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Futures Slide, Nat Gas Soars As Traders Return From Holiday

Futures Slide, Nat Gas Soars As Traders Return From Holiday

Equity futures fell, Treasury yields rose and nat gas prices soared to the highest…

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Futures Slide, Nat Gas Soars As Traders Return From Holiday

Equity futures fell, Treasury yields rose and nat gas prices soared to the highest since 2008 as US markets reopened after a three-day holiday weekend while the U.K. and euro-zone markets remain closed. Nasdaq 100 futures led the retreat, falling 0.3% at 730 a.m. EDT after tumbling as much as 0.8%, and signaling a bearish start to the week after the U.S. market was closed on Friday for a holiday. S&P 500 futures also dropped 0.2%, while European markets remained closed on Monday. Oil was flat, while a cautious overall investor mood bolstered the dollar and gold. The USDJPY was set for the longest winning streak on record.

Nat gas soared another 3%, rising to the highest level since 2008.

“We think inflation is no longer a net positive for earnings growth given the impact on costs that are now showing up in margins,” Morgan Stanley strategists led by Michael Wilson wrote in a note. The effects of soaring prices “are now more likely to be a headwind to growth.”

In U.S. premarket trading, Twitter rose after Elon Musk said the economic interests of the board are not aligned with shareholders as the social media company took steps to ward off his takeover attempt. Meanwhile, DiDi Global plummeted after the company said it will hold an extraordinary general meeting on May 23 to vote on delisting its shares from the New York Stock Exchange.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell may reinforce bets that the central bank will raise interest rates by a half point in May when he speaks at an event on Thursday. Later that day he’s due to participate in a panel hosted by the International Monetary Fund. Investors will also focus on earnings and guidance as companies from Bank of America to The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation report on Monday.

The pattern across markets suggests investors remain uncertain whether high inflation has peaked or not. Price pressures are being fanned by supply-chain snarls from China’s Covid restrictions and disruptions to commodity flows due to the war. Concern is growing that the U.S. economy faces a downturn as the Fed pivots toward aggressive policy tightening to contain the cost of living. History suggests the Fed will face a difficult task in tightening policy to cool inflation without causing a U.S. recession, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. It put the odds of a contraction at about 35% over the next two years.

“Major regime change is rarely smooth in either geopolitics or economics, and markets are under-pricing these risks,” Eric Robertsen, chief strategist at Standard Chartered Bank Plc, wrote in a note. “We are increasingly concerned about a summer of turbulence and volatility.”

Meanwhile, in its latest downbeat note, Morgan Stanley wrote that the positive effects from inflation on earnings growth for U.S. firms have peaked as rising costs trim their margins and price pressures caused by the Ukraine war hit consumers.

U.S. index futures followed a decline in Asia-Pacific stocks, which were sapped by Japan and China, despite the latter reporting stronger than expected GDP while March economic data confirmed that recent lockdowns have crippled the local economy. Markets in Australia, Hong Kong and much of Europe remain shut for Easter.

Asian stocks dropped for a second day in holiday-thinned trading amid continued concern over the impact of inflation and efforts to contain it on global economic growth. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell as much as 1.1%, with India, Vietnam and Japan leading losses among national benchmarks. Mumbai-listed IT giants were among the biggest drags on the regional gauge after disappointing results from Infosys due to surging wages. Hong Kong and Australia remained closed for Easter holidays. Energy stocks outperformed after oil climbed on political unrest in Libya and Russia’s warning of the potential for record prices if more nations ban its products. Concerns of energy-driven inflation and moves by the Federal Reserve and other central banks to combat it have driven the recent global equity selloff, with tech stocks bearing the brunt in Asia. Meanwhile, China reported faster economic growth for the first quarter, while retail sales in March showed the first monthly decline since July 2020, as markets brace for the impact of the latest Covid outbreaks and lockdowns. The nation’s central bank refrained from lowering interest rates Friday, disappointing investors who had been looking for a cut. China Jitters Mount as Easing Calls Echo Across Trading Floors “China’s first quarter GDP was a bit stronger than expected, but what matters now is how the economy is doing after lockdowns in Shanghai so I see very limited impact on markets,” said Ayako Sera, a market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank. “I would think we are just seeing a calm before the storm.” 

