barometer of one's political achievements and approval. Which is also why capital markets are now, more than ever, a political tool whose purpose is no longer to distribute capital efficiently and discount the future, but to manipulate voter sentiments far more efficiently than any fake Russian election interference attempt ever could. Which brings us back to 2021 and the past decade, which was best summarized by a recent Bill Blain article who said that "the last 10-years has been a story of massive central banking distortion to address the 2008 crisis. Now central banks face the consequences and are trapped. The distortion can’t go uncorrected indefinitely." He is right: the distortion will eventually collapse especially if the Fed follows through with its attempt rate hikes some time in mid-2020, but so far the establishment and the "top 1%" have been successful - perhaps the correct word is lucky - in preserving the value of risk assets: on the back of the Fed's firehose of liquidity the S&P500 returned an impressive 27% in 2021, following a 15.5% return in 2020 and 28.50% in 2019. It did so by staging the greatest rally off all time from the March lows, surpassing all of the 4 greatest rallies off the lows of the past century (1929,1938, 1974, and 2009). Yet this continued can-kicking by the establishment - all of which was made possible by the covid pandemic and lockdowns which served as an all too convenient scapegoat for the unprecedented response that served to propel risk assets (and fiat alternatives such as gold and bitcoin) to all time highs - has come with a price... and an increasingly higher price in fact. As even Bank of America CIO Michael Hartnett admits, Fed's response to the the pandemic "worsened inequality" as the value of financial assets - Wall Street -  relative to economy - Main Street - hit all-time high of 6.3x. And while the Fed was the dynamo that has propelled markets higher ever since the Lehman collapse, last year certainly had its share of breakout moments. Here is a sampling. Gamestop and the emergence of meme stonks and the daytrading apes: In January markets were hypnotized by the massive trading volumes, rolling short squeezes and surging share prices of unremarkable established companies such as consoles retailer GameStop and cinema chain AMC and various other micro and midcap names. What began as a discussion on untapped value at GameStop on Reddit months earlier by Keith Gill, better known as Roaring Kitty, morphed into a hedge fund-orchestrated, crowdsourced effort to squeeze out the short position held by a hedge fund, Melvin Capital. The momentum flooded through the retail market, where daytraders shunned stocks and bought massive out of the money calls, sparking rampant "gamma squeezes" in the process forcing some brokers to curb trading. Robinhood, a popular broker for day traders and Citadel's most lucrative "subsidiary", required a cash injection to withstand the demands placed on it by its clearing house. The company IPOed later in the year only to see its shares collapse as it emerged its business model was disappointing hollow absent constant retail euphoria. Ultimately, the market received a crash course in the power of retail investors on a mission. Ultimately, "retail favorite" stocks ended the year on a subdued note as the trading frenzy from earlier in the year petered out, but despite underperforming the S&P500, retail traders still outperformed hedge funds by more than 100%. Failed seven-year Treasury auction:  Whereas auctions of seven-year US government debt generally spark interest only among specialists, on on February 25 2021, one such typically boring event sparked shockwaves across financial markets, as the weakest demand on record hit prices across the whole spectrum of Treasury bonds. The five-, seven- and 10-year notes all fell sharply in price. Researchers at the Federal Reserve called it a “flash event”; we called it a "catastrophic, tailing" auction, the closest thing the US has had to a failed Trasury auction. The flare-up, as the FT put it, reflects one of the most pressing investor concerns of the year: inflation. At the time, fund managers were just starting to realize that consumer price rises were back with a vengeance — a huge threat to the bond market which still remembers the dire days of the Volcker Fed when inflation was about as high as it is today but the 30Y was trading around 15%. The February auaction also illustrated that the world’s most important market was far less liquid and not as structurally robust as investors had hoped. It was an extreme example of a long-running issue: since the financial crisis the traditional providers of liquidity, a group of 24 Wall Street banks, have pulled back because of higher costs associated with post-2008 capital requirements, while leaving liquidity provision to the Fed. Those banks, in their reduced role, as well as the hedge funds and high-frequency traders that have stepped into their place, have tended to withdraw in moments of market volatility. Needless to say, with the Fed now tapering its record QE, we expect many more such "flash" episodes in the bond market in the year ahead. The arch ego of Archegos: In March 2021 several banks received a brutal reminder that some of family offices, which manage some $6 trillion in wealth of successful billionaires and entrepreneurs and which have minimal reporting requirements, take risks that would make the most serrated hedge fund manager wince, when Bill Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management imploded in spectacular style. As we learned in late March when several high-flying stocks suddenly collapsed, Hwang - a former protege of fabled hedge fund group Tiger Management - had built up a vast pile of leverage using opaque Total Return Swaps with a handful of banks to boost bets on a small number of stocks (the same banks were quite happy to help despite Hwang’s having been barred from US markets in 2013 over allegations of an insider-trading scheme, as he paid generously for the privilege of borrowing the banks' balance sheet). When one of Archegos more recent bets, ViacomCBS, suddenly tumbled it set off a liquidation cascade that left banks including Credit Suisse and Nomura with billions of dollars in losses. Conveniently, as the FT noted, the damage was contained to the banks rather than leaking across financial markets, but the episode sparked a rethink among banks over how to treat these clients and how much leverage to extend. The second coming of cryptos: After hitting an all time high in late 2017 and subsequently slumping into a "crypto winter", cryptocurrencies enjoyed a huge rebound in early 2021 which sent their prices soaring amid fears of galloping inflation (as shown below, and contrary to some financial speculation, the crypto space has traditionally been a hedge either to too much liquidity or a hedge to too much inflation). As a result, Bitcoin rose to a series of new record highs that culminated at just below $62,000, nearly three times higher than their previous all time high. But the smooth ride came to a halt in May when China’s crackdown on the cryptocurrency and its production, or “mining”, sparked the first serious crash of 2021. The price of bitcoin then collapsed as much as 30% on May 19, hitting a low of $30,000 amid a liquidation of levered positions in chaotic trading conditions following a warning from Chinese authorities of tighter curbs ahead. A public acceptance by Tesla chief and crypto cheerleader Elon Musk of the industry’s environmental impact added to the declines. However, as with all previous crypto crashes, this one too proved transitory, and prices resumed their upward trajectory in late September when investors started to price in the launch of futures-based bitcoin exchange traded funds in the US. The launch of these contracts subsequently pushed bitcoin to a new all-time high in early November before prices stumbled again in early December, this time due to a rise in institutional ownership when an overall drop in the market dragged down cryptos as well. That demonstrated the growing linkage between Wall Street and cryptocurrencies, due to the growing sway of large investors in digital markets. China's common prosperity crash: China’s education and tech sectors were one of the perennial Wall Street darlings. Companies such as New Oriental, TAL Education as well as Alibaba and Didi had come to be worth billions of dollars after highly publicized US stock market flotations. So when Beijing effectively outlawed swaths of the country’s for-profit education industry in July 2021, followed by draconian anti-trust regulations on the country's fintech names (where Xi Jinping also meant to teach the country's billionaire class a lesson who is truly in charge), the short-term market impact was brutal. Beijing’s initial measures emerged as part of a wider effort to make education more affordable as part of president Xi Jinping’s drive for "common prosperity" but that quickly raised questions over whether growth prospects across corporate China are countered by the capacity of the government to overhaul entire business models overnight. Sure enough, volatility stemming from the education sector was soon overshadowed by another set of government reforms related to common prosperity, a crackdown on leverage across the real estate sector where the biggest casualty was Evergrande, the world’s most indebted developer. The company, whose boss was not long ago China's 2nd richest man, was engulfed by a liquidity crisis in the summer that eventually resulted in a default in early December. Still, as the FT notes, China continues to draw in huge amounts of foreign capital, pushing the Chinese yuan to end 2021 at the strongest level since May 2018, a major hurdle to China's attempts to kickstart its slowing economy, and surely a precursor to even more monetary easing. Natgas hyperinflation: Natural gas supplanted crude oil as the world’s most important commodity in October and December as prices exploded to unprecedented levels and the world scrambled for scarce supplies amid the developed world's catastrophic transition to "green" energy. The crunch was particularly acute in Europe, which has become increasingly reliant on imports. Futures linked to TTF, the region’s wholesale gas price, hit a record €137 per megawatt hour in early October, rising more than 75%. In Asia, spot liquefied natural gas prices briefly passed the equivalent of more than $320 a barrel of oil in October. (At the time, Brent crude was trading at $80). A number of factors contributed, including rising demand as pandemic restrictions eased, supply disruptions in the LNG market and weather-induced shortfalls in renewable energy. In Europe, this was aggravated by plunging export volumes from Gazprom, Russia’s state-backed monopoly pipeline supplier, amid a bitter political fight over the launch of the Nordstream 2 pipeline. And with delays to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, analysts say the European gas market - where storage is only 66% full - a cold snap or supply disruption away from another price spike Turkey's (latest) currency crisis:  As the FT's Jonathan Wheatley writes, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was once a source of strength for the Turkish lira, and in his first five years in power from 2003, the currency rallied from TL1.6 per US dollar to near parity at TL1.2. But those days are long gone, as Erdogan's bizarre fascination with unorthodox economics, namely the theory that lower rates lead to lower inflation also known as "Erdoganomics", has sparked a historic collapse in the: having traded at about TL7 to the dollar in February, it has since fallen beyond TL17, making it the worst performing currency of 2021. The lira’s defining moment in 2021 came on November 18 when the central bank, in spite of soaring inflation, cut its policy rate for the third time since September, at Erdogan’s behest (any central banker in Turkey who disagrees with "Erdoganomics" is promptly fired and replaced with an ideological puppet). The lira recovered some of its losses in late December when Erdogan came up with the "brilliant" idea of erecting the infamous "doom loop" which ties Turkey's balance sheet to its currency. It has worked for now (the lira surged from TL18 against the dollar to TL12, but this particular band aid solution will only last so long). The lira’s problems are not only Erdogan’s doing. A strengthening dollar, rising oil prices, the relentless covid pandemic and weak growth in developing economies have been bad for other emerging market currencies, too, but as long as Erdogan is in charge, shorting the lira remains the best trade entering 2022. While these, and many more, stories provided a diversion from the boring existence of centrally-planned markets, we are confident that the trends observed in recent years will continue: coming years will be marked by even bigger government (because only more government can "fix" problems created by government), higher stock prices and dollar debasement (because only more Fed intervention can "fix" the problems created by the Fed), and a policy flip from monetary and QE to fiscal & MMT, all of which will keep inflation at scorching levels, much to the persistent confusion of economists everywhere. Of course, we said much of this last year as well, but while we got most trends right, we were wrong about one thing: we were confident that China's aggressive roll out of the digital yuan would be a bang - or as we put it "it is very likely that while 2020 was an insane year, it may prove to be just an appetizer to the shockwaves that will be unleashed in 2021 when we see the first stage of the most historic overhaul of the fiat payment system in history" - however it turned out to be a whimper. A big reason for that was that the initial reception of the "revolutionary" currency was nothing short of disastrous, with Chinese admitting they were "not at all excited" about the prospect of yet one more surveillance mechanism for Beijing, because that's really what digital currencies are: a way for central banks everywhere to micromanage and scrutinize every single transaction, allowing the powers that be to demonetize any one person - or whole groups - with the flick of a switch. Then again, while digital money may not have made its triumphant arrival in 2021, we are confident that the launch date has merely been pushed back to 2022 when the rollout of the next monetary revolution is expected to begin in earnest. Here we should again note one thing: in a world undergoing historic transformations, any free press must be throttled and controlled, and over the past year we have seen unprecedented efforts by legacy media and its corporate owners, as well as the new "social media" overlords do everything in their power to stifle independent thought. For us it had been especially "personal" on more than one occasions. Last January, Twitter suspended our account because we dared to challenge the conventional narrative about the source of the Wuhan virus. It was only six months later that Twitter apologized, and set us free, admitting it had made a mistake. Yet barely had twitter readmitted us, when something even more unprecedented happened: for the first time ever (to our knowledge) Google - the world's largest online ad provider and monopoly - demonetized our website not because of any complaints about our writing but because of the contents of our comment section. It then held us hostage until we agreed to implement some prerequisite screening and moderation of the comments section. Google's action was followed by the likes of PayPal, Amazon, and many other financial and ad platforms, who rushed to demonetize and suspend us simply because they disagreed with what we had to say. This was a stark lesson in how quickly an ad-funded business can disintegrate in this world which resembles the dystopia of 1984 more and more each day, and we have since taken measures. One year ago, for the first time in our 13 year history, we launched a paid version of our website, which is entirely ad and moderation free, and offers readers a variety of premium content. It wasn't our intention to make this transformation but unfortunately we know which way the wind is blowing and it is only a matter of time before the gatekeepers of online ad spending block us again. As such, if we are to have any hope in continuing it will come directly from you, our readers. We will keep the free website running for as long as possible, but we are certain that it is only a matter of time before the hammer falls as the censorship bandwagon rolls out much more aggressively in the coming year. That said, whether the story of 2022, and the next decade for that matter, is one of helicopter or digital money, of (hyper)inflation or deflation: what is key, and what we learned in the past decade, is that the status quo will throw anything at the problem to kick the can, it will certainly not let any crisis go to waste... even the deadliest pandemic in over a century. And while many already knew that, the events of 2021 made it clear to a fault that not even a modest market correction can be tolerated going forward. After all, if central banks aim to punish all selling, then the logical outcome is to buy everything, and investors, traders and speculators did just that armed with the clearest backstop guarantee from the Fed, which in the deapths of the covid crash crossed the Rubicon when it formally nationalized the bond market as it started buying both investment grade bonds and junk bond ETFs in the open market. As such it is no longer even a debatable issue if the Fed will buy stocks after the next crash - the only question is when. Meanwhile, for all those lamenting the relentless coverage of politics in a financial blog, why finance appears to have taken a secondary role, and why the political "narrative" has taken a dominant role for financial analysts, the past year showed vividly why that is the case: in a world where markets gyrated, and "rotated" from value stocks to growth and vice versa, purely on speculation of how big the next stimulus out of Washington will be, the narrative over Biden's trillions proved to be one of the biggest market moving events for much of the year. And with the Biden stimulus plan off the table for now, the Fed will find it very difficult to tighten financial conditions, especially if it does so just as the economy is slowing. Here we like to remind readers of one of our favorite charts: every financial crisis is the result of Fed tightening. As for predictions about the future, as the past two years so vividly showed, when it comes to actual surprises and all true "black swans", it won't be what anyone had expected. And so while many themes, both in the political and financial realm, did get some accelerated closure courtesy of China's covid pandemic, dramatic changes in 2021 persisted, and will continue to manifest themselves in often violent and unexpected ways - from the ongoing record polarization in the US political arena, to "populist" upheavals around the developed world, to the gradual transition to a global Universal Basic (i.e., socialized) Income regime, to China's ongoing fight with preserving stability in its gargantuan financial system which is now two and a half times the size of the US. As always, we thank all of our readers for making this website - which has never seen one dollar of outside funding (and despite amusing recurring allegations, has certainly never seen a ruble from the KGB either, although now that the entire Russian hysteria episode is over, those allegations have finally quieted down), and has never spent one dollar on marketing - a small (or not so small) part of your daily routine. Which also brings us to another critical topic: that of fake news, and something we - and others who do not comply with the established narrative - have been accused of. While we find the narrative of fake news laughable, after all every single article in this website is backed by facts and links to outside sources, it is clearly a dangerous development, and a very slippery slope that the entire developed world is pushing for what is, when stripped of fancy jargon, internet censorship under the guise of protecting the average person from "dangerous, fake information." It's also why we are preparing for the next onslaught against independent thought and why we had no choice but to roll out a premium version of this website. In addition to the other themes noted above, we expect the crackdown on free speech to accelerate in the coming year when key midterm elections will be held, especially as the following list of Top 20 articles for 2021 reveals, many of the most popular articles in the past year were precisely those which the conventional media would not touch out of fear of repercussions, which in turn allowed the alternative media to continue to flourish in an orchestrated information vacuum and take significant market share from the established outlets by covering topics which the public relations arm of established media outlets refused to do, in the process earning itself the derogatory "fake news" condemnation. We are grateful that our readers - who hit a new record high in 2021 - have realized it is incumbent upon them to decide what is, and isn't "fake news." * * * And so, before we get into the details of what has now become an annual tradition for the last day of the year, those who wish to jog down memory lane, can refresh our most popular articles for every year during our no longer that brief, almost 11-year existence, starting with 2009 and continuing with 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. So without further ado, here are the articles that you, our readers, found to be the most engaging, interesting and popular based on the number of hits, during the past year. In 20th spot with 600,000 reads, was an article that touched on one of the most defining features of the market: the reflation theme the sparked a massive rally at the start of the year courtesy of the surprise outcome in the Georgia Senate race, where Democrats ended up wining both seats up for grabs, effectively giving the Dems a majority in both the House and the Senate, where despite the even, 50-seat split, Kamala Harris would cast the winning tie-breaker vote to pursue a historic fiscal stimulus. And sure enough, as we described in "Bitcoin Surges To Record High, Stocks & Bonds Battered As Dems Look Set To Take Both Georgia Senate Seats", with trillions in "stimmies" flooding both the economy and the market, not only did retail traders enjoy unprecedented returns when trading meme "stonks" and forcing short squeezes that crippled numerous hedge funds, but expectations of sharply higher inflation also helped push bitcoin and the entire crypto sector to new all time highs, which in turn legitimized the product across institutional investors and helped it reach a market cap north of $3 trillion.  