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Futures Rebound On Tech Rally Despite China Covid Surge Fears

Futures Rebound On Tech Rally Despite China Covid Surge Fears

US index futures rebounded on Thursday from another painful selloff the day…



Futures Rebound On Tech Rally Despite China Covid Surge Fears

US index futures rebounded on Thursday from another painful selloff the day earlier, as technology shares rallied on the second to last trading day of what’s been a brutal year for financial markets, even as growing concerns over a surge in China’s Covid cases snuffed optimism over the nation’s reopening of its border. At 7:45am S&P futures traded 0.4% higher to 3,823 while Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.6% to 10,837 following gains for Asian tech stocks earlier amid signs China is easing a regulatory crackdown. Treasuries were steady and the Bloomberg dollar index declined.

In premarket trading, Tesla climbed more than 3% in, with tech giants including Inc. and Netflix Inc. also among the biggest gainers. Tesla rose after Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said a de-rating in the electric vehicle company’s stock has created an opportunity, and even though Jonas lowered his price target to $250 from $330, he stuck to an overweight rating. Among other EV stocks: Rivian Automotive +2.6%, Lucid Group +2.8%, Hyzon Motors +6.4%, Cenntro Electric Group +8.1%, Mullen Automotive +7.8%. Jonas wrote that his new target reflects “lower pricing and lower valuation of adjacent businesses;” and expects 2023 will be “a ‘reset’ year for the EV market, where the last 2 years of demand exceeding supply will be substantially inverted to supply exceeding demand.”

And speaking of Tesla a quick look at yesterday's record, blowout put-to-call ratio suggests that much of the recent plunge in TSLA stock may have been due to a surge in 0DTE put buying on TSLA which has helped send the stock tumbling in an illiquid environment as the negative gamma forced dealers to short the stock the more it slumped.

Here are some other notable premarket movers:

  • Getaround rises 3.3% as the stock was initiated with an overweight rating and $1.50 PT at Piper Sandler, with the broker saying the platform looks well-positioned to provide its peer- to-peer car-sharing marketplace.
  • Gaotu Techedu falls 4.6% in US premarket trading after China said it will tighten oversight of private tutors that offer non-curricular services to primary and middle school students, including rules on fee charges and operating time.
  • Keep an eye on Skechers shares after it was started with a neutral rating and $42 PT at Piper Sandler, which says the opportunities and challenges the footwear firm faces look balanced and mean its current valuation is fair.

Global equities have lost a fifth of their value in 2022, almost $20 trillion in market cap, the largest decline since 2008 on an annual basis, and an index of global bonds has slumped 16% amid sticky inflation and rising interest rates.

Thursday's tech rally was a small ray of light as the year draws to a close with investors again focused on risks arising from the the spread of Covid-19. The US said it would require inbound airline passengers from China to show a negative Covid-19 test prior to entry. In Italy, health officials said they would test arrivals from China after almost half of passengers on two flights from China to Milan were found to have the virus.

Amid fears that China's aggressive, accelerated reopening may lead to another global wave of covid infections, China’s CDC top epidemiologist Wu Zunyou said that covid outbreaks have peaked in Beijing, Tianjin and Chengdu, though the situation in Shanghai, Chongqing, Anhui, Hubei and Hunan remains serious. He added that the virus is still spreading fast in Henan, Jilin and Fujian provinces, and warned of the disease spreading during Lunar New Year, with many expected to travel around the holiday. Separately, Liang Wannian, China’s senior official overseeing epidemic response, says the country is strengthening the monitoring of the Covid variant and will report to the World Health Organization if it discovers any new variant.

Hong Kong removed limits on gatherings and testing for travelers in a further unwinding of its last major Covid rules, offering a boost to the global economy but sparking concerns it would amplify inflation pressures and prompt US policy makers to maintain tight monetary settings.

“Investors are going into 2023 with a cautious mindset, prepared for more rate hikes, and expecting recessions around the globe.” said Craig Erlam, a senior market analyst at Oanda Europe Ltd. “And then there’s China and its u-turn on Covid prevention. It’s been quite the shift from fighting every case to living with the virus and that creates enormous uncertainty for the start of the year.”