In geopolitics, Ukrainian officials said the remaining defenders of Mariupol are encircled by Russian forces but have not surrendered the strategically important port city, as a deadly strike was reported in Lviv near the Polish border. Ukrainian officials will be in Washington for this week’s meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to seek financial support.

In rates, Treasuries were higher across the curve by ~1bp, led by longer-maturity issues; 10- and 30-year yields reached new YTD highs, steepening the curve. 10-year Treasury yields edged down one point to 2.83% in the Asia session after rising as much as 5bps earlier in the session to 2.88% and rising 13 basis points last week; 30-year as much as 4.4bp to 2.96%; 2s10s and 5s30s spreads are wider but remain inside last week’s ranges, when both steepened sharply for a second straight week as traders dialed back the total amount of Fed tightening that’s expected following smaller-than-expected increase in the March core CPI. Yields climbed during Asia session amid speculation the market will move further toward pricing in a half-point rate increase by the Fed at its May meeting, already almost fully priced in.

In FX, a gauge of the dollar rose against all its Group-of-10 peers; The New Zealand and Australian dollars led declines while the Japanese yen outperformed, swinging between gains and losses as BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said the currency’s rapid moves were fueling negative effects on the economy. The dollar extended its advance for a 12th day versus the yen, the longest winning streak on record, according to data going back five decades compiled by Bloomberg. USD/JPY up by as much as 0.3% to 126.79; one-week risk reversals at a 35 basis-point premium in favor of the topside. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said a weak yen is good for the economy, although a rapid drop can disrupt corporate planning.

“With several markets closed for holiday today, the low liquidity may potentially amplify the risk-off market moves, aiding to support the dollar strength,” said Jun Rong Yeap, market strategist at IG Asia Pte.

The currency market stuck to the trading patterns of recent days as a holiday-thinned session on Monday brought low volumes in spot and options markets alike.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.4% to 4,371.75
  • MXAP down 0.9% to 172.33
  • MXAPJ down 0.7% to 572.84
  • Nikkei down 1.1% to 26,799.71
  • Topix down 0.9% to 1,880.08
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.7% to 21,518.08
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.5% to 3,195.52
  • Sensex down 2.2% to 57,073.46
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.6% to 7,523.43
  • Kospi down 0.1% to 2,693.21
  • Brent Futures down 0.4% to $111.27/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.7% to $1,991.92
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.22% to 100.72

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • U.S. natural gas prices surged to the highest level in over 13 years as robust demand tests drillers’ ability to expand supplies
  • China reported its biggest decline in consumer spending and worst unemployment rate since the early months of the pandemic as Covid lockdowns put a strain on the world’s second- largest economy
  • Shanghai reported its first deaths as the biggest Covid flareup China has faced during the pandemic prompted more cities around the country to impose restrictions on their residents
  • The odds of an economic contraction in the U.S. over the next two years are about 35%, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
  • Long-maturity Treasuries are contending with their biggest drawdown on record, according to their most popular exchange-traded fund
  • Japan’s giant investors look set to bet on yen weakness continuing and boost their purchases of Treasuries over the rest of the year

A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asian stocks traded mostly negative and US equity futures were also subdued amid a higher yield environment as gains in energy prices stoked inflationary' concerns, while market sentiment was also clouded by the mass holiday closures for Easter Monday and with participants reflecting on the recent PBoC actions and Chinese GDP data. Nikkei 225 (-1.6%) underperformed and fell beneath the 27k level with the index not helped by a choppy currency as officials continued their jawboning including BoJ Governor Kuroda who stated the recent Yen weakening has been quite sharp and that an excessively weak Yen or the currency's rapid depreciation can have a further negative impact but is basically positive overall. KOSPI (+0.1%) was indecisive after North Korea conducted projectile launches a day after the 110th birth anniversary of leader Kim's late grandfather and state founder Kim II Sung, while the US and South Korea are also to begin their spring training exercises this week. Shanghai Comp. (-0.8%) was negative following the PBoC’s recent actions including the narrower than expected 25bps RRR cut on Friday which follows the central bank's surprise decision to keep its 1-year MLF rate unchanged and with headwinds from the ongoing COVID-19 concerns in China where more cities tightened controls and Shanghai reported its first fatalities from the current outbreak but also recently unveiled plans to resume production in the city. Furthermore, stronger than expected Chinese GDP growth for Q1 and Industrial Production in March failed to spur risk appetite, as the data only partially took into account the latest restrictions including the lockdown in Shanghai that began in late March, while Retail Sales disappointed and the Unemployment Rate increased. As a reminder, markets in Australia. New Zealand and Hong Kong were closed for holiday and there are also mass closures across Europe including the UK for Easter Monday.

