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Chronic land degradation: UN offers stark warnings and practical remedies in Global Land Outlook 2

The way land resources – soil, water and biodiversity – are currently mismanaged and misused threatens the health and continued survival of many species…

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The way land resources – soil, water and biodiversity – are currently mismanaged and misused threatens the health and continued survival of many species on Earth, including our own, warns a stark new report from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).  

Credit: UNCCD

The way land resources – soil, water and biodiversity – are currently mismanaged and misused threatens the health and continued survival of many species on Earth, including our own, warns a stark new report from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).  

It also points decision makers to hundreds of practical ways to effect local, national and regional land and ecosystem restoration. 

UNCCD’s evidence-based flagship Global Land Outlook 2 (GLO2) report, five years in development with 21 partner organizations, and with over 1,000 references, is the most comprehensive consolidation of information on the topic ever assembled. 

It offers an overview of unprecedented breadth and projects the planetary consequences of three scenarios through 2050: business as usual, restoration of 50 million square km of land, and restoration measures augmented by the conservation of natural areas important for specific ecosystem functions.

It also assesses the potential contributions of land restoration investments to climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction, human health and other key sustainable development goals.

Warns the report: “At no other point in modern history has humanity faced such an array of familiar and unfamiliar risks and hazards, interacting in a hyper-connected and rapidly changing world. We cannot afford to underestimate the scale and impact of these existential threats.”

“Conserving, restoring, and using our land resources sustainably is a global imperative, one that requires action on a crisis footing…Business as usual is not a viable pathway for our continued survival and prosperity.”

GLO2 offers hundreds of examples from around the world that demonstrate the potential of land restoration. It is being released before the UNCCD’s 15th session of the Conference of Parties to be held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire (COP15, 9-20 May). 

Says Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD: “Modern agriculture has altered the face of the planet more than any other human activity. We need to urgently rethink our global food systems, which are responsible for 80% of deforestation, 70% of freshwater use, and the single greatest cause of terrestrial biodiversity loss.”

“Investing in large-scale land restoration is a powerful, cost-effective tool to combat desertification, soil erosion, and loss of agricultural production. As a finite resource and our most valuable natural asset, we cannot afford to continue taking land for granted.”

Future scenarios

The report predicts the outcomes by 2050 and risks involved under three scenarios:

Baseline: Business as usual, continuing current trends in land and natural resource degradation, while demands for food, feed, fiber, and bioenergy continue to rise. Land management practices and climate change continue to cause widespread soil erosion, declining fertility and growth in yields, and the further loss of natural areas due to expanding agriculture.

By 2050:

  • 16 million square kilometers show continued land degradation (almost the size of South America)
  • A persistent, long-term decline in vegetative productivity is observed for 12-14% of agricultural, pasture and grazing land, and natural areas – with sub-Saharan Africa worst affected.
  • An additional 69 gigatonnes of carbon is emitted from 2015 to 2050 due to land use change and soil degradation This represents 17% of current annual greenhouse gas emissions: soil organic carbon (32 gigatonnes), vegetation (27 gigatonnes), peatland degradation/conversion (10 gigatonnes).

Restoration: Assumes the restoration of around 5 billion hectares (50 million square kilometers or 35% of the global land area) using measures such as agroforestry, grazing management, and assisted natural regeneration. (Current international pledges: 10 million square kilometers).

By 2050:

  • Crop yields increase by 5-10% in most developing countries compared to the baseline. Improved soil health leads to higher crop yields, with the largest gains in the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America, and subSaharan Africa, limiting food price increases.
  • Soil water holding capacity would increase by 4% in rainfed croplands.
  • Carbon stocks rise by a net 17 gigatonnes between 2015 and 2050 due to gains in soil carbon and reduced emissions.
  • Biodiversity continues to decline, but not as quickly, with 11% of biodiversity loss averted.

Restoration and Protection: This scenario includes the restoration measures, augmented with protection measures of areas important for biodiversity, water regulation, conservation of soil and carbon stocks, and provision of critical ecosystem functions. 

By 2050: 

  • An additional 4 million square kilometers of natural areas (the size of India and Pakistan); largest gains expected in South and Southeast Asia and Latin America. Protections would prevent land degradation by logging, burning, draining, or conversion.
  • About a third of the biodiversity loss projected in the baseline would be prevented
  • An additional 83 gigatonnes of carbon are stored compared to the baseline. Avoided emission and increased carbon storage would be equivalent to more than seven years of total current global emissions. 

