Connect with us


“It’s Shocking No Matter How You Look At It” – Futures Jump On Blockbuster Tech Earnings; Gold Hits New Record High

"It’s Shocking No Matter How You Look At It" – Futures Jump On Blockbuster Tech Earnings; Gold Hits New Record High



"It's Shocking No Matter How You Look At It" - Futures Jump On Blockbuster Tech Earnings; Gold Hits New Record High Tyler Durden Fri, 07/31/2020 - 08:10

S&P futures rose (but faded much of their earlier gains) alongside European shares with Nasdaq futures jumping nearly 1% as stellar earnings from US tech giants lifted sentiment amid dismal economic data and a resurgent virus. Gold climbed to a record even as the dollar rebounded from two year lows.

The Tech Tsunami helped lifted European shares, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index rising, even after France and Spain posted record economic contractions. Nokia Oyj soared after earnings beat estimates, while BNP Paribas SA jumped on a blowout performance in fixed-income trading. Following the dismal US GDP print, the Euro Area reported that in Q2, its GDP contracted sharply by 12.1%qoq, in line with expectations, and corresponding to by far the sharpest decline in quarterly GDP growth since records began in 1995. French and Italian GDP both contracted by less than expected—by -13.8% and -12.4%, respectively—whereas Spanish GDP contracted most sharply (-18.5%) across the Euro area countries that have so far reported Q2 GDP. The unprecedented contractions in GDP were primarily attributable to weak domestic demand in both France and Spain, with a comparatively smaller drag from net trade as both exports and imports collapsed. The weakness was broad-based across sectors, with industry and services both registering record quarterly declines.

Asian stocks fell, led by industrials and energy, after falling in the last session. Most markets in the region were down, with Japan's Topix Index dropping 2.8% and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 falling 2%, while Shanghai Composite gained 0.7% on widespread retail buying as margin debt increased once again. The Topix declined 2.8%, with SoldOut and DTS falling the most. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.7%, with Xi'an Bright Laser and Anji Micro posting the biggest advances.

Apple surged 6% in premarket trading, setting the stock on course to open at a record high, as it delivered year-on-year revenue gains across every category and in every geography. also jumped 5.4% after posting the biggest profit in its 26-year history, while Facebook gained 6% as it reported better-than-expected revenue. Trading in Alphabet was more subdued as quarterly sales fell for the first time in its 16 years as a public company (for a response to tech earnings from some Wall Street analysts see here). Elsewhere, Ford rose 2.7% after signaling ample cash-on-hand for the year even as it forecast a full-year loss. Gilead Sciences fell 3.5% as it posted worse-than-expected quarterly results, hurt by weak sales of its hepatitis C drugs and flagship HIV treatments. Caterpillar Inc. gained after reporting higher-than-expected profit. Bucking the trend, U.S. oil giant Chevron Corp. posted its worst quarterly loss in at least three decades, sending the shares lower.

"It’s shocking no matter how you look at it," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Schwab Center for Financial Research.

"The virus is getting worse in a lot of areas, and some places have started to shut back down again. If you look at earnings in terms of beat rates, the results have actually been pretty good, granted the expectations bar has been set very low."

A surge in the stock price of the four companies, which make up nearly a fifth of the S&P 500’s value, as well as aggressive fiscal and monetary stimulus have sent the tech-heavy Nasdaq to record highs and set the S&P 500 on course for its fourth straight monthly gain. The S&P is now about 4% shy of its February all-time high, but faltering macroeconomic data and rising COVID-19 cases are making investors cautious again.

The GDP number on Thursday confirmed the sharpest contraction in the US economy since the Great Depression, while rising jobless weekly claims suggested a nascent recovery in the labor market was stalling. Investors betting on more U.S. government stimulus, before an extra $600-per-week federal jobless benefit expires on Friday, have also been disappointed as the Senate adjourned for the weekend and will return on Monday.

In FX, a gauge of the dollar’s strength weakened to its lowest since May 2018, heading for its sixth week of losses, before rebounding sharply as the EUR slumped. The pound advanced against the dollar, while the euro trimmed its gains following data showing an unprecedented euro-area slump. The two currencies are heading for their best monthly performance for a decade.

The Aussie dollar declined against the greenback as a risk-off mood persisted on reports of surges of the virus across the world, including Australia’s Melbourne.

In rates, Treasuries bull flattened as yields ticked lower, outperforming German bunds; the two-year yield hovered near May’s record low. The 10-year TSY dropped as low as 0.519%, supported by month-end flows. Yields were lower by 0.5bp to 2bp across the curve with long-end-led gains flattening 2s10s, 5s30s by ~0.5bp; 10-year at 0.535% has breached the 0.54% level where convexity trigger is thought to lie and is also its record low closing level on March 9 Bunds, gilts trade broadly in line with Treasuries; S&P 500 E-minis have pared an 0.8% gain to 0.3% with Euro Stoxx 50 higher by 0.6%.