Going back to markets, the Stoxx Europe 600 index erased losses to trade little changed, with gains for technology stocks offsetting declines for retail and consumer-focused shares. The Stoxx 600 index was flat after erasing a drop of 0.6%. The gauge, which is down 12% this year, posted declines earlier in the session, as US and Italy joined an increasing number of nations requiring Covid tests for travelers from China. European airline stocks dropped on, leading the Stoxx 600 Travel & Leisure Index lower, amid concerns over the spread of Covid-19 from China. Long-haul carriers Deutsche Lufthansa -4.1%, IAG -1.7%, Air France-KLM -1.3%.

Investors are worried about any potential emergence of a new variant of the virus which might bring restrictions back onto the table and “hammer growth,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank.

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks declined, heading for their worst annual loss since the 2008 financial crisis, as growing concerns over a surge in China’s Covid cases snuffed optimism over the nation’s reopening of its border.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped as much as 1.1%, pushing its annual slump to about 20% in the final trading week of 2022. Tech stocks including Alibaba and Samsung Electronics were among the biggest individual drags on the benchmark. South Korea’s Kospi was the worst performer with a near 2% slump, while gauges in Hong Kong also underperformed. 

“Investors are starting to pay more attention to the spreading virus given that the pandemic could set back the pace of economic recovery in 2023,” said Jun Rong Yeap, a market strategist at IG Asia. “Investors may have prematurely priced in that the worst was over.”  Tencent, Asia’s biggest social media and gaming company, was the best performer on the Hang Seng Tech Index after China approved its new game titles in the latest sign Beijing is easing up crackdowns on the sector.  

Japanese stocks declined for a second day, following US peers lower as investors continued to worry about the spread of Covid-19 on China’s reopening. The Topix Index fell 0.7% to 1,895.27 as of 3 p.m. Tokyo time, while the Nikkei declined 0.9% to 26,093.67. Out of 2,162 stocks in the index, 1,231 rose and 833 fell, while 98 were unchanged. “The rise in Covid-19 infections in China could cause supply chain problems in the short term, which could lead to inflationary concerns,” said Tomo Kinoshita, a global market strategist at Invesco Asset Management. “Japanese stocks declined less than the US or Europe as China’s reopening has some positive effects on Japanese companies that are exporters.”

Australian stocks dropped to a seven-week low; the S&P/ASX 200 index falling 0.9% to close at 7,020.10, marking a third straight session of declines. The benchmark settled at its lowest since Nov. 10. Energy stocks led sector losses on weaker oil prices. Real estate shares trading ex-dividend also weighed. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index was little changed at 11,538.45

In FX, the US dollar fell against most Group-of-10 currencies while Treasuries rallied as investors monitored the spread of Covid-19 within and from China. The Japanese yen bounced after two days of losses. US employment data in focus later. The yen led Group-of-10 currency gains after performing the worst on Tuesday and Wednesday. USD/JPY fell as much as 0.7% to 133.47, the biggest drop in more than a week. Swiss franc is the other outperformer amid concern over the spread of coronavirus, with the US and Italy among countries requiring Covid tests for travelers from China. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index declined 0.3%, with the greenback only higher against some risk-sensitive currencies including the Australian dollar and Norway’s krone. Traders will be watching data on US initial jobless claims later Thursday for more clues on the Federal Reserve’s policy path.

In rates, Treasury yields were mixed in early US trading with the curve modestly flatter as the short end cheapens by ~1bp. The 10-year TSY is lower by 1bp at 3.873%, but remains near the highest since mid-November and just above 50-DMA level; most euro-zone 10-year yields are higher ~1.5bp on the day; UK yields are leading the way higher with 10-year up 4bps. Treasury market was firmer overnight until a selloff in UK gilts dented global bond market sentiment. Final coupon auction cycle of the year concludes with $35b 7-year note sale at 1pm New York time; Wednesday’s 5-year saw a modest tail, after cheapening from session highs.  

Elsewhere in markets, oil dipped amid thin liquidity as investors weighed the fallout from a Russian ban on exports to buyers that adhere to a price cap.