Top Asian News

  • Larsen Said to Weigh Merging Tech Arms Into $22 Billion Firm
  • Sri Lanka Must Show IMF Sustainable Debt Plan to Secure Aid
  • Tesla Shanghai Sets Out Hand Washing, Sleeping Plans for Workers
  • DiDi Shares Plunge in U.S. Premarket on Plan for Delisting Vote

Europe remains closed for the Easter holiday

US Event Calendar

  • 10:00: April NAHB Housing Market Index, est. 77, prior 79

Central Banks

  • 16:00: Fed’s Bullard Discusses the U.S. Economy and Monetary Policy
Tyler Durden Mon, 04/18/2022 - 07:48

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Family Of College Student Who Died From COVID-19 Vaccine Sues Biden Administration

Family Of College Student Who Died From COVID-19 Vaccine Sues Biden Administration

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis…

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Family Of College Student Who Died From COVID-19 Vaccine Sues Biden Administration

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

The family of a college student who died from heart inflammation caused by Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has sued President Joe Biden’s administration, alleging officials engaged in “willful misconduct.”

George Watts Jr. in a file image. (Courtesy of the Watts family)

U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) officials wrongly promoted COVID-19 vaccination by repeatedly claiming the available vaccines were “safe and effective,” relatives of George Watts Jr., the college student, said in the new lawsuit.

That promotion “duped millions of Americans, including Mr. Watts, into being DOD’s human subjects in its medical experiment, the largest in modern history,” the suit states.

The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act allows lawsuits against certain people if they have engaged in “willful misconduct” and if that misconduct caused death or serious injury.

COVID-19 vaccines are covered by the act due to a declaration entered during the Trump administration in 2020 after COVID-19 began circulating.

DOD’s conduct and the harm caused as alleged within the four corners of the lawsuit speaks for itself,” Ray Flores, a lawyer representing the Watts family, told The Epoch Times via email. “I have no further comment other than to say: My only duty is to advocate for my client. If the DOD conveys a settlement offer, I will see that it’s considered.”

The suit was filed in U.S. court in Washington.

The Pentagon and the Department of Justice did not respond to requests for comment.

Watts Suddenly Died

Watts was a student at Corning Community College when the school mandated COVID-19 vaccination for in-person classes in 2021. He received one Pfizer dose on Aug. 27, 2021, and a second dose approximately three weeks later.

Watts soon began experiencing a range of symptoms, including tingling in the feet, pain in the heels, numbness in the hands and fingers, blood in his sperm and urine, and sinus pressure, according to family members and health records.

Watts went to the Robert Packer Hospital emergency room on Oct. 12, 2021, due to the symptoms. X-rays showed clear lungs and a normal heart outline.

Watts was sent home with suggestions to follow up with specialists but returned to the emergency room on Oct. 19, 2021, with worsening symptoms despite a week of the antibiotic Augmentin. He was diagnosed with sinusitis and bronchitis.

While speaking to his mother at home on Oct. 27, 2021, Watts suddenly collapsed. Emergency medical personnel rushed to the home but found him unresponsive. He was rushed to the same hospital in an ambulance. He was pronounced deceased at age 24.

According to a doctor at the hospital, citing hospital records and family members, Watts had no past medical history on file that would explain his sudden death, with no known history of substance abuse or obvious signs of substance abuse. His mother described her son as a “healthy young male.”

Dr. Robert Stoppacher, a pathologist who performed an autopsy on the body, said that the death was due to “COVID-19 vaccine-related myocarditis.” The death certificate listed no other causes. A COVID-19 test returned negative. Dr. Sanjay Verma, based in California, reviewed the documents in the Watts case and said that he believed the death was caused by the COVID-19 vaccination.

Pfizer did not respond to a request for comment.

Watts Took Vaccine Under Pressure

The community college mandate included a 35-day grace period following approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were given emergency use authorization early in the pandemic. The FDA approved the Pfizer shot on Aug. 23, 2021. It was the first COVID-19 vaccine approval. But doses of the approved version of the shot, branded Comirnaty, were not available for months after the approval.