China’s 10-year government bond yield rose after official data showed manufacturing activity expanded at a faster rate this month, suggesting the country’s economic recovery has gained momentum to start the year’s second half. The yield on 10Y Chinese bonds rose 4bps to 2.98% and is on pace to climb 12 basis points for July, the third straight monthly gain. The official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index rose to 51.1 in July from 50.9 a month earlier, as government-led investment gained traction and global demand recovered. Economists have revised up their forecasts for full-year growth, and now see China’s economy expanding 2% this year. Building strength could further reduce the prospects of more monetary easing and add downward pressure on China’s bonds.

In commodities, WTI and Brent have been rangebound throughout the morning as sentiment more broadly remains modestly elevated, while Gold futures stormed back to its all time high just shy of $2,000.

Looking ahead, on the economic front, core personal consumption expenditures data due at 830am, the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, is likely to have edged higher by 0.2% in June.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.3% to 3,257.00
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.7% to 362.11
  • MXAP down 1% to 165.19
  • MXAPJ down 0.3% to 551.51
  • Nikkei down 2.8% to 21,710.00
  • Topix down 2.8% to 1,496.06
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.5% to 24,595.35
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.7% to 3,310.01
  • Sensex down 0.3% to 37,628.16
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 2% to 5,927.78
  • Kospi down 0.8% to 2,249.37
  • German 10Y yield fell 0.7 bps to -0.549%
  • Euro up 0.2% to $1.1866
  • Brent Futures up 0.8% to $43.26/bbl
  • Italian 10Y yield fell 2.1 bps to 0.845%
  • Spanish 10Y yield fell 0.8 bps to 0.309%
  • Brent Futures up 0.8% to $43.26/bbl
  • Gold spot up 1% to $1,975.84
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.2% to 92.82

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • The euro-area economy plunged into an unprecedented slump in the second quarter, putting it in a deep hole from which it may take years to fully recover. Spain took the biggest hit in the period, shrinking 18.5%, while French and Italian output also dropped by double digits
  • Gold rose to another record high on Friday, setting it on track for its strongest monthly performance in eight years, fueled by a weaker dollar and low interest rates
  • An uptick in virus infections are stoking fears of a resurgence in Europe, with Spain seeing particularly high numbers of new cases and the British government re-imposing lockdown measures in part of the U.K. New York City has kept its Covid-19 infection rates low, but the risk of a resurgence looms over the Big Apple as fall approaches
  • The Senate left Washington for the weekend after a fourth day of negotiations yielded little substantial progress on narrowing differences between Republicans and Democrats on a plan to bolster the coronavirus- ravaged U.S. economy
  • The largest U.S. technology companies are thriving in a pandemic that has increased dependence on their products and services, while hammering much of the rest of the economy

Asian equity markets traded lacklustre heading into month-end after somewhat mixed Chinese PMI data with the region failing to take advantage of the momentum from US, where futures were boosted after-hours following big tech earnings in which Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook all beat on top and bottom lines. ASX 200 (-2.0%) was dragged lower by underperformance in the commodity related sectors and with the top-weighted financials also heavily pressured, while there were reports that Australian PM Morrison recently held emergency discussions with the Victoria state Premier which included possible further restrictions for movement within Melbourne and a shutdown of non-essential businesses. Nikkei 225 (-2.8%) was hampered by unfavourable currency flows and although Industrial Production data beat expectations for June, quarterly output was at a decline of 16.7% which was the largest drop according to comparable data since 2015. Furthermore, the biggest movers were driven by earnings including Panasonic, while SoftBank shares also suffered due to the currency effects despite a share repurchase announcement of up to 12.3% of shares for JPY 1tln. Hang Seng (-0.5%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.7%) were both initially positive with outperformance in the mainland after the PBoC’s liquidity efforts resulted to a net weekly injection of CNY 120bln, although this eventually faded following the latest mixed data releases in which Chinese Official Manufacturing PMI topped estimates but Non-Manufacturing PMI missed and Composite PMI slowed although all figures remained in expansionary territory. Finally, 10yr JGBs eked mild gains amid the soured risk appetite in the region and with the BoJ present in the market for JPY 450bln of JGBs predominantly concentrated in the belly of the curve.

Top Asian News

  • Japan Factory Production Rises for First Time in Five Months
  • China Stocks Will Only Get Wilder After July Whipsaws Investors
  • Facebook, Google Told They Must Pay Australia Media For News