Looking at today's calendar, it's a thin docket with just initial (exp. 225K) and continuing claims (exp. 1.690MM) on deck.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.3% to 3,820.00
  • STOXX Europe 600 little changed at 427.43
  • MXAP down 0.6% to 154.83
  • MXAPJ down 0.7% to 503.83
  • Nikkei down 0.9% to 26,093.67
  • Topix down 0.7% to 1,895.27
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.8% to 19,741.14
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.4% to 3,073.70
  • Sensex up 0.3% to 61,097.06
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.9% to 7,020.06
  • Kospi down 1.9% to 2,236.40
  • Brent Futures down 2.0% to $81.59/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,810.19
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.22% to 104.23
  • German 10Y yield little changed at 2.48%
  • Euro up 0.3% to $1.0639
  • Brent Futures down 2.0% to $81.59/bbl

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • The US and Italy joined an increasing number of nations requiring Covid tests for travelers from China, with concerns mounting over the risk of any new variants emerging from the surge in infections in the country of 1.4 billion
  • Covid outbreaks have peaked in Beijing, Tianjin and Chengdu, though the situation in Shanghai, Chongqing, Anhui, Hubei and Hunan remains serious, China’s CDC top epidemiologist Wu Zunyou says in a briefing
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow won’t enter into negotiations with Ukraine to end the war, even after suffering a series of battlefield setbacks
  • Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is working on a fresh round of job cuts that will be unveiled in a matter of weeks, Chief Executive Officer David Solomon said in his traditional year-end message to staff
  • The Bank of Japan announced two additional rounds of unscheduled bond-purchase operations, fighting back against traders betting it will further relax its yield-curve control policy

US Event Calendar

  • 08:30: Dec. Continuing Claims, est. 1.69m, prior 1.67m
  • 08:30: Dec. Initial Jobless Claims, est. 225,000, prior 216,000
Tyler Durden Thu, 12/29/2022 - 08:16

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Economic Death Spiral

Economic Death Spiral

Authored by Robert Stark via Substack,

Fed Trap: Financial Collapse or Hyper Inflation?

With this banking crisis,…



Economic Death Spiral

Authored by Robert Stark via Substack,

Fed Trap: Financial Collapse or Hyper Inflation?

With this banking crisis, which has serious Lehman vibes, it is a good time to revisit my article, Is This The End of The End of History, from March of last year. The article dealt with the theme of collapse vs stagnation, and historical cycles, in light of the Ukraine war, the post-pandemic climate, the onset of inflation, and speculation about economic collapse. A point of mine, that has especially been vindicated, is that “a delay in the Fed raising interest rates, could cause a short term rally in stocks, further expanding the bubble. The bigger the bubble, the worse inflation gets, and the longer the Fed keeps delaying raising rates, the worse the crash will be down the road.” For the most part, most of my geopolitical and economic forecasts have come true, though I actually predicted an economic collapse to occur sooner, which actually vindicates that point, that kicking the can down the road will just create a much worse crisis.

Despite countless signs of economic volatility, the recent bank failures, with shockwaves to the entire financial system, are a turning point, where it is clear that there is going to be a severe economic downturn. For instance, Elon Musk recently said, lot of current year similarities to 1929, and Moody’s cut the outlook on the entire U.S. banking system to negative from stable, citing a "rapidly deteriorating operating environment." Even the perma bulls, mainstream media, and financial “experts,” can no longer deny the obvious signs of economic peril. However, the bullish propaganda was still strong as recently as January, which was really the bulls’ last gasp, with the monkey rally, in response to the Fed only raising interest rates by .25 points, plus economic data showing record low unemployment plus a dip in inflation.

