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Futures Fall As Europe Slides, Chinese Media Talks Back Rally

Futures Fall As Europe Slides, Chinese Media Talks Back Rally

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Futures Fall As Europe Slides, Chinese Media Talks Back Rally Tyler Durden Tue, 07/07/2020 - 08:01

One day after a torrid ramp in Chinese stocks sent US futures surging and the Nasdaq hit a fresh all time high, on Tuesday Emini index futures slipped following the benchmark S&P 500 and Nasdaq’s five-day rally, as European stocks slumped after officials warned the economy will take longer to recover and Germany reported weaker-than-expected industrial data, the rally in China fizzled after officials talked back their previous urges to buy stocks, and investors weighed the risks to the conomy from tens of thousands of new coronavirus cases nationwide.

On Monday, Miami became the latest U.S. coronavirus hot spot to roll back its reopening while Texas registered an all-time high in the number of people hospitalized at any one moment with COVID-19 for the eight straight day. Travel-related stocks fell in premarket trading. United Airlines Holdings and American Airlines were down 3% and 2.8%, respectively. Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings also dropped about 3% each, even as they announced a joint task force to help develop safety standards for restarting their businesses.

The latest virus news dented bullish sentiment after a surprise surge in the U.S. Services ISM and record job additions in June were among the upbeat data recently that have bolstered views that an economic recovery is underway, helping the Nasdaq close at a record level on Monday and pushing S&P 500 about 45% from its March lows.

Sentiment also reversed in Europe, where all but one of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell, with real estate and technology shares bearing the brunt of the selling after Germany reported far weaker than expected industrial production data. Bayer AG lost 5.5% after its plan for handling future Roundup cancer claims hit a snag.

On the other end, BMW rose as much as 1.4%, and was the best performer on the Stoxx 600 Automobiles & Parts Index, after posting 17% jump in 2Q car sales in China. The index was the only positive segment on broader European share gauge; other gainers as of 12:01pm in Paris include Valeo +1.1%, Faurecia +0.8%, Fiat Chrysler +0.6%, Continental AG +0.5%.

The European Commission gave its starkest warning yet about the impact of the pandemic, with the divergences between richer and poorer countries opening up even further than projected two months ago. Officials now forecast a contraction of 8.7% in the euro area this year, a full percentage point deeper than previously predicted.

Earlier in Asia, while Chinese stocks powered ahead for a sixth day, the rally was at a far slower pace, with the Shanghai Composite Index rising just 0.4% after the 5.7% surge one day earlier, with Maoye Commercial Co Ltd and Hangzhou Jiebai Group posting the biggest advances.

China's rally fizzled after all four major state-owned financial media outlets had front page commentaries on the stock market today, with all articles saying largely the same - calls on market participants to be rational. Most Asian stocks fell, led by energy and utilities, after rising in the last session, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index and South Korea's Kospi Index turning red. Trading volume for MSCI Asia Pacific Index members was 111% above the monthly average for this time of the day. The Topix declined 0.3%, with Tosei and Miyakoshi falling the most.

In rates, Treasuries were largely unchanged across the long-end of the curve following mixed performance of Asia stocks; further rally halted with bunds underperforming ahead of EU4b 5-year EFSF deal pricing and looming Irish supply this week. Treasuries also face supply pressure starting with 3-year note auction at 1pm ET, ahead of 10- and 30-year sales to round off the week. Treasury yields were lower by ~1bp across 20- to 3-year sector, little change rest of the curve; 10-year yields around 0.675% while bunds underperform by 1.5bp, gilts trade broadly inline.

In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Index snapped a five-day losing streak as the global equity rally paused on Tuesday after a strong start to the week. China’s offshore yuan erased gains after briefly strengthening past the 7 per dollar level for the first time since March 17. The offshore yuan weakened 0.14% as of 6:34 p.m. in Hong Kong. It rose as much as 0.24% to 6.9966 against the greenback in morning session, as Chinese stocks rallied before paring gains in afternoon trade. The currency traded little changed in the onshore market after adding 0.27% earlier Tuesday. A rebounding dollar and renewed concerns about the pandemic after an Australian state announced a lockdown contributed to the yuan’s weakening this afternoon, said Gao Qi, an Asian FX strategist at Scotiabank. But the retreat will likely be a “one-off event,” as bullish sentiment in the stock market will continue to support demand for the currency, he said. “The yuan should advance in the coming sessions to reach 6.90 by the end of July,” he said.

The Australian dollar swung lower after the country’s second- most populous state announced a six-week lockdown to control a wave of infections. Leveraged funds initiated short positions ahead of the lock-down announcement, a trader said, with losses extending after Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced a longer-than- expected shutdown. “The local media was suggesting four weeks prior to the announcement, and now it’s six weeks,” said Ray Attrill, head of foreign-exchange strategy at National Australia Bank Ltd. in Sydney. “A justifiable knee jerk, albeit small, negative reaction.”

