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It’s just another Manic Monday

It’s not often that you associate The Bangles with prescient outlooks on global markets (no disrespect intended Ladies), but as I look across the landscape…

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It’s not often that you associate The Bangles with prescient outlooks on global markets (no disrespect intended Ladies), but as I look across the landscape of the great game in Asia today, the song is humming through my head. The second line of the chorus is even more poignant. “I wish it was Sunday.” I have a feeling there are many investors feeling the same way.

Asia was always going to start the week on the back foot after a grim Friday session for US equities. Stock markets took fright at hawkish comments from Jerome Powell and fears of higher rates saw equities routed, even though US yields did not really move that much. The US dollar index surged through 1.0100 and the higher rate, lower growth trade pushed oil down.

China lockdowns weigh on Asia markets

Today, China fears are adding to the downside momentum for Asian markets. China has tightened parts of the Shanghai lockdown, including erecting fences around apartment buildings with Covid-19 infected individuals. Meanwhile, residents of the Chaoyang district of Beijing will have to submit to three days of testing to get on top of the omicron outbreak there, with parts of it “sealed” or “controlled,” to paraphrase Bloomberg’s story this morning. Although some parts of China have been under restrictions longer than Shanghai, omicron’s arrival in Beijing would be an ominous development.

It is important to remember that although market darlings like Tesla and Foxconn are operating normally in China under a “closed-loop,” and China is vigorously playing whack-a-mole across the country to enforce the Covid-zero policy, omicron only has to get lucky once, while those manning the ramparts have to get lucky 100% of the time. Just ask any other previously Covid-zero country.

The difference here is that China is the world’s second-largest economy and has shown no signs it intends to live with the virus. It would be a brave man that bets on President Xi Jinping backtracking on anything he says he is going to do, or on the government in general. With that in mind, the likely pressure valve is going to be disruption to China’s export machine, and a cratering of consumer confidence.

All of that points to lower growth and it is no surprise that the offshore yuan is getting punished, Asia FX is weaker, and Asian equities are taking fright at a US rate hike, slow China growth pincer move. Probably the only bright spot, ex-China, is that oil prices are also being beaten down as well.

I am not a great fan of blackouts, but I do see the opportunity for some relief rallies in the days ahead by equity markets. That is because the Federal Reserve has headed into its pre-May-FOMC news blackout. That means we do not get any Fed talking heads on the wires with their hawkish talons out on the wires until after the FOMC meeting in early May.

That does not mean markets are out of the woods though. US New Home Sales tomorrow, and GDP prints from Germany, France and the United States on Thursday have downside risks, as does Friday’s US Personal Income and Expenditure and Eurozone Business Sentiment. Upside risks persist in European Flash CPI releases. The United Kingdom released weak data on Friday and the sterling got punished aggressively, it’s that sort of market.

US earnings season accelerates this week and the results for Q1 should have a very binary impact on markets. Weak results equal bad, superior results equal relief rally. Heavyweights such as Citigroup, McDonald’s, and Visa announce this week, but the street will be focused on the FAANG titans. Although I guess they should be called MAANGA these days (Japan is still relevant) We saw what happened to Netflix last week when the exponential growth forever dream ended, and Facebook earlier this year. The MAANGA’s will need to keep the dream alive this week for the US stock market to have any hope of a sustained pre-FOMC rally.

In Asia this week, Singapore releases core-CPI today with upside risk to the 2.40% expected. Taiwan announces March Industrial Production this afternoon as well. Wednesday’s Japan Industrial Production and Retail Sales have obvious downside risks, while Australian CPI could increase the pressure on the RBA to start thinking about seriously considering the remote possibility of at least contemplating hiking interest rates; a doctrine pioneered by the ECB. China releases Caixin PMI on Friday and official PMIs over the weekend. The price action in Asia today suggests downside risk.

The week’s highlight should be the Bank of Japan policy meeting on Thursday before the golden week holidays start on Friday. Given that the BOJ is standing in the 1-year JGB markets today with an unlimited bid to cap yields at 0.25%, the chance of any policy shift on Thursday is infinitesimal. An elegant way to telegraph an impending change would have been to be less aggressive in the bond market these past two weeks, and that hasn’t happened. If any of my readers are thinking that shorting USD/JPY at these levels is attractive, please slap yourself vigorously and say “buy dips” one hundred times.

