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Futures Jump Above 3,200 On Vaccine Optimism, Merger Monday

Futures Jump Above 3,200 On Vaccine Optimism, Merger Monday

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Futures Jump Above 3,200 On Vaccine Optimism, Merger Monday Tyler Durden Mon, 07/13/2020 - 08:01

With futures flat for much of the overnight session, markets needed that extra oomph to start the week and push them above a key psychological level, and they got that after news that Pfizer and German biotech BioNTech SE were granted fast track designation by the FDA for two of the companies’ four vaccine candidates against the coronavirus. The news, which is purely procedural and was expected all along, was misinterpreted by the market as if the two companies have a promising virus vaccine, and sent Pfizer shares 2%, while BioNTech jumped 5%. More importantly, the news was enough to push Eminis up more than 21 point and above 3,200 which will surely help the market's mood ahead of tomorrow's official start of Q2 earnings which are expected to be the worst since the financial crisis.

In corporate news, Pepsi kicked off the second-quarter earnings season on a bright note, gaining over 2% as it benefited from a surge in at-home consumption of salty snacks such as Fritos and Cheetos during lockdowns, while a multi-billion dollar semiconductor deal also lifting the mood. Analog Devices rose 0.9% in premarket trading after it confirmed a Sunday report from the WSJ, offering to buy peer Maxim Integrated Products Inc for $20.91 billion in an all-stock deal. Maxim shares jumped 17%.

The renewed covid optimism and strong results offered some cheer as investors are bracing for what could be the sharpest drop in quarterly earnings for S&P 500 firms since the financial crisis, with Goldman expected a 60% drop in Q2 EPS.

Results from big banks will be in focus this week. The April-June reports will reveal the extent of the damage wreaked by the coronavirus-induced lockdowns on corporate profits. With a record jump in cases in the United States and some other hotspots around the world, analysts have predicted a return to S&P 500 earning s growth only by 2022. Recent economic data, however, has pointed to a revival in business activity, helping the Nasdaq clinch its sixth record close in seven weeks on Friday as broader markets rose on positive data from Gilead’s potential COVID-19 treatment.

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks gained, led by materials and industrials, after falling in the last session. Markets in the region were mixed, with Japan's Topix Index rising, and Singapore's Straits Times Index and Thailand's SET falling. Amusingly, Beijing appears to be losing control of its stock market bubble, as the Shanghai Composite brushes off another mainland media call for ‘rational’ behavior to gain 1.8%, Shenzhen 2.7% higher.

Trading volume for MSCI Asia Pacific Index members was 42% above the monthly average. The Topix gained 2.5%, with AIT and Nomura System Corp rising the most. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.8%, with Xinhu Zhongbao and Flying Technology posting the biggest advances

European markets initially failed to echo Asia’s optimism, with the majority of indexes trading well off opening levels. FTSE MIB underperformed, trading flat after opening ~1.5% higher. Banks, autos and travel names gave back ~1% of gains, having outperformed in early trading. However, as US traders walked in, European share rose alongside US bond yields.

And so, with global stocks trading near their highest since February, focus now turns to whether the profit outlook will back up bullishness fueled by central bank and fiscal policy support. Traders have largely shrugged off new coronavirus outbreaks in some parts of the world, with Florida on Sunday posting the biggest one-day rise in cases since the pandemic began in the U.S., reporting 15,300 new infections. As Bloomberg notes, "there’s reason for optimism even though earnings are estimated to have contracted by more than 40% in the worst quarter since the financial crisis, as analysts upgrade their forecasts for the rest of the year."

“We think earnings are likely to recover in the second half of the year and excess liquidity will continue to support risk assets,” said Julie Fox at UBS Private Wealth Management. “We see further potential in global equities and think there’s some upside in segments of the market that have underperformed during the crisis.”

In rates, Treasuries were unchanged after trading in a narrow range, the 10Y moving from 0.625% to 0.655% during the European session and within 2bps of Friday’s closing levels, having pared declines as U.S. equity index futures tracked European stocks higher, TSYs outperformed other developed market bonds which were pressured by supply; there’s no Treasury coupon supply this week. Yields so far remain inside Friday’s ranges, which featured multi-month lows for all tenors and a record low for the 5-year. The 10-year yield was little changed at 0.646%, traded at 0.5678% Friday, lowest yield since April 22. German and U.K. 10-year yields were 2bp-3bp cheaper vs U.S., while Japan’s and Australia’s bond markets were pressured by supply. Peripheral spreads traded off session wides as BTPs and PGBs put in a firm bounce off the lows.