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Tyler Durden Fri, 06/02/2023 - 23:00

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International

US Sent Billions in Funding to China, Russia For Cat Experiments, Wuhan Lab Research: Ernst

US Sent Billions in Funding to China, Russia For Cat Experiments, Wuhan Lab Research: Ernst

Authored by Mark Tapscott via The Epoch Times…

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US Sent Billions in Funding to China, Russia For Cat Experiments, Wuhan Lab Research: Ernst

Authored by Mark Tapscott via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Hundreds of millions of U.S. tax dollars went to recipients in China and Russia in recent years without being properly tracked by the federal government, including a grant that enabled a state-run Russian lab to test cats on treadmills, according to Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) speaks at a Senate Republican news conference in the U.S. Capitol on March 9, 2022. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Ernst and her staff investigators, working with auditors at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Congressional Research Service, as well as two nonprofit Washington watchdogs—Open The Books (OTB) and the White Coat Waste Project (WCWP)—discovered dozens of other grants that weren’t counted on the federal government’s USASpending.gov internet database.

While the total value of the uncounted grants found by the Ernst team is $1.3 billion, that amount is just the tip of the iceberg, the GAO reported.

Among the newly discovered grants is $4.2 million to China’s infamous Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) “to conduct dangerous experiments on bat coronaviruses and transgenic mice,” according to a May 31 Ernst statement provided to The Epoch Times.

The $4.2 million exposed by Ernst is in addition to previously reported funding to the WIV for extensive gain-of-function research by Chinese scientists, much of it funded in whole or part prior to the COVID-19 pandemic by National Institutes for Health (NIH) grants channeled through the EcoHealth Alliance medical research nonprofit.

The NIH has awarded seven grants totaling more than $4.1 million to EcoHealth to study various aspects of SARS, MERS, and other coronavirus diseases.

Buying Chinese Puppy Parts

As part of another U.S.-funded grant, hearts and other organs from 425 dogs in China were purchased for medical research.

These countryside dogs in China are part of the farmer’s household; they were mainly used for guarding. Their diet includes boiled rice, discarded raw food animal tissues, and whatever dogs can forage. These dogs were sold for food,” an NIH study uncovered by the Ernst researchers reads.

Other previously unreported grants exposed by the Ernst team include $1.6 million to Chinese companies from the federal government’s National School Lunch Program and $4.7 million for health insurance from a Russian company that was sanctioned by the United States in 2022 as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.

“It’s gravely concerning that Washington’s reckless spending has reached the point where nobody really knows where all tax dollars are going,” Ernst separately told The Epoch Times. “But I have the receipts, and I’m shining a light on this, so bureaucrats can no longer cover up their tracks, and taxpayers can know exactly what their hard-earned dollars are funding.”

The problem is that federal officials don’t rigorously track sub-awards made by initial grant recipients, according to the Iowa Republican. Such sub-awards are covered by a multitude of federal regulations that stipulate many conditions to ensure that the tax dollars are appropriately spent.

The GAO said in an April report that “limitations in sub-award data is a government-wide issue and not unique to U.S. funding to entities in China.”

GAO is currently examining the state of federal government-wide sub-award data as part of a separate review,” the report reads.

Peter Daszak, right, the president of the EcoHealth Alliance, is seen in Wuhan, China, on Feb. 3, 2021. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

The Eco-Health sub-awards to WIV illustrate the problem.

“Despite being required by law to make these receipts available to the public on the USAspending.gov website, EcoHealth tried to cover its tracks by intentionally not disclosing the amounts of taxpayer money being paid to WIV, which went unnoticed for years,” Ernst said in the statement.

“I was able to determine that more than $490 million of taxpayer money was paid to organizations in China [in] the last five years. That’s ten times more than GAO’s estimate! Over $870 million was paid to entities in Russia during the same period!

Together that adds up to more than $1.3 billion paid to our adversaries. But again, these numbers still do not represent the total dollar amounts paid to institutions in China or Russia since those numbers are not tracked and the information that is being collected is incomplete.”

Adam Andrzejewski, founder and chairman of OTB, told The Epoch Times, “When following the money at the state and local level, the real corruption exists in the subcontractor payments. At the federal level, the existing system doesn’t even track many of those recipients.