In commodities, oil dropped and iron ore futures jumped. WTI and Brent crude futures remained on the backfoot, if off lows, as the complex tracks broader market sentiment. Furthermore, the European Commission cutting the EZ and EU growth forecasts added to the bearish factors. WTI Aug resides just above the USD 40/bbl (vs. high 40.79/bbl) having tested the level earlier in the session, whilst Brent Sep relinquished its USD 43/bbl (vs. high 43.19/bbl) handle before finding mild support at the psychological 42.50/bbl. Looking ahead, in the absence of virus/China related headlines, participants will be eyeing the release of the EIA Short-Term Energy Outlook for any potential revisions to global oil demand given the resurging COVID-19 cases, thereafter, focus will turn to the Private Inventory numbers for short-term volatility. Elsewhere, spot gold has fallen victim to the rising Buck as the yellow metal slid from near-8yr highs of around USD 1787/oz to find some solace around the psychological USD 1775/oz. In terms of base metals, Shanghai copper hit a 2020 high amid supply woes coupled with hopes of a rebounding Chinese economy. Similarly, Dalian iron ore was underpinned by China optimism alongside doubts over the prospected of a recovery in Brazilian iron shipments.

 

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.8% to 3,148.00
  • MXAP down 0.7% to 164.30
  • MXAPJ down 0.8% to 541.83
  • Nikkei down 0.4% to 22,614.69
  • Topix down 0.3% to 1,571.71
  • Hang Seng Index down 1.4% to 25,975.66
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.4% to 3,345.34
  • Sensex up 0.05% to 36,505.16
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.03% to 6,012.92
  • Kospi down 1.1% to 2,164.17
  • STOXX Europe 600 down 1.1% to 367.33
  • German 10Y yield fell 1.7 bps to -0.448%
  • Euro down 0.3% to $1.1277
  • Italian 10Y yield fell 1.4 bps to 1.113%
  • Spanish 10Y yield fell 1.1 bps to 0.414%
  • Brent futures down 1% to $42.69/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.4% to $1,777.09
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.3% to 97.03

Top Overnight News

  • Europe’s economy will suffer more than previously estimated this year and take longer to recover because of a slow easing of coronavirus restrictions, according to the bloc’s executive arm.
  • China’s equity market is firmly in the spotlight after an almost unprecedented rally that helped lift global stocks to a one-month high.
  • The amount of U.S. bonds and loans trading at distressed levels has increased for a second straight week as corporate borrowers potentially face another round of lockdowns amid a resurgence of the coronavirus.
  • France’s decision to give only temporary security approval for fifth-generation mobile equipment shows the government intends to gradually sideline Huawei Technologies Co., a majority party lawmaker said.

Asian equity markets were somewhat choppy as participants began to second guess the viability of the recent Chinese stocks surge which had already reverberated across global counterparts on Monday to lift all major indices on Wall Street and push the Nasdaq to a fresh record high. ASX 200 (U/C) swung between gains and losses as strength in the mining related sectors was initially offset by early weakness in energy, utilities and financials, while second wave fears concerning Australia’s 2nd largest city of Melbourne and the RBA policy announcement further added to the tentative tone. Nikkei 225 (-0.4%) lagged after Household Spending data showed the largest decline on record and the KOSPI (-0.7%) also failed to hold on to early gains as the initial support in Samsung Electronics following a beat in preliminary Q2 results which eventually wore thin. Hang Seng (-1.4%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.4%) both extended on the prior day’s stellar rally but are off their best levels with the momentum gradually dissipating amid several bearish factors such as another substantial liquidity drain by the PBoC and with Chinese press calling for rationality in the stock markets, while the recent headlines also continued to add to the ongoing China vs. the West narrative including the warning from China’s Ambassador to the UK that it will have to bear the consequences if it treats China as a hostile country. Finally, 10yr JGBs were marginally higher amid underperformance in Japanese stocks following the abysmal Household Spending data and with upside also briefly spurred by mostly firmer results at the 30yr JGB auction.

Top Asian News

  • Lebanon’s Economic Crisis Is Spinning Out of Control, Fast
  • Samsung’s Profit Beat May Precede Slowing Chip Sales Growth
  • Australia Warns Citizens They Risk ‘Arbitrary’ Arrest in China
  • SoftBank Hits 20-Year High With $68 Billion Climb Out of Nadir

European stocks have continued to bleed [Euro Stoxx 50 -1.3%], as the mostly positive APAC sentiment dissipated when European players entered the fray. Downside in futures was initially seen overnight as the optimism over China’s recent performance fizzled out amid rising reported cases, which led to the Australian State Premier imposing a six-week lockdown on Melbourne, whilst case numbers remained heightened in other parts of Asia. Furthermore, the European Commission cutting its 2020 and 2021 growth forecasts, due to less swift than expected reopening, only dampened the mood. As such, major bourses trade with broad-based losses of some 1%, but in the periphery, Italy’s FTSE MIB (-0.3%) fares slightly better as losses in banking names were somewhat cushioned by reports the ECB's Funding to Italian Banks in June rose to EUR 345.226bln vs. EUR 290.963bln in May, although reports noted that the ECB is to consider asking banks to withhold dividend for longer. Sectors remain in negative territory with no clear risk-tone to be derived on that front as cyclicals and defensives remain mixed. Delving deeper into the sectors, a similar performance, but Travel & Leisure resides among the laggard amid the aforementioned dampened sentiment regarding reopening economies. In terms of individual movers, Wirecard (-14%) extended on losses, with reports also noting that payment group Mastercard was warned about Wirecard’s links to an alleged laundering network around four years ago. Micro Focus (-10.3%) holds its place as a laggard after reporting an impairment charge of USD 922.2mln in H1. Bayer (-7%) shares remain pressured after a U.S. judge questioned the Co’s proposed settlement to deal with future claims regarding its weedkiller. On the flip-side, BMW (+1.0%) nursed opening losses after a trading update in which, despite a H1 YY sales decline of 23%, noted that Q2 China sales have exceed the prior and are seeing initial signs of recovery in some markets as of end-Q2. Finally, in terms of commentary, Blackrock has downgraded US equities on risk of fading fiscal stimulus whilst upgrading Europe to overweight.

