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Mould, pesticides, toxic chemical exposures reported in survey of Canadian child care professionals

Nearly half of some 2,000 professionals in child care programs across Canada report unhealthy conditions for children, according to survey data released…

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Nearly half of some 2,000 professionals in child care programs across Canada report unhealthy conditions for children, according to survey data released on national Healthy Environments for Learning Day (HELD).  

Credit: CPCHE/CCCF

Nearly half of some 2,000 professionals in child care programs across Canada report unhealthy conditions for children, according to survey data released on national Healthy Environments for Learning Day (HELD).  

Educators, support staff, administrators and others in oversight roles replied to the survey on a wide range of environmental health and sustainability topics, conducted in March and April by the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment (CPCHE) and the Canadian Child Care Federation (CCCF), in collaboration with University of Ottawa researchers.

More than two-thirds of respondents expressed concern about risks to children’s health and well-being posed by air pollution (indoor 64%; outdoor 69%), toxic chemicals in products (69%), a lack of access to nature (68%), and climate change (68%). 

More than half (53%) cited lack of funding and 45% cited lack of support from government as barriers to action to improve environmental health protection and sustainability in their program. 

The findings suggest that while child care professionals believe it is important for program settings to become healthier and more ecologically sustainable, the sector lacks the resources and supports to make needed changes. 

Against this backdrop, and to mark Healthy Environments for Learning Day, CPCHE, CCCF and more than 40 organizations across Canada jointly released a Vision for Healthy and Sustainable Child Care Environments in Canada, setting out 10 key areas for action.

Survey findings

Respondents to the national survey were asked about environmental health conditions in their child care settings. Among the findings:

  • 22% reported mould or a mouldy smell
  • 29% reported noticeable air pollution or fumes (e.g., from renovations, nearby industry, business or roadway)
  • 23% reported structural disrepair such as a leaking roof
  • 31% reported peeling paint on walls, woodwork or other surfaces
  • 33% reported windows that don’t open in rooms where children spend time
  • 30% reported having basement areas where children spend time
  • only 20% reported that their program had been tested for radon gas (a potent lung carcinogen that comes from uranium in soil and rock); 42% indicated that radon testing had not been done; 38% were unsure 
  • 29% reported excessive noise (e.g., from nearby roadway, industrial facility or airport)
  • 35% reported that their program had been affected by wildfire smoke in the past two years
  • 25% reported an insect infestation in the past year
  • 26% reported a rodent infestation in the past year
  • 22% reported pesticides used indoors on a routine basis
  • 22% reported lawn or garden pesticides/herbicides used on a routine basis

“These findings are concerning. A striking proportion of respondents are telling us about child care spaces with mould, structural disrepair, peeling paint, pest infestations, routine use of pesticides, and noticeable air contaminants from nearby traffic or industry,” says Erica Phipps, CPCHE’s Executive Director. “As a society, we need to do better than this. If we are serious about ensuring that all children in Canada get the best possible start towards lifelong health and success in learning, we need to invest in the child care settings where many spend significant portions of their formative early years.” 

“An ever-growing body of scientific research tells us that ongoing exposure to even low levels of some toxicants can permanently alter the developing brains and bodies of children,” Phipps adds. 

While 73% of respondents say there is top-level support (e.g., from the child care administrator/board/owner), interest among staff (71%), and support from families (72%) to improve environmental health and sustainability in their child care programs, action is so far limited. When queried on a host of available measures to reduce children’s exposures to toxic chemicals and pollution, conserve energy or otherwise improve the program’s ecological sustainability, the majority of respondents reported that actions were only partially implemented or not yet underway. 

Says Don Giesbrecht, CEO of the Canadian Child Care Federation: “This survey taps into the real-life experiences and knowledge of people working day-in and day-out in child care programs across Canada. We need to listen to their concerns and respond to these environmental health issues. It clearly shows why the Canada-wide child care plan is so necessary. Moving forward, more investment at the provincial/territorial and federal government levels are needed to create child care spaces that actively promote children’s health and well-being.”

