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Top South African Doctor Confirms No Evidence Omicron Variant More Harmful Than Delta As G-7 Pushes "Urgent Action"

Top South African Doctor Confirms No Evidence Omicron Variant More Harmful Than Delta As G-7 Pushes "Urgent Action".....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 29th, 2021

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

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

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 28th, 2021

Stockman: "Patriotic Duty" My Eye

Stockman: 'Patriotic Duty' My Eye Authored by David Stockman via The Brownstone Institute, Rough Rider Teddy must be rolling in his grave as he looks down upon these poseurs gathered in the Roosevelt room. For crying out loud, every one of them is double vaxxed and totally boosted. And they have issued orders to force the same upon more than 130 million of their countrymen—allegedly to prevent the latter from becoming walking vectors of disease and killers of their neighbors. Yet if the Vaxx is actually a spread stopper, why do they sit there in their masks? What’s the need to protect Biden from Fauci when the sainted doctor is armed to the teeth with vaxxed-in antibodies? And why is Biden festooned with the medical equivalent of Depends when he’s already got the accident-prevention protection of the Vaxx? Or does he? That is to say, if it doesn’t work to stop the spread, the benefit is only private and not public and hence there is no earthly reason for mandating it against the will of millions of citizens who fear that the risks outweigh the benefits. And if it does stop the spread—despite the manifest evidence to the contrary—-why all the face mask virtue signalling on live TV? In short, this “photo op” is worth a thousand words. It’s a live action illustration of what’s been wrong since the beginning in March 2020. Namely, the predicate that one-size-fits all social control mechanisms—lockdowns, closures, distancing, masking, vaxxing—must be preemptively and harshly employed by arms of the state in order to stop the spread of an aerosolized airborne virus which cannot be seen and cannot be stopped. Indeed, the latest argument for mandatory vaxxing—-that it prevents not transmission and infection but just a serious course of the disease—makes the picture patently absurd. What are these cats afraid of then? The real contagion at loose in the world—especially among the western nations which noisily congratulate themselves as model liberal democracies to be emulated by the more benighted nations inhabiting the purported darker corners of the planet—is a virulent outbreak of statist authoritarianism.  That is, a definitely not Black Plague virus of the type that has challenged mankind o’er the ages has become a universal excuse for the wholesale cancellation of civil liberties and property rights like never before—even in times of world war. Take the pathetic case of the United Kingdom. It is governed by a Conservative Party that’s traitorous to the cause of liberty and led by an unkempt Donald Trump wanna be who has assaulted the essence of liberal democracy to such a sweeping extent that his most authoritarian predecessors  (i.e. Winston Churchill, among others) scarcely dreamed of it and the Donald himself couldn’t hold a candle to it. BoJo, in fact, is right now hauling out all the tools of public health authoritarianism in response to what amounts to a run-of-the-mill winter flu among the British population. And that latter proposition is not debatable. Not when you compare the peak January data, when virtually no one was vaccinated compared to 80% of adult Brits today, with the 7-day rolling averages through last week. Thus, The case rate last week was 1,138 per million or 30% higher than the 875 per million recorded at the January 2021 peaks, but– The death rate last week of 1.64 per million was down by a god-is-apparently-smiling 91% compared to the 18.21 rate at the January 2021 peak. Of course, peek under the covers and what you have is the same old, same old. Not only is the Omicron variant far more transmissible and massively less lethal than earlier variants–for the inherent reasons that sensible virologists and epidemiologists have explained ad infinitum—but the propaganda contagion of the state’s Virus Patrol appears to be even more virulent. That is to say, as the government, the BBC, the Guardian and their mass media ilk have stirred the fear pot one more time, the UK testing rate has also skyrocketed and is now well more than double the rate of last January at the previous winter season peak. Thus: Alas, the public health machinery has so effectively stirred the fear quotient among the populace that the positivity rate has fallen dramatically. Compared to a 10.8% rate in January 2021, the current rate is just 6.0%. Obviously, what is happening is that more and more asymptomatic and completely healthy well people are getting tested in response to the drumbeat, which testing surge has generated the predictable wave of new “cases” and new measures of propaganda and control from the Virus Patrol. And remember, folks, the UK is allegedly governed by “conservatives”, which gets us to what’s coming down the pike from Sleepy Joe and the crypto-socialists who actually move his lips. As we learned, they are fixing to launch a massive new round of free stuff—this time in the form of 500 million home testing kits to be mailed out to Americans just like so many unrequested mail-in ballots, meaning that we have surely come full circle: Until March 2020 under the prior regime of private medical practice based on doctor-driven testing and treatments tailored to one-at-a-time patients, we are now to have the equivalent of a one-size-fits-all testing regime, delivered by the government-run post office! As it happens, however, America has already done nearly 800 million tests, yet has some of the worst WITH-Covid mortality statistics in the western world. So we are at a complete loss to comprehend how more government-mediated “testing” will accomplish anything constructive. Then again, the chart below tells you everything you need to know. Despite all the panic in New York City and other hotbeds of Blue State orthodoxy, the American public is not panicking enough to keep the Virus Patrol in business. As of the latest 7-day data, the US testing rate is 3,380 per million (= 1,000X the per 1,000 rate shown in the chart below). Now, that’s actually down by 40% from the 5,670 rate per million at the January 2021 peak, and, even more to the point, it’s just 18% of the 18,810 rate now being posted among the semi-hysterical population of the UK. To be sure, even at the more modest US testing rate rate shown below, the positivity rate has fallen from 13.3% during last January’s peak to just 10.8% at present. Therefore, to keep the scam going the US needs at hell of a lot more testing—especially in the Red states—in order to get a lot more cases. As it is, last week’s US case rate of 365 per million was down 52% from the peak January rate of 757per million, and can’t hold a candle to the Brits. The latter currently are lugging a case rate of the aforementioned 1,138 per million or 3.1X the current US rate. If we were of the tinfoil hat wearing persuasion we’d be inclined to think that Biden’s minions are trying to goose the Red States into a testing and cases panic in order to keep the faltering argument for his misbegotten vaxx mandates alive. Indeed, why on this day is there another fusillade of fear and admonition streaming from the presidential bully pulpit when we are dealing with a variant that has so far produced only one-death and a 1.7% hospitalization rate among the infected (compared to 19% at the comparable stage of Delta) in largely unvaccinated South Africa (26%), where it apparently originated? As to the surge of US cases—again largely asymptomatic or just mildly ill—where’s the beef that justifies another presidential call to arms? As dramatized by the chart below, the 7-day case rate in the US as of December 20 was just 420 per million. That was still well below the 495 per million rate reported on September 3rd and far, far below the 757 per million rate reported at last January’s peak. As for South Africa, which brought us this latest Covid brouhaha, it basically says to America’s authoritarians in government and Karens on the streets “oh, just shut up and sit down!” Here’s the current South Africa data and it reminds once again that Biden’s teleprompter scripters have no idea what they are talking about. Between November 11 and December 19, the case rate in South Africa exploded from less than 5 per million to 388 per million or by 85X. Meanwhile, the death rate has barely budged from 0.48 per million to 0.55 per million. That is to say, it was a rounding error before and remains one now. At the end of the day, of course, there is no case for mandates on anything—from lockdowns to masking and vaxxing—because the Covid just isn’t the Black Plague. After 22 months of counting every death in America with the remotest Covid connection—including postmortem testing of the human residue of motorcycle crashes—the annualized mortality rate for the population under 50 years of age is about 500 per million—-the same figure as for traffic accidents and other unintentional injuries. That is to say, for the 211 million Americans who are not in the higher risk, immune system compromised older population, the Covid risk is the same as the risks inherent in everyday modern life that we have long ago learned to live with. Alternatively, for the population under 65 years of age, the survival rate for the estimated 110 million Americans (40%) in that cohort who have contracted the virus since day one (i.e. February 2020) is 99.87%; and if you take the healthy sub-population without significant underlying comorbidities, the risk of death is virtually nil. So here we are with another public hysteria, fueled by another speech from the White House, promising yet another mobilization of the public health apparatus of the state, including use of the defense production act to commandeer the manufacture of hundreds of millions—nay, billions before its over—of test kits that will only fuel the hysteria. That’s pretty scary. And even more so is Biden’s renewed attack on the 60 million unclean Americans—overwhelmingly in the younger, low risk cohorts—who have exercised their constitutional liberty and have chosen not to take the jab: Biden sought to draw a clear contrast when describing how the omicron surge will affect the vaccinated versus the unvaccinated, issuing a dire warning to 60 million unvaccinated Americans. “How concerned should you be about omicron, which is now the dominant variant in this country and it happened so quickly. The answer is straightforward: If you’re not fully vaccinated, you have good reason to be concerned……Omicron is serious, potentially deadly business for unvaccinated people,” Biden said Sorry, Joe. But it’s none of your business what people chose to do about a vaccine that does not stop transmission and infection from this latest mutation; and it is most certainly not the “patriotic duty” of Americans who think the risks are not worth the benefits to take the jab on your say so. In a word, we are in the midst of the greatest and most fraught science experiment of all time, starting with the attempt to completely reconstruct all patterns of normal interaction, the closing of vast institutions on grounds that they are not essential, and now ending with more than 11 billion shots having been administered already around the world.  The private benefit of the vaccination for the elderly holds up but rather than even acknowledge the rapidly fading risk/reward equation for much of the population—most especially the children—the powers that be trotted out a teleprompter reader in his dotage to stoke the public hysteria. The only real patriotic duty under these circumstances, of course, is to adopt the words of the other Joe from West Virginia and utter a loud “I’m a no!” when it comes to Biden’s mandates. Tyler Durden Sat, 12/25/2021 - 22:15.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 25th, 2021

Stocks, Futures, Oil Tumble On Omicron Lockdowns, Manchin Shockwave

Stocks, Futures, Oil Tumble On Omicron Lockdowns, Manchin Shockwave Global stocks and US equity futures are sharply lower to start the otherwise very quiet holiday week, dragged lower by Manchin's shock decision to kill Biden's economic agenda (which Goldman said would cut US Q1 GDP from 3% to 2%), accelerating government measures to counter the fast-spreading omicron variant and fears over the growth outlook amid a tightening Fed. US equity futures tumbled almost 100 points from their Friday close (and more than 200 points from Thursday's all time high before paring some losses buoyed by optimism from news that Moderna’s booster vaccine increases antibodies 37-fold against omicron. Treasury yields also pared a sharp drop as low as 1.35% and the dollar held a jump from Friday, while crude oil slid on worries that mobility curbs to tackle the strain will hurt demand. As of 730am S&P 500 futures were down down 1.1%, Nasdaq 100 -1.3%, and Dow -1.0%. Global stocks have retreated from record highs in recent weeks amid concerns about Covid-19 hurting the economic recovery and as central banks pivot toward fighting inflation. Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller said a faster wind-down of the central bank’s bond-buying program puts it in a position to start lifting interest rates as early as March. “In our view, markets can look through omicron concerns, and the gradual pace of monetary tightening won’t bring the equity rally to an end,” UBS Global Wealth Management wrote in a note. “Overall, the latest news does not change our outlook for equities.” Luke Hickmore, investment director at Standard Life Investments, also recommended buying the dip. “The prospects for growth will improve rapidly from here,” he said. “The market will likely see a recovery in the new year when liquidity returns.” In the weekend's biggest news, senator Joe Manchin blindsided the White House on Sunday by rejecting Biden’s $1.75 trillion tax-and-spending package, prompting a sharply critical statement from the White House which called Manchin’s decision a “sudden and inexplicable reversal.”  Biden and top Democrats must now regroup to see if a scaled-back version remains possible with little more than 10 months before midterm elections that will decide control of Congress. As noted late last night, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut its forecast for U.S. economic growth for next year after Manchin’s move (more below). On Monday, Chuck Schumer said the Senate will still vote “very early” in 2022 on Biden’s economic agenda, although it was unclear just what the new plan will look like now that Build Back Better is dead. Not helping matters were the latest development in the Omicron front where the biggest European countries are introducing more curbs, with U.K. officials keeping open the possiblity of stronger measures before Christmas and the Netherlands returning to lockdown, even as Biden’s chief medical advisor said further U.S. lockdowns are unlikely. In some "good" news, said a third dose of its Covid-19 vaccine saw a 37-fold increase in neutralizing antibodies against omicron. Ironically. While investors remain on edge over the outlook for economic activity, there remains little evidence that the new variant causes illness as severe as the delta variant, especially among those already vaccinated. “The main reason behind the market sell off today is the rejection of Biden’s $2 trillion tax-and-spending package, which will lead to a reduction in U.S. economic growth forecasts,” said Michel Keusch, a portfolio manager at Bellevue Asset Management. “With trading volumes getting thinner and thinner into the year end, this is the catalyst creating some short-term nervousness.”  Then there are tightening concerns: the Federal Reserve’s decision to increase the pace of tapering last week is also adding to investor nerves about the outlook for 2022. And now, without either fiscal or monetary support, economists see a policy-induced slowdown in the economy where Goldman on Sunday cut its real GDP forecast for 2022: 2% in Q1 (vs. 3% prior), 3% in Q2 (vs. 3.5% prior), and 2.75% in Q3 (vs. 3% prior). One place which is convinced the Fed will not meet its targets it the bond market where traders of eurodollar futures price rates much lower than FOMC targets for the end of 2023 and 2024. Finally, as Bloomberg notes, there is also the issue of divergent global monetary policy to contend with, as the People’s Bank of China stepped up easing overnight with the first rate cut in 20 months. Looking at the premarket, travel stocks fell the most with United Airlines down 3.4% leading declines among major U.S. carriers, while a 4% slide in Royal Caribbean Cruises led the fall among cruise operators. Energy and industrial bellwethers also declined, with Chevron, 3M and Caterpillar falling over 2% each. Major U.S. tech and internet stocks slumped hitting shares in most highly valued names, as well as in cyclicals. Apple fell as much as 2.1% premarket while fellow large- cap tech names also drop, with Facebook-owner Meta Platforms down 1.9%, Alphabet -1.2%, Amazon.com -1.7%, Twitter -2.1%, Microsoft -1.6%. Here are some of the other big U.S. movers today: Major U.S. tech and internet stocks drop in premarket trading as risk appetite sours globally amid worries over further pandemic- related restrictions, hitting shares in most highly valued names, as well as in cyclicals. Shares in U.S. renewables firms drop in premarket after U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s surprise rejection of President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion package. Moderna (MRNA US) rises 6% in U.S. premarket after the company said that a booster dose of its Covid-19 vaccine increased antibody levels against the omicron variant. Society Pass (SOPA US) surges 22% in premarket after the loyalty platform operator said in a statement it has been added to the Russell 2000 Index. Boston Beer (SAM US) upgraded to hold at Jefferies following pullback of more than 60% in the shares related to “massive” reset in expectations for hard seltzers, removing the only negative rating on the stock. Shares up 0.3% on low volume in premarket. "After battling endless headwinds in recent weeks, markets have finally been knocked over as the rapid spread of Omicron finally reaches panic mode," Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, wrote in a client note. Europe's Stoxx 600 also stumbled, now down about 1.4% after falling as much as 2.6%, weighed down the most by travel and insurance. All sectors are in red. FTSE 100 recovers slightly as energy gets a leg up, but is still off by 1.2%. Dax -2%. Germany’s new coalition government picked Joachim Nagel, a Bank for International Settlements official, as the central bank’s next president. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks were set for the biggest drop since March, as the spread of the omicron variant and a surprising setback to U.S. President Joe Biden’s economic agenda forced traders to take bets off the table. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index sank as much as 2%, headed for its lowest close since November 2020, with tech and consumer shares the biggest drags. Relatively thin trading ahead of the year-end exacerbated declines in the region, as investors grapple with fresh outbreaks of Covid-19 and monetary policy tightening globally. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index is down about 15% from a peak in February, compared with an 18% gain in the S&P 500. “Omicron’s spread over the festive holidays and Manchin” are driving the risk-off mood, said Wai Ho Leong, strategist at Modular Asset Management (Singapore). “But most of all, it is the lack of liquidity in all markets.” India was the worst performer around the region, with its benchmark index poised to enter a correction amid the spread of the omicron variant. Chinese stocks also dropped despite a cut to bank borrowing costs for the first time in 20 months In FX, the dollar reversed gains and was little changed. The pound fell in line with other risk- sensitive currencies as global market sentiment soured; gilts advanced. Hedging the major currencies over the next month comes at a similar cost, yet the pound turns expensive further out as it holds a higher beta on monetary policy divergence. The Australian and New Zealand dollars followed a broader move lower in commodity FX amid a slide in oil and stocks. The yen advanced with Japanese government bonds. The lira tumbled to another record low after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to continue cutting interest rates. In rates, Treasury yields fell by ~3bp in 5-year sector, steepening 5s30s spread by 3bp on the day as long-end yields were little changed; 10-year yields 1bp lower around 1.39%, outperforming bunds and gilts. Treasuries drifted higher Monday as global stocks extended losses. Gains were led by front- and belly of the curve, while eurodollars advanced and the amount of Federal Reserve rate-hike premium for 2024 and 2024 eased. Long-end lagged the move ahead of a 20-year bond auction Tuesday.  Bund and gilt curves are mixed. Italy lags in the peripheral complex, widening ~2bps to Germany. In commodities, Brent crude extends dropped to trade down as much as 5.3%, trading as low as $69.60/bbl before paring some losses, with Brent down 3% to $71 per barrel, and WTI -4% to around the $68-handle. Spot gold drifts below the $1,800-handle. Base metals complex under pressure; LME aluminum and nickel decline the most.  There is nothing on the economic calendar today except that Nov. Leading Index, which is estimated to print at  0.9%. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 1.6% to 4,535.75 MXAP down 1.8% to 187.95 MXAPJ down 1.8% to 607.98 Nikkei down 2.1% to 27,937.81 Topix down 2.2% to 1,941.33 Hang Seng Index down 1.9% to 22,744.86 Shanghai Composite down 1.1% to 3,593.60 Sensex down 2.0% to 55,848.23 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.2% to 7,292.16 Kospi down 1.8% to 2,963.00 STOXX Europe 600 down 2.2% to 463.29 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.40% Euro up 0.2% to $1.1259 Brent Futures down 3.9% to $70.67/bbl Gold spot up 0.1% to $1,800.19 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 96.61 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg President Joe Biden faces the unexpected task of quickly rewriting his policy agenda in a crucial election year after a key Senate Democrat abruptly rejected his signature $1.75 trillion economic plan Germany’s new coalition government picked Joachim Nagel, a former Bundesbank senior official, as the central bank’s next chief, according to a person with knowledge of the matter The ECB will not raise interest rates in 2022 if inflation behaves as expected, governing council member Pablo Hernandez de Cos told Expansion newspaper in an interview Europe’s biggest countries are introducing more curbs to fight a surge in Covid-19 infections, from another lockdown in the Netherlands to stricter travel restrictions at the height of the holiday period Chinese property stocks tumbled close to a fresh five-year low after a series of asset sales underscored concern that equity investors will bear the brunt of losses as developers offload projects to repay debt Chinese banks lowered borrowing costs for the first time in 20 months, foreshadowing more monetary support to an economy showing strain from a property slump, weak private consumption and sporadic virus outbreaks A more detail look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac equities traded mostly lower following the volatile session on Wall Street on Friday, which saw the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and the Nasdaq all posting varying degrees of losses, whilst the Russell 2000 outperformed with decent gains. Overnight, US equity futures opened with a mild upside bias, albeit the optimism faded in early trade as risk aversion materialised, with the ES Mar 2022 contract falling below its 50 DMA (4,596) whilst the NQ and RTY saw losses of over 1% apiece. Sentiment was hit by the slew of concerning COVID headlines over the weekend, whilst Friday saw further hawkish rhetoric from Fed officials - with Fed’s Waller suggesting the whole point of accelerating the bond taper was to make the March Fed meeting a live meeting for the first hike, and under his base case March is very likely for lift-off, although it could be pushed back to May. The ASX 200 (-0.3%) was pressured by some large-cap miners and banks, whilst the Nikkei 225 (-2.1%) and KOSPI (-1.8%) conformed to the downbeat tone, with upside in the former also capped by recent JPY strength. The Hang Seng (-1.9%) and Shanghai Comp (-1.1%) initially saw shallower losses after the PBoC opted to cut the 1yr Loan Prime Rate by 5bps, whilst the 5yr rate was maintained, although the property sector faced more woes after S&P downgraded Evergrande to Selective Default, whilst Kaisa shares slumped after trade resumed following a two-week hiatus, with the Co. in discussions regarding a debt restructuring plan. The Hang Seng dipped below 23,000 for the first time since May 2020. Elsewhere, US 10yr futures continued edging higher as APAC risk aversion supported the haven, whilst Goldman Sachs also cut its US real GDP Growth forecasts on the Build Back Better blockade. Top Asian News Coal India Defends Quality Level of Shipments After Complaints Hong Kong Eyes New Security Law After Electing Loyalist Council Asian Stocks Drop to Lowest in 13 Months on Virus Woes, Manchin Best Way for China to Lower Market Rates is to Sell Yuan: Nomura European bourses commenced the week on the backfoot, continuing the broad pressure seen in APAC trade, as focus is firmly fixed on the Omicron variant. The downside in APAC hours was also a feature of the choppy trade in the US on Friday, and amid non-COVID catalysts such as US Senator Manchin presenting a stumbling block to BBB which effectively ends the chances it can be passed this year, while hawkish central banks is also a theme traders are cognizant of for next year. Euro Stoxx 50 -1.4%, benchmarks are lower across the board as further COVID-19 restrictions are imposed/touted; thus far, the most stringent has seen the Netherlands return to lockdowns, while the likes of the UK and Germany are mulling measures. Vaccine producer Moderna (+5.5% in premarket trade) released preliminary booster data vs Omicron, which saw a modest paring of the risk-off conditions; the vaccine boosts neutralising antibody levels by 37-fold vs pre-boost levels. All sectors remain in the red however, with underperformance in those most exposed to COVID restrictions, such as Travel & Leisure, Oil & Gas and Autos. Individual movers were predominantly dictated by the broader price action; however, THG (+12.5%) is the morning’s outperformer following reports that a notable short on the name has removed its position. Meanwhile, US futures are softer across the board (ES -1.3%) ahead of a very sparse docket where focus will, as it is in European hours, centre around the fiscal narrative and COVID. On the latter, President Biden is due to speak on the situation on Tuesday, calling for individuals to get vaccinated. Top European News Johnson Appoints Truss to Key Brexit Role After Torrid Week Germany Picks Bundesbank Veteran Nagel as Central Bank Chief Czech Billionaire Family Faces Final Showdown Over Bank Merger Flashpoints That May Heal or Deepen the Lira’s Pain in 2022 In FX, the Dollar is mixed across the board, but retaining an upward bias overall amidst greater gains vs high beta, activity and cyclical currencies compared to losses against safer havens as broad risk sentiment sours on a number of factors, but mainly COVID-19. Hence, the index is holding quite firmly above 96.500 within a 96.504-680 range even though US Treasury yields are soft and the curve is marginally flatter, with traction or the Greenback coming via hawkish comments in wake of last week’s FOMC from Fed’s Waller who would not object to lifting rates as soon as tapering is done next March. Ahead, a very sparse Monday agenda only comprises November’s leading index. JPY/EUR/CHF/XAU - As noted above, risk-off positioning due to the ongoing spread of Omicron has prompted demand for the Yen, the Euro, with added momentum from bullish Eur/Gbp cross flows, plus the Franc and Gold to lesser extents. Usd/Jpy is tethered around 113.50 in response, though unhindered by imposing option expiries in contrast to last Friday and the headline pair capped by technical resistance in the form of 21 and 50 DMAs that come in at 113.77 and 113.83 respectively today. Meanwhile, Eur/Usd is back above 1.1250 amidst mixed ECB vibes as de Cos underscores guidance for no hikes in 2022, but sources say that GC hawks wanted explicit recognition of upside inflation risks and were shouted down by chief economist Lane. However, Eur/Gbp has bounced even more firmly from sub-0.8500 lows on what looks like a combination of early year end demand or RHS orders and Pound underperformance on pandemic, political and Brexit-related factors. Elsewhere, Usd/Chf is hovering mostly sub-0.9250 and Eur/Chf is pivoting 1.0400 with latest weekly Swiss sight deposits showing no sign of intervention and Gold is rotating around Usd 1800/oz after a false upside breach of Usd 1810, but not quite enough follow-through buying to scale another upside target circa Usd 1815. GBP/AUD/NZD/CAD - The major fall guys, as Sterling loses 1.3200+ status yet again on all the aforementioned negatives, and also feels some contagion from weakness in Brent, while the Aussie is straddling 0.7100, the Kiwi is trying to keep its head above 0.6700 and the Loonie contain declines through 1.2900 alongside the latest retracement in WTI. In commodities, WTI and Brent are also risk-off, moving in tandem with the equity action, on the COVID-19 narrative and implementation/prospect of further restrictions hitting the demand-side of the equation. WTI relinquishes USD 67.00/bbl and Brent gave up the USD 70.00/bbl level. In fitting the broader market move, some easing of the initial downside was seen post-Moderna’s update. Elsewhere, in crude specifics, Libya’s NOC confirmed reports that the Petroleum Facilities Guard was blocking several fields in the region; some suggest production of oil has dropped to 950k BPD due to losses of production at El Sharara field (estimated at 280k BPD). Elsewhere, OPEC+ compliance has reportedly increased marginally in November, in-fitting with the assessments in earlier sourced reports. In metals, spot gold and silver are contained on the session with little evidence of risk-off making its self-known at this point in time, with the yellow metal pivoting USD 1800/oz. Elsewhere, copper is impacted on the risk tone but offset somewhat by Chile’s President-elect Boric saying he will oppose the Dominga copper-iron mine project. US Event Calendar 10am: Nov. Leading Index, est. 0.9%, prior 0.9% DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap As we arrive at the final week before Christmas, there’s plenty of newsflow from the weekend for markets to digest this morning. In particular, there was the announcement from the US that Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia wouldn’t be able to support the Build Back Better Bill, which has been the subject of intense negotiations over recent weeks and marks a significant blow for President Biden’s economic agenda. Meanwhile on the Covid front, there was a further ratcheting up of concerns about the Omicron variant, with the Netherlands becoming the latest European country to go back into lockdown as of yesterday, as cases continue to spread elsewhere. But otherwise, the events calendar is looking fairly quiet for now in this holiday-shortened week, with just a few lower-tier data releases and the occasional central bank speaker. We’ll start with Omicron, since that remains one of the biggest issues for markets right now and has significantly clouded the outlook moving into year-end. In a nutshell, the news over the weekend from Europe has only pointed in the direction of further restrictions across multiple countries, with the Netherlands being the most severe as a full lockdown was announced by the Prime Minister on Saturday that leaves just supermarkets and essential shops open, with even schools shut. When it comes to socialising, people will not be allowed to receive more than 2 visitors aged 13 and over per day, although over 24-26 December, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, this will be raised to 4 people. Elsewhere in Europe there was a similar pattern towards tougher measures, with the Irish PM announcing on Friday evening that there would be an 8pm closing time for bars, restaurants and theatres, among others, which would last from today until January 30. Over in Spain, Prime Minister Sánchez said in a televised address yesterday that he’d be meeting with regional leaders virtually on Wednesday to look at measures for the weeks ahead. In Italy, it’s been widely reported that the government is looking at further measures to contain the spread as well, and they’re set to meet on Thursday to discuss these, whilst here in the UK, Health Secretary Javid was not ruling out further restrictions this side of Christmas. Separately in the US, President Biden is set to deliver a speech tomorrow about Covid and the steps that the administration will be taking, with Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeting that Biden would also be “issuing a stark warning of what the winter will look like for Americans that choose to remain unvaccinated.” For those after a bit more optimism ahead of Christmas, then a couple of DB research notes out on Friday about the new variant will definitely be of interest. The first by FX Strategist Shreyas Gopal (link here) looks at London, which is the epicentre of Omicron infections in the UK, and tracks cases there against those in the South African province of Gauteng a couple of weeks back. The good news is that if the relationship is similar, then that does suggest a peak in cases soon. The other note comes from our head of rates research Francis Yared (link here) who shows that although deaths are starting to increase in South Africa, they’re currently on a much lower trajectory relative to cases compared to previous waves. An important question for markets is whether these patterns from South Africa can be extrapolated over to the advanced economies, which have much higher vaccination rates on the one hand, but also much older populations on the other, so there are factors that could push in either direction. Keep an eye out on these leading indicators from South Africa, as well as London, since they’ll have implications for what could occur in the coming weeks elsewhere. Away from Covid, the other main piece of news over the weekend came from the US, where the moderate Democratic senator Joe Manchin said that he couldn’t support the Build Back Better package that forms a key part of President Biden’s economic agenda, with much of his proposals on social programs and climate change. The news broke in an interview from Manchin on Fox News Sunday, when Manchin said “I can’t get there” when it comes to supporting the package, and follows direct negotiations that he’d been having with the president. Manchin’s support is crucial for the bill’s passage, since the Senate is split 50-50 between the Democrats and Republicans, with the Democrats having control only by virtue of Vice President Harris’ casting vote. So with zero Republican support for the package, that required every single Democratic senator on board with the proposals, giving Manchin enormous influence. A statement from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki in response to Manchin did not sound impressed, saying that his comments “are at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances.” It went on to say that “we will continue to press him to see if he will reverse his position yet again, to honor his prior commitments and be true to his word.” Nevertheless, Manchin’s own written statement wasn’t using the language of compromise, saying that his “Democratic colleagues in Washington are determined to dramatically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face.” So the implication from Manchin is that Build Back Better won’t be happening this side of the mid-terms in its current form, and would require a fundamental rethink and meaningful slimming down were it to have any chance of passing. Those twin factors of further Omicron restrictions and Manchin’s announcement have weighed heavily on Asian equities overnight, with the Nikkei (-2.17%), KOSPI (-1.66%), Hang Seng (-1.44%), CSI (-0.98%) and Shanghai Composite (-0.75%) all moving lower. In India, the benchmark NIFTY is also down 10% from its peak in October, putting the index in correction territory. However, we did get a policy easing in China, with banks lowering the 1yr prime rate by -5bps to 3.8%. That move came alongside separate remarks from Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda, who said it was too early to think about policy normalisation, and that discussion should take place once inflation is closer to the 2% target. European and US equities are set to follow Asia lower later on, with futures on both the S&P 500 (-0.97%) and the DAX (-1.63%) both pointing lower this morning. And oil prices been struggling overnight as well in light of the recent virus news, with Brent Crude down -3.02% to $71.30/bbl at time of writing. Recapping last week now, and the main events were the array of central bank meetings ahead of the holidays. In the US, the Fed doubled the pace of their tapering as expected, which would bring net asset purchases to an end in mid-March, and the median dot now expects three rate hikes in 2022. By the close on Friday, Fed funds futures were pricing in a 55% chance of an initial hike by the March meeting, and an 87% chance of one by the May meeting. The ECB was then up next, and started a wind down of net PEPP purchases that are also set to finish in March next year. The ECB is cushioning the landing though, having moved to increase APP purchases until October next year after PEPP ends, following which they’ll maintain a pace of €20bn a month until shortly before liftoff. The ECB maintained some policy optionality through flexibility on PEPP reinvestments, which our Europe economists read as a commitment to smoothing the transmission of monetary policy. In the UK, the BoE hiked Bank Rate by +15bps to 0.25%. The MPC noted the decision was finely balanced due to Covid uncertainty, but the vote was still 8-1 in favour of a hike. Over in Japan, the BoJ rounded out the major DM central bank meetings, keeping rates unchanged and announcing a slow reduction in corporate debt holdings. At the same time, they extended a special covid loans program targeted at small and medium-sized firms to September 2022. When all was said and done, many sovereign bond yields actually ended the week lower, even with the hawkish pivot from the various central banks. 10yr yields on Treasuries (-8.2bps) and bunds (-3.1bps) both declined, although those on gilts did post a small +1.7bps gain over the week. Meanwhile growing Covid pessimism served to dampen risk appetite and send global equity indices lower last week. By Friday the S&P 500 (-1.94%) had fallen for the 3rd week out of the last 4, hampered by an underperformance from tech stocks that saw the NASDAQ (-2.95%) and the FANG+ index (-4.53%) both lose significant ground. Over in Europe the moves were smaller, albeit still lower, and the STOXX 600 ended the week -0.35%.   Tyler Durden Mon, 12/20/2021 - 08:02.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 20th, 2021