See below for additional scenario projections and information

Other key points in the report include:

  •  $US 44 trillion – roughly half the world’s annual economic output – is being put at risk by the loss of finite natural capital and nature’s services, which underpin human and environmental health by regulating climate, water, disease, pests, waste and air pollution, while providing numerous other benefits such as recreation and cultural benefits. 
  • The economic returns of restoring land and reducing degradation, greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss could be as high as $US 125-140 trillion every year – up to 50% more than the $93 trillion global GDP in 2021
  • Repurposing in the next decade just $US 1.6 trillion of the annual $700 billion in perverse subsidies given to the fossil fuel and agricultural industries would enable governments to meet current pledges to restore by 2030 some 1 billion degraded hectares – an area the size of the USA or China – including 250 million hectares of farmland
  • Restoring land, soils, forests and other ecosystems would contribute more than one-third of the cost-effective climate change mitigation needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C while supporting biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction, human health and other key sustainable development goals
  • Many traditional and modern regenerative food production practices can enable agriculture to pivot from being the primary cause of degradation to the principal catalyst for land and soil restoration
  • Poor rural communities, smallholder farmers, women, youth, Indigenous Peoples, and other at-risk groups are disproportionately affected by desertification, land degradation, and drought. At the same time, traditional and local knowledge of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, proven land stewards, represent a vast store of human and social capital that must be respected and can be used to protect and restore natural capital
  • Immediate financial support is needed to fund conservation and restoration in those developing countries with a greater share of the global distribution of intact, biodiverse, and carbon-rich ecosystems
  • Restoration projects and programs tend to have long-term multiplier effects that strengthen rural economies and contribute to wider regional development. They generate jobs that cannot be outsourced, and investments stimulate demand that benefits local economies and communities
  • Bringing together national action plans currently siloed under the UNCCD, Convention on Biological Diversity, and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change represents an immediate opportunity to align targets and commitments to implement land restoration, realize multiple benefits, and maximize returns on investment
  • Land and resource rights, secured through enforceable laws and trusted institutions, can transform underperforming land assets into sustainable development opportunities, helping maintain equitable and cohesive societies
  • Inclusive and responsible land governance, including tenure security, is an effective way to balance trade-offs and harness synergies that optimize restoration outcomes
  • Grasslands and savannas are productive, biodiverse ecosystems that match forests both in their global extent and their need for protection and restoration. Equally important are wetlands, which are in long-term decline averaging losses at three times the rate of global forest loss in recent decades. Sustaining their capacity to absorb and store carbon is key to a climate-resilient future
  • Intensive monocultures and the destruction of forests and other ecosystems for food and commodity production generate the bulk of carbon emissions associated with land use change
  • If current land degradation trends continue, food supply disruptions, forced migration, rapid biodiversity loss and species extinctions will increase, accompanied by a higher risk of zoonotic diseases like COVID-19, declining human health, and land resource conflicts

GLO2 offers hundreds of good practice snapshots from around the world that illustrate context-specific measures to combat environmental degradation, restore land health, and improve living conditions.

Many regenerative agriculture practices have the potential to increase crop yields and improve their nutritional quality while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and drawing down carbon from the atmosphere, it says.

Examples include rewilding – reducing the human footprint to allow natural ecological processes to re-establish themselves – in the Greater Côa Valley in northern Portugal and the Iberá wetlands in Argentina; drought preparedness and risk reduction through national programmes in Mexico, the USA, and Brazil; sand and dust storm source mitigation in Iraq, China, and Kuwait; and gender-responsive land restoration in Mali, Nicauragua, and Jordan. There are also cases of integrated flood and drought strategies as well as forest landscape restoration using high-value crops.

Good practices can involve terrace and contour farming, conserving and restoring watersheds, and rainwater harvesting and storage. In addition to their economic benefits, these measures improve water retention and availability, prevent soil erosion and landslides, reduce flood risk, sequester carbon, and protect biodiversity habitat.

Africa’s Great Green Wall, meanwhile, which aims to restore the continent’s degraded landscapes, exemplifies “a regional restoration initiative that embraces an integrated approach with the promise of transforming the lives of millions of people,” says the report.