European equities (Eurostoxx 50 +0.6%) trade modestly firmer across the board in what has been another busy morning of corporate updates whilst incremental macro newsflow remains relatively light since yesterday’s close. Although stocks are attempting to recoup some of yesterday’s heavy losses, the extent of the recovery is relatively mild with the Eurostoxx still lower by some 2.5% on the week heading into month-end. Some of the positivity in Europe is a by-product of the fallout from US mega-cap stocks earnings’ in which Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook all beat on top and bottom lines and were seen higher in after-market trade, prompting outperformance in Nasdaq 100 futures and the tech sector in Europe this morning. Also supporting the tech sector in Europe today is Nokia (+12.2%) post-earnings in which the Co. raised its guidance. Banking names have posted a strong performance in Europe following earnings from BNP Paribas (+2.1%) and Natwest Group (+1.1%), although gains for the sector have been capped by performance in the periphery following disappointing earnings from Spanish-listed Caixabank (-2.6%) and Sabadell (-2.0%). Elsewhere, travel & leisure names have been unable to join in on the mild positivity seen in Europe this far following earnings IAG (-9.1%) in which the Co. announced a EUR 1.37bln operating loss and proposed a capital increase of EUR 2.75bln; easyJet (-3.0%), Ryanair (-3.2%) and Deutsche Lufthansa (-2.2%) are seen lower in sympathy. Performance for telecom names has been hampered by BT (-3.4%) with the Co. warning over the impact of coronavirus on its revenues and earnings after posting a decline in profits. Looking ahead, asides from US participants continuing to digest the latest updates from Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook, focus will also be on pre-market updates from Exxon, Chevron, Phillips 66, Caterpillar, Merck and Colgate.

Top European News

  • NatWest Adds $2.8 Billion Provision for Pandemic Loan Losses
  • He Built It But No One Came: China Chills the Next Canary Wharf
  • Fortiana Buys Out Abramovich in Bid for Russian Gold Miner
  • Spanish-Led Outbreaks Fuel Concerns About Further Economic Pain

In FX, it seemed to start with a tweet, but Dollar losses accumulated after Thursday’s plunge in Q2 GDP and IJC data into the NY close and as APAC participants entered the fray for their final trading day of July to push the index further below 93.000 where it remains. The latest rise in unemployment benefit claims is especially worrying as Congress remains at odds over the next fiscal support package that looks certain to leave an overhang when the current jobless insurance measures expire, and with White House Chief of Staff Meadows not confident about reaching a deal next week. All this on top of the ongoing resurgence of COVID-19 across many US states plus the prospect of even more Greenback selling for month end, especially around the 4 pm London fix, amidst a growing number of bank models flagging bearish portfolio rebalancing signals. However, the DXY is holding between 92.539-969 parameters as the Buck pares some declines across the board.

  • EUR/GBP/JPY – The aforementioned sell Dollar for the July/August turn dynamic is said to be strongest against the Euro and has propelled the single currency through touted resistance between 1.1815-51 to just over 1.1900 temporarily, but Sterling is keeping pace and actually forming a firmer base on its next psychological/round number level at 1.3100. Similarly, the Yen has broken free of tethers that were restraining rallies beyond 105.00, but has retreated ahead of 104.00 following the first signs of alarm about FX developments from Japan’s MoF. Back to Eur/Usd, decent option expiry interest at the 1.1900 strike (1 bn) may be capping attempts to the upside.
  • CAD/CHF/AUD/SEK/NOK – All narrowly mixed vs their major counterparts in consolidative mode, with the Loonie just below 1.3400 and eyeing a tentative recovery in crude prices, but perhaps more intently aware that unusually large expiries run off at the big figure (2.2 bn) after Canadian GDP and PPI. Elsewhere, the Franc has drifted back towards 0.9100 from circa 0.9057 in wake of a marked slowdown in Swiss retail sales and the Aussie has lost momentum above 0.7200, but the Scandinavian Crowns are benefiting from the Euro’s fade from best levels to maintain upward trajectories within 10.3155-2840 and 10.7825-7240 respective ranges.
  • NZD - The major underperformer or laggard, as the Kiwi loses grip of the 0.6700 handle and retreats from 1.0750+ in Aud/Nzd cross terms, perhaps taking heed of a stark warning from ANZ overnight about a double dip NZ recession in Q4.
  • EM - Broad depreciation vs the Usd but the Yuan is extending gains from a firmer PBoC Cny fix and end of month 7-day liquidity injection to supplement mixed, but comfortably above 50 Chinese PMIs, while the Lira has rebounded from lows presumably with the aid of yet more Turkish state bank intervention.

In commodities, WTI and Brent have been rangebound throughout the morning as sentiment more broadly remains modestly elevated as we close out the busiest week of earnings season, with a number of energy names still on the schedule ahead including Exxon & Chevron. As it stands, the benchmarks are going to finish the week in the red by some USD 1/bbl for WTI; albeit, such a close would leave it just about in positive territory for the month as a whole. Aside from the aforementioned earnings, the energy schedule is again very light and we haven’t see any new thus far aside from inflammatory rhetoric from Iranian Supreme Leader Khameni against the US, following the sanctions yesterday, who also said they should not be dependent on oil exports. Moving to metals, in which spot gold is bolstered once more after soft APAC trade and the continuing decline for the USD; albeit, the DXY is currently modestly firmer. Yellow metal resides in the top half of a USD 30/oz range so far but off the USD 1984/oz session peak thus far. At present, spot gold is up by ~10% for the month and is on target for the biggest monthly gain in over 4-years; even given the recent upside desks still believe the rally has further to go with Goldman Sachs envisaging USD 2300/oz; however, JP Morgan believe the pace will decline later into the year. For reference, BofA Flow Show saw the second largest inflows into gold ever, totalling USD 3.9bln.