A gap between commitment and capacity

“This survey speaks to the gap between commitment and capacity,” he adds. “People in our sector believe health and environment are important and want to see these changes. We just need to get the right policies and supports in place to enable it to happen.”

The results contribute to a renewed national dialogue sparked by nationwide federal-provincial/territorial child care investment agreements.

Progressive measures to improve environmental health and sustainability

Asked about a range of progressive measures to create healthier and more sustainable child care settings, respondents reported that their programs are currently taking action, including:

  • ensuring children have regular access to green/natural play space (55%)
  • reducing/avoiding the use of cleaning products that contain hazardous chemicals, other than those required to meet public health standards (45%)
  • choosing/using toys and crafts supplies that do not contain toxic chemicals (44%)
  • ensuring adequate shade (47%), 
  • minimizing the use of pesticides (49%) and 
  • ensuring a fragrance-free environment (43%)

Other measures, such as reducing vehicle idling or taking action to reduce carbon emissions, saw much lower levels of reported action. 

Across all of the potential measures, at least 1 in 10 respondents, and sometimes up to 3 in 10, reported that they are not yet doing an action but are interested. For example, 25% reported interest but not yet action to conserve energy. Similarly, 22% reported not reducing the use of plastics, but expressed interest in doing so. 

The survey findings suggest that climate change is the topic with the largest gap between level of concern and action. Only one in five respondents (20%) reported their child care program is taking action to reduce carbon emissions/address climate change, the lowest response rate across all measures surveyed. Yet, more than two-thirds (68%) of respondents indicated that they are very or somewhat concerned about the impact of climate change on children’s current and future health and well-being.

Additional survey insights:

Action on COVID

Surprisingly, fewer than half (46%) of respondents said that their child care program had taken measures to increase ventilation or otherwise improve indoor air quality in response to the COVID pandemic. Among the respondents who reported measures had been taken, opening windows more frequently was the most commonly cited action (67%), followed by use of portable (e.g., HEPA) air cleaning devices (53%). As a concerning indicator that information on safe and effective measures is not reaching practitioners, nearly one in twelve respondents (7%) reported the use of ozone air purifiers, devices for which Health Canada issued an interim order in 2021 to avoid use due to health risks. Similarly, 12% of respondents reported use of “fogging” devices that propel disinfecting/sanitizing chemicals into the air, a concerning practice that can increase inhalation of such chemicals by children and staff, and that is not known to be an effective means of reducing COVID transmission. 

Not all child care settings are equal

Child care professionals who indicated that the majority of children in their care are living in low-income circumstances were more likely to report unhealthy conditions in their programs. Respondents working in programs in which a majority of children are on low income were more likely to report structural disrepair, lead in water supply pipes, recent insect and/or rodent infestation, mould or mouldy smell, excessive moisture, peeling paint, noticeable air pollution and/or excessive noise from a nearby roadway, industrial facility or other source, and the use of artificial air fresheners, among others. 

Unregulated/unlicensed status was also significantly correlated with respondent-reported structural disrepair, having windowless rooms where children spend time, recent rodent infestation, routine use of pesticides indoors, use of cleaning/sanitizing/disinfecting chemicals in close proximity to children, and lack of natural vegetation in outdoor play areas. 

Conversely, respondents who reported that their child care program has outdoor spaces with natural vegetation were more likely to be working in regulated child care, and in programs serving a low proportion of children who live on low income, are visible minorities or who speak a language other than English or French at home.

Respondents working in regulated child care were more likely to report that their program had taken measures to improve ventilation and air quality in response to the COVID pandemic.

Child health consequences

There is ever-increasing scientific evidence that children’s exposures to toxic chemicals and pollutants, prenatally and in childhood, adversely affect their cognitive development, contribute to learning and behavioural challenges, and affect their educational pathways and lifelong health trajectories (Bennett et al, 2016). 

Early environmental exposure to pollutants and toxic chemicals are implicated in the development of chronic diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases (Clark et al, 2020; Cooper et al, 2011).