In 19th spot, over 613,000 readers were thrilled to read at the start of September that "Biden Unveils Most Severe COVID Actions Yet: Mandates Vax For All Federal Workers, Contractors, & Large Private Companies." Of course, just a few weeks later much of Biden's mandate would be struck down in courts, where it is now headed to a decision by SCOTUS, while the constantly shifting "scientific" goal posts mean that just a few months later the latest set of CDC regulations have seen regulators and officials reverse the constant drone of fearmongering and are now even seeking to cut back on the duration of quarantine and other lockdown measures amid a public mood that is growing increasingly hostile to the government response. One of the defining political events of 2021 was the so-called "Jan 6 Insurrection", which the for America's conservatives was blown wildly out of proportion yet which the leftist media and Democrats in Congress have been periodically trying to push to the front pages in hopes of distracting from the growing list of failures of the Obama admin. Yet as we asked back in January, "Why Was Founder Of Far-Left BLM Group Filming Inside Capitol As Police Shot Protester?" No less than 614,000 readers found this question worthy of a response. Since then many more questions have emerged surrounding this event, many of which focus on what role the FBI had in organizing and encouraging this event, including the use of various informants and instigators. For now, a response will have to wait at least until the mid-term elections of 2022 when Republicans are expected to sweep one if not both chambers. Linked to the above, the 17th most read article of 2021 with 617,000 views, was an article we published on the very same day, which detailed that "Armed Protesters Begin To Arrive At State Capitols Around The Nation." At the end of the day, it was much ado about nothing and all protests concluded peacefully and without incident: perhaps the FBI was simply spread too thin? 2021 was a year defined by various waves of the covid pandemic which hammered poor Americans forced to hunker down at home and missing on pay, and crippled countless small mom and pop businesses. And yet, it was also a bonanza for a handful of pharma companies such as Pfizer and Moderna which made billions from the sale of "vaccines" which we now know do little if anything to halt the spread of the virus, and are instead now being pitched as palliatives, preventing a far worse clinical outcome. The same pharma companies also benefited from an unconditional indemnity, which surely would come in useful when the full side-effects of their mRNA-based therapies became apparent. One such condition to emerge was myocarditis among a subset of the vaxxed. And while the vaccines continue to be broadly rolled out across most developed nations, one place that said enough was Sweden. As over 620,000 readers found out in "Sweden Suspends Moderna Shot Indefinitely After Vaxxed Patients Develop Crippling Heart Condition", not every country was willing to use its citizens as experimental guniea pigs. This was enough to make the article the 16th most read on these pages, but perhaps in light of the (lack of) debate over the pros and cons of the covid vaccines, this should have been the most read article this year? Moving on to the 15th most popular article, 628,000 readers were shocked to learn that "Chase Bank Cancels General Mike Flynn's Credit Cards." The action, which was taken by the largest US bank due to "reputational risk" echoed a broad push by tech giants to deplatform and silence dissenting voices by literally freezing them out of the financial system. In the end, following widespread blowback from millions of Americans, JPMorgan reversed, and reactivated Flynn's cards saying the action was made in error, but unfortunately this is just one example of how those in power can lock out any dissenters with the flick of a switch. And while democrats cheer such deplatforming today, the political winds are fickle, and we doubt they will be as excited once they find themselves on the receiving end of such actions. And speaking of censorship and media blackouts, few terms sparked greater response from those in power than the term Ivermectin. Viewed by millions as a cheap, effective alternative to offerings from the pharmaceutical complex, social networks did everything in their power to silence any mention of a drug which the Journal of Antibiotics said in 2017 was an "enigmatic multifaceted ‘wonder’ drug which continues to surprise and exceed expectations." Nowhere was this more obvious than in the discussion of how widespread use of Ivermectin beat Covid in India, the topic of the 14th most popular article of 2021 "India's Ivermectin Blackout" which was read by over 653,000 readers. Unfortunately, while vaccines continue to fail upward and now some countries are now pushing with a 4th, 5th and even 6th vaccine, Ivermectin remains a dirty word. There was more covid coverage in the 13th most popular article of 2021, "Surprise Surprise - Fauci Lied Again": Rand Paul Reacts To Wuhan Bombshell" which was viewed no less than 725,000 times. Paul's reaction came following a report which revealed that Anthony Fauci's NIAID and its parent, the NIH, funded Gain-of-Function research in Wuhan, China, strongly hinting that the emergence of covid was the result of illicit US funding. Not that long ago, Fauci had called Paul a 'liar' for accusing him of funding the risky research, in which viruses are genetically modified or otherwise altered to make them more transmissible to humans. And while we could say that Paul got the last laugh, Fauci still remains Biden's top covid advisor, which may explain why one year after Biden vowed he would shut down the pandemic, the number of new cases just hit a new all time high. One hope we have for 2022 is that people will finally open their eyes... 2021 was not just about covid - soaring prices and relentless inflation were one of the most poignant topics. It got so bad that Biden's approval rating - and that of Democrats in general - tumbled toward the end of the year, putting their mid-term ambitions in jeopardy, as the public mood soured dramatically in response to the explosion in prices. And while one can debate whether it was due to supply-issues, such as the collapse in trans-pacific supply chains and the chronic lack of labor to grow the US infrastructure, or due to roaring demand sparked by trillions in fiscal stimulus, but when the "Big Short" Michael Burry warned that hyperinflation is coming, the people listened, and with over 731,000 reads, the 12th most popular article of 2021 was "Michael Burry Warns Weimar Hyperinflation Is Coming."  Of course, Burry did not say anything we haven't warned about for the past 12 years, but at least he got the people's attention, and even mainstream names such as Twitter founder Jack Dorsey agreed with him, predicting that bitcoin will be what is left after the dollar has collapsed. While hyperinflation may will be the endgame, the question remains: when. For the 11th most read article of 2021, we go back to a topic touched upon moments ago when we addressed the full-blown media campaign seeking to discredit Ivermectin, in this case via the D-grade liberal tabloid Rolling Stone (whose modern incarnation is sadly a pale shadow of the legend that house Hunter S. Thompson's unforgettable dispatches) which published the very definition of fake news when it called Ivermectin a "horse dewormer" and claimed that, according to a hospital employee, people were overdosing on it. Just a few hours later, the article was retracted as we explained in "Rolling Stone Issues 'Update' After Horse Dewormer Hit-Piece Debunked" and over 812,000 readers found out that pretty much everything had been a fabrication. But of course, by then it was too late, and the reputation of Ivermectin as a potential covid cure had been further tarnished, much to the relief of the pharma giants who had a carte blanche to sell their experimental wares. The 10th most popular article of 2021 brings us to another issue that had split America down the middle, namely the story surrounding Kyle Rittenhouse and the full-blown media campaign that declared the teenager guilty, even when eventually proven innocent. Just days before the dramatic acquittal, we learned that "FBI Sat On Bombshell Footage From Kyle Rittenhouse Shooting", which was read by over 822,000 readers. It was unfortunate to learn that once again the scandal-plagued FBI stood at the center of yet another attempt at mass misinformation, and we can only hope that one day this "deep state" agency will be overhauled from its core, or better yet, shut down completely. As for Kyle, he will have the last laugh: according to unconfirmed rumors, his numerous legal settlements with various media outlets will be in the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.  And from the great US social schism, we again go back to Covid for the 9th most popular article of 2021, which described the terrifying details of one of the most draconian responses to covid in the entire world: that of Australia. Over 900,000 readers were stunned to read that the "Australian Army Begins Transferring COVID-Positive Cases, Contacts To Quarantine Camps." Alas, the latest surge in Australian cases to nosebleed, record highs merely confirms that this unprecedented government lockdown - including masks and vaccines - is nothing more than an exercise in how far government can treat its population as a herd of sheep without provoking a violent response.  The 8th most popular article of 2021 looks at the market insanity of early 2021 when, at the end of January, we saw some of the most-shorted, "meme" stocks explode higher as the Reddit daytrading horde fixed their sights on a handful of hedge funds and spent billions in stimmies in an attempt to force unprecedented ramps. That was the case with "GME Soars 75% After-Hours, Erases Losses After Liquidity-Constrained Robinhood Lifts Trading Ban", which profiled the daytrading craze that gave an entire generation the feeling that it too could win in these manipulated capital markets. Then again, judging by the waning retail interest, it is possible that the excitement of the daytrading army is fading as rapidly as it first emerged, and that absent more "stimmies" markets will remain the playground of the rich and central banks. Kyle Rittenhouse may soon be a very rich man after the ordeal he went through, but the media's mission of further polarizing US society succeeded, and millions of Americans will never accept that the teenager was innocent. It's also why with just over 1 million reads, the 7th most read article on Zero Hedge this year was that "Portland Rittenhouse Protest Escalates Into Riot." Luckily, this is not a mid-term election year and there were no moneyed interests seeking to prolong this particular riot, unlike what happened in the summer of 2020... and what we are very much afraid will again happen next year when very critical elections are on deck.  With just over 1.03 million views, the 6th most popular post focused on a viral Twitter thread on Friday from Dr Robert Laone, which laid out a disturbing trend; the most-vaccinated countries in the world are experiencing  a surge in COVID-19 cases, while the least-vaccinated countries were not. As we originally discussed in ""This Is Worrying Me Quite A Bit": mRNA Vaccine Inventor Shares Viral Thread Showing COVID Surge In Most-Vaxxed Countries", this trend has only accelerated in recent weeks with the emergence of the Omicron strain. Unfortunately, instead of engaging in a constructive discussion to see why the science keeps failing again and again, Twitter's response was chilling: with just days left in 2021, it suspended the account of Dr. Malone, one of the inventors of mRNA technology. Which brings to mind something Aaron Rogers said: "If science can't be questioned it's not science anymore it's propaganda & that's the truth." In a year that was marked a flurry of domestic fiascoes by the Biden administration, it is easy to forget that the aged president was also responsible for the biggest US foreign policy disaster since Vietnam, when the botched evacuation of Afghanistan made the US laughing stock of the world after 12 US servicemembers were killed. So it's probably not surprising that over 1.1 million readers were stunned to watch what happened next, which we profiled in the 5th most popular post of 2021, where in response to the Afghan trajedy, "Biden Delivers Surreal Press Conference, Vows To Hunt Down Isis, Blames Trump." One person watching the Biden presser was Xi Jinping, who may have once harbored doubts about reclaiming Taiwan but certainly does not any more. The 4th most popular article of 2021 again has to do with with covid, and specifically the increasingly bizarre clinical response to the disease. As we detailed in "Something Really Strange Is Happening At Hospitals All Over America" while emergency rooms were overflowing, it certainly wasn't from covid cases. Even more curiously, one of the primary ailments leading to an onslaught on ERs across the nation was heart-related issues, whether arrhytmia, cardiac incidents or general heart conditions. We hope that one day there will be a candid discussion on this topic, but until then it remains one of the topics seen as taboo by the mainstream media and the deplatforming overlords, so we'll just leave it at that. We previously discussed the anti-Ivermectin narrative that dominated the mainstream press throughout 2021 and the 3rd most popular article of the year may hold clues as to why: in late September, pharma giant Pfizer and one of the two companies to peddle an mRNA based vaccine, announced that it's launching an accelerated Phase 2/3 trial for a COVID prophylactic pill designed to ward off COVID in those may have come in contact with the disease. And, as we described in "Pfizer Launches Final Study For COVID Drug That's Suspiciously Similar To 'Horse Paste'," 1.75 million readers learned that Pfizer's drug shared at least one mechanism of action as Ivermectin - an anti-parasitic used in humans for decades, which functions as a protease inhibitor against Covid-19, which researchers speculate "could be the biophysical basis behind its antiviral efficiency." Surely, this too was just another huge coincidence. In the second most popular article of 2021, almost 2 million readers discovered (to their "shock") that Fauci and the rest of Biden's COVID advisors were proven wrong about "the science" of COVID vaccines yet again. After telling Americans that vaccines offer better protection than natural infection, a new study out of Israel suggested the opposite is true: natural infection offers a much better shield against the delta variant than vaccines, something we profiled in "This Ends The Debate' - Israeli Study Shows Natural Immunity 13x More Effective Than Vaccines At Stopping Delta." We were right about one thing: anyone who dared to suggest that natural immunity was indeed more effective than vaccines was promptly canceled and censored, and all debate almost instantly ended. Since then we have had tens of millions of "breakout" cases where vaccinated people catch covid again, while any discussion why those with natural immunity do much better remains under lock and key. It may come as a surprise to many that the most read article of 2021 was not about covid, or Biden, or inflation, or China, or even the extremely polarized US congress (and/or society), but was about one of the most long-suffering topics on these pages: precious metals and their prices. Yes, back in February the retail mania briefly targeted silver and as millions of reddit daytraders piled in in hopes of squeezing the precious metal higher, the price of silver surged higher only to tumble just as quickly as it has risen as the seller(s) once again proved more powerful than the buyers. We described this in "Silver Futures Soar 8%, Rise Above $29 As Reddit Hordes Pile In", an article which some 2.4 million gold and silver bugs read with hope, only to see their favorite precious metals slump for much of the rest of the year. And yes, the fact that both gold and silver ended the year sharply lower than where they started even though inflation hit the highest level in 40 years, remains one of the great mysteries of 2021. With all that behind us, and as we wave goodbye to another bizarre, exciting, surreal year, what lies in store for 2022, and the next decade? We don't know: as frequent and not so frequent readers are aware, we do not pretend to be able to predict the future and we don't try despite endless allegations that we constantly predict the collapse of civilization: we leave the predicting to the "smartest people in the room" who year after year have been consistently wrong about everything, and never more so than in 2021 (even the Fed admitted it is clueless when Powell said it was time to retire the term "transitory"), which destroyed the reputation of central banks, of economists, of conventional media and the professional "polling" and "strategist" class forever, not to mention all those "scientists" who made a mockery of the "expertise class" with their bungled response to the covid pandemic. We merely observe, find what is unexpected, entertaining, amusing, surprising or grotesque in an increasingly bizarre, sad, and increasingly crazy world, and then just write about it. We do know, however, that after a record $30 trillion in stimulus was conjured out of thin air by the world's central banks and politicians in the past two years, the attempt to reverse this monetary and fiscal firehose in a world addicted to trillions in newly created liquidity now that central banks are freaking out after finally getting ot the inflation they were hoping to create for so long, will end in tears. We are confident, however, that in the end it will be the very final backstoppers of the status quo regime, the central banking emperors of the New Normal, who will eventually be revealed as fully naked. When that happens and what happens after is anyone's guess. But, as we have promised - and delivered - every year for the past 13, we will be there to document every aspect of it. Finally, and as always, we wish all our readers the best of luck in 2022, with much success in trading and every other avenue of life. We bid farewell to 2021 with our traditional and unwavering year-end promise: Zero Hedge will be there each and every day - usually with a cynical smile - helping readers expose, unravel and comprehend the fallacy, fiction, fraud and farce that defines every aspect of our increasingly broken system. Tyler Durden Sun, 01/02/2022 - 03:44.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 2nd, 2022

