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Tactical asset allocation — December 2020 recap

Macro update Financial markets roared back to life over December, boosted by news of potential breakthroughs on multiple COVID-19 vaccine trials. The confluence of Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca results increased […]

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Macro update

Financial markets roared back to life over December, boosted by news of potential breakthroughs on multiple COVID-19 vaccine trials. The confluence of Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca results increased investor confidence and expectations for a broad-based distribution of vaccines in the first half of 2021. Even discounting delays on the availability of the vaccine for the wider population, the immunization of healthcare workers, the elderly, and the more vulnerable parts of society should meaningfully alleviate the pressure on hospitals, and reduce the need for lockdown measures despite the absence of herd immunity. Next to their positive economic implications, these developments represent, first and foremost, a remarkable success for science and societies around the world.

This positive news flow comes at a time when the return of the virus is threatening the global recovery. While parts of the world, especially in Europe, may be experiencing a brief double dip recession in Q4 2020, financial markets are forward-looking and discounting the continuation of the recovery, considering vaccine news and ample monetary and fiscal support. The most notable shift in market performance has occurred with the long-awaited rotation from quality, momentum, and large-cap equities into value, mid-cap, and small-cap equities. We have been positioned for this rotation since June, and held on to it despite the noteworthy underperformance during the summer months. This rotation started in October, supported by a modest bear steepening in the yield curve, and sharply accelerated in November with positive vaccine news. Increasing investor confidence on a normalization of the economic cycle, particularly a recovery in face-to-face sectors, has benefited value and (small) size factors given higher operating leverage and higher sensitivity to the economic cycle compared to large-cap, quality, and low-volatility stocks. This shift has led to a reversal in the momentum factor, and in the relative performance between sectors that benefited the most during the pandemic, namely technology, health care, and communication services, versus sectors that were negatively impacted by lockdowns such as energy, industrials, materials, and financials. We expect these trends to continue.

Based on our macro regime framework, we expect the global recovery to continue, with emerging markets (EM) to expand and grow above trend and developed markets to follow soon after as they approach trend growth. Within the developed world, Europe is lagging given the more stringent lockdown measures following the second wave.

Figure 1: Leading economic indicators and market sentiment suggest the global recovery continues, despite rising infection rates and renewed lockdowns in part of the world.

Source: Bloomberg L.P., MSCI, Citi, Barclays, JPMorgan, Invesco Investment Solutions research and calculations, from January 1992 to December 2020. The Global Risk Appetite Cycle Indicator (GRACI) is a proprietary measure of the markets’ risk sentiment. A GRACI level above (below) zero suggests above (below) trend risk sentiment.

Investment positioning

Despite the large moves in global financial markets, we implemented no meaningful change in December to our asset allocation. We expect the global recovery to continue and anticipate a supportive environment for equity and credit premia, cyclical factors, and risk assets more broadly.

We maintain a higher risk posture than our benchmark1 in the Global Tactical Asset Allocation model, sourced through an overweight exposure to equities and credit at the expense of government bonds. In particular:

Within equities, we hold large tilts in favor of emerging markets compared to developed markets, driven by favorable cyclical conditions, improving risk appetite, attractive local asset valuations, and a depreciating US dollar. We are neutral between US and developed ex-US equities, as per the change implemented in our last update, given the weaker growth momentum in Europe. However, it is worth noting the meaningful outperformance in European equites over the past month, which we attribute to the “value characteristics” of this market compared to the US, benefiting from the style rotation discussed above. We are capturing this rotation theme within US equities and continue to hold tilts in favor of value and (small) size factors, at the expense of quality, low volatility, and momentum equities (Figure 3). 

In fixed income, we maintain an overweight exposure to US high yield credit and emerging markets sovereign dollar debt at the expense of investment grade corporate credit and government bonds. We remain constructive on risky credit despite the steady compression in spreads since March. As the cycle matures, moving from a recovery to an expansion regime, financial markets volatility tends to decline, turning the investment case for credit from capital appreciation (i.e., spread compression) to income generation. Finally, we favor US Treasuries over other developed government bond markets. Overall, we are overweight credit risk2 and moderately underweight duration versus the benchmark. 

In currency markets, we maintain an overweight exposure to foreign currencies, positioning for long-term US dollar depreciation. Within developed markets we favor the euro, the Canadian dollar, and the Norwegian kroner. In emerging markets, we favor the Indian rupee, the Indonesian rupiah, and the Russian ruble.

Figure 2: Relative tactical asset allocation positioning

Source: Invesco Investment Solutions, Nov. 30, 2020. For illustrative purposes only. DM = developed markets. FX = foreign exchange.