In FX, the dollar traded mixed versus its Group-of-10 peers and hovered around 1.13 per euro; most currencies were confined to narrow moves as they consolidated recent trading ranges. The Bloomberg dollar index faded Asia’s losses to trade flat. Cable traded near 1.2600, having printed highs of 1.2666. The Australian dollar was on the top of the table while the New Zealand dollar slipped; asset managers last week increased Aussie long positions to the most since September 2017 and decreased kiwi longs for the first time in a month, Commitments of Traders (COT) reports showed. Norway’s krone fell versus all Group-of-10 peers as oil edged lower ahead of an OPEC+ meeting this week at which the group may announce plans to start tapering historic production cuts even as the coronavirus surges unabated in many parts of the world.

In commodities, crude futures drifted lower, front-month WTI dips below $40 ahead of an OPEC+ meeting at which the group may announce plans to start tapering historic production cuts.
 

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.2% to 3,183.50
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.3% to 367.88
  • MXAP up 1.1% to 166.56
  • MXAPJ up 0.7% to 551.10
  • Nikkei up 2.2% to 22,784.74
  • Topix up 2.5% to 1,573.02
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.2% to 25,772.12
  • Shanghai Composite up 1.8% to 3,443.29
  • Sensex down 0.04% to 36,578.49
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 1% to 5,977.52
  • Kospi up 1.7% to 2,186.06
  • German 10Y yield rose 0.4 bps to -0.461%
  • Euro up 0.06% to $1.1307
  • Italian 10Y yield rose 0.2 bps to 1.099%
  • Spanish 10Y yield rose 1.1 bps to 0.424%
  • Brent futures down 1.4% to $42.65/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.5% to $1,808.06
  • U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 96.61

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • When the ECB meets this week to review its radical suite of measures to revive the economy, there’s one tool it insists it’ll stay away from: yield curve control
  • Faced with the prospect of restricted access to U.S. dollars, China’s answer is to get more people to use its own currency instead
  • The dollar rallied during the March market turmoil due to its haven status, yet ongoing repricing in options may be challenging the idea that a second wave of the pandemic or another black swan event could see similar results
  • China announced sanctions against U.S. officials including Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, in a largely symbolic retaliation over legislation intended to punish Beijing for its treatment of ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region
  • Boris Johnson’s government will launch a campaign Monday to urge businesses to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period on Dec. 31, as a survey showed only a quarter of directors said their companies were fully ready
  • France will unveil “massive” support for youth employment this week and a new broad stimulus plan including tax cuts for companies at the end of August, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said

Asian equity markets began the week mostly positive as the region benefitted from the recent tailwinds from Wall St. where encouraging Remdesivir data and outperformance in financials last Friday ahead of upcoming earnings, helped markets shrug off the rising COVID infection numbers to lift all major US indices and helped the Nasdaq to a fresh all-time high. ASX 200 (+1.0%) was led higher by outperformance in utilities and the top-weighted financials sector, as the latter took its cue from its counterpart stateside and as big 4 bank Westpac was buoyed by reports it is mulling divesting over AUD 4bln in non-core wealth assets, while Nikkei 225 (+2.2%) outperformed on a break above the 22,500 level with participants unfazed by the increasing risks associated with the outbreak flare-up in Tokyo. Hang Seng (+0.2%) and Shanghai Comp. (+1.8%) were also positive after the PBoC provided its first liquidity injection following a 2-week hiatus and amid recent better than expected lending data from China. This helped domestic markets shake off the initial tentativeness after local press continued to urge rationality regarding stocks and amid the continued US-China tensions with US President Trump suggesting a Phase 2 trade deal was unlikely at this point and the US State Department warned US citizens in China of increased arbitrary detention, while China had also threatened to impose reciprocal measures if the US insists on moving forward with sanctions. Finally, 10yr JGBs were weaker amid gains in stocks and spillover selling following Friday’s pullback in USTs, while the lack of BoJ presence in the market ahead of its 2-day policy meeting tomorrow, also contributed to the tame demand for bonds.