Top European News

  • Europe Sees Deeper Slump With Fresh Warning on Uneven Virus Hit
  • Hungary Posts Biggest Increase in Coronavirus Cases in a Month
  • France Begins to Sideline Huawei From Its Mobile Networks
  • Macron Picks a Government to Rebuild France’s Economy

In FX, a further erosion of bullish risk sentiment has helped the Dollar regain composure and its status as a safe haven following less pronounced gains in Chinese equities overnight and a more mixed session for APAC bourses overall. Hence, the index is back on the 97.000 handle from a low of 96.565 at one stage on Monday and extending recovery gains on the back of a much better than expected services ISM survey.

  • AUD - The Aussie is bearing the brunt of the turnaround in risk assets and heightened 2nd wave COVID-19 concerns as Melbourne extends anti-virus measures amidst another rise in cases, with Aud/Usd reversing sharply from just shy of the 0.6900 level towards 0.6920 alongside Usd/CNH bouncing from a fraction below 7.0000. For the record, no surprises from the RBA that reaffirmed wait-and-see guidance, but clearly the economic outlook will be adversely impacted by the aforementioned outbreak in the state of Victoria.
  • NZD/EUR/JPY/CAD/CHF/NOK/SEK/GBP - All unwinding more of their recent gains relative to the Greenback, as the Kiwi retreats from around 0.6580 to 0.6520 irrespective of a modest improvement in NZIER Q2 confidence, while the Euro has relinquished 1.1300+ status to test the resolve of decent option expiry interest between 1.1265-75 (1.5 bn). However, the Yen is still pivoting 107.50 and Loonie holding above 1.3600 post-weaker than forecast Japanese household spending data and pre-Canadian Ivey PMIs. Elsewhere, the Franc is hovering circa 0.9450 and 1.0650 vs the single currency, Eur/Nok is near 10.6500 in wake of a steeper decline in Norwegian manufacturing output and Eur/Sek is straddling 10.4500 even though Swedish ip and orders were mixed. Elsewhere, Cable has lost grip of 1.2500 yet again, albeit finding underlying bids ahead of 1.2450 and support some 10 pips below.
  • EM - Broad deterioration on the downturn in risk appetite, but the Rand underperforming following a more pronounced than anticipated fall in SA consumer morale.

In commodities, WTI and Brent crude futures remain on the backfoot, albeit off lows, as the complex tracks broader market sentiment, as participants regain focus on rising COVID-19 infection rates which prompted the re-imposition of lockdown measures in some cities, whilst others see their gradual easing plans hindered. Furthermore, the European Commission cutting the EZ and EU growth forecasts added to the bearish factors. WTI Aug resides just above the USD 40/bbl (vs. high 40.79/bbl) having tested the level earlier in the session, whilst Brent Sep relinquished its USD 43/bbl (vs. high 43.19/bbl) handle before finding mild support at the psychological 42.50/bbl. Looking ahead, in the absence of virus/China related headlines, participants will be eyeing the release of the EIA Short-Term Energy Outlook for any potential revisions to global oil demand given the resurging COVID-19 cases, thereafter, focus will turn to the Private Inventory numbers for short-term volatility. Elsewhere, spot gold has fallen victim to the rising Buck as the yellow metal slid from near-8yr highs of around USD 1787/oz to find some solace around the psychological USD 1775/oz. In terms of base metals, Shanghai copper hit a 2020 high amid supply woes coupled with hopes of a rebounding Chinese economy. Similarly, Dalian iron ore was underpinned by China optimism alongside doubts over the prospected of a recovery in Brazilian iron shipments.

US Event Calendar

  • 10am: JOLTS Job Openings, est. 4,500, prior 5,046
  • 9am: Fed’s Bostic Takes Part in Webinar on Economy
  • 1pm: Fed’s Quarles Makes Financial Stability Board Remarks
  • 2pm: Fed’s Daly and Barkin Takes Part in NABE Talk on Economy

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

It was Sports Day yesterday at school and like all major sporting events at the moment it was behind closed doors. Maisie told us she won a race but wasn’t particularly specific as to which one. I’m hoping it was the straight sprint but it could obviously be the egg and spoon, beanbag, or wheelbarrow races. In practice over the last month she hasn’t come first in any of the races so I’m proud she’s a big match performer. No point wasting energy when it doesn’t matter. Hopefully lots of ice cream wasn’t on the banned substance list or the medal may eventually be stripped.