Latest Study Shows Booster Protection Against Omicron Drops 25% After Just 10 Weeks

Latest Study Shows Booster Protection Against Omicron Drops 25% After Just 10 Weeks On Thursday, Britain's Health Security Agency released the third in a string of studies published this week by researchers from South Africa, Scotland and elsewhere, which attempt to quantify how the omicron variant is less threatening to the international public, especially in societies with high-vaccination (or high previous infection) rates. The previous two studies, which we covered earlier this week, purported to show that the new variant is up to 2/3rds less likely to send a patient to the hospital, arguing that the variant is inherently less harmful than earlier strains, setting aside the issue of increased levels of immunity in the population. Additionally, the latest study (courtesy, as we said, of the UKHSA) also offered insights on the limits of vaccines and boosters when it comes to omicron, and, as one might expect given all the strain's mutations, it found that the efficacy of booster shots vs. the new variant begins to wane even more quickly than against earlier variants like delta. To wit, after just 10 weeks after a patients' last booster, immunity has already fallen 15-25%. We wouldn't be surprised to see this data, which support the notion of rapidly waning immunity, eventually be repurposed by the British government, as well as governments in the US, Israel and elsewhere, to justify rolling out the second (then the third, and then the fourth) booster doses to the public - which will then be coerced in getting then via vaccine mandates and "passports" like the green passes that have become popular in Europe. That, of course, would directly contradict the WHO's exhortations for developed countries to spread the vaccine wealth by foregoing boosters and allowing more vaccines to filter through to the developing world, and the 100+ countries where vaccination rates remain low. It's these countries (which include some of the eight southern African countries) that should be prioritized with vaccines before the developed world helps itself to another round of boosters, Dr. Tedros, the head of the WHO, warned following the release of a report by the WHO's advisory committee. The UKHSA also found that patients are between 31% and 45% less likely to attend emergency departments compared to those with delta, and 50-70% less likely to require admission to hospital. These findings were based on data collected from 132 people who were admitted to, or transferred from, emergency departments in English hospitals. Of those, 17 people had received their boosters, 74 people were double vaccinated and 27 were unvaccinated. Eight people had received a single shot, and the vaccination status was unknown for 6 people. Nearly half of those hospitalized were in London alone. The study also found that 14 people have died within 28 days of a diagnosis of omicron, ranging in age from 52 to 96 years old. Comments on the study from top government officials were published by the UKHSA alongside a media digest of the study data. Dr Jenny Harries, UKHSA Chief Executive, said: "Our latest analysis shows an encouraging early signal that people who contract the Omicron variant may be at a relatively lower risk of hospitalisation than those who contract other variants. However, it should be noted both that this is early data and more research is required to confirm these findings." "Cases are currently very high in the UK, and even a relatively low proportion requiring hospitalisation could result in a significant number of people becoming seriously ill. The best way that you can protect yourself is to come forward for your first 2 doses of vaccine, or your booster jab and do everything you can to stop onward transmission of the infection." Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: "This new UKHSA data on Omicron is promising – while 2 doses of the vaccine aren’t enough, we know boosters offer significant protection against the variant and early evidence suggests this strain may be less severe than Delta." "However, cases of the variant continue to rise at an extraordinary rate – already surpassing the record daily number in the pandemic. Hospital admissions are increasing, and we cannot risk the NHS being overwhelmed." "This is early-stage analysis and we continue to monitor the data hour by hour. It is still too early to determine next steps, so please stay cautious this Christmas and get your booster as soon as possible to protect yourself and your loved ones." To sum up: while omicron is less likely to cause serious harm, it's also more likely to infect a greater number of people. "Even if a smaller proportion of these individuals require hospitalisation, these are still large numbers of people requiring hospital care and pressures on the NHS will increase. It is therefore vital that people continue to exercise caution in order to limit the transmission of the virus." Unfortunately, doling out a new booster dose every 10 weeks simply isn't feasible. So, does this data make individuals more likely to pursue boosters? Or more likely to simply go without since the shots could be put to better use elsewhere, and because of the limitations of their protection? Tyler Durden Tue, 12/28/2021 - 05:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 28th, 2021