Figure 3: Regime-dependent factor exposures – Dynamic (shaded) versus benchmark (black)

For illustrative purposes only. Invesco, Benchmark (Russell 1000 Index), Dynamic (US Large Cap Dynamic Multifactor Model), Jan. 31, 1989 to June 30, 2020. Most recent data available. Spider plots for the four regime portfolios, reflecting the factor exposures for their excess returns versus the benchmark.
 
1 Source: Global 60/40 benchmark (60% MSCI ACWI / 40% Bloomberg Barclays Global Agg USD Hedged). Holdings are subject to change and are not buy/sell recommendations.
2 Credit risk defined as DTS (duration times spread)

Important information

Blog header image: Gokhun Guneyhan / Unsplash

The yield curve plots interest rates, at a set point in time, of bonds having equal credit quality but differing maturity dates to project future interest rate changes and economic activity.

The Russell 1000® Index, a trademark/service mark of the Frank Russell Co.®, is an unmanaged index considered representative of large-cap stocks.

The MSCI ACWI Index is an unmanaged index considered representative of large- and mid-cap stocks across developed and emerging markets. The index is computed using the net return, which withholds applicable taxes for non-resident investors.

The Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index considered representative of the global investment-grade, fixed-rate bond market.

A value style of investing is subject to the risk that the valuations never improve or that the returns will trail other styles of investing or the overall stock markets.

The risks of investing in securities of foreign issuers, including emerging market issuers, can include fluctuations in foreign currencies, political and economic instability, and foreign taxation issues.

Stocks of small and mid-sized companies tend to be more vulnerable to adverse developments, may be more volatile, and may be illiquid or restricted as to resale.

Fixed-income investments are subject to credit risk of the issuer and the effects of changing interest rates. Interest rate risk refers to the risk that bond prices generally fall as interest rates rise and vice versa. An issuer may be unable to meet interest and/or principal payments, thereby causing its instruments to decrease in value and lowering the issuer’s credit rating.

Junk bonds involve a greater risk of default or price changes due to changes in the issuer’s credit quality. The values of junk bonds fluctuate more than those of high quality bonds and can decline significantly over short time periods.

In general, stock values fluctuate, sometimes widely, in response to activities specific to the company as well as general market, economic and political conditions.

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Government

40,000 National Guard Troops Face Unemployment As Vaccine Deadline Imminent

40,000 National Guard Troops Face Unemployment As Vaccine Deadline Imminent

Up to 40,000 Army National Guard troops – around 13% of the force…

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40,000 National Guard Troops Face Unemployment As Vaccine Deadline Imminent

Up to 40,000 Army National Guard troops - around 13% of the force - could be fired for not getting the mandated COVID-19 vaccine (which has limited efficacy against Omicron, doesn't stop transmission, has been linked to elevated heart problems, and has been mandated for a healthy demographic that rarely dies of the disease).

Michigan Army National Guard Sgt. Mark Abbott administers a COVID-19 vaccine

Guard soldiers have until Thursday to get the jab, according to the Associated Press, which notes that between 20% and 30% of Guard soldiers in six states remain unvaccinated.

"We’re going to give every soldier every opportunity to get vaccinated and continue their military career. Every soldier that is pending an exemption, we will continue to support them through their process," Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen, director of the Army National Guard, told AP. "We’re not giving up on anybody until the separation paperwork is signed and completed. There’s still time."

Last year, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered all service members to get the vaccine, with different branches maintaining different deadlines for the jab. The Army National Guard was given the maximum amount of time, largely because its roughly 330,000 soldiers are scattered throughout the country, including remote locations.

The Army Guard’s vaccine percentage is the lowest among the U.S. military — with all the active-duty Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps at 97% or greater and the Air Guard at about 94%. The Army reported Friday that 90% of Army Reserve forces were partially or completely vaccinated.

The Pentagon has said that after June 30, Guard members won’t be paid by the federal government when they are activated on federal status, which includes their monthly drill weekends and their two-week annual training period. Guard troops mobilized on federal status and assigned to the southern border or on COVID-19 missions in various states also would have to be vaccinated or they would not be allowed to participate or be paid. -AP

Complicating matters is a rule that Guard soldiers deployed on state active duty may not require a vaccination, depending on state-level mandates. 

According to the report, at least seven governors have asked Austin to reconsider, or drop, the vaccine mandate for National Guard members - with some having filed or joined lawsuits to that end.

Austin, apparently following his own special brand of science, told them to pound sand, saying that Covid-19 "takes our service members out of the fight, temporarily or permanently, and jeopardizes our ability to meet mission requirements," adding that troops will either need to get vaccinated or lose their Guard status.