The main story in markets yesterday was a race towards a new record for the NASDAQ and a fifth successive rise for the S&P 500 for the first time since December. By the end of the session, the S&P was up +1.59%, with the NASDAQ (+2.21%) closing at an all-time high, something that caught the attention of President Trump, who tweeted about the fact not long after the US session opened. It was one of the quietest days in quite some time for the S&P. After the large overnight move, the index traded within a 27pt range the rest of the day compared to the 55pt average daily range over the last month. In fact, the S&P has only traded within a 27pt range for the entire day 4 other times since it was at all-time highs on February 19. The NASDAQ’s new record was assisted by Amazon, which rose by +5.77% to its own record high, with the company’s share price climbing above $3,000 for the first time thanks to an incredibly strong +65.44% YTD performance. Meanwhile in Europe, the STOXX 600 was up +1.58% at its highest level in nearly a month. Banks (+3.89%) and Autos (+2.56%) led the index higher, as there continues to be a strong value and cyclical theme to the European equity recovery.

The risk-on move was given some added fuel after the ISM non-manufacturing index from the US came in at a much stronger-than-expected 57.1 (vs. 50.2 consensus), a number that was above every estimate on Bloomberg’s survey. And this also comes after last week’s manufacturing ISM rose to 52.6. That said, it’s worth noting that the employment number was not as strong, at just 43.1 (up from May’s 31.8), and already the rise in cases in many US states has led to a reversal in the mobility data, which presents a serious downside risk when it comes to the economic recovery.

The last bit of fuel for yesterday’s US move was word out of Washington D.C. that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell foresees Congress passing another round of fiscal stimulus by the end of this month. The Senator had been fairly circumspect on wanting to see whether the economy needed further action before increasing federal spending, but signaled yesterday that it is indeed needed, saying “This is not over. We are seeing a resurgence in a lot of states… I think the country needs one last boost.” Senate Republicans have called a $3.5trl Democrat-sponsored bill that passed the House in May a nonstarter and are assembling a package with closer to $1trl in total spending.

Asian markets are trading a bit more mixed this morning with the Nikkei (-0.45%) and Kospi (-0.27%) down while in contrast the Hang Seng (+0.12%), ASX (+0.68%) and Shanghai Comp (+1.32%) are up. The CSI 300 is also up +1.82% so there’s been little let up in the rally for Chinese equities and that comes despite China’s Securities Times striking a slight more balanced tone overnight by running a story suggesting that investors should be mindful of potential risks and not use the market as a way to make a fortune. Elsewhere, futures on the S&P 500 are down -0.18% and crude oil prices are down c. -0.30%. In terms of data out this morning, Japan’s May household spending fell by -16.2% yoy (vs. -11.8% expected), the biggest fall in data going back to 2001. This was even as businesses began to reopen and more people ventured out after a nationwide state of emergency was lifted.

Here in the UK, details of Chancellor Sunak’s speech tomorrow are emerging slowly with Bloomberg reporting overnight that he will announce GBP3bn of investments into environmental projects. The treasury has already said that the Chancellor will also announce GBP1.6bn of measures for arts and culture sector as well as spending of c. GBP1bn on tripling the number of traineeships nationwide and doubling the number of work coaches in job centers.

In other overnight news, Hong Kong asserted broad new police powers including warrant-less searches, online surveillance and property seizures under the new security law with City’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam saying that “This law will be enforced very stringently and people’s concerns will be eased.” Lam also reaffirmed that much of the implementation of the law would be managed in secret, saying that a committee created to oversee it wouldn’t release details from future meetings.

Moving on. When it comes to the coronavirus, yesterday saw the typical slower Monday rise in new cases across many US states due to weekend effects. However the more concerning news for the country is that more states are seeing effective transmission rates (Rt) above 1.0 than in recent weeks. As of yesterday, rtlive estimated that 41 of the 50 states had an Rt value over 1.0, compared to roughly 30 over the past 2 weeks. There is a large amount of uncertainty however, as only one state has a confidence interval entirely under 1.0 (Connecticut) while just three have intervals entirely over 1.0 (WY, WI, MT), though Florida is very close. Specifically cases in Florida rose by a further 3.2% yesterday, but well under the weekly average of 5.1%. Monday has recently seen the week’s lowest daily rise in cases so we would expect to see a sharper rise over the coming days. A similar story emerged in Arizona where new cases rose by 3.4%, below the 4.1% 7 day average. The state also released confirmation that 61% of total cases involve people under 44 years old.

Obviously we need to track the data carefully over the next couple of days as they’ll likely be some catch up from the long weekend in the US. For now you can see the latest state of play in our daily case and fatality tables by clicking “view report” at the top. This also shows that India is now the third most infected country, with confirmed cases nearly at 700K.