Top Asian News

  • Tokyo Virus Numbers Fuel Concern of Spread Beyond Nightclubs
  • After 133% Rally, SoftBank Investors Bet There’s More Ahead
  • Netanyahu Ally Calls for Immediate Lockdown to Halt Virus Spread

European equities have kicked the week off on the front-foot (Eurostoxx 50 +0.8%) in an extension of the gains seen last week as markets thus far continue to shrug off the rising global COVID-19 case count whereby the WHO reported a record daily increase of over 230k cases in a 24 hour period over the weekend. From a European perspective, it is worth noting that the WHO stated that the largest increases in cases were seen in the US, Brazil, India and South Africa and therefore a bulk of the focus currently resides outside the continent. Furthermore, some desks have attributed the positive sentiment thus far to mounting hopes ahead of the upcoming EU summit as the bloc continues to negotiate its recovery fund. That said, work is still be done on appeasing the so-called “frugal four” and as such, some have cautioned that a deal might not come until later in the month. Gains in Europe are currently favouring cyclical names with autos, basic resources and travel & leisure names outperforming peers. However, as European indices pullback from earlier session highs, the composition of sector-wide performance could stage a rotation if sentiment deteriorates further. In terms of stock specifics, Akzo Nobel (+4.1%) trade higher after posting a Q2 update, whilst the same can also be said for the likes of DNB (+10.8%) and G4S (+8.7%). To the downside, the main outlier is Atlantia (-15.5%) after Italian PM Conte warned that proposals from the Co. are unsatisfactory thus far and the government will not sacrifice public interest over the Co. Additionally, Ubisoft (-9.0%) also trade lower on the session after undertaking multiple personal changes in response to allegations/accusations of misconduct.

Top European News

  • EU Carbon Permits Climb to 14-Year High as Bloc Goes Green
  • G4S Jumps Most Since May; Panmure Notes Security Unit Resilience
  • Ubisoft Drops After Harassment Reports, Analysts Cut Stock
  • Sweden’s Alfa Laval Agrees to Buy Neles in $2 Billion Deal

In FX, although the US Dollar has pared some losses and the DXY is holding above 96.500 within 96.387-685 parameters, the Aussie is still outpacing G10 counterparts in wake of a 2nd consecutive Usd/CNY midpoint fixing below the psychological 7.0000 level and a broad upturn in risk sentiment. Aud/Usd is hovering within a 0.6984-41 range ahead of NAB business conditions and confidence overnight, while the Aud/Nzd cross has rebounded through 1.0600 as the Kiwi lags vs its US peer around 0.6560 in advance of NZ CPI data on Wednesday. Note also, a dovish note from ANZ may be weighing on the Nzd as the bank believes that the RBNZ should carefully consider policies to weaken the exchange rate and is keeping all options on the agenda (ie NIRP).

  • CAD/EUR - The Loonie is also benefiting from the positive risk tone with Usd/Cad meandering from 1.3602 to 1.3556 even though crude prices are softer, while the Euro is just keeping afloat of 1.1300 after topping out ahead of 1.1340 and decent option expiry interest extending to 1.1350 (1 bn).
  • GBP/CHF/JPY - Sterling ran in to supply at 1.2660+ levels again and faded a fraction shy of Friday’s circa 1.2667 high to form a 2nd consecutive marginally lower peak having hit 1.2670 on July 9, and Cable is now striving to retain the 1.2600 handle as Eur/Gbp bounces from just under 0.8950 towards 0.8975 in the run up to the next round of Brexit talks. Also ahead and a potential Pound mover, 2 separate speeches by BoE Governor Bailey. Elsewhere, the Franc is pivoting 0.9400 against the Greenback and 1.0640 vs the Euro following another sizeable increase in Swiss domestic bank sight deposits on the eve of a speech by SNB chair Jordan. Similarly, the Yen is straddling 107.00 and 121.00 vs the single currency after a loss of safe haven premium, and now eyeing Japanese ip tomorrow for some independent impetus.
  • SCANDI/EM - Some loss of bullish momentum for the Norwegian Krona as risk appetite wanes and oil drifts, while the Swedish Crown is also apprehensive awaiting CPI on Tuesday. However, the Turkish Lira has pared some declines in wake of better than expected, albeit still bleak ip and a narrower than forecast current account deficit.