“Without better reporting, agencies and appropriators don’t truly understand how tax dollars were used. We now know that taxpayer dollars are traded further downstream than originally realized with third- and fourth-tier recipients. These transactions need scrutiny. Requiring recipients to account for where and how they actually spend each dollar creates a record far better than agencies are capable of generating.”

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Tyler Durden Fri, 06/02/2023 - 19:40

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Government

OraSure Technologies’ CFO Makes Bold Insider Purchase, Reigniting Investor Confidence

Executive Kenneth McGrath’s $500,000 buy read as promising signal about future for diagnostic test developer OraSure Technologies (NASDAQ:OSUR) saw…

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Executive Kenneth McGrath’s $500,000 buy read as promising signal about future for diagnostic test developer

OraSure Technologies (NASDAQ:OSUR) saw a stock price re-rate on Thursday, climbing 11% after investors became aware of its CFO Kenneth McGrath buying shares in the diagnostic test developer.  This latest rally in OSUR stock, gives traders and investors hope that the strong momentum from the beginning of 2023 might return.

OSUR shares had mounted an impressive 54% rally for 2023 through to May 10, when the first-quarter results update spooked investors. 

The CFO’s trade was initially spotted on Fintel’s Insider Trading Tracker following the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Big Holdings Boost

In the Form 4 filing, McGrath, who assumed CFO duties in August 2022, disclosed buying 100,000 shares on May 30 in the approved trading window that was open post results.

McGrath on average paid $4.93 per share, giving the total transaction a value just shy of $500,000 and boosted his total share count ownership to 285,512 shares.

The chart below from the insider trading and analysis report for OSUR shows the share price performance and profit made from company officers in previous transactions:

OraSure Technologies

Prior to joining OraSure, McGrath had an impressive eight-year tenure at Quest Diagnostics (NYSE:DGX), where he rose to the position of VP of Finance before departing. This is the first time that the CFO has bought stock in the company since August 2022. It is also worth noting that the purchase followed strong Q1 financial results, which exceeded Street forecasts.

Revenue Doubles

In its recently published Q1 update, OraSure Technologies told investors that it generated a whopping 129% increase in revenue to $155 million, surpassing analyst expectations of around $123 million. 

Notably, the revenue growth was driven primarily by the success of OraSure’s COVID-19 products, which accounted for $118.4 million in revenue for the quarter and grew 282% over the previous year.

The surge in revenue for this product was largely driven by the federal government’s school testing program, which led to record test volumes. However, it is important to note that demand for InteliSwab is expected to decline in Q2 2023, prompting OraSure to scale down its COVID-19 production operations. As part of its broader strategy to consolidate manufacturing, the company plans to close an overseas production facility.

While the COVID-19 products division has been instrumental in OraSure’s recent success, its core business delivered stable flat sales of $36.6 million during the quarter. 

In terms of net income, OraSure achieved an impressive result of $27.2 million, or $0.37 per share, in Q1, marking a significant improvement compared to the loss of $19.9 million, or a loss of $0.28 per share, in the same period last year. This result exceeded consensus forecasts of $0.16 per share. As of the end of the quarter, the company held $112.4 million in cash and cash equivalents.

Looking ahead to Q2, OraSure has provided revenue guidance in the range of $62 to $67 million, reflecting the lower order activity from the US government with $25 to $30 million expected sales for InteliSwab. The declining Covid related sales have been a core driver of the share price weakness in recent weeks.

While sales are likely to fall in the coming quarters, one positive for the company is its low debt balance during this period of rising cash rates. The chart below from Fintels financial metrics and ratios page for OSUR shows the cash flow performance of the business over the last five years.

OraSure Technologies

Analyst Opinions

Stephen’s analyst Jacob Johnson thinks that outside of Covid, OSUR continues to execute on several cost and partnership initiatives which he believes appears to be bearing fruit. Johnson pointed out that three partnerships were signed during the quarter.

The analyst thinks that the ex-Covid growth story will be the new focus for investors from now on. The brokerage maintained its ‘equal-weight’ recommendation and $6.50 target price on the stock, matching Fintel’s consensus target price, suggesting OSUR stock could rise a further 29% in the next 12 months. 

The post OraSure Technologies’ CFO Makes Bold Insider Purchase, Reigniting Investor Confidence appeared first on Fintel.

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