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: Personal Spending, est. 5.2%, prior 8.2%; Real Personal Spending, est. 5.0%, prior 8.1%
  • 8:30am: Personal Income, est. -0.55%, prior -4.2%
  • 8:30am: PCE Deflator MoM, est. 0.44%, prior 0.1%; YoY, est. 0.9%, prior 0.5%
  • 8:30am: PCE Core Deflator MoM, est. 0.2%, prior 0.1%; YoY, est. 1.0%, prior 1.0%
  • 9:45am: MNI Chicago PMI, est. 44.5, prior 36.6
  • 10am: U. of Mich. Sentiment, est. 72.9, prior 73.2; Current Conditions, est. 85.5, prior 84.2; Expectations, est. 65.5, prior 66.2

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

As the first week of potty training the twins comes to an end my knowledge of the progress is best summed up by the fact that Eddie has 27 stickers on his “well done” chart whereas poor Jamie only has 10. I’ve been trying to keep a low profile in my office as my wife patrols the battlefield waiting to deal with the many casualties. I fear I’m going to be given a lot of the cloths and disinfectant spray this weekend. To be honest I probably am going to get double duties due to the language I used last night when my wife told me how much she spent kitting out Maisie for her first school uniform yesterday. I was gobsmacked and I’ve still got two more to do next year! Oh and then repeat every year or two. Yikes!

If only I had set up a school uniform fund with tech stocks a few years ago. If I had I would now be buying them all gold encrusted blazers rather than asking my wife why she didn’t go to the second hand sale. On tech, the big news after the US closing bell last night was with four of the biggest five companies in the US (and pretty much the world outside of Aramco) reporting. These big four tech companies represent c.16% of the S&P 500 and over a third of the Nasdaq 100. In terms of results all but one ended up higher in after-hours trading. Apple (+6% after-market trading) reported quarterly revenues ahead of analysts’ estimates as iPhone and laptop demand surged, causing revenues to come in 11% higher than a year earlier. Facebook (+6% after-market trading) saw Q2 sales beat even the most bullish analyst’s estimate, with revenues rising 11%. Amazon (+5% after-market trading) beat on profits even after increasing costs substantially through the pandemic. Q2 revenues were up 40% from the same quarter last year, which offset over $4bn in incremental covid-1 related costs. Lastly, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, had falling revenues for the first time as companies lowered ad-spend during the pandemic. That resulted in shares trading flat after market.

Staying with this theme, yesterday we highlighted Amazon in a Chart of the Day (link here), where we showed how its recent rise has coincided with more Americans buying online than ever before during the pandemic. We’re keen to see whether this trend will continue so we've set up a 10 second survey to gauge the frequency of your Amazon purchases pre-, during and (likely) post pandemic. All responses welcome including those who don’t use or are unlikely to do so going forward.

Unsurprisingly, NASDAQ futures are trading well overnight, up +0.81% while S&P 500 futures are up a more modest +0.20%. It’s a more mixed picture in Asia however where gains for the Hang Seng (+0.22%) have been offset by moves lower for the Shanghai Comp (-0.05%), Kospi (-0.20%) and most notably, the Nikkei (-2.15%) and ASX (-1.88%). The underperformance in those markets appears to be related to the latest virus data, with Tokyo expected to report more than 400 cases on Friday according to NHK, and the State of Victoria in Australia continuing to see a high number of new cases. Away from that, we've also had China’s July PMIs, where the manufacturing reading came in slightly ahead of expectations and the strongest since March (51.1 vs. 50.8 expected; 50.9 previously) and non-manufacturing slightly below (54.2 vs. 54.5 expected; 54.4 previously).

This follows a difficult day for risk but one that recovered progressively after a bad first hour of US trading and one that was back in positive territory after hours with the strong beats seen above. Sentiment initially wasn’t helped by challenging data even if the GDP weakness was well flagged and in the ballpark of expectations. On this, the US’s sharpest quarterly downturn since the 1940’s was confirmed with an annualised rate of -32.9% (vs consensus at -34.5%) or a -9.5% quarterly rate. While this is the worst data point in the official quarterly data going back to 1947, as we showed in yesterday’s second “Chart of the Day” (link here), it was not the worst over the last century. Elsewhere, yesterday’s German GDP print of -10.1% (vs. -9.0% expected) was the biggest drop in at least 50 years and is an ominous sign for the Spanish, French and Italian GDP prints due this morning. These countries had much longer lockdowns than Germany.

Investor sentiment was not helped by the initial weekly jobless claims in the US, which covered the week ending July 25. The data showed a second straight weekly increase in claims with 1.434m (vs. 1.443m expected) registered. On the continuing claims front for the previous week (ending July 18), 17.02m (vs. 16.2m expected) Americans filed to continue to receive benefits, up 867k from the week before. That was the largest weekly increase since the early part of May.