Futures Ramp On China Stimulus Hopes Ahead Of Central Bank Barrage

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

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 13th, 2021

Futures Jump In Volatile Session Dragged By Latest Twists In Omicron Saga

Futures Jump In Volatile Session Dragged By Latest Twists In Omicron Saga Much of the overnight session was a snooze fest with stocks drifting first higher then lower after surging on Tuesday, as the narrative meandered from "omicron fears ease" optimism to "vaccines won't work" pessimism, before futures took a sudden leg lower, dropping into the red just after 530am ET, following news that UK's Boris Johnson would introduce new restrictions in England to curb Omicron spread, sparking fears that Omicron is more dangerous that expected (and than futures reflected). However, this episode of pessimism proved short-lived because just an hour later, the WSJ confirmed that Omicron is really just a pitch for covid booster shots when it reported that even though the covid vaccine loses significant effectiveness against Omicron in an early study, this is miraculously reversed with a booster shot as three doses of the vaccine were able to neutralize the variant in an initial laboratory study, and the companies said two doses may still protect against severe disease. Futures quickly shot up on the news, spiking above the gamma "all clear" level of 4,700 in a move best summarized with the following chart. And so, after going nowhere, S&P futures climbed for a third day, last seen 12 points, or 0.3% higher, just around 4,700 after rising the most since March on Tuesday. Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index rose following the biggest jump in more than a year. In addition to the omicron soap opera, which as we noted yesterday turns out was just one staged covid booster shot advertisement (because Pfizer and Moderna can always do with a bigger yacth), sentiment was also lifted by Chinese authorities' reversal to "easing mode" and aggressive efforts to limit the fallout from property market woes which lifted risk assets in Asia even as key debt deadlines at China Evergrande Group and Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd. passed without any sign of payment. "Clearly in the very short term uncertainty has risen over the Omicron virus... but overall at this stage we do not believe it will derail the macro picture in the medium-term," said Jeremy Gatto, multi-asset portfolio manager at Unigestion. Treasury yields were little changed after rising across the curve Tuesday. The VIX spiked first on the FT news, then dropped back into the red, while the dollar was flat and crude rose after turning red. Besides macro, micro was also in play and here are some other notable premarket movers Apple (AAPL US) ticks 1% higher in premarket trading following a Nikkei report that the tech giant told suppliers to speed up iPhone output for Nov.-Jan, citing people it didn’t identify. Amazon.com (AMZN US) shares in focus after an Amazon Web Services outage is wreaking havoc on the e-commerce giant’s delivery operation Stitch Fix (SFIX US) tumbles 25% in U.S. premarket trading after a 2Q forecast miss that analysts called “surprising,” while customer additions also disappointed Pfizer (PFE US) shares drop 2% in U.S. premarket trading after an early study showed that the company’s vaccine provides less immunity to the omicron variant Dare Bioscience (DARE US) soars 41% in premarket trading after Xaciato gets FDA approval for treating bacterial vaginosis EPAM Systems (EPAM US) soars 8% in premarket after S&P Dow Jones Indices said co. will replace Kansas City Southern in the S&P 500 effective prior to the opening of trading on Dec. 14 Goodyear Tire & Rubber (GT US) upgraded to buy from hold and target boosted to Street-high $32 from $29 at Deutsche Bank with the company seen as a major beneficiary from the shift to electric vehicles. Shares up 4.3% in premarket trading NXP Semiconductor (NXPI US) shares slide 2.2% in U.S. premarket trading after the chipmaker got a new sell rating at UBS Dave & Buster’s (PLAY US) gained 3.5% postmarket after the dining and entertainment company reported EPS that beat the average analyst estimate and authorized a $100 million share buyback program "Every day that passes without a wave of severe cases driven by Omicron is offering more hope that this won't be the curveball to throw the recovery off course," wrote Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid in a note to clients. In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index initially drifted both higher and lower then bounced 0.3% on the favorable Pfizer and BioNTech news one day after posting its bigger surge in a year. European benchmark index earlier rose as much as 2%, dropped 2.1%. Health care sub-index leads gains, rising 1.2%, followed by travel stocks. The Stoxx 600 closed 2.5% higher on Tuesday, biggest gain since November 2020 Earlier in the session, Asia stocks also rose for a second day as concerns about the omicron variant and China’s economic slowdown eased. The MSCI AsiaPacific Index climbed as much as 0.9% after capping its biggest one-day gain in more than three months on Tuesday. Technology and health-care shares provided the biggest boosts. Benchmarks in New Zealand and India -- where the central bank held rates at a record low -- were among the day’s best performers. “The biggest point appealing to investors is that the Omicron variant doesn’t seem to be too fatal,” which is encouraging to those who had been going short to close out their positions, said Tomoichiro Kubota, a senior market analyst at Matsui Securities in Tokyo. “Worry that the Chinese economy will lose its growth momentum has subsided quite a bit.” Thus far, Omicron cases haven’t overwhelmed hospitals while vaccine developments indicate some promise in dealing with the variant. While vaccines like the one made by Pfizer and BioNTech SE may be less powerful against the new strain, protection can be fortified with boosters. The two-day rally in the Asian stock benchmark marks a sharp turnaround following weeks of declines since mid-November. Stocks in China also climbed for a second day. The nation’s central bank said Monday it will cut the amount of cash most banks must keep in reserve from Dec. 15, providing a liquidity boost and helping restore investor confidence In FX, news on the Omicron variant rippled through G-10 currencies after a report the Pfizer vaccine could neutralize the Omicron variant boosted risk appetite. The pound underperformed other Group-of-10 peers, extending declines after reports that the U.K. government is poised to introduce new Covid-19 restrictions.  A gauge of the dollar’s strength fluctuated as Treasuries pare gains and stocks rally after a report that said Pfizer and BioNTech claim three vaccine doses neutralize the omicron variant. EUR/USD rose 0.1% to 1.1277; USD/NOK falls as much as 0.8% to 8.9459, lowest since Nov. 25 Sterling fell against the euro and the dollar, as traders pare bets on the path of Bank of England rate hikes following reports that the U.K. could introduce fresh Covid-19 restrictions such as working from home and vaccine passports for large venues. Money markets pare rate hike bets, with just six basis points of interest rate hikes priced in for the BOE meeting next week. GBP/USD falls as much as 0.6% to 1.3163, testing the key level of 1.3165, the 38.2% Fibonacci retracement of gains since March 2020. EUR/GBP gains as much as 0.7% to 0.85695, the highest since Nov. 11. “The market will probably see this as more U.K. specific and therefore an issue for the pound at least in the short term,” said Stuart Bennett, FX strategist at Santander. In rates, Treasuries were mixed with markets reacting in a risk-on manner to the Dow Jones report that Pfizer and BioNTech claim three vaccine doses neutralize the omicron variant. Yields remain richer by less than 1bp across long-end of the curve while front-end trades cheaper on the day, flattening curve spreads. Session’s focal points include $36b 10-year note reopening at 1pm ET, following Tuesday’s strong 3-year note auction. Treasury 10-year yields around 1.475%, near flat on the day; gilts outperform slightly after Financial Times report that further Covid restrictions will be announced imminently to curb the variant’s spread. U.S. 2-year yields were cheaper by 1bp on the day, rose to new 2021 high following Pfizer vaccine report; 2s10s spread erased a flattening move In commodities, crude futures turned red, WTI falling 0.8%, popping back below $72. Spot gold holds Asia’s modest gains, adding $8 to trade near $1,792/oz. Looking at the day ahead, and Olaf Scholz is expected to become German Chancellor in a Bundestag vote today. From central banks, the Bank of Canada will be deciding on rates, and we’ll also hear from ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos and the ECB’s Schnabel. Finally, data releases include the JOLTS job openings from the US for October. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.2% to 4,693.75 STOXX Europe 600 little changed at 480.55 MXAP up 0.7% to 194.84 MXAPJ up 0.6% to 632.78 Nikkei up 1.4% to 28,860.62 Topix up 0.6% to 2,002.24 Hang Seng Index little changed at 23,996.87 Shanghai Composite up 1.2% to 3,637.57 Sensex up 1.8% to 58,654.25 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 1.3% to 7,405.45 Kospi up 0.3% to 3,001.80 Brent Futures down 0.5% to $75.04/bbl Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,790.33 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.17% to 96.20 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.38% Euro up 0.2% to $1.1286 Brent Futures down 0.5% to $75.04/bbl Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The omicron variant of Covid-19 must inflict significant damage on the euro-area economy for European Central Bank Governing Council member Martins Kazaks to back additional stimulus “The current phase of higher inflation could last longer than expected only some months ago,” ECB vice president Luis de Guindos says at event The earliest studies on omicron are in and the glimpse they’re providing is cautiously optimistic: while vaccines like the one made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE may be less powerful against the new variant, protection can be fortified with boosters U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce new Covid-19 restrictions in England, known as “Plan B,” to stop the spread of the Omicron variant, the Financial Times reported, citing three senior Whitehall officials familiar with the matter. French economic activity will continue to rise in December, despite another wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and fresh uncertainty over the omicron variant, according the Bank of France The Kingdom of Denmark will sell a sovereign green bond for the first time next month to help the Nordic nation meet one of the world’s most ambitious climate targets Tom Hayes, the former UBS Group AG and Citigroup Inc. trader who became the face of the sprawling Libor scandal, has lost his bid to appeal his U.K. criminal conviction Poland is poised for a hefty increase in interest rates after a spike in inflation to a two- decade high convinced central bankers that spiraling price growth isn’t transitory. Of 32 economists surveyed by Bloomberg, 20 expect a 50 basis-point hike to 1.75% today and 10 see the rate rising to 2%. The other two expect a 25 basis-point increase Australia is weighing plans for a central bank-issued digital currency alongside the regulation of the crypto market as it seeks to overhaul how the nation’s consumers and businesses pay for goods and services Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Masayoshi Amamiya dropped a strong hint that big firms are in less need of funding support, a comment that will likely fuel speculation the BOJ will scale back its pandemic buying of corporate bonds and commercial paper A detailed summary of global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets traded positively as the region took impetus from the global risk momentum following the tech-led rally in the US, where Apple shares rose to a record high and amid increased optimism that Omicron could be less dangerous than prior variants. This was after early hospitalisation data from South Africa showed the new variant could result in less severe COVID and NIH's Fauci also suggested that Omicron was 'almost certainly' not more severe than Delta, although there were some slight headwinds in late Wall Street trade after a small study pointed to reduced vaccine efficacy against the new variant. The ASX 200 (+1.3%) was underpinned in which tech led the broad gains across sectors as it found inspiration from the outperformance of big tech stateside, and with energy bolstered by the recent rebound in underlying oil prices. The Nikkei 225 (+1.4%) conformed to the upbeat mood although further advances were capped after USD/JPY eased off the prior day’s highs and following a wider-than-expected contraction to the economy with the final annualised Q3 GDP at -3.6% vs exp. -3.1%. The Hang Seng (+0.1%) and Shanghai Comp. (+1.2%) were less decisive and initially lagged behind their peers as sentiment was mired by default concerns due to the failure by Evergrande to pay bondholders in the lapsed 30-day grace period on two USD-denominated bond payments and with Kaisa Group in a trading halt after missing the deadline for USD 400mln in offshore debt which didn’t bode well for its affiliates. Furthermore, China Aoyuan Property Group received over USD 650mln in repayment demands and warned it may not be able to meet debt obligations, while a subdued Hong Kong debut for Weibo shares which declined around 6% from the offer price added to the glum mood for Hong Kong’s blue-chip tech stocks, as did reports that China is to tighten rules for tech companies seeking foreign funding. Finally, 10yr JGBs languished after spillover selling from T-notes and due to the heightened global risk appetite, but with downside stemmed by support at the key psychological 152.00 level and amid the presence of the BoJ in the market today for over JPY 1.0tln of JGBs. Top Asian News China Clean Car Sales Spike as Consumers Embrace Electric Gold Edges Higher as Traders Weigh Vaccine Efficacy, Geopolitics Paint Maker Avia Avian Falls in Debut After $763 Million IPO Tokyo Prepares to Introduce Same-Sex Partnerships Next Year Equities in Europe shifted to a lower configuration after a mixed open (Euro Stoxx 50 -0.7%; Stoxx 600 -0.1%) as sentiment was dented by rumours of tightening COVID measures in the UK. Markets have been awaiting the next catalyst to latch onto for direction amidst a lack of fresh fundamentals. US equity futures have also been dented but to a lesser extent, with the YM (-0.1%) and ES (Unch) straddling behind the NQ (+0.2%) and RTY (+0.2%). Sources in recent trade suggested an 85% chance of the UK implementing COVID Plan B, according to Times' Dunn; reports indicate such restrictions could be implemented on Thursday, with the potential for an announcement today. In terms of the timings, the UK cabinet is penciled in for 15:45GMT and presser for 17:30GMT on Plan B, according to BBC's Goodall. Note, this will not be a formal lockdown but more so work-from-home guidance, vaccine passports for nightlife and numerical restrictions on indoor/outdoor gatherings. APAC closed in the green across the board following the tech-led rally in the US. The upside overnight was attributed to a continuation of market optimism after early hospitalisation data from South Africa showed the new variant could result in less severe COVID, albeit after a small study pointed to reduced vaccine efficacy against the new variant. Participants will be closely watching any updates from the vaccine-makers, with the BioNTech CEO stating the drugmaker has data coming Wednesday or Thursday related to the new COVID-19 variant, thus markets will be eyeing a potential update this week ahead of the Pfizer investor call next Friday. Back to European, the UK’s FTSE 100 (Unch) and the Swiss SMI (+0.8%) are largely buoyed by their defensive stocks, with sectors seeing a defensive formation, albeit to a slightly lesser extent vs the open. Healthcare retains its top spot closely followed by Food & Beverages, although Personal & Household Goods and Telecoms have moved down the ranks. On the flip side, Retail, Banks and Travel & Leisure trade at the bottom of the bunch, whilst Tech nursed some earlier losses after opening as the lagging sector. In terms of individual movers, Nestle (+1.8%) is bolstered after announcing a CHF 20bln share repurchase programme alongside a stake reduction in L'Oreal (+1.0%) to 20.1% from 23.3% - worth some EUR 9bln. L’Oreal has shrugged off the stake sale and conforms to the firm sectoral performance across the Personal & Household Goods. Meanwhile, chip names are under pressure after Nikkei sources reported that Apple (+0.8% pre-market) was forced to scale back the total output target for 2021, with iPhone and iPad assembly halted for several days due to supply chain constraints and restrictions on the use of power in China, multiple sources told Nikkei. STMicroelectronics (-1.7%) and Infineon (-5.0%) are among the losers, with the latter also weighed on by a broker downgrade at JPM. Top European News ECB’s Kazaks Sets High Bar for Omicron-Driven Extra Stimulus Biden Is Left Guessing Over Putin’s Ultimate Aim in Ukraine Byju’s Buys Austria’s GeoGebra to Bolster Online Math Courses Scholz Elected by Parliament to Take Charge as German Chancellor In FX, the Dollar index continues to hold above 96.000, but bounces have become less pronounced and the range so far today is distinctly narrower (96.285-130) in fitting with the generally restrained trade in pairings within the basket and beyond, bar a few exceptions. Price action suggests a relatively muted midweek session unless a major game-changer arrives and Wednesday’s agenda does not bode that well in terms of catalysts aside from JOLTS and the BoC policy meeting before the second leg of this week’s refunding in the form of Usd 36 bn 10 year notes. AUD/EUR - Notwithstanding the largely contained currency moves noted above, the Aussie is maintaining bullish momentum on specific factors including strength in iron ore prices and encouraging Chinese data plus PBoC easing that should have a positive knock-on effect for one of its main trading partners even though diplomatic relations between the two nations are increasingly strained. Aud/Usd has also cleared a couple of technical hurdles on the way up to circa 0.7143 and Aud/Nzd is firmer on the 1.0500 handle ahead of the RBA’s latest chart pack release and a speech by Governor Lowe. Elsewhere, the Euro has regained composure after its sub-1.1250 tumble on Tuesday vs the Buck and dip through 0.8500 against the Pound, but still faces psychological resistance at 1.1300 and the 21 DMA that comes in at 1.1317 today, while Eur/Gbp needs to breach the 100 DMA (0.8513) convincingly or close above to confirm a change in direction for the cross from a chart perspective. CHF/CAD/JPY/GBP/NZD - All sitting tight in relation to their US counterpart, with the Franc paring some declines between 0.9255-30 parameters and the Loonie straddling 1.2650 in the run up to the aforementioned BoC that is widely seen as a non-event given no new MPR or press conference, not to mention the actual changes in QE and rate guidance last time. Nevertheless, implied volatility is quite high via a 63 pip breakeven for Usd/Cad. Meanwhile, Sterling lost grip of the 1.3200 handle amidst swirling speculation about the UK reverting to plan B and more Tory MPs calling for PM Johnson to resign, the Yen is rotating around 113.50 eyeing broad risk sentiment and US Treasury yields in context of spreads to JGBs, and the Kiwi is lagging after touching 0.6800 awaiting independent impetus from NZ manufacturing sales for Q3. SCANDI/EM - The Nok extended its advantage/outperformance against the Sek as Brent rebounded towards Usd 76/brl in early trade and Riksbank’s Jansson retained reservations about flagging a repo rate hike at the end of the forecast horizon, while the Mxn and Rub also initially derived some support from oil with the latter also taking on board latest hawkish talk from the CBR. However, the Cny and Cnh are outpacing their rivals again with some assistance from a firmer PBoC midpoint fix to hit multi-year peaks vs the Usd and probe 6.3500 ahead of option expiry interest at 6.3000 and a Fib retracement at 6.2946, in stark contrast to the Try that is unwinding recent recovery gains with no help from the latest blast from Turkish President Erdogan - see 10.00GMT post in the Headline Feed for more. Conversely, the Czk has taken heed of CNB’s Holub underscoring tightening signals and expectations for the next rate convene and the Pln and Brl are anticipating hikes from the NBP and BCB. In commodities, crude futures have been hit on the prospect of imminent COVID-related measures in the UK, albeit the measures do not involve lockdowns. Brent and WTI front month futures slipped from European highs to breach APAC lows. The former dipped below USD 74.50/bbl from a USD 76.00/bbl European peak while its WTI counterpart tested USD 71.00/bbl from USD 72.50/bbl at best. Overnight the benchmarks traded on either side the USD 75/bbl mark and just under USD 72/bbl after the weekly Private Inventories printed a larger-than-expected draw (-3.6mln vs exp. -3.1mln), albeit the internals were less bullish. Yesterday also saw the release of the EIA STEO, cut its 2021 world oil demand growth forecast by an insignificant 10k BPD but raised the 2022 metric by 200k BPD – with the IEA and OPEC monthly reports poised to be released next week. On the vaccine front, a small preliminary study of 12 people showed a 40x reduction in neutralization capacity of the Pfizer vaccine against Omicron, but early hospitalisation data from South Africa showed the new variant could result in less severe COVID. BioNTech CEO said they have data coming in on Wednesday or Thursday related to the new Omicron variant. The geopolitical space is also worth keeping on the radar, with US President Biden yesterday warning Russian President Putin that gas exports via Nord Stream 2 will be targeted and more troops will be deployed if he orders an invasion of Ukraine. Further, reports suggested, an Indian army helicopter crashed in Tamil Nadu, with Chief of Defence staff reportedly on board, according to Sputnik. Note, Tamil Nadu is located towards the south of the country and away from conflict zones. Elsewhere spot gold was supported by the overnight pullback in the Dollar, but the recent risk aversion took the yellow metal above the 100 DMA around USD 1,790/oz, with nearby upside levels including the 200 DMA (1,792/oz) and the 50 DMA (1,794/oz). Copper prices meanwhile consolidated within a tight range, with LME copper holding onto a USD 9,500/t handle (just about). Dalian iron ore extended on gains in a continuation of the upside seen in recent trade. US Event Calendar 7am: Dec. MBA Mortgage Applications, prior -7.2% 10am: Oct. JOLTs Job Openings, est. 10.5m, prior 10.4m DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap A reminder that we are currently conducting our special 2022 survey. We ask about rates, equities, bond yields and the path of covid in 2022, amongst other things, and also return to a festive question we asked in 2019, namely your favourite ever Christmas songs. The link is here and it’ll be open until tomorrow. All help filling in very much appreciated. My optimism for life has been shattered this morning. Not from the markets or the virus but just as I woke this morning England cricketers finally surrendered and collapsed in a heap on the first day of the Ashes - one the oldest international rivalries in sport. It was all I could do not to turn round and go back to bed. However out of duty I’m soldering on. After the twins nativity play went without incident yesterday, this morning it’s Maisie’s turn. Given she’s in a wheelchair at the moment she can’t get on stage so they’ve given her a solo singing spot at the start. I’m going so I can bring a bucket for all my wife’s tears as she sings!! If I shed a tear I’ll pretend it’s because of the cricket. The global market rebound continued to gather strength yesterday as investors became increasingly optimistic that the Omicron variant wouldn’t prove as bad as initially feared. To be honest, it was more the absence of bad news rather than any concrete good news helping to drive sentiment. Late in the US session we did see some headlines suggesting that the Pfizer vaccine may provide some defence against Omicron but also that the new variant does evade some of the immunity produced by this vaccine. This report of the small study (12 people!!) from South Africa lacked substance but you could take positives and negatives from it. More information is clearly needed. For the markets though, every day that passes without a wave of severe cases driven by Omicron is offering more hope that this won’t be the curveball to throw the recovery off course. Indeed, to get a sense of the scale of the market rebound, both the S&P 500 and the STOXX 600 in Europe have now clocked in their strongest 2-day performances of 2021 so far, with the indices up by +3.27% and +3.76% respectively since the start of the week. Meanwhile, the VIX fell below 25 for the first time in a week. On the day, the S&P 500 (+2.07%) put in its strongest daily performance since March, whilst the STOXX 600 (+2.45%) saw its strongest daily performance since the news that the Pfizer vaccine was successful in trials back in November 2020. Once again the gains were incredibly broad-based, albeit with cyclical sectors leading the way. The Nasdaq (+3.03%) outperformed the S&P 500 for the first time in a week as tech shares led the rally. Small cap stocks also had a strong day, with the Russell 2000 up +2.28%, on the back of Omicron optimism. This recovery in risk assets was also seen in the bounceback in oil prices, with Brent crude (+3.23%) and WTI (+3.68%) now both up by more than $5.5/bbl since the start of the week, which puts them well on the way to ending a run of 6 consecutive weekly declines. For further evidence of this increased optimism, we can also look at the way that investors have been dialling back up their estimates of future rate hikes from the Fed, with yesterday seeing another push in this direction. Before the Omicron news hit, Fed fund futures were fully pricing in an initial hike by the June meeting, but by the close on the Monday after Thanksgiving they’d moved down those odds to just 61% in June, with an initial hike not fully priced until September. Fast forward just over a week however, and we’re now not only back to pricing in a June hike, but the odds of a May hike are standing at +78.8%, which is actually higher than the +66.1% chance priced before the Omicron news hit. A reminder that we’re just a week away now from the Fed’s next decision, where it’s hotly anticipated they could accelerate the pace at which they’ll taper their asset purchases. With investors bringing forward their bets on monetary tightening, front-end US Treasury yields were hitting post-pandemic highs yesterday, with the 2yr Treasury yield up +5.8bps to 0.69%, a level we haven’t seen since March 2020. Longer-dated yield increases weren’t as large, with the 10yr yield up +3.9bps to 1.47%, and the 5s30s curve flattened another -1.8bps to 54.4bps, just above the post-pandemic low of 53.7bps. Over in Europe there was similarly a rise in most countries’ bond yields, with those on 10yr bunds (+1.4bps), OATs (+1.0bps) and BTPs (+4.4bps) all moving higher, though incidentally, the 5s30s curve in Germany was also down -2.2bps to its own post-pandemic low of 50.0bps. One pretty big news story that markets have been relatively unperturbed by so far is the rising tensions between the US and Russia over Ukraine. Yesterday saw a video call between US President Biden and Russian President Putin. The US readout from the call did not offer much in the way of concrete details, but if you’re looking for any optimistic news, it said that both sides tasked their teams with following up. Setting the background for the call, there were reports immediately beforehand that the US was considering evacuating their citizens and posturing to stop Nord Stream 2 if Russia invaded Ukraine. The Ruble appreciated +0.42% against the dollar, and is now only slightly weaker versus the dollar on the week. Overnight in Asia stocks are trading mostly higher led by the Nikkei (+1.49%), CSI (+1.11%), Shanghai Composite (+0.86%) and the KOSPI (+0.78%) as markets respond positively to the Pfizer study mentioned at the top. The Hang Seng (-0.12%) is lagging though. In Japan, the final Q3 GDP contracted -3.6% quarter on quarter annualised against consensus expectations of -3.1% on lower consumer spending than initially estimated. In India, the RBI left the key policy rate unchanged for the ninth consecutive meeting today while underscoring increasing headwinds from the Omicron variant. Futures markets indicate a positive start in the US and Europe with S&P 500 (+0.41%) and DAX (+0.12%) futures trading in the green. Back on the pandemic, despite the relative benign news on Omicron, rising global case counts mean that the direction of travel is still towards tougher restrictions across a range of countries. In fact here in the UK, we saw the 7-day average of reported cases move above 48,000 for the first time since January. In terms of fresh restrictions, yesterday saw Canada announce that they’d be extending their vaccine mandate, which will now require employees in all federally regulated workplaces to be vaccinated, including road transportation, telecommunications and banking. In Sweden, the government is preparing a bill that would see Covid passes introduced for gyms and restaurants, while Poland put further measures in place, including remote schooling from December 20 until January 9, while vaccines would become mandatory for health workers, teachers and uniformed services from March 1. One move to ease restrictions came in Austria, where it was confirmed shops would be reopening on Monday, albeit only for those vaccinated, while restaurants and hotels would reopen the following week. If you see our daily charts you’ll see that cases in Austria have dropped sharply since the peaks a couple of weeks ago, albeit still high internationally. In DC, Congressional leaders apparently agreed to a deal that would ultimately lead to the debt ceiling being increased, after some procedural chicanery. Senate Majority Leader McConnell voiced support for the measure, which is a good sign for its ultimate prospects of passing, but it still needs at least 10 Republican votes in the Senate to pass. McConnell indicated the votes would be there when the Senate ultimately takes it up, which is reportedly set to happen this week. The House passed the measure last night. Yields on Treasury bills maturing in December fell following the headlines. Looking ahead, today will mark the end of an era in Germany, as Olaf Scholz is set to become Chancellor in a Bundestag vote later on, marking an end to Chancellor Merkel’s 16-year tenure. That vote will simply be a formality given the three parties of the incoming coalition (the centre-left SPD, the Greens and the liberal FDP) have a comfortable majority between them, and the new cabinet will feature 7 SPD ministers, 5 Green ministers, and 4 from the FDP. Among the positions will include Green co-leader Robert Habeck as Vice Chancellor, Green co-leader Annalena Baerbock as foreign minister, and FDP leader Christian Lindner as finance minister. Running through yesterday’s data, the US trade deficit narrowed to $67.1bn in October (vs. $66.8bn expected), marking its smallest level since April. Meanwhile in the Euro Area, the latest Q3 growth estimate was left unchanged at +2.2%, but both Q1 and Q2’s growth was revised up a tenth. Over in Germany, industrial production grew by a stronger-than-expected +2.8% in October (vs. +1.0% expected), with the previous month’s contraction also revised to show a smaller -0.5% decline. In addition, the expectations component of the December ZEW survey fell by less than expected to 29.9 (vs. 25.4 expected), but the current situation measure fell to a 6-month low of -7.4 (vs. 5.7 expected). To the day ahead now, and Olaf Scholz is expected to become German Chancellor in a Bundestag vote today. From central banks, the Bank of Canada will be deciding on rates, and we’ll also hear from ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos and the ECB’s Schnabel. Finally, data releases include the JOLTS job openings from the US for October. Tyler Durden Wed, 12/08/2021 - 07:58.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 8th, 2021