It is important to emphasize that the same figures in media, banking, and government, who were recently shilling a soft landing or mild recession, were previously saying that inflation is transitory. It is especially laughable to think that there are people who take someone like CNBC’s, Jim Cramer, seriously, who in 2008 told his audience don’t be silly on Bear Stearns, right before it crashed, and more recently shilled for Silicon Valley Bank, and is still predicting a soft landing. A lot of the recent propaganda is practically identical to right before the 08 crash, as well as during stagflation in the 70s, and even before the Great Depression, as the media has vested economic and political interests in propping up the markets. The financial YouTuber, Maverick of Wall Street, brilliantly uses this “self-love” gif of  Jack Nicholson, from the film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, as a metaphor for whenever perma-bulls see any data that may signify a Fed pivot, causing stocks to rally. As the desperation really kicks in, expect further talk of a soft landing, as well as more rallies in stocks, as we saw in response to the bailouts, as well as desperate investors switching back and forth between the NASDAQ and S&P500, which happened in 08. So any return to bullish sentiment is actually a sign of greater economic catastrophe. The stock market rallying over bad economy news, as a sign of a potential pivot, just further shows that the markets are not a good metric for the health of the economy. Not to mention that the top 1% own over half of all stocks.

It has always been the case with bubbles, that the greater the size of the bubble, the more copes to deny reality, and the more vested interests there are in preventing the inevitable crash. Certainly many corporations and banks have made economic decisions based upon an assumption of a soft landing or Fed pivot. This also explains the gaslighting to justify that the 2010s economic boom, especially in tech, was based upon productivity and innovation, when it was primary due to Fed monetary policy, plus data mining in the case of Big Tech. While it is silly for conservatives to blame wokeness as the primary culprit of bank failures, wokeness and bullshit DEI jobs, are a symptom of the corruption that Fed policy enabled. 

Fed Balance Sheet: Return to QE


The current banking crisis is triggering more stock buybacks, and a return to Quantitative Easing with the bank bailouts, including plans to inject another $2 Trillion into the banking system, on top of the $300 billion increase in the Fed’s Balance Sheet, in just the last week. This seems counter intuitive, as QE caused inflation, but the economy is so addicted to the “Cocaine,” that is  cheap money. So basically quantitative tightening is being implemented and interest rates raised  to stop inflation, but as soon as the first major economic disruption of raising rates is felt, then a return to financial policies to further prop up the bubble, causing more inflation. Now the Fed is trapped with two bad options, raise rates or pivot, both of which will lead to inevitable economic doom.

Populists can talk about nationalizing the banks into public debt free banking, and Austrian School libertarians can call for ending the Fed, and returning to a gold standard. While it is true that the Federal Reserve is a corrupt system, that is quasi private in how private banks own shares, the reality is that we are stuck with this system of relying upon the Fed’s interest rates, for the incoming economic crisis. If the Fed continues raising rates, there will be a liquidity crisis, with more bank failures. While interest rates were close to zero, banks used uninsured deposits to both invest in securities and purchase bonds, and thanks to fractional reserve banking, banks are only required to hold a fraction of deposits. So when rates rose, bonds fell in value and unrealized losses surged, so the banks were not able to pay off their depositors.


Regional banks make up about half of all US banking, so any contagion in the banking system, as people and businesses move their deposits to mega banks, deemed “too big to fail,” could trigger a Depression. One of the main reasons that the economy has not crashed sooner is because more people have been tapping into their savings and maxing out their credit cards. However, high interest rates will cause many people to default on their credit card debt, which will exacerbate the banking crisis. Not to mention Auto loans defaults wiping out credit unions, and the potential for another mortgage crisis, due to rising mortgage rates. There is a ripple effect, as far as rising interest rates being felt by debt holders, and now is just the tip of the iceberg. This could end up being a multifaceted debt crisis, in banking, corporate debt, personal debt, and government debt.

Besides the Fed likely pivoting soon due to the banking crisis, higher rates will make interest payments on the National Debt too expensive to pay off, risking a default on government debt. Overall levels of debt, both public and private, are much worse than when Fed Chair, Volcker, raised rates very high to successfully quell inflation. Any freeze in Federal spending or a default on the national debt, in response to the debt ceiling, will crash the economy, and any major extension in the debt ceiling will accelerate inflation. There is a good chance that inflation will be tolerated, with the dollar greatly devalued, to make government debt cheaper so that creditors eat the costs.

