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Three Environmentally Friendly Industrial Stocks to Buy for War or Peace

Three environmentally friendly industrial stocks to buy for war or peace are seeking to give birth to breakthroughs that will position them for bright…



Three environmentally friendly industrial stocks to buy for war or peace are seeking to give birth to breakthroughs that will position them for bright futures.

The three environmentally friendly industrial stocks to buy are pursuing goals such as increasing agricultural productivity, manufacturing electric-powered farming equipment and recycling fibers to produce packaging. As social consciousness aimed at protecting the environment gains support amid growing concerns about climate change, companies that provide solutions should gain staying power.

High inflation, continuing Fed rate hikes, risk of recession and Russia’s ruthless shelling of civilian targets in Ukraine this week to intensify attacks on the neighboring nation it invaded on Feb. 26 are sources of uncertainty, but none will change environmental awareness momentum. Russian’s onslaught against Ukraine is still raging, disrupting the world economy, and Europe and Asia are mired in recession, wrote Mark Skousen, a presidential fellow in economics at Chapman University, in his monthly Forecasts & Strategies investment newsletter.

“The primary negative, of course, is that the Federal Reserve is determined to slow the economy, reduce demand, and thereby bring down inflation,” Skousen opined.

Three Environmentally Friendly Industrial Stocks to Buy Face the Fed

But too much quantitative tightening, too fast, may push the United States into a recession, continued Skousen, who uses his analysis of inflation, interest rates and monetary policy in recommending stocks and options to buy in his weekly Home Run Trader advisory service. Economic statistics are showing a slowdown in the economy, but not an actual recession thus far, he added.

“Even though real gross domestic product (GDP) is slightly negative, second-quarter gross output (GO) — which measures total spending in the economy — grew by 1.7% in real terms,” Skousen stated. “GO includes the supply chain, which is still catching up from the lockdown-induced shortages.”

Mark Skousen, Forecasts & Strategies chief and Ben Franklin scion, meets Paul Dykewicz.

Three Environmentally Friendly Industrial Stocks to Buy Despite Russia’s Invasion

A big question is whether Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will persist in attacking Ukraine and its civilians, in addition to military and industrial targets. On Monday, Oct. 10, Putin-led forces unleashed terror on more than 20 cities across Ukraine with at least 84 cruise missiles and 24 drones, marking one of Russia’s largest assaults against civilians since starting what its leaders call a “special military operation.” The strikes killed at least 14 civilians and wounded dozens of others.

Russia’s shelling of hospitalsschoolsresidential areas, churchesnuclear power plantsoil refineries, a children’s playground, a park, a German consulate, a business center and a theater used as a shelter have been combined with brutal rapestorture and outright executions of Ukrainian civilians. Those acts caused many nations to place sanctions on Russia that included scaling back or severing ties with the aggressor as a producer of grain, oil and natural gas.

Investors can consider a fairly new exchange-traded fund that offers broad exposure to companies providing automation infrastructure, if not environmental awareness, said Bob Carlson, a pension fund manager who also leads the Retirement Watch investment newsletter. The fund is Gabelli Automation (GAST), which has been available only since Jan. 5, 2022.

Chart courtesy of

GAST owns only 38 stocks, and 41% of the fund is in the 10 largest positions. About 50% of the fund is in industrial companies and 24% in technology firms.

The fund is down 8.78% in the last month. GAST invests primarily in stocks listed on U.S. exchanges and looks for stocks management believes are underpriced.

Bob Carlson, investment guru of Retirement Watch, talks to Paul Dykewicz.

Three Environmentally Friendly Industrial Stocks to Buy Include AGCO

AGCO Corporation (NYSE: AGCO), an agricultural machinery manufacturer in Duluth, Georgia, is delivering a 20% increase in both farmers’ productivity and profitability, according to Chicago-based investment firm William Blair & Co. Thus, AGCO’s precision products generally offer a two-year payback, and in some cases, a one-year payback, the firm added. 

Some of AGCO’s innovation efforts focus on real-time “sense and react” in the field across an entire crop cycle, the investment firm wrote. The use of “edge processing” and “advanced sensors” will help maximize outcomes by enhancing productivity and sustainability for its customers, William Blair added.

AGCO, rated “outperform” by William Blair, intends for Fendt to be its premium brand in both North and South America, requiring a strong precision agricultural portfolio, a diverse array of solutions that work across the entire crop cycle and robust distribution and after-sales support, according to William Blair. Fent sales are expected to be $700 million in 2022, and then more than double to $1.5 billion in three to five years, with an additional goal to achieve 20% market share in North America.