"When you’re looking at, 40,000 soldiers that potentially are in that unvaccinated category, absolutely there’s readiness implications on that and concerns associated with that," said Jenson, adding "That's a significant chunk." 

AP reports that around 85% of Army Guard soldiers are fully vaccinated, while 87% are at least partially vaccinated.

Tyler Durden Sun, 06/26/2022 - 18:00

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Government

CDC Confirmed Post-Vaxx Death From Blood-Clotting Two Weeks Before Alerting Public: Emails

CDC Confirmed Post-Vaxx Death From Blood-Clotting Two Weeks Before Alerting Public: Emails

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times…

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CDC Confirmed Post-Vaxx Death From Blood-Clotting Two Weeks Before Alerting Public: Emails

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

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed in late 2021 that a person died from blood clotting after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine that had been linked with an increased risk of blood clotting, but did not alert the public for two weeks, newly obtained emails show.

A general view of the Centers for Disease Control headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., on April 23, 2020. (Tami Chappell/AFP via Getty Images)

Dr. Tom Shimabukuro, a CDC official, told colleagues at the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Dec. 2, 2021, “We have confirmed a 9th TTS death following Janssen vaccination,” according to emails obtained by The Epoch Times through a Freedom of Information Act request.

TTS refers to thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, a condition that features low platelet levels combined with blood clots.

Officials had recommended a nationwide pause on the administration of the vaccine, produced by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) subsidiary Janssen, in April 2021 after six women experienced TTS after J&J vaccination and three died. But they lifted the pause after determining the vaccine remained safe and effective.

The condition was not discussed much in the ensuing months, despite the CDC later reporting that five additional deaths occurred before Aug. 31, 2021. Shimabukuro gave a single update, in mid-October 2021, saying five total deaths had been reported.

That was until December 2021. Twelve days after Shimabukuro alerted colleagues of the ninth death, the FDA urged healthcare workers not to administer the vaccine to people with certain conditions because of the TTS risk. Two days after that, Dr. Isaac See, another CDC official, informed the public during a meeting that nine deaths had occurred post-vaccination.

It’s unclear when the CDC learned of the sixth, seventh, and eighth deaths.

The CDC takes reports made to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System and attempts to confirm the reports, including post-vaccination deaths. A higher number of post-vaccination TTS deaths have been reported to the system than the number the CDC has verified.

One day after Shimabukuro confirmed the ninth death, his message was forwarded by Dr. Amanda Cohn, another CDC official, to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

“See below, information on a 9th completely tragic death from TTS,” Cohn wrote.

Many thanks for letting us know … any tragic case,” Walensky responded.

The emails were partially redacted; one was fully redacted.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Sun, 06/26/2022 - 15:30

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Innovation Pharmaceuticals Inc (OTCMKTS: IPIX) Breaking Out as Biotech Reports Brilacidin Inhibits Omicron, Delta, Gamma and Alpha SARS-CoV-2 Variants Based on In Vitro Testing

Innovation Pharmaceuticals Inc (OTCMKTS: IPIX) is moving steadily northbound with power after the Company reported Brilacidin, its defensin-mimetic drug…

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Innovation Pharmaceuticals Inc (OTCMKTS: IPIX) is moving steadily northbound with power after the Company reported Brilacidin, its defensin-mimetic drug candidate exhibiting broad-spectrum antiviral activity, inhibited the Omicron and Delta variants of SARS-CoV-2 based on in vitro testing conducted in collaboration with (NIH) and (NIAID) scientists. Researchers at Rutgers University have also shown Brilacidin inhibited in vitro the Gamma and Alpha variants of SARS-CoV-2. Brilacidin has now been tested in vitro in seven SARS-CoV-2 strains (Omicron, Delta, Gamma, Alpha, Italian, Washington, Wuhan) and three human coronavirus (H-CoV) strains (OC43, 229E, and NL63), in addition to MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-1. Brilacidin has consistently inhibited all coronaviruses tested, independent of cell type, at generally attainable systemic concentrations (based on established human pharmacokinetics of IV-administered Brilacidin).  

Emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants, and increasingly their sub-variants, contain immunity-evading mutations. These mutations alter key parts of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that attach to human cells, making the virus more transmissible and potentially more virulent. Unlike other antivirals, such as monoclonal antibodies, and most vaccines, Brilacidin has been shown not to target the Spike S1 and Spike RBD regions of SARS-CoV-2, acting instead through dual-acting neutralizing and blocking antiviral properties, able to target virus and host. These antiviral traits support Brilacidin’s ability to maintain its anti-coronavirus activity and suggest Brilacidin would be less subject to resistance. Taken together, the results from NIH/NIAID testing of Brilacidin are supportive of previously completed research and give the Company confidence in the compound’s antiviral potential. The Company remains active in pursuing additional government-based funding opportunities, as well as licensing partnerships, to advance Brilacidin in the highly attractive area of developing novel broad-spectrum medicines for treating viral diseases. Microcapdaily has been reporting on IPIX for a long time and we were there when the stock (then trading as CTIX) made a legendary run skyrocketing to $4.93 per share. 

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Innovation Pharmaceuticals Inc (OTCMKTS: IPIX) is a clinical stage pharmaceutical company developing innovative therapies with anti-infective, oncology, anti-inflammatory and dermatology applications. The Company owns the rights to Brilacidin, its lead drug in a new class of compounds called defensin-mimetics, and Kevetrin (thioureidobutyronitrile), its anti-cancer compound. Brilacidin is being studied by the Company, as well as other independent researchers, as a potential broad-spectrum antiviral therapeutic for the treatment of viruses including the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which is responsible for COVID-19. 

Brilacidin is Innovation Pharma’s lead drug candidate in its Host Defense Protein (HDP)-mimetic franchise. Brilacidin has been granted Fast Track designation by the FDA and currently is being evaluated in a randomized, placebo-controlled Phase 2 clinical trial in hospitalized COVID-19 patients (see NCT04784897). Two independent Machine Learning (AI) studies also identified Brilacidin as one of the most promising inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, based on Brilacidin’s molecular properties. Modeled after HDPs, the “front-line” of defense in the body’s innate immune system, it is a synthetic, non-peptidic small molecule that kills pathogens swiftly, significantly reducing the likelihood of drug resistance developing. Just as importantly, Brilacidin functions in a robust immunomodulatory capacity, lessening inflammation and promoting healing. 

Kevetrin is a small molecule that has demonstrated the potential of becoming a breakthrough cancer treatment by inducing activation of p53, a protein frequently referred to as the “Guardian of the Genome” due to its critical role in controlling cell mutations. In most cancers, regardless of origin, type, and location, the p53 pathway becomes inactivated (dysfunctional), thus preventing the body from performing its natural anti-tumor functions. The TP53 gene is the most studied gene of all time. Conducted at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating Kevetrin in treating Advanced Solid Tumors has been successfully completed, with patients showing good toleration and encouraging signs of potential therapeutic response. The Company has concluded its open-label, dose-escalation Phase 2a trial of Kevetrin in Platinum-Resistant/Refractory Ovarian Cancer. Highly encouraging preliminary data from the first patients treated in the trial showed modulation of the p53 protein in response to administration of Kevetrin. With a promising bioavailability profile, and to leverage its short half-life (the drug exits the body in approximately 8 to 10 hours), efforts are underway to develop Kevetrin as an oral anti-cancer agent (tablet or capsule) that can be administered daily, potentially even multiple times per day. The FDA has awarded Kevetrin Orphan Drug status for Ovarian Cancer, Pancreatic Cancer, and Retinoblastoma, qualifying it for developmental incentives and an extra 7 years of market exclusivity upon drug approval. The FDA also has granted Kevetrin Rare Pediatric Disease designation for childhood Retinoblastoma. 

Microcapdaily has been covering IPIX for years starting with CTIX back in 2015 reporting on the stocks legendary run to $4.93 per share. We stated on CTIX back in the day: “As anyone in the industry knows, regulating the p53 pathway has long been the holy grail of cancer research and big pharma has spent hundreds of millions of dollars researching ways to achieve this with no success thus far. It seems Kevetrin(TM) has accomplished this; extensive preclinical research on Kevetrin shows the re-activation of p53 across a wide spectrum of cancer lines including colon, lung, breast and pancreatic cancers. The market potential for Kevetrin in treating drug-resistant cancers is worth $5 billion a year. Other cancers could easily represent an additional $5 billion annually, he adds.”