Casedemic: The Hideous Scandal Of The Irredeemably Flawed PCR Test

Casedemic: The Hideous Scandal Of The Irredeemably Flawed PCR Test Authored by Ian McNulty via The Brownstone Institute, Investigating the cause of a disease is like investigating the cause of a crime. Just as the detection of a suspect’s DNA at a crime scene doesn’t prove they committed the crime, so the detection of the DNA of a virus in a patient doesn’t prove it caused the disease. Consider the case of Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) for example. It can cause serious diseases like arthritis, multiple sclerosis and cancer. A Japanese study in 2003 found that 43% of patients suffering from Chronic Active Epstein-Barr Virus (CAEBV) died within 5 months to 12 years of infection. Yet EBV is one of the most common viruses in humans and has been detected in 95% of the adult population. Most of those infected are either asymptomatic or show symptoms of glandular fever, which can have similar symptoms to ‘long Covid.’ If an advertising agency attempted to create demand for an EBV treatment with daily TV and radio ads representing positive EBV tests as ‘EBV Cases’ and deaths within 28 days as ‘EBV Deaths,’ they’d be prosecuted for fraud by false representation so quickly their feet wouldn’t touch the ground. How Viruses Are Detected Before the invention of PCR, the gold standard for detecting viruses was to grow them in a culture of living cells and count damaged cells using a microscope. The disadvantage of cell cultures is they need highly skilled technicians and can take weeks to complete. The advantage is they only count living viruses that multiply and damage cells. Dead virus fragments that do neither are automatically discounted. The invention of PCR in 1983 was a game changer. Instead of waiting for viruses to grow naturally, PCR rapidly multiplies tiny amounts of viral DNA exponentially in a series of heating and cooling cycles that can be automated and completed in less than an hour. PCR revolutionised molecular biology but its most notable application was in genetic fingerprinting, where its ability to magnify even the smallest traces of DNA became a major weapon in the fight against crime. But, like a powerful magnifying glass or zoom lens, if it’s powerful enough to find a needle in a haystack it’s powerful enough to make mountains out of molehills. Even the inventor of PCR, Kary Mullis, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1993, vehemently opposed using PCR to diagnose diseases: “PCR is a process that’s used to make a whole lot of something out of something. It allows you to take a very miniscule amount of anything and make it measurable and then talk about it like it’s important.“ PCR has certainly allowed public health authorities and the media around the world to talk about a new variant of Coronavirus like it’s important, but how important is it really? The Dose Makes The Poison Anything can be deadly in high enough doses, even oxygen and water. Since the time of Paracelsus in the 16th century, science has known there are no such things as poisons, only poisonous concentrations: “All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; the dosage alone makes the poison.” (Paracelsus, dritte defensio, 1538.) This basic principle is expressed in the adage “dosis sola facit venenum“ – the dose alone makes the poison – and is the basis for all Public Health Standards which specify Maximum Permissible Doses (MPDs) for all known health hazards, from chemicals and radiation to bacteria, viruses and even noise. Public Health Standards, Science and Law Toxicology and Law are both highly specialised subjects with their own highly specialised language. Depending on the jurisdiction, Maximum Permissible Doses (MPDs) are also known as Health Based Exposure Limits (HBELs), Maximum Exposure Levels (MELs) and Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs). But, no matter how complicated and confusing the language, the basic principles are simple. If the dose alone makes the poison then it’s the dose that’s the biggest concern, not the poison. And if Public Health Standards in a liberal democracy are regulated by the rule of law then the law needs to be simple enough for a jury of reasonably intelligent lay people to understand. Although the harm caused by any toxin increases with the dose, the level of harm depends not only on the toxin, but the susceptibility of the individual and the way the toxin is delivered. Maximum Permissible Doses have to strike a balance between the benefit of increasing safety and the cost of doing it. There are many Political, Economic and Social factors to consider besides the Technology (PEST). Take the case of noise for example. The smallest whisper may be irritating and harmful to some people, while the loudest music may be nourishing and healthy for others. If the Maximum Permissible Dose was set at a level to protect the most sensitive from any risk of harm, life would be impossible for everyone else. Maximum Permissible Doses have to balance the costs and benefits of restricting exposure to the level of No Observable Effect (NOEL) at one end of the scale, and the level that would kill 50% of the population at the other (LD50). Bacteria and viruses are different from other toxins, but the principle is the same. Because they multiply and increase their dose with time, maximum permissible doses need to be based on the minimum dose likely to start an infection known as the Minimum Infective Dose (MID). Take the case of listeria monocytogenes for example. It’s the bacteria that causes listeriosis, a serious disease that can result in meningitis, sepsis and encephalitis. The case fatality rate is around 20%, making it ten times more deadly than Covid-19. Yet listeria is widespread in the environment and can be detected in raw meat and vegetables as well as many ready-to-eat foods, including cooked meat and seafood, dairy products, pre-prepared sandwiches and salads.  The minimum dose in food likely to cause an outbreak of listeriosis is around 1,000 live bacteria per gram. Allowing a suitable margin of safety, EU and US food standards set the maximum permissible dose of listeria in ready-to-eat products at 10% of the minimum infective dose , or 100 live bacteria per gram. If Maximum Permissible Doses were based solely on the detection of a bacteria or virus rather than the dose, the food industry would cease to exist. Protection of the Vulnerable The general rule of thumb for setting maximum permissible doses used to be 10% of the MID for bacteria and viruses, and 10% of the LD50 for other toxins, but this has come under increasing criticism in recent years: first with radiation, then Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS), then smoke in general, then viruses. The idea that there is no safe dose of some toxins began to surface in the 1950s, when radioactive fallout from atom bomb tests and radiation from medical X-rays were linked with the the dramatic post-war rise in cancers and birth defects. Although this was rejected by the science at the time, it wasn’t entirely unfounded. There are many reasons why radiation may be different from other pollutants. Chemicals like carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen are recycled naturally by the environment, but there is no such thing as a Radiation Cycle. Radioactivity only disappears gradually with time, no matter how many times it’s recycled. Some radioactive substances remain dangerous for periods longer than human history. All life forms are powered by chemical processes, none by nuclear energy. The last natural nuclear reactor on earth burned out more than 1.5 billion years ago. The nearest one now is isolated from life on earth by 93 million miles of vacuum.  As evidence mounted to show there was no safe dose of radiation, maximum permissible doses were lowered drastically, but limited doses were still allowed. If public health standards were based purely on the detection of radiation rather than the dose, the Nuclear Industry would cease to exist. The susceptibility of any individual to any health risk depends on many factors. Most people can eat sesame seeds and survive bee stings without calling an ambulance, for others they can be fatal. In the US bees and wasps kill an average of more than 60 people each year, and food allergies cause an average of 30,000 hospitalisations and 150 deaths. If public health standards were based solely on the detection of a toxin rather than the dose, all bees would be exterminated and all food production closed down. Food allergies set the legal precedent. Where minuscule traces of something might be harmful for some people, the law demands that products carry a clear warning to allow the vulnerable to protect their own health. It doesn’t demand everyone else pay the price, no matter what the cost, by lowering maximum permissible doses to the point of no observable effect. Minimum Infectious Doses (MIDs) have already been established for many of the major respiratory and enteric viruses including strains of coronavirus. Even though SARS-CoV-2 is a new variant of coronavirus, the MID has already been estimated at around 100 particles. Whilst further work is needed, nevertheless it could serve as a working standard to measure Covid-19 infections against. Are PCR Numbers Scientific? As the philosopher of science, Karl Popper, observed: “non-reproducible single occurrences are of no significance to science.” To be reproducible, the results of one test should compare within a small margin of error with the results of other tests. To make this possible all measuring instruments are calibrated against international standards. If they aren’t, their measurements may appear to be significant, but they have no significance in science. PCR tests magnify the number of target DNA particles in a swab exponentially until they become visible. Like a powerful zoom lens, the greater the magnification needed to see something, the smaller it actually is. The magnification in PCR is measured by the number of cycles needed to make the DNA visible. Known as the Cycle Threshold (Ct) or Quantification Cycle (Cq) number, the higher the number of cycles the lower the amount of DNA in the sample. To convert Cq numbers into doses they have to be calibrated against the Cq numbers of standard doses. If they aren’t they can easily be blown out of proportion and appear more significant than they actually are. Take an advertisement for a car for example. With the right light, the right angle and the right magnification, a scale model can look like the real thing. We can only gauge the true size of things if we have something to measure them against. Just like a coin standing next to a toy car proves it’s not a real one, and a shoe next to a molehill shows it’s not a mountain, the Cq of a standard dose next to the Cq of a sample shows how big the dose really is. So it’s alarming to discover that there are no international standards for PCR tests and even more alarming to discover that results can vary up to a million fold, not just from country to country, but from test to test. Even though this is well-documented in the scientific literature it appears that the media, public health authorities and government regulators either haven’t noticed or don’t care: “It should be noted that currently there is no standard measure of viral load in clinical samples.” “An evaluation of eight clinically relevant viral targets in 23 different laboratories resulted in Cq ranges of more than 20, indicative of an apparently million-fold difference in viral load in the same sample.” “The evident lack of certified standards or even validated controls to allow for a correlation between RT-qPCR data and clinical meaning requires urgent attention from national standards and metrology organisations, preferably as a world-wide coordinated effort.” “Certainly the label “gold standard” is ill-advised, as not only are there numerous different assays, protocols, reagents, instruments and result analysis methods in use, but there are currently no certified quantification standards, RNA extraction and inhibition controls, or standardised reporting procedures.” Even the CDC itself admits PCR test results aren’t reproducible: “Because the nucleic acid target (the pathogen of interest), platform and format differ, Ct values from different RT-PCR tests cannot be compared.” For this reason PCR tests are licenced under emergency regulations for the detection of the type or ‘quality’ of a virus, not for the dose or ‘quantity’ of it. “As of August 5, 2021, all diagnostic RT-PCR tests that had received a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for SARS-CoV-2 testing were qualitative tests.” “The Ct value is interpreted as positive or negative but cannot be used to determine how much virus is present in an individual patient specimen.” Just because we can detect the ‘genetic fingerprint’ of a virus doesn’t prove it’s the cause of a disease: “Detection of viral RNA may not indicate the presence of infectious virus or that 2019-nCoV is the causative agent for clinical symptoms.” So, while there’s little doubt that using PCR to identify the genetic fingerprint of a Covid-19 virus is the gold standard in molecular science, there’s equally no doubt that using it as the gold standard to quantify Covid-19 ‘cases’ and ‘deaths’ is “ill-advised.” The idea that PCR may have been used to make a mountain out of a molehill by blowing a relatively ordinary disease outbreak out of all proportion is so shocking it’s literally unthinkable. But it wouldn’t be the first time it has happened. The Epidemic That Wasn’t In spring 2006 staff at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire began showing symptoms of respiratory infection with high fever and nonstop coughing that left them gasping for breath and lasted for weeks. Using the latest PCR techniques, Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s laboratories found 142 cases of pertussis or whooping cough, which causes pneumonia in vulnerable adults and can be deadly for infants. Medical procedures were cancelled, hospital beds were taken out of commission. Nearly 1,000 health care workers were furloughed, 1,445 were treated with antibiotics and 4,524 were vaccinated against whooping cough. Eight months later, when the state health department had completed the standard culture tests, not one single case of whooping cough could be confirmed. It seems Dartmouth-Hitchcock had suffered an outbreak of ordinary respiratory diseases no more serious than the common cold! The following January the New York Times ran the story under the headline “Faith in Quick Test Leads to Epidemic That Wasn’t.” “Pseudo-epidemics happen all the time,” said Dr. Trish Perl, past president of the Society of Epidemiologists of America. “It’s a problem; we know it’s a problem. My guess is that what happened at Dartmouth is going to become more common.” “PCR tests are quick and extremely sensitive, but their very sensitivity makes false positives likely” reported the New York Times, “and when hundreds or thousands of people are tested, as occurred at Dartmouth, false positives can make it seem like there is an epidemic.” “To say the episode was disruptive was an understatement,” said Dr. Elizabeth Talbot, deputy epidemiologist for the New Hampshire Department of Health, “I had a feeling at the time that this gave us a shadow of a hint of what it might be like during a pandemic flu epidemic.” Dr. Cathy A. Petti, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Utah, said the story had one clear lesson. “The big message is that every lab is vulnerable to having false positives. No single test result is absolute and that is even more important with a test result based on PCR.” The Swine Flu Panic of 2009 In the spring of 2009 a 5-year old boy living near an intensive pig farm in Mexico went down with an unknown disease that caused a high fever, sore throat and whole body ache. Several weeks later a lab in Canada tested a nasal swab from the boy and discovered a variant of the flu virus similar to the H1N1 Avian flu virus which they labelled H1N1/09, soon to be known as ‘Swine Flu.’ On 28 April 2009 a biotech company in Colorado announced they had developed the MChip, a version of the FluChip, which enabled PCR tests to distinguish the Swine Flu H1N1/09 virus from other flu types. “Since the FluChip assay can be conducted within a single day,” said InDevR’s leading developer and CEO, Prof Kathy Rowlen, “it could be employed in State Public Health Laboratories to greatly enhance influenza surveillance and our ability to track the virus.” Up until this point the top of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Pandemic Preparedness homepage had carried the statement: “An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus appears against which the human population has no immunity, resulting in several simultaneous epidemics worldwide with enormous numbers of deaths and illness.” Less than a week after the MChip announcement, the WHO removed the phrase “enormous numbers of deaths and illness,” to require only that “a new influenza virus appears against which the human population has no immunity” before a flu outbreak to be called a ‘pandemic.’ No sooner had the laboratories started PCR testing with MChip than they were finding H1N1/09 everywhere. By the beginning of June almost three-quarters of all influenza cases tested positive for Swine Flu. Mainstream news reported the rise in cases on a daily basis, comparing it with the H1N1 Avian Flu pandemic in 1918 which killed more than 50 million people. What they neglected to mention is that, although they have similar names, Avian Flu H1N1 is very different and much more deadly than Swine Flu H1N1/09 . Even though there had been less than 500 deaths up to this point compared to more than 20,000 deaths in a severe flu epidemic people flocked to health centres demanding to be tested, producing even more positive ‘cases,’  In mid-May senior representatives of all the major pharmaceutical companies met with WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan, and UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, to discuss delivery of swine flu vaccines. Many contracts had already been signed. Germany had a contract with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to buy 50 million doses at a cost of half a billion Euros which came into effect automatically the moment a pandemic was declared. The UK bought 132 million doses – two for every person in the country. On 11 June 2009 WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, announced: “On the basis of expert assessments of the evidence, the scientific criteria for an influenza pandemic have been met. The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic.” On 16 July the Guardian reported that swine flu was spreading fast across much of the UK with 55,000 new cases the previous week in England alone. The UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Liam Donaldson, warned that in the worst case scenario 30% of the population could be infected and 65,000 killed. On 20 July a study in The Lancet co-authored by WHO and UK government adviser, Neil Ferguson, recommended closing schools and churches to slow the epidemic, limit stress on the NHS and “give more time for vaccine production.” On the same day WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan announced that “vaccine makers could produce 4.9 billion pandemic flu shots per year in the best-case scenario.” Four days later an official Obama administration spokesman warned that “as many as several hundred thousand could die if a vaccine campaign and other measures aren’t successful.” The warnings had the desired effect. That week UK consultation rates for influenza-like illnesses (ILIs) were at their highest since the last severe flu epidemic in 1999/2000, even though death rates were at a 15-year low. On 29 September 2009 the Pandemrix vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) was rushed through European Medicines Agency approval, swiftly followed by Baxter’s Celvapan the following week. On 19 November the WHO announced that 65 million doses of vaccine had been administered worldwide. As the year drew to a close it became increasingly obvious that swine flu was not all it was made out to be. The previous winter (2008/2009) the Office for National Statistics (ONS) had reported 36,700 excess deaths in England and Wales, the highest since the last severe flu outbreak of 1999/2000. Even though the winter of 2009 had been the coldest for 30 years, excess deaths were 30% lower than the previous winter. Whatever swine flu was, it wasn’t as deadly as other flu variants. On 26 January the following year, Wolfgang Wodarg, a German doctor and member of parliament, told the European Council in Strasbourg that the major global pharmaceutical corporations had organised a “campaign of panic” to sell vaccines, putting pressure on the WHO to declare what he called a “false pandemic” in “one of the greatest medicine scandals of the century.” “Millions of people worldwide were vaccinated for no good reason,” said Wodarg, boosting pharmaceutical company profits by more than $18 billion. Annual sales of Tamiflu alone had jumped 435 percent, to €2.2 billion. By April 2010, it was apparent that most of the vaccines were not needed. The US government had bought 229 million doses of which only 91 million doses were used. Of the surplus, some of it was stored in bulk, some of it was sent to developing countries and 71 million doses were destroyed. On 12 March 2010 SPIEGEL International published what it called “Reconstruction of a Mass Hysteria” that ended with a question: “These organizations have gambled away precious confidence. When the next pandemic arrives, who will believe their assessments?” But it didn’t take long to find an answer. In December the Independent published a story with the headline “Swine flu, the killer virus that actually saved lives.” The latest ONS report on excess winter deaths had shown that instead of the extra 65,000 swine flu deaths predicted by the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Liam Donaldson, deaths in the winter of 2009 were actually 30% lower than the previous year. Instead of the low death rate proving that swine flu had been a fake pandemic, confidence in the organisations that had “gambled away precious confidence” was quickly restored by portraying swine flu as something that “actually saved lives” by driving out the common flu. PCR and Law Portraying something as something it isn’t is deception. Doing it for profit is fraud. Doing it by first gaining the trust of the victims is a confidence trick or a con.  In England, Wales and Northern Ireland fraud is covered by the Fraud Act 2006 and is divided into three classes – ‘fraud by false representation,’ ‘fraud by failing to disclose information’ and ‘fraud by abuse of position.’ A representation is false if the person making it knows it may be untrue or misleading. If they do it for amusement, it’s a trick or a hoax. If they do it to make a gain, or expose others to a risk of loss, it’s ‘fraud by false representation.’ If someone has a duty to disclose information and they don’t do it, it might be negligence or simple incompetence. If they do it to make a gain, or expose others to a risk of loss, it’s ‘fraud by failing to disclose information.’ If they occupy a position where they are expected not to act against the interests of others, and do it to make a gain or expose others to a risk of loss, it’s ‘fraud by abuse of position.’ In Dartmouth Hitchcock’s case there’s no doubt that using PCR to identify a common respiratory infection as whooping cough was ‘false representation,’ but it was an honest mistake, made with the best of intentions. If any gain was intended it was to protect others from risk of loss, not to expose them to it. There was no failure to disclose information and nobody abused their position. In the case of swine flu things aren’t so clear. By 2009 there were already plenty of warnings from Dartmouth Hitchcock and many other similar incidents that using PCR to detect the genetic fingerprint of a bacteria or virus may be misleading. Worse still, the potential of PCR to magnify things out of all proportion creates opportunities for all those who would gain by making mountains out of molehills and global pandemics out of relatively ordinary seasonal epidemics. The average journalist, lawyer, member of parliament or member of the public may be forgiven for not knowing about the dangers of PCR, but public health experts had no excuse. It may be argued that their job is to protect the public by erring on the side of caution. It may equally be argued that the massive amounts of money spent by global pharmaceutical corporations on marketing, public relations and lobbying creates enormous conflicts of interest, increasing the potential for suppression of information and abuse of position across all professions, from politics and journalism to education and public health. The defence is full disclosure of all information, particularly on the potential of PCR to identify the wrong culprit in an infection and blow it out of all proportion. The fact this was never done is suspicious. If there were any prosecutions for fraud they weren’t widely publicised, and if there were any questions raised or lessons to be learned about the role of PCR in creating the 2009 Swine Flu panic they were quickly forgotten. The First Rough Draft of History The first rough attempt to represent things in the outside world is journalism. But no representation can be 100% true. ‘Representation’ is literally a re-presentation of something that symbolises or ‘stands in for’ something else. Nothing can fully capture every aspect of a thing except the thing itself. So judging whether a representation is true or false depends on your point of view. It’s a matter of opinion, open to debate in other words. In a free and functioning democracy the first line of defence against false representation is a free and independent press. Where one news organisation may represent something as one thing, a competing organisation may represent it as something completely different. Competing representations are tried in the court of public opinion and evolve by a process of survival of the fittest. Whilst this may be true in theory, in practice it isn’t. Advertising proves people choose the most attractive representations, not the truest. News organisations are funded by financiers who put their own interests first, not the public’s. Whether the intention is to deliberately defraud the public or simply to sell newspapers by creating controversy, the potential for false representations is enormous. Trial By Media Despite the CDC’s own admission that PCR tests “may not indicate the presence of infectious virus,” its use to do exactly that in the case of Covid was accepted without question. Worse still, the measures taken against calling PCR into question have become progressively more draconian and underhanded since the very beginning. The mould was set with the announcement of the first UK death on Saturday 29 February 2020. Every newspaper in Britain carried the same front page story: “EMERGENCY laws to tackle coronavirus are being rushed in after the outbreak claimed its first British life yesterday,” screamed The Daily Mail. The first British victim contracted the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, not Britain, but it didn’t matter. With less than 20 cases in the UK and one ‘British’ death in Japan, the media had already decided it justified rushing in emergency laws. How did they know how dangerous it was? How were they able to predict the future? Had they forgotten the lessons of the 2009 Swine Flu panic? After almost 2 weeks of newspaper, TV and radio fearmongering, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made it official at the Downing Street press conference on Thursday 12 March 2020 when he said: “We’ve all got to be clear. This is the worst public health crisis for a generation. Some people compare it to seasonal flu, alas that is not right. Owing to the lack of immunity this disease is more dangerous and it’s going to spread further.” None of that statement stood up to scrutiny, but none of the hand-picked journalists in the room had the right knowledge to ask the right questions. After 20 minutes blinding the press and public with science, Johnson opened the floor to questions. The first question, from the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, set the mould by accepting the Prime Minister’s statement without question:  “This is, as you say, the worst public health crisis for a generation.” Any journalist who remembered the 2009 Swine Flu panic, might have asked how the PM knew, after just 10 deaths, that it was the worst public health crisis in a generation? He didn’t say it may be or could be but definitely ‘is.’ Did he have a crystal ball? Or was he following the same Imperial College modelling that had predicted 136,000 deaths from mad cow disease in 2002, 200 million deaths from bird flu in 2005 and 65,000 deaths from swine flu in 2009, all of which had proved completely wrong? As the BBC’s chief political correspondent Kuenssberg wouldn’t be expected to know any more about science, medicine, or PCR than any other member of the general public. So why did the BBC send their chief political correspondent to a press conference on public health and not their chief science or health correspondent? And why did the PM choose her to ask the first question? But the BBC wasn’t alone. Six other correspondents from leading news outlets asked questions that day; all were chief political correspondents, none were science or health correspondents. So none of the journalists allowed to ask questions had the necessary knowledge to subject the PM and his Chief Scientific and Medical Officers to any degree of real scrutiny  With the rise in the number of coronavirus ‘cases’ and ‘deaths’ reported on a daily basis and the Prime Minister’s solemn warning that “many more families, are going to lose loved ones before their time” filling the headlines the following morning, questioning what the numbers actually meant became more and more impossible. If the press and the public had forgotten the 2009 Swine flu panic, and those who helped calm it down had dropped their guard, those whose intention was to make a gain had learned their lesson. Subject the Corona Crisis of 2020 to close scrutiny and it begins to look more like a carefully orchestrated advertising campaign for vaccine manufacturers than a genuine pandemic. But that scrutiny has been made impossible for all kinds of reasons. ‘Follow the money’ was once the epitome of investigative journalism, popularised in the movie of the Watergate scandal, ‘All The President’s Men’ which followed the money all the way to the top. Now following the money is called ‘Conspiracy Theory’ and is a sackable offence in journalism, if not yet in other professions. The idea that there may be real conspiracies to make false representations with the intention of making a gain or exposing others to a risk of loss has now been driven so far beyond the pale it’s literally unthinkable.  If PCR has been tried by media in the court of public opinion, the case for the prosecution was demonised and dismissed at the outset and prohibited by emergency legislation soon after. The Last Best Hope The last line of defence against false representation in both science and the media is the law. It’s no coincidence that Science and Law use similar methods and similar language. The foundations of the Scientific Method were laid by the Head of the Judiciary, the Lord Chancellor of England Sir Francis Bacon, in the Novum Organum, published exactly 400 years ago last year. Both are based on ‘laws,’ both rely on hard physical evidence or ‘facts,’ both explain the facts in terms of ‘theories,’ both test conflicting facts and theories in ‘trials’ and both reach verdicts through juries of peers. In science the peers are selected by the editorial boards of scientific publications. In law they’re selected by judges. In both law and science trials revolve around ‘empirical’ evidence or ‘facts’ – hard physical evidence that can be verified through the act of experiencing with our five senses of sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. But facts by themselves are not enough. They only ‘make sense’ when they are selected and organised into some kind of theory, narrative or story through which they can be interpreted and explained. But there’s more than one way to skin a cat, more than one way to interpret the facts and more than one side to every story. To reach a verdict on which one is true, theories have to be weighed against each other rationally to judge the ratios of how closely each interpretation fits the facts. Trial By Law The ability of PCR to detect the genetic fingerprint of a virus is proven beyond reasonable doubt, but its ability to give a true representation of either the cause, severity or prevalence of a disease hasn’t. To say the jury is still out would be an understatement. The jury has yet to be convened and the case yet to be heard. Testing coronavirus particles in a swab is no different to testing apples in a bag. A bag of billiard balls rinsed in apple juice would test positive for apple DNA. Finding apple DNA in a bag doesn’t prove it contains real apples. If the dose makes the poison then it’s the quantity we need to test for, not just its genetic fingerprint. Grocers test the amount of apples in bags by weighing them on scales calibrated against standard weights. If the scales are properly calibrated the bag should weigh the same on any other set of scales. If it doesn’t, local trading standards officers test the grocer’s scales against standard weights and measures. If the scales fail the test the grocer can be prohibited from trading. If it turns out the grocer deliberately left the scales uncalibrated to make a gain they can be prosecuted for ‘false representation’ under section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006. Testing the quantity of viral DNA in a swab, not the quantity of live viruses, is like counting billiard balls rinsed in apple juice as real apples. Worse still, in the absence of standards to calibrate PCR tests against results, tests can show a “million-fold difference in viral load in the same sample.” If a grocer’s scales showed a million-fold difference in the load of apples in the same bag they’d be closed down in an instant. If it can be shown that the grocer knew the weight displayed on the scales may have been untrue or misleading, and they did it to make a gain or expose customers to a loss, it would be an open-and-shut case, done and dusted in minutes. If the law applies to the measurement of the quantity of apples in bags, why not to the measurement of coronavirus in clinical swabs? By the CDC’s own admission, in its instructions for use of PCR tests: Detection of viral RNA may not indicate the presence of infectious virus or that 2019-nCoV is the causative agent for clinical symptoms. From that statement alone it’s clear that PCR tests may give a false representation that is untrue or misleading. If those using PCR tests to represent the number of Covid cases and deaths know it may be misleading and do it to ‘make a gain,’ either monetary or just to advance their own careers, it’s ‘fraud by false representation.’ If they have a duty to disclose information and they don’t do it it’s ‘fraud by failing to disclose information.’ And if they occupy positions where they’re expected not to act against the interests of the public but do it anyway it’s ‘fraud by abuse of position.’ If the law won’t prosecute those in authority for fraud, how else can they be discouraged from doing it? As Dr. Trish Perl said after the Dartmouth Hitchcock incident, “Pseudo-epidemics happen all the time. It’s a problem; we know it’s a problem. My guess is that what happened at Dartmouth is going to become more common.”The potential of PCR to cause problems will only get worse until its validity to diagnose the cause and measure the prevalence of a disease is tested in law. The last word on PCR belongs to its inventor, Kary Mullis: “The measurement for this is not exact at all. It’s not as good as our measurement for things like apples.” Tyler Durden Mon, 12/06/2021 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 7th, 2021