“The case studies from around the world showcased in GLO2 make clear that land restoration can be implemented in almost all settings and at many spatial scales, suggesting that every country can design and implement a tailored land restoration agenda to meet their development needs,” says Mr. Thiaw.

Many of the cases, he adds, underscore the value of education, training, and capacity building, not just for local communities, but also for government officials, land managers, and development planners. Linking local engagement to national policies and budgets will help ensure a responsive and well-aligned restoration agenda that delivers tangible outcomes for people, nature, and the climate.   

Preventing, halting, and reversing the degradation of ecosystems worldwide is the focus of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), which calls for a broad and balanced response, addressing all ecosystems and their connectivity to reestablish a healthy landscape mosaic. These efforts are closely aligned with SDG target 15.3, which calls on countries to strive to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) by 2030.

“Hope remains as the decade of restoration has begun,” says Mr. Thiaw. “Now is the time to harness political will, innovation, and collective action to restore our land and soil for short-term recovery and long-term regeneration to ensure a more stable and resilient future.”

* * * * *

By the numbers, GLO2:

  • 50%: Proportion of humanity affected by land degradation
  • $US 7-30: benefits returned for every dollar invested in restoring degraded land
  • Four: planetary boundaries (used to define a ‘safe operating space for humanity’) already exceeded: climate change, biodiversity loss, land use change, and geochemical cycles, breaches directly linked to human-induced desertification, land degradation, and drought
  • 40%+: global land area occupied by agriculture
  • 15%: proportion of the $US 700 billion paid out in commercial subsidies each year that positively impact natural capital, biodiversity, long-term job stability, or livelihoods
  • 70%+: Tropical forest cleared for agriculture between 2013 and 2019 in violation of national laws or regulations
  • 1%: Farms that control more than 70% of the world’s agricultural land
  • 80%: Farms smaller than two hectares, representing 12% of total farmland
  • 50%: Reduction of degraded land by 2040 pledged by G20 leaders in November 2020
  • 115+: countries that had made quantitative, area-based commitments by the end of 2021, collectively a pledge to restore 1 billion hectares of farms, forests, and pastures
  • 100+: Countries with plans for Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) by 2030: ‘frameworks for action’ by local and national authorities, civil society, and the private sector
  • 130: Countries that reaffirmed in the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use (Nov. 2021) their respective individual and collective commitments under the three Rio Conventions – on Desertification (UNCCD), Biological Diversity (CBD), and Climate Change (UNFCCC), supported by unprecedented corporate and donor pledges. It also includes commitments to facilitate trade and development policies that avoid deforestation and land degradation, especially regarding internationally-traded agricultural commodities, such as beef, soy, palm oil, and timber.

* * * * * 

Comments

“The second edition of the Global Land Outlook is a must-read for the biodiversity community. The future of biodiversity is precarious. We have already degraded nearly 40 % and altered 70 % of the land. We cannot afford to have another “lost decade” for nature and need to act now for a future of life in harmony with nature. The GLO2 shows pathways, enablers and knowledge that we should apply to effectively implement the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.”

  • Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary, UN Convention on Biological Diversity

“Land is the operative link between biodiversity loss and climate change, and therefore must be the primary focus of any meaningful intervention to tackle these intertwined crises. Restoring degraded land and soil provides fertile ground on which to take immediate and concerted action.”  

  • Andrea Meza Murillo, Deputy Executive Secretary, UNCCD

“As a global community we can no longer rely on incremental reforms within traditional planning and development frameworks to address the profound development and sustainability challenges we are facing in coming decades. A rapid transformation in land use and management practices that place people and nature at the center of our planning is needed, prioritizing job creation and building vital skill sets while giving voice to women and youth who have been traditionally marginalized from decision making.”

  • Nichole Barger, report steering committee member, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, USA

“Just as COVID-19 vaccines were developed, tested, and rolled out at unprecedented speed and scale, so too must land restoration and other nature-based solutions be undertaken to prevent further environmental decline and ensure a healthy and prosperous future. We can reduce the risk of zoonotic disease transmission, increase food and water security, and improve human health and livelihoods by managing, expanding, and connecting protected and natural areas, improving soil, crop, and livestock health in food systems, and creating green and blue spaces in and around cities.”

  • Barron Orr, Lead Scientist, UNCCD

“Restoring long term health and productivity in food landscapes is a top priority to ensure future sustainability. Much as an investor uses financial capital to generate profits, regenerating a forest or improving soil health provides returns in the form of a future supply of timber or food.” 