In commodities, WTI and Brent have had a downbeat start to the week with both benchmarks posting losses in excess of 1% and WTI Aug’20 future having dropped back below the USD 40/bbl handle. The most recent declines have arisen as sentiment more broadly takes a slight leg lower; albeit, with European and US equity futures still very much in positive territory. Over the weekend there were a number of updates on the crude front firstly, and one of the likely drivers of the morning’s downside, Saudi Arabia and other producers are seen as likely to increase output in August. In light of the easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions but the ongoing spread of cases is weighing on these plans. Additionally, desks note that OPEC+ are to begin easing production cuts from August, a measure which would be in-fitting with the current deal. Further clarity on the plans for OPEC+ ahead will arise from Wednesday’s JMMC meeting; although, it is worth bearing in mind the JMMC do not have the power to set policy themselves, they can only make recommendations to the broader OPEC+ members. Elsewhere, a resumption of woes for Libya’s NOC as the force majeure on all oil exports has been reimplemented, after cargoes docked and loaded late last week at Es Sider, due to LNA saying the blockade is to continue. Turning to metals, spot gold is firmer by some USD 10/oz thus far for the session and resides towards the top end of a relatively confined range which has notable seen the lower end drop beneath USD 1800/oz. Price action for the metal has largely been dictated by the mild pullback in general sentiment and broader USD moves.

US Event Calendar

  • 11:30am: Fed’s Williams Discusses Libor
  • 1pm: Fed’s Kaplan Speaks in Webinar Hosted by National Press Club
  • 2pm: Monthly Budget Statement, est. $863.0b deficit, prior $398.8b deficit

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

I hope you all had a good weekend. At the start of lockdown we decided to buy a swing, slide and climbing frame set for the garden. We thought the kids could make use of it after we’d had a go ourselves. Three and a half months later, and one week after playgrounds reopened here in the U.K., it arrived at the weekend. I’ve never seen the kids so excited. It made me feel less guilty about playing golf where I am pleased to announce that my comeback from the most dreadful run known to man (or woman) continued. In a field of 144 I was just inside the top 10 shooting my handicap and banishing the previous weekend’s third last (ahead of only two octogenarians) to the dustbin. Readers on Friday will now know I shout “back” and “hit” during my swing to maintain rhythm. Apart from confusing my playing partners it seems to be working for now.

In a week ahead as packed as my golf club is at the moment, the main highlight is the EU summit on Friday where leaders will gather to discuss the recovery fund. In addition to this, we’ll also see the ECB, the Bank of Japan and others make their latest monetary policy decisions. Meanwhile, earnings season kicks off, including a number of US financials reporting. Economic data includes China’s Q2 GDP reading along with a number of June releases out from the US.

More on this below but first the weekend news and Asian market developments. Risk has started the week on the front foot with the Nikkei (+1.89%), Hang Seng (+0.92%), Shanghai Comp (+1.27%) and Kospi (+1.52%) all up. Futures on the S&P 500 are up +0.46% and yields on 10y USTs are down -1.4bps. Spot gold and silver prices are up +0.25% and +0.86% respectively.

Coronavirus cases continued to accelerate over the weekend with the US registering average case growth of +1.95% on Saturday and Sunday combined. This is higher than the last 5 weekends average of +1.38%. In terms of states, Texas registered new case growth of +3.66% vs. the last 5 weekend average of 2.71% and in Florida this stood at +5.13% (vs. 4.45%) and California (+2.11%) in line with previous 5 weekends average. The growth rate of new deaths actually declined slightly for the US overall (+0.35% this weekend vs. +0.39% in the previous 5 weekends) but at state level, Texas (+2.16% vs. 0.80%), Florida (+1.69% vs. +0.80%) and Arizona (+3.66% vs. 1.39%) all saw higher death rates even if the pace of fatalities vs cases is still significantly behind that of the first wave.

Meanwhile, New York City, once the epicenter of the US coronavirus outbreak, reported its first day with zero confirmed or probable virus deaths on Sunday since the pandemic began. Elsewhere, Japan’s economy minister, Yasutoshi Nishimura, said that the country needs to remain on high alert for further coronavirus outbreaks as the number of cases with unclear contagion routes increases and added that testing should be strategically and greatly increased. Japan reported 681 new cases on Sunday with Tokyo reporting more than 200 cases for four straight days.