CDC Makes Major Changes To Covid Isolation Recos, Treats Unboosted As Unvaxxed For Quarantines

CDC Makes Major Changes To Covid Isolation Recos, Treats Unboosted As Unvaxxed For Quarantines And so, the "scientific" goal posts move again. With even Biden this close to admitting defeat over covid, admitting today that "there is no Federal solution" before quietly getting out of Dodge, the CDC announced late on Monday that is slashing its previous self-isolation recommended period in half, and telling people who have Covid-19 to isolate themselves from others for 5 days if they aren’t experiencing symptoms, down from 10 days previously. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said in a statement Monday that following the 5-day isolation period, people with Covid-19 should wear a mask for 5 days when they are around other people. The new guidance supplants previous recommendations that said people who have tested positive for the virus should isolate for 10 days. While Omicron has been documented to be far more mild than prior versions of covid, cases are still expected to surge in the U.S. following the holidays, threatening confusion and chaos among who are infected or exposed to the virus. The shorter isolation and quarantine periods will allow people to return to work or school sooner than previously permitted. The CDC said in its statement that the shift in guidance was motivated by scienceTM showing the majority of coronavirus transmission occurs early in the course of the illness, in the first day or two before the onset of symptoms and the two to three days that follow. The CDC also updated its recommended quarantine period for people who have been exposed to Covid-19. For those who are unvaccinated or who are eligible for a booster shot but haven’t yet received one, the agency recommends a five-day quarantine, followed by strict use of a mask for five more days despite copious research demonstrating that masks have little impact on virus spread, and despite the fact that the cities with the most aggressive mask requirements have emerged as the biggest covid epicenters. Cases in New York State are now higher than they’ve ever been in Florida, despite all of New York’s mask mandates, vaccine passports and media praise And yes, of course, New York’s collapse is also entirely the fault of Ron DeSantis pic.twitter.com/R28T9pv1t9 — IM (@ianmSC) December 27, 2021 If a five-day quarantine isn’t feasible, an exposed person should wear a well-fitting mask, such as an N95, at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure, the CDC recommended.  Meanwhile, individuals who have received a booster shot don’t need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days, the CDC said. If symptoms occur, individuals should quarantine until a negative test confirms that they don’t have Covid-19. Then again, if symptoms occur after taking a booster shot, perhaps it is time to realize that something is very wrong with the "expert" recommendations... In other words, in a remarkable departure meant to stigmatize not just the unvaxxed but those without a booster shot, vaccinated but unboosted people are will now treated as "unvaccinated" when it comes to close contact quarantines. This, as a social worker noted on Twitter.... "would wreak havoc on school attendance for unboosted kids and teachers!  I can't emphasize enough how this would totally derail the school year. All unboosted teachers would miss 5 days of school EVERY TIME one of their students test positive. And 12-15 year olds who are >6mo out from their 2nd dose aren't even booster eligible!" According to Bloomberg, the new guidance "could entice more Americans to seek another dose of a vaccine", although with millions of "breakthrough" cases amid residual concerns about vaccine side-effects, it's unclear just how the billionaire's media empire came to this profound conclusion. Just under one-third of fully vaccinated people in the U.S. have received a booster, according to the CDC. We don't expect this number to rise substantially. Tyler Durden Mon, 12/27/2021 - 18:01.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 27th, 2021

Israel Starts 4th Covid Dose Trial While Pushing Booster On Children 12 & Up

Israel Starts 4th Covid Dose Trial While Pushing Booster On Children 12 & Up Israel has been at the forefront of countries speedily rolling out Covid-19 vaccines for its population of just over 9 million, earlier in the fall becoming the first nation to initiate a widespread booster program. Recently a government advisory panel went so far as to recommend a booster shot for children ages 12 to 15. On Monday Israel has initiated trials of a fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose, or its second round of a booster, which is being conducted on 150 medical workers who took their third booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in August, according to The Associated Press. Israel is believed to be the first country in the world to initiate such a program as a second booster. AFP via Getty Images: Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett receiving a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot The country is already considered the world's leader in administering a booster dose to the population, with 4.2 million of the total population having received one. This as it is continually updating the requirements of what it means to be "fully vaccinated" - which impacts citizens' ability to use the so-called Green Pass for access to restaurants, bars, gyms, and other public venues. The trial is expected to take six months, so it's unlikely that all Israelis will be forced to roll up their sleeves for yet a fourth shot until after this period: Gili Regev-Yochay, the director of Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit at Sheba, explained that the study will assess the antibody boost from a fourth shot and monitor any potential adverse reactions, and if the second boost reduces the risk of infection from omicron, according to CBS News.  The participants will be monitored for six months after receiving their fourth dose. However, a fourth shot is already set to be offered to people over the age of 60 or anyone with a compromised immune system, including also frontline health care workers. People will be advised to wait four months after they receive their third shot to get the fourth one. CNBC reports, "A Health Ministry expert panel last week recommended that Israel become the first country to offer a fourth vaccine dose - also known as a second booster - to those aged over 60, those suffering from compromised immune systems, and medical workers." All of this begs the question: does the third shot work? if not, then will a fourth? After all, Israelis like much of the rest of the world are wondering 'when will it all end?'... An important weekend development widely reported in Israeli media is illustrative:  Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s daughter tested positive for the coronavirus, and will enter quarantine, a spokesman for the prime minister said Sunday afternoon. The prime minister left Sunday’s cabinet meeting on the Golan Heights after receiving news of his daughter’s positive test and was also self-isolating, according to the spokesperson. Bennett took a rapid antigen test before attending the meeting and tested negative. The daughter, who is 14 years old, was vaccinated against COVID-19 in June. Via The Times of Israel: Prime Minister Naftali Bennett with his family, in the Knesset in Jerusalem So the leader of one of the most highly vaccinated countries on the earth had to run out of an important cabinet meeting due to exposure to Covid-19. Bennett reportedly later tested negative.  One would think that after himself being triple-vaxxed, he would have had a little more confidence in the vaccine and stayed in the cabinet meeting. But it seems the PM's "faith" in the "trust the science" mantra is waning.  Tyler Durden Mon, 12/27/2021 - 20:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 27th, 2021

A Tale Of Two Omicrons

A Tale Of Two Omicrons By Peter Tchir of Academy Securities I, like many of you, spent part of this long weekend searching for information on COVID and omicron. It is difficult to get good information because: Omicron is still relatively new in most areas of the world, and data is limited. Very little data distinguishes between Omicron and Delta (as discussed in Chalk & Cheese). Those are some valid issues that we have to deal with, though I think with some effort, even without more sequencing) we could do a better job of distinguishing between variants. The big problem I find is that many people don’t want you to know the facts. For purposes of today’s T-Report, I will use one set of data. I’ve chosen to use London in GOV.UK. I’ve chosen to use London, because: Omicron seems to have been in the U.K. longer than here and the data seems robust. London, as a contained area, seems more likely to have up to date data that is consistent across sources. It is in the Northern Hemisphere which is likely useful in extrapolating to the U.S. While London has its own quirks (city living, high vaccination rate, etc.), the data and stories that I’m going to tell seem consistent whether we switch to the broader U.K., go back to South Africa, or delve into the data from almost any other country or region (at least that is what I’ve seen so far). From this data, we will tell two stories: The scary version. What the data really says. Cases Are Skyrocketing. This is true. The number of cases is surging everywhere (actually the number of cases in South Africa has already started to drop, but that isn’t relevant for today’s piece, it is extremely good news, but not a focus for today’s piece). So, where you want to create fear, or want to dig deeper into the data, there is no doubt that cases are rising. Not only are cases rising, but due to a lack of testing in many places, the cases are being under reported. Also, and this does cut both ways… Cases are even higher because self-testers aren’t reporting. Cases are even higher because self-testers aren’t reporting, because they have mild symptoms. How you choose to describe the under-reporting does make a big difference to the tone of a report. There is no doubt in my mind that cases are heavily underreported right now, but (at least to me,) it makes a huge difference as to why cases are being underreported. In the early days of COVID, there were people very sick who wanted to be tested but couldn’t get tested (that is bad and is scary). Many right now who aren’t able to get tested, want the tests not because they feel bad, but because they need them to travel or to see family (not a scary reason for being underreported). For those who test positive but aren’t particularly sick, the danger as I see it, is that the official data makes all the percentages (hospitalizations, for example) look worse. Right now, it seems clear that underreporting makes the consequences of having omicron seem worse, and the hype about case counts is largely just that – hype! (we will address the situation of cases and severity amongst healthcare workers shortly). Hospital Usage Is Rising Rapidly (always expressed as a percentage change) After cases, which I highly discount, we quickly move into hospital utilization. We are all well aware that swamping the healthcare system is a risk that we want to avoid. So if you want to generate fear, you immediately target this area. This is factually correct. Since late November, hospitalizations have gone from 100 to 300 (and were still rising on December 24th, the last date for which data was published. The tripling is scary, but it is provided without context. Daily admittances were consistently above 600 during two prior waves and broached 900 at their peak. While it is possible that Omicron will continue to get worse, the fact is that 300 isn’t as alarming, in the context of where we’ve been, as it sounds. I am not saying that I discount the rise in cases, and I am concerned about their trajectory, but too many pieces stop at the “alarming” tripling and do little to contextualize that in terms of total numbers (300 out of the population of London is manageable). This chart examines the number of patients in hospital. One, it demonstrates that patients in hospital is still small relative to the two prior waves. What is also interesting, is that there were 1,200 people in hospitals at the end of August and “only” 2,100 now. Since 200 or so patients have been admitted every day for the past couple of weeks, it seems to me that the much slower increase in hospitalized means that patients are spending less time being hospitalized. There is absolutely zero evidence that people are dying at an incredible pace from Omicron (in fact, very few deaths have been attributed to Omicron), so the only way that the rise in admittances meshes with the reported level of beds occupied is that people are being treated and released relatively quickly. Where is the length of stay data? So little data is available, even for those inclined to search for it, about how quickly and successfully patients are being treated! But The Ventilators! You will find that almost no fear story goes after ventilator usage right now. Lest I be accused of using longer term data to obscure more ominous short term trends, here is a “better” headline! This chart seems to indicate that very few patients are needing ventilators. Part of the reason for this may be that using ventilators has fallen out of favor. That is a possibility as many argued that ventilators seemed ineffective at helping in the recovery process. I’m inclined to believe that improved treatments and lack of severity is why ventilator usage has remained low. Gotcha #1 – Lag Effects Yes, there is a lag from the time that someone becomes infected, to the time that they test positive, to the time that they need hospitalization, to the time that they need ventilation. Those are all legitimate concerns. The fear story argues we just haven’t had time to experience the severity. That is a risk, but it is why I chose London rather than the U.S., because we should have seen some of those issues come to fruition for the fear side of the equation. Also, now is a good time to bring up South Africa, which has been dealing with Omicron longer than almost any other country. According to the WHO, cases in South Africa are already potentially tumbling (though we need to see if the holidays impacted those results), but more importantly, death from COVID never spiked during the Omicron wave. For the first time, at least in South Africa, the chart of cases versus the chart of deaths has no correlation whatsoever. While the “lag effect” might have some merit in London, it has been quashed in South Africa, and for a period of time every positive story about South Africa was accompanied by admonishments to not get comfortable because of the lag. The lag effect was a more legitimate concern two weeks ago than it is today, where it really does seem to lean heavily towards fear mongering rather than anything the data is telling us. Gotcha #2 – Long Covid Even the stories that begrudgingly admit that the current data isn’t so bad, seem to end with stoking our fears about long term covid. Yes, some people with previous variants have suffered from long covid. That is awful, but the two things that I keep thinking about are: Does this variant pose the same threat of long covid? If it has mutated to something far less severe, is it possible that it is less likely to leave victims with long covid? I am not sure about the answer to that, but since the fears about this variant seem to have been wrong (so far), I think we need to wait and see before panicking about long covid. I have no reason to believe that we won’t find treatments for long covid over time. The medical community has been attacking covid on many fronts. While we all know about the vaccinations and boosters (more on that later), we are seeing more and more treatments being developed. From single pills to effective treatments using a multitude of pharmaceuticals, we have many more tools to help those infected. As the world’s attention shifts to long covid, there is no reason to expect failure. I am strongly in the camp that long covid, while an issue today, is something that will be addressed in the coming months and quarters. Yes, that sucks for those who have it today, but assuming long covid is permanent seems overly pessimistic and betting way too heavily against modern science. What About Healthcare Workers? This is a legitimate concern. If healthcare workers are hit hard by Omicron, we could see a rapid decline in availability of hospital beds and treatments. It is something that the fear side has correct, to a large extent. But the CDC updated guidelines on December 23rd start to address this. They already are easing some restrictions on healthcare workers and they caveat the updated guidelines with the statement that “isolation time can be cut further if there are staffing shortages). Personally, I suspect that if the CDC was scared of this variant’s severity, they wouldn’t be so quick to change the rules. They have to balance the availability of care, with the safety of healthcare providers. Maybe I am reading too much between the lines here, but I suspect that the CDC understands that the severity is lower and that is influencing their policy regarding healthcare workers. It is “Prudent” For Governments to Stoke Fear Ahead of the holiday season, when gathering and traffic are at their peak, governments across the globe have no interest in encouraging a potential spike. They know how easily Omicron is transmitted, and so long as they have any doubt about the severity or the ability of the system to handle the already likely surge, they have no interest in encouraging more spread. As mentioned in “Last Thing I Wanted to Write About is Omicron”, public policy already pushes their modelers to “worst” case scenarios. So even if governments thought Omicron is less severe, they will not encourage that viewpoint, at least not until after the holidays. So, I would expect every government proclamation to err to the cautious side, and even with that bias (which is a rational bias), we are seeing positive headlines come out. I expect that once we get through the holiday crush, we will see a change of tone from officials as their fear of a holiday induced spike recedes and we can all dig deeper into the details. Remember, President Biden’s address on Tuesday seemed to be skewed towards the realization that people need really good reasons to enter another lockdown. Vaccines, Boosters and the Unvaccinated I don’t even want to enter into this can of worms. This is one area where we would benefit so much from the details begged for in Chalk & Cheese, but the reality is that we don’t have that level of granularity. Vaccines and boosters seem to help reduce the severity of all types of COVID including Omicron. For many, the wave of infections in vaccinated people and the ability of vaccinated people to spread Omicron seems to be above levels that public perception thought was likely. This is to a large degree an issue over the messaging surrounding what the vaccines can and cannot do that needs to be better addressed, especially as we seem to be moving to a 4th booster for many, and quarterly boosters not out of the realm of possibility. Omicron at least, doesn’t seem that bad for unvaccinated people. While there is “worry” that this only encourages fewer vaccinations for me, at the moment, it seems like a huge victory for us as it is one reason that Omicron (with its high transmissibility), isn’t causing severe illness and death to escalate. The battlelines around vaccinations have been firmly established, and I suspect that little about Omicron will changes those battlelines significantly given the bullet points above. Since this is such a touchy subject (that I am attempting to dance around), I feel that it is appropriate to disclose that I have had two shots but am a couple months behind on my booster (and the rest of my family has original vaccinations and is up to speed on recommended boosters). The Next Variant Could Be Worse. So far, it seems like Omicron is mild compared to earlier variants. While there is a strong tendency for viruses to mutate to less dangerous versions, there is no guarantee of that. While viruses are mindless, their mutations are effectively “solving” for how to propagate their species. Killing a host too quickly isn’t a particularly successful strategy for propagation. Ebola, for example, is so deadly and transmissible, that it could wipe out mankind, except its sheer virulence tends to be self-defeating in its efforts to propagate (it kills entire populations so quickly that it doesn’t spread as much as it could, relative to how transmissible it is). Assuming for the moment, that Omicron isn’t that severe, we have to take this victory (and it is a victory) and use the time to ensure that any shortcomings that were obvious in how we have dealt with Omicron be fixed for future variants. And while I’m not necessarily a fan of ‘worst case’ scenario modelling for public policy, I do think that being properly prepared for worst case scenarios is a good public policy goal. Bottom Line Hopefully, the Tale of Two Omicrons, provides a helpful framework for digesting news and headlines in this environment. Markets were already ahead of politicians and the mass media in estimating the severity of Omicron, so there is a limited rally left in that. While this shortened week is more likely to continue with last week’s strength (seasonality, more good news on Omicron getting published than bad news, etc.), we then have to turn to the economy, consumers, less helpful central bank policy and what is or isn’t truly priced in. In the meantime, enjoy this holiday season and be happy and grateful that Omicron does seem mild. Tyler Durden Mon, 12/27/2021 - 13:12.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 27th, 2021