CPCHE and CCCF launch online resource for child care professionals

In the lead-up to Healthy Environments for Learning Day, CPCHE and CCCF launched an online information hub and checklist offering child care professionals a host of practical tips and supporting information to improve environmental health and ecological sustainability in their programs. Survey findings indicate that such supports are needed: nearly nine out of 10 survey respondents expressed interest in using such a resource; 47% cited the lack of information, guidance and training as a current barrier to action. 

Towards a national vision of healthy and sustainable child care environments

To further mark national Healthy Environments for Learning Day, CPCHE, CCCF and more than 40 organizations across Canada released Healthy and Sustainable Child Care Environments: A Vision for Canada. 

It outlines 10 priority actions, including reducing toxic exposures, fostering children’s access to natural play spaces, creating culturally inclusive settings, and taking action on climate change through building design/operations, energy conservation and uptake of renewable energy sources. 

“I fully believe that Canada can achieve a world-class child care system that supports all children to thrive, models best practices on climate change, and fosters the child-nature connections that we know are so important for children’s emotional well-being and their future role as environmental stewards,“ says Giesbrecht. We want to see action towards the Vision, and our sector is keen to do our part.”

Further comments on the national Vision

“Children have a right to grow up in healthy learning environments and this is why governments must give special attention to the health and safety of children as they build the new Canada-wide system of early learning and child care. Child Care Now, Canada’s national child care advocacy association, endorses the ambitious vision and recommendations for healthy and sustainable child care environments developed by the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment and the Canadian Child Care Federation. They will serve children, parents and communities for decades to come.”

  • Morna Ballantyne, Child Care Now

“Here in BC, we are recommending concrete policy changes that would advance key elements of this national vision statement. Our aim is to hasten BC’s transition to both universal child care and a clean economy in ways that improve the health and well-being of children, families, educators, and communities.” 

  • Sharon Gregson, Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC

“In an increasingly uncertain world, we need to do all we can to honour our children by creating safe and nurturing spaces in which they can learn, grow and thrive. If, as a society, we take the actions outlined in this Vision for Healthy and Sustainable Child Care Environments, we will be doing just that.”  

  • Raffi Cavoukian, Raffi Foundation for Child Honouring

“Outdoor Play Canada welcomes and supports this national Vision Statement as a framework for collective action that will guide child care settings across Canada to optimize children’s well-being. There is unequivocal evidence that children benefit from routine outdoor learning and play, and connections with nature. Investing in healthy child care settings that afford ample access to outdoor play and the natural world will benefit children today and in generations to come. This Vision Statement supports the need for jurisdictional policy amendments to allow, accommodate, facilitate and encourage outdoor play as a healthy foundational feature of child care environments and delivery systems”

  • Dr. Mark Tremblay, Chair, Outdoor Play Canada; Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute.

* * * * *

About   

The Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment (CPCHE): healthyenvironmentforkids.ca/about/

The Canadian Child Care Federation (CCCF): cccf-fcsge.ca

Healthy Environments for Learning Day (HELD): healthyschoolsday.ca


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Growing Number Of Doctors Say They Won’t Get COVID-19 Booster Shots

Growing Number Of Doctors Say They Won’t Get COVID-19 Booster Shots

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

A…

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Growing Number Of Doctors Say They Won’t Get COVID-19 Booster Shots

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

A growing number of doctors say that they will not get COVID-19 vaccine boosters, citing a lack of clinical trial evidence.

I have taken my last COVID vaccine without RCT level evidence it will reduce my risk of severe disease,” Dr. Todd Lee, an infectious disease expert at McGill University, wrote on Twitter.

A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is seen in a file photograph. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Lee was pointing to the lack of randomized clinical trial (RCT) results for the updated boosters, which were cleared in the United States and Canada in the fall of 2022 primarily based on data from experiments with mice.

Lee, who has received three vaccine doses, noted that he was infected with the Omicron virus variant—the vaccines provide little protection against infection—and described himself as a healthy male in his 40s.

Dr. Vinay Prasad, a professor of epidemiology and biostatics at the University of California, San Francisco, also said he wouldn’t take any additional shots until clinical trial data become available.

“I took at least 1 dose against my will. It was unethical and scientifically bankrupt,” he said.