Following the expectedly bad GDP data in the US and the less expected poor continuing claims data, the S&P 500 fell -1.67% within the first half hour of US trading. However by the close the index had pared much of those loses ahead of those largest US tech companies reporting. With technology stocks leading the way, the S&P finished with a -0.39% loss on the day and the NASDAQ finished +0.43%.

European stocks dropped further and closed before the full comeback, with the STOXX 600 retreating -2.16% for the worst daily performance in over a month. The only industry group to finish higher was Travel & Leisure (+0.20%) led by Francaise des Jeux rallying +18.84% after the company announced that overall activity since mid-June had returned to a level comparable to 2019. The worst performing sector was banks (-4.26%) following Lloyds announcing a loan loss provision that cancelled out the lender’s quarterly profit, while BBVA fell after posting worse-than-expected revenues from lending and also set aside larger provisions than expected.

Whether the poor economic data yesterday in the US and Europe led to a risk-off sentiment or simply the feeling the central banks will need to do more, core sovereign bonds rallied. 10yr German bund yields fell -4.4bps to -0.54%, while US 10yr Treasuries fell -2.8bps to 0.546%, about half a basis point above all-time closing lows. US yields barely sold off as risk sentiment improved though. Elsewhere the dollar fell another -0.46%, but the drop in yields and the dollar move could not keep gold positive. The yellow metal fell (-0.72%) for the first time in 10 sessions yesterday.

There was a flurry of positive coronavirus vaccine news yesterday, though not enough to offset the negative economic data. There is also the possibility that the likelihood of a vaccine in the medium term is already priced in. Nearly 10,000 people in the UK were given a dose of the AstraZeneca and University of Oxford experimental vaccine after an early study showed promising signs in primates. In the US, Johnson & Johnson announced intent to start their phase 3 trials of its covid-19 vaccine in September. A study in Nature showed that the Johnson & Johnson candidate caused a strong protectionary immune response against the infection.

There continues to be calls for covid vigilance across Europe though, even as countries are mostly reopened. In Sweden, one of the most critiqued nations for their handling of the crisis, Prime Minister Lofven urged residents to continue working from home this autumn. Amsterdam has joined other metropolitan regions in the continent requiring face masks in public spaces where previously they were only required on public transport. While in the UK, the government announced that they have lengthened the self-isolation period for coronavirus patients to ten days from seven. Prime Minister Johnson warned citizens that the pandemic was ongoing and that other European nations are seeing “signs of a second wave of the pandemic”. Spain and France in particular have both seen an uptick in cases, with Spain reporting over 1000 infections on 2 consecutive days for the first time since the start of May. French cases are increasing by just under 1,000 a day on average over the last week, compared to under 500 per day at the end of June. The U.K. also saw its highest numbers of cases (846) since 28 June and there have been a tightening of household interactions in northern England.

These growing case numbers are still low compared to the US where cases rose by over 60,000 yesterday for the fourth day in a row. Florida reported a third straight day of record fatalities with 253 new covid-19 deaths. Arizona also saw a record rise of deaths with 172, yet 78 of those were belatedly reported numbers after prior clerical errors. Regardless, the country as a whole is seeing over 7200 deaths per week, up from the 4100 recorded at the beginning of July, but about half as bad as was seen during the height of the pandemic in April (peak of 15,400 fatalities in a week).

These data points should get Congress’s attention, as the US fiscal stimulus situation in the US becomes more fraught. The senate held a procedural vote to try and extend lapsed supplemental unemployment insurance, however Democrats held out saying that the measure should be included in comprehensive stimulus legislation. The senate is on recess until Monday, but expect negotiations over the weekend with the base case remaining a deal is done with additional unemployment benefits less than the $600 per week it was at and some aid to state and local governments to deal with the costs of the pandemic.

Lastly to the day ahead, where the highlights should be French, Italian and Euro Area preliminary Q2 GDP and CPI prints. Along with those there is Italian retail sales and a bevy of US data, including June personal income, personal spending, July MNI Chicago PMI and the final July University of Michigan sentiment. While there are no big central bank speakers, the busiest week of earnings season will end with results from Chevron, Charter Communications, Merck, AbbVie, Phillips 66, ExxonMobil, BNP Paribas, Caterpillar, Nokia, NatWest Group and Fiat Chrysler.

