Advertisements



Fintech platform iCapital Network doubles space at office tower next to Grand Central

Financial technology platform iCapital Network Inc. has signed a deal to more than double its office space at One Grand Central Place in Midtown......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsOct 13th, 2021

Latino Entrepreneurs Were Among the Hardest Hit by the Pandemic. Now They Could Spur the Economic Recovery

Jaime Macias could hardly have opened his bar and restaurant, Jaime’s Place, at a worse time. In the weeks before his scheduled grand opening in October 2020, COVID-19 ran rampant through San Antonio. Restrictions had shuttered the doors of bars and restaurants, and Macias’ own Latino community was particularly hard hit, with people dying at… Jaime Macias could hardly have opened his bar and restaurant, Jaime’s Place, at a worse time. In the weeks before his scheduled grand opening in October 2020, COVID-19 ran rampant through San Antonio. Restrictions had shuttered the doors of bars and restaurants, and Macias’ own Latino community was particularly hard hit, with people dying at higher rates than the overall population. Macias, 56, had poured his life savings into the restaurant on the West Side of the city, and unexpected costs brought him within $800 of going broke before the restaurant even opened. A year later, a stream of loyal customers fill Jaime’s Place each night, drawn by publicity Macias’ 26-year-old daughter Gabriela posts on Instagram and Facebook, to watch live performances or dance under a tin canopy decorated with Mexican papel picado. Regulars ranging from agricultural workers to officials from the San Antonio mayor’s office gather at tables in the bar’s open lot. Although the Delta variant of the virus remains a threat to the community and its businesses, Macias has a renewed sense of optimism about the bar. “Gentrification has a way of eradicating what once was, kind of whitewashing everything,” he says in his Chicano accent, seated at a wooden table outside, as Selena’s “Fotos y Recuerdos” plays in the background. “I wanted to make sure that Jaime’s Place planted the flag … We’re here por vida [for life].” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Jaime’s Place may prove to be one of the thousands of Latino-run businesses to help guide San Antonio—and the U.S. at large—out of its devastating pandemic-induced economic slump. Over the past 10 years, Latino entrepreneurs have started small businesses at a higher rate than any other demographic, all while facing higher hurdles than their white counterparts. Before the pandemic, the roughly 400,000 Latino-owned businesses in the U.S. with at least one employee generated nearly $500 billion in revenues a year and employed 3.4 million people, according to a 2020 Stanford Graduate School of Business report citing 2018 Census Bureau figures. Now, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Latinos will make up a projected 78% of net new workers between 2020 and 2030. In San Antonio, which is America’s seventh largest city, a fifth of businesses—or roughly 7,000—are Hispanic-owned. But although that proportion is one of the highest in the nation, it is nowhere near representative of the actual population, which is 68% Hispanic. In San Antonio, Hispanic residents are almost twice as likely as non-Hispanic white residents to be living on an income of less than $25,000. Barriers to entry, such as language and a lack of access to established infrastructure, have historically been high for Latino entrepreneurs. Those challenges were exacerbated when COVID-19 struck, shuttering many of the businesses most commonly run by Latinos, such as restaurants, cleaning services and retail shops, forcing owners and workers to dip into their often meager savings. Ramiro Cavazos, president and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, says that Latino business owners typically have less access to funding than their white counterparts and that only half of them have a banking relationship. That meant many of these owners had difficulties accessing the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans last summer, aimed at keeping workers on the payroll during the pandemic, because they were distributed primarily through banks. “The businesses that were able to apply for and receive those forgivable loans first were larger, more successful nonminority businesses,” Cavazos says. But now a pandemic that threatened to decimate the community might usher in the next era of small-business growth. Economic leaders like U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen believe Latinos will be essential to driving the economic recovery, just as they were after the Great Recession. From 2007 to 2012, the number of Latino-owned businesses in the U.S. grew by 3.3%, compared with a decline of 3.6% among other businesses during that period. “If history is any guide, Hispanic-owned businesses will drive a large portion of the recovery,” Yellen said during a press conference in March. A 2020 report by consultancy firm McKinsey & Co. found that the long-term recovery of the U.S. economy is “inextricable from the recovery of Hispanic and Latino families, communities, and businesses.” Members of the Latino small-business community in San Antonio say the pandemic has accelerated several positive developments. They have become more connected with their communities, and many have adopted digital strategies to reach more customers. Some have also benefited from easier access to capital. “COVID has opened our eyes to the fact that nobody is successful working in silos,” says Mariangela Zavala, the executive director of the Maestro Entrepreneur Center, a small-business incubator in west San Antonio. “We’re vulnerable by ourselves, and we really need community in order to grow.” Arturo Olmos for TIMEMacias, 56, opened his local bar, Jaime’s Place, in October 2020, during the pandemic Many local entrepreneurs—mom-and-pop businesses that once relied on proximity to a local, loyal customer base—embraced social media to reach new customers as foot traffic stalled. Lazaro Santos, 32, set up his coffee-truck business, Me Latte, in August 2020, offering signature flavors from his hometown of Piedras Negras, Mexico. Business started out slow, but immediately spiked after a popular local food influencer, S.A. Foodie, posted a video raving about Santos’ horchata iced latte. Before long, Me Latte’s Instagram account was inundated with new followers (now more than 4,800). Santos posts new photos every few days, featuring oat-milk-latte art and grinning customers. He and his wife Melissa, who helps him run the accounts, spend at least 10 hours a week on digital marketing on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Santos says the social engagement across all platforms has led directly to a 60% increase in sales, and he is now looking to experiment with different forms of marketing. At his teal-colored Me Latte trailer, parked just off the 1604 highway, Santos receives a notification on his phone. Melissa Santos just shared a photo of Lazaro pouring cream into a latte on Me Latte’s Instagram account. He hopes it will remind his customers to visit. “It’s just about being there, you know—presencia.” Small businesses are also strengthening community bonds as a business strategy. Maestro Entrepreneur Center, based in an abandoned elementary-school building in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the West Side of San Antonio, was founded by Julissa Carielo five years ago, funded by a mixture of public and private capital. Currently, 42 businesses share the space, chasing their dreams in catering, cosmetology or accountancy. Maestro puts on classes, provides digital support and connects cooks with veteran chefs to develop recipes. Teresa Garcia, whose company Food Safety Direct provides training and certification for food handlers, has been with the Maestro center since 2019. When the pandemic struck and people stopped attending classes, Maestro gave Garcia a one-month reprieve on her rent and helped her to apply for grants. Experts there also helped her pivot her business to a hybrid model, offering food handlers training and certifications through virtual and in-person classes, she says. A year and a half later, Garcia’s business has “100% returned” to its pre-pandemic levels. The support she received encouraged her to pay it forward in her community, running weekend job fairs in local malls to match up unemployed people with restaurants needing staff. For Garcia, it’s a virtuous circle. “If the restaurants are doing well, then I’m doing well—even if it means I have to do some food-handler classes for free,” she says. Other local organizations such as the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside and the San Antonio Chapter of the Texas Restaurant Association have pooled education and resources, making sure the most vulnerable businesses aren’t left behind. The Chamber of Commerce has been hosting webinars on financial literacy and social media for beginners. Sandi Wolff, head of strategic relations at the Chamber of Commerce, says the organization waived its membership dues to foster connection, keeping all its members last year. She says “people are realizing they can absolutely use us to promote themselves and connect with other businesses.” Arturo Olmos for TIMEJaime Macias created an alter inside his business, Jaime’s Place, for community members to bring “ofrendas” or offerings for Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead Although these organizations can provide support and education, small businesses can go only so far without funding. Capital is the biggest hurdle Latino entrepreneurs face, says the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Cavazos. The Stanford study found that just 51% of Latino business owners receive all or most of the funding they apply for from national banks, compared with 77% of white business owners. Cavazos says larger banks historically “were not reaching out to our community because in their eyes, a loan under $1 million was not worth the effort.” When PPP loans were first rolled out, even the more established Latino-owned businesses struggled with the mountains of paperwork required. April Ancira, vice president of Ancira Auto Group, the first Hispanic Chevrolet dealer in the country, which has a strong relationship with the community-oriented Jefferson Bank, holds an M.B.A. degree and has been in her role for 15 years. Yet she says she couldn’t have completed the application without the help of numerous accountants and her company’s chief financial officer. “It honestly took a rocket scientist to apply for PPP,” she says. Since the pandemic began, business leaders in San Antonio and beyond have worked with lenders to improve access to capital. Last fall, Houston-based Woodforest National Bank partnered with the Maestro center and Bexar County to award $15,000 each to 56 entrepreneurs in San Antonio, setting them up with business bank accounts and advisers from Maestro’s network. Daniel Galindo, a senior vice president and community development and strategy director at Woodforest, has made investing in small businesses a priority, providing small loans to low-income borrowers, such as gardeners who might need to replace a lawn mower. Some of Woodforest’s loans are as small as $500 and borrowers may be considered high risk, but Galindo says the lender is taking a holistic approach to banking. “We have larger institutions that sometimes say, ‘There’s not a whole lot of money in smaller money lending.’ But we need to stop looking at it from a revenue perspective,” he says. “Without a thriving community, banking wouldn’t exist.” Woodforest often refers clients to more flexible micro-lenders like San Antonio–based nonprofit LiftFund. Lenders like these are becoming more prevalent, allowing small-business owners who previously felt alienated by banks to access capital without resorting to more predatory lenders with exorbitant interest rates. Isabel Guzman, the leader of the Small Business Administration, has stressed the importance of making lending easier and more accessible, and her agency has recruited more than 5,400 approved lenders like credit unions, community banks and fintech companies to make PPP loans, compared with 1,800 active lenders pre-pandemic, in an effort to distribute loans quickly and equitably. The shifting environment for entrepreneurs has led to a flurry of post-pandemic activity and growth in San Antonio. Garcia says the food-truck and ghost-kitchen scenes—delivery-only restaurants catering to consumers still reluctant to eat out—are exploding across the city. Woodforest is seeing more interest in its entrepreneur-accelerator program than ever, Galindo says. And the Maestro center is adding to the pipeline with two 10-week accelerator programs for more than 50 local businesses. While the lessons learned in San Antonio could prove useful to the 30 million other small businesses across the country helping to power the recovery, the role they play on the ground is just as significant. Businesses like Jaime’s Place serve as emotional lifelines after a devastating year and a half. For its largely working-class clientele, it’s where they want to spend their hard-earned cash. “[People] respect the place because it’s something that they’ve been longing for,” says Gabriela Macias. “It’s not just a bar but a place to gather and bring your kids and just be safe—and also celebrate your culture.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 1st, 2021

How London Became a Global Center for Fintech and What U.S. Tech Hubs Can Learn From It

When Silicon Valley veteran Eileen Burbidge moved to London in 2004, it was only meant to be temporary. With more than a decade of experience at tech stalwarts including Apple, Sun Microsystems and Verizon Wireless, the Chicago native felt a stint in Europe might help advance her career back in the U.S. With no language… When Silicon Valley veteran Eileen Burbidge moved to London in 2004, it was only meant to be temporary. With more than a decade of experience at tech stalwarts including Apple, Sun Microsystems and Verizon Wireless, the Chicago native felt a stint in Europe might help advance her career back in the U.S. With no language barrier and an emerging software-development market, London was an obvious choice. She took on a job as product director for a newly launched startup named Skype. Nearly 20 years later, Burbidge is still there. Now co-founder and partner of early-stage venture-capital firm Passion Capital, she has established herself as an intrinsic part of London’s financial technology, or “fintech,” scene. Burbidge was the digital representative on former Prime Minister David Cameron’s business advisory panel and was honored by Queen Elizabeth II in 2015 as a member of the Order of the British Empire—or MBE—for services to U.K. business. She also served as tech ambassador for the office of the mayor of London, and is now a fintech envoy to the U.K. Treasury. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] It’s little surprise then that Burbidge sees London firmly at the beating heart of the tech-forward financial world. “It’s got the unique combination of a financial-services heritage, with 300 of the world’s banking headquarters based here, plus progressive policy-makers who support fintech innovation,” she tells TIME over video call from her home office in North London. The U.K. capital has for centuries been a center of global finance, with long-established trading exchanges and trusted banking and insurance institutions. In the digital era, it has become an emerging hub for fintech companies, which use technology to improve financial services. Not even the uncertainty presented by the U.K.’s departure from the European Union in early 2020, coupled with the disruption of the global pandemic, has stemmed growth. Venture-capital firms invested $4.57 billion in U.K.-based fintech companies last year, making the country second only to the U.S., where investment was $19.6 billion, according to growth platform Tech Nation’s annual report on the U.K. tech sector. And in the first half of 2021 alone, U.K. tech companies raised more than $18 billion worth of venture-capital funding, according to figures compiled for the U.K.’s Digital Economy Council. “Investors showing their confidence in London’s fintech offering reinforces our city’s position as a leading global hub for this important and growing industry,” Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, says in a statement. “Despite the impact of Brexit and the pandemic, we’ve seen record levels of funding for fintech businesses in the first six months of the year.” The success story of this boom in fintech innovation has undoubtedly been so-called challenger banks— digital-only banking apps that use cloud-based infrastructure, embedded artificial intelligence, and agile frameworks to give consumers easier and faster access to banking services and financial products. Companies like Revolut, Starling Bank and Monzo have raised increasingly large sums of money and established themselves as household names among their tech-savvy, largely millennial and Gen Z consumer base, many of whom have eschewed traditional retail banking in favor of these more user-friendly banking apps. How London evolved to become a challenger to established hubs for innovation in the U.S. has lessons for entrepreneurs and investors who find an increasingly difficult regulatory environment and a shrinking talent pool for development in California, New York or Texas. Burbidge, one of the key architects of the fintech boom, sees a changing of the guard. “Before long my colleagues [in the U.S.] stopped asking when I was coming back and by 2016 were instead coming across to join me,” she says. When Burbidge set about building her team at Skype in 2004, the lack of qualified workers was one of the biggest challenges she faced. “Despite this burgeoning tech and digital sector in London, it was impossible for me to find a product manager, and the first few hires I made all came over from the States.” Now, she says there is a “wide concentration of developers, so much more than San Jose or New York.” That change has been helped in part by shifts in London’s economic ecosystem in the past decade. As a bruised City of London emerged from the financial crisis, it had lost its shine for some workers, who had seen how antiquated technology and a lack of innovation were stagnating progress and career development. Public attitudes toward the City had cooled amid austerity measures that also exacerbated problems for those who were unbanked or underserved by traditional outlets. It was this environment that led Starling Bank’s founder Anne Boden—who spent 30 years working for traditional banking heavyweights that had been battered by the crisis, like ABN Amro, Royal Bank of Scotland and Allied Irish Banks—to launch her own bank in 2014. “I noticed that banking hadn’t progressed technologically, and this frustrated me,” says Boden. “The big banks seemed to be stuck in the past … Their systems were slow and yet no one seemed to be improving them. I realized that if I wanted to see a real digital bank in action, I would have to launch one myself.” Boden says she founded Starling as “a more human alternative to the banks of the past.” The digital bank, which counts Fidelity and the Qatar Investment Authority among its backers, was recently valued at $1.7 billion. Many others in the financial industry had similar sentiments to Boden’s, and left the industry to join some of London’s burgeoning startups or create their own fintechs. As attitudes have shifted, the conveyor belt that once took the brightest young minds from the halls of Europe’s top universities to the trading floors and deal rooms of investment banks has slowed, and fintechs have been reaping the benefits. Nikolay Storonsky, the British-Russian CEO of Revolut, says it was London’s talent pool that was most compelling when he established the company in 2015. “We have a hugely diverse U.K. workforce—more than 80 nationalities—many of whom were Londoners already, and others who were enthusiastic to come here.” Dan Kitwood—Getty ImagesLondon’s Canary Wharf business district, where fintech company Revolut is based Storonsky, a former derivatives trader at Lehman Brothers and Credit Suisse, was also able to tap two talent pipelines to fuel the company’s phenomenal growth. “London’s eminence as a world financial centre is a huge advantage. There’s deep experience and talent here, both from the financial sector and from the startup world,” he says in an email. Burbidge found that what wasn’t as established in London was the early-stage venture-capital funding network that startups need to grow, and that creates unicorns. In the U.K., venture-capital firms have typically been later-stage investors, meaning startup founders have had to rely on angel investors, bank loans and even their own cash for early funding. Burbidge and her two business partners at the time, Robert Dighero and Stefan Glaenzer, who has since left the firm, decided to replicate the Silicon Valley model of first-round funding through Passion Capital when they founded it in 2009. They were determined to back exciting and dynamic startups, leading to standout investments in GoCardless in 2011 and Monzo in 2015. The latter neobank, known for its distinctive colorful debit cards that can be used abroad without fees, has since surpassed a $1 billion valuation and is piloting a beta version of its app in the U.S. in partnership with Sutton Bank. A major reason challenger banks have been able to thrive in London is a supportive regulatory environment, says Storonsky, whose Revolut is now valued at $33 billion, making it the U.K.’s most valuable tech company in history. U.K. watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has taken an active role, engaging with banks and new fintech companies on consumer-focused solutions, and it has established a world-class sandbox, where approved new fintech firms can test products with real consumers. Yet by 2016, just as the fintech industry was becoming established in London, storm clouds loomed on the horizon. That summer, the British public voted to leave the E.U.—although notably voters in London backed Remain by 60-40. London’s financial industry grew into what it is today partly because its rules mirrored those of the E.U., allowing for seamless transactions. Many in the London-based fintech industry were concerned about how Brexit might change the legal framework that the City operates within. The U.K. ultimately left the bloc last January, but Burbidge says that there has been no doomsday scenario so far: “We certainly haven’t seen the big asset managers or banks clear out of London. Perhaps that’s because it’s been the home of traditional financial-services institutions for so long—there’s still a draw.” The regulatory environment remains advantageous for fintech companies post-Brexit, she says. “If you’re going to be a fintech you do have to be regulated and domiciled, which means you’re subject to compliance. And the U.K. is one of the most progressive and forward-thinking homes for fintech.” For the industry to continue growing, however, it will also require the pool of talent to be continually replenished, but restrictions on freedom of movement between the U.K. and the E.U. may make that harder. The U.K. fintech industry employed 76,500 people in 2017, and that was projected to reach 105,500 by 2030 if immigration rules remained as they were. Simon Schmincke, a partner at venture-capital firm Creandum, which has invested in several U.K. fintech companies, says that bringing in talent from other countries is becoming a headache for many companies: “I am stunned that in two years, we still haven’t figured out how to bring smart people in quickly. And that is having both a negative impact on individual companies and on the country’s image.” It used to be that “everyone was welcome as long as you worked hard and smart,” Schmincke says. “Now, that image is fading.” Last year, after the U.K. formally left the E.U., Britain’s Finance Minister Rishi Sunak commissioned businessman Ron Kalifa to chair an independent strategic review of how the U.K. government, regulators, and companies can support the growth and widespread adoption of fintech and maintain Britain’s global reputation in the sector. The government has committed to adopting a number of the report’s recommendations. “We’ve set out a road map to sharpen the U.K.’s competitive advantage and deliver a more open, green and technologically advanced financial-services sector,” a spokesperson for the U.K. Treasury said. The government plans to support U.K. fintech companies by introducing new visa routes for foreign workers, enhancing its regulatory toolbox, reforming its market-listing rules and exploring a central-bank digital currency, the spokesperson said. These kinds of reforms will be necessary for London to retain its competitive edge, according to Shampa Roy-Mukherjee, associate professor and director of impact and innovation at the Royal Docks School of Business and Law, University of East London. European countries such as Malta and Lithuania are taking advantage of the uncertainty caused by Brexit to offer new homes to London-based fintech companies, she says. “These countries are able to provide the fintech companies regulatory authorization to trade with the E.U., which the U.K. currently cannot provide.” U.S. investors haven’t been scared off by Brexit—and in fact have helped to power the U.K.’s fintech industry to greater heights. John Doran, general partner at U.S. growth-capital firm TCV, an investor in Revolut, says in an email that the company’s fundamentals were the key consideration. “We look to invest behind exceptionally driven visionary founders, who are building category leaders in industries undergoing a massive structural shift, and Revolut has all of these things.” It also has the size and clout to pursue growth in the U.S. market. Similarly to Monzo’s relationship with Sutton, Revolut currently partners with Metropolitan Commercial Bank, but it applied for an independent U.S. banking license in March and began offering services to small and medium-size businesses in the U.S. Burbidge is skeptical that the success of London could be as easily replicated across the pond. “It’s definitely down to the culture and ecosystem,” she says. “Because the U.S. is so siloed in terms of regulation, the success of financial-services hubs would be difficult to replicate.” She says entrepreneurs in London are more mindful of customer outcomes than their U.S. counterparts. Partly in an effort to avoid comparisons with payday-loan apps that have been criticized for predatory tactics in recent years, many U.K. founders have worked to ensure that “wellness and mental health are built in at the core of new startups,” Burbidge says. “Historically this hasn’t been part of the startup culture in the U.S.” She adds that the FCA is more attuned to these issues and wields “a far greater influence” in the U.K. than regulators do in the U.S. “While attitudes toward financial inclusion and customer outcomes are shifting over there, I believe if they had started thinking earlier about it as a proposition, they would have attracted further investment and customers. It’s a missed opportunity for the U.S.” America’s biggest bank has taken notice of the particular advantages the U.K. market offers too. On Sept. 21, JPMorgan Chase launched its digital bank, Chase, in the U.K., marking the commercial bank’s first foray outside the U.S. in its 222-year history. It is attempting to attract U.K. consumers in the competitive market with a range of cash-back and savings offers. The bank has indicated it is in it for the long haul, and is prepared to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to become profitable in the U.K. Burbidge isn’t planning on leaving London anytime soon either, and remains its biggest cheerleader. “It’s a city with a massive commercial center, but it’s also the policymaking hub of the U.K. and additionally so creative and diverse that it’s as if you combined all of San Francisco, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles all into one megacity,” she says. “It’s hard to beat.” —With reporting by Eloise Barry/London.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 1st, 2021