Finally, something that Asia and the rest of the world should be watching is Indonesia’s decision to ban exports of cooking oil and their raw materials on Friday. Like PLN’s coal supply crisis earlier this year, Indonesia’s oligopolies are struggling to resist the temptation of higher prices overseas, while meeting their contracted domestic supply obligations at lower prices. Cooking oil mysteriously vanished from shop shelves the last time Indonesia capped domestic prices recently, only to magically reappear when that policy was adjusted.

With Eid-al-Fitr starting in the world’s largest Muslim nation next week, it would be a brave government that forced 270 million people to steam the rice instead of rustling up a glorious celebratory nasi goreng. My point is that with inflation sweeping the world, and Russia/Ukrainian food supply disruptions only just starting to be felt, food nationalism is on the rise. I would argue that going hungry in the world’s developing nations will impact societal stability there far faster than USD 150 oil. Kuala Lumpur palm oil futures are already 4.50% higher today.

Russia and Ukraine are key exporters of grain to the world, but it’s fertilisers that are making me nervous. Russia is an important potash exporter and natural gas is the key ingredient in the manufacture of urea. The maths isn’t difficult to do with a little research.  Food inflation and production challenges, and their impact on the poor of the world, (i.e., most of the world) shouldn’t be underestimated. Their problems will quickly become our own and we can see those impacts already in unrest in Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Admittedly exacerbated by the fact both countries are/were run by populist strongman (male) leaders who are economic dotards. This is a story we should all be watching closely in 2022, more so even than a China slowdown, energy inflation, or inflation-chasing central banks.

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Maternal mortality jumped during COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts have taken a disproportionate toll on American mothers who were pregnant or just gave birth. Maternal mortality (i.e.,…

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The COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts have taken a disproportionate toll on American mothers who were pregnant or just gave birth. Maternal mortality (i.e., deaths during pregnancy or in the early postpartum period) increased by 18% in 2020, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, exceeding the ~16% increase in overall US mortality in 2020. Yet according to a new analysis from the University of Maryland and Boston University, the maternal death rate after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was even higher, and disproportionately impacted Black and non-white Hispanic mothers. 

Credit: Marie E. Thoma, PhD; Eugene R. Declercq, PhD in JAMA Network Open

The COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts have taken a disproportionate toll on American mothers who were pregnant or just gave birth. Maternal mortality (i.e., deaths during pregnancy or in the early postpartum period) increased by 18% in 2020, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, exceeding the ~16% increase in overall US mortality in 2020. Yet according to a new analysis from the University of Maryland and Boston University, the maternal death rate after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was even higher, and disproportionately impacted Black and non-white Hispanic mothers. 

A research letter published in JAMA Network Open by Marie Thoma in the UMD School of Public Health and Eugene Declercq in the BU School of Public Health compared maternal mortality data from 2018-March 2020, when the pandemic began, to April-December 2020. Overall, they found large increases in maternal death (33%) and late maternal deaths (41%) after March 2020 compared with before the pandemic, and conspicuous increases among Black and Hispanic mothers. 

“The increase was really driven by deaths after the start of the pandemic, which are higher than what we see for overall excess mortality in 2020,” said Dr. Thoma, assistant professor of family science in the UMD SPH. The study also showed that existing and new disparities emerged after the pandemic with a 40% jump among already high rates for non-Hispanic Black women and a 74% jump among formerly lower rates in Hispanic women.  

Strikingly, said Dr. Declercq, professor of community health sciences at BUSPH, “for the first time in more than a decade, the maternal mortality rate for Hispanic women during the pandemic was higher than that for non-Hispanic white women, a shift that may be related to COVID and deserves greater attention moving forward.”  

COVID-19 was listed as a secondary cause of death in 14.9% of maternal deaths in the last nine months of 2020, with it being a contributing factor for 32% of Hispanic, 12.9% of Black and 7% of non-Hispanic white women giving birth.