Risk Cracks After Moderna CEO Comments Spark Global Stock Rout

Risk Cracks After Moderna CEO Comments Spark Global Stock Rout Ask a drug dealer if methadone helps cure a cocaine addition and - shockingly - you will hear that the answer is "hell no", after all an affirmative response would mean the fixer needs to get a real job. Just as shocking was the "admission" of Moderna CEO, Stéphane Bancel, who in the latest stop on his media whirlwind tour of the past 48 hours gave the FT an interview in which he predicted that existing vaccines will be much less effective at tackling Omicron than earlier strains of coronavirus and warned it would take months before pharmaceutical companies could manufacture new variant-specific jabs at scale. “There is no world, I think, where [the effectiveness] is the same level . . . we had with [the] Delta [variant],” Bancel told the Financial Times, claiming that the high number of Omicron mutations on the spike protein, which the virus uses to infect human cells, and the rapid spread of the variant in South Africa suggested that the current crop of vaccines may need to be modified next year. Here, the self-serving CEO whose sell-mode was fully engaged - after all what else would the maker of a vaccine for covid say than "yes, the world will need more of my product" - completely ignored the earlier comments from Barry Schoub, chairman of South Afruca's Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines, who over the weekend said that the large number of mutations found in the omicron variant appears to destabilize the virus, which might make it less “fit” than the dominant delta strain. As such, it would be a far less virulent strain... but of course that would also reduce the need for Moderna's mRNA therapy and so Bancel failed to mention it. What is grotesque is that the Moderna CEO’s comments on existing vaccines’ effectiveness against the omicron variant is “old news so should be a fade,” says Prashant Newnaha, a senior Asia-Pacific rates strategist at TD Securities in Singapore. Indeed as Bloomberg notes, Bancel reiterated comments made by Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton during the weekend. Alas, the last thing algos care about is nuance and/or reading between the lines, and so moments after Bancel's interview hit, markets hit risk off mode on Tuesday, and yesterday’s bounce in markets immediately reversed amid fresh worries about the efficacy of currently available vaccines with U.S. equity futures dropping along with stocks in Europe. Bonds gained as investors sought havens. After dropping as much as 1.2%, S&P futures pared losses to -0.7%, down 37 points just above 4,600. Dow Eminis were down 339 points or 1% and Nasdaq was down -0.8%. Adding to concerns is Fed Chair Jerome Powell who today will speak, alongside Janet Yellen, at the Senate Banking Committee in congressional oversight hearings related to pandemic stimulus. Last night Powell made a dovish pivot saying the new variant poses downside risks to employment and growth while adding to uncertainty about inflation. Powell's comments dragged yields lower and hit bank stocks overnight. “The market’s reaction to reports such as Moderna’s suggest the ball is still very much in the court of proving that this will not escalate,” said Patrick Bennett, head of macro strategy for Asia at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Hong Kong. “Until that time, mode is to sell recoveries in risk and not to try and pick the extent of the selloff” U.S. airline and cruiseliner stocks dropped in premarket trading Tuesday, after vaccine maker Moderna’s top executives reiterated that the omicron variant of the coronavirus may require new vaccines. Most U.S. airline stocks were down: Alaska Air -5%, United -3.2%, American -3%, Spirit -2.7%, Delta -2.6%, JetBlue -2.6%, Southwest -1.7%. Here are some other notable movers today: U.S. banks decline in premarket trading following comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that may push back bets on when the central bank will raise rates. Citigroup (C US) -2.4%, JPMorgan (JPM US) -2.2%, Morgan Stanley (MS US) -2.6% Vaccine manufacturers mixed in U.S. premarket trading after rallying in recent days and following further comments from Moderna about treating the new omicron Covid-19 variant. Pfizer (PFE US) +1.6%, Novavax  (NVAS US) +1.3%, Moderna (MRNA US) -3.8% U.S. airline and cruiseliner stocks dropped in premarket trading Tuesday, after vaccine maker Moderna’s top executives reiterated that the omicron variant of the coronavirus may require new vaccines. Alaska Air (ALK US) -5%, United (UAL US) -3.2%, American (AAL US) -3% Krystal Biotech (KRYS US) jumped 4.3% in postmarket trading on Monday, extending gains after a 122% jump during the regular session. The company is offering $200m of shares via Goldman Sachs, BofA, Cowen, William Blair, according to a postmarket statement MEI Pharma (MEIP US) gained 8% postmarket after the cancer-treatment company said it will hold a webcast Tuesday to report on data from the ongoing Phase 2 Tidal study evaluating zandelisib in patients with relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma Intuit (INTU US) declined 3.4% postmarket after holder Dan Kurzius, co-founder of Mailchimp, offered the stake via Goldman Sachs In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index fell to almost a seven-week low. Cyclical sectors including retail, travel and carmakers were among the biggest decliners, while energy stocks tumbled as crude oil headed for the worst monthly loss this year; every industry sector fell led by travel stocks. Earlier in the session, the Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.6% while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index lost 1.5% to finish at its weakest level since May 2016. Asian stocks erased early gains to head for a third day of losses on fresh concerns that existing Covid-19 vaccines will be less effective at tackling the omicron variant. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index extended its fall to nearly 1% after having risen as much as 0.8% earlier on Tuesday. The current crop of vaccines may need to be modified next year, Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said in an interview with the Financial Times, adding that it may take months before pharmaceutical firms can manufacture new variant-specific jabs at scale. U.S. futures also reversed gains. Property and consumer staples were the worst-performing sectors on the regional benchmark. Key gauges in Hong Kong and South Korea were the biggest losers in Asia, with the Kospi index erasing all of its gains for this year. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index lost 1.5% to finish at its weakest level since May 2016. The fresh bout of selling offset early optimism spurred by data showing China’s factory sentiment improved in November. “With the slower vaccination rate and more limited health-care capacity in the region, uncertainty from the new omicron variant may seem to bring about higher economic risks for the region at a time where it is shifting towards further reopening,” said Jun Rong Yeap, a market strategist at IG Asia Pte. Asia’s stock benchmark is now down 3.5% for the month, set for its worst performance since July, as nervousness remains over the U.S. Federal Reserve’s tapering schedule and the potential economic impact of the omicron variant. “Moderna is one of the primary mRNA vaccines out there, so the risk-off sentiment is justified,” said Kelvin Wong, an analyst at CMC Markets (Singapore) Pte. Liquidity is thinner going into the end of the year, so investors are “thinking it’s wise to take some money off the table,” he added Japanese equities fell, reversing an earlier gain to cap their third-straight daily loss, after a report cast doubt on hopes for a quick answer to the omicron variant of the coronavirus. Telecoms and electronics makers were the biggest drags on the Topix, which dropped 1%, erasing an earlier gain of as much as 1.5%. Fast Retailing and SoftBank Group were the largest contributors to a 1.6% loss in the Nikkei 225. The yen strengthened about 0.4% against the dollar, reversing an earlier loss. Japanese stocks advanced earlier in the day, following U.S. peers higher as a relative sense of calm returned to global markets. Tokyo share gains reversed quickly in late afternoon trading after a Financial Times report that Moderna’s Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said a new vaccine may be needed to fight omicron. “The report of Moderna CEO’s remarks has bolstered an overall movement toward taking off risk,” said SMBC Trust Bank analyst Masahiro Yamaguchi. “Market participants will probably be analyzing information on vaccines and the new virus variant for the next couple of weeks, so shares will likely continue to fluctuate on these headlines.” In FX, the dollar dropped alongside commodity-linked currencies while the yen and gold climbed and bitcoin surged as safe havens were bid. The yen swung to a gain after Moderna Inc.’s chief executive Stephane Bancel was quoted by the Financial Times saying existing vaccines may not be effective enough to tackle the omicron variant. Commodity-linked currencies including the Aussie, kiwi and Norwegian krone all declined, underperforming the dollar In rates, treasuries held gains after flight-to-quality rally extended during Asia session and European morning, when bunds and gilts also benefited from haven flows. Stocks fell after Moderna CEO predicted waning vaccine efficacy. Intermediates lead gains, with yields richer by nearly 6bp across 7-year sector; 10-year Treasuries are richer by 5.6bp at 1.443%, vs 2.5bp for German 10-year, 4.7bp for U.K. Long-end may draw support from potential for month-end buying; Bloomberg Treasury index rebalancing was projected to extend duration by 0.11yr as of Nov. 22. Expectations of month-end flows may support the market, and Fed Chair Powell is slated to testify to a Senate panel.       In commodities, crude futures are off their late-Asia lows but remain in the red. WTI trades close to $68.30, stalling near Friday’s lows; Brent is off over 2.5% near $71.50. Spot gold rises ~$11 near $1,796/oz. Base metals are mixed: LME zinc outperforms, rising as much as 1.6%.  To the day ahead now, and the main central bank highlight will be Fed Chair Powell’s appearance before the Senate Banking Committee, alongside Treasury Secretary Yellen. In addition, we’ll hear from Fed Vice Chair Clarida, the Fed’s Williams, the ECB’s Villeroy and de Cos, and the BoE’s Mann. On the data side, we’ll get the flash November CPI reading for the Euro Area today, as well as the readings from France and Italy. In addition, there’s data on German unemployment for November, Canadian GDP for Q3, whilst in the US there’s the Conference Board’s consumer confidence measure for November, the FHFA house price index for September, and the MNI Chicago PMI for November. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 1.2% to 4,595.00 STOXX Europe 600 down 1.4% to 460.47 MXAP down 0.5% to 190.51 MXAPJ down 0.6% to 620.60 Nikkei down 1.6% to 27,821.76 Topix down 1.0% to 1,928.35 Hang Seng Index down 1.6% to 23,475.26 Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,563.89 Sensex down 0.2% to 57,122.74 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.2% to 7,255.97 Kospi down 2.4% to 2,839.01 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.36% Euro up 0.6% to $1.1362 Brent Futures down 3.0% to $71.26/bbl Brent Futures down 3.0% to $71.26/bbl Gold spot up 0.7% to $1,796.41 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.65% to 95.72 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Euro-area inflation surged to a record for the era of the single currency and exceeded all forecasts, adding to the European Central Bank’s challenge before a crucial meeting next month on the future of monetary stimulus. If the drop in government bond yields on Friday signaled how skittish markets were, fresh declines are leaving them looking no less nervous. One of Germany’s most prominent economists is urging the European Central Bank to be more transparent in outlining its exit from unprecedented monetary stimulus and argues that ruling out an end to negative interest rates next year may be a mistake. The Hong Kong dollar fell into the weak half of its trading band for the first time since December 2019 as the emergence of a new coronavirus variant hurt appetite for risk assets. A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equities traded mixed with early momentum seen following the rebound on Wall Street where risk assets recovered from Friday’s heavy selling pressure as liquidity conditions normalized post-Thanksgiving and after some of the Omicron fears abated given the mild nature in cases so far, while participants also digested a slew of data releases including better than expected Chinese Manufacturing PMI. However, markets were later spooked following comments from Moderna's CEO that existing vaccines will be much less effective against the Omicron variant. ASX 200 (+0.2%) was underpinned by early strength across its sectors aside from utilities and with gold miners also hampered by the recent lacklustre mood in the precious metal which failed to reclaim the USD 1800/oz level but remained in proximity for another attempt. In addition, disappointing Building Approvals and inline Net Exports Contribution data had little impact on sentiment ahead of tomorrow’s Q3 GDP release, although the index then faded most its gains after the comments from Moderna's CEO, while Nikkei 225 (-1.6%) was initially lifted by the recent rebound in USD/JPY but then slumped amid the broad risk aversion late in the session. Hang Seng (-1.6%) and Shanghai Comp. (Unch) were varied in which the mainland was kept afloat for most the session after a surprise expansion in Chinese Manufacturing PMI and a mild liquidity injection by the PBoC, with a central bank-backed publication also suggesting that recent open market operations demonstrates an ample liquidity goal, although Hong Kong underperformed on tech and property losses and with casino names pressured again as shares in junket operator Suncity slumped 37% on reopen from a trading halt in its first opportunity to react to the arrest of its Chairman. Finally, 10yr JGBs were initially contained following early momentum in stocks and somewhat inconclusive 2yr JGB auction which showed better results from the prior, albeit at just a marginal improvement, but then was underpinned on a haven bid after fears of the Omicron variant later resurfaced. Top Asian News China’s Biggest Crypto Exchange Picks Singapore as Asia Base SoftBank-Backed Snapdeal Targets $250 Million IPO in 2022 Omicron Reaches Nations From U.K. to Japan in Widening Spread Slump in China Gas Shows Spreading Impact of Property Slowdown Major European bourses are on the backfoot (Euro Stoxx 50 -1.5%; Stoxx 600 -1.5%) as COVID fears again take the spotlight on month-end. APAC markets were firmer for a large part of the overnight session, but thereafter the risk-off trigger was attributed to comments from Moderna's CEO suggesting that existing vaccines will be much less effective against the Omicron COVID strain. On this, some caveats worth keeping in mind - the commentary on the potential need for a vaccine does come from a vaccine maker, who could benefit from further global inoculation, whilst data on the new variant remains sparse. Meanwhile, WSJ reported Regeneron's and Eli Lilly's COVID antiviral cocktails had lost efficacy vs the Omicron variant - however, the extent to which will need to be subject to further testing. Furthermore, producers appear to be confident that they will be able to adjust their products to accommodate the new variant, albeit the timeline for mass production will not be immediate. Nonetheless, the sullied sentiment has persisted throughout the European morning and has also seeped into US equity futures: the cyclically bias RTY (-1.7%) lags the ES (-1.0%) and YM (-1.3%), whilst the tech-laden NQ (-0.5%) is cushioned by the slump in yields. Back to Europe, broad-based losses are seen across the majors. Sectors tilt defensive but to a lesser extent than seen at the European cash open. Travel & Leisure, Oil & Gas, and Retail all sit at the bottom of the bunch amid the potential implications of the new COVID variant. Tech benefits from the yield play, which subsequently weighs on the Banking sector. The retail sector is also weighed on by Spanish giant Inditex (-4.3%) following a CEO reshuffle. In terms of other movers, Glencore (-0.9%) is softer after Activist investor Bluebell Capital Partners called on the Co. to spin off its coal business and divest non-core assets. In a letter seen by the FT, Glencore was also asked to improve corporate governance. In terms of equity commentary, analysts at JPM suggest investors should take a more nuanced view on reopening as the bank expects post-COVID normalisation to gradually asset itself over the course of 2022. The bank highlights hawkish central bank policy shifts as the main risk to their outlook. Thus, the analysts see European equities outperforming the US, whilst China is seen outpacing EMs. JPM targets S&P 500 at 5,050 (closed at 4,655.27 yesterday) by the end of 2022 with EPS at USD 240 – marking a 14% increase in annual EPS. Top European News Omicron Reaches Nations From U.K. to Japan in Widening Spread ECB Bosses Lack Full Diplomatic Immunity, EU’s Top Court Says Adler Keeps Investors Waiting for Answers on Fraud Claims European Gas Prices Surge Above 100 Euros With Eyes on Russia In FX, the Greenback may well have been grounded amidst rebalancing flows on the final trading day of November, as bank models are flagging a net sell signal, albeit relatively weak aside from vs the Yen per Cit’s index, but renewed Omicron concerns stoked by Moderna’s CEO casting considerable doubt about the efficacy of current vaccines against the new SA strain have pushed the Buck back down in any case. Indeed, the index has now retreated further from its 2021 apex set less than a week ago and through 96.000 to 95.662, with only the Loonie and Swedish Krona underperforming within the basket, and the Antipodean Dollars plus Norwegian Crown in wider G10 circles. Looking at individual pairings, Usd/Jpy has reversed from the high 113.00 area and breached a Fib just below the round number on the way down to circa 112.68 for a marginal new m-t-d low, while Eur/Usd is back above 1.1350 having scaled a Fib at 1.1290 and both have left decent option expiries some distance behind in the process (1.6 bn at 113.80 and 1.3 bn between 1.1250-55 respectively). Elsewhere, Usd/Chf is eyeing 0.9175 irrespective of a slightly weaker than forecast Swiss KoF indicator and Cable has bounced firmly from the low 1.3300 zone towards 1.3375 awaiting commentary from BoE’s Mann. NZD/AUD/CAD - As noted above, the tables have turned for the Kiwi, Aussie and Loonie along with risk sentiment in general, and Nzd/Usd is now pivoting 0.6800 with little help from a deterioration in NBNZ business confidence or a decline in the activity outlook. Similarly, Aud/Usd has been undermined by much weaker than forecast building approvals and a smaller than anticipated current account surplus, but mostly keeping hold of the 0.7100 handle ahead of Q3 GDP and Usd/Cad has shot up from around 1.2730 to top 1.2800 at one stage in advance of Canadian growth data for the prior quarter and month of September as oil recoils (WTI to an even deeper trough only cents off Usd 67/brl). Back down under, 1 bn option expiry interest at 1.0470 in Aud/Nzd could well come into play given that the cross is currently hovering near the base of a 1.0483-39 range. SCANDI/EM - The aforementioned downturn in risk appetite after Monday’s brief revival has hit the Sek and Nok hard, but the latter is also bearing the brunt of Brent’s latest collapse to the brink of Usd 70/brl at worst, while also taking on board that the Norges Bank plans to refrain from foreign currency selling through December having stopped midway through this month. The Rub is also feeling the adverse effect of weaker crude prices and ongoing geopolitical angst to the extent that hawkish CBR rhetoric alluding to aggressive tightening next month is hardly keeping it propped, but the Cnh and Cny continue to defy the odds or gravity in wake of a surprise pop back above 50.0 in China’s official manufacturing PMI. Conversely, the Zar is struggling to contain losses sub-16.0000 vs the Usd on SA virus-related factors even though Gold is approaching Usd 1800/oz again, while the Try is striving to stay within sight of 13.0000 following a slender miss in Turkish Q3 y/y GDP. In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures are once again under pressure amid the aforementioned COVID jitters threatening the demand side of the equation, albeit the market remains in a state of uncertainty given how little is known about the new variant ahead of the OPEC+ confab. It is still unclear at this point in time which route OPEC+ members will opt for, but seemingly the feasible options on the table are 1) a pause in output hikes, 2) a smaller output hike, 3) maintaining current output hikes. Energy journalists have suggested the group will likely be influenced by oil price action, but nonetheless, the findings of the JTC and JMMC will be closely watched for the group's updated forecasts against the backdrop of COVID and the recently coordinated SPR releases from net oil consumers – a move which the US pledged to repeat if needed. Elsewhere, Iranian nuclear talks were reportedly somewhat constructive – according to the Russian delegate – with working groups set to meet today and tomorrow regarding the sanctions on Iran. This sentiment, however, was not reciprocated by Western sources (cited by WSJ), which suggested there was no clarity yet on whether the teams were ready for serious negotiations and serious concessions. WTI Jan resides around session lows near USD 67.50/bbl (vs high USD 71.22/bbl), while Brent Feb dipped under USD 71/bbl (vs high USD 84.56/bb). Over to metals, spot gold remains underpinned in European trade by the cluster of DMA's under USD 1,800/oz – including the 100 (USD 1,792/oz), 200 (USD 1,791/oz) and 50 (1,790/oz). Turning to base metals, LME copper is modestly softer around the USD 9,500/t mark, whilst Dalian iron ore futures meanwhile rose over 6% overnight, with traders citing increasing Chinese demand. US Event Calendar 9am: 3Q House Price Purchase Index QoQ, prior 4.9% 9am: Sept. FHFA House Price Index MoM, est. 1.2%, prior 1.0% 9am: Sept. Case Shiller Composite-20 YoY, est. 19.30%, prior 19.66%; S&P/CS 20 City MoM SA, est. 1.20%, prior 1.17% 9:45am: Nov. MNI Chicago PMI, est. 67.0, prior 68.4 10am: Nov. Conf. Board Consumer Confidenc, est. 111.0, prior 113.8 10am: Nov. Conf. Board Present Situation, prior 147.4 10am: Nov. Conf. Board Expectations, prior 91.3 Central Banks 10am: Powell, Yellen Testify Before Senate Panel on CARES Act Relief 10:30am: Fed’s Williams gives remarks at NY Fed food- insecurity event 1pm: Fed’s Clarida Discusses Fed Independence DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Just as we go to print markets are reacting negatively to an interview with the Moderna CEO in the FT that has just landed where he said that with regards to Omicron, “There is no world, I think, where (the effectiveness) is the same level... we had with Delta…… I think it’s going to be a material drop (efficacy). I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to . . . are like ‘this is not going to be good’.”” This is not really new news relative to the last 3-4 days given what we know about the new mutation but the market is picking up on the explicit comments. In response S&P futures have gone from slightly up to down just over -0.5% and Treasury yields immediately dipped -4bps to 1.46%. The Nikkei has erased gains and is down around -1% and the Hang Seng is c.-1.8%. This is breaking news so check your screens after you read this. In China the official November PMI data came in stronger than expected with the Manufacturing PMI at 50.1 (49.7 consensus vs 49.2 previous) and the non-manufacturing PMI at 52.3 (51.5 consensus vs 52.4 previous). The negative headlines above as we go to print followed a market recovery yesterday as investors hoped that the Omicron variant wouldn’t prove as bad as initially feared. In reality, the evidence is still incredibly limited on this question, and nothing from the Moderna CEO overnight changes that. However the more positive sentiment was also evident from the results of our flash poll in yesterday’s EMR where we had 1569 responses so very many thanks. The poll showed that just 10% thought it would still be the biggest topic in financial markets by the end of the year, with 30% instead thinking it’ll largely be forgotten about. The other 60% thought it would still be an issue but only of moderate importance. So if that’s correct and our respondents are a fair reflection of broader market sentiment, then it points to some big downside risks ahead if we get notable bad news on the variant. For the record I would have been with the majority with tendencies towards the largely forgotten about answer. So I will be as off-side as much as most of you on the variant downside risk scenario. When I did a similar poll on Evergrande 2 and a half months ago, only 8% thought it would be significantly impacting markets a month later with 78% in aggregate thinking limited mention/impact, and 15% thinking it would have no impact. So broadly similar responses and back then the 15% were most correct although the next 78% weren’t far off. In terms of the latest developments yesterday, we’re still waiting to find out some of the key pieces of information about this new strain, including how effective vaccines still are, and about the extent of any increased risk of transmission, hospitalisation and death. Nevertheless, countries around the world are continuing to ramp up their own responses as they await this information. President Biden laid out the US strategy for tackling Omicron in a public address yesterday, underscoring the variant was a cause for concern rather than panic. He noted travel bans from certain jurisdictions would remain in place to buy authorities time to evaluate the variant, but did not anticipate that further travel bans or domestic lockdowns would be implemented, instead urging citizens to get vaccinated or a booster shot. Over in Europe, Bloomberg reported that EU leaders were discussing whether to have a virtual summit on Friday about the issue, and Poland moved to toughen up their own domestic restrictions, with a 50% capacity limit on restaurants, hotels, gyms and cinemas. In Germany, Chancellor Merkel and Vice Chancellor Scholz will be meeting with state premiers today, whilst the UK government’s vaccination committee recommended that every adult be eligible for a booster shot, rather than just the over-40s at present. Boosters have done a tremendous job in dramatically reducing cases in the elder cohort in the UK in recent weeks so one by product of Omicron is that it may accelerate protection in a wider age group everywhere. Assuming vaccines have some impact on Omicron this could be a positive development, especially if symptoms are less bad. Markets recovered somewhat yesterday, with the S&P 500 gaining +1.32% to recover a large portion of Friday’s loss. The index was driven by mega-cap tech names, with the Nasdaq up +1.88% and small cap stocks underperforming, with the Russell 2000 down -0.18%, so the market wasn’t completely pricing out omicron risks by any means. Nevertheless, Covid-specific names performed how you would expect given the improved sentiment; stay-at-home trades that outperformed Friday fell, including Zoom (-0.56%), Peloton (-4.35%), and HelloFresh (-0.8%), while Moderna (+11.80%) was the biggest winner following the weekend news that a reformulated vaccine could be available in early 2022. Elsewhere, Twitter (-2.74%) initially gained after it was announced CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey would be stepping down, but trended lower throughout the rest of the day. The broader moves put the index back in positive territory for the month as we hit November’s last trading day today. Europe saw its own bounceback too, with the STOXX 600 up +0.69%. Over in rates, the partial unwind of Friday’s moves was even smaller, with yields on 10yr Treasuries moving up +2.6bps to 1.50%, driven predominantly by real rates, as inflation breakevens were a touch narrower across the curve. One part of the curve that didn’t retrace Friday’s move was the short end, where markets continued to push Fed rate hikes back ever so slightly, with the first full hike now being priced for September (though contracts as early as May still price some meaningful probability of Fed hikes). We may see some further movements today as well, with Fed Chair Powell set to appear before the Senate Banking Committee at 15:00 London time, where he may well be asked about whether the Fed plans to accelerate the tapering of their asset purchases although it’s hard to believe he’ll go too far with any guidance with the Omicron uncertainty. The Chair’s brief planned testimony was published on the Fed’s website last night. It struck a slightly more hawkish tone on inflation, noting that the Fed’s forecast was for elevated inflation to persist well into next year and recognition that high inflation imposes burdens on those least able to handle them. On omicron, the testimony predictably stated it posed risks that could slow the economy’s progress, but tellingly on the inflation front, it could intensify supply chain disruptions. The real fireworks will almost certainly come in the question and answer portion of the testimony. The bond moves were more muted in Europe though, with yields on 10yr bunds (+2.0bps), OATs (+1.0bps) and BTPs (+0.4bps) only seeing a modest increase. Crude oil prices also didn’t bounce back with as much rigor as equities. Brent gained +0.99% while WTI futures increased +2.64%. They are back down -1 to -1.5% this morning. Elsewhere in DC, Senator Joe Manchin noted that Democrats could raise the debt ceiling on their own through the reconciliation process, but indicated a preference for the increase not to be included in the build back better bill, for which his support still seems lukewarm. We’re approaching crucial deadlines on the debt ceiling and financing the federal government, so these headlines should become more commonplace over the coming days. There were some further developments on the inflation front yesterday as Germany reported that inflation had risen to +6.0% in November (vs. +5.5% expected) on the EU-harmonised measure, and up from +4.6% in October. The German national measure also rose to +5.2% (vs. +5.0% expected), which was the highest since 1992. Speaking of Germany, Bloomberg reported that the shortlist for the Bundesbank presidency had been narrowed down to 4 candidates, which included Isabel Schnabel of the ECB’s Executive Board, and Joachim Nagel, who’s currently the Deputy Head of the Banking Department at the Bank for International Settlements. Today we’ll likely get some further headlines on inflation as the flash estimate for the entire Euro Area comes out, as well as the numbers for France and Italy. There wasn’t much in the way of other data yesterday, though UK mortgage approvals fell to 67.2k in October (vs. 70.0k expected), which is their lowest level since June 2020. Separately, US pending home sales were up +7.5% in October (vs. +1.0% expected), whilst the Dallas Fed’s manufacturing activity index for November unexpectedly fell to 11.8 (vs. 15.0 expected). Finally, the European Commission’s economic sentiment indicator for the Euro Area dipped to 117.5 in November as expected, its weakest level in 6 months. To the day ahead now, and the main central bank highlight will be Fed Chair Powell’s appearance before the Senate Banking Committee, alongside Treasury Secretary Yellen. In addition, we’ll hear from Fed Vice Chair Clarida, the Fed’s Williams, the ECB’s Villeroy and de Cos, and the BoE’s Mann. On the data side, we’ll get the flash November CPI reading for the Euro Area today, as well as the readings from France and Italy. In addition, there’s data on German unemployment for November, Canadian GDP for Q3, whilst in the US there’s the Conference Board’s consumer confidence measure for November, the FHFA house price index for September, and the MNI Chicago PMI for November. Tyler Durden Tue, 11/30/2021 - 07:50.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 30th, 2021