Another asset class that did well yesterday was commodities, with Brent Crude up +0.70% near a 4-month high, copper rising a further +1.19% to reach a fresh 5-month high, and gold rising +0.49% to close at a 7-year high. Meanwhile in fixed income, there was a continued narrowing in sovereign bond spreads following last week’s moves. Indeed, the spread of Greek 10yr yields over bunds was down by -1.2bps to 158bps, its lowest level since worries about the pandemic in Europe began in earnest in late February. Core bond yields edged slightly higher however, with 10yr Treasuries up +0.7bps.

Looking at Europe’s data releases yesterday, the main item was the Euro Area retail sales print for May, which surpassed expectations with a +17.8% increase, even if this is still down -5.1% on a year-on-year basis. Over in Germany, factory orders rose by a less-than-expected +10.5% in May (vs. +15.4% expected), with the year-on-year number still down -29.3%. Finally, we got the construction PMIs from Germany and the UK. The German reading only saw a small increase to 41.3, but in the UK there was a big jump to 55.3 (vs. 28.9 in May), its strongest reading since July 2018.

To the day ahead now, and the data highlights include German industrial production and Italian retail sales for May, along with the US JOLTS job openings for the same month. Otherwise, central bank speakers include the Fed’s Bostic, Daly and Barkin, along with the BoE’s Haldane.

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Growing Number Of Doctors Say They Won’t Get COVID-19 Booster Shots

Growing Number Of Doctors Say They Won’t Get COVID-19 Booster Shots

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

A…

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Growing Number Of Doctors Say They Won’t Get COVID-19 Booster Shots

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

A growing number of doctors say that they will not get COVID-19 vaccine boosters, citing a lack of clinical trial evidence.

I have taken my last COVID vaccine without RCT level evidence it will reduce my risk of severe disease,” Dr. Todd Lee, an infectious disease expert at McGill University, wrote on Twitter.

A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is seen in a file photograph. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Lee was pointing to the lack of randomized clinical trial (RCT) results for the updated boosters, which were cleared in the United States and Canada in the fall of 2022 primarily based on data from experiments with mice.

Lee, who has received three vaccine doses, noted that he was infected with the Omicron virus variant—the vaccines provide little protection against infection—and described himself as a healthy male in his 40s.

Dr. Vinay Prasad, a professor of epidemiology and biostatics at the University of California, San Francisco, also said he wouldn’t take any additional shots until clinical trial data become available.

“I took at least 1 dose against my will. It was unethical and scientifically bankrupt,” he said.

Allison Krug, an epidemiologist who co-authored a study that found teenage boys were more likely to suffer heart inflammation after COVID-19 vaccination than COVID-19 infection, recounted explaining to her doctor why she was refusing a booster and said her doctor agreed with her position.

She called on people to “join the movement to demand appropriate evidence,” pointing to a blog post from Prasad.

“Pay close attention to note this isn’t anti-vaccine sentiment. This is ‘provide [hard] evidence of benefit to justify ongoing use’ which is very different. It is only fair for a 30 billion dollar a year product given to hundreds of millions,” Lee said.

Dr. Mark Silverberg, who founded the Toronto Immune and Digestive Health Institute; Kevin Bass, a medical student; and Dr. Tracy Høeg, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, joined Lee and Prasad in stating their opposition to more boosters, at least for now.

Høeg said she did not need clinical trials to know she’s not getting any boosters after receiving a two-dose primary series, adding that she took the second dose “against my will.”

I also had an adverse reaction to dose 1 moderna and, if I could do it again, I would not have had any covid vaccines,” she said on Twitter. “I was glad my parents in their 70s could get covid vaccinated but have yet to see non-confounded data to advise them about the bivalent booster. I would have liked to see an RCT for the bivalent for people their age and for adults with health conditions that put them at risk.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization to updated boosters, or bivalent shots, from Pfizer and Moderna in August 2022 despite there being no human data.

Observational data suggests the boosters provide little protection against infection and solid shielding against severe illness, at least initially.

Five months after the authorization was granted, no clinical trial data has been made available for the bivalents, which target the Wuhan strain as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron. Moderna presented efficacy estimates for a different bivalent, which has never been used in the United States, during a recent meeting. The company estimated the booster increased protection against infection by just 10 percent.

The FDA is preparing to order all Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines be replaced with the bivalents. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which issues recommendations on vaccines, continues advising virtually all Americans to get a primary series and multiple boosters.

Professor Calls for Halt to Messenger RNA Vaccines

A professor, meanwhile, became the latest to call for a halt to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are both based on messenger RNA technology.

At this point in time, all COVID mRNA vaccination program[s] should stop immediately,” Retsef Levi, a professor of operations management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a video statement. “They should stop because they completely failed to fulfill any of their advertised promise[s] regarding efficacy. And more importantly, they should stop because of the mounting and indisputable evidence that they cause unprecedented level of harm, including the death of young people and children.”

Levi was referring to post-vaccination heart inflammation, or myocarditis. The condition is one of the few that authorities have acknowledged is caused by the messenger RNA vaccines.