US Futures Hit All Time High As Santa Rally Spreads Markets Cheer

US Futures Hit All Time High As Santa Rally Spreads Markets Cheer The Santa Claus rally is here, and stocks are set to make their 69th all-time high for 2021 when they open in 90 minutes. US index futures rose to fresh all time highs despite amid thin, holiday-muted trading and a mood of caution as traders evaluated spiking coronavirus cases as investors monitored progress on the Biden administration’s economic stimulus and social spending plan after president-in-waiting Kamala Harris said neither her nor Joe Biden are giving up on the bill. Futures on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100 futures both climbed 0.3% at 745 a.m. in New York, the former trading at all time highs of 4,733. The dollar strengthened, 10-year U.S. Treasury yields were little changed while crude oil and gold dipped. A dollar gauge ticked up. In overnight news, Kamala Harris said the Biden administration is seeking a path forward for its “Build Back Better” economic stimulus. Elsewhere, US holiday sales jumped 8.5% from last year as consumers spent more money on clothes, jewelry and electronics, a report from Mastercard SpendingPulse showed. Still, in U.S. premarket trading, U.S. travel stocks retreated, led by United Airlines Holdings Inc., after hundreds of flights were canceled over Christmas due to a spike in Covid-19 cases. Here are some of the more notable premarket movers: United Airlines Holdings (UAL US) -2.9%, Delta Air Lines (DAL US) -2% and American Airlines (AAL US) -2.1%. Velo3D (VLD US) rose in afterhours trading Thursday after announcing delivery of its first Sapphire XC to an aerospace customer. Surgalign Holdings (SRGA US) dropped in postmarket after filing for the potential sale of equity and debt securities. In the latest covid developments, Anthony Fauci, one of the top U.S. medical advisers, said Americans should stay vigilant because omicron cases can still overwhelm hospitals even if evidence suggests the strain’s symptoms may be less severe. That said, the predominant thread was one of lack of trading as most desks have closed for the year: for markets overall, “either the headline reel will spur ugly intraday moves on holiday-thinned liquidity, or volatility will remain so flatline, that if it were an ECG, the doctors and nurses would be yelling code blue,” Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at Oanda, wrote in a note. In Europe, stocks edged up amid thinner trading volumes as investors monitored the surge in Covid-19 cases. Over the weekend, China’s central bank pledged greater economic support over the weekend, contrasting with steps by the Federal Reserve and other central banks to fight inflation by cutting stimulus. The outlook for monetary policy, Covid and company earnings are shaping views on whether global stocks can keep rising after nearly doubling from pandemic lows. Asian stocks slipped in thin trading ahead of the year-end holidays as investors weighed the latest developments in virus cases related to the omicron variant.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index swung between a loss of 0.2% and a gain of less than 0.1%. Hardware technology giants provided the biggest support to the measure as chipmakers advanced, while industrial names and software companies fell. Coronavirus cases surged across the globe, with China reporting over the weekend the highest number of local cases since January. Singapore plans to make vaccination a condition for the approval of new applications for and renewal of existing long-term passes, work passes, and permanent residences starting Feb. 1. “While there is worry that infections will continue to spread, the sense is that it’s not likely to develop into serious cases or trigger another series of lockdowns,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management. “I still see room for share price gains during the few trading days left this year.”  The Asian stock benchmark rose 0.4% last week, with sentiment boosted by positive U.S. economic-growth data and a U.K. study suggesting omicron infections are less likely to lead to hospitalization.   Benchmarks in South Korea and Japan were among the worst performers in the region for the day, while Malaysian and Philippine stocks outperformed. Markets in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong are shut for the holidays. India’s benchmark equity index advanced, overcoming a weak start to the session, boosted by gains in Tech Mahindra Ltd.  The S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.5% to 57,420.24 in Mumbai, reversing losses of as much as 1%. The NSE Nifty 50 Index also climbed by a similar measure. Sixteen of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. gained, led by a gauge of healthcare companies. Tech Mahindra Ltd. rose 3.6% and was the best performer on both key indexes. Out of 30 shares in the Sensex index, 24 rose and 6 fell. Private sector lender RBL Bank Ltd. dropped 18.5% after a decision by the nation’s central bank to appoint a new director to the board raised concerns about the outlook for the small private-sector lender. India also announced a program to vaccinate teenagers from the ages of 15 to 18 starting next year and booster doses for health-care workers as omicron-fueled Covid-19 cases spike. The announcement was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the weekend. Still, several states have imposed night curfews and restrictions on public gatherings to keep a check on the spread of the new variant.  “Markets are facing pressure on every rise and it would only subside if the cases tally remains under control,” Ajit Mishra, vice president of research at Religare Broking Ltd. wrote in a note. “We recommend keeping a check on leveraged positions amid volatility and letting the markets stabilize.” In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Index rose as much as 0.2%, rebounding from its lowest level in more than a month; the New Zealand dollar and the Norwegian krone led declines among G-10 peers. The pound outperformed peers following a report that Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak plans to cut tens of thousands of jobs within the U.K. civil service to save government budgets 5% over the next three years. Turkey’s lira snapped a five-day rally, challenging government assurances that it’s on a more stable footing after measures were introduced a week ago to stem its collapse. In rates, 10- year Treasury yields dipped 1bp to 1.49% after rising nine basis points last week. Treasuries were mixed with short-maturity yields higher on the day as the final week of the year begins, ahead of $56b 2-year note auction at 1pm ET. Amid expectations that Fed will start raising interest rates next year, last month’s 2-year auction tailed by more than 1bp. Yields are higher by 1bp-2bp in 2- to 5-year sectors with longer-maturity tenors little changed, flattening curve spreads slightly; 10-year at 1.494% is inside last week’s range. WI 2-year yield at ~0.76% exceeds auction stops since February 2020; last month’s drew 0.623%. The auction cycle includes $57b 5-year note Tuesday, $56b 7-year Wednesday. Expected data include the Dallas Fed Manufacturing Outlook survey. No major earnings or central bank events are scheduled. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.2% to 4,724.50 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.3% German 10Y yield up 2 bps to -0.23% Euro little changed at $1.1310 MXAP down 0.2% to 191.83 MXAPJ little changed at 624.02 Nikkei down 0.4% to 28,676.46 Topix down 0.4% to 1,977.90 Hang Seng Index up 0.1% to 23,223.76 Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,615.97 Sensex up 0.5% to 57,433.95 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.4% to 7,420.30 Kospi down 0.4% to 2,999.55 Brent futures little changed at $76.06/bbl Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,805.61 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.2% to 96.22 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The Biden administration is seeking a path forward for its “Build Back Better” economic stimulus and social spending plan, Vice President Kamala Harris said Sunday Coronavirus infections surged across the globe with China reporting the highest number of local cases since January, darkening the year-end holiday period China’s central bank pledged greater support for the economy on Saturday and said it will make monetary policy more forward-looking and targeted US Event Calendar 10:30am: U.S. Dallas Fed Manf. Activity, Dec., est. 13.0, prior 11.8     Tyler Durden Mon, 12/27/2021 - 08:07.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 27th, 2021

Bhattacharya: We Cannot Stop The Spread Of COVID, But We Can End The Pandemic

Bhattacharya: We Cannot Stop The Spread Of COVID, But We Can End The Pandemic Authored by Jayanta Bhattacharya via The Brownstone Institute, The arrival of the omicron variant has led some politicians and public health grandees to call for a return to business closures and ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdowns. The variant has been found worldwide, including in the US and the UK. The variant has already surpassed delta – dominant before omicron – in the UK. Early reports from South Africa confirm that the variant is more transmissible but produces a milder disease, with a lower chance of hospitalization and death upon infection. My message is this: we can’t stop the spread of COVID, but we can end the pandemic. In October 2020, I wrote the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) along with Prof. Sunetra Gupta of Oxford University and Prof. Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University. The centerpiece of the declaration is a call for increased focused protection of the vulnerable older population, who are more than a thousand times more likely to die from COVID infection than the young. We can protect the vulnerable without harming the rest of the population. As I stated above, we do not have any technology that can stop viral spread. While excellent vaccines protect the vaccinated versus hospitalization or death if infected, they provide only temporary and marginal protection versus infection and disease transmission after the second dose. The same is likely true for booster shots, which use the same technology as the initial doses. What about lockdowns?  It is now abundantly clear that they have failed to contain the virus while wreaking enormous collateral damage worldwide. The simplistic allure of lockdowns is that we can break the chain of viral transmission by staying apart. Only the laptop class — those who can just as easily work from home as in the office — can abide by a lockdown in actual practice, and even they have trouble. Essential workers who keep society going cannot afford the luxury, so the disease will keep spreading. Will the same policies that failed against a more virulent strain succeed in containing a more transmissible strain? The answer is self-evidently no.  The harms of lockdown on children and the non-elderly are catastrophic, including worse physical and mental health and irretrievably lost life opportunities. Lockdowns imposed in rich countries mean starvation, poverty, and death for the residents of poor countries. There is, however, a good alternative to lockdown. The Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) calls for a return to normal life for low-risk children and non-elderly adults. The principles at the heart of the GBD are as important today as they were a year ago.  In fact, they are more important now because we now have technological tools that make focused protection of the vulnerable much more straightforward than it was a year ago. First and most importantly, the vaccine. Because unvaccinated older people face such a high risk for a poor outcome on infection, and because the vaccine is so effective at blunting severe disease and death, vaccinating older people is the top priority if life-saving is to be the top priority. However, the vast majority of unvaccinated older people live in poor countries.  At current rates, the worldwide vaccination campaign will not be complete until the end of 2022, too late to save countless vulnerable people. Prioritizing those who have never previously had COVID will help preserve doses for those who would most benefit since – like the vaccine — COVID recovery provides excellent protection against future severe disease. Booster shots for older people also make sense. But to preserve doses, they should be reserved for those who have not previously had COVID and were vaccinated more than 6 to 8 months ago.  According to a careful study conducted by Swedish scientists, vaccine efficacy versus severe disease also starts to wane around that point, so boosting before then does not provide a substantial benefit. Second, we should make available effective early treatment options. During Florida’s summer wave, Gov. Ron DeSantis promoted the use of monoclonal antibodies – an FDA-approved treatment – by patients early in the course of the disease, an action that saved many lives.  Safe and inexpensive supplements like Vitamin D have been shown effective. Promising new treatments from Pfizer and a new antibody treatment for the immunocompromised by Astra Zeneca promise to become more widely available. Until that happens, they should be preserved for use by the most vulnerable when sick. Third, the widespread availability of inexpensive, privately conducted, rapid antigen tests in the UK has empowered everyone to make wise choices that reduce the risk of infecting vulnerable people. So far, the FDA says that these tests work to detect omicron. Even if you have no COVID-like symptoms, these tests accurately read whether you harbor the virus and pose a risk of spreading it to close contacts. With this test in hand, anyone can check if it is safe to visit grandma before heading over to her care home. It is a perfect tool for focused protection of the vulnerable.  US COVID policy should focus on making these tests cheaper and more widely available, as they are in the UK. Finally, since the virus very often spreads via aerosolization events, upgrades to ventilation systems in public spaces will reduce the risk of older people participating in everyday social life outside the home.  It is no accident that COVID disease spread is so rare on airplanes since they are all outfitted with excellent air filtration systems. Upgrading other public facilities, such as other public transportation systems, would reduce the risk of infection for the vulnerable. There are some hopeful signs that the political and ideological winds are shifting, while other developments signal a return to failed strategies. Colorado’s Democrat Governor Jared Polis recently declared that the widespread availability of vaccines spells ‘the end of the medical emergency,’ and he is resisting calls to impose new statewide mask mandates. Yet on the coasts, in California and New York, elected officials are renewing mask requirements for all – regardless of health or vaccination status. The end of the pandemic is primarily a social and political decision. Since we have no technology to eradicate the virus, we must learn to live with it. The fear-based lockdown policies of the past two years are no template for a healthy society. The good news is that with the new and effective technologies available and the focused protection ideas outlined in the GBD, we can end the pandemic if only we can muster the courage and political will to do so.  In Sweden and many US states that have eschewed lockdowns, the pandemic is effectively over, even as the virus continues to circulate.  As normal society resumes, the vast majority will find that living with the virus is not so hard after all. Tyler Durden Thu, 12/23/2021 - 21:50.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 23rd, 2021