BTFDers Unleashed: Futures, Yields, Oil Jump As Omicron Panic Eases

BTFDers Unleashed: Futures, Yields, Oil Jump As Omicron Panic Eases As expected over the weekend, and as we first noted shortly after electronic markets reopened for trading on Sunday, S&P futures have maintained their overnight gains and have rebounded 0.7% while Nasdaq contracts jumped as much as 1.3% after risk sentiment stabilized following Friday’s carnage and as investors settled in for a few weeks of uncertainty on whether the Omicron variant would derail economic recoveries and the tightening plans of some central banks. Japan led declines in the Asian equity session (which was catching down to Friday's US losses) after the government shut borders to visitors. The region’s reopening stocks such as restaurants, department stores, train operators and travel shares also suffered some losses.  Oil prices bounced $3 a barrel to recoup some of Friday's rout, while the safe haven yen, Swiss franc and 10Y Treasury took a breather after its run higher. Moderna shares jumped as much as 12% in pre-market trading after Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton said he suspects the new omicron coronavirus variant may elude current vaccines, and if so, a reformulated shot could be available early in the new year. Which he would obviously say as his company makes money from making vaccines, even if they are not very efficient. Here are some of the other notable premarket movers today: BioNTech (BNTX US) advanced 5% after it said it’s starting with the first steps of developing a new adapted vaccine, according to statement sent by text. Merck & Co. (MRK US) declined 1.6% after it was downgraded to neutral from buy at Citi, which also opens a negative catalyst watch, with “high probability” the drugmaker will abandon development of its HIV treatment. A selection of small biotechs rise again in U.S. premarket trading amid discussion of the companies in StockTwits and after these names outperformed during Friday’s market rout. Palatin Tech (PTN US) +37%, Biofrontera (BFRI US) +22%, 180 Life Sciences (ATNF US) +19%. Bonds gave back some of their gains, with Treasury futures were down 11 ticks. Like other safe havens, the market had rallied sharply as investors priced in the risk of a slower start to rate hikes from the U.S. Federal Reserve, and less tightening by some other central banks. Needless to say, Omicron is all anyone can talk about: on one hand, authorities have already orchestrated a lot of global panic: Britain called an urgent meeting of G7 health ministers on Monday to discuss developments on the virus, even though the South African doctor who discovered the strain and treated cases said symptoms of Omicron were so far mild. The new variant of concern was found as far afield as Canada and Australia as more countries such as Japan imposed travel restriction to try to seal themselves off. Summarizing the fearmongering dynamic observed, overnight South African health experts - including those who discovered the Omicron variant, said it appears to cause mild symptoms, while the Chinese lapdog organization, WHO, said the variant’s risk is “extremely high”. Investors are trying to work out if the omicron flareup will a relatively brief scare that markets rebound from, or a bigger blow to the global economic recovery. Much remains unanswered about the new strain: South African scientists suggested it’s presenting with mild symptoms so far, though it appears to be more transmissible, but the World Health Organization warned it could fuel future surges of Covid-19 with severe consequences. "There is a lot we don't know about Omicron, but markets have been forced to reassess the global growth outlook until we know more," said Rodrigo Catril, a market strategist at NAB. "Pfizer expects to know within two weeks if Omicron is resistant to its current vaccine, others suggest it may take several weeks. Until then markets are likely to remain jittery." "Despite the irresistible pull of buying-the-dip on tenuous early information on omicron, we are just one negative omicron headline away from going back to where we started,” Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at Oanda, wrote in a note. “Expect plenty of headline-driven whipsaw price action this week.” The emergence of the omicron strain is also complicating monetary policy. Traders have already pushed back the expected timing of a first 25-basis-point rate hike by the Federal Reserve to July from June. Fed Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic played down economic risks from a new variant, saying he’s open to a quicker paring of asset purchases to curb inflation. Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speak before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday. “We know that central banks can quickly switch to dovish if they need to,” Mahjabeen Zaman, Citigroup senior investment specialist, said on Bloomberg Television. “The liquidity playbook that we have in play right now will continue to support the market.” European stocks rallied their worst drop in more than a year on Friday, with travel and energy stocks leading the advance. The Stoxx 600 rose 0.9% while FTSE 100 futures gain more than 1%, aided by a report that Reliance may bid for BT Group which jumped as much as 9.5% following a report that India’s Reliance Industries may offer to buy U.K. phone company, though it pared the gain after Reliance denied it’s considering a bid. European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde put a brave face on the latest virus scare, saying the euro zone was better equipped to face the economic impact of a new wave of COVID-19 infections or the Omicron variant Japanese shares lead Asian indexes lower after Premier Kishida announces entry ban of all new foreign visitors. Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index closed down 0.9% at the lowest level since October 2020, led by Galaxy Entertainment and Meituan. The index followed regional peers lower amid worries about the new Covid variant Omicron. Amid the big movers, Galaxy Entertainment was down 5.4% after police arrested Macau’s junket king, while Meituan falls 7.1% after reporting earnings. In FX, currency markets are stabilizing as the week kicks off yet investors are betting on the possibility of further volatility. The South African rand climbed against the greenback though most emerging-market peers declined along with developing-nation stocks. Turkey’s lira slumped more than 2% after a report at the weekend that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered a probe into foreign currency trades. The Swiss franc, euro and yen retreat while loonie and Aussie top G-10 leaderboard after WTI crude futures rally more than 4%. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index hovered after Friday’s drop, and the greenback traded mixed against its Group-of-10 peers; commodity currencies led gains. The euro slipped back below $1.13 and Bunds sold off, yet outperformed Treasuries. The pound was steady against the dollar and rallied against the euro. Australian sovereign bonds pared an opening jump as Treasuries trimmed Friday’s spike amid continuing uncertainty over the fallout from the omicron variant. The Aussie rallied with oil and iron ore. The yen erased an earlier decline as a government announcement on planned border closures starting Tuesday spurred a drop in local equities. The rand strengthens as South African health experts call omicron variant “mild.” In rates, Treasuries were cheaper by 4bp-7bp across the curve in belly-led losses, reversing a portion of Friday’s sharp safe-haven rally as potential economic impact of omicron coronavirus strain continues to be assessed. The Treasury curve bear- steepened and the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield jumped as much as 7 basis points to 1.54%; that unwound some of Friday’s 16 basis-point plunge -- the steepest since March 2020.  Focal points include month-end on Tuesday, November jobs report Friday, and Fed Chair Powell is scheduled to speak Monday afternoon. Treasuries broadly steady since yields gapped higher when Asia session began, leaving 10-year around 1.54%, cheaper by almost 7bp on the day; front-end outperformance steepens 2s10s by ~3bp. Long-end may draw support from potential for month-end buying; Bloomberg Treasury index rebalancing was projected to extend duration by 0.11yr as of Nov. 22 In commodities, oil prices bounced after suffering their largest one-day drop since April 2020 on Friday. "The move all but guarantees the OPEC+ alliance will suspend its scheduled increase for January at its meeting on 2 December," wrote analyst at ANZ in a note. "Such headwinds are the reason it's been only gradually raising output in recent months, despite demand rebounding strongly." Brent rebounded 3.9% to $75.57 a barrel, while U.S. crude rose 4.5% to $71.24. Gold has so far found little in the way of safe haven demand, leaving it stuck at $1,791 an ounce . SGX iron ore rises almost 8% to recoup Friday’s losses. Bitcoin rallied after falling below $54,000 on Friday. Looking at today's calendar, we get October pending home sales, and November Dallas Fed manufacturing activity. We also get a bunch of Fed speakers including Williams, Powell making remarks at the New York Fed innovation event, Fed’s Hassan moderating a panel and Fed’s Bowman discussing central bank and indigenous economies. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.6% to 4,625.00 MXAP down 0.9% to 191.79 MXAPJ down 0.4% to 625.06 Nikkei down 1.6% to 28,283.92 Topix down 1.8% to 1,948.48 Hang Seng Index down 0.9% to 23,852.24 Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,562.70 Sensex up 0.4% to 57,307.46 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.5% to 7,239.82 Kospi down 0.9% to 2,909.32 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.7% to 467.47 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.31% Euro down 0.3% to $1.1283 Brent Futures up 3.8% to $75.49/bbl Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,797.11 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.13% to 96.22 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The omicron variant of Covid-19, first identified in South Africa, has been detected in locations from Australia to the U.K. and Canada, showing the difficulties of curtailing new strains While health experts in South Africa, where omicron was first detected, said it appeared to cause only mild symptoms, the Geneva-based WHO assessed the variant’s risk as “extremely high” and called on member states to test widely. Understanding the new strain will take several days or weeks, the agency said All travelers arriving in the U.K. starting at 4 a.m. on Nov. 30 must take a PCR coronavirus test on or before the second day of their stay and isolate until they receive a negative result. Face coverings will again be mandatory in shops and other indoor settings and on public transport. Booster shots may also be approved for more age groups within days, according to Health Secretary Sajid Javid The economic effects of the successive waves of the Covid pandemic have been less and less damaging, Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau says Italian bonds advance for a third day, as investors shrug off new coronavirus developments over the weekend and stock futures advance, while bunds are little changed ahead of German inflation numbers and a raft of ECB speakers including President Christine Lagarde A European Commission sentiment index fell to 117.5 in November from 118.6 the previous month, data released Monday showed Spanish inflation accelerated to the fastest in nearly three decades in November on rising food prices, underscoring the lingering consequences of supply-chain bottlenecks across Europe. Consumer prices jumped 5.6% Energy prices in Europe surged on Monday after weather forecasts showed colder temperatures for the next two weeks that will lift demand for heating ECB Executive Board member Isabel Schnabel took to the airwaves to reassure her fellow Germans that inflation will slow again, hours before data set to show the fastest pace of price increases since the early 1990s Russia’s ambassador to Washington said more than 50 diplomats and their family members will have to leave the U.S. by mid-2022, in the latest sign of tensions between the former Cold War enemies China sent the biggest sortie of warplanes toward Taiwan in more than seven weeks after a U.S. lawmaker defied a Chinese demand that she abandon a trip to the island A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded cautiously and US equity futures rebounded from Friday’s hefty selling (S&P 500 -2.3%) as all focus remained on the Omicron variant after several countries announced restrictions and their first cases of the new variant, although markets took solace from reports that all cases so far from South Africa have been mild. Furthermore, NIH Director Collins was optimistic that current vaccines are likely to protect against the Omicron variant but also noted it was too early to know the answers, while Goldman Sachs doesn’t think the new variant is a sufficient reason to adjust its portfolio citing comments from South Africa’s NICD that the mutation is unlikely to be more malicious and existing vaccines will most likely remain effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths. ASX 200 (-0.5%) is subdued after Australia registered its first cases of the Omicron variant which involved two people that arrived in Sydney from southern Africa and with the government reviewing its border reopening plans. Nikkei 225 (-1.6%) whipsawed whereby it initially slumped at the open due to the virus fears and currency-related headwinds but then recouped its losses and briefly returned flat as the mood gradually improved, before succumbing to a bout of late selling, and with mixed Retail Sales data adding to the indecision. Hang Seng (-1.0%) and Shanghai Comp. (Unch) weakened with Meituan the worst performer in Hong Kong after posting a quarterly loss and with casino names pressured by a crackdown in which police detained Suncity Group CEO and others after admitting to accusations including illegal cross border gambling. However, the losses in the mainland were cushioned after firm Industrial Profits data over the weekend and with local press noting expectations for China to adopt a more proactive macro policy next year. Finally, 10yr JGBs shrugged off the pullback seen in T-note and Bund futures, with price action kept afloat amid the cautious mood in stocks and the BoJ’s presence in the market for over JPY 900bln of JGBs mostly concentrated in 3yr-10yr maturities. Top Asian News Hong Kong Stocks Slide to 13-Month Low on Fresh Virus Woes Li Auto Loss Narrows as EV Maker Rides Out Supply-Chain Snarls Singapore Adds to Its Gold Pile for the First Time in Decades China Growth Stocks Look Like Havens as Markets Confront Omicron Bourses in Europe are experiencing a mild broad-based rebound (Euro Stoxx 50 +1.0%; Stoxx 600 +0.9%) following Friday's hefty COVID-induced losses. Desks over the weekend have been framing Friday's losses as somewhat overstretched in holiday-thinned liquidity, given how little is known about the Omicron variant itself. The strain will likely remain the market theme as scientists and policymakers factor in this new variant, whilst data from this point forth – including Friday's US labour market report - will likely be passed off as somewhat stale, and headline risk will likely be abundant. Thus far, symptoms from Omicron are seemingly milder than some of its predecessors, although governments and central banks will likely continue to express caution in this period of uncertainty. Back to price action, the momentum of the rebound has lost steam; US equity futures have also been drifting lower since the European cash open – with the RTY (+0.9%) was the laggard in early European trade vs the ES (+0.8%), NQ (+1.0%) and YM (+0.7%). European cash bourses have also been waning off best levels but remain in positive territory. Sectors are mostly in the green, but the breadth of the market has narrowed since the cash open. Travel & Leisure retains the top spot in what seems to be more a reversal of Friday's exaggerated underperformance as opposed to a fundamentally driven rebound – with more nations announcing travel restrictions to stem the spread of the variant. Oil & Gas has also trimmed some of Friday's losses as oil prices see a modest rebound relative to Friday's slump. On the other end of the spectrum, Healthcare sees mild losses as COVID-related names take a mild breather, although Moderna (+9.1% pre-market) gains ahead of the US open after its Chief Medical Officer suggested a new vaccine for the variant could be ready early next year. Meanwhile, Autos & Parts reside as the current laggard amid several bearish updates, including a Y/Y drop in German car exports - due to the chip shortage and supply bottlenecks – factors which the Daimler Truck CEO suggested will lead to billions of Euros in losses. Furthermore, auto supbt.aplier provider Faurecia (-5.9%) trades at the foot of the Stoxx 600 after slashing guidance – again a function of the chip shortage. In terms of Monday M&A, BT (+4.7%) shares opened higher by almost 10% following source reports in Indian press suggesting Reliance Industries is gearing up for a takeover approach of BT – reports that were subsequently rebuffed. Top European News U.K. Mortgage Approvals Fall to 67,199 in Oct. Vs. Est. 70,000 Johnson Matthey Rises on Report of Battery Talks With Tata Gazprom Reports Record Third-Quarter Profit Amid Gas Surge Omicron’s Spread Fuels Search for Answers as WHO Sounds Warning In FX, the Buck has bounced from Friday’s pullback lows on a mixture of short covering, consolidation and a somewhat more hopeful prognosis of SA’s new coronavirus strand compared to very early perceptions prompted by reports that the latest mutation would be even worse than the Delta variant. In DXY terms, a base above 96.000 is forming within a 93.366-144 band amidst a rebound in US Treasury yields and re-steepening along the curve following comments from Fed’s Bostic indicating a willingness to back faster QE tapering. Ahead, pending home sales and Dallas Fed business manufacturing along with more Fed rhetoric from Williams and chair Powell on the eve of month end. AUD/CAD/NZD - No surprise to see the high beta and risk sensitive currencies take advantage of the somewhat calmer conditions plus a recovery in crude and other commodities that were decimated by the prospect of depressed demand due to the aforementioned Omicron outbreak. The Aussie is back over 0.7150 vs its US counterpart, the Loonie has pared back losses from sub-1.2750 with assistance from WTI’s recovery to top Usd 72/brl vs a Usd 67.40 trough on November 26 and the Kiwi is hovering above 0.6800 even though RBNZ chief economist Ha has warned that a pause in OCR tightening could occur if the fresh COVID-19 wave proves to be a ‘game-changer’. JPY/EUR - The major laggards as sentiment stabilses, with the Yen midway between 112.99-113.88 parameters and hardly helped by mixed Japanese retail sales data, while the Euro has retreated below 1.1300 where 1.7 bn option expiry interest resides and a key Fib level just under the round number irrespective of strong German state inflation reports and encouraging pan Eurozone sentiment indicators, as more nations batten down the hatches to stem the spread of SA’s virus that has shown up in parts of the bloc. GBP/CHF - Both narrowly divergent vs the Dollar, as Cable retains 1.3300+ status against the backdrop of retreating Gilt and Short Sterling futures even though UK consumer credit, mortgage lending and approvals are rather conflicting, while the Franc pivots 0.9250 and meanders from 1.0426 to 1.0453 against the Euro after the latest weekly update on Swiss bank sight deposits showing no sign of official intervention. However, Usd/Chf may veer towards 1.1 bn option expiries at the 0.9275 strike if risk appetite continues to improve ahead of KoF on Tuesday and monthly reserves data. SCANDI/EM - Although Brent has bounced to the benefit of the Nok, Sek outperformance has ensued in wake of an upgrade to final Swedish Q3 GDP, while the Cnh and Cny are deriving support via a rise in Chinese industrial profits on a y/y basis and the Zar is breathing a sigh of relief on the aforementioned ‘better’ virus updates/assessments from SA on balance. Conversely, the Try is back under pressure post-a deterioration in Turkish economic sentiment vs smaller trade deficit as investors look forward to CPI at the end of the week. Meanwhile, Turkish President Erdogan provides no reprieve for the Lira as he once again defending his unorthodox view that higher interest rates lead to higher inflation. In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures consolidate following an overnight rebound – with WTI Jan back on a USD 71/bbl handle and Brent Feb just under USD 75/bbl – albeit still some way off from Friday's best levels which saw the former's high above USD 78/bbl and the latter's best north of USD 81/bbl. The week is packed with risks to the oil complex, including the resumption of Iranian nuclear talks (slated at 13:00GMT/08:00EST today) and the OPEC+ monthly confab. In terms of the former, little is expected in terms of progress unless the US agrees to adhere to Tehran's demand – which at this point seems unlikely. Tehran continues to seek the removal of US sanctions alongside assurances that the US will not withdraw from the deal. "The assertion that the US must 'change its approach if it wants progress' sets a challenging tone", Citi's analysts said, and the bank also expects parties to demand full access to Iranian nuclear facilities for verification of compliance. Further, the IAEA Chief met with Iranian officials last week; although concrete progress was sparse, the overall tone of the meeting was one of progress. "We remain of the opinion that additional Iranian supplies are unlikely to reach the market before the second half of 2022 at the earliest," Citi said. Meanwhile, reports suggested the US and allies have been debating a "Plan B" if talks were to collapse. NBC News – citing European diplomats, former US officials and experts – suggested that options included: 1) a skinny nuclear deal, 2) ramp up sanctions, 3) Launching operations to sabotage Iranian nuclear advances, 4) Military strikes, 5) persuading China to halt Iranian oil imports, albeit Iran and China recently signed a 25yr deal. Over to OPEC+, a rescheduling (in light of the Omicron variant) sees the OPEC and JTC meeting now on the 1st December, followed by the JMMC and OPEC+ on the 2nd. Sources on Friday suggested that members are leaning towards a pause in the planned monthly output, although Russian Deputy PM Novak hit the wires today and suggested there is no need for urgent measures in the oil market. Markets will likely be tested, and expectations massaged with several sources heading into the meeting later this week. Elsewhere, spot gold trades sideways just under the USD 1,800/oz and above a cluster of DMAs, including the 50 (1,790.60/oz), 200 (1,791.30/oz) and 100 (1,792.80/oz) awaiting the next catalyst. Over to base metals, LME copper recoups some of Friday's lost ground, with traders also citing the underlying demand emanating from the EV revolution. US Event Calendar 10am: Oct. Pending Home Sales YoY, prior -7.2% 10am: Oct. Pending Home Sales (MoM), est. 0.8%, prior -2.3% 10:30am: Nov. Dallas Fed Manf. Activity, est. 17.0, prior 14.6 Central Bank speakers: 3pm: Fed’s Williams gives opening remarks at NY Innovation Center 3:05pm: Powell Makes Opening Remarks at New York Fed Innovation Event 3:15pm: Fed’s Hassan moderates panel introducing NY Innovation Center 5:05pm: Fed’s Bowman Discusses Central bank and Indigenous Economies DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Last night Henry in my team put out a Q&A looking at what we know about Omicron (link here) as many risk assets put in their worst performance of the year on Friday after it exploded into view. The main reason for the widespread concern is the incredibly high number of mutations, with 32 on the spike protein specifically, which is the part of the virus that allows it to enter human cells. That’s much more than we’ve seen for previous variants, and raises the prospect it could be a more transmissible version of the virus, although scientists are still assessing this. South Africa is clearly where it has been discovered (not necessarily originated from) and where it has been spreading most. The fact that’s it’s become the dominant strain there in just two weeks hints at its higher level of contagiousness. However the read through to elsewhere is tough as the country has only fully vaccinated 24% of its population, relative to at least 68% in most of the larger developed countries bar the US which languishes at 58%. It could still prove less deadly (as virus variants over time mostly are) but if it is more contagious that could offset this and it could still cause similar healthcare issues, especially if vaccines are less protective. On the other hand the South African doctor who first alerted authorities to the unusual symptoms that have now been found to have been caused by Omicron, was on numerous media platforms over the weekend suggesting that the patients she has seen with it were exhausted but generally had mild symptoms. However she also said her patients were from a healthy cohort so we can’t relax too much on this. However as South African cases rise we will get a lot of clues from hospitalisation data even if only 6% of the country is over 65s. My personal view is that we’ll get a lot of information quite quickly around how bad this variant is. The reports over the weekend that numerous cases of Omicron have already been discovered around the world, suggests it’s probably more widespread than people think already. So we will likely soon learn whether these patients present with more severe illness and we’ll also learn of their vaccination status before any official study is out. The only caveat would be that until elderly patients have been exposed in enough scale we won’t be able to rule out the more negative scenarios. Before all that the level of restrictions have been significantly ramped up over the weekend in many countries. Henry discusses this in his note but one very significant one is that ALL travellers coming into (or back to) the UK will have to self isolate until they get a negative PCR test. This sort of thing will dramatically reduce travel, especially short business trips. Overnight Japan have effectively banned ALL foreign visitors. I appreciate its dangerous to be positive on covid at the moment but you only have to look at the UK for signs that boosters are doing a great job. Cases in the elderly population continue to collapse as the roll out progresses well and overall deaths have dropped nearly 20% over the last week to 121 (7-day average) - a tenth of where they were at the peak even though cases have recently been 80-90% of their peak levels. If Europe are just lagging the UK on boosters rather than anything more structural, most countries should be able to control the current wave all things being equal. However Omicron could make things less equal but it would be a huge surprise if vaccines made no impact. Stocks in Asia are trading cautiously but remember that the US and Europe sold off more aggressively after Asia closed on Friday. So the lack of major damage is insightful. The Nikkei (-0.02%), Shanghai Composite (-0.14%), CSI (-0.22%), KOSPI (-0.47%) and Hang Seng (-0.68%) are only slightly lower. Treasury yields, oil, and equity futures are all rising in Asia. US treasury yields are up 4-6bps across the curve, Oil is c.+4.5% higher, while the ZAR is +1.31%. Equity futures are trading higher with the S&P 500 (+0.71%) and DAX (+0.84%) futures in the green. In terms of looking ahead, we may be heading into December this week but there’s still an incredibly eventful period ahead on the market calendar even outside of Omicron. We have payrolls on Friday which could still have a big impact on what the Fed do at their important December 15 FOMC and especially on whether they accelerate the taper. Wednesday (Manufacturing) and Friday (Services) see the latest global PMIs which will as ever be closely watched even if people will suggest that the latest virus surge and now Omicron variant may make it backward looking. Elsewhere in the Euro Area, we’ll get the flash CPI estimate for November tomorrow (France and Italy on the same day with Germany today), and we’ll hear from Fed Chair Powell as he testifies (with Mrs Yellen) before congressional committees tomorrow and Wednesday. There’s lots of other Fed speakers this week (ahead of their blackout from this coming weekend) and last week there was a definite shift towards a faster taper bias, even amongst the doves on the committee with Daly being the most important potential convert. Fed speakers this week might though have to balance the emergence of the new variant with the obvious point that without it the Fed is a fair bit behind the curve. Importantly but lurking in the background, Friday is also the US funding deadline before another government shutdown. History would suggest a tense last minute deal but it’s tough to predict. Recapping last week now and the emergence of the new variant reshaped the whole week even if ahead of this, continued case growth across Europe prompted renewed lockdown measures and travel bans across the continent. Risk sentiment clearly plummeted on Friday. The S&P 500 fell -2.27%, the biggest drop since October 2020, while the Stoxx 600 fell -3.67%, the biggest one-day decline since the original Covid-induced risk off in March 2020. The S&P 500 was -2.20% lower last week, while the Stoxx 600 was down -4.53% on the week. 10yr treasury, bund, and gilt yields declined -16.1bps, -8.7bps, and -14.5bps, undoing the inflation and policy response-driven selloff from earlier in the week. The drop in 10yr treasury and gilt yields were the biggest one-day declines since the original Covid-driven rally in March 2020, while the drop in bund yields was the largest since April 2020. 10yr treasury, bund, and gilt yields ended the week -7.3bps lower, +0.7bps higher, and -5.4bps lower, respectively. Measures of inflation compensation declined due to the anticipated hit to global demand, with 10yr breakevens in the US and Germany -6.8bps and -8.8bps lower Friday, along with Brent and WTI futures declining -11.55% and -13.06%, respectively. Investors pushed back the anticipated timing of rate hikes. As it stands, the first full Fed hike is just about priced for July, and 2 hikes are priced for 2022. This follows a hawkish tone from even the most dovish FOMC members and the November FOMC minutes last week. The prevailing sentiment was the FOMC was preparing to accelerate their asset purchase taper at the December meeting to enable inflation-fighting rate hikes earlier in 2022. Understanding the impact of the new variant will be crucial for interpreting the Fed’s reaction function, though. The impact may not be so obvious; while a new variant would certainly hurt global demand and portend more policy accommodation, it will also likely prompt more virus-avoiding behaviour in the labour market, preventing workers from returning to pre-Covid levels. Whether the Fed decides to accommodate these sidelined workers for longer, or to re-think what constitutes full employment in a Covid world should inform your view on whether they accelerate tapering in December. It feels like a lifetime ago but last week also saw President Biden nominate Chair Powell to head the Fed for another term, and for Governor Brainard to serve as Vice Chair. The announcement led to a selloff in rates as the more dovish Brainard did not land the head job. In Germany, the center-left SPD, Greens, and liberal FDP agreed to a full coalition deal. The traffic-light coalition agreed to restore the debt break in 2023, after being suspended during the pandemic, and to raise the minimum wage to €12 per hour. The SPD’s Olaf Scholz will assume the Chancellorship. The US, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and UK announced releases of strategic petroleum reserves. Oil prices were higher following the announcement, in part because releases were smaller than anticipated but, as mentioned, prices dropped precipitously on Friday on the global demand impact of the new Covid variant. The ECB released the minutes of the October Governing Council meeting, where officials stressed the need to maintain optionality in their policy setting. They acknowledged growing upside risks to inflation but stressed the importance of not overreacting in setting policy as they see how inflation scenarios might unfold. Tyler Durden Mon, 11/29/2021 - 08:01.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 29th, 2021

