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Equities Achieve Low Earth Orbit Ahead of Space-X

Equities Achieve Low Earth Orbit Ahead of Space-X



The US returned to work overnight after a Memorial Day break that looked more spring break than social distancing. Wall Street quickly achieved escape velocity, powered by the peak virus trade, with equities and oil reaching for space yet again.

This morning, headlines have been dominated by Hong Kong concerns, with the legislature considering a controversial national anthem law today, following more protests over the weekend. We are yet to see the wording of the security law Beijing will be imposing on Hong Kong, but US politicians are already making muted threats of retaliation, no matter what is passed in the end.

No matter how China and Hong Kong CEO Carrie Lam dress it up, the passage of the security legislation from Beijing will have consequences for the beleaguered SAR and will further darken relations between the US and China. Regarding the bill being debated today about disrespecting the national anthem, China does have a point. Hong Kong is part of China, something we all seem to forget these days.

Global recovery hopes though, are trumping trade and regional tensions for now, following Wall Street’s strong performance overnight, Asia stock markets are modestly higher today. For now, trade and geopolitical blips, appear to be dips to buy into the rally, rather than a sea change in sentiment. That can only come if second waves of COVID-19 outbreaks sweeps developed countries, or vaccine disappointments mount up.

Far more exciting today is the return to space by US astronauts on an American built rocket. Space-X’s Dragon capsule launches to the International Space Station later today carrying two US astronauts. Aside from wishing them all the best, in a dark world, it is nice to see the spirit of human innovation alive and well.

Back on Earth, the fiscal stimulus frenzy by governments around the world continues unabated, highlighting just how disconnected capital markets have become from the situation on the ground. Singapore announced SGD 30 bio+ of additional stimulus via its 4th budget this year, and Japan has been outlining their latest package this morning. By my reckoning Japans extra budgets now total some $2 trillion, and Singapore SGD 100 billion. Long after COVID-19 is a memory, the fiscal funding requirements of the bloated balance sheets of governments around the world will compete with private capital. That, though, will be a story for another day; let’s hope we get a few years inflation to deflate the whole thing away.

The data calendar is light around the world over the next 24 hours. This morning, China Industrial Profits fell by 27.40% in April, a slight improvement over the 36.70% fall in March, hinting that China’s recovery is still on track. That will leave markets headline-driven in the shorter term, most likely coming from Hong Kong.

Asian equities are mixed as Wall Street plays catch-up.

Wall Street returned to work yesterday and played catch-up with the rest of the world, equities powering higher in a positive overnight session. Vaccine hopes and the peak-virus economic recovery trade saw the S&P 500 rise 1.23%, the NASDAQ edged 0.17% higher, with the Dow Jones outperforming, leaping 2.17%. A measure of just how far equities have come is that the S&P 500 has now recovered around 70% of its losses. It is currently testing its 200-day moving average at 3005.00, with further gains to 3200.00 not out of the question. As counterintuitive as it may seem, given the state of the world, resistance is futile for now.

With the US in catch-up mode, Asia is struggling for direction this morning, with Hong Kong and trade nerves weighing on sentiment. Given the momentum of the peak virus trade globally though, any dips are likely to be shallow.

The Nikkei 225 is 0.20% higher, and the Kospi is flat. Mainland China and Hong Kong exchanges are weighed down by trade and political tensions ahead of a National Anthem Bill passing through Hong Kong’s legislature today and fears over the new Beijing security laws. The Hang Seng has fallen 0.75%, with the Shanghai Composite down 0.35% and the CSI 300 lower by 0.55%.

Australia and New Zealand markets are concentrating on the bigger recovery picture, following strong rallies by their currencies overnight. The ASX 200 and NZD 50 are both 0.40% higher this morning.

The rotation out of US Dollars gathers pace.

The global recovery trade and the return of Wall Street saw the rotation out of haven US Dollar positioning gather pace overnight. The EUR/USD rose 0.80% to 1.0980, closing above its 100-day moving average and eyeing the 200-day moving average at 1.1010 today. GBP/USD rose an impressive 1.20% to 1.2325 overnight, setting the stage for a test of 1.2400 and potentially, further gains to 1.2600.

Trade-centric commodity currencies though, were the stars of the night. USD/CAD fell 1.50% to 1.3780, breaking two-month support at 1.3855, setting up further gains for the Canadian Dollar. AUDUSD rose by 1.70% to 0.6655, just below its 200-day moving average at 0.6660. A daily close above 0.6660 sets up further technical gains to the 0.6800 regions initially. NZD/USD rose 1.60% to 0.6200, just below its 100-day moving average. Like the AUD/USD, the Kiwi now appears set for higher levels.