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Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 19:10

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Government

Inside The Secret Government Meeting On COVID-19 Natural Immunity

Inside The Secret Government Meeting On COVID-19 Natural Immunity

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Four of…

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Inside The Secret Government Meeting On COVID-19 Natural Immunity

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Four of the highest ranking U.S. health officials—including Dr. Anthony Fauci—met in secret to discuss whether or not naturally immune people should be exempt from getting COVID-19 vaccines, The Epoch Times can reveal.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci during a Senate hearing in Washington on May 17, 2022. (Shawn Thew/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

The officials brought in four outside experts to discuss whether the protection gained after recovering from COVID-19—known as natural immunity—should count as one or more vaccine doses.

“There was interest in several people in the administration in hearing basically the opinions of four immunologists in terms of what we thought about … natural infection as contributing to protection against moderate to severe disease, and to what extent that should influence dosing,” Dr. Paul Offit, one of the experts, told The Epoch Times.

Offit and another expert took the position that the naturally immune need fewer doses. The other two experts argued natural immunity shouldn’t count as anything.

The discussion did not lead to a change in U.S. vaccination policy, which has never acknowledged post-infection protection. Fauci and the other U.S. officials who heard from the experts have repeatedly downplayed that protection, claiming that it is inferior to vaccine-bestowed immunity. Most studies on the subject indicate the opposite.

The meeting, held in October 2021, was briefly discussed before on a podcast. The Epoch Times has independently confirmed the meeting took place, identified all of the participants, and uncovered other key details.

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University who did not participate in the meeting, criticized how such a consequential discussion took place behind closed doors with only a few people present.

“It was a really impactful decision that they made in private with a very small number of people involved. And they reached the wrong decision,” Bhattacharya told The Epoch Times.

An email obtained by The Epoch Times shows Dr. Vivek Murthy contacting colleagues to arrange the meeting. (The Epoch Times)

The Participants

From the government:

  • Fauci, the head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden until the end of 2022
  • Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. surgeon general
  • Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Dr. Francis Collins, head of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which includes the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, until December 2021
  • Dr. Bechara Choucair, the White House vaccine coordinator until November 2021

From outside the government:

  • Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and an adviser to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on vaccines
  • Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and a former member of Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board
  • Akiko Iwasaki, professor of immunobiology and molecular, cellular, and developmental biology at Yale University
  • Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director of Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and dean of the Baylor College of Medicine’s School of Tropical Medicine

Fauci and Murthy decided to hold the meeting, according to emails The Epoch Times obtained.

“Would you be available tonight from 9-9:30 for a call with a few other scientific colleagues on infection-induced immunity? Tony and I just discussed and were hoping to do this sooner rather than later if possible,” Murthy wrote in one missive to Fauci, Walensky, and Collins.

All three quickly said they could make it.

Walensky asked who would be there.

Murthy listed the participants. “I think you know all of them right?” he said.

Walensky said she knew all but one person. “Sounds like a good crew,” she added.

From top left, clockwise: Dr. Vivek Murthy, Dr. Francis Collins, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Dr. Rochelle Walensky. (Getty Images)

‘Clear Benefit’

During the meeting, Offit put forth his position—that natural immunity should count as two doses.

At the time, the CDC recommended three shots—a two-dose primary series and a booster—for many Americans 18 and older, soon expanding that advice to all adults, even though trials of the boosters only analyzed immunogenicity and efficacy among those without evidence of prior infection.

Research indicated that natural immunity was long-lasting and superior to vaccination. On the other hand, the CDC published a paper in its quasi-journal that concluded vaccination was better.

Osterholm sided with Offit, but thought that having recovered from COVID-19 should only count as a single dose.

“I added my voice at the meeting to count an infection as equivalent to a dose of vaccine! I’ve always believed hybrid immunity likely provides the most protection,” Osterholm told The Epoch Times via email.

Hybrid immunity refers to getting a vaccine after recovering from COVID-19.

Some papers have found vaccination after recovery boosts antibodies, which are believed to be a correlate of protection. Other research has shown that the naturally immune have a higher risk of side effects than those who haven’t recovered from infection. Some experts believe the risk is worth the benefit but others do not.

Hotez and Iwasaki, meanwhile, made the case that natural immunity should not count as any dose—as has been the case in virtually the entire United States since the COVID-19 vaccines were first rolled out.

Iwasaki referred to a British preprint study, soon after published in Nature, that concluded, based on survey data, that the protection from the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines was heightened among people with evidence of prior infection. She also noted a study she worked on that found the naturally immune had higher antibody titers than the vaccinated, but that the vaccinated “reached comparable levels of neutralization responses to the ancestral strain after the second vaccine dose.” The researchers also discovered T cells—thought to protect against severe illness—were boosted by vaccination.

There’s a “clear benefit” to boosting regardless of prior infection, Iwasaki, who has since received more than $2 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told participants after the meeting in an email obtained by The Epoch Times. Hotez received $789,000 in grants from the NIH in fiscal year 2020, and has received other grants totaling millions in previous years. Offit, who co-invented the rotavirus vaccine, received $3.5 million in NIH grants from 1985 through 2004.

Hotez declined interview requests through a spokesperson. Iwasaki did not respond to requests for comment.

No participants represented experts like Bhattacharya who say that the naturally immune generally don’t need any doses at all.