After 28 Days On Ventilator, Family Loses Legal Battle To Try Ivermectin, Other Alternative Treatments, For Dying Father

After 28 Days On Ventilator, Family Loses Legal Battle To Try Ivermectin, Other Alternative Treatments, For Dying Father Authored by Nanette Holt via The Epoch Times, A Florida family fighting to give their loved one on a ventilator alternative treatments for COVID-19 have lost another battle—this time in Florida’s First District Court of Appeal. The wife and son of Daniel Pisano first squared off against Mayo Clinic Florida at an emergency hearing on Dec. 30 in Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit. Before that, they’d been begging the hospital to allow them to try treating Pisano—who’s been on a ventilator now for 28 days—with the controversial drug ivermectin, along with a mix of other drugs and supplements, part of a protocol recommended by the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC). The family’s request for an emergency injunction to force the Mayo Clinic to allow treatments recommended by an outside doctor was denied by Judge Marianne Aho. They appealed the decision. On Jan. 14, Aho’s decision was upheld by Florida’s First District Court of Appeal. The three-judge panel deciding the case included Judge Thomas “Bo” Winokur, appointed by then-Gov. Rick Scott in 2015; Judge M. Kemmerly Thomas, appointed in 2016 by Scott; and Judge Robert E. Long, Jr., appointed in 2020, by Gov. Ron DeSantis. “An opinion of this Court explaining its reasoning will follow,” the judges stated in the order they issued.  “So we wait to see what that looks like, unless it takes too long,” said Jeff Childers, an attorney for the family.  Seventy-year-old Daniel Pisano doesn’t have unlimited time, says Eduardo Balbona, M.D., an independent doctor in Jacksonville who’s been advising the family since they reached out to him while researching other treatments that could potentially help their loved one. Daniel and Claudia Pisano moved to Florida and bought a homesite to be 20 minutes from their only two grandchildren. (Photo courtesy of Chris Pisano) Balbona, who has been monitoring Pisano’s treatment at the Mayo Clinic through an online portal, testified on behalf of the Pisano family in the first hearing. The Mayo Clinic has argued that the treatment plan doesn’t fit with the hospital’s standard protocol for treating COVID-19 patients and they don’t know what the effects of following Balbona’s recommendations would be. The hospital has told the family that Pisano has a less-than-five percent chance of survival, and all that’s left to do is wait and see if he recovers on the ventilator. The Mayo Clinic has not responded to requests for comment. The family has begged the Mayo Clinic to simply step aside and let Balbona try what he thinks could work. But the Mayo Clinic doesn’t allow outside doctors to treat patients. Since media reports mentioned his involvement in the case, particularly his confidence in recommending ivermectin, Balbona has faced a mix of hate-filled criticism and desperate cries for help. He says he’s used ivermectin along with the rest of the FLCCC protocol successfully with minor modifications, on “dozens and dozens” of seriously ill patients suffering the effects of COVID-19. Some of those patients have come to him from as far away as California. He’s not alone in his belief in ivermectin and the mix of drugs and supplements he’s suggesting. Different health care professionals across the country have spoken out over the past two years about the efficacy of using ivermectin and the FLCCC protocol to treat COVID-19. The drug has been used for 40 years and won a Nobel Prize for its creator. While ivermectin is most often used to prevent or kill parasites in animals, it has also been widely and successfully used for years to treat parasites and viruses in humans in the United States and other countries. There is an ever-growing list of peer-reviewed studies showing the drug’s efficacy in treating COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indicates there are ongoing clinical trials investigating the use of the drug in the treatment of COVID-19 on a webpage warning people not to self-medicate with ivermectin. The FDA published a tweet in August mocking those who do. And some politicians and media outlets have railed relentlessly against those claiming ivermectin could be an effective and inexpensive way to combat COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shared this tweet on Aug. 21, 2021, mocking the use of the drug ivermectin in the treatment of COVID-19. (Photo courtesy of FDA via Twitter) “You should be embarrassed to practice medicine, to sue the Mayo Clinic to get horse medicine to a human being, because of Internet garbage,” one person seethed on a voicemail at Balbona’s office after his court testimony was mentioned in an Epoch Times article. “Your license should be revoked, you worthless piece of garbage. You are killing people, not helping them, and to harass the Mayo Clinic, because you are not good enough to be their doctor is disgusting. Disgusting. You and doctors like you should all be banned from society. Shame on you. Disgusting. Goodbye and good riddance. I hope you get COVID. Goodbye.” Balbona says he deletes messages like that and pushes on with his treatment of patients. It’s “just the intolerance and hatred that takes me by surprise,” he said, about his office communications now getting “flooded by hate.” Eduardo Balbona, M.D., completed specialty training in internal medicine at the National Naval Medical Center and served as a physician at the U.S. Capitol, caring for senators, congressmen and Supreme Court justices. (Photo courtesy of Eduardo Balbona, M.D.) “Everything I do treating COVID is directed at lowering the inflammatory response, which is out of control, and improving blood flow to the lungs, and avoiding the complications of clots,” he said. “Perhaps the biggest change I’ve made from protocols in the hospital and with FLCCC is increasing the dose of dexamethasone. The dose of dexamethasone in FLCCC is relatively low at 6 mg, and I generally increase that to 18 mg daily in more serious cases. That’s a logic change, and I realize the study support is at 6 mg.” “There’s a reason for every medicine and everything I do treating COVID with my protocol. I have to be able to defend it since I know it will be attacked. Crazy world we’re in.” Christie DeTrude, of Switzerland, Florida, feels certain that Balbona’s recommendations saved her husband, Dewey. He had just retired last spring at 59 after a long career as a pipe-fitter. At 200 pounds and 6-feet-tall, he was in the peak of health, with strong “country muscles after a lifetime of turning a wrench,” she said. Dewey and Christie DeTrude on vacation in Hawaii, before he fell ill with COVID-19. (Courtesy of the DeTrude Family) When he sought treatment for COVID-19 at an urgent-care clinic in July, he was prescribed ivermectin by a doctor there. “But what we didn’t know at the time was, it wasn’t a high enough dose, because it’s supposed to be weight-based,” Christie DeTrude said. “Theirs was a very low dose, and they discontinued it after five days and said that it would be damaging to his liver and kidneys if they continued, which isn’t true.” On his eighth day of illness, he had developed pneumonia, and the urgent-care clinic told him to go to the hospital for treatment with convalescent plasma and oxygen. The referring doctor promised he wouldn’t be admitted, Christie DeTrude said. When she dropped him off at the Mayo Clinic Florida emergency room, she was told to come back and pick him up in 4-5 hours. “Once he got to Mayo, they just completely took over, and there was no informed consent,” DeTrude said. “There was no giving him information and letting us make a decision. They made all of his decisions for him, and they follow a standard protocol.” “There were no choices, there was no discussion…they just kept upping the oxygen,” DeTrude said. The Mayo Clinic did not return requests for comment by The Epoch Times about DeTrude’s case, Pisano’s case, or COVID-19 treatment protocols, in general. DeTrude said that eventually, her husband had become so weak, he couldn’t get out of the hospital bed. She felt that the hospital’s treatments weren’t working. She wanted to take him home. The hospital wouldn’t agree to discharge him and didn’t allow her to visit, she said. Dewey DeTrude’s wife hired an attorney to help her get her husband out of the intensive care unit at Mayo Clinic Florida, so he could be treated at home with ivermectin. DeTrude, shown here on Aug. 3, 2021, spent 46 days in the hospital. (Courtesy of the DeTrude Family) Days passed. Then, weeks. She says that she could tell from their phone calls that her husband was getting weaker. His 60th birthday came and went. And still, she says the hospital wouldn’t let her visit. “I was able to get a Catholic priest to come give him Last Rites, and the priest said that my husband’s mental state was like that of a prisoner of war, that he was definitely suffering trauma from the isolation from family, from his faith, from not seeing the sun. He’d lost 35 pounds,” she said. Part of the problem was that she wasn’t allowed to bring him vegan meals, she said. “A lot of the food, my husband wasn’t interested in. And when you’re on oxygen, it does affect your appetite, and he needed assistance eating, but they wouldn’t let me be that person,” she said. After 18 days, Christie DeTrude hired an attorney to help her push the hospital to stabilize her husband so she could take him home. Meanwhile, she searched for an outside doctor who could help. With that aim, she attended a medical freedom rally in Jacksonville in August, hoping to find something or someone who could advise her. Several doctors spoke about alternative treatments for COVID-19 that hospitals weren’t using, including ivermectin. The next day, she called them all. Only Dr. Balbona came to the phone to speak with her, she said. At Christie DeTrude’s request, Balbona promised the hospital that he’d take over her husband’s care. He ordered oxygen, medication, and home-health assistance for the family, she said. As she waited for Mayo doctors to agree to discharge him, Christie DeTrude prayed every day that her husband could hang on a little longer. After 46 days at Mayo Clinic, Dewey DeTrude finally was discharged and immediately started following Dr. Balbona’s instructions, taking ivermectin, fluvoxamine to prevent blood clots, and propranolol to treat anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder from his hospital stay. He also took Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and zinc. He ate healthy food and spent time in the sunshine. Within days, it was clear her husband was on the mend, Christie DeTrude said. Now, four months later, “he’s working part-time, going to the gym,” she said. “He’s completed physical therapy and working on rebuilding his stamina and lung capacity. And if it weren’t for Dr. Balbona, I’m quite sure he would have died in the hospital.” Gene Bennett, a 77-year-old retired field engineer for IBM, tells a similar story. He was enjoying life in Bryceville, Florida helping his son clear five acres of land for a homesite when COVID-19 struck in January 2021. An ambulance transported him to Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside Hospital in Jacksonville, where he was treated with remdesivir. “They had to keep getting my oxygen higher and higher,” Bennett said. “I was finally up to the point of seven liters per minute, which is almost pure oxygen. And I knew that I wasn’t getting better. I could tell I was getting weaker and weaker. So when the doctor made his rounds on the Monday morning, I said, ‘This is my last day of remdesivir treatment and I know that I’m not improving. What’s our next step?’ “He looked at me and very calmly said, ‘Mr. Bennett, we don’t have a next step.’ He said, ‘We have done all for you that we can do. There’s nothing else we can do for you.’” Gene Bennett insisted on leaving the hospital, instead of going on a ventilator. (Courtesy of Jane Bennett) Overnight, Bennett thought a lot about the conversation. The next day, he asked the doctor, “Are you serious? There’s nothing else that this hospital can do for me?” “He said, ‘No, sir. The next step is for you to go on a ventilator.’” “Well, I’m not going to do that,” Bennett recalls saying. “I want to be released from this hospital.” He quickly learned that was no longer a decision he could make for himself. Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside Hospital did not respond to a request for comment. “They weren’t going to release me because I was on a high level of oxygen,” he told The Epoch Times. “So finally, after I raised hell with them, to put it mildly, all day, my son picked me up” that evening. The next morning, Bennett’s wife drove him to Dr. Balbona, his physician for many years. Balbona came out to the parking lot of his office to help him out of the car. “I could barely walk with a walker without assistance — that’s how bad off I was,” Bennett said. He says Balbona told him, ” You have the most severe case of COVID that I have seen. But I have a medicine I have been using and I’ve had great success with it.” Bennett needed no convincing. “What is it? I’ll take it,” Bennett recalls saying. “I know I’m dying. I just feel it.” “He told me and my wife, ‘Most people that have COVID as severe as you do not survive. We’re behind the curve, but we’re going to try to get you over the hump. The medicine I’d like to prescribe for you is normally a heartworm medicine for dogs—that’s the most common use.’ “He said, ‘They use it all over the world. It’s been around for 40 years, and it’s dirt cheap, but very effective.’ “He said, ‘I would never, ever give a patient a medicine that I thought would be harmful to them.’ And I totally believed, and just accepted the fact he was doing what he thinks was right. “I thought, I don’t have any options. I know if I don’t take something to stop this, it’s going to kill me.” They picked up a $30 supply of ivermectin from a drug store that day. Bennett was so weak, he could barely feed himself. His wife and son later told him that they thought he was going to die. But after five days on what Dr. Balbona prescribed, including Vitamin C, Vitamin D, zinc, steroids, and a diuretic to get fluid off his lungs, he started to improve. “I’m a firm believer and I’d swear on the Bible, had I not been prescribed ivermectin, I would have died. Had I not stepped out of St. Vincent’s and checked myself out and gone to him and got the ivermectin, I wouldn’t be talking to you today. It saved my life. And for how much money? Thirty dollars!” He has since read a lot of research about the efficacy of ivermectin in the treatment of COVID-19. Gene Bennett refused to go on a ventilator when he was seriously ill with COVID-19. After leaving the hospital, his doctor treated him with ivermectin. He made a full recovery.  (Courtesy of Jane Bennett) “I can’t tell you if it is 100 percent effective for everyone, but I can tell you it was for me. I personally cannot understand why the government balks at giving these treatments. Why don’t they make the announcement that it’s available and let it be an individual’s choice?” Ivermectin has been approved for the treatment of COVID-19 in all or part of 22 countries. Over the past year, Bennett’s gotten back to full health, almost, regaining about half of the 45 pounds he lost while he was ill. His wife’s brother died in early January of COVID-19. They begged the hospital to try ivermectin. The hospital declined. His daughter-in-law’s mother died of COVID-19, too, in a Jacksonville Beach hospital, after the family begged to try ivermectin, and the hospital refused, Bennett said. An FDA spokeswoman said she would provide the number of reports of patients who had problems after self-medicating with ivermectin. Three days later, that information had not been provided to The Epoch Times. The FDA Office of Media Affairs said a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) would be required to obtain details about when ivermectin might be approved for use in treating COVID-19, and about bonafide injuries to people who’ve used ivermectin to treat the illness. “The most effective ways to limit the spread of COVID-19 include getting a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you and following current CDC guidance,” the FDA’s website advises. The Epoch Times spoke to a dozen people who have used ivermectin formulated for humans to treat COVID-19 at home. Most obtained prescriptions for the drug through online medical services. None reported having any side effects, even those who admitted to using ivermectin formulated for animals. Tyler Durden Sun, 01/16/2022 - 20:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nyt22 hr. 47 min. ago