Much the same trend was seen across the emerging markets space in general, with investors rotating into more risk-seeking positioning. The US Dollar weakness was also reflected in today’s PBOC CNY fix. The USD/CNY being set at 7.1092 versus 7.1293 yesterday.

Overall, currency markets appear to be begrudgingly awakening from their long slumber, unable to ignore the rallies in other asset markets any longer. As such, the US Dollar is likely to remain heavy for the rest of the week at least.

Oil consolidates its recent gains.

Oil had a quiet overnight session, content to finish modestly higher as both Brent crude and WTI consolidated their recent gains. Brent crude rose 1.35% to $36.10 a barrel. WTI rose 0.90% to $34.15 a barrel. Both contracts are unchanged in moribund Asian trading today.

Brent crude continues to eye the enormous gap on its charts between $40.00 and $45.00 a barrel, with the $40.00 regions initial resistance. A close above $40.00 a barrel sets up a technical rally to close that gap. WTI meanwhile has its 100-day moving average at $36.55 as an initial target.

With a 100% beta to global recovery sentiment and the peak-virus trade, oil has few reasons in the near term to see the rally falter. Perhaps the only blot on oil’s copybook is that speculative long positioning appears to be rising just as quickly as the sentiment. As we approach significant daily resistance on both contracts, the chances of short, but aggressive, corrective falls increases.

Gold also suffers as investors look elsewhere.

Sentiment appears to be turning rather quickly for gold, as investors rotate out of safe-haven positioning as national lockdowns end, and COVID-19 vaccine hopes rise. Gold’s technical outlook is further clouded by the large amounts of speculative long positioning added as it tested monthly resistance at $1750.00.

Gold fell by 1.05% overnight to $1611.00 an ounce, with the $1675.00 an ounce region the next layer of support. With currency markets finally climbing on board the peak-virus rally seen in equities and energy, the wolves would appear to be circling gold also.

Gold’s fundamentals still suggest that longer-term, it will yet again make new highs against a backdrop of enormous monetary easing by the world’s central banks, and the possible return of inflation in the Western world after a 20-year hiatus. That though. is a story for another day in the future. In the near-term, gold long positions look likely to suffer more pain.

Asia has seen gold rally initially but quickly retreat to unchanged levels from the New York close. That implies that there are plenty of nervous longs waiting to sell into any rally.

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A dog has caught monkeypox from one of its owners, highlighting risk of the virus infecting pets and wild animals

The monkeypox virus can easily spread between humans and animals. A veterinary virologist explains how the virus could go from people to wild animals in…



A dog in Paris has become the first case of a pet contracting monkeypox from its owners. Cavan Images via Getty Images

A dog in Paris has caught monkeypox from one of its owners, both of whom were infected with the virus, according to a scientific paper published on Aug. 10, 2022. This is the first case of a dog contracting the monkeypox virus through direct contact with skin lesions on a human.

I am a veterinary pathologist and virologist who has been working with poxviruses for over 20 years. I study how these viruses evade the immune system and am working on modifying poxviruses to prevent infection as well as treat other diseases, including cancer.

With monkeypox spreading in humans throughout the world, my colleagues and I have begun to worry about the increased risk of monkeypox spreading from humans to animals. If monkeypox spreads to wildlife species in the U.S. and Europe, the virus could become endemic in these places – where it has historically been absent – resulting in more frequent outbreaks. The report of the infected dog shows that there is a decent chance these fears could become a reality.

A microscope image of a bunch blue circles in a brown-colored cell.
The monkeypox virus – the blue circles in this image of an infected cell – is a poxvirus similar to smallpox and cowpox and can easily infect many different species. NIAID/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY

A species-jumping virus

Monkeypox is a poxvirus in the same family as variola – the virus that causes smallpox – and cowpox viruses and likely evolved in animals before jumping to humans. Monkeypox causes painful lesions in both humans and animals and, in rare cases, can be deadly. Researchers have found the monkeypox virus in several species of wild rodents, squirrels and primates in Africa, where the virus is endemic. Monkeypox does not need to mutate or evolve at all to be able to infect many different species. It can easily spread from animals to people and back again.

Though there is a fair bit of research on monkeypox, a lot more work has been done on cowpox, a similar zoonotic poxvirus that is endemic in Europe. Over the years, there have been several reports of cowpox infection spreading from animals to humans in Europe.