In their analysis of causes of maternal death, they found the largest increases were due to conditions directly related to COVID-19 (respiratory or viral infection) and conditions made worse by COVID-19 infection, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. However, interruptions to the health care system could have led to delayed prenatal care that could have meant that risk factors for pregnancy complications went undetected. 

“We need more detailed data on the specific causes of maternal deaths overall and those associated with COVID-19,” Dr. Thoma said. “Potentially we could see improvements in 2021 due to the rollout of vaccines, as well as the extension of postpartum care provided for Medicaid recipients as part of the American Rescue Act of 2021 in some states. We’re going to continue to examine this.”


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U.S. FDA will decide on redesigned COVID vaccines by early July

U.S. regulators plan to decide by early July on whether to change the design of COVID-19 vaccines this fall in order to combat more recent variants of…

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U.S. FDA will decide on redesigned COVID vaccines by early July

By Michael Erman

“The better the match of the vaccines to the circulating strain we believe may correspond to improve vaccine effectiveness, and potentially to a better durability of protection,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said at a meeting of outside advisers to the regulator.

Vials with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine labels are seen in this illustration picture taken March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The committee is scheduled to vote on a recommendation on whether to make the change later on Tuesday.

The updated shots are likely to be redesigned to fight the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, experts say. read more The exact composition of the retooled shots and whether they also will include some of the original vaccine alongside new components will be considered at the meeting.

Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) and Novavax Inc. (NVAX.O) are scheduled to present data at the meeting. All three companies have been testing versions of their vaccines updated to combat the BA.1 Omicron variant that was circulating and led to a massive surge in infections last winter.

Both Moderna and Pfizer with partner BioNTech (22UAy.DE) have said that their respective redesigned vaccines generate a better immune response against BA.1 than their current shots that were designed for the original virus that emerged from China.

They have said that their new vaccines also appear to work against the more recently circulating BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, even though that protection is not as strong as against BA.1.

Experts also want to know if the new shots will boost protection against severe disease and death for younger, healthier people or merely offer a few months’ additional safeguard against mild infection.

Scientists who have questioned the value of booster shots for young and healthy people have said a broad campaign is not needed with an updated shot either.

Other experts have championed any additional protection new vaccines may offer.

Reporting by Michael Erman Editing by Bill Berkrot and Bernadette Baum

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Source: Reuters

 

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Stock Market Today: Dow Jones, S&P 500 Edge Higher; Trip.com Stock Surges From China Covid Easing

Markets opened in the green today as they rebound from Monday’s losses.
The post Stock Market Today: Dow Jones, S&P 500 Edge Higher; Trip.com Stock…

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Stock Market Today Mid-Morning Updates

On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up by 270 points as it followed modest losses on Wall Street. Investors are still weighing the risks of red-hot inflation as rates continue to rise. Aside from the U.S., European Central Bank Leader Christine Lagarde downplayed recession concerns in the eurozone, already being destabilized by Russia’s war on Ukraine. She also says that her team is ready to raise rates at a faster pace if needed, in order to combat inflation.

Shares of Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), and Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) raised their dividends after passing their annual stress tests. For instance, Goldman Sachs is boosting its dividend payout by 25% to $2.50 per share. On the other hand, shares of Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ: WYNN) are up today after China announced that it will be easing Covid-19 quarantine rules for international arrivals.

Among the Dow Jones leaders, shares of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) are up by 0.13% today while Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is down by 0.79%. Meanwhile, Disney (NYSE: DIS) and Nike (NYSE: NKE) are trading mixed on Tuesday. Among the Dow financial leaders, Visa (NYSE: V) is up by 0.17% while JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) is also up by 1.67%

Shares of EV leader Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) are up by 0.83% on Tuesday. Rival EV companies like Rivian (NASDAQ: RIVN) are down by 0.17%. Lucid Group (NASDAQ: LCID) is down by 1.09% today as well. However, Chinese EV leaders like Nio (NYSE: NIO) and Xpeng Motors (NYSE: XPEV) are trading mixed today. 