Futures Slide On Growing Stagflation Fears As Treasury Yields Surge

Futures Slide On Growing Stagflation Fears As Treasury Yields Surge US index futures, European markets and Asian stocks all turned negative during the overnight session, surrendering earlier gains as investors turned increasingly concerned about China's looming slowdown - and outright contraction - amid a global stagflationary energy crunch, which sent 10Y TSY yields just shy of 1.50% this morning following a Goldman upgrade in its Brent price target to $90 late on Sunday. At 745 a.m. ET, S&P 500 e-minis were down 4.75 points, or 0.1% after rising as much as 0.6%, Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 83 points, or 0.54% and Dow e-minis were up 80 points, or 0.23%. The euro slipped as Germany looked set for months of complex coalition talks. While the market appears to have moved beyond the Evergrande default, the debt crisis at China's largest developer festers (with Goldman saying it has no idea how it will end), and data due this week will show a manufacturing recovery in the world’s second-largest economy is faltering faster. A developing energy crisis threatens to crimp global growth further at a time markets are preparing for a tapering of Fed stimulus. The week could see volatile moves as traders scrutinize central bankers’ speeches, including Chair Jerome Powell’s meetings with Congressional panels. “Most bad news comes from China these days,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote Group Holdings, wrote in a note. “The Evergrande debt crisis, the Chinese energy crackdown on missed targets and the ban on cryptocurrencies have been shaking the markets, along with the Fed’s more hawkish policy stance last week.” Oil majors Exxon Mobil and Chevron Corp rose 1.5% and 1.2% in premarket trade, respectively, tracking crude prices, while big lenders including JPMorgan, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp gained about 0.8%.Giga-cap FAAMG growth names such as Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon.com, Facebook and Apple all fell between 0.3% and 0.4%, as 10Y yield surged, continuing their selloff from last week, which saw the 10Y rise as high as 1.4958% and just shy of breaching the psychological 1.50% level. While growth names were hit, value names rebounded as another market rotation appears to be in place: industrials 3M Co and Caterpillar Inc, which tend to benefit the most from an economic rebound, also inched higher (although one should obviously be shorting CAT here for its China exposure). Market participants have moved into value and cyclical stocks from tech-heavy growth names after the Federal Reserve last week indicated it could begin unwinding its bond-buying program by as soon as November, and may raise interest rates in 2022. Here are some other notable premarket movers: Gores Guggenheim (GGPI US) shares rise 7.2% in U.S. premarket trading as Polestar agreed to go public with the special purpose acquisition company, in a deal valued at about $20 billion. Naked Brand (NAKD US), one of the stocks caught up in the first retail trading frenzy earlier this year, rises 11% in U.S. premarket trading, extending Friday’s gains. Among other so-called meme stocks in premarket trading: ReWalk Robotics (RWLK) +6.5%, Vinco Ventures (BBIG) +18%, Camber Energy (CEI) +2.9% Pfizer (PFE US) and Opko Health (OPK US) in focus after they said on Friday that the FDA extended the review period for the biologics license application for somatrogon. Opko fell 3.5% in post-market trading. Aspen Group (ASPU) climbed 10% in Friday postmarket trading after board member Douglas Kass buys $172,415 of shares, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission. Seaspine (SPNE US) said spine surgery procedure volumes were curtailed in many areas of the U.S. in 3Q and particularly in August. Tesla (TSLA US) and other electric- vehicle related stocks globally may be active on Monday after Germany’s election, in which the Greens had their best-ever showing and are likely to be part of any governing coalition. Europe likewise drifted lower, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index erasing earlier gains and turning negative as investors weighed the risk to global growth from the China slowdown and the energy crunch. The benchmark was down 0.1% at last check. Subindexes for technology (-0.9%) and consumer (-0.8%) provide the main drags while value outperformed, with energy +2.4%, banks +2% and insurance +1.3%.  The DAX outperformed up 0.5%, after German election results avoided the worst-case left-wing favorable outcome.  U.S. futures. Rolls-Royce jumped 12% to the highest since March 2020 after the company was selected to provide the powerplant for the B-52 Stratofortress under the Commercial Engine Replacement Program. Here are some of the other biggest European movers today IWG rises as much as 7.5% after a report CEO Mark Dixon is exploring a multibillion-pound breakup of the flexible office-space provider AUTO1 gains as much as 6.1% after JPMorgan analyst Marcus Diebel raised the recommendation to overweight from neutral Cellnex falls as much as 4.3% to a two-month low after the tower firm is cut to sell from neutral at Citi, which says the stock is “priced for perfection in an imperfect industry” European uranium stocks fall with Yellow Cake shares losing as much as 6% and Nac Kazatomprom shares declining as much as 4.7%. Both follow their U.S. peers down following weeks of strong gains as the price of uranium ballooned For those who missed it, Sunday's closely-watched German elections concluded with the race much closer than initially expected: SPD at 25.7%, CDU/CSU at 24.1%, Greens at 14.8%, FDP at 11.5%, AfD at 10.3% Left at 4.9%, the German Federal Returning Officer announced the seat distribution from the preliminary results which were SPD at 206 seats, CDU/CSU at 196. Greens at 118, FDP at 92, AfD at 83, Left at 39 and SSW at 1. As it stands, three potential coalitions are an option, 1) SPD, Greens and FDP (traffic light), 2) CDU/CSU, Greens and FDP (Jamaica), 3) SPD and CDU/CSU (Grand Coalition but led by the SPD). Note, option 3 is seen as the least likely outcome given that the CDU/CSU would be unlikely willing to play the role of a junior partner to the SPD. Therefore, given the importance of the FDP and Greens in forming a coalition for either the SPD or CDU/CSU, leaders of the FDP and Greens have suggested that they might hold their own discussions with each other first before holding talks with either of the two larger parties. Given the political calculus involved in trying to form a coalition, the process is expected to play out over several months. From a markets perspective, the tail risk of the Left party being involved in government has now been removed due to their poor performance and as such, Bunds trade on a firmer footing. Elsewhere, EUR is relatively unfazed due to the inconclusive nature of the result. We will have more on this in a subsequent blog post. Asian stocks fell, reversing an earlier gain, as a drop in the Shanghai Composite spooked investors in the region by stoking concerns about the pace of growth in China’s economy.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index wiped out an advance of as much as 0.7%, on pace to halt a two-day climb. Consumer discretionary names and materials firms were the biggest contributors to the late afternoon drag. Financials outperformed, helping mitigate drops in other sectors.  “Seeing Shanghai shares extending declines, investors’ sentiment has turned weak, leading to profit-taking on individual stocks or sectors that have been gaining recently,” said Shoichi Arisawa, an analyst at Iwai Cosmo Securities. “The drop in Chinese equities is reminding investors about a potential slowdown in their economy.”  The Shanghai Composite was among the region’s worst performers along with Vietnam’s VN Index. Shares of China’s electricity-intensive businesses tumbled after Beijing curbed power supplies in the country’s manufacturing hubs to cut emissions. The CSI 300 still rose, thanks to gains in heavily weighted Kweichow Moutai and other liquor makers. Asian equities started the day on a positive note as financials jumped, tracking gains in U.S. peers and following a rise in Treasury yields. Resona Holdings was among the top performers after Morgan Stanley raised its view on the stock and Japanese banks. The regional market has been calmer over the past few trading sessions after being whipsawed by concerns over any fallout from China Evergrande Group’s debt troubles. While anxiety lingers, many investors expect China will resolve the distressed property developer’s problems rather than let them spill over into an echo of 2008’s Lehman crisis. Japanese equities closed lower, erasing an earlier gain, as concerns grew over valuations following recent strength in the local market and turmoil in China. Machinery and electronics makers were the biggest drags on the Topix, which fell 0.1%. Daikin and Bandai Namco were the largest contributors to a dip of less than 0.1% in the Nikkei 225. Both gauges had climbed more 0.5% in morning trading. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Composite Index fell as much as 1.5% as industrials tumbled amid a power crunch. “Seeing Shanghai shares extending declines, investors’ sentiment has turned weak, leading to profit-taking on individual stocks or sectors that have been gaining recently,” said Shoichi Arisawa, an analyst at Iwai Cosmo Securities Co. “The drop in Chinese equities is reminding investors about a potential slowdown in their economy. That’s why marine transportation stocks, which are representative of cyclical sectors, fell sharply.” Shares of shippers, which have outperformed this year, fell as investors turned their attention to reopening plays. Travel and retail stocks gained after reports that the government is making final arrangements to lift all the coronavirus state of emergency order in the nation as scheduled at the end of this month. Australia's commodity-heavy stocks advanced as energy, banking shares climb. The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.6% to close at 7,384.20, led by energy stocks. Banks also posted their biggest one-day gain since Aug. 2. Travel stocks were among the top performers after the prime minister said state premiers must not keep borders closed once agreed Covid-19 vaccination targets are reached. NextDC was the worst performer after the company’s CEO sold 1.6 million shares. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index. In FX, the U.S. dollar was up 0.1%, while the British pound, Australian dollar, and Canadian dollar lead G-10 majors, with the Swedish krona and Swiss franc lagging. •    The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed and the greenback traded mixed versus its Group-of-10 peers o    Volatility curves in the major currencies were inverted last week due to a plethora of central bank meetings and risk-off concerns. They have since normalized as stocks stabilize and traders assess the latest forward guidance on monetary policy •    The yield on two-year U.S. Treasuries touched the highest level since April 2020, as tightening expectations continued to put pressure on front-end rates and ahead of debt sales later Monday •    The pound advanced, with analyst focus on supply chain problems as Prime Minister Boris Johnson considers bringing in army drivers to help. Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey’s speech later will be watched after last week’s hawkish meeting •    Antipodean currencies, as well as the Norwegian krone and the Canadian dollar were among the best Group-of-10 performers amid a rise in commodity prices •    The yen pared losses after falling to its lowest level in six weeks and Japanese stocks paused their rally and amid rising Treasury yields   In rates, treasuries extended their recent drop, led by belly of the curve ahead of this week’s front-loaded auctions, which kick off Monday with 2- and 5-year note sales.  Yields were higher by up to 4bp across belly of the curve, cheapening 2s5s30s spread by 3.2bp on the day; 10-year yields sit around 1.49%, cheaper by 3.5bp and underperforming bunds, gilts by 1.5bp and 0.5bp while the front-end of the curve continues to sell off as rate-hike premium builds -- 2-year yields subsequently hit 0.284%, the highest level since April 2020. 5-year yields top at 0.988%, highest since Feb. 2020 while 2-year yields reach as high as 0.288%; in long- end, 30-year yields breach 2% for the first time since Aug. 13. Auctions conclude Tuesday with 7-year supply. Host of Fed speakers due this week, including three scheduled for Monday. In commodities, Brent futures climbed 1.4% to $79 a barrel, while WTI futures hit $75 a barrel for the first time since July, amid an escalating energy crunch across Europe and now China. Base metals are mixed: LME copper rises 0.4%, LME tin and nickel drop over 2%. Spot gold gives back Asia’s gains to trade flat near $1,750/oz In equities, Stoxx 600 is up 0.6%, led by energy and banks, and FTSE 100 rises 0.4%. Germany’s DAX climbs 1% after German elections showed a narrow victory for social democrats, with the Christian Democrats coming in a close second, according to provisional results. S&P 500 futures climb 0.3%, Dow and Nasdaq contracts hold in the green. In FX, the U.S. dollar is up 0.1%, while the British pound, Australian dollar, and Canadian dollar lead G-10 majors, with the Swedish krona and Swiss franc lagging. Base metals are mixed: LME copper rises 0.4%, LME tin and nickel drop over 2%. Spot gold gives back Asia’s gains to trade flat near $1,750/oz Investors will now watch for a raft of economic indicators, including durable goods orders and the ISM manufacturing index this week to gauge the pace of the recovery, as well as bipartisan talks over raising the $28.4 trillion debt ceiling. The U.S. Congress faces a Sept. 30 deadline to prevent the second partial government shutdown in three years, while a vote on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill is scheduled for Thursday. On today's calendar we get the latest Euro Area M3 money supply, US preliminary August durable goods orders, core capital goods orders, September Dallas Fed manufacturing activity. We also have a bunch of Fed speakers including Williams, Brainard and Evans. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.1% to 4,442.50 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.3% to 464.54 MXAP little changed at 200.75 MXAPJ little changed at 642.52 Nikkei little changed at 30,240.06 Topix down 0.1% to 2,087.74 Hang Seng Index little changed at 24,208.78 Shanghai Composite down 0.8% to 3,582.83 Sensex up 0.2% to 60,164.70 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.6% to 7,384.17 Kospi up 0.3% to 3,133.64 German 10Y yield fell 3.1 bps to -0.221% Euro down 0.3% to $1.1689 Brent Futures up 1.2% to $79.04/bbl Gold spot little changed at $1,750.88 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.15% to 93.47 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put the infrastructure bill on the schedule for Monday under pressure from moderates eager to get the bipartisan bill, which has already passed the Senate, enacted. But progressives -- whose votes are likely vital -- are insisting on progress first on the bigger social-spending bill Olaf Scholz of the center-left Social Democrats defeated Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives in an extremely tight German election, setting in motion what could be months of complex coalition talks to decide who will lead Europe’s biggest economy China’s central bank pumped liquidity into the financial system after borrowing costs rose, as lingering risks posed by China Evergrande Group’s debt crisis hurt market sentiment toward its peers as well Global banks are about to get a comprehensive blueprint for how derivatives worth several hundred trillion dollars may be finally disentangled from the London Interbank Offered Rate Economists warned of lower economic growth in China as electricity shortages worsen in the country, forcing businesses to cut back on production Governor Haruhiko Kuroda says it’s necessary for the Bank of Japan to continue with large-scale monetary easing to achieve the bank’s 2% inflation target The quant revolution in fixed income is here at long last, if the latest Invesco Ltd. poll is anything to go by. With the work-from-home era fueling a boom in electronic trading, the majority of investors in a $31 trillion community say they now deploy factor strategies in bond portfolios A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets traded somewhat mixed with the region finding encouragement from reopening headlines but with gains capped heading towards month-end, while German election results remained tight and Evergrande uncertainty continued to linger. ASX 200 (+0.6%) was led higher by outperformance in the mining related sectors including energy as oil prices continued to rally amid supply disruptions and views for a stronger recovery in demand with Goldman Sachs lifting its year-end Brent crude forecast from USD 80/bbl to USD 90/bbl. Furthermore, respectable gains in the largest weighted financial sector and details of the reopening roadmap for New South Wales, which state Premier Berijiklian sees beginning on October 11th, further added to the encouragement. Nikkei 225 (Unch) was kept afloat for most of the session after last week’s beneficial currency flows and amid reports that Japan is planning to lift emergency measures in all areas at month-end, although upside was limited ahead of the upcoming LDP leadership race which reports noted are likely to go to a run-off as neither of the two main candidates are likely to achieve a majority although a recent Kyodo poll has Kono nearly there at 47.4% of support vs. nearest contender Kishida at 22.4%. Hang Seng (+0.1%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.8%) were varied with the mainland choppy amid several moving parts including back-to-back daily liquidity efforts by the PBoC since Sunday and with the recent release of Huawei’s CFO following a deal with US prosecutors. Conversely, Evergrande concerns persisted as Chinese cities reportedly seized its presales to block the potential misuse of funds and its EV unit suffered another double-digit percentage loss after scrapping plans for its STAR Market listing. There were also notable losses to casino names after Macau tightened COVID-19 restrictions ahead of the Golden Week holidays and crypto stocks were hit after China declared crypto activities illegal which resulted in losses to cryptoexchange Huobi which dropped more than 40% in early trade before nursing some of the losses, while there are also concerns of the impact from an ongoing energy crisis in China which prompted the Guangdong to ask people to turn off lights they don't require and use air conditioning less. Finally, 10yr JGBs were flat but have clawed back some of the after-hour losses on Friday with demand sapped overnight amid the mild gains in stocks and lack of BoJ purchases in the market. Elsewhere, T-note futures mildly rebounded off support at 132.00, while Bund futures outperformed the Treasury space amid mild reprieve from this month’s losses and with uncertainty of the composition for the next German coalition. Top Asian News Moody’s Says China to Safeguard Stability Amid Evergrande Issues China’s Tech Tycoons Pledge Allegiance to Xi’s Vision China Power Crunch Hits iPhone, Tesla Production, Nikkei Reports Top Netflix Hit ‘Squid Game’ Sparks Korean Media Stock Surge Bourses in Europe have trimmed the gains seen at the open, albeit the region remains mostly in positive territory (Euro Stoxx 50 +0.4%; Stoxx 600 +0.2%) in the aftermath of the German election and amid the looming month-end. The week also sees several risk events, including the ECB's Sintra Forum, EZ CPI, US PCE and US ISM Manufacturing – not to mention the vote on the bipartisan US infrastructure bill. The mood in Europe contrasts the mixed handover from APAC, whilst US equity futures have also seen more divergence during European trade – with the yield-sensitive NQ (-0.3%) underperforming the cyclically-influenced RTY (+0.4%). There has been no clear catalyst behind the pullback since the Cash open. Delving deeper into Europe, the DAX 40 (+0.6%) outperforms after the tail risk of the Left party being involved in government has now been removed. The SMI (-0.6%) has dipped into the red as defensive sectors remain weak, with the Healthcare sector towards to bottom of the bunch alongside Personal & Household Goods. On the flip side, the strength in the price-driven Oil & Gas and yield-induced Banks have kept the FTSE 100 (+0.2%) in green, although the upside is capped by losses in AstraZeneca (-0.4%) and heavy-weight miners, with the latter a function of declining base metal prices. The continued retreat in global bonds has also hit the Tech sector – which resides as the laggard at the time of writing. In terms of individual movers, Rolls-Royce (+8.5%) trades at the top of the FTSE 100 after winning a USD 1.9bln deal from the US Air Force. IWG (+6.5%) also