Futures Surge To A Record Above 4,800 As Euphoria Grips Global Markets

Futures Surge To A Record Above 4,800 As Euphoria Grips Global Markets US stock futures, European bourses and Asian markets all rose, extending the blistering start to 2022 (just as Goldman predicted in its $125 billion January inflow case), with more strategists cementing their bullish projections as investors shrugged off worries Omicron could choke the global economic recovery as data on U.S. manufacturing and job openings due today will further show the world’s largest economy is resilient against the spread of omicron. Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.4% and contracts on the S&P 500 climbed 0.3% to a new all time high above 4,800 after the underlying gauge closed at a record on Monday. European stocks also gained. Waning demand for haven assets pushed the yen to a five-year low, while oil fluctuated ahead of an OPEC+ meeting. The dollar and U.S. treasury yields extended their surge - with the 10Y last yielding 1.6630% - after Monday’s worst start to a year since 2009. JPMorgan Chase & Co. strategists advised staying bullish on global stocks, saying positive catalysts are not exhausted, while Credit Suisse reiterated a bullish view on U.S. stocks. In premarket trading, Apple shares rose as much as 0.5%, putting the iPhone maker on track to reclaim $3 trillion in market cap as appetite for risk returns. Meanwhile, Jowell Global plunged 11% after a volatile trading session for the Chinese e-commerce stock on Monday that saw it plunge 59%. Travel stocks rallied for a second day even as the U.S. reported a record of over 1 million Covid cases, amid growing evidence that the omicron variant leads to milder infections. The S&P Supercomposite Airlines Index rose 3.3% Monday to the highest since Nov. 24 and appears set for further gains Tuesday. Most airline companies rose about 1% in premarket trading, while cruise lines were also higher with Carnival +1.8%, Royal Caribbean +1%, Norwegian +1.4%. General Electric rose after the stock was raised to outperform at Credit Suisse and Hewlett Packard Enterprise climbed with an overweight rating from Barclays. Here are some other notable pre-market movers today: Coca-Cola (KO US) sits in a stronger position following a transition year in 2021, Guggenheim Securities writes in note upgrading to buy after almost exactly a year with a neutral stance. Shares up 1% in premarket. Stryker (SYK US) and Globus Medical (GMED US) both upgraded to overweight at Piper Sandler, which says in a note that the two stocks have momentum to continue delivering above-average share performance this year. Stryker up 1.4% premarket. Tiny U.S. biotech stocks gain in high premarket volume amid a broader return of risk appetite and following positive updates on studies. Oragenics (OGEN US) +23%, Indaptus Therapeutics (INDP US) +7%. Intra-Cellular Therapies (ITCI US) falls 7% in premarket after launching a $400 million share sale. AFC Gamma (AFCG US) falls 11% premarket after launching a stock offering. Core & Main (CNM US) dropped 7.6% postmarket after holders offered a stake. In Europe, the Euro STOXX 600 gained as much as 0.9% in early trading, pushing beyond its all-time high of 489.99 points scaled a day earlier, with the FTSE 100 and CAC 40 up over 1.25%. Travel and leisure stocks jumped 2.7%, with Ryanair adding 8% and British Airways-owner IAG gaining over 9%, reflecting expectations Omicron's impact on the industry would be less severe than initially feared. Euro Stoxx 50 added as much as 1% with travel, autos and banks the best performing sectors so far. Investors have set aside worries about the highly infectious omicron variant as they continue to trade on the economic recovery from the pandemic which may soon be ending thanks to Omicron which could make covid endemic. “Globally, there is a lot of news regarding the rising omicron cases, but there is also a lot of news that the cases are not as deadly as the previous variants of Covid,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote, wrote in a note. “And investors prefer focusing on a glass half full rather than a glass half empty at the start of the year.” "The chief reason behind the return of investor confidence is Omicron," said Jeffrey Halley, an analyst at Oanda. Yes, the virus variant is much more contagious, but it is not leading to a proportionally larger number of hospital admissions... (so) it won't stop the global economic recovery." This, incidentally, is precisely what we said over a month ago. That said, markets anticipate an uptick in volatility as they navigate through the omicron variant, supply-chain disruptions and more central banks winding back pandemic stimulus. More than one million people in the U.S. were diagnosed with Covid-19 on Monday, a new global daily record, and yet markets barely winced. Asian stocks gained behind rallies in Japan and Australia on their first trading sessions of 2022, with much of the region tracking the strong performance in the U.S. as investors maintained growth optimism despite a worsening pandemic.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose as much as 1%, the most in two weeks, lifted by technology and financial shares. Metals and mining stocks gave the Australian benchmark gauge a boost, while a weaker yen allowed exporters to provide support for Japan’s Topix. Chinese stocks bucked the regional trend to suffer their weakest start to a year since 2019. The CSI 300 Index fell 0.5% as some investors took profit and assessed developments in the property sector while renewable energy and health-care firms paced declines. Also souring the mood, the People Bank of China cut its net injection of short-term cash to the markets, prompting concerns over support for the financial system. Tuesday’s activities in Asia also showed some traders setting aside their worries over the rapid spread of omicron strain for now to bet on resilience in the global economy.  While the omicron variant will be a negative factor in the short term, Chinese equities will likely help drive emerging markets higher in 2022 as monetary and fiscal stimulus spur economic growth, said Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco.  The Philippine Stock Exchange had to cancel trading following a system glitch, according to a statement by bourse President Ramon Monzon Japanese equities rose in their first trading session of the year, helped by the yen’s drop to a five-year low and a tailwind from U.S. peers’ climb to fresh all-time highs. Electronics and auto makers were the biggest boosts to the Topix, which gained 1.9%, the most in four weeks. All industry groups advanced except papermakers and energy explorers. Tokyo Electron and Advantest were the largest contributors to a 1.8% rise in the Nikkei 225.  The S&P 500 rose to a record and Treasury yields climbed Monday as traders braced for the start of a potentially volatile year and three expected rate hikes from the Federal Reserve. The White House is likely to nominate economist Philip Jefferson for a seat on the Fed board of governors, according to people familiar with the matter. “It’s gradually coming to light who will be the new members of the FRB and it looks like they will be those with quite a dovish stance, which very supportive factor for stocks,” said Hiroshi Matsumoto, senior client portfolio manager at Pictet Asset Management in Tokyo.  Australian stocks jumped themost in over a year, with fresh records in sight. The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 2% to 7,589.80, marking its best session since October 2020. The benchmark closed about 40 points away from the all-time high it reached in August as all sectors gained. Pilbara Minerals was among the top performers, jumping to a record. St. Barbara was among the worst performers after giving an update on its Simberi mine. In New Zealand, the market was closed for a holiday. India’s Sensex rallied for a third day as the outlook for lenders improved on the back of a continued recovery in the economy.  The S&P BSE Sensex rose 1.1% to 59,855.93 in Mumbai, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index rallied 1%. All but three of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. climbed, led by a gauge of power companies. The S&P BSE Bankex added 1.3% to stretch its rally to a fourth day, its longest streak of gains since Oct. 26.   Financial stocks in India offer an attractive entry point after foreign funds sold more than $3 billion of sector stocks over Nov.-Dec., Jefferies analyst Prakhar Sharma wrote in a note. He expects improved growth, stable asset quality and manageable omicron impact to aid a re-rating of the sector. “Markets are currently following their global counterparts while the domestic factors are showing mixed indications,” Religare Broking analyst Ajit Mishra said in a note.  Reliance Industries contributed the most to the Sensex’s gain on Tuesday, increasing 2.2%. Out of 30 shares in the index, 25 rose and five fell. In FX, Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index trades notably higher for the second day in a row, with AUD and CHF top the G-10 leader board, while the JPY lags pushing through Asia’s worst levels near 116.31/USD.  The euro was confined in a narrow range around $1.13 while the greenback weakened versus all of its Group-of-10 peers apart from the yen and risk-sensitive currencies were the best performers. The pound edged higher, continuing its ascent over the holiday period that was based on firmer global risk sentiment and bets the U.K. economy won’t be derailed by omicron. Gilts slumped as traders caught up with Monday’s jump in U.S. and euro-area yields after the U.K. was closed for a holiday. Australia’s government bonds and the nation’s currency both rose amid speculation the global economic recovery will weather the surge in omicron infections. New Zealand’s markets remained shut for New Year holidays. Purchasing managers’ index for the Australia’s manufacturing sector declined for the first time in four months in December, Markit data showed. The yen dropped to a five-year, with the USDJPY rising above 116 as speculation the global economic recovery will weather omicron saps demand for haven assets. Japanese bonds declined before debt auctions later this week. Options pricing suggests there may be more gains for the dollar in a rally against the yen that’s already taken it to the strongest since 2017. In rates, 10-year Treasury yield spiked to 1.66% after surging 12 basis points on Monday, the biggest jump to start a year since 2009. The two-year rate was at 0.77%. Treasury yields were cheaper by up to 1.5bp across front- and belly of the curve with long-end yields slightly richer vs. Monday close. IG dollar issuance includes a number of bank names headed by NAB 5-part offering. Three-month dollar Libor +0.69bp at 0.21600%. Bunds richen 1.5bps across the belly with a mixed peripheral complex with expectations for a busy issuance slate ahead. Gilts underperform, playing catch up to Monday’s move in bunds and treasuries, cheapening as much as 10bps across the curve with 10s near 1.07%. Looking beyond the current risk-on momentum, traders expect Fed tightening to further boost yields and reset equity valuations. This week’s U.S. December payroll data and minutes from the Fed’s meeting last month may throw more light on the pace of such shift. “We expect 2022 to be far more challenging from an investment perspective,” Heather Wald, vice president at Bel Air Investment Advisors, said in an emailed note. “Rarely has a market delivered three consecutive years of double-digit returns, as we have seen from 2019-2021. With the Federal Reserve set to accelerate tightening and a fairly valued stock market, we anticipate more muted returns for the S&P next year but still expect equities to remain attractive versus other liquid asset classes.” In commodities, crude futures flip a short-lived dip to rise ~0.7%. WTI trades near best levels of the session close to $76.70, Brent near $79.50 ahead of today’s OPEC+ gathering. Spot gold trades a tight range, holding above $1,800/oz. Base metals are mixed, LME copper underperforms. U.S. economic data slate includes the December ISM manufacturing survey, which will show the early impact of the variant on supply chains, while the JOLTS data will show the balance between job openings and unemployment numbers; also this week brings ADP employment change, durable goods orders and December jobs report. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.3% to 4,799 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.5% to 492.53 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.13% Euro little changed at $1.1307 MXAP up 0.9% to 194.72 MXAPJ up 0.6% to 633.00 Nikkei up 1.8% to 29,301.79 Topix up 1.9% to 2,030.22 Hang Seng Index little changed at 23,289.84 Shanghai Composite down 0.2% to 3,632.33 Sensex up 1.1% to 59,815.19 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 1.9% to 7,589.76 Kospi little changed at 2,989.24 Brent Futures up 0.4% to $79.26/bbl Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,806.40 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 96.18 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Treasury traders are betting the rapid spread of omicron will increase inflationary pressures in the U.S. economy, rather than weaken them Global central banks are set to spend 2022 diverging, as some take on the menace of inflation and others stay focused on boosting economic growth French inflation stabilized in December, indicating price pressures may be near a peak in the euro area after surging on energy costs in the past few months OPEC and its allies are poised to revive more halted oil production when they meet on Tuesday after predicting a tighter outlook for global markets A more detailed breakdown of global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks eventually traded mixed on the first trading session of the year for most bourses, with the region catching some tailwinds from the positive Eurozone and US sessions on Monday. On Wall Street, the Nasdaq outpaced with gains of 1.2% as Apple became the first-ever public company to reach USD 3tln in market value, whilst Tesla shares were catapulted 13.5% after beating Q4 delivery expectations despite the chip shortage and in spite of last week's mass recall. US equity futures overnight resumed trade with a mild positive bias and thereafter drifted higher - with the US ISM Manufacturing PMI, FOMC Minutes, US labour market report and Fed speakers all on this week’s docket. The ASX 200 (+2.0%) saw gains across its Energy, Mining, Tech and Financial sectors. The Nikkei 225 (+1.8%) briefly dipped under 29k before rising to session highs – with Autos among the top gainers amid a similar performance Stateside, whilst the softer JPY underpinned the index. The KOSPI (U/C) was flat in early trade but thereafter swung between gains and losses. In China, the Shanghai Comp (-0.2%) gave up early gains on its first trading day of 2022 following a CNY 260bln daily liquidity drain by the PBoC, whilst reports also suggested that China is facing USD 708mln cash demand this month, +18% Y/Y according to calculations, amid maturing debt and seasonal demand for cash ahead of the Lunar New Year on 1st February. The Hang Seng (+0.1%) kicked off its second day of trade the year in the green after Monday’s losses. China Evergrande shares resumed trade with gains of 5% after it yesterday suspended its Hong Kong shares in a bid to raise cash and following the order to demolish 39 buildings. Meanwhile, Hong Kong-listed and US-blacklisted AI firm SenseTime shares rose another 20% to almost triple its IPO price. In fixed income, US 10yr Mar'22 futures saw some light buying in early trade, with some suggested regional Asia demand following the heavy cheapening on Monday, albeit this early mild upside faded. Top Asian News Amazon Plays Down Reports It’s Pulling Kindle From China H.K. Finds One Prelim. Local Case With Unknown Source: HK01 China High-Yield Dollar Bonds Fall 1-2 Cents; Developers Lead China South City USD Bonds Slump; Firm Denies Debt-Swap Report European equities trade on a firmer footing with the Stoxx 600 (+0.8%) once again at a record high. The FTSE 100 leads the charge within the region; however, this is largely on account of a catch-up play from yesterday’s bank holiday. Initially to the downside resided the SMI (+0.1%) as the only major bourse in the red amid losses in index-heavyweight Roche (-1.4%); however, this has abated modestly throughout the morning. The lead from the APAC region was a mixed one as the Nikkei 225 (+1.8%) benefited from a softer JPY, the ASX 200 (+1.95%) was lifted by gains in Energy, Mining, Tech and Financial sectors, whilst Chinese bourses (Hang Seng +0.1%, Shanghai Comp. -0.2%) were kept subdued by a PBoC liquidity drain and unable to benefit from an unexpected expansion in the December Chinese Caixin Manufacturing PMI. Stateside, futures are modestly firmer across the board (ES +0.4%, NQ +0.4%, RTY +0.5%) after yesterday’s session which was characterised by Nasdaq outperformance, +1.2%, as Apple became the first-ever public company to reach USD 3tln in market value, whilst Tesla shares were catapulted 13.5% after beating Q4 delivery expectations. In a recent note, analysts at JP Morgan stated they are of the view that there is further upside for stocks as the Omicron variant appears to be milder than previous strains and the impact on mobility is more manageable than previous ones. Furthermore, the bank suggests that there are signs that constraints in supply chains are passing their peak and power prices are easing. Sectors in Europe are mostly firmer with Travel & Leisure names clearly top of the pile UK as airline names benefit from ongoing optimism about the Omicron variant’s impact on mobility and a December passenger update from Wizz Air which has sent its shares higher by 10.1%. Of note for the European banks (which are also a notable gainer on the session), Citigroup is “overweight” on the sector for the upcoming year, citing profit growth, interest rate hikes and potential for capital returns. In terms of specific names, BNP Paribas, Lloyds and UBS were flagged as top picks. Elsewhere, other cyclically-led sectors such as Autos, Oil & Gas and Basic Resources are also trading on a firmer footing. To the downside, Healthcare names sit in the red amid aforementioned losses in Roche, whilst Sanofi (-0.7%) are also seen lower after flagging that Q4 2021 vaccine sales are expected to be lower on a Y/Y basis. Finally, Rolls-Royce (+3.6%) is seen higher on the session after concluding the sale of Bergen Engines. Top European News Italy Starts Search for New President With Draghi as Contender U.K. Mortgage Approvals Fall to 66,964 in Nov. Vs. Est. 66,000 Ukraine Says Russia Reinforced Military Units in Occupied Donbas European Gas Prices Jump a Second Day as Russian Shipments Drop In FX, the Dollar index looks comfortable enough above 96.000 within a 96.336-146 range after eclipsing yesterday’s best (96.328) marginally, but the technical backdrop remains less constructive given its failure to end last week (and 2021) above a key chart level at 96.098. Nevertheless, the most recent spike in US Treasury yields has given the Greenback sufficient impetus to claw back losses, and in DXY terms fresh incentive to rebound firmly or extend gains against funding currencies in particular ahead of the manufacturing ISM and the remainder of a hectic first week of the new year that culminates in NFP and a trio of scheduled Fed speakers, but also comprises minutes of the December FOMC taper and more hawkishly aligned tightening policy meeting. JPY/AUD - As noted above, low yielders are underperforming or lagging in the current environment, and the Yen is also succumbing to the increasingly divergent BoJ vs Fed trajectory that is exacerbating technical forces behind the rally in Usd/Jpy to new 5 year highs just shy of 115.90. Stops are said to have been triggered during the latest leg up and there is little of significance in terms of resistance ahead of 116.00, while option expiry interest is relatively light until 1.13 bn at the half round number above. Conversely, the Aussie has been boosted by higher coal prices overnight and an unexpected return to growth from contraction in China’s Caixin manufacturing PMI, with Aud/Usd trying to establish a base around 0.7200 in wake of an upward revision to the final manufacturing PMI. GBP/NZD/EUR/CHF/CAD - The Pound is next best major, but mainly due to Gilts playing catch-up following Monday’s UK Bank Holiday and only in part on the back of an upgrade to the final manufacturing PMI allied to better than forecast BoE data including consumer credit, mortgage lending and approvals. Cable is probing 1.3500 and Eur/Gbp is edging towards 0.8360 even though the Euro has regained some poise against the Buck to retest 1.1300 with some traction gleaned from stronger than anticipated German retail sales and jobs metrics. Back down under, the Kiwi is trying to keep tabs on 0.6800 in the face of Aud/Nzd headwinds as the cross climbs over 1.0600, while the Franc is holding above 0.9200 post-Swiss CPI that was close to consensus and the Loonie is meandering between 1.2755-23 parameters pre-Canadian PPI and Markit’s manufacturing PMI against the backdrop of firmer crude prices. In commodities, WTI and Brent are firmer this morning and have been grinding towards fresh highs throughout the European session after slightly choppy APAC trade; currently, the peaks are USD 76.82/bbl and USD 79.67/bbl respectively. Newsflow has been fairly slow throughout the morning with catch-up action occurring for participants. Today’s focal point for the space is very much the OPEC+ gathering; albeit, this is expected to result in a continuation of the existing quota adjustments of 400k BPD/month. Thus far, the JTC has reviewed market fundamentals and other developments determining that the Omicron variant’s impact is expected to be both mild and short-term. For reference, today’s timings are 12:00GMT/07:00EST for the JMMC and 13:00GMT/08:00EST for OPEC+ - though, as always with OPEC, these serve only as guidance. While the main decision is expected to be a straightforward one, there is the possibility that underproduction by certain members could cause some tension. Elsewhere, spot gold and silver are contained with a modest positive-bias but are yet to stray too far from the unchanged mark with spot gold, for instance, in a sub-USD 10/oz range just above USD 1800/oz. Separately, coal futures were notable bid in China following reports that Indonesia, a large supplier to China, has banned exports for the month, given domestic power concerns. US Event Calendar 10am: Nov. JOLTs Job Openings, est. 11.1m, prior 11m 10am: Dec. ISM Employment, est. 53.6, prior 53.3 ISM New Orders, est. 60.4, prior 61.5 ISM Prices Paid, est. 79.2, prior 82.4 ISM Manufacturing, est. 60.0, prior 61.1         Tyler Durden Tue, 01/04/2022 - 07:59.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 4th, 2022

Race-Based COVID-19 Treatment Violates Federal Law

Race-Based COVID-19 Treatment Violates Federal Law Authored by Techno Fog via The Reactionary, New York City has issued its latest guidance for the distribution of monoclonal antibodies (and other COVID-19 therapeutics) for the treatment of COVID-19. And it looks to your color, not your condition. Attorney General Merrick Garland, mask off. For the uninitiated, monoclonal antibodies are recommended by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and have been authorized by the FDA, for the treatment of COVID-19. According to the latest New York City guidelines, monoclonal antibodies are authorized as COVID-19 treatment “for people who have a medical condition or other factors that increase their risk for severe illness.” “Other factors” that increase the risk for serious illness. What could those be? New York City has the answer: “Consider race and ethnicity when assessing individual risk, as longstanding systemic health and social inequities may contribute to an increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19.” The distribution of potentially life-saving medications based on the color of a patient’s skin – or, at a minimum, treatments that prevent a COVID-19 patient from life-threatening complications – has already started. According to the New York Post, “one Staten Island doctor said he filled two prescriptions for Paxlovid this week and was asked by the pharmacist to disclose the race of his patients before the treatment was authorized.” This follows similar reports from other jurisdictions. In Texas, a white patient was denied medication because he didn’t fit the racial “criteria.” White people are being denied monoclonal antibodies just because they’re white. I never expected this to happen in Texas. I have a feeling this is the Biden administration way of fighting back against @GregAbbott_TX since they’re mainly in charge of the antibodies. pic.twitter.com/FjTk9R7Cpx — The Dirty Truth (Josh) (@AKA_RealDirty) November 18, 2021 The New York pharmacists referenced in the New York Post story were apparently unconcerned about the risk factors that transcend races: obesity, age, chronic kidney or liver disease, or diabetes. It was race that mattered. While the New York Post reporting states both patients were white, and that both patients were ultimately “granted” their prescriptions, the concern is that the NYC guidance is more broadly already in practice. Race-Based Treatments and the Law This gets us to the issue of the broader legality of “health equity”. While the above paragraphs describe mere “guidance” from New York City health agencies, the administration of treatments and drugs based on race can violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As the Department of Justice explains: “Title VI, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq., was enacted as part of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.” The recipients of “federal financial assistance” may “include hospitals, health clinics, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, alcohol and drug treatment facilities, health research programs, almost all physicians, and Medicaid and Medicare programs.” Certainly there would be a statutory violation if one of these New York providers received federal funds and used race as a determining factor in providing medications. And if there is, the DOJ explains it is authorized to take action by termination funding or through litigation. At a minimum, the Biden Department of Justice should be pushing back on race-based treatment. Even if the legality can be debated (depending on whether a provider receives federal funds), the policy itself is certainly evil. With this ongoing discrimination, and with these options of enforcement, why is the Biden Department of Justice doing nothing? Perhaps because the Biden Administration is already playing politics with monoclonal antibodies. It recently instituted a dramatic reduction of shipments of monoclonal antibodies to Florida, claiming “such treatments are not effective against the omicron variant of the coronavirus.” As if omicron is the only variant out there. One can’t help but suspect that Florida residents are victimized, and will be victims themselves, because the Democrats don’t want Governor DeSantis (considered by many to be the 2024 Republican presidential frontrunner) to succeed. Or perhaps the Biden Administration allows for discrimination in providing medical care because it condones discrimination overall. Their actions support this theory. Back in October 2020, the Trump DOJ initiated litigation under the same statute (Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.) against Yale for discriminating on the basis of race and national origin. The Biden DOJ dropped the case without explanation in February 2021, two weeks after Biden’s inauguration. If anything, the New York City policy of “health equity” is line with the Biden Administration’s broader racial equity priorities. The CDC is on the record with supporting “equitable” – and not necessarily equal – access to medical care, including the treatment of COVID-19. As to the costs of this “health equity”? It will be measured in lives. Tyler Durden Mon, 01/03/2022 - 23:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 3rd, 2022

Scientists Shed New Light On What Makes Omicron Spread

Scientists Shed New Light On What Makes Omicron Spread At this point, members of the public have probably heard the following mantra a hundred times: while omicron is more infectious than delta, it also produces a less severe infection. This has been repeated over and over since the variant was first introduced to the public by a group of South African scientists. Well, just in case any doubters remain, the NYT reported the results of the latest round of studies on New Year's Day. The studies mostly focused on animals: In studies on mice and hamsters, omicron produced less damaging infections, often limited largely to the upper airway: the nose, throat and windpipe. Most important: omicron appears to do less harm to the lungs, where previous variants would often cause scarring and lead to serious difficulty breathing for many patients. But the animal studies show that omicron typically stays in the windpipe and upper respiratory tract: it doesn't make its way down deep into the lungs like delta. "It’s fair to say that the idea of a disease that manifests itself primarily in the upper respiratory system is emerging," said Roland Eils, a computational biologist at the Berlin Institute of Health, who has studied how coronaviruses infect the airway. When omicron was first introduced back in November, the only thing scientists knew for certain was that it had more than 50 mutations, many involving the spike protein used by the virus to bind with human cells. But as scientists have discovered in the interim, there is more to a virus than its mutations. "You can’t predict the behavior of virus from just the mutations," said Ravindra Gupta, a virologist at the University of Cambridge. And after months of scientists' infecting cells in Petri dishes and spraying the virus into the noses of animals, scientists have learned a little more about omicron. Interestingly, some scientists found the virus behaved in interesting ways, with reactions in certain species of animals drawing attention: Although the animals infected with Omicron on average experienced much milder symptoms, the scientists were particularly struck by the results in Syrian hamsters, a species known to get severely ill with all previous versions of the virus. "This was surprising, since every other variant has robustly infected these hamsters," said Dr. Michael Diamond, a virologist at Washington University and a co-author of the study. For now, scientists suspect that omicron's more mild demeanor might be a product of the human anatomy, moreso than the virus's genetic makeup. The reason that Omicron is milder may be a matter of anatomy. Dr. Diamond and his colleagues found that the level of Omicron in the noses of the hamsters was the same as in animals infected with an earlier form of the coronavirus. But Omicron levels in the lungs were one-tenth or less of the level of other variants. A similar finding came from researchers at the University of Hong Kong who studied bits of tissue taken from human airways during surgery. In 12 lung samples, the researchers found that Omicron grew more slowly than Delta and other variants did. The researchers also infected tissue from the bronchi, the tubes in the upper chest that deliver air from the windpipe to the lungs. And inside of those bronchial cells, in the first two days after an infection, Omicron grew faster than Delta or the original coronavirus did. Although others have found characteristics in human lung tissue that help to prevent the new variant from spreading in the lungs. Specifically, a protein called TMPRSS2 on the surface of the inside of the lungs. This protein doesn't take to omicron, impeding its spread in the critically important organ. Many cells in the lung carry a protein called TMPRSS2 on their surface that can inadvertently help passing viruses gain entry to the cell. But Dr. Gupta’s team found that this protein doesn’t grab on to Omicron very well. As a result, Omicron does a worse job of infecting cells in this manner than Delta does. A team at the University of Glasgow independently came to the same conclusion. Through an alternative route, coronaviruses can also slip into cells that don’t make TMPRSS2. Higher in the airway, cells tend not to carry the protein, which might explain the evidence that Omicron is found there more often than the lungs. Complicating matters, there are cells in the lungs that react to intruders by destroying all cells, not just infected ones. Of course, more studies will need to be conducted before the scientific community can say anything for certain. These findings will have to be followed up with further studies, such as experiments with monkeys or examination of the airways of people infected with Omicron. If the results hold up to scrutiny, they might explain why people infected with Omicron seem less likely to be hospitalized than those with Delta. Right now, this is all we can say for certain: COVID infections start in the nose, or possibly the mouth, before spreading down the throat. Mild infections don’t get much further than that...but when the virus takes hold in the lungs, it can then cause serious, lasting tissue damage. Tyler Durden Sat, 01/01/2022 - 16:45.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJan 1st, 2022

World Sees Record Daily COVID Cases As Less-Lethal Omicron Displaces Delta

World Sees Record Daily COVID Cases As Less-Lethal Omicron Displaces Delta The world has just reported a record daily number of new COVID cases as the omicron wave has reached yet another milestone. After a team of distinguished South African epidemiologists alerted the WHO to the advent of omicron while millions of Americans were settling down for their Thanksgiving dinner, experts immediately got to work gathering and analyzing what little data had been collected.  One of them included the following hopeful notion: that because omicron appeared less virulent than delta, it might crowd out the more harmful strain and cause an explosion of new cases without the attendant surge in hospitalizations and deaths. The scientists described this theory as a potential silver lining in the virus's nature: as humans' immunity improves dramatically, the virus might be evolving to become more of a nuisance and less of a threat, instead of the other way around. Bloomberg just reported that the number of new omicron cases reported on Monday around the world had surged to a new record. Monday's case tally was 1.44M. That far outpaced the prior record (data excludes one day last December when Turkey backdated a significant number of cases). The more-conservative 7-day moving average, which is intended to smooth over any spikes in the data, is also at a record high thanks to the tidal wave of omicron cases. Millions inside and outside the US are learning first-hand that omicron is the most infectious variant yet, as it cuts through vaccine-induced immunity like butter. It's quickly becoming the dominant strain globally, with the 7-day rolling average standing at 841K, an increase of 49% from a month ago, when omicron was first identified. The latest viral wave caught millions by surprise and forced Americans to cancel Christmas gatherings, much to President Biden's chagrin. The president has since abandoned his promise to "shut down" the virus, conceding instead that it's a problem for the states. Studies suggest that while omicron infects 70x faster than previous strains, the sickness it causes may not be as severe, especially for people who have been vaccinated and received a booster shot (or who have been previously infected). Many fear the ease of transmission and soaring number of cases could still squeeze hospital capacity worldwide, leaving the unvaccinated and anyone who needs medical care for other conditions in the lurch. The good news here, according to Bloomberg, is that daily COVID deaths haven't increased significantly at all: The seven-day rolling average of deaths has hovered at about 7K since mid-October after falling from a delta-driven peak. This hasn't changed at all since the emergence of omicron, even as the total number of infections has increased. Early signs out of southern Africa have shown some "decoupling" between cases and deaths, suggesting that this trend will be more durable than certain doomsayers (Dr. Fauci) have anticipated. As far as when this might end, projections are presently centered around any time between early January and early February. Tyler Durden Tue, 12/28/2021 - 08:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 28th, 2021

A Tale Of Two Omicrons

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

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 27th, 2021

Dow Jones Newswires: Singapore eases some omicron-related restrictions

Singapore eased some omicron variant-related restrictions after international evidence showed the variant is more transmissible but less severe than the delta variant......»»