  • Louise Baker, Director, Global Mechanism, UNCCD

“Indigenous Peoples and local communities are proven land stewards. The recognition of their rights and their involvement in the long-term management of their lands and of protected areas will be vital to success.”

  • Miriam Medel, Chief, External Relations, Policy and Advocacy, UNCCD

“By designing an innovative, customized land restoration agenda that suits their needs, capacities, and circumstances, countries and communities can recover lost natural resources and better prepare for climate change and other looming threats.”

  • Johns Muleso Kharika, Chief, Science, Technology and Innovation, UNCCD

* * * * * 

GLO2: Additional scenario projections

Baseline: Business as usual

By 2050:

  • 16 million square kilometers show continued land degradation (almost the size of South America)
  • A persistent, long-term decline in vegetative productivity is observed for 12-14% of agricultural, pasture and grazing land, and natural areas – with sub-Saharan Africa worst affected.
  • An additional 69 gigatonnes of carbon is emitted from 2015 to 2050 due to land use change and soil degradation This represents 17% of current annual greenhouse gas emissions: soil organic carbon (32 gigatonnes), vegetation (27 gigatonnes), peatland degradation/conversion (10 gigatonnes).
  • A slowing in the growth of agricultural yields While agricultural yields are still projected to rise in all regions, land degradation will curb increases, especially in the Middle East, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. The loss of soil organic carbon and the soil’s ability to hold water and nutrients, such as phosphorus or nitrogen, will be primarily responsible for this slowing, while the associated risks of drought and water scarcity are expected to increase.
  • The demand for food, expected to rise by 45% between 2015 and 2050, will have to be met by further intensification and expansion of agricultural land, resulting in the further loss of 3 million square kilometers of natural areas (the size of India), mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

Restoration Scenario

Assumes that land restoration done on a massive scale – across a potential 50 million square kilometers (5 billion hectares) with measures such as:

  • Conservation agriculture (low- or no-till farming)
  • Agroforestry and silvopasture (combining trees with crops, livestock, or both)
  • Improved grazing management and grassland rehabilitation
  • Forest plantations
  • Assisted natural regeneration
  • Cross-slope barriers to prevent soil erosion

This scenario envisions these measures applied to roughly 16 million square kilometers of cropland, 22 million of grazing land, and 14 million of natural areas. Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America are estimated to have the largest areas with the potential for land restoration. 

Compared to the baseline scenario, by 2050:

  • Crop yields increase by 5-10% in most developing countries compared to the baseline Improved soil health leads to higher crop yields, with the largest gains in the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America, and subSaharan Africa, limiting food price increases.
  • Soil water holding capacity would increase by 4% in rainfed croplands.
  • Carbon stocks rise by a net 17 gigatonnes between 2015 and 2050 due to gains in soil carbon and reduced emissions. This is the balance of a net increase in soil organic carbon, increased carbon in agroforestry, and a continued loss of vegetation carbon due to land conversion. It does not account for the potential carbon storage gains above ground from forest restoration. Soil carbon stocks would be 55 gigatonnes larger in 2050 compared to the baseline, with the largest gains in Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Latin America, while the biggest losses would be avoided in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Slowed biodiversity decline and loss of natural areas. Globally, the extent of natural areas continues to decline due to the expansion of agricultural and urban areas, except in Latin America where natural areas are projected to increase by 3%. Biodiversity would continue to decline, but not as quickly, with 11% of biodiversity loss averted.

Restoration and protection scenario, projections

This scenario includes the restoration measures, augmented with protection measures expanded to cover close to half of the Earth’s land surface by 2050 – a threefold increase on the current coverage. These protected areas are important for biodiversity, water regulation, conservation of soil and carbon stocks, and provision of critical ecosystem functions. 

However, significantly increasing the extent of protected land would limit the expansion of agriculture. Under this constraint, current yields would have to be 9% higher by 2050 than in the baseline scenario to meet expected demand. Nonetheless, food prices are projected to increase, particularly in South and Southeast Asia, where a scarcity of agricultural land is already impacting food security.