In terms of other weekend news, here in the UK, the Telegraph reported that Chancellor Sunak is planning sweeping Brexit tax cuts to protect the economy. The report added that the Chancellor is also considering an overhaul of planning laws in up to 10 new ‘freeports’ within a year of the UK becoming fully independent from the EU in December. Meanwhile, the FT has reported overnight that the UK is proposing to withhold power to control state aid from its devolved nations when the Brexit transition ends. This could lead to friction with Scotland and Wales. The report added that the proposal, which would give Westminster statutory powers to control policies for the entire UK, is expected to appear in a bill this autumn laying the legal foundations of a new internal market.

In other news, the New York Times reported that OPEC, Russia and other producers are expected to modestly ease the record production cuts in August as coronavirus lockdowns end and demand begins to rise again. A committee of key officials from OPEC and Russia will meet on Wednesday by video conference to discuss their approach to the market. Oil prices are trading c. -1% this morning.

More on this week now. The EU leaders summit in Brussels on Friday and into Saturday will discuss the recovery fund in response to the pandemic, as well as the EU’s new long-term budget. The baseline expectations from our economists (link here ) is that there will be a deal on the recovery fund at this meeting, but it remains a close call. If an agreement weren’t to be reached there, then they still expect one within weeks. It’s worth remembering that there are number of complex issues to be worked out, including the ratio of grants to loans, with the so-called “frugal four” of the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark looking for there to be loans rather than grants. Their support for the fund will be necessary as it requires the unanimous approval of the member states.

The ECB a day earlier should be a non event (see DB’s preview here) with maybe some focus on any comments from President Lagarde on the German Constitutional Court, now that the German Bundestag has passed a motion on proportionality. The BoJ meeting on Wednesday should also be a relatively tame affair (see DB’s preview here ). Also in the world of central banks the Canadian, Korean and Indonesian policy makers meet and the Fed release their Beige Book on Wednesday.

Moving on to data releases, the main highlight is likely to be China’s Q2 GDP release on Thursday. Our economists are expecting a notable rebound in GDP growth to +3% year-on-year in Q2, following the -6.8% contraction in Q1. At the same time, there’ll also be the release of retail sales and industrial production for June, with our economists expecting an expansion in retail sales of +0.7% yoy in June (vs. -2.8% in May), and IP growth of +4.5% (vs. +4.4% in May).

Turning elsewhere, the US also has a number of data releases out next week, including an increasing amount of hard data for June. The highlights include the June CPI reading on Tuesday, before the industrial production number on Wednesday, retail sales on Thursday, and housing starts and building permits data on Friday, which should give us a clearer indication of how the economy has performed into the end of the quarter. Meanwhile the U.K. sees a number of data releases, including GDP for May, CPI for June, and unemployment in the three months to May. Another thing to look out for in the UK will be the release of the Office for Budget Responsibility’s Fiscal sustainability Report tomorrow, which will present alternative scenarios for the economy and public finances.

Earnings season kicks slowly into gear as 32 S&P 500 companies report along with a further 57 from the STOXX 600. The highlights include PepsiCo today, JPMorgan, Citigroup and Wells Fargo tomorrow, UnitedHealth Group, ASML, Goldman Sachs, US Bancorp, BNY Mellon on Wednesday, Johnson & Johnson, Netflix, Bank of America, Abbott Laboratories and Morgan Stanley on Thursday and on Friday, there’s Danaher, Honeywell International and BlackRock.

Back to last week, where markets were generally constructive even as the outlook for the virus has continued to worsen in recent weeks, especially in the US and Emerging Markets. The S&P 500 gained +1.76% (+1.05% Friday) on the week, and now sits just under 1.5% away from being flat on the year just as earning season is about to begin. The tech-focused Nasdaq greatly outperformed last week, rallying +4.01% (+0.66% Friday) led primarily by the index’s most heavily weighted stocks. European equities generally underperformed the S&P with the Stoxx 600 gaining a lesser +0.38% (+0.88% Friday) over the five days. Overall European bourses were mixed with the DAX (+0.84%), and FTSE MIB (+0.21%) up on the week, while indices such as the IBEX (-1.11%) and CAC (-0.73%) pulled back. Asian indices were even more disparate as Chinese stocks saw a large rise with the CSI 300 gaining +7.55% but with the Nikkei (-0.07%) and Kospi (-0.10%) largely unchanged over the week.