extended on earlier gains following reports that founder and CEO Dixon is said to be mulling a multibillion-pound break-up of the Co. that would involve splitting it into several distinct companies. Elsewhere, it is worth being cognizant of the current power situation in China as the energy crisis spreads, with Global Times also noting that multiple semiconductor suppliers for Tesla (Unch), Apple (-0.4% pre-market) and Intel (Unch), which have manufacturing plants in the Chinese mainland, recently announced they would suspend their factories' operations to follow local electricity use policies. Top European News U.K. Relaxes Antitrust Rules, May Bring in Army as Pumps Run Dry Magnitude 5.8 Earthquake Hits Greek Island of Crete German Stocks Rally as Chances Wane for Left-Wing Coalition German Landlords Rise as Left’s Weakness Trumps Berlin Poll In FX, the Aussie is holding up relatively well on a couple of supportive factors, including a recovery in commodity prices overnight and the Premier of NSW setting out a timetable to start lifting COVID lockdown and restrictions from October 11 with an end date to completely re-open on December 1. However, Aud/Usd is off best levels against a generally firm Greenback on weakness and underperformance elsewhere having stalled around 0.7290, while the Loonie has also run out of momentum 10 pips or so from 1.2600 alongside WTI above Usd 75/brl. DXY/EUR/CHF - Although the risk backdrop is broadly buoyant and not especially supportive, the Buck is gleaning traction and making gains at the expense of others, like the Euro that is gradually weakening in wake of Sunday’s German election that culminated in narrow victory for the SPD Party over the CDU/CSU alliance, but reliant on the Greens and FDP to form a Government. Eur/Usd has lost 1.1700+ status and is holding a fraction above recent lows in the form of a double bottom at 1.1684, but the Eur/Gbp cross is looking even weaker having breached several technical levels like the 100, 21 and 50 DMAs on the way down through 0.8530. Conversely, Eur/Chf remains firm around 1.0850, and largely due to extended declines in the Franc following last week’s dovish SNB policy review rather than clear signs of intervention via the latest weekly Swiss sight deposit balances. Indeed, Usd/Chf is now approaching 0.9300 again and helping to lift the Dollar index back up towards post-FOMC peaks within a 93.494-206 range in advance of US durable goods data, several Fed speakers, the Dallas Fed manufacturing business index and a double dose of T-note supply (Usd 60 bn 2 year and Usd 61 bn 5 year offerings). GBP/NZD/JPY - As noted above, the Pound is benefiting from Eur/Gbp tailwinds, but also strength in Brent to offset potential upset due to the UK’s energy supply issues, so Cable is also bucking the broad trend and probing 1.3700. However, the Kiwi is clinging to 0.7000 in the face of Aud/Nzd headwinds that are building on a break of 1.0350, while the Yen is striving keep its head afloat of another round number at 111.00 as bond yields rebound and curves resteepen. SCANDI/EM - The Nok is also knocking on a new big figure, but to the upside vs the Eur at 10.0000 following the hawkish Norges Bank hike, while the Cnh and Cny are holding up well compared to fellow EM currencies with loads of liquidity from the PBoC and some underlying support amidst the ongoing mission to crackdown on speculators in the crypto and commodity space. In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures kicked the week off on a firmer footing, which saw Brent Nov eclipse the USD 79.50/bbl level (vs low 78.21/bbl) whilst its WTI counterpart hovers north of USD 75/bbl (vs low 74.16/bbl). The complex could be feeling some tailwinds from the supply crunch in Britain – which has lead petrol stations to run dry as demand outpaces the supply. Aside from that, the landscape is little changed in the run-up to the OPEC+ meeting next Monday, whereby ministers are expected to continue the planned output hikes of 400k BPD/m. On that note, there have been reports that some African nations are struggling to pump more oil amid delayed maintenance and low investments, with Angola and Nigeria said to average almost 300k BPD below their quota. On the Iranian front, IAEA said Iran permitted it to service monitoring equipment during September 20th-22nd with the exception of the centrifuge component manufacturing workshop at the Tesa Karaj facility, with no real updates present regarding the nuclear deal talks. In terms of bank commentary, Goldman Sachs raised its year-end Brent crude forecast by USD 10 to USD 90/bbl and stated that Hurricane Ida has more than offset the ramp-up in OPEC+ output since July with non-OPEC+, non-shale output continuing to disappoint, while it added that global oil demand-deficit is greater than expected with a faster than anticipated demand recovery from the Delta variant. Conversely, Citi said in the immediate aftermath of skyrocketing prices, it is logical to be bearish on crude oil and nat gas today and forward curves for later in 2022, while it added that near-term global oil inventories are low and expected to continue declining maybe through Q1 next year. Over to metals, spot gold and silver have fallen victim to the firmer Dollar, with spot gold giving up its overnight gains and meandering around USD 1,750/oz (vs high 1760/oz) while spot silver briefly dipped under USD 22.50/oz (vs high 22.73/oz). Turning to base metals, China announced another round of copper, zinc and aluminium sales from state reserves – with amounts matching the prior sales. LME copper remains within a tight range, but LME tin is the outlier as it gave up the USD 35k mark earlier in the session. Finally, the electricity crunch in China has seen thermal coal prices gain impetus amid tight domestic supply, reduced imports and increased demand. US Event Calendar 8:30am: Aug. Cap Goods Ship Nondef Ex Air, est. 0.5%, prior 0.9% 8:30am: Aug. Cap Goods Orders Nondef Ex Air, est. 0.4%, prior 0.1% 8:30am: Aug. -Less Transportation, est. 0.5%, prior 0.8% 8:30am: Aug. Durable Goods Orders, est. 0.6%, prior -0.1% 10:30am: Sept. Dallas Fed Manf. Activity, est. 11.0, prior 9.0 Central Banks 8am: Fed’s Evans Speaks at Annual NABE Conference 9am: Fed’s Williams Makes Opening Remarks at Conference on... 12pm: Fed’s Williams Discusses the Economic Outlook 12:50pm: Fed’s Brainard Discusses Economic Outlook at NABE Conference DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Straight to the German elections this morning where unlike the Ryder Cup the race was tight. The centre-left SPD have secured a narrow lead according to provisional results, which give them 25.7% of the vote, ahead of Chancellor Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc, which are on 24.1%. That’s a bit narrower than the final polls had suggested (Politico’s average put the SPD ahead by 25-22%), but fits with the slight narrowing we’d seen over the final week of the campaign. Behind them, the Greens are in third place, with a record score of 14.8%, which puts them in a key position when it comes to forming a majority in the new Bundestag, and the FDP are in fourth place currently on 11.5%. Although the SPD appear to be in first place the different parties will now enter coalition negotiations to try to form a governing majority. Both Olaf Scholz and the CDU’s Armin Laschet have said that they will seek to form a government, and to do that they’ll be looking to the Greens and the FDP as potential coalition partners, since those are the most realistic options given mutual policy aims. So the critical question will be whether it’s the SPD or the CDU/CSU that can convince these two to join them in coalition. On the one hand, the Greens have a stronger policy overlap with the SPD, and governed with them under Chancellor Schröder from 1998-2005, but the FDP seems more in line with the Conservatives, and were Chancellor Merkel’s junior coalition partner from 2009-13.  So it’s likely that the FDP and the Greens will talk to each other before talking to either of the two biggest parties. For those wanting more information, our research colleagues in Frankfurt have released a post-election update (link here) on the results and what they mean. An important implication of last night’s result is that (at time of writing) it looks as though a more left-wing coalition featuring the SPD, the Greens and Die Linke would not be able for form a majority in the next Bundestag. So the main options left are for the FDP and the Greens to either join the SPD in a “traffic light” coalition or instead join the CDU/CSU in a “Jamaica” coalition. The existing grand coalition of the SPD and the CDU/CSU would actually have a majority as well, but both parties have signalled that they don't intend to continue this. That said, last time in 2017, a grand coalition wasn’t expected after that result, and there were initially attempts to form a Jamaica coalition. But once those talks proved unsuccessful, discussions on another grand coalition began once again. In terms of interesting snippets, this election marks the first time the SPD have won the popular vote since 2002, which is a big turnaround given that the party were consistently polling in third place over the first half of this year. However, it’s also the worst ever result for the CDU/CSU, and also marks the lowest combined share of the vote for the two big parties in post-war Germany, which mirrors the erosion of the traditional big parties we’ve seen elsewhere in continental Europe. Interestingly, the more radical Die Linke and AfD parties on the left and the right respectively actually did worse than in 2017, so German voters have remained anchored in the centre, and there’s been no sign of a populist resurgence. This also marks a record result for the Greens, who’ve gained almost 6 percentage points relative to four years ago, but that’s still some way down on where they were polling earlier in the spring (in the mid-20s), having lost ground in the polls throughout the final weeks of the campaign. Markets in Asia have mostly started the week on a positive note, with the Hang Seng (+0.28%), Nikkei (+0.04%), and the Kospi (+0.25%) all moving higher. That said, the Shanghai Comp is down -1.30%, as materials (-5.91%) and industrials (-4.24%) in the index have significantly underperformed, which comes amidst power curbs in the country. In the US and Europe however, futures are pointing higher, with those on the S&P 500 up +0.37%, and those on the DAX up +0.51%. Moving onto another big current theme, all the talk at the moment is about supply shocks and it’s not inconceivable that things could get very messy on this front over the weeks and months ahead. However, I think the discussion on supply in isolation misses an important component and that is demand. In short we had a pandemic that effectively closed the global economy and interrupted numerous complicated supply chains. The global authorities massively stimulated demand relative to where it would have been in this environment and in some areas have created more demand than there would have been at this stage without Covid. However the supply side has not come back as rapidly. As such you’re left with demand outstripping supply. So I think it’s wrong to talk about a global supply shock in isolation. It’s not as catchy but this is a “demand is much higher than it should be in a pandemic with lockdowns, but supply hasn't been able to fully respond” world. If the authorities hadn’t responded as aggressively we would have plenty of supply for the demand and a lot of deflation. Remember negative oil prices in the early stages of the pandemic. So for me every time you hear the phrase “supply shock” remember the phenomenal demand there is relative to what the steady state might have been. This current “demand > supply” at lower levels of activity than we would have had without covid is going to cause central banks a huge headache over the coming months. Should they tighten due to what is likely to be a prolonged period of higher prices than people thought even a couple of months ago or should they look to the potential demand destruction of higher prices? The risk of a policy error is high and the problem with forward guidance is that markets demand to know now what they might do over the next few months and quarters so it leaves them exposed a little in uncertain times. This problem has crept up fast on markets with an epic shift in sentiment in the rates market after the BoE meeting Thursday lunchtime. I would say they were no more hawkish than the Fed the night before but the difference is that the Fed are still seemingly at least a year from raising rates and a lot can happen in that period whereas the BoE could now raise this year (more likely February). That has focused the minds of global investors, especially as Norway became the first central bank among the G-10 currencies to raise rates on the same day. Towards the end of this note we’ll recap the moves in markets last week including a +15bps climb in US 10yr yields in the last 48 hours of last week. One factor that will greatly influence yields over the week ahead is the ongoing US debt ceiling / government shutdown / infrastructure bill saga that is coming to a head as we hit October on Friday - the day that there could be a partial government shutdown without action by the close on Thursday. It’s a fluid situation. So far the the House of Representatives has passed a measure that would keep the government funded through December 3, but it also includes a debt ceiling suspension, so Republicans are expected to block this in the Senate if it still includes that. The coming week could also see the House of Representatives vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill (c.$550bn) that’s already gone through the Senate, since Speaker Pelosi had previously committed to moderate House Democrats that there’d be a vote on the measure by today. She reaffirmed that yesterday although the timing may slip. However, there remain divisions among House Democrats, with some progressives not willing to support it unless the reconciliation bill also passes. In short we’ve no idea how this get resolved but most think some compromise will be reached before Friday. Pelosi yesterday said it “seems self-evident” that the reconciliation bill won’t reach the $3.5 trillion hoped for by the administration which hints at some compromise. Overall the sentiment has seemingly shifted a little more positively on there being some progress over the weekend. From politics to central banks and following a busy week of policy meetings, there are an array of speakers over the week ahead. One of the biggest highlights will be the ECB’s Forum on Central Banking, which is taking place as an online event on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the final policy panel on Wednesday will include Fed Chair Powell, ECB President Lagarde, BoE Governor Bailey and BoJ Governor Kuroda. Otherwise, Fed Chair Powell will also be testifying before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, alongside Treasury Secretary Yellen, and on Monday, ECB President Lagarde will be appearing before the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs as part of the regular Monetary Dialogue. There are lots of other Fed speakers this week and they can add nuances to the taper and dot plot debates. Finally on the data front, there’ll be further clues about the state of inflation across the key economies, as the Euro Area flash CPI estimate for September is coming out on Friday. Last month's reading showed that Euro Area inflation rose to +3.0% in August, which was its highest level in nearly a decade. Otherwise, there’s also the manufacturing PMIs from around the world on Friday given it’s the start of the month, along with the ISM reading from the US, and Tuesday will see the release of the Conference Board’s consumer confidence reading for the US as well. For the rest of the week ahead see the day-by-day calendar of events at the end. Back to last week now and the highlight was the big rise in global yields which quickly overshadowed the ongoing Evergrande story. Bonds more than reversed an early week rally as yields rose for a fifth consecutive week. US 10yr Treasury yields ended the week up +8.9bps to finish at 1.451% - its highest level since the start of July and +15bps off the Asian morning lows on Thursday. The move saw the 2y10y yield curve steepen +4.5bps, with the spread reaching its widest point since July as well. However, at the longer end of the curve the 5y30y spread ended the week largely unchanged after a volatile week. It was much flatter shortly following the FOMC and steeper following the BoE. Bond yields in Europe moved higher as well with the central bank moves again being the major impetus especially in the UK. 10yr gilt yields rose +7.9bps to +0.93% and the short end moved even more with the 2yr yield rising +9.4bps to 0.38% as the BoE’s inflation forecast and rhetoric caused investors to pull forward rate hike expectations. Yields on 10yr bunds rose +5.2bps, whilst those on the OATs (+6.3bps) and BTPs (+5.7bps) increased substantially as well, but not to the same extent as their US and UK counterparts. While sovereign debt sold off, global equity markets recovered following two consecutive weeks of declines. Although markets entered the week on the back foot following the Evergrande headlines from last weekend, risk sentiment improved at the end of the week, especially toward cyclical industries. The S&P 500 gained +0.51% last week (+0.15% Friday), nearly recouping the prior week’s loss. The equity move was primarily led by cyclicals as higher bond yields helped US banks (+3.43%) outperform, while higher commodity prices saw the energy (+4.46%) sector gain sharply. Those higher bond yields led to a slight rerating of growth stocks as the tech megacap NYFANG index fell back -0.46% on the week and the NASDAQ underperformed, finishing just better than unchanged (+0.02). Nonetheless, with four trading days left in September the S&P 500 is on track for its third losing month this year, following January and June. European equities rose moderately last week, as the STOXX 600 ended the week +0.31% higher despite Friday’s -0.90% loss. Bourses across the continent outperformed led by particularly strong performances by the IBEX (+1.28%) and CAC 40 (+1.04%). There was limited data from Friday. The Ifo's business climate indicator in Germany fell slightly from the previous month to 98.8 (99.0 expected) from 99.4 on the back a lower current assessment even though business expectations was higher than expected. In Italy, consumer confidence rose to 119.6 (115.8 expected), up just over 3pts from August and at its highest level on record (since 1995). Tyler Durden Mon, 09/27/2021 - 08:09.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytSep 27th, 2021

Rudin welcomes cryptocurrency co. to 1675 Broadway

Rudin Management Company announced today that global fintech firm Apifiny has finalized a five-year, 12,022 s/f lease at 1675 Broadway, its 35-story office tower in Midtown. Apifiny, a leading cryptocurrency trading and mining network, will occupy a portion of the 35th floor of the 850,000 s/f building, which is located at the corner... The post Rudin welcomes cryptocurrency co. to 1675 Broadway appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. Rudin Management Company announced today that global fintech firm Apifiny has finalized a five-year, 12,022 s/f lease at 1675 Broadway, its 35-story office tower in Midtown. Apifiny, a leading cryptocurrency trading and mining network, will occupy a portion of the 35th floor of the 850,000 s/f building, which is located at the corner of Broadway and West 52nd Street. The firm is currently located at 199 Water Street and plans to take occupancy at 1675 Broadway this month. “As a company with a strong commitment to technology and innovation, we are thrilled that Apifiny has chosen 1675 Broadway for its new Manhattan offices,” said Michael Rudin, Executive Vice President at Rudin Management Company. “We believe Apifiny will benefit from 1675 Broadway’s central location and best-in-class infrastructure and connectivity as they continue to grow here in New York City.” 1675 BROADWAY Apifiny was represented by Sam Einhorn of Colliers in the transaction. Building ownership was represented by Robert Steinman, Senior Vice President at Rudin Management Company. Built in 1989 by Jack and Lewis Rudin, the green-gray Canadian granite office building at 1675 Broadway was constructed using the air rights over the adjacent Broadway Theatre. Designed by FXCollaborative (formerly Fox and Fowle Architects), the building features an Italian marble-clad lobby with vaulted ceilings, virtually column-free floor plates that can accommodate up to 10 corner offices, and a 60-car parking garage. Apifiny will join a prominent tenant roster at 1675 Broadway that includes Davis & Gilbert, Ballard Spahr, Roberts & Holland, and Spielman Koenigsberg & Parker. The post Rudin welcomes cryptocurrency co. to 1675 Broadway appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklySep 21st, 2021