Under this scenario, most of the new protected areas would have to be in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

When compared to the baseline, the restoration and protection scenario would mean, by 2050:

  • An additional 4 million square kilometers of natural areas (the size of India and Pakistan). With the largest gains expected in South and Southeast Asia and Latin America, protected areas would prevent land degradation by logging, burning, draining, or conversion.
  • While biodiversity would continue to decline, about a third of the loss projected in the baseline would be prevented under restoration and protection measures.
  • An additional 83 gigatonnes are stored compared to the baseline. Avoided emission and increased carbon storage would be equivalent to more than seven years of total current global emissions. 

Further reading: 

The global potential for land restoration: Scenarios for the Global Land Outlook 2 

https://www.pbl.nl/en/publications/the-global-potential-for-land-restoration-scenarios-for-the-global-landoutlook-2

Restoration Commitments and Scenarios Goals and Commitments for the Restoration Decade: A global overview of countries’ restoration commitments under the Rio Conventions and other pledges

https://www.pbl.nl/en/publications/goals-and-commitments-for-the-restoration-decade

* * * * *

Notes to editors

Land degradation: The persistent or long-term loss of land-based natural capital. It gives rise to poverty, hunger, and environmental pollution, while making communities more vulnerable to disease and disasters like drought, floods, or wildfires. This is especially true in the drylands that cover more than 45% of the Earth’s land surface, home to one in three people.

Land restoration: A continuum of sustainable land and water management practices that can be applied to conserve or ‘rewild’ natural areas, ‘up-scale’ nature-positive food production in rural landscapes, and ‘green’ urban areas, infrastructure, and supply chains.  Regenerative land use practices employed to boost soil health or recharge groundwater also enhance our ability to cope with drought, floods, wildfires, and sand and dust storms.

* * * * *

The formal launch of GLO2 will take place Tuesday 10 May during the high-level segment of the UNCCD’s 15th Conference of Parties (COP15, 9-20 May), Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.  

Two new regional reports, covering Central and Eastern Europe and Southern Africa, will also be released at COP15.

COP15 programme, registration and other media information: https://www.unccd.int/cop15

* * * * *

About 

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD.int)

UNCCD is the global vision and voice for land. We unite governments, scientists, policymakers, private sector and communities around a shared vision and global action to restore and manage the world’s land for the sustainability of humanity and the planet. Much more than an international treaty signed by 197 parties, UNCCD is a multilateral commitment to mitigating today’s impacts of land degradation and advancing tomorrow’s land stewardship in order to provide food, water, shelter and economic opportunity to all people in an equitable and inclusive manner. .

* * * * *


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U.S. FDA will decide on redesigned COVID vaccines by early July

U.S. regulators plan to decide by early July on whether to change the design of COVID-19 vaccines this fall in order to combat more recent variants of…

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U.S. FDA will decide on redesigned COVID vaccines by early July

By Michael Erman

“The better the match of the vaccines to the circulating strain we believe may correspond to improve vaccine effectiveness, and potentially to a better durability of protection,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said at a meeting of outside advisers to the regulator.

Vials with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine labels are seen in this illustration picture taken March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The committee is scheduled to vote on a recommendation on whether to make the change later on Tuesday.

The updated shots are likely to be redesigned to fight the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, experts say. read more The exact composition of the retooled shots and whether they also will include some of the original vaccine alongside new components will be considered at the meeting.

Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) and Novavax Inc. (NVAX.O) are scheduled to present data at the meeting. All three companies have been testing versions of their vaccines updated to combat the BA.1 Omicron variant that was circulating and led to a massive surge in infections last winter.

Both Moderna and Pfizer with partner BioNTech (22UAy.DE) have said that their respective redesigned vaccines generate a better immune response against BA.1 than their current shots that were designed for the original virus that emerged from China.

They have said that their new vaccines also appear to work against the more recently circulating BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, even though that protection is not as strong as against BA.1.

Experts also want to know if the new shots will boost protection against severe disease and death for younger, healthier people or merely offer a few months’ additional safeguard against mild infection.

Scientists who have questioned the value of booster shots for young and healthy people have said a broad campaign is not needed with an updated shot either.

Other experts have championed any additional protection new vaccines may offer.