IPIX has established a valuable intellectual property portfolio: 

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IPIX

On June 23 IPIX reported Brilacidin, the Company’s defensin-mimetic drug candidate exhibiting broad-spectrum antiviral activity, inhibited the Omicron (B.1.1.529) and Delta (B.1.617.2) variants of SARS-CoV-2 based on in vitro testing conducted in collaboration with National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) scientists. Researchers at Rutgers University have also shown Brilacidin inhibited in vitro the Gamma (P.1) and Alpha (B.1.1.7) variants of SARS-CoV-2. Brilacidin has now been tested in vitro in seven SARS-CoV-2 strains (Omicron, Delta, Gamma, Alpha, Italian, Washington, Wuhan) and three human coronavirus (H-CoV) strains (OC43, 229E, and NL63), in addition to MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-1. Brilacidin has consistently inhibited all coronaviruses tested, independent of cell type, at generally attainable systemic concentrations (based on established human pharmacokinetics of IV-administered Brilacidin). Identifying COVID-19 countermeasures with novel mechanisms of action is vital. SARS-CoV-2 continues to evolve at an accelerated pace, raising questions as to what the dominant variant (or sub-variant) may be this fall and winter, when infections often spike — and if today’s COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics can maintain their effectiveness. 

Emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants, and increasingly their sub-variants, contain immunity-evading mutations. These mutations alter key parts of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that attach to human cells, making the virus more transmissible and potentially more virulent. Unlike other antivirals, such as monoclonal antibodies, and most vaccines, Brilacidin has been shown not to target the Spike S1 and Spike RBD regions of SARS-CoV-2, acting instead through dual-acting neutralizing and blocking antiviral properties, able to target virus and host. These antiviral traits support Brilacidin’s ability to maintain its anti-coronavirus activity and suggest Brilacidin would be less subject to resistance. Related, results from new NIH/NIAID in vitro testing of Brilacidin in over 20 acutely infectious viruses, and from the Brilacidin Phase 2 COVID-19 clinical trial, are being prepared for publication. Findings from the Rutgers’ Brilacidin research can be accessed at the link below1 and build on earlier published Brilacidin research conducted by scientists at George Mason University and at University of Arizona and University of California-San Francisco. 

In 2021, the Company completed a Phase 2 clinical trial of Brilacidin (NCT04784897) for treatment of moderate-to-severe COVID-19 patients. While the trial did not meet its primary endpoint in reducing time to sustained recovery through day 29, certain patient subgroups did show treatment benefits of Brilacidin for that primary endpoint. For example, patients treated early from onset of symptoms achieved sustained recovery more quickly (Brilacidin 5-dose group vs pooled placebo, p=0.03). To date, only a modicum of success has been demonstrated by any company conducting clinical trials in moderate-to-severe hospitalized cases of COVID-19. A possible reason for this may be owing to frequent changes in the standard of care with patients receiving a cocktail of fluctuating concomitant medications, which complicates the interpretation of the clinical trial data and that of the new drug candidate being evaluated. Clinical observations of COVID-19 patients treated with Brilacidin further lead us to believe that higher and more frequent dosing of Brilacidin may be more appropriate to tackle this complex disease in the hospital setting. 

Taken together, the results from NIH/NIAID testing of Brilacidin are supportive of previously completed research and give the Company confidence in the compound’s antiviral potential. The Company remains active in pursuing additional government-based funding opportunities, as well as licensing partnerships, to advance Brilacidin in the highly attractive area of developing novel broad-spectrum medicines for treating viral diseases. 

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Currently trading at an $18 million market valuation IPIX has $8.7 million in the treasury, over $11 million in assets vs. $4.5 million in total liabilities. IPIX is CTIX reincarnated and this stock can move skyrocketing to $4.93 per share back in the day; a run we reported on from the beginning. IPIX is heating up and getting noticed by investors after the Company reported Brilacidin, its defensin-mimetic drug candidate exhibiting broad-spectrum antiviral activity, inhibited the Omicron and Delta variants of SARS-CoV-2 based on in vitro testing conducted in collaboration with (NIH) and (NIAID) scientists. Researchers at Rutgers University have also shown Brilacidin inhibited in vitro the Gamma and Alpha variants of SARS-CoV-2. Brilacidin has now been tested in vitro in seven SARS-CoV-2 strains (Omicron, Delta, Gamma, Alpha, Italian, Washington, Wuhan) and three human coronavirus (H-CoV) strains (OC43, 229E, and NL63), in addition to MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-1. Brilacidin has consistently inhibited all coronaviruses tested, independent of cell type, at generally attainable systemic concentrations (based on established human pharmacokinetics of IV-administered Brilacidin). We will be updating on IPIX when more details emerge so make sure you are subscribed to Microcapdaily so you know what’s going on with IPIX.

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Disclosure: we hold no position in IPIX either long or short and we have not been compensated for this article.

The post Innovation Pharmaceuticals Inc (OTCMKTS: IPIX) Breaking Out as Biotech Reports Brilacidin Inhibits Omicron, Delta, Gamma and Alpha SARS-CoV-2 Variants Based on In Vitro Testing first appeared on Micro Cap Daily.

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