Allison Krug, an epidemiologist who co-authored a study that found teenage boys were more likely to suffer heart inflammation after COVID-19 vaccination than COVID-19 infection, recounted explaining to her doctor why she was refusing a booster and said her doctor agreed with her position.

She called on people to “join the movement to demand appropriate evidence,” pointing to a blog post from Prasad.

“Pay close attention to note this isn’t anti-vaccine sentiment. This is ‘provide [hard] evidence of benefit to justify ongoing use’ which is very different. It is only fair for a 30 billion dollar a year product given to hundreds of millions,” Lee said.

Dr. Mark Silverberg, who founded the Toronto Immune and Digestive Health Institute; Kevin Bass, a medical student; and Dr. Tracy Høeg, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, joined Lee and Prasad in stating their opposition to more boosters, at least for now.

Høeg said she did not need clinical trials to know she’s not getting any boosters after receiving a two-dose primary series, adding that she took the second dose “against my will.”

I also had an adverse reaction to dose 1 moderna and, if I could do it again, I would not have had any covid vaccines,” she said on Twitter. “I was glad my parents in their 70s could get covid vaccinated but have yet to see non-confounded data to advise them about the bivalent booster. I would have liked to see an RCT for the bivalent for people their age and for adults with health conditions that put them at risk.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization to updated boosters, or bivalent shots, from Pfizer and Moderna in August 2022 despite there being no human data.

Observational data suggests the boosters provide little protection against infection and solid shielding against severe illness, at least initially.

Five months after the authorization was granted, no clinical trial data has been made available for the bivalents, which target the Wuhan strain as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron. Moderna presented efficacy estimates for a different bivalent, which has never been used in the United States, during a recent meeting. The company estimated the booster increased protection against infection by just 10 percent.

The FDA is preparing to order all Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines be replaced with the bivalents. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which issues recommendations on vaccines, continues advising virtually all Americans to get a primary series and multiple boosters.

Professor Calls for Halt to Messenger RNA Vaccines

A professor, meanwhile, became the latest to call for a halt to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are both based on messenger RNA technology.

At this point in time, all COVID mRNA vaccination program[s] should stop immediately,” Retsef Levi, a professor of operations management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a video statement. “They should stop because they completely failed to fulfill any of their advertised promise[s] regarding efficacy. And more importantly, they should stop because of the mounting and indisputable evidence that they cause unprecedented level of harm, including the death of young people and children.”

Levi was referring to post-vaccination heart inflammation, or myocarditis. The condition is one of the few that authorities have acknowledged is caused by the messenger RNA vaccines.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 19:10

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Apple Pares Much Of Drop During Earnings Call

Apple Pares Much Of Drop During Earnings Call

Update 6:00pm:  Apple has staged a remarkable reversal after hours, and erased almost the entire…

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Apple Pares Much Of Drop During Earnings Call

Update 6:00pm:  Apple has staged a remarkable reversal after hours, and erased almost the entire loss after the company said that it expects a 5% impact from FX rates in Q2, and also expects iPhone revenue growth to accelerate in Q2. CEO Tim Cook was also asked whether the move to higher ASPs for the iPhone is sustainable in light of the sharp decline in sales, and whether this will continue in a worsening economy. Cook said the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max did extremely well until the supply-chain constraints. He says this is definitely a “strong Pro cycle” and credits the new features in the device. He says he’s happy that Apple is now shipping to the demand.

Tim Cook also said that AI is critical to Apple and mentions features like crash-and-fall detection and the use of AI in features like EKG on the Apple Watch. He says AI will effect everything the company does, including all products and services.

Apple is quite bullish on India and other emerging markets, with CEO Tim Cook saying the company will soon open its first retail stores in India. He also said Apple saw marked improvement in China in December (versus November) after another round of Covid re-openings.

As Bloomberg notes, the company also stuck to a line that revenue and sales of individual product categories would have been higher if not for supply-chain constraints and issues stemming from the macroeconomic environment.