Reporting by Michael Erman Editing by Bill Berkrot and Bernadette Baum

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Source: Reuters

 

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Stock Market Today: Dow Jones, S&P 500 Edge Higher; Trip.com Stock Surges From China Covid Easing

Markets opened in the green today as they rebound from Monday’s losses.
The post Stock Market Today: Dow Jones, S&P 500 Edge Higher; Trip.com Stock…

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Stock Market Today Mid-Morning Updates

On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up by 270 points as it followed modest losses on Wall Street. Investors are still weighing the risks of red-hot inflation as rates continue to rise. Aside from the U.S., European Central Bank Leader Christine Lagarde downplayed recession concerns in the eurozone, already being destabilized by Russia’s war on Ukraine. She also says that her team is ready to raise rates at a faster pace if needed, in order to combat inflation.

Shares of Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), and Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) raised their dividends after passing their annual stress tests. For instance, Goldman Sachs is boosting its dividend payout by 25% to $2.50 per share. On the other hand, shares of Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ: WYNN) are up today after China announced that it will be easing Covid-19 quarantine rules for international arrivals.

Among the Dow Jones leaders, shares of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) are up by 0.13% today while Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is down by 0.79%. Meanwhile, Disney (NYSE: DIS) and Nike (NYSE: NKE) are trading mixed on Tuesday. Among the Dow financial leaders, Visa (NYSE: V) is up by 0.17% while JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) is also up by 1.67%

Shares of EV leader Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) are up by 0.83% on Tuesday. Rival EV companies like Rivian (NASDAQ: RIVN) are down by 0.17%. Lucid Group (NASDAQ: LCID) is down by 1.09% today as well. However, Chinese EV leaders like Nio (NYSE: NIO) and Xpeng Motors (NYSE: XPEV) are trading mixed today. 

Dow Jones Today: U.S. Treasury Yields Inches Higher; House Price Increases Slows Down In April 

Following the stock market opening on Tuesday, the S&P 500, Dow, and Nasdaq are trading higher at 0.68%, 0.89%, and 0.31% respectively. Among exchange-traded funds, the Nasdaq 100 tracker Invesco QQQ Trust (NASDAQ: QQQ) is up by 0.28% while the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEARCA: SPY) is also up by 0.67%. 

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield currently hovers around 3.22% as the market continues to push against a bear market. Oil prices rallied for the third day today as major producers like Saudi Arabia looked unlikely to be able to boost output significantly. This comes as the West agreed to explore ways to cap the price of Russian oil. Brent crude, for instance, currently trades at around $116 per barrel.

Home prices increased slower than before in April and could be a potential sign of a cooling in prices. Diving in, prices rose by 20.4% nationally in April compared with a year earlier. This is according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index. For comparison, home prices increased by 20.6% year-over-year in March. Cities like Tampa, Miami, and Phoenix continue to lead the pack with the strongest price gains. Tampa home prices, for instance, are up by a whopping 35.8% year-over-year.

[Read More] Top Stock Market News For Today June 28, 2022 

Trip.com Stock Gains Following Better-Than-Expected Quarterly Performance On Travel Rebound; China Covid Easing

Trip.com Group (NASDAQ: TCOM) seems to be among the top gainers in the stock market now. Evidently, TCOM stock is now up by over 14% at the opening bell today. Overall, this likely stems from the company’s latest financial update. Getting straight into it, Trip.com reported a quarterly loss per share of $0.01. Furthermore, the company’s total quarterly revenue is $649 million. For reference, consensus figures on Wall Street are a loss per share of $0.08 on revenue of $575.04 million. With these commendable results, investors looking to bet on the return of travel would be considering TCOM stock.

According to Trip.com, the company has recovering travel demand in global markets to thank for its latest quarterly performance. In particular, Trip.com highlights a bump in activity from consumers across its Europe and Asia Pacific user bases. This, the company believes, is a result of easing travel restrictions amidst countries in these regions. Moreover, Trip.com also notes that staycation-related travel in China is another notable contributor to growth for the quarter. Accordingly, its local hotel bookings are now up by 20% year-over-year.

On the whole, travel firms like Trip.com continue to thrive as consumers book their vacations. For its latest quarter, the company’s air-ticket bookings on global platforms are now up by a whopping 270% year-over-year. As mentioned earlier, this is mainly led by a rebound in demand from its European and Asian Pacific operations. Looking forward, CEO Jane sun notes that Trip.com will “remain adaptive to embrace the changing environment and be flexible with our strategies to swiftly seize growth opportunities.” With all this in mind, I could understand if TCOM stock is turning some heads in the stock market today.