Core sovereign bonds rose as US 10yr Treasury yields fell -2.5bps (+3.1bps Friday) to finish at 0.645%, while 10yr Bund yields fell -3.3bps (-0.2bps Friday) to -0.47%. In other fixed income, HY cash spreads tightened on both sides of the Atlantic as US HY spreads tightened -4bps (-1bps Friday) and Europe HY tightened -1bps (+2bps Friday).

The dollar fell -0.54% on the week to its lowest weekly close since the first week of March. Against this backdrop and with global yields continuing to fall, gold gained +1.28% (-0.27% Friday). It was the 5th straight weekly gain for the yellow metal and took it to its highest weekly close since 2011. In other metals, copper rose +5.62% on the week to levels last seen in April of last year, while silver gained +3.88% to its highest value since September 2019.

Ahead of this Friday’s summit of EU leaders on the bloc’s long-term budget and the recovery fund, European Council President Michel issued new proposals on Friday that sought to achieve agreement between the member states. These maintained the existing plan to distribute €500bn in grants and €250bn in loans to member states. However, budget rebates would continue for fiscally conservative states such as the Netherlands, and repayments would be brought forward. He also proposed a Brexit reserve of €5bn that would support against “unforeseen consequences” in the member states and sectors most affected.

On the data front, we got French and Italian industrial production for May, both came ahead of forecasts. Italian industrial output rose +42.1% (vs. +24.0% expected) after falling by -20.5% in April. France saw a similar rebound, jumping up +19.6% (vs. +15.4% expected) after falling a nearly identical -20.6% the month prior. We also saw the June PPI reading from the US, where prices fell unexpectedly. PPI fell -0.2% (vs. +0.4% expected) after the month prior saw them rise +0.4%. It was the fourth monthly decline out of the last five.

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A rapid, highly sensitive method to measure SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater

Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has been shown to be an excellent means of understanding the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in communities. It is now used in…

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Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has been shown to be an excellent means of understanding the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in communities. It is now used in multiple areas across the world to track the prevalence of the virus, serving as a proxy for determining the status of COVID-19. Of particular importance is that WBE can be used to estimate the prevalence of COVID-19, including asymptomatic cases. However, one of the major drawbacks of WBE for SARS-CoV-2 has been that the traditional method was not very sensitive, and low viral loads could not be reliably detected.

Credit: Hiroki Ando, et al. Science of the Total Environment. August 8, 2022

Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has been shown to be an excellent means of understanding the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in communities. It is now used in multiple areas across the world to track the prevalence of the virus, serving as a proxy for determining the status of COVID-19. Of particular importance is that WBE can be used to estimate the prevalence of COVID-19, including asymptomatic cases. However, one of the major drawbacks of WBE for SARS-CoV-2 has been that the traditional method was not very sensitive, and low viral loads could not be reliably detected.

A team of scientists from Hokkaido University and Shionogi & Co, Ltd., have developed a simple, rapid, highly sensitive method for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater. The method, EPISENS-S, which does not require specialised equipment, was described in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan has had the lowest number of cases per capita. Thus, the viral loads in sewage have also been lower, and much more difficult to evaluate using established WBE methods—due to their low sensitivity. Prior work by the research team showed that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was associated with solids in sewage, so they focused on developing a method to analyse the solid phase of wastewater.

The method they developed, EPISENS-S, involves centrifuging collected wastewater samples to separate all the solids in the samples. The solids were then treated with a commercially available kit to extract all the RNA; the RNA was then reverse transcribed and amplified to obtain a substantial amount of DNA copies. A separate set of samples was subjected to treatment with polyethylene glycol followed by RNA extraction and reverse transcription to synthesize DNA: the method that is currently widely implemented in Japan. The DNA obtained from each of these methods was subjected to quantitative PCR (qPCR).

The team found that the EPISENS-S method is approximately 100 times more sensitive than the polyethylene glycol method. They used EPISENS-S to conduct a long-term analysis of wastewater from two sewage treatment plants in Sapporo city, and found that there was a high correlation between changes in RNA concentrations in the collected samples and changes in the number of reported cases in the city. EPISENS-S can also detect and quantify the Pepper mild mottle virus (PMMoV), which is associated with fecal matter and is used as an internal control.