Category: topSource: marketwatchDec 26th, 2021

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

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

Category: worldSource: nytDec 23rd, 2021

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

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

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 21st, 2021

Biden Plans To Distribute 500 Million Tests As Omicron Variant Overwhelms Most Vaccinated States

Biden Plans To Distribute 500 Million Tests As Omicron Variant Overwhelms Most Vaccinated States Last night, with the number of new COVID cases surging across the US, the CDC revealed that the number of new COVID cases caused by the omicron variant has already grown to 73% during the last week, up from the low teens a week ago, and less than 1% the week of the Thanksgiving holiday, when evidence of the new variant with some 50 mutations to help it avoid vaccine and natural immunity was first shared with the WHO. But in the US, at least, one of the most surprising aspects of this new wave is the fact that the states with the highest vaccination rates are seeing the biggest surge in new cases. This includes - but isn't limited to - New York, New Jersey and the six New England states, CT, MA, NH, VT, MA and RI. A few days ago, the RI chapter of the American College of Emergency Medicine warned in a letter to the governor and the top public health official that the hospital system in the state is "currently collapsing". In Maine, and a handful of other more populous states, the National Guard has been called in to help with hospital staffing shortages. And just last night, the NHL became the first US pro sports league to delay all play across all its teams due to the rising COVID numbers, although game cancellations have afflicted the NFL and NBA. President Biden is set to address the public Tuesday and lay out his plans to respond to the latest COVID "emergency" not with lockdowns and new restrictions, but with plans to get more COVID tests into the hands of the public. Instead, he will announce a sweeping plan to deploy 1,000 military medical professionals to help at overburdened hospitals, setting up new federal testing sites, deploying hundreds of federal vaccinators and buying 500MM rapid tests to distribute free to the public. According to the NYT, which published the news promptly at 0500ET, the measures were outlined to reporters Monday night by two senior administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, likely under the conditions of an embargo - news business jargon for when a story is leaked with the explicit agreement that reporters will wait until a given time to publish.  The 500MM tests that the administration intends to purchase will not be available until January, adding that the federal government intends to create a website where people can request that tests be sent to their homes, free of charge. It was not immediately clear where the tests would come from. If this sounds like a repeat, or a do-over, of the president's unveiling of his big winter plan to fight the pandemic a few weeks ago, that's largely because it is. Albeit with a different set of more popular (and more costly) measures that doesn't rely so much on the OSHA vaccination mandate that has been held up in the courts. In addition to the tests, here's a breakdown of the other measures being ordered by Biden (text courtesy of the NYT): Biden intends to direct his defense secretary, Lloyd J. Austin III, to “ready an additional 1,000 service members — military doctors, nurses, paramedics and other medical personnel — to deploy to hospitals during January and February, as needed,” according to a fact sheet prepared by the White House. At the same time, Biden will announce that six federal emergency response teams, with more than 100 health professionals and paramedics, will deploy immediately to six states: Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Arizona, New Hampshire and Vermont. Already, 300 federal medical workers have been deployed since Omicron was discovered in late November. Biden will also direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to work with hospitals across the country to make plans to expand capacity. FEMA will also stand up new pop-up vaccination clinics, the officials said, to handle hundreds of additional vaccinations per week. The government is also sending ventilators to the states - last week, officials said, it sent 330 - and will have hundreds of ambulances and emergency medical teams, overseen by FEMA, at the ready "so that if one hospital fills up, they can transport patients to open beds in other facilities," according to the fact sheet. It was not clear who would staff those teams, but the fact sheet said that even now, "30 paramedics are heading to New Hampshire, 30 to Vermont and 20 to Arizona, and 30 ambulances are headed to New York and eight to Maine." Per the NYT, the new Biden plan "has a more urgent tone than the winter pandemic strategy that Mr. Biden announced three weeks ago at the National Institutes of Health, just days after the new variant was discovered in South Africa." At the time, Biden promised that the 150MM Americans with private health insurance would be able to get reimbursed for at-home COVID tests starting in mid-January, and that his administration would improve access to booster shots and impose new testing requirements for international travelers. Unfortunately for the president, even the NYT is criticizing Biden's last plan for relying too heavily on vaccination as its "central strategy." But that plan — and Mr. Biden’s broader response to the Omicron variant — has drawn criticism from public health experts, who say the president has focused too heavily on vaccination as his central strategy. Many have called on him to be more aggressive about testing as a means of slowing the variant’s spread — including possibly sending rapid tests to the homes of every American, free of charge. Yesterday, the White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki insisted that lockdowns are no longer being considered as part of the federal response to the pandemic, and the Administration has stopped short of asking Americans to cancel holiday travel plans, which has elicited another round of warnings from the 'experts'. Some have warned that Biden is facing a "viral blizzard" that could be a major test for his presidency in the coming weeks. The US also reported its first confirmed omicron related death overnight, identified only as an unvaccinated man in Texas. But there's one issue the media hasn't really addressed: how come all the most heavily vaccinated states are also the ones seeing the biggest surge in cases and hospitalizations (which, also, have been less severe than the peak of last year's winter surge). Tyler Durden Tue, 12/21/2021 - 07:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 21st, 2021

Biden extends deadline for businesses to meet COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement

The Labor Department won't take any action on testing requirements until February 9, over a month after the initial January 4 deadline. A vial of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine.Rick Bowmer/AP Photo The Labor Department said that it would delay its vaccine-or-testing rule for large businesses until Feb. 9. The Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit on Friday ruled that the mandate could stand. Twenty-seven business groups quickly filed an appeal with the US Supreme Court to block the rule. The Biden administration will give employers additional time to abide by a federal requirement that workers get vaccinated or COVID-19 or be subject to testing after a federal court reinstated the rule.In a statement issued on Saturday, the Department of Labor granted the extension after the Ohio-based US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit on Friday allowed the requirement to proceed. A three-judge panel ruled that the OSHA requirement was within the agency's purview."The record establishes that Covid-19 has continued to spread, mutate, kill and block the safe return of American workers to their jobs," wrote Judge Jane B. Stranch. "To protect workers, OSHA can and must be able to respond to dangers as they evolve."According to the department, employees who haven't been fully vaccinated won't have to adhere to the requirement until February 9 — more than four weeks after the initial January 4 deadline.The Labor Department in a statement said that no "citations for noncompliance" will be issued before February 9 for testing rules "so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard."In the Biden mandate — which would affect 80 million individuals — private business that employed at least 100 people were to have ascertained the vaccination status of all workers and mandated that unvaccinated staffers wear face coverings by a December 6 deadline.The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the workplace-safety agency overseeing the implementation of the rule, lauded the court's decision."OSHA is gratified the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit dissolved the Fifth Circuit's stay of the Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard," per the agency's statement. "OSHA can now once again implement this vital workplace health standard, which will protect the health of workers by mitigating the spread of the unprecedented virus in the workplace."Several GOP-led states have challenged the vaccine rule — arguing that it it exceeds the authority of OSHA — but the court on Friday disputed that argument."The claim that COVID-19 exists outside the workplace and thus is not a grave danger in the workplace is equally unavailing. As discussed above, OSHA routinely regulates hazards that exist both inside and outside the workplace," Stranch wrote. "More to the point, OSHA here demonstrated with substantial evidence that the nature of the workplace — commonplace across the country and in virtually every industry — presents a heightened risk of exposure."David Michaels, an assistant secretary of labor for OSHA during the Obama administration and an epidemiologist at the George Washington University School of Public Health, told USA Today that the spread of the omicron variant should push employers to "ramp up workplace protections as quickly as possible."A coalition of twenty-seven business groups quickly responded to the court's decision on Friday, filing an appeal with the US Supreme Court to block the vaccine requirement."It will impose substantial, nonrecoverable compliance costs on those businesses. Those businesses will be faced with either incurring the costs of testing for the millions of employees who refuse to be vaccinated — and passing those costs on to consumers in the form of yet higher prices at a time of record inflation — or imposing the costs of testing upon their unvaccinated employees, who will quit en masse rather than suffer additional testing costs each week," the appeal says.As of December 17, more than 806,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the US, with nearly 50.8 million confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 18th, 2021

Stocks, Yields Tumble As Quad-Witching Fears Add To Broader Market Slide

Stocks, Yields Tumble As Quad-Witching Fears Add To Broader Market Slide US futures tumbled after hitting an all time high less than 24 hour ago, as the favorable if paradoxical bounce in risk from the hawkish FOMC pivot faded from memory and as investors questioned whether global stocks are due for a rough ride on the backdrop of growing risks from inflation and the omicron virus variant. S&P 500 futures slumped about 0.5% Friday morning, while the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield fell for a second straight day to 1.394%, the lowest since Dec. 6. Futures were dragged down by tech stocks as volatility surged amid mounting concerns about monetary tightening and the omicron coronavirus variant. “Rates hikes do not end bull markets, but reversal of central banks’ liquidity means less speculative froth and more volatility,” said Barclays strategist Emmanuel Cau. “Policy angst may be here to stay, but following months of unclear guidances and conflicting signals, the direction of travel is clear now.” Investors are also bracing for the quarterly rebalancing of the S&P 500 Index after the market close and the triple witching expiration of equity derivatives that could magnify market moves. General Motors dropped in premarket trading after the company said Cruise unit Chief Executive Officer Dan Ammann is leaving the company.  Here are some of the other notable premarket movers today: Tesla (TSLA US) shares fall as much as 2.4% in U.S. premarket trading as CEO Elon Musk sells another chunk of shares in the electric vehicle maker. FedEx (FDX US) boosted its adjusted earnings-per-share forecast for the full year, with the guidance beating the average analyst estimate. Shares rose about 4.8% in premarket trading. Spruce Biosciences (SPRB US) shares soar as much as 30% in U.S. premarket trading after Oppenheimer initiated coverage with an outperform rating and a $15 price target that implies 500% upside in the stock from Thursday’s closing price. Cerner (CERN US) shares rise 17% in U.S. pre- trading hours amid a report that Oracle is in talks to buy the medical-records company for about $30b. Rivian Automotive (RIVN US) shares slump 9% in U.S. premarket trading after the electric pickup maker reported results. Piper Sandler says that after- hours share-price loss is “noise,” and remains positive following earnings call. General Motors (GM US) dropped postmarket after it said Cruise Chief Executive Officer Dan Ammann is leaving the company. Steelcase (SCS US) declined in the after hours session after the furniture company reported 3Q revenue that missed the average analyst estimate due to supply chain disruptions. U.S. Steel Corp. (X US) shares declined premarket after it warned fourth-quarter results will be lower than Wall Street had been expecting. In Europe, technology companies and carmakers were among the worst-performing industries, dragging the Stoxx Europe 600 Index down 1%. Tech, autos and utilities are the weakest sectors. Miners and travel are the only Stoxx 600 sectors in small positive territory.  Cellnex slumped 4.1% to a six-month low after a British regulator said the Spanish company’s purchase of CK Hutchison Holdings’s European telecommunication towers raised “significant” competition concerns. Asian stocks slid, as a risk-off mode resumed amid concerns over tighter monetary policies and ongoing tensions between the U.S. and China. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped as much as 1%, set for the fifth decline over the past six days. Technology shares around the region took a hit, led by Chinese giants including Tencent and Alibaba Group, as a global sector selloff continued on higher rate fears. China was among the region’s worst performers after the Biden administration added 34 Chinese targets to its banned-entity list, weighing on sentiment. Japanese stocks held their losses after the Bank of Japan lengthened its cautious withdrawal from emergency pandemic aid. Asia’s benchmark was set to cap a more than 1% slide this week as central banks around the world attempt to curb inflation, dampening prospects for the usual year-end rally. The Federal Reserve plans to double the pace of its asset-tapering program and the Bank of England hiked interest rates, prompting investors to edge away from riskier assets. “I expect the choppy price action to continue to spoof fast-money players into the year-end, both in the U.S. and elsewhere,” said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at Oanda. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.1% to close at 7,304.00, snapping a three-day losing streak. Material and energy shares led the advance on the back of strong commodity prices. Gold miner Norther Star was the best performer on the benchmark. Domain Holdings was the worst performer, followed by Afterpay, after the U.S. government said it launched a regulatory probe into buy now, pay later companies. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.5% to 12,717.94 In rates, treasuries were mixed with the yield curve flatter as U.S. trading begins, retracing a portion of Thursday’s bull-steepening move that unfolded as futures further marked down likelihood of Fed rate increases beyond mid-2022. Yields out to the 10-year are within 1bp of Thursday’s closing levels, with longer maturities lower by 1bp-2bp; 5s30s is flatter by ~2bp after steepening 7.2bp Thursday, remains ~4bp steeper on week. Yields remain lower on week led by the 5Y, which declined 8.1bp Thursday.  Bunds bull flatten a touch, long-end richer by ~2bps, brushing off some hawkish comments from ECB’s Muller. Peripheral spreads tighten slightly. Gilts are bear steeper, cheaper by 2.5bps at the back end. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was steady and the greenback was mixed versus its Group-of-10 peers, with most currencies confined to narrow ranges. Treasury yields rose by up to 2bps, led by the belly. The euro was flat at $1.1330 and bund yields were little changed. The pound steadied amid seasonal flows into the dollar and as the boost from Thursday’s surprise Bank of England rate hike wore off. U.K. retail sales last month rose 1.4% from October, when they grew a revised 1.1%, the Office for National Statistics said. Economists had expected an increase of 0.8%. Sales excluding auto fuel grew 1.1%. The yen edged higher on concerns about the risk that eventual draw-down in central bank liquidity could trigger a reversal in the rally. Japanese government bonds were in ranges as they shrugged off the Bank of Japan’s status quo outcome. Australian and New Zealand dollar led G-10 declines as falling stocks and mounting virus numbers sapped demand for risk currencies. Turkish lira once again goes sharply offered, briefly weakening over 9% to print through 17/USD before further central bank intervention. In commodities, WTI dropped 1.5%, holding above $71 so far; Brent trades slips below $74. Spot gold holds Asia’s gains, near $1,804/oz. Base metals are in the green with LME tin outperforming. Bloomberg’s Markets Live team is running an anonymous survey on asset views for 2022. It takes about two minutes and the results will be shared in the latter part of December. Looking at the day ahead, data releases include Germany’s Ifo business climate indicator for December, as well as November data on German PPI and UK retail sales. From central banks, we’ll also hear from the Fed’s Waller and the ECB’s Rehn. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.8% to 4,635.00 MXAP down 0.9% to 191.41 MXAPJ down 0.8% to 618.58 Nikkei down 1.8% to 28,545.68 Topix down 1.4% to 1,984.47 Hang Seng Index down 1.2% to 23,192.63 Shanghai Composite down 1.2% to 3,632.36 Sensex down 1.5% to 57,011.01 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.1% to 7,303.97 Kospi up 0.4% to 3,017.73 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.6% to 473.64 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.36% Euro little changed at $1.1330 Brent Futures down 1.4% to $73.99/bbl Gold spot up 0.5% to $1,808.56 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 95.98 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Boris Johnson suffered a seismic political upset as his ruling Conservatives lost a key parliamentary election, a result that will heap intense pressure on the U.K. prime minister and may even call his position into question Leading central banks made a big call this week, deciding that the coronavirus is no longer calling the shots in their economies, and inflation is now the bigger threat Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau said the difference between the new forecast for 1.8% inflation in 2023 and 2024 and the ECB’s 2% target is within the “margin of uncertainty.” In a Bundesbank report showing German inflation will run above 2% through 2024, Jens Weidmann urged vigilance as he sees “risks to the upside” throughout the currency bloc ECB Governing Council member Olli Rehn said “there’s considerable uncertainty about the path which inflation will take” Germany’s main gauge of business expectations slipped to 92.6 in December, falling for a sixth month, according to the Ifo institute. That’s a bigger decline than predicted by economists in a Bloomberg survey. Current conditions were also assessed as weaker than in November EU leaders failed to reach a deal on how to react to the unprecedented gas crisis that sent energy prices to record levels after Poland and the Czech Republic demanded stronger action to cap the costs of pollution A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets were mostly lower with sentiment in the region downbeat after the tech-led declines in the US and yesterday’s central bank frenzy. Overnight US equity futures held a downside bias. The ASX 200 (+0.1%) traded positively amid notable outperformance in the commodity-related sectors which was spearheaded by gold miners as the precious metal reclaimed with the USD 1800/oz level and with sentiment also helped by the announcement of a UK-Australia trade deal. The Nikkei 225 (-1.8%) was the biggest laggard as exporters suffered from detrimental currency inflows and following the BoJ announcement to scale back its pandemic relief measures in March. The Hang Seng (-1.2%) and Shanghai Comp. (-1.2%) were lacklustre after further restrictive measures by the US on Chinese companies including the passage of the Uyghur bill aimed at China which bans imports from Xinjiang unless the US government determines they were not produced with forced labour, while tech suffered after the US included several Chinese companies to its investment and trade restrictions lists. Finally, 10yr JGBs were flat despite the steepening seen in the US and underperformance of Japanese stocks, with demand subdued amid the BoJ decision to scale back pandemic relief measures. Top Asian News Japan Expedites Virus Boosters for Some as Omicron Looms Hong Kong Stock Exchange to Allow SPAC Listings Next Month Thailand May Impose Stock-Trading Tax to Lift Government Revenue Asian Stocks Drop as Worries on Global Policy Tightening Linger European equities have succumbed to the weakness seen on Wall Street and across most APAC markets (Euro Stoxx 50 -1.1%; Stoxx 600 -0.6%) as global central banks turn hawkish and Quad Witching gets underway in holiday-thinned liquidity. US equity futures have also drifted lower, with the March 2022 contracts softer to the tune of 0.1-0.3% across the ES, NQ, YM and RTY. On the recent central bank pivots, analysts at Barclays suggest that rate hikes do not end bull markets, but reduced liquidity means “less speculative froth”. Barclays sees persisting inflation as a risk to markets and Omicron as an increasing downside risk to European growth, albeit the impact is contained thus far. Back to trade, Eurozone bourses see broad-based weakness whilst the UK’s FTSE 100 (+0.2%) holds its head above water – aided by outperformance in the basic materials sector and a softer Sterling. Overall sectors kicked off the day with a defensive bias, albeit that theme has since faded, with some cyclicals making their way up the ranks. Sectors are mostly in the red, however. Auto names are the laggards, with European car registrations -17.5% in November (prev. -30% MM). Tech also resides towards the bottom amid outflows from growth, and with the hefty valuations state-side also stoking some concerns. Chip names are also hit amid news Apple (-0.8% pre-market) is reportedly planning to build a new office to bring wireless chips in-house which may replace parts from Broadcom and Skyworks. STMicroelectronics (-3%), ASM (-2.4%), BE Semiconductor (-2.6%) are among the biggest losers in the Stoxx 600. Top European News European Gas Plunges After Russia Books Pipeline at Last Minute Stellantis Revamps Auto-Finance Business With BNP, Santander Cellnex Drops Most in 11 Months on CK Hutchison Deal Woes Johnson Suffers Humiliating Defeat in U.K. Special Election In FX, it feels like Friday fatigue has set in and markets are already in weekend mode as the Greenback sticks to relatively tight lines against most G10 peers and the index holds close to the 96.000 level within a narrow 96.118-95.875 band. Consolidation and sideways price action is hardly a surprise given this week’s extremely volatile trade on a combination of thin seasonal volumes and the abundance of final global Central Bank policy meetings for the year all scheduled within a few days. However, the Dollar and a few of its key counterparts may also be tied up in option expiry interest that ranges from large to huge in certain cases, awaiting comments from Fed’s Waller as the first official post-FOMC speaker. CHF/EUR/GBP/JPY - The Franc remains above 0.9200 vs the Buck and is testing 1.0400 against the Euro again in wake of an unchanged SNB yesterday, while the single currency is holding above 1.1300 vs the Greenback even though Germany’s latest Ifo survey was downbeat and perhaps underpinned by hawkish remarks from ECB’s Simkus and Muller over the comparatively neutral/dovish Rehn. Elsewhere, Sterling retains an element of its post-BoE hike momentum, but not enough for Cable to breach the 30 DMA that comes in at 1.3344 today or stay above a Fib retracement at 1.3321 irrespective of Chief Economist Pill expressing the view that further tightening is likely. Conversely, the BoJ stuck to its dovish stance and balanced the termination of corporate and commercial QE by extending the COVID-19 funding facility for SMEs another 6 months, to leave the Yen meandering between 113.86-44, though nearer 113.50 amidst the latest bout of risk aversion. Note also, Usd/Jpy will likely be contained by a swathe of option expiries stretching from 113.00 up to 114.50 and the same can be said for Eur/Usd and the Pound given the sheer size of interest at various strikes rolling off today - see 7.24GMT post on the Headline Feed for details. NZD/AUD/CAD - A further deterioration in NBNZ business outlook and decline in own activity have compounded the aforementioned downturn in overall sentiment to the detriment of the Kiwi more than Aussie or Loonie that is feeling the heat from renewed weakness in WTI crude. Hence, Nzd/Usd is nearer 0.6750 than 0.6800, while Aud/Usd is hovering within a 0.7185-53 range and Usd/Cad sits just above 1.2800. In commodities, WTI and Brent futures have been trundling lower in tandem with risk appetite – with WTI Jan closer to USD 71/bbl (vs high USD 72.26/bbl) whilst Brent Feb resides under USD 73/bbl (vs high USD 74.98/bbl). The morning did see updates on the Iranian nuclear front whereby sources suggested the parties in the Vienna talks have been able to reach a new draft by incorporating Iran's views, which, if finalised, will be the basis for upcoming talks. Although nothing is yet set in stone, this is much more constructive than had been the case this time last week. Further, the oil complex juggles the fluid COVID situation as the steeper rise in global cases backs the notion of stricter measures. That being said, reports thus far continue to suggest the lower severity of the Omicron variant. Analysts at Goldman Sachs said Omicron hasn't had much of an impact on mobility and oil demand, while it sees strong oil demand in 2022 from rising CAPEX and infrastructure construction. Furthermore, it stated that average oil demand is to hit record highs in 2022 and 2023. Elsewhere, spot gold remains firm after topping the group of DMAs yesterday (21 at 1787, 100 at 1788, 200 at 1794 and 50 at 1798) alongside the USD 1,800/oz mark. LME copper hovers around the USD 9,500/t mark awaiting the next catalyst, whilst Dalian iron ore continued to gain overnight with traders citing a recovery in steel demand. US Event Calendar No economic events 1pm: Fed’s Waller Discusses the Economic Outlook DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Well this is my last EMR of 2021. Henry will be in charge on Monday and Tuesday of next week but by then I’ll be catching up on sleep to prepare myself for the onslaught of Xmas with three hyper excitable kids. Thanks for all your support and interactions over the past year. Hopefully you’ll continue to read in 2022. Try to have as exciting a holiday season as the virus permits and see you on the other side. As I have done most years, at the end today I’m listing my favourite TV series and films of the year. I used to do favourite albums of the year but I’m ashamed to say that the person who used to buy a few hundred albums a year and try out all sorts of new music has turned into someone who listens to playlists and old albums. All a bit dull. The odd film and lots of TV continues to keep me sane after a day working in financial markets. So I hope you enjoy the countdown. Talking of countdowns, yesterday was probably the last active market day of the year with a slew of Central Bank activity over the last 36 hours. However the FOMC-inspired risk rally peaked out by lunchtime in Europe and the S&P 500 eventually shed -0.87% amidst significant declines in technology stocks (Nasdaq -2.47%). Meanwhile there was continued caution about the Omicron variant among investors, as many of the key economies await a fresh wave of cases over the coming weeks. We’ll start with the ECB, who yesterday said that they would be ending net asset purchases under their Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) at the end of March 2022, and that purchases over Q1 would be “at a lower pace than in the previous quarter”. Nevertheless, they also moved to soften the blow by confirming a step up in purchases by the Asset Purchase Programme (APP) to €40bn a month in Q2 2022, followed by a reduction to €30bn in Q3, and then €20bn a month from October “for as long as necessary to reinforce the accommodative impact of its policy rates.” They also said that they expected net purchases would conclude “shortly before it starts raising the key ECB interest rates.” Overall this was a somewhat hawkish decision (see European economists’ recap here), since although APP purchases will be increasing, those volumes are fixed and will taper out, whilst expectations were that the ECB may retain more flexibility with the APP. That flexibility seems confined to PEPP reinvestments, which will grant policy optionality as the inflation outlook remains uncertain. That said, it seems like the ECB communicated a set path for policy during 2022, with rate hikes not coming until 2023, according to our economists. Sovereign bond yields ended the day higher across most of the continent, although they gave up some of that increase towards the close, with those on 10yr bunds (+1.1bps), OATs (+2.2bps) and BTPs (+5.5bps) all rising. However, some shorter-dated yields did move lower, with those on 2yr bunds (-1.3bps) and OATs (-0.2bps) declining. When it comes to the ECB’s inflation forecasts, these were upgraded yet again, with the central bank now expecting 2022 inflation at +3.2% (vs. +1.7% in September), whilst their 2023 and 2024 projections now stand at +1.8%. However, the 2023 and 2024 projections are still beneath the ECB’s 2% target, and in their forward guidance they’ve said that they wouldn’t raise raises until inflation was seen reaching the target “durably for the rest of the projection horizon”, so even with the upgrade to 2023 they’re still forecasting inflation beneath target then. The other central bank decision came from the BoE yesterday, who hiked rates by 15bps to 0.25%. The consensus had been expecting them to keep rates on hold given the Omicron variant, hence the decision came as something of a surprise to markets, although we should say that DB’s own UK economist made an out-of-consensus but accurate call for a 15bps hike. In the minutes, the decision was described as “finely balanced” due to the uncertainty around Covid, but an 8-1 majority on the MPC voted in favour, and Governor Bailey said afterwards in a BBC interview that “We’ve seen evidence of a very tight labour market and we’re seeing more persistent inflation pressures, and that’s what we have to act on”. It comes as inflation has continued to surpass the BoE’s own forecasts, and the summary of the latest meeting said that Bank staff were now expecting inflation to peak “around 6% in April 2022”, up from its current level of 5.1%. Given the decision came as a surprise to many, there was a sharp rise in gilt yields in response, with those on 10yr gilts initially up +10bps before following the global bond rally which meant we only closed up +2.2bps to 0.75%. That move was entirely driven by higher real rates, and the 10yr inflation breakeven fell -5.5bps as investors moved to price in a lower trajectory for inflation, with the 5yr breakeven down by an even larger -12.3bps. Meanwhile investors also moved to price in a faster pace of hikes over the coming months, with the next 25bps hike fully priced in by the time of the March 2022 meeting, and a +73% chance of one priced in at the next meeting in February. In terms of DB’s own expectations, our UK economist writes in his reaction note (link here) that he now expects the next 25bps hike as soon as February 2022, followed by two further hikes in November 2022 and May 2023. Against this backdrop there was a fairly mixed equity reaction on either side of the Atlantic. The S&P 500 fell -0.88% as mentioned, with the NASDAQ seeing a major -2.47% decline, erasing their post-FOMC gains. In Europe however there was a much stronger performance as they caught up with the US rally following the Fed’s policy decision, and the STOXX 600 advanced +1.23%. Separately, US Treasuries also diverged from their European counterparts, with the 10yr yield down -4.6bps at 1.41%. In terms of the latest on the pandemic, there was a further record number of cases in the UK yesterday, with 88,376 reported, which beats the previous record set only the day before. Against that backdrop, France moved to restrict travel from the UK, with tourist and non-essential business travel prohibited. Separately in South Africa, hospitalisations now stand at 7,614, which is currently up +59% on the previous week. When it comes to the economic impact, yesterday’s release of the December flash PMIs from around the world pointed to weakening growth momentum across the major economies. Indeed, the composite PMI declined on the previous month in the US, Euro Area, Germany, France, UK, Japan and Australia. The headline numbers were the Euro Area composite PMI, which fell to a 9-month low of 53.4 (vs. 54.4 expected), whilst the US composite PMI fell to 56.9. So both still above the 50-mark that separates expansion from contraction, but some way down from their peaks in the middle of the year. Over in the US, it appears the gap between Democratic senators on President Biden’s Build Back Better bill is just too big, as Democratic leaders acknowledged that negotiations and votes could well drag over into next year. In a statement, President Biden said that “It takes time to finalize these agreements, prepare the legislative changes, and finish all the parliamentary and procedural steps needed to enable a Senate vote. We will advance this work together over the days and weeks ahead”. Obviously longer-term outlooks will hinge on whether or not the bill passes, but there’s implications for 2022 growth, too, as the bill was set to extend child tax credits that comprise a not-insubstantial portion of consumer income. Overnight in Asia the main equity indices are trading lower, with the KOSPI (-0.33%), Shanghai Composite (-0.90%), Hang Seng (-1.28%), CSI (-1.31%) and the Nikkei (-1.75%) all declining amidst losses in technology stocks. Some of the main headlines came from the Bank of Japan however, which kept its main policy rates unchanged, announced that it would slowly reduce its corporate debt holdings, but also extended a special covid loans program by six months to end in September 2022, which aims to support small and medium-sized firms. Futures markets in US & Europe are also indicating a slow start, with those on the S&P 500 (-0.14%) and the DAX (-0.67%) both trading in the red. In terms of yesterday’s other data, the weekly initial jobless claims in the US moved up from their half-century low the previous week to 206k (vs. 200k expected). In spite of the uptick however, it was still enough to push the 4-week moving average down to 203.75k. Otherwise, US industrial production grew by +0.5% in November (vs. +0.6% expected), housing starts accelerated to an annualised rate of 1.679m (vs. 1.567m expected), their highest level in 8 months, and building permits rose to an annualised 1.712m (vs. 1.661m expected). To the day ahead now, and data releases include Germany’s Ifo business climate indicator for December, as well as November data on German PPI and UK retail sales. From central banks, we’ll also hear from the Fed’s Waller and the ECB’s Rehn. Tyler Durden Fri, 12/17/2021 - 08:07.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 17th, 2021