* * *

With both Amazon and Google sliding after reporting disappointing earnings and mixed guidance, it was all up to the world's biggest company, AAPL, to provide some hail mary for the tech earnings season which for better or worse is concentrated in a one hour stretch this afternoon. Alas, it was not meant to be and after missing on the top and bottom line, AAPL has joined the parade of selling and tumbled after hours due to numbers which the market was clearly not impressed with.

  • EPS $1.88 vs. $2.10 y/y, missing estimate $1.94
  • Gross margin $50.33 billion, -7.2% y/y, missing estimate $52.03 billion
  • Revenue $117.15 billion, -5.5% y/y, missing estimate $121.14 billion
    • Products revenue $96.39 billion, -7.7% y/y, missing estimate $98.98 billion
    • IPhone revenue $65.78 billion, -8.2% y/y, missing estimate $68.3 billion
    • Mac revenue $7.74 billion, -29% y/y, missing estimate $9.72 billion
    • IPad revenue $9.40 billion, +30% y/y, beating estimate $7.78 billion
    • Wearables, home and accessories $13.48 billion, -8.3% y/y, missing estimate $15.32 billion
    • Service revenue $20.77 billion, +6.4% y/y, beating estimate $20.47 billion
    • Greater China rev. $23.91 billion, -7.3% y/y, beating estimate $21.8 billion
  • Cash and cash equivalents $20.54 billion, -45% y/y, estimate $29.91 billion

And here is AAPL's diluted EPS in context: needless to say, could have been better.

Commenting on the quarter, Tim Cook said that “during the December quarter, we achieved a major milestone and are excited to report that we now have more than 2 billion active devices as part of our growing installed base.”

CFO Luca Maester chimed in: “our record September quarter results continue to demonstrate our ability to execute effectively in spite of a challenging and volatile macroeconomic backdrop. We continued to invest in our long-term growth plans, generated over $24 billion in operating cash flow, and returned over $29 billion to our shareholders during the quarter. The strength of our ecosystem, unmatched customer loyalty, and record sales spurred our active installed base of devices to a new all-time high. This quarter capped another record-breaking year for Apple, with revenue growing over $28 billion and operating cash flow up $18 billion versus last year.”

Going back to the results, Apple missed consensus revenue in most product categories, with the exception of iPads, to wit:

  • IPhone revenue $65.78 billion, missing estimate $68.3 billion
  • Mac revenue $7.74 billion, missing estimate $9.72 billion
  • Wearables, home and accessories $13.48 billion, missing estimate $15.32 billion
  • IPad revenue $9.40 billion, beating estimate $7.78 billion

Of note: Apple recorded its first decline in iPhone revenue since the third quarter of 2020; yet in context, the 8% drop was still less than the 20% decrease reported by Samsung. Other major smartphone providers that have yet to report are expecting to see double-digit losses. Ironically, Apple may have fared comparatively well on smartphone revenue.

The silver lining: service revenue $20.77 billion, +6.4% y/y, beating estimates of $20.47 billion...

... and rose 6.5% Y/Y, an improvement from last quarter's 5.0%

One other place where investors were pleasantly surprised was China sales, which at $23.91 billion, beat the estimate of $21.8 billion by more than $2 billion.

None of that changes the fact that AAPL's sales by region were uniformly negative across the board.

And another potential problem: AAPL's gross cash continues to slide, dropping to $165 billion, the lowest since June 2014...

... while cash net of debt rebounded modestly from $49 billion to $54 billion, just above a 12 year low with the company having spent hundreds of billions on stock buybacks. Let's hope that Apple doesn't actually need to use that cash.

Commenting on the results, Bloomberg writes that the results show that Apple hasn’t been able to dodge the tech slowdown afflicting many of its competitors. Demand for smartphones and computers has slumped in the past year, and Covid-19 restrictions in China added to Apple’s woes during the holiday sales period. Timing was another issue: The company didn’t launch new Macs and HomePods until recent weeks, missing the end of the first quarter.