EPISENS-S provides a way to track COVID-19 cases that are asymptomatic, as well as those that have not been clinically confirmed. In addition, it has great potential to continue tracking the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 as vaccination rates increase. Finally, EPISENS-S could also be adapted to track other viral diseases with low infection numbers and viral loads.


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Mish’s Daily: Step Back to the Monthly Chart on Transportation

Last Friday, I spoke on Women of Wall Street Twitter Spaces and Fox Business’s Making Money with Charles Payne to talk about a key monthly moving average.What…

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Last Friday, I spoke on Women of Wall Street Twitter Spaces and Fox Business's Making Money with Charles Payne to talk about a key monthly moving average.

What makes this moving average so important right now is that three of the Economic Modern Family members are testing it. The three members, Granddad Russell 2000 (IWM), Grandma Retail (XRT) and Transportation (IYT), well deserve their status as what Stanley Druckenmiller calls the "inside" of the U.S. economy. In fact, the components of the modern family were put together before we heard Druckenmiller's viewpoint. We have observed how predictive they all are in helping us see in advance the next big market direction. Hence, these "inside" indicators -- right now -- are all sitting just above a 6–7-year business cycle low.

For the purposes of this daily and because we have featured this sector a lot lately, the chart of IYT is a perfect example of this moving average and what to watch for. Except for the brief blip in 2011 when the government shut down, and then again during the pandemic, IYT has sat above the dark blue line for 11 years. Currently, that line sits at the 195 area. The same is true with IWM and XRT, both marginally holding their monthly MAs.

So, watch IYT to either hold, and begin a rally possibly back closer to 220, or for IYT to fail 195, in which case we see the whole market selling off further.

To note, the other family members, such as Sister Semiconductors (SMH) and Prodigal Son Regional Banks (KRE) are still sitting well above the monthly MA. Big Brother Biotechnology (IBB), however, is now trading below it. And not in the family, but still notable, is the REIT sector (IYR), also sitting below it. SPY has the same MA, only that one sits at 310 (a long way off).

Incidentally, junk bonds broke down under this moving average in November 2021. The market has been slow to take junk bond's hint.

For more information on how to invest profitably in sectors like biotech, please reach out to Rob Quinn, our Chief Strategy Consultant, by clicking here.

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Follow Mish on Twitter @marketminute for stock picks and more. Follow Mish on Instagram (mishschneider) for daily morning videos. To see updated media clips, click here.

Mish in the Media

A business cycle is about 6-7 years - where are the indices now and what should you watch for? Mish discusses this question in this appearance on Fox's Making Money with Charles Payne.


ETF Summary

  • S&P 500 (SPY): Testing the previous low; 362 support, 370 resistance.
  • Russell 2000 (IWM): Broke the June low of 165.18; 162 support, 170 resistance.
  • Dow (DIA): Broke June low -289 support, 298 resistance.
  • Nasdaq (QQQ): Testing the June low;269 support, 280 resistance.
  • KRE (Regional Banks): Relative outperformer; 57 support, 61 resistance.
  • SMH (Semiconductors): 187 support, 194 resistance.
  • IYT (Transportation): 196 support, 200 resistance.
  • IBB (Biotechnology): 112 support, 118 resistance.
  • XRT (Retail): 55 support, 60 resistance.


Mish Schneider

MarketGauge.com

Director of Trading Research and Education

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We can turn to popular culture for lessons about how to live with COVID-19 as endemic

As COVID-19 transitions from a pandemic to an endemic, apocalyptic science-fiction and zombie movies contain examples of how to adjust to the new norm…

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An endemic means that COVID-19 is still around, but it no longer disrupts everyday life. (Shutterstock)

In 2021, conversations began on whether the COVID-19 pandemic will, or even can, end. As a literary and cultural theorist, I started looking for shifts in stories about pandemics and contagion. It turns out that several stories also question how and when a pandemic becomes endemic.


Read more: COVID will likely shift from pandemic to endemic — but what does that mean?