Italian chocolate masters lease NYC basecamp for US retail expansion

Italian chocolatier Venchi Chocolate has leased a New York City headquarters space as it prepares to expand its US retail footprint. Resolution Real Estate Partners’ Brett Weiss and John Monaco represented landlord Kiami Windsor Management in the 3,525 s/f office deal at 16 West 36th Street in Midtown West. Newmark’s... The post Italian chocolate masters lease NYC basecamp for US retail expansion appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. Italian chocolatier Venchi Chocolate has leased a New York City headquarters space as it prepares to expand its US retail footprint. Resolution Real Estate Partners’ Brett Weiss and John Monaco represented landlord Kiami Windsor Management in the 3,525 s/f office deal at 16 West 36th Street in Midtown West. Newmark’s Ross Kaplan and William Chaplin represented Venchi, a nearly 150-year-old chocolate brand that now has over 150 stores around the world. With financial backing from Simest, a division of Italy’s state-backed lender and equity investor, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti Group, Venchi is planning to open 25 new US stores over the next four years. 16 WEST 36TH STREET Already it has several outposts in Manhattan. It dipped its toe in the market in 2010 when it opened inside Eataly in the Flatiron District. Its first stand-alone store was at 861 Broadway where it introduced New Yorkers to the world’s largest waterfall of chocolate. During COVID, it took over the former GROM Italian gelato shop at 233 Bleecker Street in the West Village and opened at 1796 Broadway over the summer. Venchi also has a space within the Downtown Eataly at the World Trade Center. In a statement, Simest said its $8 million investment plan for the chocolatier would strengthen its US retail sales network as well as the implementation of an e-commerce platform. According to a survey by chocolate supplier Cargill, one-third of Americans increased their chocolate consumption during COVID-19. More than half of those surveyed said chocolate gets them through a tough day. That perception, combined with more at-home snacking, was behind a 4.2 percent increase in chocolate sales last year, according to the National Confectioners Association. The post Italian chocolate masters lease NYC basecamp for US retail expansion appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyOct 15th, 2021

Fintech platform doubles footprint at One Grand Central

Fintech platform iCapital Network is doubling its office footprint at One Grand Central Place. Empire State Realty Trust announced today that the global financial technology platform will expand 35,186 s/f from its previous 29,351 s/f space for a total of 64,537 s/f across three contiguous full floors. The previous 11-year... The post Fintech platform doubles footprint at One Grand Central appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. Fintech platform iCapital Network is doubling its office footprint at One Grand Central Place. Empire State Realty Trust announced today that the global financial technology platform will expand 35,186 s/f from its previous 29,351 s/f space for a total of 64,537 s/f across three contiguous full floors. The previous 11-year lease has additionally been extended for six years. The expanded footprint will support iCapital’s exponential growth in recent months and continued operational expansion. “We have extended our partnership with ESRT with the expansion of our office space at One Grand Central Place to meet the needs of our clients and our team’s rapid growth,” said Lawrence Calcano, chairman and CEO of iCapital Network. “We are delighted by the convenience of the location and features of the property as consistent with our desire to provide a contemporary, light-filled workspace that encourages collaboration, and ensures the safety of our employees, managed by a landlord committed to the provision of industry-leading facilities and client services.” “We created a contiguous full floor for iCapital Network’s lease extension and space expansion at One Grand Central Place and relocated several current tenants to other suites in the building to make it possible,” said Thomas P. Durels, executive vice president, real estate at Empire State Realty Trust. “Our thorough return-to-office practices and suite of Indoor Environmental Quality measures give confidence to our tenants, their people, and their guests at One Grand Central Place and throughout our portfolio.” Lauren Crowley Corrinet, Al Golod, and Christopher Hogan of CBRE represented iCapital in the lease negotiations. Property owner representation was provided by Ryan Kass of Empire State Realty Trust, and Erik Harris, Neil Ruben, Scott Klau, and William Cohen of Newmark. The post Fintech platform doubles footprint at One Grand Central appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyOct 14th, 2021

TradingView Hits $3 Billion Valuation With $298 Million Investment

The world’s most popular social network and charting platform for traders and investors closes $298 million financing round led by new investor Tiger Global to accelerate TradingView’s mission of helping people “Look first / Then leap” into the investment markets. Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more TradingView Announces A New $298 Million Investment […] The world’s most popular social network and charting platform for traders and investors closes $298 million financing round led by new investor Tiger Global to accelerate TradingView’s mission of helping people “Look first / Then leap” into the investment markets. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Walter Schloss Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Walter Schloss in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues. (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more TradingView Announces A New $298 Million Investment Round [New York, London, October 14, 2021]: TradingView Inc, the world’s most popular charting platform and social network for traders and investors, today announced a new $298 million investment round – led by Tiger Global. The financing takes the company – with paying customers in over 180 countries worldwide – to a $3 billion valuation. Denis Globa, CEO and co-founder of TradingView said: “We’re excited to be partnering with Tiger Global. Their global fintech expertise and insights will contribute significantly to furthering TradingView’s vision of informed financial trading and investing for the world.” “We built this company with the belief that people everywhere want the same thing: to be in control of their own economic futures. We work towards this by creating an environment where all traders and investors can Look first / Then leap. That it doesn’t matter who you are, or where you’re from, you’ll always have access to the best tools and the best insights to find your right trading opportunities, then act on them”. The World's Most Popular Investing Website The investment follows strong growth for the company, which recently reported a 400% increase in created accounts, and a 237% increase in visitors to the platform in the last 18 months. It’s now recognized as the world’s most popular investing website[1] – with 30 million monthly users – and in the top 100 most engaging websites globally on the internet[2]. The company is also doubling down on its broker relationships and is expecting to partner and integrate with most major brokerage platforms over the next few years to allow consumers to trade directly from TradingView, while using their preferred financial institutions. “TradingView’s global reach, strong product offering, and engaged customer base positions the company to be the default social network and financial analysis platform used by all traders and investors,“ said Alex Cook, Partner, Tiger Global. “We’re looking forward to helping Denis and the team realize this ambition and expand the company’s market leadership position.” About TradingView TradingView, which was founded in 2011, is the only platform in the world to provide the information, insight, trading and investing journey all in one place. Now, with over 30 million monthly users, TradingView, in less than 10 years, has become the most popular investing website in the history of the internet, accessible to all, and used in 180 countries. TradingView’s global mission is to build a space where anyone anywhere can succeed through the financial markets and enjoy the process along the way. www.tradingview.com About Tiger Global Tiger Global Management is an investment firm focused on private and public companies in the internet, software, and financial technology sectors. Since 2001, Tiger Global has invested in hundreds of companies across more than 30 countries, in stages ranging from Series A to pre-IPO. The firm aims to partner with dynamic entrepreneurs operating market-leading companies in its core focus areas. Tiger Global's investments have included JD.com, UiPath, Stripe, Databricks, Bytedance, Snowflake, Facebook, Alibaba, Procore, Chime, Blend, Peloton, Attentive, LinkedIn, Flipkart, and Toast. www.tigerglobal.com Updated on Oct 14, 2021, 10:47 am (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 14th, 2021

Taibbi: Konstantin Kilimnik, Russiagate"s Last Fall Guy, Speaks Out

Taibbi: Konstantin Kilimnik, Russiagate's Last Fall Guy, Speaks Out Authored by Matt Taibbi via TK News, On Real Time With Bill Maher two Fridays ago, I fumbled and deflected politely over a Russiagate question, instead of going full cage match. The segment went off the rails beginning with this exchange: MAHER: You compared it to WMDs. You said, the Russia connection with Trump is this generation’s WMD. I don’t think that’s an accurate analogy, because there were no WMDs. But there was collusion with Russia. TAIBBI: Really? Where? MAHER: Where? The Senate Intelligence Committee, run by Republicans, who are if anything slavish to Trump, their report said, “The Trump campaign’s interactions with Russian intelligence services during the 2016 presidential election posed a ‘grave’ counterintelligence threat.” First of all, that quote isn’t from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report from last August. It’s actually a paraphrase of the report from an Associated Press article, “Trump campaign’s Russia contacts ‘grave’ threat, Senate says,” which reads: WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump campaign’s interactions with Russian intelligence services during the 2016 presidential election posed a “grave” counterintelligence threat, a Senate panel concluded Tuesday… The real SSCI quote is a little different: Taken as a whole, Manafort's high-level access and willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services, particularly Kilimnik and associates of Oleg Deripaska, represented a grave counterintelligence threat. By all rights, Russiagate should be dead as a serious news story. But as the Real Time episode showed, “collusion” is still alive for some, and the bulk of the case essentially rests now upon the characterization of one person from the above passage as a Russian agent: a former aide to Paul Manafort named Konstantin Kilimnik. Kilimnik is a Ukrainian-American who’d served in the army and was hired to work as a translator at the American-funded International Republican Institute in Moscow beginning in the mid-nineties. In 2005, he left the IRI to go work for Paul Manafort, who was advising future president Viktor Yanukovich and the “Party of Regions” in Ukraine. As it happens, Kilimnik worked at the IRI in Moscow during the same time I lived in that city in the nineties and early 2000s. In fact, he was well-known enough in that small expatriate community that in the space of a day last week I was able to reach, through mutual acquaintances, five of Kilimnik’s former colleagues, including three from the IRI and one from the U.S. State Department, to whom he was a regular and valuable contact (the Senate investigators left that fact out). I also called Kilimnik and had two lengthy interviews with him. Why bring this up? Because in that little flurry of calls, I did more actual work on Konstantin Kilimnik than either the Special Counsel or SSCI researchers, who ostensibly spent thousands of man-hours investigating him. Kilimnik being a spy wouldn’t just mean that the Trump campaign had been penetrated. It would mean the same thing for the IRI, which was chaired by late Senator and leading proponent of the Russiagate theory John McCain at the time. More to the point, it would also be disastrous for the State Department, and particularly for the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, whose staffers placed great trust in “KK” as a regular source. The FBI’s own declassified reports show Kilimnik met with the head of the Kiev embassy’s political section “at least biweekly” during his time working with Manafort and Yanukovitch, adding that he “displayed good knowledge and seemed to know what was going on,” and came across as “less slanted” than other sources, among many other things. This fits with what I was told by multiple former colleagues of Kilimnik’s, that staffers in the Kiev embassy valued his analyses above those of some Americans in Yanukovitch’s orbit. (A third former co-worker was a little more blunt about what he heard, saying the Kiev embassy was “sucking his dick”). They also show the embassy was so intent on protecting Kilimnik’s identity as a State Department source that they pulled his name out of diplomatic cables sent home: Kilimnik says he “played a certain role in communication with the Western embassies in Kiev” both before and after the “Euromaidan” Revolution in 2014. “I tried to draw attention to facts about thugs attacking TV channels and opposition politicians, and things like [an arson attack against “InterTV” in 2016],” he says, adding that he “naively thought the West would stand for media freedom and protecting rules for fair play in politics, like it has for many years.” The only reason nobody’s asked the Senate Committee why Kilimnik’s alleged spy status doesn’t also represent a “grave” embarrassment to, say, the U.S. State Department is because our press corps is the most dogshit on earth (more on that in a moment). Special Counsel Robert Mueller claimed the FBI spoke to an IRI employee who said Kilimnik was “fired from his post because his links to Russian intelligence were too strong.” Though not all the IRI staffers I reached liked Kilimnik, each found the idea that he might be a spy alternately ridiculous and baffling. Multiple ex-colleagues said they believed he was fired for “moonlighting,” i.e. because he’d already started working for Manafort. “I was actually moonlighting. It was a funny story,” Kilimnik says (for a more complete explanation, see the Q&A below). As to the idea that it was known around the IRI office that Kilimnik had intelligence ties, one former senior IRI official said, “I think whoever said that, that’s someone trying to feel more important in retrospect,” adding that the idea that he was “some GRU plant from years gone by” was questionable because the Russians “didn’t know their right from their left back then, and the IRI could not described as a high-value target.” The official concluded: “I find the notion that Kilimnik is now this big figure remarkable.” None of former employees of the Moscow IRI office I spoke with had been contacted by any American investigator, including Mueller. Then there’s the matter of the suspect himself. Question to Kilimnik: how many times was he questioned by American authorities, with whom he was so familiar — remember he met with American officials “at least biweekly” at one point pre-Trump — during the entire Russiagate period? “Not a single person from the U.S. Government ever reached out to me,” Kilimnik says. Nobody from the Office of the Special Counsel, the FBI, or the Senate Intelligence Committee ever contacted him? “Not once,” Kilimnik says. “Nobody from Mueller’s team reached out to me, literally nobody.” In reaching Kilimnik last week I also became just the second American reporter, after Aaron Maté of RealClear Investigations and Grayzone, to call Kilimnik for comment on the Senate report. Virtually every American news organization or TV commentary program has in the last year repeated accusations against Kilimnik made by either the Senate Intelligence Committee or the U.S. Treasury Department, which earlier this year called him a “Russian Intelligence Services agent” in an announcement of sanctions against Russia. It was once normal practice in American media to give people a chance to respond to serious allegations, but no longer, apparently. “Zero. Zero,” says Kilimnik, when asked how many American media outlets called him after the release of the Senate report. Incidentally, Kilimnik isn’t hiding under a snow-covered trap door at a secret FSB installation outside Izhievsk. He’s in an apartment in Northwest Moscow, where anyone could find him. “Everybody knows my phone number. It was in Mueller’s reports,” he says. “But I got no questions. I mean, a lot of people know how to find me. I guess they just didn’t care.” Kilimnik was even on the list of 16 entities and 16 individuals the Treasury just this year said “attempted to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election at the direction of the leadership of the Russian Government.” That’s the 2020 election, not the 2016 election, meaning the one that came after the Senate report. “The US actually sanctioned me for interference in 2020 elections,” Kilimnik says. “I would not be able to say why. I’d love to know. I’ve been sitting in fucking Moscow, in my backyard, and feeding squirrels. Must have been some sort of interference.” The aforementioned Maté published photos of Kilimnik’s passport that appear to show he entered the U.S. on a visa stamped in a regular Russian passport on October 28, 1997. This is the same date the Senate committee said he was entering the United States on a diplomatic passport. The Senate also said Kilimnik met with Manafort in Spain in 2017, which he denies. “I’ve never been to Spain,” Kilimnik laughs. “I haven’t been there. Let them prove I’ve been there.” Another thing that came up on Real Time was the idea that we shouldn’t dismiss the monetarily tiny Russian Facebook campaign — featuring classics that ironically read like Real Time bits, with images of Jesus pleading with American voters, “Struggling with addiction to masturbation? Reach out to me and we’ll beat it together” — because “9/11 didn’t cost much either”: I oversold things on the air, talking about how the Internet Research Agency only spent $100,000, as only $44,000 of that was before the campaign. More importantly, only a tiny percentage of ads qualified as coherent propaganda. I’d wager few Americans have actually read through all these ads, which have messages like, “Tell me once again that there’s no such thing as white privilege,” “Stop Trump and his bigoted agenda!”, and “Share the experience and the challenges of the black hair industry.” Overall, for 2016, they read like a creepy, overambitious parody of woke culture, with a tinge of Charlie Manson’s “Helter Skelter” plan thrown in. Whatever it is/was, it’s pretty far from 9/11: Kilimnik stands accused of helping Evil Von Putin aim this high-tech weapon. How? Senate investigators said, “Manafort briefed Kilimnik on sensitive Campaign polling data and the Campaign’s strategy for beating Hillary Clinton.” What was sensitive about it? “That’s bullshit. There was nothing that resembled ‘sensitive’ polling data,” Kilimnik says. “I would get two figures maybe once a month, not every day, not every week.” Two figures — meaning two pages? “Two digits,” he says. “Like, ‘Trump 40, Hillary 45.’ That’s all I would get, nothing more. So I don’t understand how this is sensitive data.” Kilimnik was getting his information from former Trump deputy campaign chief Rick Gates, who was directed to send the data to Kilimnik by Manafort. None other than Rachel Maddow once called Gates “Mueller’s star cooperating witness.” I called Gates last week and asked: what was he passing to Kilimnik? “Top-line data, and I want people to understand what that means,” he says. “It was like, ‘Ohio, Clinton 48, Trump 50,’ Or, ‘Wisconsin, Trump 50, Clinton 42.’ The sources were a combination of things like RealClear Politics and occasionally some numbers from [Republican pollster] Tony Fabrizio. But it was all just top-line stuff.” Gates’s story is that Manafort was passing this data back to people like his longtime sponsors, the Ukrainian barons Rinat Akhmetov and Sergei Lyvochkin, because “Paul was just trying to show that Trump was doing well,” as “Paul was just trying to do what he’s always done,” i.e. trying to show how valuable he could be. For those disinclined to believing the Gates or Kilimnik version of events, remember that neither Mueller nor the Senate Intelligence Committee could come up with a different one. Apart from adding “sensitive” to their description (Mueller just called it “internal polling data”), the Senate never offered evidence that Kilimnik was getting more than those few numbers. As to why Kilimnik was sent this information, this is what the Senate had to say: The Committee was unable to reliably determine why Manafort shared sensitive internal polling data or Campaign strategy with Kilimnik. Manafort and Gates both claimed that it was part of an effort to resolve past business disputes and obtain new work with their past Russian and Ukrainian clients by showcasing Manafort's success. Why “sensitive?” The Committee was “unable to reliably determine” why, having no idea what Kilimnik did with those numbers. But they were sure enough it was bad to conclude it represented a “grave counterintelligence threat.” Kilimnik is roughly the twentieth suspect in a long list of alleged secret conduits that across five years have already been tried out and discarded by pundits and investigators alike as “smoking gun” links between Trump and Putin. An abbreviated list: There was a Maltese professor named Josef Mifsud and a young Trump aide named George Papadopoulos, former Trump adviser Carter Page, an alleged “secret server” supposedly pinging between Trump and Alfa Bank, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser J.D. Gordon, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, real estate developer Felix Sater, another Russian who approached Trump people claiming to have dirt on Hillary Clinton named Henry Oknyansky, a Russian firm called Concord Consulting, plus Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, and many others. The pattern with all of these “smoking gun” cases was the same. At first, there would be a great press hullaballoo, complete with front-page media profiles and heated straight-to-camera monologues at the tops of cable commentary shows over “Breaking News” chyrons: Freakouts would be long, but months or years later, narratives would collapse. Ambassador Sergei Kislyak was everyone’s favorite suspect in the summer of 2016 for having done everything from rig the Republican convention platform to turning Sessions into a spy, but then Mueller quietly said Kisylak’s interactions with Trump officials in those months were “brief, public, and non-substantive.” Reporters howled that Christopher Steele was right about Cohen meeting Russian hackers in Prague to help rig the 2016 race, and even claimed (see above) that Mueller was about to release evidence of it any minute, until Mueller said flatly, “Cohen… never traveled to Prague.” The saddest case involved Carter Page. Steele’s Dossier identified Page — not Vladimir Putin, Julian Assange, or even Donald Trump — as the mastermind of the Wikileaks leak: The aim of leaking the DNC e-mails to WikiLeaks during the Democratic Convention had been to swing supporters of Bernie SANDERS away from Hillary CLINTON and across to TRUMP… This objective had been conceived and promoted, inter alia, by TRUMP’s foreign policy adviser Carter PAGE… Steele also had Page negotiating a massive bribe via the oil company Rosneft in exchange for the dropping of sanctions, and acting as the personal intermediary between Paul Manafort and the Kremlin. Page, not knowing he was being spied upon, told an FBI informant that August that he had “literally never met” or “said one word to” Paul Manafort, even going so far as to complain that Manafort never answered his emails. The FBI sat on this information, and wrote up a secret surveillance warrant application that read: Sub-Source reported that the conspiracy was being managed by Candidate’s then campaign manager, who was using, among others, foreign policy advisor Carter Page as an intermediary… It wasn’t until the report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz came out in December of 2019 that the world found out that the FBI not only “did not have information corroborating the specific allegations against Carter Page,” but had covered up Page’s history as an informant for the CIA, very much like the Senate and the Treasury are now covering up Kilimnik’s status as a U.S. State Department source. Kilimnik is just the last person on the list, and he’s conveniently in Moscow, unlikely to ever come back here to defend himself. As such, he’s the perfect fall guy for the marooned-Japanese-soldier-type holdouts on Russiagate who think the collusion narrative is still viable. More from Kilimnik: TK: You were described by the Senate Intelligence Committee as a “Russian Intelligence Officer.” Are you one? Konstantin Kilimnik: I have not had any relationship with any intelligence agency. Not with U.S. intelligence, not the Ukrainian, Russian, Zimbabwean, whatever. I’m a consultant who has worked for many years running elections in Ukraine. I just haven’t had any relationship with any intelligence, and haven’t seen any facts proving otherwise. I think the investigation was so politically charged from the beginning, that they just needed to find a Russian body that they could just put as much dirt as possible on. Ultimately, nobody is going to care, because all the Russians are considered to be bad anyhow, they’re all spies. TK: The intelligence community in the U.S. seems unanimous in their conclusion that Russians interfered in the 2016 and 2020 elections. Did they not? Konstantin Kilimnik: I don’t think Russians interfered… I know that runs counter to all the conclusions of the intelligence community and all that country to all the intelligence and press and all that. And maybe there were other efforts, as well. But, I was not involved in any of that. There was a lot of misinformation, just because the public wanted someone, and I just happened to be that person thrown into the mix. If I had Hungarian citizenship or any other citizenship, of course, people would not have given my name. They just needed the Russian connection, and I happened to be that unfortunate Russian connection. TK: The Mueller report claims an IRI employee believed you were “fired from his post because his links to Russian intelligence were too strong.” Others say you were “moonlighting.” Why did you leave the IRI? Konstantin Kilimnik: I was actually moonlighting. It was a funny story. I was looking for ways to move on, because by 2005 I had been at IRI for 10 years. Some time in mid-2004 an old IRI pal, Phil Griffin, reemerged and proposed a well-paying job of going to Ukraine and writing analyses of what was going on during the Orange Revolution, for Manafort. So, I went there after not having been to Ukraine for over 10 years. I was ecstatic about Kiev and got seriously interested in what was going on politically… Manafort, Griffin and I (as a translator) went to Donetsk in, I think, November 2004 to meet some guy I had no previous knowledge of (who turned out to be Rinat Akhmetov’s closest confidant, Borys Kolesnikov). Manafort and he spoke for several days and got convinced that the “Donetsk guys” were not even close to being thugs they had been portrayed by the Western media to be. I went back a couple of times to translate for these meetings, which I thought were not in any conflict with my work at IRI Moscow. Then, the government in Ukraine changed. [Viktor] Yuschenko became the President, Manafort was in negotiations about the contract, and I almost forgot about my short translation jobs. In April 2005, we were at an IRI retreat, and my boss, director of Europe and Eurasia programs Steve Nix got a tip from the new President’s office that “Donetsk thugs” were looking to hire an American consultant, and that a guy who seemed to work at IRI was helping in the process. Steve, who was very pro-Yuschenko, completely freaked out, and accused me of working for criminals. I said that a) I was doing this in my free time, 2) this did not conflict in any way with my job at IRI Russia, and 3) maybe things are not so straightforward in Ukrainian politics, and there are no guys in black and white hats, but mostly gray hats. He disagreed and demanded I resign, which I did. TK: The Senate claims you met Manafort in Spain in 2017. Did you? Konstantin Kilimnik: I have never been to Spain. (laughter)...I have not been there. They can’t prove that. And yet they’ve inserted that. And yet, that’s central to what they’re saying. Europe is specific place in terms of passports and immigration. To cross the border, you have to give your fingerprints, and upon any re-entry too. If I went to Spain, I can guarantee that, first of all, Europe keeps a record of that. They would say that I have crossed the border at a certain time in a certain place. And that would be okay because, again, it’s all tied to the fingerprints. You cannot get into the EU without this. You can’t fake it. So let them prove it. TK: You’ve been accused of obtaining that “sensitive polling data” for Oleg Deripaska. Was that right? Konstantin Kilimnik: No, Deripaska was a Russian businessman. I actually didn’t have any contact with him. There were Ukrainian businessmen and Ukrainian politicians in 2016 who were in opposition, and who were actually under pressure from Petro Poroshenko’s government. Naturally, for them, any change, opening a channel into the U.S. Government, that for them would have been a great thing. So that’s why they were interested in the outcome of the elections. There was no Russian connection whatsoever. If there were, they would have a record of me talking to Deripaska or visiting him.TK: You never had any contact with Deripaska? Konstantin Kilimnik: No, I haven’t met him since, I’m afraid to be exact, but like 2006, I think was the last time I saw him. I was translating for Manafort. But after that, Manafort spoke to him himself, because Deripaska spoke the language by then. And there was no need for me. Part 2 of my interview with Konstantin Kilimnik is coming later this week. Tyler Durden Wed, 10/13/2021 - 21:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 13th, 2021