Dow Jones Today: U.S. Treasury Yields Inches Higher; House Price Increases Slows Down In April 

Following the stock market opening on Tuesday, the S&P 500, Dow, and Nasdaq are trading higher at 0.68%, 0.89%, and 0.31% respectively. Among exchange-traded funds, the Nasdaq 100 tracker Invesco QQQ Trust (NASDAQ: QQQ) is up by 0.28% while the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEARCA: SPY) is also up by 0.67%. 

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield currently hovers around 3.22% as the market continues to push against a bear market. Oil prices rallied for the third day today as major producers like Saudi Arabia looked unlikely to be able to boost output significantly. This comes as the West agreed to explore ways to cap the price of Russian oil. Brent crude, for instance, currently trades at around $116 per barrel.

Home prices increased slower than before in April and could be a potential sign of a cooling in prices. Diving in, prices rose by 20.4% nationally in April compared with a year earlier. This is according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index. For comparison, home prices increased by 20.6% year-over-year in March. Cities like Tampa, Miami, and Phoenix continue to lead the pack with the strongest price gains. Tampa home prices, for instance, are up by a whopping 35.8% year-over-year.

[Read More] Top Stock Market News For Today June 28, 2022 

Trip.com Stock Gains Following Better-Than-Expected Quarterly Performance On Travel Rebound; China Covid Easing

Trip.com Group (NASDAQ: TCOM) seems to be among the top gainers in the stock market now. Evidently, TCOM stock is now up by over 14% at the opening bell today. Overall, this likely stems from the company’s latest financial update. Getting straight into it, Trip.com reported a quarterly loss per share of $0.01. Furthermore, the company’s total quarterly revenue is $649 million. For reference, consensus figures on Wall Street are a loss per share of $0.08 on revenue of $575.04 million. With these commendable results, investors looking to bet on the return of travel would be considering TCOM stock.

According to Trip.com, the company has recovering travel demand in global markets to thank for its latest quarterly performance. In particular, Trip.com highlights a bump in activity from consumers across its Europe and Asia Pacific user bases. This, the company believes, is a result of easing travel restrictions amidst countries in these regions. Moreover, Trip.com also notes that staycation-related travel in China is another notable contributor to growth for the quarter. Accordingly, its local hotel bookings are now up by 20% year-over-year.

On the whole, travel firms like Trip.com continue to thrive as consumers book their vacations. For its latest quarter, the company’s air-ticket bookings on global platforms are now up by a whopping 270% year-over-year. As mentioned earlier, this is mainly led by a rebound in demand from its European and Asian Pacific operations. Looking forward, CEO Jane sun notes that Trip.com will “remain adaptive to embrace the changing environment and be flexible with our strategies to swiftly seize growth opportunities.” With all this in mind, I could understand if TCOM stock is turning some heads in the stock market today.

TCOM stock
Source: TradingView

[Read More] Best Oil Stocks To Buy Right Now? 5 For Your Late June 2022 Watchlist 

Occidental Petroleum On The Rise Following Latest Berkshire Hathaway Stake Increase

Meanwhile, the likes of Occidental Petroleum (NYSE: OXY) seem to be gaining attention in the stock market now. For the most part, this is likely a result of the latest regulatory filing from Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A). Namely, Berkshire disclosed a purchase of an additional 794,000 shares of Occidental. This adds up to a $44 million transaction, bringing its total stake to about 16.4%. In total, Berkshire currently holds about 153.5 million shares of OXY stock, worth $9 billion.

All in all, Buffett’s focus on Occidental would likely draw attention to the energy firm’s shares. This is apparent as OXY stock is currently gaining by over 6% in the stock market now. According to Berkshire’s filings since March, the company’s average purchase price per share of OXY stock is $53. Following this investment, Berkshire would be bolstering its position as Occidental’s largest stakeholder. In second place on this front is investment firm Vanguard with an almost 11% stake. As a result of all this, it would not surprise me to see OXY stock making the rounds in the stock market now.

OXY stock
Source: TradingView

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The post Stock Market Today: Dow Jones, S&P 500 Edge Higher; Trip.com Stock Surges From China Covid Easing appeared first on Stock Market News, Quotes, Charts and Financial Information | StockMarket.com.

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