From people to animals

Until recently, most monkeypox infections occurred in specific areas of Africa where some wildlife species act as reservoirs for the virus. These outbreaks are usually contained quickly through isolation of infected individuals and vaccinating people around the infected individual. The current situation is very different though.

With nearly 40,000 cases globally as of Aug. 17, 2022 – and more than 12,500 cases in the U.S. alone – monkeypox is now widespread within the human population. The risk of any one person transmitting the virus to an animal – particularly a wild one – is small, but the more people are infected, the greater the chances. It’s a numbers game.

There are a number of ways viruses can transfer from animals to people – called spillover – and from people back to animals – called spillback. Since monkeypox is most easily spread through direct skin-to-skin contact, it is a bit more difficult to transmit between species than COVID-19, but certainly possible.

The case of the dog in Paris provides a clear example of how cuddling or being close to a pet can spread the virus. Previous studies on poxviruses like monkeypox have shown that they can stay active in fecal matter. This means that there is a risk of wild animals, likely rodents, catching it from human waste.

A grey rat.
There are a number of species that host monkeypox in Africa – like this gambian rat. Monkeypox can spread from humans to many other animals, including dogs and likely cats and other species of rodents. Louisvarley/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

The monkeypox virus is also present in saliva. While more research needs to be done, it is potentially possible that an infected person could discard food that would then be eaten by a rodent.

The chances of any one of these events happening is extremely low. But I and other virologists worry that with more people becoming infected, there is a greater risk that rodents or other animals will come into contact with urine, feces or saliva that is contaminated with the virus.

Finally, there is the risk of people giving monkeypox to a pet, which then passes it on to other animals. One case study in Germany described an outbreak of cowpox that was caused when someone took an infected cat to a veterinary clinic and four other cats were subsequently infected. It is feasible that an infected household pet could spread the virus to wild animals somehow.

How to help

One of the key reasons that the World Health Organization was able to eradicate smallpox is that it only infects people, so there were no animal reservoirs that could re-introduce the virus to human populations.

Monkeypox is zoonotic and already has several animal reservoirs, though these are currently limited to Africa. But if monkeypox escapes into wild animal populations in the U.S., Europe or other locations, there will be always be potential for animals to spread it back to humans. With this in mind, there are a number of things people can do to reduce the risks with regard to animals.

As with any infectious disease, be informed about the signs and symptoms of monkeypox and how it is transmitted. If you suspect you have the virus, contact a doctor and isolate from other people.

As a veterinarian, I strongly encourage anyone with monkeypox to protect your pets. The case in Paris shows that dogs can get infected from contact with their owners, and it is likely that many other species, including cats, are susceptible, too. If you have monkeypox, try to have other people take care of your animals for as long as lesions are present. And if you think your pet has a monkeypox infection, be sure to contact a veterinarian so they can test the lesion and provide care when needed.

Even though monkeypox has been declared a public health emergency, it is unlikely to directly affect most people. Taking precautionary steps can protect you and your pets and will hopefully prevent monkeypox from getting into wildlife in the U.S., too.

Amy Macneill does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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UBC researchers discover ‘weak spot’ across major COVID-19 variants

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have discovered a key vulnerability across all major variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including the…



Researchers at the University of British Columbia have discovered a key vulnerability across all major variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including the recently emerged BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron subvariants.

Credit: Dr. Sriram Subramaniam, UBC

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have discovered a key vulnerability across all major variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including the recently emerged BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron subvariants.

The weakness can be targeted by neutralizing antibodies, potentially paving the way for treatments that would be universally effective across variants.

The findings, published today in Nature Communications, use cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to reveal the atomic-level structure of the vulnerable spot on the virus’ spike protein, known as an epitope. The paper further describes an antibody fragment called VH Ab6 that is able to attach to this site and neutralize each major variant. 

“This is a highly adaptable virus that has evolved to evade most existing antibody treatments, as well as much of the immunity conferred by vaccines and natural infection,” says Dr. Sriram Subramaniam (he/him), a professor at UBC’s faculty of medicine and the study’s senior author. “This study reveals a weak spot that is largely unchanged across variants and can be neutralized by an antibody fragment. It sets the stage for the design of pan-variant treatments that could potentially help a lot of vulnerable people.”

Identifying COVID-19 master keys

Antibodies are naturally produced by our bodies to fight infection, but can also be made in a laboratory and administered to patients as a treatment. While several antibody treatments have been developed for COVID-19, their effectiveness has waned in the face of highly-mutated variants like Omicron.

“Antibodies attach to a virus in a very specific manner, like a key going into a lock. But when the virus mutates, the key no longer fits,” says Dr. Subramaniam. “We’ve been looking for master keys — antibodies that continue to neutralize the virus even after extensive mutations.”