Futures Ramp Above 4,700 On Growing Omicron Optimism

Futures Ramp Above 4,700 On Growing Omicron Optimism If you had gone to bed on Thanksgiving after eating a little too much tryptophan and only woken up today, roughly one month later, you would have completely avoided a rollercoaster move in global markets, and much of the omicron panic, with the S&P now trading precisely where it was the night before scattered reports of Omicron in South Africa sparked a global selloff. As of 730am, e-mini S&P futures were trading at exactly 4,700, up 14 points or 0.3% - and once again less than 1% from all time highs - on rising hopes the omicron variant won’t impact global growth even as officials remain cautious about its spread, after studies showed it’s less severe than other strains; Dow Jones futures also rose 0.3% while Nasdaq 100 futures were 0.2% higher. US Treasury yields rose, the 10Y trading at 1.475%, while the USD index traded flat. The  pound rose as traders stepped up bets on a Bank of England rate hike. Soaraing European natural gas prices plunged more than 20% as this year’s rally attracted a flotilla of U.S. cargoes, helping offset lower flows from Russia. U.S. stocks reversed a sharp drop earlier in the week, advancing over the past two days amid signs the omicron variant won’t thwart growth, with consumer confidence rising by more than expected in December. Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 pill gained clearance for emergency use in the U.S. on Wednesday and three studies showed omicron appears less likely to land patients in the hospital than the delta strain, fueling optimism.  Adding to the positive newsflow on omicron, lab results indicated a third dose of AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine significantly boosted antibodies against the strain, and Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 pill gained clearance for emergency use in the U.S. “Markets hate uncertainty and not knowing, and when omicron hit the markets, we didn’t know,” Carol Schleif, BMO Family Office deputy chief investment officer, said on Bloomberg Television. “But it seems like it’s edging toward something more positive.” A gauge of global stocks is up more than 2% so far this month, leaving the index 15% higher for the year and on course to surpass 2020’s gain. In U.S. premarket trading, Tesla Inc. shares rose after Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk sold down more of his stake. Nikola gained after the electric-vehicle startup said that more deliveries were to come. Here are some other notable premarket movers today: Novavax (NVAX US) shares jump 5% in U.S. premarket after the biotech firm said that both a vaccine booster dose as well as an omicron-specific shot may be beneficial in helping to protect against the Covid-19 variant. Nikola (NKLA US) rises 3.5% in U.S. premarket trading after the electric-vehicle startup said on Twitter that more deliveries were to come, posting photos of a previous event. Tesla (TSLA US) shares gain 1.1% in U.S. premarket trading after CEO Elon Musk sells down more of his stake, drawing nearer to his pledge of cutting his stake in the EV maker by 10%. JD.com’s (JD US) ADRs slump 9.2% in U.S. premarket trading after Tencent said it plans to hand out more than $16 billion of JD.com shares to its investors as a one-time dividend. SciPlay (SCPL US) the maker of mobile and web games such as Jackpot Party Casino, falls 17% in premarket after ending talks to sell out to majority owner Scientific Games. Shares in tiny biotech stocks soar in U.S. premarket trading in strong volume, amid broad risk-on appetite thanks to positive omicron variant studies, ahead of the holiday period. “Our outlook for the global economy remains positive, but we have preference on developed markets,” Janet Mui, director of investment at Brewin Dolphin Limited, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “The economic recovery will continue in the major economies like the U.S., U.K. and the Euro area, thanks to the very high vaccination rates and ongoing rollout of the booster jabs.” Elsewhere, European shares advanced for a third day, with travel shares leading gains. The Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.6%; travel is the strongest sector with recent studies showing omicron appears less likely to land patients in the hospital than the delta strain. IBEX leads with a 1% gain. Travel and leisure was the top-performing sector in Europe on Thursday amid optimism of fewer hospitalizations linked to the omicron variant of Covid-19. Airlines shruged off a profit warning from Ryanair (+1.1%) that was first reported late in the trading session on Wednesday. British Airways-owner IAG adds 3.7%, Wizz +3.3%, hotelier Whitbread +2.6%, Deutsche Lufthansa +2%, caterer Sodexo +0.8%. Stoxx travel and leisure index also helped by Flutter (+3%) which gains following M&A news Earlier in the session, Asian stocks were on track to gain for a third straight day, bolstered by signs the omicron strain is less severe than previous variants. Tech and communication services sectors led the advance. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed as much as 0.9%, with Tencent as the biggest contributor to gains after a 4.2% rally in Hong Kong. The Chinese internet giant declared a one-time dividend in the form of JD.com’s shares worth more than $16 billion, causing the latter’s stock to plunge intraday by the most on record. Sentiment in Asia improved as a trio of studies found that the omicron variant led to lower hospitalization risk than the delta strain, and Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 pill gained clearance for emergency use in the U.S. Separately, lab results indicated a third dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine significantly boosted antibodies against the strain though another study released late in the Asia day found that three doses of Sinovac’s vaccine weren’t enough to protect against it. “We expect Asian equities to improve their relative performance in 2022 given less demanding valuations and prospects for solid earnings growth,” said Tai Hui, Asia chief market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management. “Reflation and economic reopening could help to boost earnings expectations for cyclical sectors, especially those focusing on domestic demand.” The MSCI Asia Pacific Index is down almost 4% for the year compared with a 25% gain in the S&P 500 Index, which is trading close to a record high.  Equity benchmarks in the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand were among the top gainers amid a broad advance in the region Thursday even as trading volumes were thin ahead of the Christmas holidays. Japan stocks also rose as the country looks set to unveil another record annual budget this week. Shares in China also rose even as the country locked down the western city of Xi’an to stamp out a persistent virus outbreak. Equities slumped in Vietnam as Covid-19 cases continued to rise. In rates, fixed income is thin with only ~100k bund futures contracts trading as of 10:50am London. Cash space is under small pressure: bunds and USTs bear steepen, gilts bear flatten with short dates ~5bps cheaper. 10-year TSY yields were around 1.47%, with gilts notably underperforming and are cheaper by around 3bp in the sector vs. Treasuries; curves are steady with U.S. cash spreads broadly within a basis point of Wednesday close. Treasuries drifted lower into early U.S. session as S&P futures grind higher. 10-year futures remained inside Wednesday session lows with yields cheaper by up to 2bp across long-end of the curve. Thursday’s highlights include a packed data slate, and cash markets are due for an early 2pm ET close ahead of Friday’s full closure. In FX, tge Bloomberg dollar index chopped either side of flat. The pound was the stand out mover in London hours, topping the G-10 leaderboard with cable regaining a 1.34 handle. USD/JPY was little changed as it holds above 114. Aussie dollar drifts back towards 0.72 against the greenback. Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index is steady after falling for three days. In commodities, crude futures are little changed; WTI trades near $72.70. Spot gold is rangebound, holding just above $1,800/oz. Most base metals are in the green, drifting higher in quiet trade. LME copper and tin lag. European natural gas prices plunged more than 20% as this year’s rally attracted a flotilla of U.S. cargoes, helping offset lower flows from Russia. Looking at today's calendar, we get personal spending and income as well as a new look at inflation data, including the Fed’s preferred price measure -- the change in the core personal consumption expenditures price index -- and jobless claims. We also get the latest Durable goods orders, UMichigan sentiment and new home sales prints. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.1% to 4,692.00 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.4% to 480.16 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.28% Euro little changed at $1.1317 MXAP up 0.9% to 192.23 MXAPJ up 0.8% to 623.33 Nikkei up 0.8% to 28,798.37 Topix up 0.9% to 1,989.43 Hang Seng Index up 0.4% to 23,193.64 Shanghai Composite up 0.6% to 3,643.34 Sensex up 0.7% to 57,350.50 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.3% to 7,387.57 Kospi up 0.5% to 2,998.17 Brent Futures down 0.4% to $74.99/bbl Gold spot up 0.2% to $1,807.61 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 96.16 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The highly-mutated omicron variant appears less likely to land patients in the hospital with Covid-19 than the delta strain, according to preliminary data from a trio of studies France reported a jump in Covid-19 infections as the fast-spreading omicron variant tightens its grip on Europe The Chinese yuan is having a greater impact on its emerging-market counterparts than ever before and may play a crucial role in determining their performance in the coming year New Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s rhetoric of distributing wealth more equally appears to signal a change of priorities for post-pandemic Japan that may run counter to plans to improve the country’s presence as an international financial hub Oil settled at the highest level in nearly a month after U.S. crude stockpiles decreased and economic data pushed equities higher A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac equities traded modestly higher amid some tailwinds from Wall Street in holiday-thinned trade and the absence of fresh catalysts. The US majors closed in the green across the board, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq propelled higher by Tesla shares which jumped 7.5% to regain USD 1tln market cap. US equity futures resumed trade relatively flat with an upside bias. In APAC, the ASX 200 (+0.3%) was supported by its gold miners following the recent gains in the yellow metal. Japan’s Nikkei 225 (+0.6%) was underpinned by its mining names, while South Korea’s KOSPI (+0.2%) saw gains in Tech mostly offset by losses in Autos. The Hang Seng (+0.3%) and Shanghai Comp (+0.2%) quickly dipped at the open into modest negative territory but later recovered. The overnight focus was on Tencent declaring an interim dividend payable in JD.com shares – which would reduce Tencent's holding of JD to about 2.3% vs prev. nearly 17% reported earlier this month. JD.com shares extended downside in early trade to losses of over 10%, whilst Tencent rose over 3%. US 10yr Treasury futures traded with no firm direction overnight despite the mild positivity seen across APAC stocks, with the debt now looking ahead to the November PCE report. Top Asian News Asian Stocks Head for Third Day of Gains as Tencent Shares Rally Alibaba-Backed RoboSense Said to Pick JPMorgan for Hong Kong IPO Foreigners Haven’t Finished Selling India Stocks: Street Wrap Asia Traders Are Most Bullish Stocks, Europe Least: Markets Live European bourses are firmer in very thin trading conditions, with a distinct holiday-feel setting in. News flow has been minimal, and remains focused on the familiar themes of Omicron and geopolitics. The Euro Stoxx 50 trades around +0.5%, after a constructive handover from Asia, although there are some very modest regional discrepancies. Sectors are predominantly in the green, with the likes of Travel & Leisure, Oil & Gas, and Autos benefitting from the generally constructive tone of news flow around Omicron. US futures are firmer, though the magnitude is limited, and benchmarks have essentially been in a holding pattern since the US cash close on Wednesday. Top European News Spain Revises GDP Growth Sharply Higher After Data Doubts Traders Ramp Up BOE Bets to See Key Rate at 1.25% Next Year U.K. PM Not Expected to Announce Post-Xmas Curbs This Week: Sky Pound Reaches One-Month High After BOE Rate Hike Bets Increase In FX, in stark contrast to this time yesterday, the Dollar index is trying to grind higher from a fractionally firmer base between 96.018-199 parameters, though well below Tuesday’s range amidst an ongoing improvement in overall risk sentiment based on the latest Omicron analysis. In short, studies continue to find lower hospital admissions and generally less acute symptoms even though the mutation is more virulent, while the current batch of vaccines provide varying degrees of protection and new drugs designed specifically for the new strain are in the pipeline. On the fundamental front, the final full trading day before the Xmas break contains some potential market-moving US data, including the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, core PCE, plus jobless claims, new home sales and the often volatile durable goods. NZD/GBP/AUD - The Kiwi, Pound and Aussie have all picked up where they left off on Wednesday, with impetus from the aforementioned positive market tone allied to increasingly bullish technical impulses. Indeed, Nzd/Usd didn’t encounter much in the way of psychological resistance at 0.6800, while Sterling has breached 1.3350 more emphatically to expose/probe 1.3400 and Aud/Usd overcame any sentimentality that might have hampered its progress beyond 0.7200. Cable has also advanced with the aid of Eur/Gbp tailwinds as the cross approaches 0.8450 following sell orders above, and an element of relief after reports suggesting that UK PM Johnson is now likely to hold off from making any further decisions on pandemic measures until after Xmas. Back down under, some good news for the Aussie via a pickup in private sector credit and loans for housing. CAD/EUR - Both narrowly mixed vs their US counterpart, but the Loonie has extended its rebound towards 1.2800 in advance of Canadian monthly GDP and average weekly earnings, while the Euro is forming a firmer base on the 1.1300 handle as EGBs continue to underperform/outperform in futures and cash terms respectively. However, Eur/Usd topped out around 1.1341/2 again and may be wary of decent option expiry interest between 1.1330-40 in 1.3 bn as much as 1.6 bn rolling off at 1.1300-05. CHF/JPY - The Franc and Yen are still lagging on risk factors and their carry characteristics, with the former unable to sustain advances through 0.9200 against the Buck and the latter failing to overcome offers/resistance into 114.00. Hence, Usd/Jpy remains poised for more attempts to scale the next Fib retracement at 114.38 in the run up to Japanese inflation data and post-remarks from BoJ Kuroda who adhered to pretty standard lines on currency matters. To recap, he repeated that FX rates must move in a stable fashion and reflect economic fundamentals, while the negative impact of a weak Jpy on Japanese household income may be increasing, though the benefits outweigh the demerits. In commodities, crude benchmarks continue to see modest pressure that crept in during APAC trade; Brent is pivoting USD 75.00/bbl, with losses of circa USD 0.30/bbl. News flow has been minimal. Russia’s President Putin is making some geopolitical noises, although he is largely reiterating familiar themes. Elsewhere, Exxon’s (XOM) Baytown complex (560k BPD capacity) in Texas reported a fire at a gasoline component processing unit; reports thus far indicate no facility impact from this incident. Moving to metals, spot gold and silver remain contained as the yellow metal holds onto the USD 1800/oz mark it reclaimed amid USD weakness in APAC hours. While base metals are firmer but again within familiar ranges. Russian President Putin says Russia meets gas supply obligations under long-term deals, prior to providing gas to spot markets; adds that Gazprom has not booked gas via the Yamal-Europe line due to a lack of requests, pipeline in reverse mode. Europe has created its own gas problems, should resolve this themselves; are prepared to assist.Germany is selling Russian gas to Poland, think it ends up in Ukraine. Exxon (XOM) Baytown complex (560k BPD capacity) in Texas has reported a fire at the facility, according to the community alert system; Some injuries have been reported following a 'major industrial accident' at the Exxon (XOM) Baytown complex (560k BPD capacity) in Texas, via the Harris County Sheriff - No reports to evacuate/shelter in place after the fire. Based on current information, no adverse impact. US Event Calendar 8:30am: Dec. Initial Jobless Claims, est. 205,000, prior 206,000; Continuing Claims, est. 1.84m, prior 1.85m 8:30am: Nov. Personal Income, est. 0.4%, prior 0.5% Personal Spending, est. 0.6%, prior 1.3% 8:30am: Nov. PCE Deflator MoM, est. 0.6%, prior 0.6%; YoY, est. 5.7%, prior 5.0% PCE Core Deflator MoM, est. 0.4%, prior 0.4%; YoY, est. 4.5%, prior 4.1% 8:30am: Nov. Durable Goods Orders, est. 1.8%, prior -0.4% Durables-Less Transportation, est. 0.6%, prior 0.5% Cap Goods Orders Nondef Ex Air, est. 0.7%, prior 0.7% Cap Goods Ship Nondef Ex Air, est. 0.6%, prior 0.4% 10am: Nov. New Home Sales MoM, est. 3.3%, prior 0.4% 10am: Dec. U. of Mich. Sentiment, est. 70.4, prior 70.4 Current Conditions, prior 74.6 Expectations, prior 67.8 1 Yr Inflation, est. 4.9%, prior 4.9%; 5-10 Yr Inflation, prior 3.0%; 10am: Nov. New Home Sales, est. 770,000, prior 745,000 Tyler Durden Thu, 12/23/2021 - 08:06.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 23rd, 2021

New York City Offers $100 Bribe To Get Booster Shots Before The New Year

New York City Offers $100 Bribe To Get Booster Shots Before The New Year Nothing screams of desperation quite like offering money so people can take a booster shot for a "vaccine" that apparently does nothing to actually prevent the spread of the covid virus. And yet, that's what New York City is doing: according to outgoing socialist mayor Bill de Blasio, the Big Apple is digging back into its pockets as it scrambles to curb the record-setting omicron tide spreading across the heavily -vaccinated city, and is offering $100 cash to anyone who gets a COVID-19 booster at a city-run vaccine site between now and New Year's Eve. Calling the program "by far the biggest booster incentive program in the United States of America," Bill de Blasio acknowledged the limited-time opportunity but said it was coming at exactly the right time for the pandemic-weary city, NBC New York reports. "This will be by far the biggest booster incentive program in the United States of America and I want to see New Yorkers respond," he said. "This is the moment. Get those booster shots. Help make your family safer, help make this whole city safer." New Yorkers can also go to SOMOS sites partnering with the city and get the $100 incentive. De Blasio, in his waning days in office, made the announcement during his third COVID briefing in three days as he seeks to boost protection for the one-time pandemic epicenter, which is now in the throes of another intense viral wave. The Democrat warned New Yorkers that his health team expects the current surge to intensify in short order, contributing to an unprecedented increase in viral spread, but this latest wave is only expected to last a few weeks. The city's rolling case weekly average is up nearly 123% over the averages for the prior four weeks, Tuesday's data shows. Hospitalizations are up 12% by the same parameters, but the vast majority of those cases are people who aren't vaccinated. "Everyone who has not been vaccinated, it's time. Everyone who has not gotten that booster, it's time. This city is ready to make sure everyone gets that booster and that's the way we move through these challenging few weeks," de Blasio said Tuesday. "No more shutdowns. We've been through them, they were devasting, we can't go through it again. We need to all work together these next few weeks." While much is still to learn about omicron, de Blasio has said research shows it is most certainly more transmissible than any previous strain and likely more vaccine-resistant. But we do know vaccinations work against omicron, he says and data from Moderna and Pfizer show boosters make the protection even more effective. Actually what he meant is that the vaccination does nothing at all to contain the spread of Omicron, and as for whether it is actually more severe in unvaccinated patients, that remains to be seen  - so far Omicron has been extremely mild across all carriers. Meanwhile, Omicron has already usurped the delta variant as the most dominant COVID strain in the United States, accounting for nearly three-quarters of all new cases last week, officials said late on Monday. There was nearly a six-fold increase in omicron's share of new U.S. infections in just a week, according to the CDC. New York City data only has omicron representing 1% of all genetically sequenced cases, but so few positive samples are tested like that (3.6% statewide) that the actual count is likely far higher, officials say. The positivity rates the five boroughs have experienced so far this month reflect the heightened contagiousness of omicron, which is said to replicate up to 70 times faster in airways than delta. As New York City's top doctor recently said, "Omicron has proven to be the fastest, fittest and most formidable COVID-19 variant due to its ability to evade the immune system, meaning that those who’ve already had COVID and those who are vaccinated are more likely to be infected with omicron compared to past variants." While early data has shown this variant may be more vaccine-resistant than earlier COVID strains, accounting in part for rising rates of breakthrough infections, all existing vaccines provide more protection against the variant than no vaccine, and booster shots multiply that protection considerably, the drugmakers - who "clearly" have no conflict of interest - have said. Tyler Durden Tue, 12/21/2021 - 11:54.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 21st, 2021

Moderna Claims Third "Booster" Dose 37 Times More Effective Against Omicron

Moderna Claims Third "Booster" Dose 37 Times More Effective Against Omicron If there's one skill Pfizer, Moderna and their vaccine-producing big pharma rivals have mastered over the last two years since SARS-CoV-2 first stormed out of Wuhan and infected the world, it's moving the goalposts - and not just with their rhetoric, with their research as well. First it was two shots. Then it was two shots and a booster dose. Now, as COVID cases and hospitalizations surge in what's shaping up to be another seasonal wave, Moderna has published new research purporting to show that a third full dose of its vaccine specifically increases antibody levels that are useful against the omicron variant. A 50 microgram booster dose, which is half the dose used for primary immunization, created a 37x increase in neutralizing antibodies, the company said in a statement Monday. Moderna also tested a 100 microgram dose, which increased antibody levels 83x compared with the primary two-dose course. Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel, who, like his chief rival, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, has spent much of the past month doing non-stop media interviews with TV and digital media outlets, praised the data as "reassuring" and a sign that the vaccine will help protect people who have already received it from the omicron variant (which, as many readers probably know by now, is only responsible for a tiny fraction of newly diagnosed cases in this wave).  "To respond to this highly transmissible variant, Moderna will continue to rapidly advance an omicron-specific booster candidate into clinical testing in case it becomes necessary in the future.” The news helped create some lift for Moderna shares, which were trading more than 6% higher in premarket. But as one Bloomberg analyst pointed out, while the findings are certainly encouraging, they will only be meaningful if they last. “The actual fold increase is only valuable if it’s compared with other vaccines,” said Sam Fazeli, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst. ”These levels should increase protection against infection but the key question is how long do they last.” Moderna's data are based on lab tests using blood serum from 20 booster recipients with each dose, with antibody levels measured on day 29 after the booster dose has been received. Moderna said it also plans to submit the results for online publication. The company is testing different booster candidates against a range of variants in mid and late-stage trials. The biotech said it plans to start testing its omicron-specific vaccine in humans early next year. Tyler Durden Mon, 12/20/2021 - 07:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 20th, 2021

Moderna says third dose of its COVID vaccine offers higher protection against omicron

Moderna said Monday that preliminary data showed that a 50 microgram booster dose of its COVID vaccine triggered a 37-fold rise in neutralizing antibodies against the omicron variant of coronavirus. Tests also showed that a 100 microgram dose increased those neutralizing antibodies 83-fold against omicron, the company said in a statement. Stéphane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna, said the company would continue to "rapidly advance" an omicron-specific booster candidate. The data is based on sera from 20 booster recipients at the 50 and 100 microgram dosage level, and the company said all showed low neutralizing antibody levels against omicron prior to that additional dosage. Shares of Moderna jumped 6% in premarket trading.Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news......»»