Read More

Continue Reading


Buried Project Veritas Recording Shows Top Pfizer Scientists Suppressed Concerns Over COVID-19 Boosters, MRNA Tech

Buried Project Veritas Recording Shows Top Pfizer Scientists Suppressed Concerns Over COVID-19 Boosters, MRNA Tech

Submitted by Liam Cosgrove




Buried Project Veritas Recording Shows Top Pfizer Scientists Suppressed Concerns Over COVID-19 Boosters, MRNA Tech

Submitted by Liam Cosgrove

Former Project Veritas & O’Keefe Media Group operative and Pfizer formulation analyst scientist Justin Leslie revealed previously unpublished recordings showing Pfizer’s top vaccine researchers discussing major concerns surrounding COVID-19 vaccines. Leslie delivered these recordings to Veritas in late 2021, but they were never published:

Featured in Leslie’s footage is Kanwal Gill, a principal scientist at Pfizer. Gill was weary of MRNA technology given its long research history yet lack of approved commercial products. She called the vaccines “sneaky,” suggesting latent side effects could emerge in time.

Gill goes on to illustrate how the vaccine formulation process was dramatically rushed under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization and adds that profit incentives likely played a role:

"It’s going to affect my heart, and I’m going to die. And nobody’s talking about that."

Leslie recorded another colleague, Pfizer’s pharmaceutical formulation scientist Ramin Darvari, who raised the since-validated concern that repeat booster intake could damage the cardiovascular system:

None of these claims will be shocking to hear in 2024, but it is telling that high-level Pfizer researchers were discussing these topics in private while the company assured the public of “no serious safety concerns” upon the jab’s release:

Vaccine for Children is a Different Formulation

Leslie sent me a little-known FDA-Pfizer conference — a 7-hour Zoom meeting published in tandem with the approval of the vaccine for 5 – 11 year-olds — during which Pfizer’s vice presidents of vaccine research and development, Nicholas Warne and William Gruber, discussed a last-minute change to the vaccine’s “buffer” — from “PBS” to “Tris” — to improve its shelf life. For about 30 seconds of these 7 hours, Gruber acknowledged that the new formula was NOT the one used in clinical trials (emphasis mine):

“The studies were done using the same volume… but contained the PBS buffer. We obviously had extensive consultations with the FDA and it was determined that the clinical studies were not required because, again, the LNP and the MRNA are the same and the behavior — in terms of reactogenicity and efficacy — are expected to be the same.

According to Leslie, the tweaked “buffer” dramatically changed the temperature needed for storage: “Before they changed this last step of the formulation, the formula was to be kept at -80 degrees Celsius. After they changed the last step, we kept them at 2 to 8 degrees celsius,” Leslie told me.

The claims are backed up in the referenced video presentation:

I’m no vaccinologist but an 80-degree temperature delta — and a 5x shelf-life in a warmer climate — seems like a significant change that might warrant clinical trials before commercial release.

Despite this information technically being public, there has been virtually no media scrutiny or even coverage — and in fact, most were told the vaccine for children was the same formula but just a smaller dose — which is perhaps due to a combination of the information being buried within a 7-hour jargon-filled presentation and our media being totally dysfunctional.

Bohemian Grove?

Leslie’s 2-hour long documentary on his experience at both Pfizer and O’Keefe’s companies concludes on an interesting note: James O’Keefe attended an outing at the Bohemian Grove.

Leslie offers this photo of James’ Bohemian Grove “GATE” slip as evidence, left on his work desk atop a copy of his book, “American Muckraker”:

My thoughts on the Bohemian Grove: my good friend’s dad was its general manager for several decades. From what I have gathered through that connection, the Bohemian Grove is not some version of the Illuminati, at least not in the institutional sense.

Do powerful elites hangout there? Absolutely. Do they discuss their plans for the world while hanging out there? I’m sure it has happened. Do they have a weird ritual with a giant owl? Yep, Alex Jones showed that to the world.

My perspective is based on conversations with my friend and my belief that his father is not lying to him. I could be wrong and am open to evidence — like if boxer Ryan Garcia decides to produce evidence regarding his rape claims — and I do find it a bit strange the club would invite O’Keefe who is notorious for covertly filming, but Occam’s razor would lead me to believe the club is — as it was under my friend’s dad — run by boomer conservatives the extent of whose politics include disliking wokeness, immigration, and Biden (common subjects of O’Keefe’s work).

Therefore, I don’t find O’Keefe’s visit to the club indicative that he is some sort of Operation Mockingbird asset as Leslie tries to depict (however Mockingbird is a 100% legitimate conspiracy). I have also met James several times and even came close to joining OMG. While I disagreed with James on the significance of many of his stories — finding some to be overhyped and showy — I never doubted his conviction in them.

As for why Leslie’s story was squashed… all my sources told me it was to avoid jail time for Veritas executives.

Feel free to watch Leslie’s full documentary here and decide for yourself.

Fun fact — Justin Leslie was also the operative behind this mega-viral Project Veritas story where Pfizer’s director of R&D claimed the company was privately mutating COVID-19 behind closed doors:

Tyler Durden Tue, 03/12/2024 - 13:40

Read More

Continue Reading


Association of prenatal vitamins and metals with epigenetic aging at birth and in childhood

“[…] our findings support the hypothesis that the intrauterine environment, particularly essential and non-essential metals, affect epigenetic aging…



“[…] our findings support the hypothesis that the intrauterine environment, particularly essential and non-essential metals, affect epigenetic aging biomarkers across the life course.”