In response to these disappointing earnings, the stock predictably slumped as much as 4% before recouping some losses, although even with the drop it is back to where it was... yesterday.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 18:05

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Apple Slides After Missing On Top And Bottom-Line, First iPhone Revenue Drop Since 2020

Apple Slides After Missing On Top And Bottom-Line, First iPhone Revenue Drop Since 2020

With both Amazon and Google sliding after reporting…

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Apple Slides After Missing On Top And Bottom-Line, First iPhone Revenue Drop Since 2020

With both Amazon and Google sliding after reporting disappointing earnings and mixed guidance, it was all up to the world's biggest company, AAPL, to provide some hail mary for the tech earnings season which for better or worse is concentrated in a one hour stretch this afternoon. Alas, it was not meant to be and after missing on the top and bottom line, AAPL has joined the parade of selling and tumbled after hours due to numbers which the market was clearly not impressed with.

  • EPS $1.88 vs. $2.10 y/y, missing estimate $1.94
  • Gross margin $50.33 billion, -7.2% y/y, missing estimate $52.03 billion
  • Revenue $117.15 billion, -5.5% y/y, missing estimate $121.14 billion
    • Products revenue $96.39 billion, -7.7% y/y, missing estimate $98.98 billion
    • IPhone revenue $65.78 billion, -8.2% y/y, missing estimate $68.3 billion
    • Mac revenue $7.74 billion, -29% y/y, missing estimate $9.72 billion
    • IPad revenue $9.40 billion, +30% y/y, beating estimate $7.78 billion
    • Wearables, home and accessories $13.48 billion, -8.3% y/y, missing estimate $15.32 billion
    • Service revenue $20.77 billion, +6.4% y/y, beating estimate $20.47 billion
    • Greater China rev. $23.91 billion, -7.3% y/y, beating estimate $21.8 billion
  • Cash and cash equivalents $20.54 billion, -45% y/y, estimate $29.91 billion

And here is AAPL's diluted EPS in context: needless to say, could have been better.

Commenting on the quarter, Tim Cook said that “during the December quarter, we achieved a major milestone and are excited to report that we now have more than 2 billion active devices as part of our growing installed base.”

CFO Luca Maester chimed in: “our record September quarter results continue to demonstrate our ability to execute effectively in spite of a challenging and volatile macroeconomic backdrop. We continued to invest in our long-term growth plans, generated over $24 billion in operating cash flow, and returned over $29 billion to our shareholders during the quarter. The strength of our ecosystem, unmatched customer loyalty, and record sales spurred our active installed base of devices to a new all-time high. This quarter capped another record-breaking year for Apple, with revenue growing over $28 billion and operating cash flow up $18 billion versus last year.”

Going back to the results, Apple missed consensus revenue in most product categories, with the exception of iPads, to wit:

  • IPhone revenue $65.78 billion, missing estimate $68.3 billion
  • Mac revenue $7.74 billion, missing estimate $9.72 billion
  • Wearables, home and accessories $13.48 billion, missing estimate $15.32 billion
  • IPad revenue $9.40 billion, beating estimate $7.78 billion

Of note: Apple recorded its first decline in iPhone revenue since the third quarter of 2020; yet in context, the 8% drop was still less than the 20% decrease reported by Samsung. Other major smartphone providers that have yet to report are expecting to see double-digit losses. Ironically, Apple may have fared comparatively well on smartphone revenue.

The silver lining: service revenue $20.77 billion, +6.4% y/y, beating estimates of $20.47 billion...

... and rose 6.5% Y/Y, an improvement from last quarter's 5.0%

One other place where investors were pleasantly surprised was China sales, which at $23.91 billion, beat the estimate of $21.8 billion by more than $2 billion.

None of that changes the fact that AAPL's sales by region were uniformly negative across the board.

Commenting on the results, Goldman writes that the results show that Apple hasn’t been able to dodge the tech slowdown afflicting many of its competitors. Demand for smartphones and computers has slumped in the past year, and Covid-19 restrictions in China added to Apple’s woes during the holiday sales period. Timing was another issue: The company didn’t launch new Macs and HomePods until recent weeks, missing the end of the first quarter.

In response to these disappointing earnings, the stock predictably slumped as much as 4% before recouping some losses, although even with the drop it is back to where it was... yesterday.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 17:01

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