In an email obtained by The Epoch Times, Akiko Iwasaki wrote to other meeting participants shortly after the meeting ended. (The Epoch Times)

Public Statements

In public, Hotez repeatedly portrayed natural immunity as worse than vaccination, including citing the widely criticized CDC paper, which drew from just two months of testing in a single state.

In one post on Twitter on Oct. 29, 2021, he referred to another CDC study, which concluded that the naturally immune were five times as likely to test positive compared to vaccinated people with no prior infection, and stated: “Still more evidence, this time from @CDCMMWR showing that vaccine-induced immunity is way better than infection and recovery, what some call weirdly ‘natural immunity’. The antivaccine and far right groups go ballistic, but it’s the reality.”

That same day, the CDC issued a “science brief” that detailed the agency’s position on natural immunity versus the protection from vaccines. The brief, which has never been updated, says that available evidence shows both the vaccinated and naturally immune “have a low risk of subsequent infection for at least 6 months” but that “the body of evidence for infection-induced immunity is more limited than that for vaccine-induced immunity.”

Evidence shows that vaccination after infection, or hybrid immunity, “significantly enhances protection and further reduces risk of reinfection” and is the foundation of the CDC’s recommendations, the agency said.

Several months later, the CDC acknowledged that natural immunity was superior to vaccination against the Delta variant, which was displaced in late 2021 by Omicron. The CDC, which has made misleading representations before on the evidence supporting vaccination of the naturally immune, did not respond to a request for comment regarding whether the agency will ever update the brief.

Iwasaki had initially been open to curbing the number of doses for the naturally immune—”I think this supports the idea of just giving one dose to people who had covid19,” she said in response to one Twitter post in early 2021, which is restricted from view—but later came to argue that each person who is infected has a different immune response, and that the natural immunity, even if strong initially, wanes over time.

Osterholm has knocked people who claim natural immunity is weak or non-existent, but has also claimed that vaccine-bestowed immunity is better. Osterholm also changed the stance he took in the meeting just several months later, saying in February 2022 that “we’ve got to make three doses the actual standard” while also “trying to understand what kind of immunity we get from a previous infection.”

Offit has been the leading critic on the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, which advises U.S. regulators on vaccines, over their authorizations of COVID-19 boosters. Offit has said boosters are unnecessary for the young and healthy because they don’t add much to the primary series. He also criticized regulators for authorizing updated shots without consulting the committee and absent clinical data. Two of the top U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials resigned over the booster push. No FDA officials were listed on invitations to the secret meeting on natural immunity.

Fauci and Walensky Downplay Natural Immunity

Fauci and Walensky, two of the most visible U.S. health officials during the pandemic, have repeatedly downplayed natural immunity.

Fauci, who said in an email in March 2020 that he assumed there would be “substantial immunity post infection,” would say later that natural immunity was real but that the durability was uncertain. He noted the studies finding higher antibody levels from hybrid immunity.

In September 2021, months after claiming that vaccinated people “can feel safe that they are not going to get infected,” Fauci said that he did not have “a really firm answer” on whether the naturally immune should get vaccinated.

“It is conceivable that you got infected, you’re protected—but you may not be protected for an indefinite period of time,” Fauci said on CNN when pressed on the issue. “So I think that is something that we need to sit down and discuss seriously.”

After the meeting, Fauci would say that natural immunity and vaccine-bestowed immunity both wane, and that people should get vaccinated regardless of prior infection to boost their protection.

Walensky, before she became CDC director, signed a document called the John Snow Memorandum in response to the Great Barrington Declaration, which Bhattacharya coauthored. The declaration called for focused protection of the elderly and otherwise infirm, stating, “The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk.”

The memorandum, in contrast, said there was “no evidence for lasting protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection” and supported the harsh lockdown measures that had been imposed in the United States and elsewhere.

In March 2021, after becoming director, Walensky released recommendations that the naturally immune get vaccinated, noting that there was “substantial durability” of protection six months after infection but that “rare cases of reinfection” had been reported.

Walensky hyped the CDC study on natural immunity in August 2021, and the second study in October 2021. But when the third paper came out concluding natural immunity was superior, she did not issue a statement. Walensky later told a blog that the study found natural immunity provided strong protection, “perhaps even more so than those who had been vaccinated and not yet boosted.”

But, because it came before Omicron, she said, “it’s not entirely clear how that protection works in the context of Omicron and boosting.”

Walensky, Murthy, and Collins did not respond to requests for interviews. Fauci, who stepped down from his positions in late 2022, could not be reached.

Murthy and Collins also portrayed natural immunity as inferior. “From the studies about natural immunity, we are seeing more and more data that tells us that while you get some protection from natural infection, it’s not nearly as strong as what you get from the vaccine,” Murthy said on CNN about two months before the meeting. Collins, in a series of blog posts, highlighted the studies showing higher antibody levels after vaccination and urged people to get vaccinated. He also voiced support for vaccine mandates.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 21:10

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Apple Pares Much Of Drop During Earnings Call

Apple Pares Much Of Drop During Earnings Call

Update 6:00pm:  Apple has staged a remarkable reversal after hours, and erased almost the entire…

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Apple Pares Much Of Drop During Earnings Call

Update 6:00pm:  Apple has staged a remarkable reversal after hours, and erased almost the entire loss after the company said that it expects a 5% impact from FX rates in Q2, and also expects iPhone revenue growth to accelerate in Q2. CEO Tim Cook was also asked whether the move to higher ASPs for the iPhone is sustainable in light of the sharp decline in sales, and whether this will continue in a worsening economy. Cook said the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max did extremely well until the supply-chain constraints. He says this is definitely a “strong Pro cycle” and credits the new features in the device. He says he’s happy that Apple is now shipping to the demand.