Tech Sector Provides Solid Returns YTD: Will the Rally Last?

At this stage, a few technology behemoths with attractive valuation are MSFT, TXN, NVDA, ADBE, CRM, NOW, AMAT and AVGO. Wall Street has performed reasonably well so far this year despite facing the worst September in a decade. Year to date, the three major stock indexes — the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite — have provided more than 13% returns. We have already entered the fourth quarter and it appears that this momentum will be maintained for the rest of the year, notwithstanding October’s historically recognized fluctuating trade pattern.Wall Street has maintained its impressive northbound journey after completing an astonishing bull run in the coronavirus-ridden 2020. However, the U.S. stock market’s driver has changed.In 2020, the technology sector drove Wall Street to get rid of the pandemic-led historically shortest bear market and formed a new bull market. In 2021, the cyclical sectors like financials, industrials, energy, materials and consumer discretionary took center stage.However, a closer look at the U.S. stock markets reveals that the technology sector has performed fairly well in 2021. At present, the Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK) — one of the 11 broad sectors of the market’s benchmark the S&P 500 Index — has gained mostly in line with the benchmark itself.Year to date, the performance of the technology sector is well above several cyclical reopening sectors like consumer discretionary, industrials and materials. The tech rally is likely to continue going forward.Tech Meltdown TemporaryThe recent meltdown of the technology sector is a temporary phenomenon. The Fed has taken a $120 billion per month bond-buy program to ensure adequate liquidity in the system and tackle the pandemic-led economic devastations.It was clear from the very beginning that the central bank will remove this stimulus gradually as the U.S economic recovery moves forward to a reasonably strong footing. The logic that the technology sector will underperform other cyclical sectors may be true for a short period of time but in the long term, technology stocks will remain the best bet.  In fact, the fundamentals of the technology sector are rock solid. The growing demand for hi-tech superior products has been a catalyst for the sector in an otherwise tough environment. A series of breakthroughs in 5G wireless network, cloud computing, predictive analysis, AI, self-driving vehicles, digital personal assistants and IoT, have given a boost to the overall space.Tech Has Vast Potential — Buy on the DipThe leading emerging markets of Asia, Latin America, Africa and some European countries are still way behind in using digital technology compared to the developed world. While mobile phone penetration is nearly 90% in these countries, a large number of people are still using phones with old features, since voice communication and not data served most of their needs. Even those using smartphones, rarely utilize online digital features.   However, the outbreak of coronavirus quickly changed the lifestyle and lookout of these people. People were not entirely used to the digital platforms for their office work (work from home), ordering foods and other daily needs or transferring money and making payments. Moreover, online schooling, video conferencing and virtual networking have now become essential.The countries that are more digitized have been able to minimize their losses during the pandemic. These are major lessons to the other countries. Even those who are less inclined toward the digital technology and online platforms, either because they have to learn using smartphones or tablets or due to fear of data theft, are now feeling the massive advantage of the online platforms.The impact of a higher market interest rate is already factored in the technology sector’s valuation to a large extent. Share prices of several technology behemoths suffered a blow in September.These companies have highly established business models spread across the world, strong product pipelines, globally acclaimed brand recognition and robust financial positions, which help them to cope with a higher interest rate. Investment in these stocks should be fruitful going forward.Stocks in FocusThe technology sector is indispensable and the reopening of the U.S. and global economies will only act as a positive catalyst for this sector. At this stage, several stocks are available that looks attractive for future growth. However, picking them on the following three criteria will make the task easy.First, select U.S. technology giants (market cap > $100 billion) that have strong growth potential for the rest of 2021. Second, these stocks have seen positive earnings estimate revisions within the last 90 days for the next one year. Third, these stocks have robust upside left reflected by a solid long-term (3-5 years) growth rate.Eight stocks have fulfilled our selection criteria. These are: Microsoft Corp. MSFT, Texas Instruments Inc. TXN, NVIDIA Corp. NVDA, Adobe Inc. ADBE, Applied Materials Inc. AMAT, ServiceNow Inc. NOW, Broadcom Inc. AVGO and salesforce.com.inc. CRM. Zacks Names "Single Best Pick to Double" From thousands of stocks, 5 Zacks experts each have chosen their favorite to skyrocket +100% or more in months to come. From those 5, Director of Research Sheraz Mian hand-picks one to have the most explosive upside of all. You know this company from its past glory days, but few would expect that it's poised for a monster turnaround. Fresh from a successful repositioning and flush with A-list celeb endorsements, it could rival or surpass other recent Zacks' Stocks Set to Double like Boston Beer Company which shot up +143.0% in a little more than 9 months and Nvidia which boomed +175.9% in one year.Free: See Our Top Stock and 4 Runners Up >>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 Texas Instruments Incorporated (TXN): Free Stock Analysis Report Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): Free Stock Analysis Report salesforce.com, inc. (CRM): Free Stock Analysis Report NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA): Free Stock Analysis Report Adobe Inc. (ADBE): Free Stock Analysis Report Applied Materials, Inc. (AMAT): Free Stock Analysis Report Broadcom Inc. (AVGO): Free Stock Analysis Report ServiceNow, Inc. (NOW): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacksOct 13th, 2021

Will Fee Income Growth Buoy Fifth Third"s (FITB) Q3 Earnings?

While efforts to curb expenses and grow fee income are likely to have aided Fifth Third's (FITB) Q3 earnings, uncertainty surrounding regulatory and economic backdrop have affected lending activity. Fifth Third Bancorp FITB is scheduled to report third-quarter 2021 results on Oct 19, before the opening bell. The company’s earnings and revenues are expected to have risen year over year.In the last reported quarter, the bank’s earnings surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate.The company’s performance displays a solid capital position along with rising revenues, aided by fee income. Also, benefits from credit losses were tailwinds. However, marginally higher expenses and muted loan growth played spoilsports.The Cincinnati, OH-based lender has an impressive earnings surprise history. It topped on earnings in all of the trailing four quarters, the average surprise being 29.9%.Fifth Third Bancorp Price and EPS Surprise Fifth Third Bancorp price-eps-surprise | Fifth Third Bancorp QuoteHere are the factors that are expected to have influenced the company’s quarterly performance:Net Interest Income (NII):  In the third quarter, the yield curve spread widened, with the 10-year Treasury yield rising significantly at the quarter end, thereby, likely propelling NII. Overall growth in loans was moderate in the third quarter. Per the Fed’s latest data, real estate, consumer loan, auto loan and card loan portfolio growth has supported the lending business. Additionally, the deposit balance is likely to have been stable or grown modestly, supported by government stimulus. This too is likely to have aided NII.The consensus mark of $1.19 billion for NII indicates an improvement from $1.17 billion reported a year ago. Management expects interest income to rise $7 million in the third quarter.Conversely, commercial and industrial loan portfolio remained weak as the low-interest rate environment has made borrowing through other avenues like capital markets more attractive. Hence, Fifth Third’s interest income is expected to have received lesser support from this avenue in the quarter under review, as 62% of its loan portfolio consists of commercial loans.High levels of pay downs and payoffs as well as uncertainty surrounding tax, regulatory and economic backdrop have also likely been dampeners for a recovery in the lending space. Management expects average loans and leases to be down 1%, and NII to be down 1-2% sequentially.Non-Interest Revenues: The company has been focusing to grow and diversify its fee revenues over the past few quarters on the back of acquisitions and partnerships to support commercial verticals. This is likely to have enhanced its fee-based abilities and offset some interest-rate headwinds in the third quarter.Digital adoption and enhanced capital market capabilities have likely bumped up its presence in league table rankings and improved capital market fees.Deposit service charges should have continued to normalize as the pandemic-related concessions continue to retract. The consensus estimate of $152 million for the same suggests an improvement from the prior-year quarter’s reported figure of $144 million.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for non-interest income is pegged at $782 million, suggesting an 8.3% year-over-year increase.The company expects non-interest income to increase 2% on a sequential basis.This excludes pre-tax gain of approximately $60 million associated with the sale of the company’s HSA business, which it expected to close in the third quarter.However, mortgage originations, both purchase and refinancing, continued to normalize in the third quarter. Mortgage banking revenues have been facing tough comps from the origination boom in 2020, which was driven by then ultra-low mortgage rates.In the quarter under review, mortgage rates increased sequentially. Mortgage origination activities are estimated to have decreased dramatically, with rising rates discouraging refinancing activity. Nonetheless, given the strong housing market conditions, homebuying activities continued in the quarter under review. Hence, purchase originations are likely to have offered some relief. The factors are expected to have limited Fifth Third’s mortgage banking fee growth in the to-be-reported quarter.Expenses: Fifth Third’s ongoing investments in areas like technology are expected to have escalated expenses. Nonetheless, the company is anticipated to have been successful in offsetting the rise through branch network optimization, continued business and corporate real estate rationalization efforts.On a sequential basis, management expects non-interest expenses to remain flat.Share Buyback Activities: In third-quarter 2021, Fifth Third repurchased 14.5 million shares per a SEC filing as of Sep 28, 2021. Such share repurchases are expected to have propelled the company’s bottom-line growth.Key Developments During the QuarterIn early August, Fifth Third completed the buyout of Provide, a fintech company that specializes in handling lending and banking for healthcare providers. The acquisition advances Fifth Third’s efforts in the digital innovation front and expands its focus on the healthcare sector by providing a digital platform for healthcare practices, and catering to the lending and banking needs of retail healthcare providers.The transaction is a strategic fit as it will enable Fifth Third to offer new clients its range of banking solutions and will facilitate it to capture growth opportunities. Moreover, it offers scope to diversify and increase fee revenues.Let’s have a look at what our quantitative model predicts:Fifth Third has the right combination of the two key ingredients — a positive Earnings ESP and Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) or higher — for increasing the odds of an earnings beat.You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they’re reported with our Earnings ESP Filter.Earnings ESP: The Earnings ESP for Fifth Third is +0.46%.Zacks Rank: Fifth Third currently carries a Zacks Rank of 2 (Buy).Prior to the third-quarter earnings release, Fifth Third’s quarterly activities were adequate to gain adequate analyst confidence. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for third-quarter earnings has been revised marginally upward to 91 cents over the past week. It suggests a 7.1% year-over-year increase.The consensus mark for third-quarter revenues is pegged at $2 billion, indicating a year-over-year rise of 5.3%.Other Bank Stocks Worth a LookHere are a few other bank stocks that you may want to consider, as our model shows that these too have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this time around:KeyCorp KEY is slated to report quarterly results on Oct 21. The company has an Earnings ESP of +1.43% and a Zacks Rank of 3, currently. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.BankUnited, Inc. BKU is scheduled to release third-quarter results on Oct 21. The company currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 and has an Earnings ESP of +1.90%.M&T Bank Corporation MTB is slated to report quarterly results on oct 20. The company has an Earnings ESP of +1.89% and a Zacks Rank of 3, currently. Zacks Names "Single Best Pick to Double" From thousands of stocks, 5 Zacks experts each have chosen their favorite to skyrocket +100% or more in months to come. From those 5, Director of Research Sheraz Mian hand-picks one to have the most explosive upside of all. You know this company from its past glory days, but few would expect that it's poised for a monster turnaround. Fresh from a successful repositioning and flush with A-list celeb endorsements, it could rival or surpass other recent Zacks' Stocks Set to Double like Boston Beer Company which shot up +143.0% in a little more than 9 months and Nvidia which boomed +175.9% in one year.Free: See Our Top Stock and 4 Runners Up >>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 Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB): Free Stock Analysis Report M&T Bank Corporation (MTB): Free Stock Analysis Report KeyCorp (KEY): Free Stock Analysis Report BankUnited, Inc. (BKU): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksOct 13th, 2021