Credit: 2024 Bozack et al.

“[…] our findings support the hypothesis that the intrauterine environment, particularly essential and non-essential metals, affect epigenetic aging biomarkers across the life course.”

BUFFALO, NY- March 12, 2024 – A new research paper was published in Aging (listed by MEDLINE/PubMed as “Aging (Albany NY)” and “Aging-US” by Web of Science) Volume 16, Issue 4, entitled, “Associations of prenatal one-carbon metabolism nutrients and metals with epigenetic aging biomarkers at birth and in childhood in a US cohort.”

Epigenetic gestational age acceleration (EGAA) at birth and epigenetic age acceleration (EAA) in childhood may be biomarkers of the intrauterine environment. In this new study, researchers Anne K. Bozack, Sheryl L. Rifas-Shiman, Andrea A. Baccarelli, Robert O. Wright, Diane R. Gold, Emily Oken, Marie-France Hivert, and Andres Cardenas from Stanford University School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Columbia University, and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai investigated the extent to which first-trimester folate, B12, 5 essential and 7 non-essential metals in maternal circulation are associated with EGAA and EAA in early life. 

“[…] we hypothesized that OCM [one-carbon metabolism] nutrients and essential metals would be positively associated with EGAA and non-essential metals would be negatively associated with EGAA. We also investigated nonlinear associations and associations with mixtures of micronutrients and metals.”

Bohlin EGAA and Horvath pan-tissue and skin and blood EAA were calculated using DNA methylation measured in cord blood (N=351) and mid-childhood blood (N=326; median age = 7.7 years) in the Project Viva pre-birth cohort. A one standard deviation increase in individual essential metals (copper, manganese, and zinc) was associated with 0.94-1.2 weeks lower Horvath EAA at birth, and patterns of exposures identified by exploratory factor analysis suggested that a common source of essential metals was associated with Horvath EAA. The researchers also observed evidence of nonlinear associations of zinc with Bohlin EGAA, magnesium and lead with Horvath EAA, and cesium with skin and blood EAA at birth. Overall, associations at birth did not persist in mid-childhood; however, arsenic was associated with greater EAA at birth and in childhood. 

“Prenatal metals, including essential metals and arsenic, are associated with epigenetic aging in early life, which might be associated with future health.”


Read the full paper: DOI: 

Corresponding Author: Andres Cardenas

Corresponding Email: 

Keywords: epigenetic age acceleration, metals, folate, B12, prenatal exposures

Click here to sign up for free Altmetric alerts about this article.


About Aging:

Launched in 2009, Aging publishes papers of general interest and biological significance in all fields of aging research and age-related diseases, including cancer—and now, with a special focus on COVID-19 vulnerability as an age-dependent syndrome. Topics in Aging go beyond traditional gerontology, including, but not limited to, cellular and molecular biology, human age-related diseases, pathology in model organisms, signal transduction pathways (e.g., p53, sirtuins, and PI-3K/AKT/mTOR, among others), and approaches to modulating these signaling pathways.

Please visit our website at​​ and connect with us:

  • Facebook
  • X, formerly Twitter
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Spotify, and available wherever you listen to podcasts


Click here to subscribe to Aging publication updates.

For media inquiries, please contact


Aging (Aging-US) Journal Office

6666 E. Quaker Str., Suite 1B

Orchard Park, NY 14127

Phone: 1-800-922-0957, option 1


Read More

Continue Reading


A beginner’s guide to the taxes you’ll hear about this election season

Everything you need to know about income tax, national insurance and more.

Cast Of Thousands/Shutterstock

National insurance, income tax, VAT, capital gains tax, inheritance tax… it’s easy to get confused about the many different ways we contribute to the cost of running the country. The budget announcement is the key time each year when the government shares its financial plans with us all, and announces changes that may make a tangible difference to what you pay.

But you’ll likely be hearing a lot more about taxes in the coming months – promises to cut or raise them are an easy win (or lose) for politicians in an election year. We may even get at least one “mini-budget”.

If you’ve recently entered the workforce or the housing market, you may still be wrapping your mind around all of these terms. Here is what you need to know about the different types of taxes and how they affect you.

The UK broadly uses three ways to collect tax:

1. When you earn money

If you are an employee or own a business, taxes are deducted from your salary or profits you make. For most people, this happens in two ways: income tax, and national insurance contributions (or NICs).

If you are self-employed, you will have to pay your taxes via an annual tax return assessment. You might also have to pay taxes this way for interest you earn on savings, dividends (distribution of profits from a company or shares you own) received and most other forms of income not taxed before you get it.

Around two-thirds of taxes collected come from people’s or business’ incomes in the UK.

2. When you spend money

VAT and excise duties are taxes on most goods and services you buy, with some exceptions like books and children’s clothing. About 20% of the total tax collected is VAT.