Tim Cook also said that AI is critical to Apple and mentions features like crash-and-fall detection and the use of AI in features like EKG on the Apple Watch. He says AI will effect everything the company does, including all products and services.

Apple is quite bullish on India and other emerging markets, with CEO Tim Cook saying the company will soon open its first retail stores in India. He also said Apple saw marked improvement in China in December (versus November) after another round of Covid re-openings.

As Bloomberg notes, the company also stuck to a line that revenue and sales of individual product categories would have been higher if not for supply-chain constraints and issues stemming from the macroeconomic environment.

* * *

With both Amazon and Google sliding after reporting disappointing earnings and mixed guidance, it was all up to the world's biggest company, AAPL, to provide some hail mary for the tech earnings season which for better or worse is concentrated in a one hour stretch this afternoon. Alas, it was not meant to be and after missing on the top and bottom line, AAPL has joined the parade of selling and tumbled after hours due to numbers which the market was clearly not impressed with.

  • EPS $1.88 vs. $2.10 y/y, missing estimate $1.94
  • Gross margin $50.33 billion, -7.2% y/y, missing estimate $52.03 billion
  • Revenue $117.15 billion, -5.5% y/y, missing estimate $121.14 billion
    • Products revenue $96.39 billion, -7.7% y/y, missing estimate $98.98 billion
    • IPhone revenue $65.78 billion, -8.2% y/y, missing estimate $68.3 billion
    • Mac revenue $7.74 billion, -29% y/y, missing estimate $9.72 billion
    • IPad revenue $9.40 billion, +30% y/y, beating estimate $7.78 billion
    • Wearables, home and accessories $13.48 billion, -8.3% y/y, missing estimate $15.32 billion
    • Service revenue $20.77 billion, +6.4% y/y, beating estimate $20.47 billion
    • Greater China rev. $23.91 billion, -7.3% y/y, beating estimate $21.8 billion
  • Cash and cash equivalents $20.54 billion, -45% y/y, estimate $29.91 billion

And here is AAPL's diluted EPS in context: needless to say, could have been better.

Commenting on the quarter, Tim Cook said that “during the December quarter, we achieved a major milestone and are excited to report that we now have more than 2 billion active devices as part of our growing installed base.”

CFO Luca Maester chimed in: “our record September quarter results continue to demonstrate our ability to execute effectively in spite of a challenging and volatile macroeconomic backdrop. We continued to invest in our long-term growth plans, generated over $24 billion in operating cash flow, and returned over $29 billion to our shareholders during the quarter. The strength of our ecosystem, unmatched customer loyalty, and record sales spurred our active installed base of devices to a new all-time high. This quarter capped another record-breaking year for Apple, with revenue growing over $28 billion and operating cash flow up $18 billion versus last year.”

Going back to the results, Apple missed consensus revenue in most product categories, with the exception of iPads, to wit:

  • IPhone revenue $65.78 billion, missing estimate $68.3 billion
  • Mac revenue $7.74 billion, missing estimate $9.72 billion
  • Wearables, home and accessories $13.48 billion, missing estimate $15.32 billion
  • IPad revenue $9.40 billion, beating estimate $7.78 billion

Of note: Apple recorded its first decline in iPhone revenue since the third quarter of 2020; yet in context, the 8% drop was still less than the 20% decrease reported by Samsung. Other major smartphone providers that have yet to report are expecting to see double-digit losses. Ironically, Apple may have fared comparatively well on smartphone revenue.

The silver lining: service revenue $20.77 billion, +6.4% y/y, beating estimates of $20.47 billion...

... and rose 6.5% Y/Y, an improvement from last quarter's 5.0%

One other place where investors were pleasantly surprised was China sales, which at $23.91 billion, beat the estimate of $21.8 billion by more than $2 billion.

None of that changes the fact that AAPL's sales by region were uniformly negative across the board.

And another potential problem: AAPL's gross cash continues to slide, dropping to $165 billion, the lowest since June 2014...

... while cash net of debt rebounded modestly from $49 billion to $54 billion, just above a 12 year low with the company having spent hundreds of billions on stock buybacks. Let's hope that Apple doesn't actually need to use that cash.

Commenting on the results, Bloomberg writes that the results show that Apple hasn’t been able to dodge the tech slowdown afflicting many of its competitors. Demand for smartphones and computers has slumped in the past year, and Covid-19 restrictions in China added to Apple’s woes during the holiday sales period. Timing was another issue: The company didn’t launch new Macs and HomePods until recent weeks, missing the end of the first quarter.

In response to these disappointing earnings, the stock predictably slumped as much as 4% before recouping some losses, although even with the drop it is back to where it was... yesterday.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 18:05

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