FEMSA (FMX) Looks Prim on Distribution Business Expansion

FEMSA (FMX) is poised for growth on its focus on creating a national distribution platform in the United States through the expansion of footprint in the specialized distribution industry. Fomento Economico Mexicano S.A.B. de C.V. FMX, alias FEMSA, is witnessing momentum, owing to improved consumption patterns and strong business momentum, resulting from the easing of restrictions across most markets. Its focus on offering customers more options to make contactless purchases by intensifying digital and technology-driven initiatives across operations also bodes well. Additionally, its efforts to create a national distribution platform in the United States through the expansion of footprint in the specialized distribution industry positions it for growth in the long term.However, we cannot ignore the headwinds arising from supply-chain disruptions and the rise in COVID-19 Delta cases in many markets. The uneven trends across markets are likely to continue hurting the company’s earnings. Escalating industry-wide freight costs and an increase in other input costs are headwinds impacting the company.Factors Likely to Support GrowthFEMSA has exposure in various industries, including beverage, beer and retail, which gives it an edge over its competitors. The company participates in the beverage industry through Coca-Cola FEMSA KOF, which is the world’s largest franchise bottler for Coca-Cola KO products. In the beer industry, it enjoys a notable position, with its 14.76% stake in Heineken HEINY, a leading brewer with operations in 70 countries.The company’s share in the retail space relates to the operation of various small-format store chains, including OXXO, through its FEMSA Comercio subsidiary. Apart from these, FEMSA provides logistics, point-of-sale refrigeration solutions, and plastic solutions to its business units and third-party clients through its FEMSA Strategic Businesses subsidiary.We are convinced of FEMSA’s efforts to expand its presence in the specialized distribution industry. The company recently took a leap in the expansion of its specialized distribution business in the United States. Envoy Solutions, which is FEMSA’s specialized distribution subsidiary in the United States, entered a deal to acquire the Philadelphia, PA-based Penn Jersey Paper Co. The acquisition of Penn Jersey will bolster FEMSA’s distribution presence in the East Coast, including the Philadelphia metro area and New York City. Penn Jersey generated annual revenues of more than $200 million as of June 2021. FEMSA expects to seal the deal in third-quarter 2021 after the customary closing conditions are satisfied.Earlier, the company agreed to acquire Maryland-based Daycon Products Co., which will fortify its specialized distribution presence on the East Coast of the United States, including Washington DC and Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It also announced the acquisition of two independent specialized distribution businesses — Spartanburg, SC-based Southeastern Paper Group, Inc., and Wichita, Kansas-based Southwest Paper Company, Inc. The companies together generated annual revenues of nearly $380 million as of September 2020.The company’s venture in the specialized distribution industry relates to its plan of investing in adjacent businesses, which can leverage capabilities across different markets, providing an opportunity for attractive growth and risk-adjusted returns. With the presence of its OXXO business and other retail operations, the company has become an expert in the organization and management of supply chains and distribution systems.FEMSA serves large numbers of businesses and retail customers through millions of interactions in different industries. The recent transactions are likely to complement its investment in WAXIE Sanitary Supply and North American Corporation in March 2020. This marked the company’s entry into the U.S. specialized distribution industry, which covers a wide variety of sectors, including fresh and frozen products, decoration, DIY, office supplies, furniture, and stock clearance.The company’s Coca-Cola FEMSA is leading the way with its omni-channel business, while FEMSA Comercio is progressing with the adoption of digital initiatives. Within its OXXO store chains, the company is on track with investment in digital offerings, loyalty programs and fintech platforms to evolve stronger after the pandemic and over the long term. It has also been benefiting from its growth via acquisition strategy.In second-quarter 2021, FEMSA witnessed improved trends across its business units and markets, owing to the recovery in consumption as consumers returned to stores with the lifting of mobility bans, which aided top-line growth. The company witnessed an increased demand for all products categories, including thirst, hunger and the occasional treat, which aided growth across all segments.Few Headwinds to CounterDespite the strong results, FEMSA reported net majority earnings per ADS of 43 cents (Ps. 86 cents per FEMSA unit) in second-quarter 2021, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate. The lower-than-expected earnings per ADS can be attributed to uneven trends across markets despite strong top-line growth and improved margins.Though the improvement was not linear across markets or segments, the company seems to be well-positioned compared with the prior-year quarter in all its units and also better than second-quarter 2019 in some units. Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%. You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>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 CocaCola Company The (KO): Free Stock Analysis Report Fomento Economico Mexicano S.A.B. de C.V. (FMX): Free Stock Analysis Report Coca Cola Femsa S.A.B. de C.V. (KOF): Free Stock Analysis Report Heineken NV (HEINY): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksOct 12th, 2021

The CEO of top crypto trading firm says big mistakes in DeFi are putting off institutional investors - and putting retail investors most at risk

Genesis CEO Michael Moro said recent high-profile errors show the risks involved in decentralized finance, or DeFi. There have been some high profile errors on DeFi networks recently. Andia/Getty Images Mistakes in DeFi are putting institutional investors off the space, the CEO of big crypto trader Genesis has said. Michael Moro said the errors show DeFi is risky, and said retail investors are most at danger of losing money. Two high-profile DeFi mistakes have recently led to hundreds millions of dollars being sent to the wrong place. See more stories on Insider's business page. High-profile errors in the DeFi world are putting institutional investors off the booming sector, according to the CEO of one of the biggest crypto trading firms.Michael Moro, CEO of crypto lending and trading specialist Genesis, said on Thursday that the mistakes highlight the risks involved with decentralized finance, or DeFi. And he said retail investors are most at risk of losing their money.A number of DeFi companies have been left embarrassed by major errors in recent weeks. DeversiFi and crypto trading platform Bitfinex accidentally paid $24 million in transaction fees to send $100,000 worth of cryptocurrencies across the ethereum network at the end of September.DeFi platform Compound suffered a glitch during a routine network upgrade and mistakenly started sending out millions of dollars worth of crypto to users, putting around $160 million at risk by the founder's estimations."Errors and mistakes that you've seen certainly make [institutions] shy from doing anything in size, in any particular platform," Moro told Insider. He mentioned hedge funds and proprietary trading firms in particular.Read more: A 20-year fintech executive breaks down how Avalanche has grown into one of the fastest and lowest-cost layer-one protocols in just over a year - and shares 2 little-known altcoins in the ecosystem he's bullish onDeFi is the use of crypto technology to carry out traditional financial transactions without the need for centralized parties, for example, trading without clearing houses. Its proponents say it removes counterparty risk - the danger that one party in a deal may collapse, or not fulfil its obligations.Yet Moro said DeFi introduces new dangers, such as the chance that human errors, or mistakes in the code, are left unchecked.Moro said retail investors dominate DeFi at the moment and so are most at risk. "The unfortunate part is that, for now, because it's consumers, it's retail guys that are punting around on DeFi today, it'll be they to lose their money," he said."There's a trial and error element to DeFi, where the error will cost a hundred million plus," Moro added. "I don't think we have a robust enough ecosystem of auditors. I think you're still trusting someone to have audited the code."Genesis is part of Digital Currency Group, which also owns Grayscale, and is one of the biggest crypto lenders and traders. It originated $25 billion in crypto loans in the second quarter and traded $29 billion of crypto.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 7th, 2021

10 Things in Politics: Capitol riot probe races against midterm clock

And Democrats have reached a "breaking point" on the debt-ceiling debate. Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics. Sign up here to receive this newsletter. Plus, download Insider's app for news on the go - click here for iOS and here for Android. Send tips to bgriffiths@insider.com.Here's what we're talking about:Inside the House panel that's racing the midterm clock to pursue Trump and reveal truths about the Capitol attackDemocrats have reached a 'breaking point' on the debt-ceiling debateInside Laurene Powell Jobs' rise as a $16 billion power playerWith Phil Rosen. A US House committee is investigating not just the attack on the Capitol but the events leading up to January 6. Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images ​​1. ON CAPITOL HILL: Lawmakers are blazing ahead in their investigation of the Capitol riot. The hard-charging approach is, in part, politically pragmatic as the investigation, led by House Democrats, could easily be torpedoed if Republicans retake control. Former Vice President Mike Pence's comment that the riot was being used to "try and demean the character and intentions" of former President Donald Trump's voters only further illustrates this divide.Here's where things stand and what's still being determined:Trump's White House and his inner circle are under scrutiny: The committee has already subpoenaed Mark Meadows, a former White House chief of staff, and Steve Bannon, a former advisor, for documents and testimony. A recent round of subpoenas demanded testimony and records from 11 people who helped organize events that immediately preceded the violence on January 6.Biden's White House seems to be on board: President Joe Biden has said he will waive executive privilege - on a case-by-case basis - for Trump-era records and information. Trump has threatened to challenge those waivers but has yet to initiate a court fight over it. In the meantime, key officials like Jeff Rosen, the former acting attorney general, have already testified.A big decision is looming: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is a central figure to what happened that day because of his well-documented call with Trump. Thus far, lawmakers have avoided the extraordinary step of subpoenaing one of their colleagues. It remains to be seen whether they will.Unlike the Department of Justice, lawmakers aren't looking for criminal cases: Instead, their goal is to examine the insurrection and its causes, namely misinformation that primed Trump supporters to deny the results of the 2020 election.Key quote: "Ultimately, we want to produce a report that people can read and that can guide a broader understanding of what went into the events of January 5 and 6 - who helped in those efforts, how it was funded, was there any coordination with other governmental officials, and who and what was the response and how could it have been different?" Rep. Pete Aguilar, a top House Democrat who is on the committee, told my colleague.Read more about where the Capitol riot investigations stand.2. Biden says "it's a real possibility" that Democrats will override the filibuster to avoid a debt default: Biden opened the door to a one-time exception to the Senate procedural requirement of 60 votes for passing most legislation as a stalemate takes hold over raising the debt ceiling. All 50 Senate Democrats would need to be on board, which is no guarantee. In the meantime, a Senate Democratic aide said many party members had reached a "breaking point" and were getting impatient with their party.3. Zuckerberg responds to Facebook whistleblower: CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a lengthy post that Frances Haugen's claims that the social network had a negative effect on society "don't make any sense," The Verge reports. More from Zuckerberg, who had been noticeably silent on the whistleblower's complaints.Haugen testified before Congress on Tuesday: "The buck stops with Mark," Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, told lawmakers. "There is no one currently holding Mark accountable but himself." Here are the four actions she says she'd take if she were at the helm of the social-media platform.Video from Haugen's testimony: Insider David Paul Morris/Getty Images; Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Insider 4. Inside Laurene Powell Jobs' rise as a $16 billion power player: To those inside or close to the royal-court-like coterie of luminaries and specialists on her payroll, two things have become clear in the past 10 years: The era of Powell Jobs' influence is still in its infancy, and the kinder, gentler version of Steve Jobs is not what anyone expected. Read more about how she's making her imprint on politics and media mostly from behind the scenes.5. Biden is ready to trim his $3.5 trillion plan: Biden told groups of House Democrats that he's expecting the final version of the party's social-spending bill to end up between $1.9 trillion and $2.3 trillion, the Associated Press reports of the private virtual meetings. The concession would confirm he's ready to cut a deal with centrist lawmakers like Sen. Joe Manchin by reducing the size of the signature piece of his domestic agenda. It's still unclear what would be axed from the bill to lower its cost.6. Fiona Hill says Trump's fragile ego made him a national security risk: Hill, who served as Trump's top Russia advisor on the National Security Council, told The Daily Beast that Trump while president was "a counterintelligence and national security risk because he was so vulnerable to manipulation based on the fragility of his ego." Trump, Hill added, also had "autocrat envy." More of the explosive claims from Hill's new book.7. Investigators say the response to the California oil spill raises questions: The company responsible for the pipeline waited more than three hours to shut it down after an alarm went off signaling a rupture could be imminent, the AP reports. Officials also waited another three hours to notify the Coast Guard office in charge of responding to oil spills, further delaying the response to what became a major disaster. More on what we're learning about what happened as tens of thousands of gallons of crude poured into the Pacific Ocean. An Insider video shows the impact of a major oil spill in California. Insider 8. Johnson & Johnson's shot recipients are closer to a booster: J&J says it has submitted data to the Food and Drug Administration and asked the agency to authorize COVID-19 booster shots for emergency use. It will be up to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA to evaluate that request, authorize the shots, and determine who should get them. More on what's ahead for the 14.9 million Americans who received the J&J shot.9. Trump drops off of Forbes' list of the wealthiest Americans: The former president's net worth was estimated at $2.5 billion - just about $400 million shy of making the list this year, according to Forbes. This is the first time in 25 years in which Trump will not be on the list.10. Gen Z and millennials are reviving an "old money" aesthetic: WASP culture has made a comeback through fashion, decor, and hobbies like golfing and boating. The trend is both aspirational and nostalgic, marking a reversal of 2010 new-money trends. This is the latest example of how the economy has evolved in a short span of time.Today's trivia question: Today marks the anniversary of the first time a pope visited the White House. Which pope was it? Email your answer and a suggested question to me at bgriffiths@insider.com.Yesterday's answer: Behind Lincoln's head on Mount Rushmore is the Hall of Records. Gutzon Borglum's original vision of a place to enshrine some of the nation's most important documents was quickly nixed. But in the late 1990s, a much scaled-down version of the hall was completed.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 6th, 2021

Black and Hispanic mothers face dangerous hurdles during pregnancy - the CEO of a $1 billion startup is on a mission to change that

In the latest Equity Talk, the billion-dollar startup founder Kate Ryder said she wanted to reimagine healthcare. Samantha Lee/Insider Maven CEO and founder Kate Ryder built a healthcare startup valued at over $1 billion. Maven In an Equity Talk, Maven CEO Kate Ryder shared a vision for a more equitable women's health system. Maven recently secured $110 million in funding, bringing the company's valuation to $1 billion. Ryder is focused on expanding health services for women of color and women who receive Medicaid. See more stories on Insider's business page. In 2012, Kate Ryder closed the book on a journalism career and joined the world of venture capital. The then-30-year-old started thinking about the problems she could solve through startups. Talking with her friends brought up a big one. Like many women, Ryder's friends shouldered the brunt of child-rearing responsibilities before, during, and after their 9-to-5s. Navigating the healthcare system, they said, was a nightmare. So in 2014, Ryder founded Maven, a virtual health clinic for women and families that's now valued at over $1 billion. Her mission was and is to make the healthcare system easier for women and families to navigate. Things changed in 2020 after she saw COVID-19's outsize influence on Black and brown women and the civil-rights reckoning of the summer. These events changed Ryder's perspective on her calling. What was a company for families more broadly would need to more closely center the experiences of marginalized ones. "George Floyd's murder opened up my eyes to things that I didn't know," she said. "I want to help create a more equitable world through healthcare." To be sure, the company has always strived to be inclusive. Maven provides parents (including queer and single parents) with fertility, pregnancy, adoption, parenting, and pediatric services. It's also funded by a powerful group of women investors.But now, Ryder is honing her focus on creating better healthcare solutions for mothers and parents from marginalized communities. The company is building products and services for parents who utilize Medicaid. The healthcare system is especially difficult for women of color to navigate: Medical research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found they often must advocate for themselves more than white women to receive adequate treatment, as Serena Williams' near-death birthing experience made clear for many. Maven pairs every user with a patient advocate who helps connect them with the right providers, schedule appointments, and find additional resources. It also lists providers who have experience with certain communities to better tailor the health journey to the patient."I want to change the health of the world, one woman and one family at a time, and really provide more access to care," she told Insider. "My goal is to fill the gaps in care with a reimagined care model for women and families." In an Equity Talk, Insider's new series featuring executives discussing their work to advance social justice, Ryder shared her vision for the company and how she was strengthening diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) for customers and employees.This interview has been edited for length and clarity. In August, you raised over $110 million, bringing the total amount of funding to over $200 million. What are you focused on building right now? One of the big things we're going to be focusing on is further personalization across all the journeys our members go through. There's a first-time mom's journey and a third-time mom's journey. There's the IVF journey versus the surrogacy journey. We're also deeply concerned about health equity.There's the journey of the single mom who works an hourly job. How do we make sure our model and technology is compatible with the pain points and needs she has? We put the chief medical officer for the home, whoever that is, at the center of our platform. Internally, we're going to continue to focus on advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. How are you advancing DEI internally at Maven?One thing we're really proud of is we offer unlimited vacation, flexible working options, and 14 weeks of paid parental leave. I think it's really important when you're looking at DEI to actually be very principled in your approach. What are the principles? What are the problems you're trying to solve for? And then build that into your KPIs and policies. We treat DEI like any other business goal, just like revenue or sales. So that ensures we're creating positive change. We wanted to ensure that a mom, a parent, has enough bonding time with their child in those first crucial months. I also want to create an environment where there's room to be your whole self, and that includes if you're a parent. That has to be modeled from the top. My son will show up in Zoom calls. I'll talk about my kids in meetings. We have lactation rooms in our office. I want to create that space for employees to be their whole selves. You mentioned you treat DEI goals like you do marketing goals or hiring goals. Can you show me how you do that? We publish our workforce statistics on our website. So it's very transparent to everybody what the racial and gender makeup of our employees is. I think you can't make things better unless you're actually honest about your data. So you can see that on our website.Last June, after George Floyd was murdered, and there was a lot of conversation around how to solve the problems of racism at your own companies, we built these DEI groups. One group is focused on improving the company's hiring process. One is focused on the product representation, meaning do we have diverse representation in our product? We're improving our company that way.But DEI goes beyond race and gender. One group we realized we did not represent well enough was people with disabilities. And so we put more of that in our product visuals and goals. We're trying to go beyond just checking a box. It's a business priority in and of itself.As a leader, how were you changed by George Floyd's murder and the summer of 2020? A few years ago, during the height of the #MeToo movement, there was a point where some of my male friends said, "Wow, I didn't realize when you walk home at night, you might worry about all these things." I think with George Floyd, I was having those kinds of realizations. So I think it was a good wake-up call for everybody to really look at our representation across society and at our own companies and think, "How can we do better?" Because it's not acceptable where we are today. What's your next big diversity or inclusion project you're focused on over the next year?We're launching products for our first Medicaid customers next year. I think in this healthcare environment, where COVID-19 has laid bare around the racial disparities in care, but to really walk the walk around health equity, you have to serve the population that accounts for almost half the births that are on Medicaid plans. So from a product standpoint, we're genuinely going after diversity and inclusion. So you're really pushing health equity and making it central to your business model. Yeah. We're doing it not only because it's really critical to our mission, but it's like half of the population. So from a market standpoint, too, you're just missing a lot if you don't do that.I think we've learned a ton because we've always had diverse providers in our community, and we've always done cultural care matching. So we have a lot of learnings that we're leveraging as we continue to build out this product. I really think creating an equitable health system starts with bringing diverse experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives together.In your opinion, what role does a CEO play in society? It's changing a lot. I think that in the past, it was, of course, a CEO's job was to maximize shareholder value. I think that given that, you know, there hasn't been as much leadership at the government level, I think people are looking for more meaning and guidance by the leaders that they see in their day-to-day lives, including in the workplace.I think CEOs of companies are stepping up to fill some of these voids. So, for instance, with George Floyd's murder, I don't think 20 years ago you would have seen companies donate to charities or make investments as a reaction. But we made that choice to do so because we felt it was really important. Everyone at Maven wants a better world right now, so how do we do our part? We have to compete in the marketplace and be an operationally excellent business not only because that's how you win and how you scale, but it allows us to do a lot of these DEI initiatives and apply that same operational rigor to them so we can actually move the needle on some of these issues. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 6th, 2021