Source: Peter G. Peterson Foundation

A tight labor market is the main case that the bulls make to prove a strong economy. However, the official BLS jobs numbers are “baked” to exclude those who have given up on seeking employment, as well as counting 2nd or 3rd jobs. Not to mention that the BLS numbers were exposed by the Fed as overstating 1 million jobs during 2022. Even if one accepts the “baked” numbers, layoffs have a lagging effect on unemployment, including by industry (eg. tech layoffs before service sector). Now new jobless claims have grown at the fastest pace since Lehman'. It is also noteworthy that just about every recession has been preceded by low unemployment numbers. The increase in layoffs will put further pressure on the Fed to pivot, which on top of increased unemployment benefits, will cause inflation to surge again. This creates another doom loop, as inflation leads to more unemployment, as consumers are forced to cut back on spending.

Source: ZeroHedge

While bulls can say that this time is different from past crashes, all of the signs are pointing to this crisis being much worse than previous crashes. For instance, the economic recovery, after Volcker was done raising rates to fight inflation, was possible because of lower levels of debt, but the US has never entered a recession with debt/GDP at 125% and deficit/GDP at 7% in at least 85 years. Also the fallout of the 2008 crash was mitigated by a strong dollar, which also minimized the effects of inflation last year, but inflation will surge if the dollar is weakened. Despite signs of a pivot, the Fed has been moving much faster to fight inflation, then in the past, even with Volker. This crisis is also unique in that rates are being raised while entering a severe recession, and inflation could coincide mass layoffs. While the general assumption is that severe economic downturns are deflationary, financial commentator, Peter Schiff, makes a compelling case as for why an Inflationary Depression is a likelihood. Under this nightmare scenario, which would be much worse than even the Great Depression, inflation will negate any of the remedies that ended past crises, such as the New Deal, quantitative easing in 08, and the covid stimulus. Other signs of economic peril include, the steepest yield curve inversion since the early 80s recession, which is a barometer that has predicted just about every single recession, a major decline in ISM manufacturing sales, a big decline in savings rates, and Americans’ credit card debt approaching a record $1 Trillion.


This is the perfect storm with inflation, stagflation, recession, a potential debt crisis, as well as energy and supply chain issues. With this bubble to end all bubbles or too big to fail on steroids, the Fed has two choices, cause a liquidity crisis by shrinking the money supply, or letting inflation rip. While raising rates appears to be the least bad of these two options, further rate hikes are futile with the return of QE. A combo of QE plus interest rates having to remain high, is what could lead to that scenario of inflationary financial collapse, that Peter Schiff warned about. Though most likely it will either be long term stagflation or a deflationary Depression. This is not a hyperbole, nor clickbait, but a Depression is a very real possibility, especially if policy makers continue to kick the can down the road, to prop up the bubble.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Tue, 03/21/2023 - 17:25

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Three Years To Slow The Spread: COVID Hysteria & The Creation Of A Never-Ending Crisis

Three Years To Slow The Spread: COVID Hysteria & The Creation Of A Never-Ending Crisis

Authored by Jordan Schachtel via ‘The Dossier’…



Three Years To Slow The Spread: COVID Hysteria & The Creation Of A Never-Ending Crisis

Authored by Jordan Schachtel via 'The Dossier' Substack,

Last Thursday marked the three year anniversary of the infamous “15 Days To Slow The Spread” campaign.

By March 16, yours truly was already pretty fed up with both the governmental and societal “response” to what was being baselessly categorized as the worst pandemic in 100 years, despite zero statistical data supporting such a serious claim.

I was living in the Washington, D.C. Beltway at the time, and it was pretty much impossible to find a like-minded person within 50 miles who also wasn’t taking the bait. After I read about the news coming out of Wuhan in January, I spent much of the next couple weeks catching up to speed and reading about what a modern pandemic response was supposed to look like.

What surprised me most was that none of “the measures” were mentioned, and that these designated “experts” were nothing more than failed mathematicians, government doctors, and college professors who were more interested in policy via shoddy academic forecasting than observing reality.

Within days of continually hearing their yapping at White House pressers, It quickly became clear that the Deborah Birx’s and Anthony Fauci’s of the world were engaging in nothing more than a giant experiment. There was no an evidence-based approach to managing Covid whatsoever. These figures were leaning into the collective hysteria, and brandishing their credentials as Public Health Experts to demand top-down approaches to stamping out the WuFlu.