Category: topSource: marketwatchDec 20th, 2021

"The Truth Is, We Have No Idea" - CDC Data Missed Millions Of Unvaccinated Americans

"The Truth Is, We Have No Idea" - CDC Data Missed Millions Of Unvaccinated Americans What a surprise - the CDC and states across the country have been over-counting the number of American adults who have been fully vaccinated. Here's how Bloomberg explains this accident (because what kind of person would do this on purpose?): "in collating reams of data on vaccinations, the US has counted too many shots as first doses when they are instead second doses or booster shots." Here's the tell: CDC data show 240MM people with at least one shot - about 72.5% of the population. But it also says only 203MM have been fully vaccinated, or 61.3%, an 11-percentage-point difference that is far larger than in other developed countries. So, either Americans are so lazy - or perhaps don't want to endure another series of adverse reactions - that they won't show up to get their second dose, or there's something wrong with these numbers. And it might not surprise you to learn that a number of state and local officials believes it's the latter. State and local officials say it’s improbable that 37MM Americans got one shot without completing their inoculations. Instead, they say, the government has regularly and incorrectly counted booster shots and second doses as first doses. Their conclusion is that both fully vaccinated and completely unvaccinated are officially undercounted. As for the precise number miscounted, that's unknown, but revisions in data from three states - Illinois, Pennsylvania and West Virginia - found enough over-counting of first shots to suggest that there are plenty of unvaccinated people nationally who’ve mistakenly been counted as having received a dose. One of the biggest gaps identified was in Pennsylvania, where CDC estimates of first doses for the elderly exceed the state of Pennsylvania's estimate by about 850,000. If changes are made to the national data on the scale of Pennsylvania's revisions, this would mean increasing the number of Americans who are unvaccinated by more than 10MM. "The truth is, we have no idea," said Clay Marsh, West Virginia's Covid czar. It might not seem like such a big deal (China lies about its numbers almost constantly) but it could create problems when it comes to distributing boosters (and the inevitable next generation of vaccines): "where it has really made it difficult for us is targeting our booster messaging" said James Garrow, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, which has worked with the state to blend data sets for a more accurate view of vaccination trends. "We don’t have any faith in the numbers on the CDC website, and we never refer to them," he said. What they fail to mention in the story is that, unfortunately, when omicron hits, many of the vaccinated will also pay the price. Tyler Durden Sat, 12/18/2021 - 12:54.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 18th, 2021

Futures Ramp On China Stimulus Hopes Ahead Of Central Bank Barrage

Futures Ramp On China Stimulus Hopes Ahead Of Central Bank Barrage U.S. futures rose again, starting the Santa rally predicted over the weekend by Goldman, after the underlying index surged to a record on Friday with risk appetite returning ahead of this week’s barrage of central bank meetings including the Fed on Wednesday, followed by the Bank of England and ECB. Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 0.4% as major technology and internet stocks rose in premarket trading with Apple inching closer to a $3 trillion market valuation; S&P 500 futures rose 11 points or 0.2%; with Dow Jones futures also rising 0.2%. Chinese developers’ bonds and shares experienced a wave of selling after the sudden plunge in Shimao Group's notes restarted concern over the health of the sector 10-year Treasury yields inched lower to 1.4684% and the dollar pushed higher. Bitcoin extended losses toward $48,000 as Binance bailed on plans for a Singapore exchange. Traders pared bets that the BOE will raise rates next year as concerns over fresh Covid restrictions outweighed inflation fears. Risk sentiment got a boost from predictions China will start adding fiscal stimulus in early 2022, said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote. “The chances of a massive hawkish surprise are limited, and the actual expectation doesn’t interfere with equity investors’ craving for a Santa rally to close a record-breaking year with one last record,” she wrote. Indeed, as we have been expecting for much of the past 6 months, China’s top decision makers last week signaled policies may become more supportive of growth next year. Economists predict China will start adding fiscal stimulus in early 2022. US stocks close Friday at a new record after in-line inflation data did not surprise to the upside for the first time in months and spurred bets that the Federal Reserve won’t have to accelerate plans to tighten monetary policy. That came amid a backdrop of uncertainty from the omicron coronavirus variant, a factor that traders are likely to also monitor closely as the week starts. Volatility should remain high as several central banks will decide on interest rates this week, Pierre Veyret, a technical analyst at ActivTrades, said in written comments. The “policies should set the trading tone, providing investors with more clues on next year’s investing environment.” The Federal Reserve on Wednesday is expected to speed up stimulus withdrawal and perhaps open the door to earlier interest-rate hikes in 2022 if price pressures stay near a four-decade peak. After repeated jawboning, it would be a major surprise if the bank doesn't announce a faster tapering, and the bond market will have to adapt to the new approach. “Global equities had a solid run last week and we’ll see if the goodwill lasts into what is a behemoth when it comes to event risk,” Chris Weston, head of research with Pepperstone Financial Pty Ltd., wrote in a note. Omicron and the Fed should dictate sentiment, he added. Meanwhile, in the world of covid, at least 30 U.S. states have reported omicron cases, with Anthony Fauci of course stepping up calls for boosters to increase protection and making pharma CEOs even richer. That said, all cases for which there's available information were asymptomatic or mild, European health chiefs said. That did not stop Boris Johnson from warning that the U.K. faces a tidal wave of infections and set a year-end deadline for its booster program. South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa tested positive. Here are some of the biggest U.S. movers today: Arena Pharmaceuticals soars after Pfizer agrees to buy it for $100/Shr in Cash Apple shares rose 1%, leaving the stock close to hitting $3t market capitalization if the move holds. Airbnb, Lucid, Zscaler and Datadog shares all rise in U.S. premarket trading with the companies set to be added to the Nasdaq 100 index later this month. Peloton Interactive shares gain after the home-exercise firm put out an advert responding to a scene in the TV show “And Just Like That...” where a character dies using its product. The stock closed 5.4% lower on Friday, the day after the episode aired. TherapeuticsMD fell 25% in premarket trading after the FDA said it couldn’t approve revisions to some manufacturing testing limits for the Annovera birth-control ring requested by the company through a supplemental new drug application. European stocks also advanced, led by technology and mining stocks. The Euro Stoxx 50 rose as much as 1%, DAX outperforming at the margin.  In the U.K., traders are paring back bets on Bank of England rate hikes over the next year as concerns over fresh Covid restrictions outweigh inflation fears. Asian stocks erased an early advance as deepening losses in shares of Chinese property developers and persistent concerns over the omicron coronavirus variant soured sentiment. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was down 0.2% after having climbed as much as 0.8%. Equity benchmarks in India and South Korea led regional declines. While stocks in China and Hong Kong rallied in morning trade on signals policies may become more pro-growth next year, the Hang Seng Index erased a gain of as much as 1.6%. That was owing to a selloff in real estate names after a plunge in the bonds and shares of Shimao Group sparked renewed concern over the health of the sector. Monday’s trading in Asia also highlighted investor caution as markets confront potential economic risks from omicron’s spread and a series of central bank meetings this week, including the Federal Reserve. The Fed on Wednesday is expected to speed up stimulus withdrawal and perhaps open the door to earlier interest-rate hikes in 2022 if price pressures stay near a four-decade peak. “We are in the last three weeks of the year -- no investor is going to place new bets and are more likely to be taking profits off the table,” said Justin Tang, head of Asian research at United First Partners. “Any negative news will be taken as a reason to press the sell button.” Meanwhile, China’s stocks climbed for the fourth day in five after the nation’s annual economic conference ended Friday with a vow to ensure “stability” and “front load” policies. Foreign investors on Monday added to record purchases of mainland shares last week. Focus now shifts to data due later in the week, including industrial production, retail sales and fixed-asset investment. India’s benchmark stock index dropped, with a fall in Reliance Industries Ltd. weighing on the market. The S&P BSE Sensex slipped 0.9% to close at 58,283.42 in Mumbai, reversing gains of as much as 0.7%. The index had posted its best weekly performance since mid-October on Friday. The NSE Nifty 50 Index also fell 0.8% on Monday. Still, a measure of small-cap companies gained 0.2%. Reliance, the nation’s most valuable company, dropped 2%. Out of 30 shares in the Sensex, 23 fell and seven rose. All but one of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. declined, led by a gauge of energy companies. “Selling is more evident in benchmark indices as overseas investors are booking at least a part of their profits ahead of the U.S. Fed’s rate-setting meeting that is likely to speed up the policy normalization process,” Abhay Agarwal, founder of Mumbai-based Piper Serica Advisors Pvt., an investment management company with assets of 5 billion rupees under management, said by phone.  The Fed.’s policy announcement is due Wednesday, where it is expected to speed up stimulus withdrawal and perhaps open the door to earlier interest-rate hikes in 2022. “Post-event, we expect to see a reallocation, though at a slower pace as FPIs will factor in the possible hike in interest rates, apart from the tapering of stimulus,” Agarwal said. Locally, the government will release its consumer inflation print for the month of November later on Monday. Inflation likely rose to 5.1% year-on-year in November from 4.5% in the previous month, according to a Bloomberg survey. Fixed income drifts higher with bund and UST curves bull flattening. Treasury yields were lower as the U.S. trading day begins, with the 10Y sliding to 1.46% and short-term little changed, prolonging the curve-flattening trend. With no U.S. economic data slated and Fed speakers silent ahead of Wednesday’s policy meeting, supply is a focal point, and Fed is slated to buy long-end sectors with no coupon supply until next week’s 20-year reopening. 10- to 30-year yields lower by about 1bp-2bp, 10-year by 1.5b at ~1.468%; 2- to 5-year yields little changed, narrowing 2s10s and 5s30s by 1bp-2bp.Peripheral spreads tighten slightly with short-dated BTPs leading a cautious move higher. Gilts bull steepen, trading ~2.5bps richer across the short end as money markets continue to price out hikes in light of the latest Covid restrictions. In FX, Bloomberg Dollar index drifts 0.3% higher, erasing Friday’s decline and rallying against all its peers with the focus on Wednesday’s Federal Reserve meeting amid speculation officials might accelerate the pace of policy normalization. Flows in the spot market are running at 70% of the recent average, a Europe-based trader told Bloomberg. Volatility term structures in the major currencies remain inverted as the market awaits forward guidance that could shape trading for the better part of 2022 U.S. inflation data in line with expectations on Friday “almost certainly won’t change the balance-of-risk assessment for the Fed, and the communications of late expressing concern over inflation risks remain valid,” says MUFG’s Derek Halpenny. “The week starts quietly in terms of data today but it remains likely that the dollar will remain supported into the FOMC on Wednesday with anticipation high of some hawkish rhetoric to accompany the decision to speed up QE tapering.” GBP/USD fell 0.2% to 1.3244 after gaining 0.5% over the previous two sessions. The Bank of England is set to opt for caution over Covid rather than worries about inflation, pushing back its first rate increase since the pandemic into 2022, according to economists. U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said there’s no certainty the government will be able to keep schools in England open, as it battles to contain the spread of the omicron Covid-19 variant.  “This week is interesting for GBP as markets scrutinize labor-market report tomorrow ahead of BOE,” said Christopher Wong, senior foreign-exchange strategist at Malayan Banking Bhd. in Singapore. “There are concerns unemployment will spike if workers are made redundant or if people cannot find jobs, and this labor report will provide the first assessment.” The Yen outperformed amid broad dollar strength; USD/JPY still up 0.2% at 113.69. AUD and NOK are the weakest in G-10.  Turkish lira crashed again, plunging to a new record low in early London trade with USD/TRY initially rallying over 6% to highs of 14.7590, before fading some of the move after another intervention from the Turkish central bank. In commodities, crude futures give back Asia’s gains; WTI is little changed near $71.78, Brent dips below $75.50. Spot gold holds a narrow range near $1,785/oz. Most base metals are in the green with LME aluminum outperforming.  Bitcoin once again failed to rise above $50,000, extending losses toward $48,000 as Binance bailed on plans for a Singapore exchange There are no major economic developments on today's calendar, but it's a busy week with about 20 central banks making monetary policy announcements, including the Fed, the BOE and ECB, and the divergence of their paths will be evident. Jerome Powell may turn more hawkish as he fights rising inflation, while the ECB joins China in leaning dovish and playing down soaring prices. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.4% to 4,728.00 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.7% to 478.82 MXAP down 0.2% to 193.62 MXAPJ down 0.3% to 630.93 Nikkei up 0.7% to 28,640.49 Topix up 0.1% to 1,978.13 Hang Seng Index down 0.2% to 23,954.58 Shanghai Composite up 0.4% to 3,681.08 Sensex down 0.9% to 58,278.65 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.4% to 7,379.26 Kospi down 0.3% to 3,001.66 Brent Futures up 0.8% to $75.74/bbl Gold spot up 0.1% to $1,784.20 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.34% to 96.42 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.36% Euro down 0.4% to $1.1265 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Almost 20 central banks meet this week, including the world’s biggest. No surprise that volatility term structures in the major currencies remain inverted as the market awaits forward guidance that could shape trading for the better part of 2022 The Bank of Japan offered to buy 2 trillion yen ($17.6 billion) of government bonds under repurchase agreements after repo rates jumped to a two-year high Turkey’s central bank intervened in the market by selling FX after the lira tumbled past 14 to the dollar for the first time, piling pressure on a central bank that’s forecast to keep cutting interest rates this week despite rising inflation. The decline came after S&P Global Ratings lowered the outlook on the nation’s sovereign credit rating to negative on Friday, citing risks from the “extreme currency volatility” The ECB’s biggest decision this week is to decide if it can still call the current inflation spike “transitory.” The answer will have a huge bearing on the euro-area economy, which is already dealing with resurgent coronavirus infections, new restrictions and lockdowns, and uncertainty about the omicron variant ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos is self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19 on Saturday, the ECB said in a statement posted on its website. Guindos hasn’t been in close contact with ECB President Christine Lagarde over the past week, according to the statement. The Spaniard, who is double- vaccinated and has very mild symptoms, will work from home until further notice Two doses of the Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc. vaccines induced lower levels of antibodies against the omicron variant, increasing the risk of Covid infection, according to researchers from the University of Oxford. A more detailed breakdown of overnight news from Newsquawk Asia-Pac equity markets took their cues from last Friday’s gains on Wall Street where the S&P 500 notched a fresh record close and its best weekly performance since February, with markets now bracing for a risk-packed week including a busy schedule of central bank meetings. The ASX 200 (+0.4%) traded higher with risk appetite supported by the reopening of Australia’s borders to international students and skilled workers from Wednesday, while the government will also partially underwrite up to AUD 7bln in new loans for small businesses impacted by lockdowns. The Nikkei 225 (+0.7%) benefitted from the mild outflows from the JPY, with the index unphased by mixed Tankan and Machinery Orders data in which the Tankan Large Manufacturers Index and Outlook missed expectations but sentiment among Large Non-Manufacturers and Small Manufacturers improved for the sixth consecutive quarter. The Hang Seng (-0.2%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.4%) predominantly conformed to the upbeat mood amid economists' expectations for China to add fiscal stimulus from early next year following last week’s conclusion to the Central Economic Work Conference, which noted that China's economy faces shrinking demand, supply shock, and weakening expectations but added that economic operations are to be kept within a reasonable range. Alibaba shares were among the biggest gainers in Hong Kong as it extended its rebound from YTD lows. Finally, 10yr JGBs were rangebound with March futures contained by resistance at the key 152.00 level and amid the positive mood across riskier assets, although JGBs were off the lows seen late last week where there were source reports that the BoJ is likely to scale back its pandemic relief programs in March with a potential announcement as early as this week’s meeting. Top Asian News Shriram Units Merge to Form Largest India Retail Financier Intel to Spend $7 Billion on Big Malaysia Chipmaking Expansion Shimao Group Appoints Xie Kun as Executive Director Daimler Reveals Chinese Partner BAIC Raised Stake to Almost 10% Stocks in Europe have continued to gain since the cash open (Euro Stoxx 50 +1.0%; Stoxx 600 +0.5%) as the APAC sentiment reverberates through the region following a fleeting blip lower in early European trade. US equity futures are also firmer but to a lesser magnitude – with the RTY (+0.3%) narrowly outpacing the ES (+0.%), NQ (+0.4%) and YM (+0.2%). Focus this week will be on the slew of central bank updates which kicks off with the FOMC on Wednesday, followed by the BoE and ECB on Thursday - with Flash PMIs, Christmas liquidity and Quad Witching also part of this week’s concoction. Add to that the potential tail-risk from geopolitics and headline risk from COVID. Nonetheless, European cash markets at the moment seem unfazed by what’s ahead. Sectors are pro-cyclical with Basic Resources and Autos topping the charts, whilst the defensive Healthcare, Telecoms and Personal & Household goods reside at the bottom. A recent Citi note suggests that rising earnings should keep European stocks moving higher and offset expansive valuations and tightening monetary policy in the US. Citi targets some 9% upside for the Stoxx 600 next year, with a target of 520 (vs current c.477), whilst 12% upside is targeted in the FTSE 100 to 8,200 (vs current c. 7,303). Citi leans in favour of cyclicals vs defensives - with overweights in Banks, Insurance, Basic Resources, Industrials, Media, Luxury Goods and Chemicals. Citi is underweight Utilities, Telecoms, Food & Beverages, Personal Care, Travel, Autos and Financial Services. The bank has also added to its focus list: AstraZeneca (+0.1%), Aviva (+0.7%), Capgemini (+1.2%), Faurecia (+0.9%), Iberdrola (-0.3%), Lloyds (-0.7%), Prosus (+1.5%), Royal Mail (+1.6%), Sanofi (Unch), Tesco (+0.4%), UBS (+0.2%), Vodafone (Unch), Volvo (+1.1%). Separately, Goldman Sachs sees muted returns for global stocks next year amid negative real rates coupled with high equity risk premia and in the absence of a growth shock. GS suggests that risks are growing in the US on a relative basis and sees a maximum drawdown of between -5 to -10% over the next 12 months. Top European News European Gas, Power Prices Surge on Nord Stream 2 Worries U.K. Says Can’t Rule Out Shutting Schools as Omicron Spreads UBS Global Wealth Management Discontinues USDTRY Coverage Vivendi Has ‘Never Been a Threat’ to Lagardere: Arnaud Lagardere In FX, the Greenback has clawed back all and a bit more of its post-US inflation data losses, partly on reflection perhaps that the CPI prints were broadly in line, and actually a tad above consensus in terms of the m/m headline rate, so highly unlikely to derail the Fed from upping the pace of QE tapering this week and probably won’t deter the more hawkish FOMC members from pencilling in a steeper lift-off. Hence, having ended Friday’s session fractionally below a Fib retracement level (96.098), the index subsequently eclipsed the intraday peak (96.429) to turn what was a bearish technical close into a constructive start to the new week within a 96.080-450 range and a ‘close’ above 96.500 would be deemed positive, if not bullish. CHF/EUR/AUD - Very little traction from latest signs of building inflation pressure in the Eurozone via German wholesale prices reaching a record high 16.6% y/y in November, but the Euro has held above 1.0400 against the Franc in wake of latest weekly Swiss sight deposits showing a rise in domestic bank balances. Meanwhile, the single currency has absorbed some stops triggered on a breach of 1.1265 vs the Buck and could derive underlying support from decent option expiry interest at 1.1250 (1.5 bn) at the base of a band extending to 1.1320 (2 bn) through 1.1270-1.1300 (1.1 bn), and Usd/Chf is hovering around 0.9250 at the upper end of a 0.9257-00 band ahead of producer/import prices on Tuesday. Elsewhere, the Aussie has not been able to benefit from good news in the form of Australia opening its borders to international students and skilled workers from Wednesday, Government plans to partially underwrite up to Aud 7 bn new loans for small businesses impacted by lockdowns, or buoyant risk appetite, as it straddles 0.7150 against its US counterpart. JPY/NZD/CAD/GBP - Also conceding ground to their US peer, with the Yen back below 113.50 and hardly helped by mixed Japanese macro releases including December’s Tankan survey and October machinery orders, while the Kiwi is back under 0.6800 even though NZ PM Ardern said the COVID-19 alert level for Auckland is to be eased on December 30 and the next review is scheduled for January 17. The Loonie is slipping alongside WTI between 1.2753-06 parameters and Cable has tested Fib support into 1.3200 at 1.3200 amidst ongoing UK political furore over Conservative Party transgressions during lockdown last year and heightened Omicron restrictions to prevent a tidal wave of infections. In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures have been drifting lower since the European morning after the former tested USD 73/bbl to the upside and the latter briefly topped USD 76/bbl. Newsflow for the complex has been light but there have been further positive omens regarding the Iranian nuclear talks - Iran’s top nuclear negotiator said good progress was made in nuclear talks and can quickly pave the way for serious negotiations, whilst Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister said they have reason to anticipate some progress. That being said, we are yet to hear from some of the western nations. Meanwhile, on the OPEC front, Iraq’s Oil Minister said he expects OPEC to maintain its current policy of gradual monthly increases of 400k BPD at the next meeting – slated for early January. On the COVID front, the UK opted not to further tighten restrictions over the weekend but instead boosted the booster programme, whilst reports surrounding the Omicron variant have all highlighted a mild illness. The geopolitical space may require some more attention as tensions remain high on the Ukraine/Russia and Taiwan/China front, with the US involved in both. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, according to reports this morning, said if the US and NATO do not provide them with guarantees around security, it may lead to confrontation – and emphasised that the lack of progress on this would lead to a military response. Further, there were reports that Saudi Arabia and Iran held security talks. Ahead, the monthly OPEC oil market report is due to be released, but focus this week will likely remain on the slew of central bank meetings. Elsewhere, spot gold and silver are constrained to recent ranges ahead of a risk-packed week, with the former still in a purgatory zone below its 50 DMA (1,789/oz), 200 DMA (1,793/oz) and 100 DMA (1,795/oz). Meanwhile, LME copper is firmer on the mild market optimism but has receded south of the USD 9,500/t mark. US Event Calendar Nothing major scheduled DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap We had our first Xmas lunch yesterday with my golf club hosting Santa (arriving on a golf buggy up the 18th fairway) and welcoming kids to the dinning room. I spent the whole lunch worrying their behaviour would get me black balled and banned from golf. Before we went my wife and I took lateral flow tests and Maisie asked if this was to stop Santa getting the virus? She then asked who would deliver all the presents if he had to self isolate. I must admit that I thought this was a very good question, especially as she’s starting to slowly question his existence. I said it was likely ok as Santa had just got his booster as he is over 50. I remember when the third week of December was one long string of Xmas client lunches that you desperately tried the leave as early as you could politely do so even if that was 8pm. This week they’ll be no time for lunches and we’ll be glued to our screens with just the eight G20 central banks deciding on monetary policy. The Fed’s decision on Wednesday will be key of course, with anticipation that they might accelerate the tapering of their asset purchases, but there’s also the ECB and Bank of England meetings to watch out for as well. All of them are very much “live” meetings. Elsewhere the flash PMIs for December (Thursday) could give us an initial indication as to how increased restrictions have begun to affect economic activity. US retail sales and UK CPI (both Wednesday) might be other interesting data points. Reviewing the main highlights in more details now. The Fed’s decision on Wednesday will be the focal point of the week. In terms of what to expect, our US economists write in their preview (link here) that they anticipate a doubling in the pace of tapering, which would bring the monthly drawdown of Treasury and MBS to $20bn and $10bn per month respectively. That would see the process of tapering conclude in March, giving them greater optionality for an earlier liftoff. Bear in mind that this meeting will also see the release of the latest dot plot, as well as the projections for inflation, growth and unemployment. On that, our economists see the median dot in 2022 likely showing two rate hikes, with risks of more, up from September when only half the dots saw any hikes by the end of 2022. The ECB’s decision will then follow on Thursday. In our European economists’ preview (link here) they write that until the arrival of the Omicron variant, the ECB appeared on track to initiate a transition to a monetary policy stance based more on policy rates and rates guidance and less on liquidity provision. They were also set to create a policy framework with more optionality to better respond to inflation uncertainties. The Omicron variant reinforces the need for optionality, but until there’s greater clarity on what it means for the pandemic and the recovery, the ECB may stall the expected decisions in part or in whole until early 2022. As with the Fed, it’ll be interesting to see the December staff forecasts on inflation, which could influence the market view on lift-off timing. The Bank of England’s decision will then take place on Thursday, and our UK economist expects the MPC will raise Bank Rate by +15bps to 0.25%. In the preview (link here) it argues that news of the Omicron variant has changed little on the medium-term economic outlook, with the labour market remaining as tight as it has been in recent memory, and inflation continuing to outpace staff forecasts. Nevertheless, the risks to this view are finely balanced, and risk management considerations may lead them to delay a rate hike, as they instead opt to find out more information on Omicron’s impact. Finally on the central bank front, the Bank of Japan will be holding their final monetary policy meeting of the year on Friday. In our economist’s preview (link here), it says that although there had been an expectation that the bank would revise their special pandemic corporate financing support program at this meeting, the emergence of the Omicron variant has changed the situation. Given the next meeting is only a month later, the view is now that they’ll maintain a wait-and-see stance in this meeting and adjust the policy in January, although a revision remains possible this week if more positive evidence is found on the new variant. Moving on to the data, the main highlight will be the flash PMIs for December from around the world on Thursday which will offer an initial indication as to whether there’s been any economic reaction yet to rise in restrictions and the emergence of the Omicron variant. There’ll also be an increasing amount of hard data out of the US for November, including retail sales (Wednesday), industrial production, housing starts and building permits (all Thursday). In China, Wednesday will see the release of their own retail sales and industrial production data for November, and in Germany on Friday there’s the Ifo’s business climate indicator for December. Finally on the inflation side, releases will include the US PPI data for November tomorrow, along with the UK and Canadian CPI readings for November on Wednesday. Late on Friday the UK released a paper looking at vaccine effectiveness against the Omicron variant. The good news is it suggested those who’d been boosted at least a couple of weeks ago still had decent protection, with 3 doses of Pfizer offering 75.5% effectiveness against symptomatic disease, and those who’d had two doses of AstraZeneca followed by a Pfizer booster had 71.4% effectiveness. Those are both lower than the 90+% effectiveness against delta with a booster, but is still much better than some of the worst outcomes had feared. Furthermore, if the past variants are anything to go by, then the protection against severe disease and hospitalisation could be even higher. However, the bad news is it indicated those who’ve been double-jabbed for some months now have significantly waning protection against this new variant from a purely symptomatic basis without a booster, so this will only encourage governments to ramp up their booster campaigns. The UK last night accelerated their plans to get all over 18s offered a booster. It’s now by the end of the year which will be a Herculean task. This follows PM Johnson last night telling the nation that there’s a tidal wave of Omicron cases coming. The government expects it to become the dominant strain very soon in what will be an incredibly short space of time. Overnight in Asia, markets are trading notably higher with the CSI (+1.31%), Hang Seng (+1.01%), Shanghai Composite (+1.00%), the Nikkei (+0.89%) and KOSPI (+0.28%) all strong after China's policymakers' hinted at more stimulus at the end of annual Central Economic Work Conference on Friday. Indeed our economists suggest that this is the decisive policy shift that markets have been waiting for and believe it’s a big deal. See their report on it here. This optimism is being reflected in the near 6% jump in Iron Ore trading overnight. DM futures are indicating a positive start to markets in the US and Europe with S&P 500 (+0.37%) and DAX (+0.44%) futures both in the green. Looking back at last week now and the focus remained squarely on Omicron, where the lack of any concrete bad news lent a more optimistic tone. This modestly improved risk sentiment sent equities and yields higher, and pushed volatility lower with the VIX ending the week -11.88 ppts lower at 18.79. The S&P 500 and Stoxx 600 gained +3.82% and +2.76% over the week (+0.95% and -0.30% Friday respectively). Cyclical sectors and tech stocks led the gains in the US. The small cap Russell 2000 advanced +2.43% (-0.38% Friday) while the Nasdaq climbed +3.61% (+0.73% Friday). The optimism also pushed yields higher and yield curves slightly steeper, with the 10yr treasury gaining +14.1bps this week after a poor close the previous week (-1.5bps Friday) and 10yr bunds climbing +5.1bps (+0.7bps Friday). The 2s10s treasury curve steepened +7.2bps (+1.6bps Friday). Ahead of the Fed’s meeting this week, the market is pricing the first full Fed rate hike by June. In the world of central banking, the Bank of Canada kept policy on hold and reinforced expectations for their inflation target to be sustainably achieved in the middle of 2022, enabling policy rate hikes. Like most DM central banks, they are focused on persistently elevated inflation, which they ascribe to supply constraints that will take time to alleviate. The Reserve Bank of Australia also left its benchmark interest rate unchanged while cautioning that price pressures remain subdued, in contrast to the rest of the DM space. In China, the PBoC cut the required reserve ratio by -50bps to support the economy, while FX reserve ratio was lifted +2.0% to lean against an appreciating renminbi. Property developers Evergrande and Kaisa defaulted on dollar debt. Chinese officials asserted the defaults would be dealt with “in a market-oriented way”. Geopolitical rumblings out of Europe also garnered focus. Presidents Biden and Putin held a phone call to discuss tensions following the build-up of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border. The readouts following the call offered few details but signalled both sides would follow up. President Biden has cautioned severe economic sanctions would be levied should Russia invade Ukraine, including sanctions on Putin’s inner circle, energy companies, and banks. The US would also consider severing Russian access to the US-run international payments system, SWIFT. On Friday, US CPI increased 0.8% and core US CPI increased 0.5% month-over-month in November, with the headline reading a tenth ahead of expectations. Commensurate year-over-year readings were 6.8% and 4.9%, the highest readings since 1982 and 1991, respectively. Measures of underlying and trend inflation continued to move higher, suggesting the Fed’s recent hawkish pivot will continue to be embraced by policymakers. Tyler Durden Mon, 12/13/2021 - 07:56.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 13th, 2021