Regions (RF) Ups Homeowner Lending Ability With EnerBank Buyout

The buyout of EnerBank accelerates Regions' (RF) strategy to strengthen its competencies in the homeowners lending space. Regions Financial Corporation’s RF subsidiary, Regions Bank, has completed the previously-announced deal to acquire the specialized home improvement lender, EnerBank USA, from its parent, CMS Energy Corporation CMS.Estimated transaction proceeds (including customary adjustments at closing) for CMS Energy are $1 billion.  In the past few years, the demand for mortgage and refinancing options due to higher home prices as well as new alternatives to finance home upgrades has increased. Hence, the acquisition is a strategic fit for Regions Financial and will help the company to leverage on EnerBank’s platform to offer a comprehensive suite of financing options to homeowners, thereby, fortifying its presence in the homeowners lending space.EnerBank offers prime and super-prime home improvement point-of-sale loans via a national network of contractors. It has a countrywide footprint. The company has served more than one million homeowners since its inception. The firm has more than 10,000 contractors through mobile, online, and phone-based point-of-sale lending options.Over time, the EnerBank USA name will merge with the Regions Bank brand and its employees will join the latter as part of the Consumer Banking Group.Scott Peters, senior executive vice president and head of the Consumer Banking Group for Regions Bank, noted, “The addition of EnerBank’s exceptional team and leading-edge technology will help Regions deliver even greater value to customers who are seeking convenient, competitive solutions for efficiently financing home improvement needs.”When the deal was announced in June, Regions Financial estimated the buyout to be accretive to 2022 earnings per share (including Purchase Accounting Adjustments or PAA and “no foregone share repurchases”) in low-single-digit percentage, and 5% accretive to earnings over the medium term.Our TakeEnerBank’s platform consummates Regions Financial’s recent investments in mortgage and home equity lending services. Over the years, the company has been investing in products, services and omni-channel originations central to mortgage lending, mortgage servicing and home equity lending. This has significantly boosted its market share.The acquisition of Enerbank is likely to expand the bank’s strategy of acquiring businesses, which help reinforce customer relationships by serving more of their needs via new channels, products and capabilities. Some of the recent deals, including the acquisition of equipment finance lender, Ascentium Capital LLC, in April 2020, and the August 2019 acquisition of Highland Associates — a leading institutional investment firm, are steps in the same direction.Regions Financial continues to explore opportunities for bolt-on acquisitions, primarily in mortgage servicing rights and adding capabilities in the wealth management unit. In line with this, the company is currently working on a digital advisory solution, which is likely to be deployed in late 2021 or early 2022. As it is committed to diversifying its revenue streams and meeting customer needs via diverse services, we believe that such endeavors will support the company’s growth prospects in the long term.Shares of Regions Financial have gained 7.3%, outperforming 5.1% growth of the industry it belongs to. Image Source: Zacks Investment Research Currently, the company carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Similar Expansion Efforts by Other BanksAt present, banks have resorted to mergers and acquisitions to dodge the heightened costs of investments in technology and counter lower rates.Recently, Southern Missouri Bancorp Inc. SMBC announced that it will acquire Fortune Financial Corporation in a stock and cash transaction worth $30 million.Last month, in an effort to diversify revenues, Valley National Bancorp VLY signed a deal to acquire Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M.’s U.S. banking arm — Bank Leumi USA — for $1.15 billion. 5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>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 Regions Financial Corporation (RF): Free Stock Analysis Report CMS Energy Corporation (CMS): Free Stock Analysis Report Valley National Bancorp (VLY): Free Stock Analysis Report Southern Missouri Bancorp, Inc. (SMBC): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksOct 4th, 2021

El Salvador Is Betting on Bitcoin to Rebrand the Country — and Strengthen the President’s Grip

Will the country's adoption of the digital currency help its people, or just its president? When Roman Martinez was growing up in El Zonte, a small coastal village in El Salvador, the American Dream loomed large. Beyond the local fishing industry, which Martinez’s parents worked in, there weren’t a lot of opportunities. “Young people just wanted to leave, to go to the U.S.,” he says. “But now we have a Salvadoran dream.” It’s a dream about Bitcoin. Two years ago an anonymous American donor sent more than $100,000 in the decentralized digital currency, or cryptocurrency, to an NGO that Martinez works for in El Zonte to pay for social programs. As the team began encouraging families and businesses to use Bitcoin, many of the town’s residents, most of whom had never had a bank account, began saving their money in the currency, making gains as its value surged. Curious tourists flooded into the town and foreign businesses set up shop. The project gave El Zonte the nickname “Bitcoin beach,” simultaneously a philanthropic endeavour and one of the world’s largest experiments in cryptocurrency. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “People with little income, who didn’t have access to a financial system, with $5 worth of Bitcoin they can start building something that can be the legacy they leave to their children,” Martinez says, over video call, wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with Bitcoin’s orange logo. It was partly El Zonte’s experiment that inspired El Salvador last month to become the first country in the world to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender—alongside the U.S. dollar, which El Salvador has used as its currency since 2001. The Bitcoin law, which came into force on Sept. 7, makes taxes payable in Bitcoin, obliges all businesses to accept it, and paves the way for the government to disburse subsidies in it. The government has built a network of 200 Bitcoin ATMs and a digital Bitcoin wallet app, called Chivo, through which it has distributed $30 worth of Bitcoin to every Salvadoran citizen in a bid to kickstart the Bitcoin economy. Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele claims 2.1 million Salvadorans have used Chivo so far, in a country of 6 million people. Bukele is touting Bitcoin as a way for Salvadorans to reduce the fees they pay to send and receive remittances—which make up 22% of El Salvador’s GDP, mostly from the U.S.—and as a way for the 70% of Salvadorans who are unbanked to access financial services. He’s not alone in advocating for cryptocurrencies as a way for developing economies to bypass a global financial system in which access to services and investment are geared towards the world’s richer countries and individuals. Crypto has achieved its highest penetration mostly in countries where banking systems are costly and complicated to use, or where local economies and currencies are unstable. But critics say making Bitcoin—notoriously volatile and not subject to controls by any central bank—into legal tender is an unjustifiable gamble for El Salvador’s already ailing economy. The $200 million of taxpayer money congress has devoted to the project equates to 2.7% of the government’s total budget for 2021, or almost three times the agriculture ministry’s budget for the year. The uncertainty introduced by the Bitcoin policy has sent the price of government bonds tumbling, and halted negotiations for a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the country is seeking to plug a $1.5 billion hole in its public finances. ‘The coolest dictator in the world’ For the President, a 40 year-old with the casual wardrobe and cheeky communication style of a tech entrepreneur, Bitcoin is about more than its immediate economic impact, though. It’s a chance to rebrand El Salvador, from a country known primarily for gang violence and a sluggish economy that drives emigration to the U.S., to an independent, modern crypto pioneer. For young Salvadorans like Martinez, that means creating a Salvadoran dream. For the international community, it’s a rebuke to a world order that casts El Salvador as the backyard to the U.S.—which Bukele has increasingly railed against since taking power in 2019. Instead, he casts El Salvador as an independent hub of innovation, aligned with the anti-establishment crypto community, members of which have flooded and celebrated the country in recent months and will return for a large crypto conference in November. Envisioning the transformation he witnessed in El Zonte taking place across the country, Martinez is excited—despite doubts among the wider population. “We’re used to new things happening in the U.S. or Canada or Europe,” Martinez says. “Now we’ve changed the narrative about El Salvador and started moving forward. Michael Nagle—Bloomberg/Getty ImagesNayib Bukele, El Salvador’s president, speaks in a prerecorded video during the United Nations General Assembly via live stream in New York on Sept. 23, 2021. But there’s another narrative unfolding in El Salvador. Since Bukele’s party, New Ideas, won a landslide victory at parliamentary elections in February, he has moved rapidly to undermine the structures of El Salvador’s democracy. In May, parliament voted to replace opposition-linked judges on the supreme court with Bukele allies, bringing all levers of power under his control. In September—a few days before the Bitcoin launch—the same court ruled that Bukele can run for a second term in 2024, in defiance of El Salvador’s constitution, triggering sanctions from the U.S. He has also stepped up attacks on the media, including launching criminal investigations into news organizations and kicking critical journalists out of the country. Analysts say the Bitcoin experiment is part of Bukele’s proto-strongman trajectory. “He’s fallen in love with his own power and wants to nurture this cool millennial President image through this adventure into the Bitcoin world,” says Tiziano Breda, a Central America analyst at the International Crisis Group, a think tank. It’s working for him, largely. The Bitcoin law has sparked the first major protests of his presidency, with 8,000 people marching in San Salvador on Sept. 15— a significant number of people in a country where street protest is unusual. But the President’s approval ratings still stand above 85%. With that backing, Bukele is deeply dismissive of global concern about his leadership. On Sept 18, he changed his bio on Twitter to “Dictator of El Salvador,” clearly trolling the international press. Then, a couple of days later he changed it again, to “The coolest dictator in the world.” El Salvador’s rapid transformation On the night that Bitcoin launched in El Salvador, Nelson Rauda, a reporter for independent newspaper El Faro, went to a party. At a sleek hotel bar next to an infinity pool overlooking the pacific ocean in the department of La Libertad, crypto enthusiasts and internet celebrities from the U.S., including YouTuber Logan Paul, danced and let off fireworks to celebrate a major moment for the cryptocurrency. Some wore headdresses and carried orange signs featuring Bitcoin’s white B logo. Almost everyone was speaking English. ”The scenery, and the location was a beach in El Salvador, but it could have been anywhere else in the world,” Rauda says. “[The crypto community] want to portray themselves as bringing a future and development to El Salvador through Bitcoin— a kind of white saviorism in that sense. But most of them are not interested in the country, just business.” Bukele’s government welcomes their business. The President claims that if 1% of the world’s Bitcoin were invested in El Salvador, it would raise GDP by 25%. He has offered permanent residency to anyone who spends three Bitcoin (currently around $125,000). He has also highlighted the fact that, since Bitcoin is legal tender, rather than an investment asset, foreigners who move to El Salvador will not have to pay capital gains tax in the country on any profits made if the cryptocurrency’s value increases. To that he adds, in English, “Great weather, world class surfing beaches, beach front properties for sale” as reasons that crypto entrepreneurs should move to El Salvador. This pragmatic, salesman-like tone is something that Salvadorans appear to appreciate from their President. Though he served as mayor of the capital, San Salvador until 2018, Bukele ran for the presidency in 2019 as a political outsider. He used his direct link with millions of followers on social media to pit himself against the right and leftwing parties that had ruled the country since its civil war in the 1980s. That conflict, in which the U.S. played a decisive role by funding opponents of leftist rebels, sowed the seeds of many of El Salvador’s current problems: chronically low economic growth, weak institutions vulnerable to corruption, the world’s worst rates of gang violence and one of the lowest rates of direct foreign investment in Central America. Bukele argued, convincingly, that the postwar governments had failed to meaningfully address those woes over three decades. Since taking office, Bukele has projected an image of ruthless efficiency. In February 2020, he and a group of armed soldiers stormed into parliament in order to pressure lawmakers to pass his budget plan. He has slashed rates of gang violence, with the country’s homicide rate falling from 51 per 100,000 in 2018 to 19 per 100,000 in 2020 (Experts debate whether this is a result of Bukele’s security policy, gang trends independent of him, or a secretive quid pro quo deal he may have struck with gang leaders). He adopted a hardline response to COVID-19, ordering one of the world’s most stringent lockdowns and giving security forces the right to put any rule-breakers in detention centers, a move human rights watchdogs say led to violent repression. The unprecedented popularity Bukele has enjoyed has allowed him to move faster than Latin America observers expected to take anti-democratic steps, such as intervening in the judiciary, Breda says. “For many other sort of authoritarian governments in the region, it took [many] years to do the things that Bukele has done in such a sweeping way. The pace is definitely surprising.” Marvin Recinos—AFP/Getty ImagesIlluminated drones form figures inspired by the Bitcoin logo in El Sunzal Beach, El Salvador, on Sept. 7, 2021. ‘Bitcoin is costing the country dearly’ Those who are most sceptical of Bukele—conservative economists—see his Bitcoin law as new packaging for an old move for populist authoritarian leaders in Latin America. The policy was labelled a “Bitcoin scam” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. “They’re always trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat,” says Steve Hanke, professor of applied economics at the John Hopkins University and director of the Troubled Currencies Project at the libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute. “They say: ‘We’ve had all these financial problems because of all these irresponsible leaders we’ve had in the past. And now here I am riding a white horse and I’ve got some new gimmick that’s going to solve it all. It’s called Bitcoin.’” Hanke helped advise the Salvadoran government on the country’s dollarization, when it adopted the U.S. dollar as its sole currency in 2001. From 1993 the Salvadoran colón had been pegged to the U.S. dollar on a fixed exchange rate, in a successful effort to keep previously rampant inflation under control. After eight years, the government opted to fully replace the colón with the dollar. That made the economy more stable and lowered the cost of borrowing, but limited Salvadoran governments’ freedom to spend money, particularly in times of financial crisis. Hanke and others have speculated that the Bitcoin move is a first step towards scrapping dollarization altogether and issuing a national digital currency. That would both enable looser public spending, and reduce the impact of U.S. sanctions. But for local economists, the immediate concern is how Bitcoin could complicate El Salvador’s path out of a deep pandemic recession. “Public finances in El Salvador are on a knife edge. Public debt stands at close to 90% of GDP and the government needs to find almost $1.5 billion to close the year and pay its obligations,” says Alvaro Trigueros Arguello, director of economic studies at FUSADES, a San Salvador-based development thinktank. Though El Salvador’s economy is growing—with the Central Bank saying Sept. 29 that GDP is on course to surge by 9% this year—Trigueros Arguello says this is mostly due to a temporary factors, including the reopening of businesses after COVID-19 restrictions and a surge in remittances after the disbursement of pandemic aid packages in the U.S. The Bitcoin rollout has complicated El Salvador’s relationship with the IMF, from which it is seeking a $1 billion assistance package. In June the fund denied a request by El Salvador to assist in its Bitcoin rollout. It cited the lack of transparency in cryptocurrencies, arguing that the difficulty of tracing who makes Bitcoin transactions has facilitated criminal activity elsewhere, as well as environmental concerns about widening the use of Btcoin, which requires vasts amount of energy to produce. Fears over the cryptocurrency’s impact on El Salvador’s macroeconomic stability have stalled negotiations between El Salvador and the IMF, Trigueros Arguello says. “The government needs international credit and because of Bitcoin, it’s not getting it,” Trigueros Arguello says. “Bitcoin is costing the country dearly.” Camilo Freedman—Bloomberg/Getty ImagesDemonstrators hold signs during a protest against President Bukele and Bitcoin in San Salvador on Sept. 15, 2021. The backdrop to El Salvador’s experiment hasn’t undermined the excitement for those who want crypto currencies to be more widely used. Bitcoin Twitter has filled with tweets celebrating how easy it is for Salvadorans to use the currency in places like Starbucks, and praising Bukele’s foresight. “I’m totally excited about what’s happening in El Salvador. [Particularly] the fact that it’s happening in Latin America,” says Cristóbal Pereira, CEO of Blockchain Summit LatAm, a regional conference covering the blockchain technology that underlies Bitcoin, which will host events at El Salvador’s own Bitcoin conference in November. “If people end up using it widely, there’s a good chance other countries and people will end up using it more too.” It’s too early to tell if the buzz will be matched by the significant investments Bukele is hoping for. Analysts say businesses will likely wait and see how the bitcoin rollout affects El Salvador’s economic stability before striking any major deals. Mike Petersen, an American who moved to El Zonte in 2005 and helped found the Bitcoin beach, says he’s received a “a huge flood of [enquiries from] businesses that want to set up shop here, because, for the first time they are realizing, hey, Salvador is a forward looking country.” Those include companies in the Bitcoin space, such as exchanges and ATM networks, but also real estate developers, manufacturing companies and “some lighting and architectural companies that are now outsourcing, hiring architectural students here to do design and and put together bids for them. Because they can pay them in Bitcoin.” Peterson says he doubts that concern about the political situation in El Salvador will have any impact on investors. “Elite media circles are the ones that are more focused on that. I think, in the business climate, people are more pragmatic and practical about things. And they see that Bukele is extremely popular.” What’s not necessarily popular, so far, is Bitcoin. Bukele claims that a third of Salvadorans are actively using Chivo, but it is unclear how many are only using the app to access the initial $30 gift from the government. Media outlets in El Salvador reported long queues for the ATMs, where most people were converting their Bitcoin to take dollars home with them. In the first week of the rollout, one of the country’s largest banks told The Financial Times that the cryptocurrency accounted for fewer than 0.0001 % of its daily transactions. Rauda, the El Faro reporter, says he knows “no one” who’s using Bitcoin on a regular basis. Teething troubles The government gave itself just three months after parliament approved its Bitcoin law in June to introduce the currency, leading to a series of technical issues with the Chivo wallet app. Crypto bloggers reported cash taking days to show up in their Chivo accounts after being transferred by other users, bugs making the app unusable, and an initial inability to transfer any sum below $5. Bukele, who took to Twitter throughout the launch to offer emoji-laden tech support messages, claimed most of the technical problems were resolved within a few days. The bumpy rollout helped trigger a 10% fall in the value of Bitcoin against the day it became legal tender, and further falls since. On Sept. 20 Bukele said his government had “bought the dip” and acquired 150 more coins, bringing the country’s total holding to 700 (around $22 million). Chaotic rollouts of new government programs are not unique to El Salvador. But some in the Bitcoin community have concerns about the structure of the country’s experiment, beyond the initial hiccups. Marc Falzon, a New Jersey-based Bitcoin YouTuber who visited San Salvador to document the rollout, says he became concerned about Salvadoran taxpayers footing the bill despite opposition to the policy, and about Article 6 of the Bitcoin law, which says that all economic actors in the country must accept Bitcoin if they have the technical capacity to do so. “Forcing people to accept a decentralized currency from a centralized authority ebbs away at the legitimacy of not just Bitcoin, but cryptocurrency in general,” he says. Supporters of the project point out that Salvadorans don’t have to keep their money in Bitcoin if they don’t want to, with the government guaranteeing their ability to transfer them into U.S. dollars via its national development bank and a range of services allowing businesses to make that transfer automatically. But Falzon says that the positive image of EL Salvador’s rollout generated by Bitcoin influencers on Instagram and Twitter didn’t reflect what he saw. In a health store near his hotel, for example, the shopkeeper said she couldn’t afford to restock because so many Bitcoin payments made by customers had simply never shown up in her Chivo app account. “For people in the Bitcoin and crypto community, El Salvador is a ‘told you so moment,’ proof that this isn’t just a fad. And I think that in that enthusiasm, we can lose sight of both the bigger picture—in how future countries may start to follow suit—and also of the individual experiences of the people that are in these countries.” Some individuals are happy though. Martinez, the community activist who grew up in El Zonte, says the town’s experience suggests hesitancy to use Bitcoin—and opposition to the Bitcoin law—will fade as Salvadorans become more used to the technology, and become widespread within a few years. He’s not concerned, he says, by how Bitcoin may play into Bukele’s larger political project. “As an NGO, we’re apolitical. We support anything that can make a better El Salvador. And I think we’re walking towards a better future.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 1st, 2021

Telecom Stock Roundup: Corning Boosts Fiber Production, Telefonica Inks Deal & More