3. Taxes on wealth and assets

These are mainly taxes on the money you earn if you sell assets (like property or stocks) for more than you bought them for, or when you pass on assets in an inheritance. In the latter case in the UK, the recipient doesn’t pay this, it is the estate paying it out that must cover this if due. These taxes contribute only about 3% to the total tax collected.

You also likely have to pay council tax, which is set by the council you live in based on the value of your house or flat. It is paid by the user of the property, no matter if you own or rent. If you are a full-time student or on some apprenticeship schemes, you may get a deduction or not have to pay council tax at all.

Quarter life, a series by The Conversation

This article is part of Quarter Life, a series about issues affecting those of us in our 20s and 30s. From the challenges of beginning a career and taking care of our mental health, to the excitement of starting a family, adopting a pet or just making friends as an adult. The articles in this series explore the questions and bring answers as we navigate this turbulent period of life.

You may be interested in:

If you get your financial advice on social media, watch out for misinformation

Future graduates will pay more in student loan repayments – and the poorest will be worst affected

Selling on Vinted, Etsy or eBay? Here’s what you need to know about paying tax

Put together, these totalled almost £790 billion in 2022-23, which the government spends on public services such as the NHS, schools and social care. The government collects taxes from all sources and sets its spending plans accordingly, borrowing to make up any difference between the two.

Income tax

The amount of income tax you pay is determined by where your income sits in a series of “bands” set by the government. Almost everyone is entitled to a “personal allowance”, currently £12,570, which you can earn without needing to pay any income tax.

You then pay 20% in tax on each pound of income you earn (across all sources) from £12,570-£50,270. You pay 40% on each extra pound up to £125,140 and 45% over this. If you earn more than £100,000, the personal allowance (amount of untaxed income) starts to decrease.

If you are self-employed, the same rates apply to you. You just don’t have an employer to take this off your salary each month. Instead, you have to make sure you have enough money at the end of the year to pay this directly to the government.

Read more: Taxes aren't just about money – they shape how we think about each other

The government can increase the threshold limits to adjust for inflation. This tries to ensure any wage rise you get in response to higher prices doesn’t lead to you having to pay a higher tax rate. However, the government announced in 2021 that they would freeze these thresholds until 2026 (extended now to 2028), arguing that it would help repay the costs of the pandemic.

Given wages are now rising for many to help with the cost of living crisis, this means many people will pay more income tax this coming year than they did before. This is sometimes referred to as “fiscal drag” – where lower earners are “dragged” into paying higher tax rates, or being taxed on more of their income.

National insurance

National insurance contributions (NICs) are a second “tax” you pay on your income – or to be precise, on your earned income (your salary). You don’t pay this on some forms of income, including savings or dividends, and you also don’t pay it once you reach state retirement age (currently 66).

While Jeremy Hunt, the current chancellor of the exchequer, didn’t adjust income tax meaningfully in this year’s budget, he did announce a cut to NICs. This was a surprise to many, as we had already seen rates fall from 12% to 10% on incomes higher than £242/week in January. It will now fall again to 8% from April.

Read more: Budget 2024: experts explain what it means for taxpayers, businesses, borrowers and the NHS

While this is charged separately to income tax, in reality it all just goes into one pot with other taxes. Some, including the chancellor, say it is time to merge these two deductions and make this simpler for everyone. In his budget speech this year, Hunt said he’d like to see this tax go entirely. He thinks this isn’t fair on those who have to pay it, as it is only charged on some forms of income and on some workers.

I wouldn’t hold my breath for this to happen however, and even if it did, there are huge sums linked to NICs (nearly £180bn last year) so it would almost certainly have to be collected from elsewhere (such as via an increase in income taxes, or a lot more borrowing) to make sure the government could still balance its books.

A young black man sits at a home office desk with his feet up, looking at a mobile phone
Do you know how much tax you pay? Alex from the Rock/Shutterstock

Other taxes

There are likely to be further tweaks to the UK’s tax system soon, perhaps by the current government before the election – and almost certainly if there is a change of government.

Wealth taxes may be in line for a change. In the budget, the chancellor reduced capital gains taxes on sales of assets such as second properties (from 28% to 24%). These types of taxes provide only a limited amount of money to the government, as quite high thresholds apply for inheritance tax (up to £1 million if you are passing on a family home).

There are calls from many quarters though to look again at these types of taxes. Wealth inequality (the differences between total wealth held by the richest compared to the poorest) in the UK is very high (much higher than income inequality) and rising.

But how to do this effectively is a matter of much debate. A recent study suggested a one-off tax on total wealth held over a certain threshold might work. But wealth taxes are challenging to make work in practice, and both main political parties have already said this isn’t an option they are considering currently.

Andy Lymer and his colleagues at the Centre for Personal Financial Wellbeing at Aston University currently or have recently received funding for their research work from a variety of funding bodies including the UK's Money and Pension Service, the Aviva Foundation, Fair4All Finance, NEST Insight, the Gambling Commission, Vivid Housing and the ESRC, amongst others.

Read More

Continue Reading