Futures Rebound Ahead Of Critical CPI Print

Futures Rebound Ahead Of Critical CPI Print US futures rebounded on Friday from Thursday's selloff as traders waited with bated breath for an inflation report that could strengthen the case for an aggressive policy tightening by the Federal Reserve, while Oracle Corp jumped on an upbeat third-quarter outlook. At 730 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 109 points, or 0.30%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 16.25 points, or 0.35%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 53.50 points, or 0.4%. Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index pared an earlier decline, while a Bloomberg gauge of Asian airlines fell. In China, Evergrande chairman Hui Ka Yan sold just over a 2% stake in the company, in the same week the property developer was officially labeled a defaulter for the first time. The dollar, Treasury yields and oil advanced. Shares of Oracle gained 11.2% in premarket trading after posting forecast-beating results for the second quarter, helped by higher technology spending from businesses looking to support hybrid work.  Broadcom Inc rose 7.0% as the semiconductor firm sees first-quarter revenue above Wall Street expectations and announced a $10 billion share buyback plan. So far this week, the Nasdaq and the S&P advanced over 2.8% each and the Dow rallied 3.4%. The S&P is now down 1.6% from its all-time peak. The S&P 500 dropped 5.2% from a record high hit on Nov. 22 as investors digested Jerome Powell's renomination as the Fed's chair, his hawkish commentary to tackle. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate on Thursday passed and sent to President Joe Biden the first of two bills needed to raise the federal government's $28.9 trillion debt limit and avert an unprecedented default. In other news, the U.S. government moved a step closer to prosecuting Julian Assange on espionage charges, after London judges accepted that the WikiLeaks chief can be safely sent to America. With headline CPI expected to print at 6.8% Y/Y this morning - in what would be its highest level since 1982 - with whisper numbers are high as the low 8% after Biden said that this month's number won't show the drop in gasoline prices (which is certainly transitory now that oil price are on track for the biggest weekly gain since August), it is very likely that the CPI number will miss and we will see a major relief rally. On the other hand, any upside surprise on the reading will likely bolster the case for a faster tapering of bond purchases and bring forward expectations for interest rate hikes ahead of the U.S. central bank's policy meeting next week. “Various FOMC participants, including Chair Powell, have signaled a hawkish shift in their policy stance, catalyzed by increasing discomfort with elevated inflation against a backdrop of robust growth and ongoing strengthening in labor markets conditions,” Morgan Stanley economists and strategists including Ellen Zentner, wrote in a note Thursday. “We revise our Fed call and now expect the FOMC to begin raising rates in Sept. 2022 -- two quarters earlier than our prior forecast.” Discussing today's key event, the CPI print, DB's Jim Reid writes that "our US economists are anticipating that headline CPI will rise to +6.9%, which would be the fastest annual pace since 1982. And they see core inflation heading up to +5.1%, which would be the highest since 1990. Bear in mind as well that this is the last big release ahead of next Wednesday’s Federal Reserve decision, where our economists are expecting they’ll double the pace of tapering. Chair Powell himself reinforced those expectations in recent testimony, stopping just shy of unilaterally announcing the faster taper. Crucially, he noted this CPI print and the evolution of the virus were potential roadblocks to a faster taper next week. That said, the bar is extremely high for today’s data print to alter their course, especially with the Covid outlook having not deteriorated markedly since his testimony. By the close last night, Fed funds futures were fully pricing in a rate hike by the June meeting, alongside more than 70% chance of one by the May meeting." A reminder that last month saw another bumper print, with the monthly price gain actually at its fastest pace since July 2008, which sent the annual gain up to its highest since 1990, at +6.2%. It also marked the 6th time in the last 8 months that the monthly headline print had been above the consensus estimate on Bloomberg, and in another blow for team transitory, the drivers of inflation were increasingly broad-based, rather than just in a few categories affected by the pandemic. It may have been the death knell for team transitory, with Chair Powell taking pains to retire the term in the aforementioned testimony before Congress. In Europe, stocks fell slightly as a rise in coronavirus infections, with the Stoxx 600 dropping 0.3%, weighed down the most by tech, health care and utilities. DAX -0.2%, and FTSE 100 little changed, both off worst levels. Meanwhile, an epidemiologist has said that the omicron strain may be spreading faster in England than in South Africa, with U.K. cases possibly exceeding 60,000 a day by Christmas. Banks in the U.K. have already started telling staff to work from home in response to the government’s guidance.  Daimler AG’s trucks division gained in its first trading day as the storied German manufacturer completed a historic spinoff to better face sweeping changes in the auto industry. Polish retailer LPP rose to a record. Asian stocks fell on worries over the global spread of the omicron virus strain and after China Evergrande and Kaisa Group officially defaulted on their dollar debt. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost as much as 0.9%, with healthcare, technology and consumer discretionary sectors being the worst performers. Benchmarks slid in China and Hong Kong after Fitch Ratings cut Evergrande and Kaisa to “restricted default,” with the Hang Seng Index being the region’s biggest loser. Investors remain concerned that the omicron virus strain may crimp the economic rebound. South Korea brought forward the timing for Covid-19 booster shots to just three months after the second dose, as one of Asia’s most-vaccinated countries grapples with its worst ever virus surge. The Kospi snapped a seven-day winning run. Meanwhile, the U.S. appears to be headed for a holiday crisis as virus cases and hospital admissions climb, while London firms started telling thousands of staff to work from home. “In Europe, restrictions are being put in place, not just in the U.K. but also in other countries, due to the spread of the omicron variant, spurring worry over the impact on the economy,” said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, a market strategist at Mizuho Securities. “If work-from-home practices are prolonged, consumption will become lackluster, delaying any recovery.” Still, the Asian benchmark is up 1.2% from Dec. 3, poised for its best weekly advance in about two months. That’s owing to gains earlier in the week after China’s move to boost liquidity helped restore investor confidence. Traders are now turning focus to U.S. inflation data due later in the day for clues on the pace of anticipated tapering. China’s central bank took further steps to limit the yuan’s strength -- setting the weakest reference rate relative to estimates compiled by Bloomberg since 2018 -- a day after policy makers raised the foreign currency reserve requirement ratio for banks a second time this year. In rates, the Treasury curve bear flattened with 5s30s printing sub-60bps ahead of today’s November CPI data. Bunds and gilts are quiet; Italy leads a broader tightening of peripheral spreads. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rises 0.2%, building on modest strength during the Asian session. AUD leads G-10 peers; NZD and SEK are weakest, although ranges are narrow. Demand for euro downside exposure waned this week as investors now focus on the upcoming decisions by the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank. China’s central bank took further steps to limit the yuan’s strength In commodities, brent crude is slightly higher on the day, hovering around the $74-level, while WTI climbs 0.6% to $71-a-barrel. Base metals are mixed. LME aluminum and copper rise, while zinc and lead declines. Spot gold drops $4 to $1,771/oz. Looking at the day ahead now, and the main data highlight will be the aforementioned US CPI reading for November. In addition, there’s the University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment index for December, UK GDP for October and Italian industrial production for October. Central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, along with the ECB’s Weidmann, Villeroy, Panetta and Elderson. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.2% to 4,677.75 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.4% to 474.88 MXAP down 0.8% to 193.90 MXAPJ down 0.8% to 632.63 Nikkei down 1.0% to 28,437.77 Topix down 0.8% to 1,975.48 Hang Seng Index down 1.1% to 23,995.72 Shanghai Composite down 0.2% to 3,666.35 Sensex little changed at 58,799.05 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.4% to 7,353.51 Kospi down 0.6% to 3,010.23 Brent Futures up 0.4% to $74.69/bbl Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,770.81 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 96.32 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.34% Euro down 0.1% to $1.1281 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Already fighting economic fires on a number of fronts, China is rushing to clamp down on speculation in its strengthening currency before it gets out of control The arrival of the omicron variant has triggered a global rush for booster shots, but questions remain over whether it is the right strategy against omicron The Biden administration aims to sign what could prove a “very powerful” economic framework agreement with Asian nations -- focusing on areas including coordination on supply chains, export controls and standards for artificial intelligence -- next year, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said A mouse bite is at the center of an investigation into a possible new Covid-19 outbreak in Taiwan, after a worker at a high-security laboratory was confirmed as the island’s first local case in more than a month A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks were on the back foot as the region took its cue from the weak performance in the US, where the major indices reversed recent upside in the run-up to today’s US CPI metric. The ASX 200 (-0.4%) was led lower by the underperformance in energy and tech after a retreat in oil prices and similar weakness of their counterpart sectors in US. The Nikkei 225 (-1.0%) remained lacklustre as it succumbed to the recent inflows into the currency, although the downside was stemmed as participants digested a record increase in wholesale prices. The Hang Seng (-1.0%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.2%) were hindered by several headwinds including lower-than-expected lending and aggregate financing data, as well as China’s latest internet crackdown in which it removed 106 apps from app stores. However, losses were contained by a softer currency after China’s efforts to curb RMB strength including the PBoC’s 200bps FX RRR hike yesterday and its overnight weakening of the reference rate by the widest margin against estimates on record. Finally, 10yr JGBs were quiet after the mixed performance in US fixed income markets and with the risk-averse mood counterbalanced by the lack of BoJ purchases in the market today, although later saw a bout of selling on a breakdown of support at the key 152.00 level. Top Asian News Evergrande’s Hui Forced to Sell Part of Stake in Defaulted Firm Hui Has 277.8m Evergrande Shares Sold Under Enforced Disposal Asia Stocks Fall on Renewed Concerns Over Evergrande and Omicron Gold Heads for Worst Weekly Run Since 2019 Before Inflation Data Cash bourses in Europe kicked off the session with modest losses across the board, but the region has been clambering off worst levels since (Euro Stoxx 50 -0.3%; Stoxx 600 -0.3%) as traders gear up for the US CPI release (full preview available on the Newsquawk headline feed). US equity futures meanwhile post modest broad-based gains across the ES (+0.3%), NQ (+0.3%), RTY (+0.4) and YM (+0.2%). Back to Europe, cash markets see broad but contained downside. Sectors are mixed with no overarching theme or bias. Tech resides at the foot of the bunch with heavyweight SAP (-0.2%) failing to garner impetus from Oracle’s (+11% pre-market) blockbuster earnings after beating expectations on the top and bottom lines and announcing a new USD 10bln stock-repurchase authorisation. The upside meanwhile sees some of the more inflation-related sectors, including Oil & Gas, auto, Goods, Foods, and Beverages. In terms of individual movers, Bayer (+1.8%) is firmer after the Co. won a second consecutive trial in California regarding its Roundup weed killer. Daimler (-15%) sits at the foot of the Stoxx 600 after spinning off its Daimler Trucks unit (+4%) - considered to be a market listing rather than a full initial public offering. Top European News Heathrow Offers Bleak Outlook as Omicron Halts Long-Haul Rebound HSBC, JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank Tell London Staff to Stay Home SocGen CEO Takes Over Compliance After $2.6 Billion Fines Santander AM Names Utrera as Head of Equities as Montero Exits In FX, not a lot of deviation from recent ranges, but the Greenback is grinding higher ahead of US inflation data and Treasuries are bear-steepening to suggest hedging or positioning for an upside surprise following pointers from President Biden and NEC Director Deese to that effect (both advising that recent declines in prices, including energy, will not be reflected in November’s metrics). The index is back above the 96.000 level that has been very pivotal so far this week and hovering near the upper end of a 96.429-157 range, while the benchmark 10 year T-note yield is holding above 1.50% after a so-so long bond auction to wrap up the latest refunding remit. NZD/JPY/GBP - It’s marginal, but the Kiwi, Yen and Pound are lagging behind in the G10 stakes, with Nzd/Usd back below 0.6800 and perhaps taking note of a marked slowdown in the manufacturing PMI to 50.6 in November from 54.3, while Usd/Jpy is straddling 113.50 and eyeing DMAs either side of the half round number and Cable remains choppy around 1.3200 in wake of UK GDP, ip and output all missing consensus. AUD/CAD/EUR/CHF - All a tad more narrowly divergent vs the Buck, and the Aussie managing to keep tabs on 0.7150 after outperformance post-RBA on mainly external and technical impulses. Elsewhere, the Loonie has limited losses through 1.2700 with some assistance from hawkish sounding commentary from BoC Deputy Governor Gravelle rather than choppy crude prices as WTI swings around Usd 71/brl. To recap, he said that concerns over inflation are heightened on the upside much more than usual and the BoC is likely to react a little bit more readily to the upside risk given that inflation is already above the control range. Elsewhere, the Euro continues to fade on advances beyond 1.1300 and hit resistance at or near the 21 DMA and the Franc is more attuned to yields than risk sentiment at present, like the Yen, though is outpacing the Euro, as Eur/Chf veers towards 1.0400 again and Usd/Chf sits closer to 0.9250 vs 0.9200. In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures have been edging higher in early European trade following a choppy APAC session and in the run-up today’s main event, the US inflation data. Currently, WTI Jan trades just under USD 71.50/bbl (vs low USD 70.32/bbl) while Brent Feb resides north of USD 74.50/bbl (vs low USD 73.80/bbl), with news flow also on the lighter side ahead of the tier 1 data. In terms of other macro events, sources suggested Iran is willing to work from the basis of texts created in June on nuclear discussions, which will now be put to the test in upcoming days, via a European diplomatic source. This would mark somewhat of a shift from reports last week which suggested that Iran took a tougher stance than it had back in June. Western diplomats last week suggested that Tehran ramped up their conditions, which resulted in talks stalling last Friday. Aside from that, relevant news flow has been light for the complex. Elsewhere, spot gold and silver are drifting lower in tandem gains in the Dollar – spot gold has dipped under USD 1,770/oz, with the current YTD low at 1,676/oz. LME copper holds its head above USD 9,500/t but within a tight range amid the overall indecisive mood across the markets. US Event Calendar 8:30am: Nov. CPI YoY, est. 6.8%, prior 6.2%; MoM, est. 0.7%, prior 0.9% 8:30am: Nov. CPI Ex Food and Energy YoY, est. 4.9%, prior 4.6%; MoM, est. 0.5%, prior 0.6% 8:30am: Nov. Real Avg Hourly Earning YoY, prior -1.2%, revised -1.3% Real Avg Weekly Earnings YoY, prior -1.6% 10am: Dec. U. of Mich. 1 Yr Inflation, est. 5.0%, prior 4.9%; 5-10 Yr Inflation, prior 3.0% Sentiment, est. 68.0, prior 67.4 Expectations, est. 62.5, prior 63.5 Current Conditions, est. 73.5, prior 73.6 DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap I’m sure if anyone had said to you at the start of 2021 that US CPI would end the year around 7% YoY then there may have been some sleepless nights about how to position your portfolio. The reality is that as inflation has risen, the market has managed to go through denial, transitory, elongated transitory, and now the retirement of transitory, all without much fuss. I’ve said this before but I doubt there is anyone in the world that predicted we’d end the year at near 7% whilst at the same time having 10yr UST yields still at around 1.5%. Today our US economists are anticipating that headline CPI will rise to +6.9%, which would be the fastest annual pace since 1982. And they see core inflation heading up to +5.1%, which would be the highest since 1990. Bear in mind as well that this is the last big release ahead of next Wednesday’s Federal Reserve decision, where our economists are expecting they’ll double the pace of tapering. Chair Powell himself reinforced those expectations in recent testimony, stopping just shy of unilaterally announcing the faster taper. Crucially, he noted this CPI print and the evolution of the virus were potential roadblocks to a faster taper next week. That said, the bar is extremely high for today’s data print to alter their course, especially with the Covid outlook having not deteriorated markedly since his testimony. By the close last night, Fed funds futures were fully pricing in a rate hike by the June meeting, alongside more than 70% chance of one by the May meeting. A reminder that last month saw another bumper print, with the monthly price gain actually at its fastest pace since July 2008, which sent the annual gain up to its highest since 1990, at +6.2%. It also marked the 6th time in the last 8 months that the monthly headline print had been above the consensus estimate on Bloomberg, and in another blow for team transitory, the drivers of inflation were increasingly broad-based, rather than just in a few categories affected by the pandemic. It may have been the death knell for team transitory, with Chair Powell taking pains to retire the term in the aforementioned testimony before Congress. Ahead of this, markets were in slightly subdued mood yesterday as the reality of the new Omicron restrictions in various places soured the mood. Even as the news on Omicron’s severity has remained positive, concern is still elevated that this good news on severity could be outweighed by a rise in transmissibility, which ultimately would lead to a higher absolute number of both infections and hospitalisations. Even if it doesn’t, it seems restrictions are mounting while we wait and see. In response, US equities and oil prices fell back for the first time this week, as did 10yr Treasury yields. The S&P 500 (-0.72%) and the STOXX 600 (-0.08%) fell, whilst the VIX index of volatility ticked back up +1.73pts to move above the 20 mark again. Tech stocks underperformed in a reversal of the previous session, with the NASDAQ down -1.71%, and the small-cap Russell 2000 seeing a hefty -2.27% decline, as it moved lower throughout the day. Other risk assets saw similar declines too, with Brent crude (-1.85%) and WTI (-1.96%) oil prices both paring back their gains of the week so far. The move out of risk benefited safe havens, with sovereign bond yields moving lower across the curve, with those on 10yr Treasuries down -2.2bps to 1.50%. Those moves were echoed in Europe, where yields on 10yr bunds (-4.3bps), OATs (-4.5bps) and BTPs (-2.9bps) fell back as well. That came against the backdrop of a Reuters report saying ECB governors would discuss a temporary increase in the Asset Purchase Programme at their meeting next week, albeit one that would still leave bond purchases significantly beneath their current levels once the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme ends in March. Bitcoin fell -5.21% to $47,997 and is now more than -29% below its all-time highs reached a month ago. Marion Laboure from my team published a piece analysing the interaction between Bitcoin and the environment given its huge energy consumption. You can find the piece here. Ahead of today’s US CPI, there was another round of robust labour market data, with the US weekly initial jobless claims down to 184k (vs. 220k expected) in the week through December 4, marking their lowest level since 1969. The 4-week moving average was also down to a fresh post-pandemic low of 218.75k, having fallen for 9 consecutive weeks now. So with the labour market becoming increasingly tight and price pressures continuing to remain strong, it’s no surprise that markets have moved over the last year from pricing no hikes at all in 2022 to almost 3. Overnight in Asia, equities are all trading in the red with the Shanghai Composite (-0.32%), Hang Seng (-0.50%), Nikkei (-0.58%), CSI (-0.62%) and KOSPI (-0.67%) tracking the weaker US close last night after a three day rally. This comes after Chinese real-estate firms Evergrande Group and Kaisa Group were downgraded to restricted default by Fitch Ratings. Elsewhere in Japan, November's PPI reading came in at the highest level since 1980 at +9.0% year-on-year against +8.5% consensus due largely to rising energy prices. Our Japan economist expects CPI rising above 1% next year to be one of the ten key events to watch in 2022. You can read more here. Staying on Japan, the ruling party today will unveil a set of tax policy measures aimed at incentivising businesses to raise wages as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida aims to deliver on campaigning promises. Futures are pointing to a slightly more positive start in the US with S&P 500 futures (+0.10%) trading higher but with DAX futures (-0.24%) catching down to the weaker US close. Out of DC, the Senate approved a one-time procedural measure that will allow them to raise the debt ceiling with a simple majority vote, ostensibly in the coming days, and hopefully for a longer period than the last six-week suspension. Yields on potentially at-risk Treasury bills are at similar levels to neighboring maturities. In terms of the latest on the pandemic, yesterday didn’t see any news of major significance, with the indicators mainly confirming what we already knew. In particular, the EU’s ECDC continued to say that among the 402 confirmed Omicron cases in the EU/EEA, all the cases with known severity were either asymptomatic or mild, with no deaths reported. So positive news for now, although it’ll be very important to keep an eye with what happens with hospitalisations in South Africa, which are continuing to rise, and the country also reported another 22,391 cases yesterday, which is once again the highest number since the Omicron variant was first reported. Separately, the US FDA moved yesterday to expand the eligibility of the Pfizer-BioNTech booster to 16 and 17 year olds. To the day ahead now, and the main data highlight will be the aforementioned US CPI reading for November. In addition, there’s the University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment index for December, UK GDP for October and Italian industrial production for October. Central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, along with the ECB’s Weidmann, Villeroy, Panetta and Elderson. Tyler Durden Fri, 12/10/2021 - 07:50.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 10th, 2021

Dow futures pick up steam early Wednesday as Pfizer/BioNTech release preliminary lab study on omicron variant

U.S. stock-index futures gained some altitude higher Wednesday morning after a preliminary lab study from Pfizer and BioNTech SE suggested that 3 shots of their COVID vaccines, including a booster, provides the same level of neutralizing protection against the new omicron variant as two doses against the original strain of the coronvirus that causes COVID-19. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were trading 177 points, or 0.5%, higher at 35,885, those for the S&P 500 were up 0.5% at 4,705, while the Nasdaq-100 futures were trading 0.4% higher at 16,375. "Data indicate that a third dose of BNT162b2 increases the neutralizing antibody titers by 25-fold compared to two doses against the Omicron variant; titers after the booster dose are comparable to titers observed after two doses against the wild-type virus which are associated with high levels of protection," the Pfizer/BioNTech report said. That report comes after South Africa reported findings from early lab tests indicating the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine generated one-fortieth of the infection-fighting antibodies against omicron than against the original version of the virus. Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news......»»

Category: topSource: marketwatchDec 8th, 2021