While Corning (GLW) will invest $150 million in its Catawba County facility in North Carolina to augment fiber production for AT&T, Telefonica (TEF) will migrate most of its database systems to Oracle. Over the past five trading days, U.S. telecom stocks have witnessed a roller-coaster ride, punctuated by the uncertainty regarding the final passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill by the House and a transatlantic pledge to strengthen semiconductor supply chains to tackle chip shortage. Although Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled the bill for a vote today, it appears to be still stuck in a potential stalemate, as several progressive Democrats want the bill to be tied to the larger $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that is facing massive backlash from both Republicans and Democrats. Despite interventions by President Biden to broker a compromise with the dissident groups, the bill appears poised on a tender balance to pass through the House. The infusion of federal funds to improve broadband infrastructure for greater access and deeper penetration in the underserved domestic markets could have worked wonders for the beleaguered industry and helped to bridge the digital divide. However, the uncertainty over the much sought-after infrastructure bill that focuses on affordability and low-cost service option has hard hit the industry. While the policy paralysis has crippled operations, an FCC-mandate to ‘rip and replace’ telecommunications equipment manufactured by China-based firms like Huawei and ZTE has affected the sustainability of rural telecom firms amid widespread resentment of the release of Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou from three-year detention in Canada. The removal of the low-cost gear is likely to affect rural network service, hurt profitability and jeopardize the progress of 5G deployment when most local operators would be forced to reshuffle their existing infrastructure. Although the FCC is slated to initiate a $1.9 billion program to reimburse the carriers by seeking applications from Oct 29 through Jan 14, 2022, it is unlikely to pacify the huge number of rural telecom operators that are likely to go out of office.Meanwhile, senior cabinet officials from both the United States and the European Union have come together to coordinate transatlantic ties to better address supply chain headwinds for chip shortage and take a pro-active and unified approach against foreign adversaries. With the launch of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council, the continents aim to strengthen the regional technology ecosystem by pledging to cooperate on export controls for sensitive dual-use technologies and on the development of AI. Although this appeared to be a positive signal for the industry, unless the tangible effects percolate within the system, it is unlikely to reap significant benefits.     Regarding company-specific news, partnership, strategic agreements, portfolio enhancements, and 5G deals primarily took the center stage over the past five trading days.Recap of the Week’s Most Important Stories1.     Corning Incorporated GLW has extended its long-term partnership with AT&T Inc. T by committing to invest $150 million in its Catawba County facility in North Carolina to augment fiber production. In addition to generating about 200 jobs initially to boost regional economic development, the investment is likely to help AT&T increase its fiber footprint across the country and scale up its broadband network connectivity.A surge in demand for broadband connectivity has led to a wide proliferation of fiber infrastructure throughout the country and carriers like AT&T are aiming to significantly increase their fiber coverage to gain a greater pie in the market. An integrated fiber expansion strategy is expected to improve AT&T’s broadband connectivity for both enterprise and consumer markets, while steady 5G deployments are likely to boost end-user experience. The carrier intends to achieve this objective by leveraging its long-term business association with Corning spanning over three decades and gain a competitive edge in the fiber industry, which is probably in the early stages of a major growth cycle.      2.     To better utilize the benefits of 5G and edge computing facilities in core network functions, Telefónica, S.A. TEF recently inked a multi-year agreement with cloud-service provider Oracle Corporation to migrate most of its database systems to the cloud. The deal is the second of its kind this month with Telefonica forging an agreement with IBM to develop its first-ever Unica Next cloud-based 5G core network platform using IBM intelligent automation software and services.Per the Oracle deal, the Spain-based carrier will transfer all its internal and commercial operations data, including business intelligence services and billing, revenues, and customer management products to the cloud-based platform in tune with the evolving business conditions. It will be operated by Oracle in Telefonica’s datacenters to comply with European data laws. Moreover, this is likely to safeguard data security issues while keeping operating costs down as Telefonica has a debt-laden balance sheet.3.     Verizon Communications Inc. VZ has upgraded some of the features of its subsidiary BlueJeans that offers an interoperable cloud-based video conferencing service across a wide range of devices and conferencing platforms. The move is aimed to facilitate a seamless transition to a hybrid workplace with a spontaneous and engaging interactive digital platform as the work-from-home option continues to gain traction.Such technological innovations are likely to provide flexibility to remote workers and unlock workplace productivity and happiness. By creating a virtual space that simulates a real-life office environment where distributed teams can collate together to brainstorm, organize and socialize, BlueJeans aims to address a major hurdle in today’s hybrid work reality.4.   Nokia Corporation NOK has partnered with Slovenia-based telecommunications company — Telekom Slovenije — to power the latter’s fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network with the deployment of avant-garde broadband equipment. Per the agreement, Telekom Slovenije will also capitalize on the Quillion chipset-powered Nokia ISAM FX series. The ISAM FX series involve high-capacity access nodes that have been specifically designed to deliver ultra-broadband services rapidly and cost-effectively. The deployment, which is scheduled to commence this year, will bring 10Gb/s fiber to Slovenia. Currently, the FTTH network caters to more than half of Slovenian households. The 10Gb/s fiber installation will enable these households to benefit from high-speed broadband connections.  5.    Ericsson ERIC has inked a 10-year 5G partnership deal with Digital Nasional Berhad (“DNB”) to deliver a nationwide 5G network in Malaysia. DNB is helping Malaysia to achieve its digital goals as outlined in the government’s MyDIGITAL blueprint, which plans to transform Malaysia into a digitally-driven, high-income country.DNB’s partnership with Ericsson covers the latter’s Radio System products and solutions, including Spectrum Sharing, cloud-native 5G Core, and 5G Radio Access Network. The Sweden-based telecom gear maker will supply its Managed Services offering, Ericsson Operations Engine. It will also provide operational support systems and business support systems solutions.Price PerformanceThe following table shows the price movement of some of the major telecom stocks over the past week and six months.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchIn the past five trading days, Juniper has been the best performer with its stock gaining 2.1% while Bandwidth has declined the most with its stock falling 12.7%.Over the past six months, Motorola has been the best performer with its stock appreciating 20.2% while Bandwidth has declined the most with its stock falling 44.3%.Over the past six months, the Zacks Telecommunications Services industry has gained 4.4% and the S&P 500 has rallied 10.5%.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchWhat’s Next in the Telecom Space?In addition to 5G deployments and product launches, all eyes will remain glued to how the administration implements key policy changes to safeguard the interests of the industry and address the bottlenecks to spur growth. Zacks’ Top Picks to Cash in on Artificial Intelligence This world-changing technology is projected to generate $100s of billions by 2025. From self-driving cars to consumer data analysis, people are relying on machines more than we ever have before. Now is the time to capitalize on the 4th Industrial Revolution. Zacks’ urgent special report reveals 6 AI picks investors need to know about today.See 6 Artificial Intelligence Stocks With Extreme Upside Potential>>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 AT&T Inc. (T): Get Free Report Ericsson (ERIC): Get Free Report Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ): Get Free Report Nokia Corporation (NOK): Get Free Report Telefonica SA (TEF): Get Free Report Corning Incorporated (GLW): Get Free Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 30th, 2021

Tech is a Long-Term Bullish Sector: Be Patient to Book Profits

We have selected six U.S. technology giants that are currently trading at 5% or more discount to their 52-week high prices. These are: NVDA, MSFT, QCOM, AMAT, NOW and CRM. Volatility has returned on Wall Street after a brief interval for the last three trading days of last week. The September-specific meltdown has struck U.S. stock markets and the three major stocks indexes — the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite — plummeted 3%, 3.8% and 4.7%, respectively, month to date.On Sep 28, Wall Street tumbled as the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite plunged 1.6%, 2% and 2.8%, respectively. Yesterday’s market mayhem was technology sector-specific and was driven by soaring yields on U.S. government bonds across the time curve. In addition to the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite, the Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK), one of the 11 broad sectors of the market’s benchmark the S&P 500 Index, slid 3%.Surging Yields Pull Down the Technology SectorOn Sep 28, the yield on the benchmark 10-Year U.S. Treasury Note ended at 1.534% after touching 1.567%, its highest level since Jun 25. The yield on the long-term 30-Year U.S. Treasury Note closed at 2.07% after hitting 2.085%, its highest since Jun 21. Likewise, the yield on the short-term 2-Year U.S. Treasury Note closed at 0.305%, the highest level since Mar 25, 2020.The reason for the recent spike in government bond yields is Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s signal given after the FOMC meeting on Sep 22 for a possible tapering of its $120 billion per month bond-buy program starting this year. Lack of demand will reduce bond prices and consequently, yield to maturity will increase.Higher market risk-free returns mean a higher discount rate for future cash flows from stock investing. This will affect the growth-oriented stocks — especially the technology stocks — as these stocks generally provides higher returns over a long term.Moreover, these companies depend on easy access to cheap credit to expand their businesses. In fact, the Fed Chairman also indicated that the first hike of the lending rate from the current level of 0-0.25% may come in the second half of 2022 instead of 2023 expected in June.Tech Meltdown TemporaryThe recent meltdown of the technology sector is a temporary phenomenon. The Fed has taken a $120 billion per month bond-buy program to ensure adequate liquidity in the system and tackle the pandemic-led economic devastations. It was clear from the very beginning that the central bank will remove this stimulus gradually as the U.S economic recovery moves forward to a reasonably strong footing.On Sep 28, Powell, in prepared remarks delivered to the Senate, indicated that higher inflation may last longer than anticipated. He said that the reasons behind higher inflation are partly supply-side bottlenecks and partly strong aggregate demand.Strong aggregate demand indicates solid fundamentals of the U.S. economy. The logic that the technology sector will underperform other cyclical sectors may be true for a short period of time but in the long term, technology stocks will remain the best bet.  In fact, the fundamentals of the technology sector are rock solid. The growing demand for hi-tech superior products has been a catalyst for the sector in an otherwise tough environment. A series of breakthroughs in 5G wireless network, cloud computing, predictive analysis, AI, self-driving vehicles, digital personal assistants and IoT, has given a boost to the overall space.Tech Has Vast Potential – Buy on the DipThe leading emerging markets of Asia, Latin America, Africa and some European countries are still way behind in using digital technology compared to the developed world. While mobile phone penetration is nearly 90% in these countries, a large number of people are still using phones with old features, since voice communication and not data served most of their needs. Even those using smartphones, rarely utilize online digital features.   However, the outbreak of coronavirus quickly changed the lifestyle and lookout of these people. People were not entirely used to the digital platforms for their office work (work from home), ordering foods and other daily needs or transferring money and making payments. Moreover, online schooling, video conferencing and virtual networking have now become essential.The countries that are more digitized have been able to minimize their losses during the pandemic. These are major lessons to the other countries. Even those who are less inclined toward digital technology and online platforms, either because they have to learn using smartphones or tablets or due to fear of data theft, are now feeling the massive advantage of the online platforms.The impact of a higher market interest rate is already factored in the technology sector’s valuation to a large extent. Share prices of several technology behemoths have suffered a blow in September.These companies have highly established business models worldwide, strong product pipelines, globally acclaimed brand recognition and robust financial positions, which help them cope with a higher interest rate. Investment in these stocks should be fruitful going forward.Stock Selection CriteriaThe technology sector is indispensable and the reopening of the U.S. and global economies will only act as a positive catalyst for this sector. At this stage, several stocks are available that looks attractive for future growth. However, picking them on the following four criteria will make the task easy.First, select U.S. technology giants (market cap > $100 billion) that are currently trading at more than 5% discount to their 52-week high prices. Second, these stocks have seen positive earnings estimate revisions within the last 60 days for the next one year.Third, these stocks have strong upside left reflected by a long-term (3-5 years) growth rate of more than the S&P 500's estimated long-term growth rate of 11.3%. Fourth, each of these stocks carries either a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.Six stocks have fulfilled our selection criteria. These are: Microsoft Corp. MSFT, NVIDIA Corp. NVDA, Qualcomm Inc. QCOM, Applied Materials Inc. AMAT, ServiceNow Inc. NOW and salesforce.com.inc. CRM.The chart below shows the price performance of six stocks mentioned above in the past month.Image Source: Zacks Investment Research Zacks' Top Picks to Cash in on Artificial Intelligence In 2021, this world-changing technology is projected to generate $327.5 billion in revenue. Now Shark Tank star and billionaire investor Mark Cuban says AI will create "the world's first trillionaires." Zacks' urgent special report reveals 3 AI picks investors need to know about today.See 3 Artificial Intelligence Stocks With Extreme Upside Potential>>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 QUALCOMM Incorporated (QCOM): Free Stock Analysis Report Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): Free Stock Analysis Report salesforce.com, inc. (CRM): Free Stock Analysis Report NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA): Free Stock Analysis Report Applied Materials, Inc. (AMAT): Free Stock Analysis Report ServiceNow, Inc. (NOW): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 29th, 2021

Verizon (VZ) Upgrades BlueJeans Platform for Hybrid Workforce

Verizon's (VZ) move is aimed to facilitate a seamless transition to a hybrid workplace with a spontaneous and engaging interactive digital platform as the work-from-home option continues to gain traction. Verizon Communications Inc. VZ recently upgraded some of the features of its subsidiary BlueJeans that offers an interoperable cloud-based video conferencing service across a wide range of devices and conferencing platforms. The move is aimed to facilitate a seamless transition to a hybrid workplace with a spontaneous and engaging interactive digital platform as the work-from-home option continues to gain traction.In order to create an immersive virtual office to facilitate organic conversations in a hybrid work environment and simulate a real-life experience in a digital workplace, Verizon is introducing BlueJeans Spaces that allows for a more natural, individualistic, and inclusive workflow for teams to ideate, interact, or just hang-out together. It enables users to strike up a conversation with spatial audio features that allow persons sitting close in the virtual space to hear each other more clearly than one sitting far away within the virtual room to simulate an in-person experience. Users can select customizable office layouts to replicate the physical ambience and choose from different modes of communication on offer — from messaging and audio to video chat, overhead-focused 2D, and headset-free 3D — to effectively deal with the monotony of back-to-back, scheduled video meetings.The upgraded BlueJeans Meetings platform will facilitate customers to host up to 1,000 fully active participants in a collaborative meeting. In addition, it offers meeting hosts with audio lock features to mute all participants to limit potential disruptions while giving an opportunity to attendees in large groups to select the sessions they would like to join with Open Breakouts feature. The company further offers a massive jump in attendee capacity with BlueJeans Events that supports up to 150,000 interactive virtual event participants for super-sized events.BlueJeans is also launching an Android-based version of BlueJeans Rooms for premium room-based video conferencing facilities in partnership with Plantronics, Inc. POLY. Equipped with Poly Studio X series audio solutions that are ideal for small- to medium-sized huddle spaces and conference rooms, BlueJeans Rooms will enable customers to simulate high-quality meeting experience in the virtual space.Such technological innovations are likely to provide flexibility to remote workers and unlock workplace productivity and happiness. By creating a virtual space that simulates a real-life office environment where distributed teams can collate together to brainstorm, organize and socialize, BlueJeans aims to address a major hurdle in today’s hybrid work reality.With one of the most efficient wireless networks in the United States, Verizon continues to deploy the latest 4G LTE Advanced technologies to deliver faster peak data speeds and capacity for customers, driven by customer-focused planning, disciplined engineering, and constant strategic investments. Verizon has been aggressively forging ahead to expand its fiber optics networks to support 4G LTE and upcoming 5G wireless standards as well as wireline connections. The company remains focused on making necessary capital expenditures to support increased demand for network traffic.At the same time, Verizon is focusing on build-out of its 5G Ultra Wideband network, deployment of fiber assets across the country, and shift toward Intelligent Edge Network architecture. In order to expand coverage and improve connectivity, Verizon has acquired 161MHz of mid-band spectrum in the C-Band auction for a total consideration of $45.5 billion. These airwaves offer significant bandwidth with better propagation characteristics for optimum coverage in both rural and urban areas. Verizon reportedly secured 3,511 of the 5,684 licenses up for grabs.The stock has lost 8.3% in the past year compared with the industry’s decline of 3.5%. Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchNevertheless, we remain impressed with the inherent growth potential of this Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock. Some other top-ranked stocks in the broader industry are Qualcomm Incorporated QCOM and InterDigital, Inc. IDCC, each carrying a Zacks Rank #2. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Qualcomm has a long-term earnings growth expectation of 21%. It delivered an earnings surprise of 13.5%, on average, in the trailing four quarters.InterDigital has a long-term earnings growth expectation of 15%. It delivered an earnings surprise of 536%, on average, in the trailing four quarters. 5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>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 QUALCOMM Incorporated (QCOM): Free Stock Analysis Report Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ): Free Stock Analysis Report InterDigital, Inc. (IDCC): Free Stock Analysis Report Plantronics, Inc. (POLY): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 28th, 2021

MoneyGram (MGI) Gains on Constant Strength on Digital Platform

MoneyGram's (MGI) progress on digital platform hugely bumps up its revenues. MoneyGram International, Inc. MGI is witnessing strong growth in its business, led by its digital channel named MoneyGram Online (MGO).The company’s online services are in high demand because of its ease of use via the MoneyGram mobile app. It enables fund transfer on a real-time basis. This convenience and speed in turn, lead to high customer retention.MoneyGram’s digital platform is therefore growing at a breakneck speed.Monthly Active Users, which show the number of people using its mobile app, have been on a rise for the past many months. Its partnership with Visa, which helps the company’s customers to send money via Visa Direct, a real-time push payments platform, drove cross- border transactions.At the end of June, digital transactions accounted for 33% of all the money transfer transactions, reflecting an increase of 18% from the prior-year reading. The company expects to continue reporting double-digit growth rates across the MGO channel, considering the consumers’ shift toward adopting digital transactions and receiving money in their accounts directly. It remains optimistic that the digital business will reflect above 50% of all money transfer transactions in 2024.The company began laying the groundwork for its digital transformation five years ago to embrace the rapid changes brought about by the integration of technology in the remittance industry.The remittance space was invaded by many fintech players with the likes of TransferWise, Green Dot Corporation GDOT, WorldRemit, PayPal Holdings, Inc. PYPL and many others jostling for space.The company’s revenues declined every year from 2017 to 2020 and the only way to stay afloat in this rapidly-changing remittance realm was to change the way it maintained its traditional business set-up. Its close peer Western Union Co. WU is also facing the same rivalry and has been chasing technological investments over time to lead the pack.Of its agent locations in 200 plus countries and territories, 94 are now digitally enabled. The transition from once solely brick-and-mortar format to a hybrid combo of online and physical existence is slowly paying off. An amalgamation of its cash and digital capabilities will make it stand out from the queue of digital-only competitors who are unable to serve a significant portion of the remittance market that relies on cash alone.After remaining under pressure, revenues are finally showing up and already grew 6.5% in the first quarter of 2021. We now expect topline growth to continue.Via its digital business, MoneyGram is exploring uncharted geographies and continuously wooing a completely new customer base. Digital business is a key to customer wins and reaping incremental profits.Investment in mobile apps and integrations with mobile wallets plus account deposit services will drive its digital business.Other than its proprietary use, MoneygGram is monetizing its wide API-driven digital network by enabling other companies to access its leading global money transfer network. Called MoneyGram as a Service, the business provides a new revenue source and was launched in March this year.The new business line represents a significant growth opportunity for MoneyGram as it enters a market estimated to be valued at $17 billion in 2024, seeing a CAGR of about 24% over the forecast period.Year to date, the stock has rallied 52.9% compared with its industry’s growth of 21.1%. Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchMoneyGram carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) at present.  You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%. You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>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 MoneyGram International Inc. (MGI): Free Stock Analysis Report The Western Union Company (WU): Free Stock Analysis Report Green Dot Corporation (GDOT): Free Stock Analysis Report PayPal Holdings, Inc. (PYPL): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 24th, 2021