The ‘master key’ identified in this new paper is the antibody fragment VH Ab6, which was shown to be effective against the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Kappa, Epsilon and Omicron variants. The fragment neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 by attaching to the epitope on the spike protein and blocking the virus from entering human cells.

The discovery is the latest from a longstanding and productive collaboration between Dr. Subramaniam’s team at UBC and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh, led by Drs. Mitko Dimitrov and Wei Li. The team in Pittsburgh has been screening large antibody libraries and testing their effectiveness against COVID-19, while the UBC team has been using cryo-EM to study the molecular structure and characteristics of the spike protein.

Focusing in on COVID-19’s weak points

The UBC team is world-renowned for its expertise in using cryo-EM to visualize protein-protein and protein-antibody interactions at an atomic resolution. In another paper published earlier this year in Science, they were the first to report the structure of the contact zone between the Omicron spike protein and the human cell receptor ACE2, providing a molecular explanation for Omicron’s enhanced viral fitness.

By mapping the molecular structure of each spike protein, the team has been searching for areas of vulnerability that could inform new treatments.

“The epitope we describe in this paper is mostly removed from the hot spots for mutations, which is why it’s capabilities are preserved across variants,” says Dr. Subramaniam. “Now that we’ve described the structure of this site in detail, it unlocks a whole new realm of treatment possibilities.”

Dr. Subramaniam says this key vulnerability can now be exploited by drug makers, and because the site is relatively mutation-free, the resulting treatments could be effective against existing—and even future—variants.

“We now have a very clear picture of this vulnerable spot on the virus. We know every interaction the spike protein makes with the antibody at this site. We can work backwards from this, using intelligent design, to develop a slew of antibody treatments,” says Dr. Subramaniam. “Having broadly effective, variant-resistant treatments would be a game changer in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.”

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German Official Trashes Cost Of Living Protesters As “Enemies Of The State”

German Official Trashes Cost Of Living Protesters As "Enemies Of The State"

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

A top German…



German Official Trashes Cost Of Living Protesters As "Enemies Of The State"

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

A top German official has trashed people who may be planning to protest against energy blackouts as “enemies of the state” and “extremists” who want to overthrow the government.

The interior minister of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Herbert Reul (CDU), says that anti-mandatory vaxx and anti-lockdown demonstrators have found a new cause – the energy crisis.

In an interview with German news outlet NT, Reul revealed that German security services were keeping an eye on “extremists” who plan to infiltrate the protests and stage violence, with the unrest being planned via the Telegram messenger app, which German authorities have previously tried to ban.

“You can already tell from those who are out there,” said Reul. “The protesters no longer talk about coronavirus or vaccination. But they are now misusing people’s worries and fears in other fields. (…) It’s almost something like new enemies of the state that are establishing themselves.”

Despite the very real threat of potential blackouts, power grid failures and gas shortages, Reul claimed such issues were feeding “conspiracy theory narratives.”

However, it’s no “conspiracy theory” that Germans across the country have been panic buying stoves, firewood and electric heaters as the government tells them thermostats will be limited to 19C in public buildings and that sports arenas and exhibition halls will be used as ‘warm up spaces’ this winter to help freezing citizens who are unable to afford skyrocketing energy bills.

As Remix News reports, blaming right-wing conspiracy theorists for a crisis caused by Germany’s sanctions on Russia and is suicidal dependence on green energy is pretty rich.

“Reul, like the country’s federal interior minister, Nancy Faeser, is attempting to tie right-wing ideology and protests against Covid-19 policies to any potential protests in the winter.”

“While some on the right, such as the Alternative for Germany (AfD), have stressed that the government’s sanctions against Russia are the primary factor driving the current energy crisis, they have not advocated an “overthrow” of the government. Instead, they have stressed the need to restart the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, end energy sanctions against Russia, and push for a peaceful solution to end the war.”

Indeed, energy shortages and the cost of living crisis are issues that are of major concern to everyone, no matter where they are on the political spectrum.

To claim that people worried about heating their homes and putting food on the table this winter are all “enemies of the state” is an utter outrage.

As we highlighted last week, the president of the Thuringian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Stephan Kramer, said energy crisis riots would make anti-lockdown unrest look like a “children’s birthday party.”

“Mass protests and riots are just as conceivable as concrete acts of violence against things and people, as well as classic terrorism to overthrow it,” Kramer told ZDF.

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Tyler Durden Thu, 08/18/2022 - 03:30

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