To put it bluntly, these longtime government bureaucrats had no idea what the f—k they were doing. Fauci and his cohorts were not established or reputable scientists, but authoritarians, charlatans, who had a decades-long track record of hackery and corruption. This Coronavirus Task Force did not have the collective intellect nor the wisdom to be making these broad brush decisions.

Back then, there were only literally a handful of people who attempted to raise awareness about the wave of tyranny, hysteria, and anti-science policies that were coming our way. There were so few of us back in March in 2020 that it was impossible to form any kind of significant structured resistance to the madness that was unfolding before us. These structures would later form, but not until the infrastructure for the highway to Covid hysteria hell had already been cemented.

Making matters worse was the reality that the vast majority of the population — friends, colleagues, peers and family included — agreed that dissenters were nothing more than reckless extremists, bioterrorists, Covid deniers, anti-science rabble rousers, and the like.

Yet we were right, and we had the evidence and data to prove it. There was no evidence to ever support such a heavy-handed series of government initiatives to “slow the spread.”

By March 16, 2020, data had already accumulated indicating that this contagion would be no more lethal than an influenza outbreak.

The February, 2020 outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship provided a clear signal that the hysteria models provided by Bill Gates-funded and managed organizations were incredibly off base. Of the 3,711 people aboard the Diamond Princess, about 20% tested positive with Covid. The majority of those who tested positive had zero symptoms. By the time all passengers had disembarked from the vessel, there were 7 reported deaths on the ship, with the average age of this cohort being in the mid 80s, and it wasn’t even clear if these passengers died from or with Covid.

Despite the strange photos and videos coming out of Wuhan, China, there was no objective evidence of a once in a century disease approaching America’s shores, and the Diamond Princess outbreak made that clear.

Of course, it wasn’t the viral contagion that became the problem.

It was the hysteria contagion that brought out the worst qualities of much of the global ruling class, letting world leaders take off their proverbial masks in unison and reveal their true nature as power drunk madmen.

And even the more decent world leaders were swept up in the fear and mayhem, turning over the keys of government control to the supposed all-knowing Public Health Experts.

They quickly shuttered billions of lives and livelihoods, wreaking exponentially more havoc than a novel coronavirus ever could.

In the United States, 15 Days to Slow The Spread quickly became 30 Days To Slow The Spread. Somewhere along the way, the end date for “the measures” was removed from the equation entirely.

3 years later, there still isn’t an end date…

Anthony Fauci appeared on MSNBC Thursday morning and declared that Americans would need annual Covid boosters to compliment their Flu shots.

So much of the Covid hysteria era was driven by pseudoscience and outright nonsense, and yet, very few if any world leaders took it upon themselves to restore sanity in their domains. Now, unsurprisingly, so many elected officials who were complicit in this multi-billion person human tragedy won’t dare to reflect upon it.

In a 1775 letter from John Adams to his wife, Abigail, the American Founding Father wrote:

“Liberty once lost is lost forever. When the People once surrender their share in the Legislature, and their Right of defending the Limitations upon the Government, and of resisting every Encroachment upon them, they can never regain it.”

Covid hysteria and the 3 year anniversary of 15 Days To Slow The Spread serves as the beginning period of a permanent scar resulting from government power grabs and federal overreach.

While life is back to normal in most of the country, the Overton window of acceptable policy has slid even further in the direction of push-button tyranny. Hopefully, much of the world has awakened to the reality that most of the people in charge aren’t actually doing what’s best for their respective populations.

Tyler Durden Tue, 03/21/2023 - 18:05

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From the bed sheets to the TV remote, a microbiologist reveals the shocking truth about dirt and germs in hotel rooms

The filthy secrets of hotel rooms and why you might want to pack disinfectant on your next trip.




Relaxing in filth? Pexels/Cottonbro studio

For most of us, staying in a hotel room is either something of a necessity – think business travel – or something to look forward to as part of a holiday or wider excursion.

But what if I told you there’s a large chance your hotel room, despite how it might appear to the naked eye, isn’t that clean. And even if it’s an expensive room, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any less dirty.

Indeed, whoever has stayed in your room prior to you will have deposited bacteria, fungi and viruses all over the furniture, carpets, curtains and surfaces. What remains of these germ deposits depends on how efficiently your room is cleaned by hotel staff. And let’s face it, what is considered clean by a hotel might be different to what you consider clean.