TCOM stock
Source: TradingView

[Read More] Best Oil Stocks To Buy Right Now? 5 For Your Late June 2022 Watchlist 

Occidental Petroleum On The Rise Following Latest Berkshire Hathaway Stake Increase

Meanwhile, the likes of Occidental Petroleum (NYSE: OXY) seem to be gaining attention in the stock market now. For the most part, this is likely a result of the latest regulatory filing from Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A). Namely, Berkshire disclosed a purchase of an additional 794,000 shares of Occidental. This adds up to a $44 million transaction, bringing its total stake to about 16.4%. In total, Berkshire currently holds about 153.5 million shares of OXY stock, worth $9 billion.

All in all, Buffett’s focus on Occidental would likely draw attention to the energy firm’s shares. This is apparent as OXY stock is currently gaining by over 6% in the stock market now. According to Berkshire’s filings since March, the company’s average purchase price per share of OXY stock is $53. Following this investment, Berkshire would be bolstering its position as Occidental’s largest stakeholder. In second place on this front is investment firm Vanguard with an almost 11% stake. As a result of all this, it would not surprise me to see OXY stock making the rounds in the stock market now.

OXY stock
Source: TradingView

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The post Stock Market Today: Dow Jones, S&P 500 Edge Higher; Trip.com Stock Surges From China Covid Easing appeared first on Stock Market News, Quotes, Charts and Financial Information | StockMarket.com.

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Royal Caribbean Shares Huge News on Covid Testing, Vaccine Rules

President Michael Bayley gave some straight answers on pre-cruise covid testing and potentially dropping vaccine requirement at a Q&A during the cruise…

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President Michael Bayley gave some straight answers on pre-cruise covid testing and potentially dropping vaccine requirement at a Q&A during the cruise line's President's Cruise.

Being on a cruise has largely returned to the same experience it was before the pandemic. Mask requirements have been dropped, capacities have returned to normal, and social distancing requirements have been dropped.

In fact, aside from crew members still having to wear masks and some stray passengers opting to do so in certain indoor situations, there's really no sign of covid rules once you board your cruise.

Before you board, however, the pandemic still has an effect on cruising. Every passenger 12 and older must be vaccinated (and must prove so before getting on board) and all passengers must produce a negative covid test taken no more than two days before getting on the ship.

And, while covid remains a problem, the cruise industry sees some light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to pre-cruise protocols. Executives from the major cruise lines -- Royal Caribbean International (RCL) - Get Royal Caribbean Group Report, Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) - Get Carnival Corporation Report, and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) - Get Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Report -- have said very little about plans to drop pre-cruise testing and vaccination requirements,

Now, however, Royal Caribbean President Michael Bayley has spoken out on both issues and has given cruise fans some real answers.

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When Will Covid Tests and Vaccinations Get Dropped?

The major cruise lines have largely stayed quiet about covid protocols because they remain somewhat beholden to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The current CDC rules are voluntary, but voluntary is sort of a relative term when it comes to the power the federal agency has over the cruise industry.

It makes sense that the industry has been cautious in commenting on when covid protocols may change, but with the end at least seeming feasible Bayley answered questions about both the end of pre-cruise testing and potentially dropping vaccination requirements during the 2022 Royal Caribbean President's Cruise on Ovation of the Seas, the Royal Caribbean Blog reported.

"I think pre-cruise testing is going to be around for another couple of months," Bayley said. "We obviously want it to go back to normal, but we're incredibly cognizant of our responsibilities to keep our crew, the communities and our guests safe."

Bayley was less hopeful about the end of vaccinations, according to the blog, which has no connection to Royal Caribbean.

"The no vaccine question is is a huge question that none of us know the answer to," he said. "I'm skeptical that's going to change in the in the real short term. Many and most of the destinations that we visit require a high degree of vaccination, and they expect our crew to be vaccinated."

Cruise Lines Covid Protocols Are Working

Covid has not gone anywhere, but the cruise industry has been very successful at controlling the impact of the virus. Bayley noted that the CDC shares some information with him about the "millions" of people who have sailed from U.S. ports over the past 12 months.

"And the number of people who died from COVID who'd sailed on ships over the past year was two," the Royal Caribbean Blog reported. "Two is terrible. But against the context of everything we've seen, that's it's truly been a remarkable success."

Vaccine requirements remain a touchy issue as some people have chosen not to be vaccinated and that means they cannot cruise. That seems unlikely to change anytime soon given the destinations Royal Caribbean visits and the CDC information which shows that the current protocols are working.

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