The 2020 film Peninsula, a sequel to the Korean zombie film, Train to Busan, ends with a group of survivors rescued and transported to a zombie-free Hong Kong. In it, Jooni (played by Re Lee) spent her formative years living through the zombie epidemic. When she is rescued, she responds to being informed that she’s “going to a better place” by admitting that “this place wasn’t bad either.”

Jooni’s response points toward the shift in contagion narratives that has emerged since the spread of COVID-19. This shift marks a rejection of the push-for-survival narratives in favour of something more indicative of an endemic.

Found within

Contagion follows a general cycle: outbreak, epidemic, pandemic and endemic. The determinants of each stage rely upon the rate of spread within a specified geographic region.

Etymologically, the word “endemic” has its origins with the Greek words én and dēmos, meaning “in the people.” Thus, it refers to something that is regularly found within a population.

Infectious disease physician Stephen Parodi asserts that an endemic just means that a disease, while still prevalent within a population, no longer disrupts our daily lives.

Similarly, genomics and viral evolution researcher Aris Katzourakis argues that endemics occur when infection rates are static — neither rising nor falling. Because this stasis occurs differently with each situation, there is no set threshold at which a pandemic becomes endemic.

Not all diseases reach endemic status. And, if endemic status is reached, it does not mean the virus is gone, but rather that things have become “normal.”

Survival narratives

We’re most likely familiar with contagion narratives. After all, Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 film Contagion, was the most watched film on Canadian Netflix in March 2020. Conveniently, this was when most Canadian provinces went into lockdown during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A clip from the film Contagion showing the disease spreading throughout the world.

In survival-based contagion narratives, characters often discuss methods for survival and generally refer to themselves as survivors. Contagion chronicles the transmission of a deadly virus that is brought from Hong Kong to the United States. In response, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is tasked with tracing its origins and finding a cure. The film follows Mitch Emhoff (Matt Damon), who is immune, as he tries to keep his daughter safe in a crumbling Minneapolis.

Ultimately, a vaccine is successfully synthesized, but only after millions have succumbed to the virus.

Like many science fiction and horror films that envision some sort of apocalyptic end, Contagion focuses on the basic requirements for survival: shelter, food, water and medicine.

However, it also deals with the breakdown of government systems and the violence that accompanies it.

A “new” normal

In contrast, contagion narratives that have turned endemic take place many years after the initial outbreak. In these stories, the infected population is regularly present, but the remaining uninfected population isn’t regularly infected.

A spin-off to the zombie series The Walking Dead takes place a decade after the initial outbreak. In the two seasons of The Walking Dead: World Beyond (2020-2021) four young protagonists — Hope (Alexa Mansour), Iris (Aliyah Royale), Silas (Hal Cumpston) and Elton (Nicolas Cantu) — represent the first generation to come of age within the zombie-infested world.

The four youth spent their formative years in an infected world — similar to Jooni in Peninsula. For these characters, zombies are part of their daily lives, and their constant presence is normalized.

The trailer for the second season of AMC’s The Walking Dead: World Beyond.

The setting in World Beyond has electricity, helicopters and modern medicine. Characters in endemic narratives have regular access to shelter, food, water and medicine, so they don’t need to resort to violence over limited resources. And notably, they also don’t often refer to themselves as survivors.

Endemic narratives acknowledge that existing within an infected space alongside a virus is not necessarily a bad thing, and that not all inhabitants within infected spaces desire to leave. It is rare in endemic narratives for a character to become infected.

Instead of going out on zombie-killing expeditions in the manner that occurs frequently in the other Walking Dead stories, the characters in World Beyond generally leave the zombies alone. They mark the zombies with different colours of spray-paint to chronicle what they call “migration patterns.”

The zombies have therefore just become another species for the characters to live alongside — something more endemic.

The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead (2015-), Z Nation (2014-18), and many other survival-based stories seem to return to the past. In contrast, endemic narratives maintain a present and sometimes even future-looking approach.

Learning from stories

According to film producer and media professor Mick Broderick, survival stories maintain a status quo. They seek a “nostalgically yearned-for less-complex existence.” It provides solace to imagine an earlier, simpler time when living through a pandemic.

However, the shift from survival to endemic in contagion narratives provides us with many important possibilities. The one I think is quite relevant right now is that it presents us with a way of living with contagion. After all, watching these characters survive a pandemic helps us imagine that we can too.

Krista Collier-Jarvis 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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