Typically, assessment of hotel room cleanliness is based on sight and smell observations –- not on the invisible microbiology of the space, which is where the infection risks reside. So let’s take a deep dive into the world of germs, bugs and viruses to find out what might be lurking where.

It starts at the lift

Before you even enter your room, think of the hotel lift buttons as germ hotspots. They are being pressed all the time by many different people, which can transfer microorganisms onto the button surface, as well back onto the presser’s fingers.

Communal door handles can be similar in terms of germ presence unless sanitised regularly. Wash your hands or use a hand sanitiser after using a handle before you next touch your face or eat or drink.

The most common infections people pick up from hotel rooms are tummy bugs – diarrhoea and vomiting – along with respiratory viruses, such as colds and pneumonia, as well as COVID-19, of course.

Hotel door opening.
Welcome to germ paradise. Pexels/Pixabay

Toilets and bathrooms tend to be cleaned more thoroughly than the rest of a hotel room and are often the least bacteriologically colonised environments.

Though if the drinking glass in the bathroom is not disposable, wash it before use (body wash or shampoo are effective dishwashers), as you can never be sure if they’ve been cleaned properly. Bathroom door handles may also be colonised by pathogens from unwashed hands or dirty washcloths.

Beware the remote

The bed, sheets and pillows can also be home to some unwanted visitors. A 2020 study found that after a pre-symptomatic COVID-19 patient occupied a hotel room there was significant viral contamination of many surfaces, with levels being particularly high within the sheets, pillow case and quilt cover.

While sheets and pillowcases may be more likely to be changed between occupants, bedspreads may not, meaning these fabrics may become invisible reservoirs for pathogens – as much as a toilet seat. Though in some cases sheets aren’t always changed between guests, so it may be better to just bring your own.

Less thought about is what lives on the hotel room desk, bedside table, telephone, kettle, coffee machine, light switch or TV remote – as these surfaces aren’t always sanitised between occupancies.

TV remote lying on pink bedding.
Handle with care: the TV remote is often one of the dirtiest items in a hotel room. Pexels/Karolina grabowska

Viruses such as the norovirus can live in an infectious form for days on hard surfaces, as can COVID-19 – and the typical time interval between room changeovers is often less than 12 hours.

Soft fabric furnishings such as cushions, chairs, curtains and blinds are also difficult to clean and may not be sanitised other than to remove stains between guests, so washing your hands after touching them might be a good idea.

Uninvited guests

If all those germs and dirty surfaces aren’t enough to contend with, there are also bedbugs to think about. These bloodsucking insects are experts at secreting themselves into narrow, small spaces, remaining dormant without feeding for months.

Small spaces include the cracks and crevices of luggage, mattresses and bedding. Bed bugs are widespread throughout Europe, Africa, the US and Asia – and are often found in hotels. And just because a room looks and smells clean, doesn’t mean there may not be bed bugs lurking.

Woman making bed in hoteroom.
Get those cushions off the bed straightaway. Pexels/Cottonbro studio

Fortunately, bed bug bites are unlikely to give you a transmissible disease, but the bite areas can become inflamed and infected. For the detection of bedbugs, reddish skin bites and blood spots on sheets are signs of an active infestation (use an antiseptic cream on the bites).

Other signs can be found on your mattress, behind the headboard and inside drawers and the wardrobe: brown spots could be remains of faeces, bed bug skins are brownish-silvery looking and live bed bugs are brown coloured and typically one to seven millimetres in length.

Inform the hotel if you think there are bed bugs in your room. And to avoid taking them with you when you checkout, carefully clean your luggage and clothes before opening them at home.

As higher-status hotels tend to have more frequent room usage, a more expensive room at a five-star hotel does not necessarily mean greater cleanliness, as room cleaning costs reduce profit margins. So wherever you’re staying, take with you a pack of antiseptic wipes and use them on the hard surfaces in your hotel room.

Also, wash or sanitise your hands often – especially before you eat or drink anything. And take slippers or thick socks with you so you can avoid walking barefoot on hotel carpets – known to be another dirt hotspot. And after all that, enjoy your stay.

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

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