Chart courtesy of

The company brings its newest equipment to the market, while the aftersales approach adds the latest technology to an existing piece of AGCO equipment. As for retrofit, the company sells advanced, agronomic solutions to farmers who want to update existing pieces of equipment with modern technology economically.

Former Money Manager Connell Also Advocates for AGCO


Michelle Connell heads Portia Capital Management, of Dallas, Texas.

Most analysts have AGCO rated to achieve upside of 30-35% in 12-18 months, Connell counseled. When AGCO reported results in July, the company beat its revenue and earnings per share estimates. However, it left its estimates for the second half of 2022 at the same levels.

Plus, the company continues to experience strong demand, with a potent order book into 2023, Connell said. Typically, at this time of year, the company does not have that strong of an order base, she added.

Unless some external factors come into play, AGCO should experience strong financials for the end of the year, as well as next year, Connell continued. Possible risks include economic exposure to the European Union (EU), as well as China, along with supply chain uncertainties. In addition, manufacturing in Europe could be affected by an upcoming energy crisis for the region this winter. However, AGCO is expected to have enough alternative energy sources in the EU to remain largely protected. Finally, the company’s stock performance has been tied to economic cycles in the past.

AGCO benefits as the population of the world increases, since it needs to grow quality food in a world of declining acreage. Companies that manufacture equipment that maximize a farm’s acreage will continue to experience high demand, Connell concluded.                     

Deere Jumps Among Three Environmentally Friendly Industrial Stocks to Buy

Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE), an environmentally oriented agricultural machinery company headquartered Moline, Illinois, halted its dividend during the pandemic but reinstituted it with a current dividend yield of 1.27%. Additional evidence of the company’s conservatism is a payout ratio of just 20% to retain cash on hand.

Deere, rated “outperform” by William Blair, also has done an “excellent job” supporting its stock price, Connell said. In the last 10 years, the company has repurchased 25% of its shares outstanding, she added.

The company is known for buying shares when valuations are low and using its cash for such purchases, Connell continued. There have been some concerns regarding Deere’s insider sales of approximately $4 million in 2022 but Connell said she is not worried.

“Executives frequently have tight windows for the sales of their shares and estate planning may also be part of the executives’ strategy,” Connell told me. “I like DE because it takes advantage of the fact that that as a population increases, the demand for affordable food increases as well.”

Deere has done a “great job” of utilizing technology with its machinery to maximize crop yield, Connell said. While the stock has held up well in a falling market, potential upside for the next 12 to 18 months could top 20%.

Chart courtesy of

Deal for Kreisel Keeps Deere Prancing with Three Environmentally Friendly Industrial Stocks to Buy

Deere & Company signed a definitive agreement to acquire majority ownership last December in Kreisel Electric, Inc., a battery technology provider based in Rainbach im Mühlkreis, Austria. Kreisel develops high-density, high-durability electric battery modules and packs. Plus, Kreisel developed a charging infrastructure platform that uses patented battery technology.

Since 2014, Kreisel has focused on the development of immersion-cooled electric battery modules and packs for high-performance and off-highway applications. Kreisel has a differentiated battery technology and battery-buffered charging infrastructure to serve a global customer base across multiple end markets, including commercial vehicles, off-highway vehicles, marine, e-motorsports and other high-performance applications.

Deere sees demand growing for batteries as a sole- or hybrid-propulsion system for off-highway vehicles. Products such as turf equipment, compact utility tractors, small tractors, compact construction and some road building equipment could rely solely on batteries as a primary power source. Deere intends to continue to invest in and develop technologies to innovate, deliver value to customers and work towards a future with zero emissions propulsion systems.

A majority investment in Kreisel Electric will allow Deere to optimally integrate vehicle and powertrain designs around high-density battery packs while leveraging Kreisel’s charging technology to build out infrastructure required for customer adoption.

Kreisel’s battery technology can be applied across the broad portfolio of Deere products to ramp up the latter company’s battery-electric vehicle portfolio. Deere will provide the global footprint and funding to enable Kreisel to continue its fast growth in core markets, said Pierre Guyot, senior vice president of John Deere Power Systems.

Kadant Canters Among Three Environmentally Friendly Industrial Stocks to Buy 

Kadant Inc. (NYSE: KAI), a Westford, Massachusetts-based global supplier of technologies and engineered systems, offers sustainable industrial processing engineering services and technologies to help its customers create more value with fewer inputs. On the horizon is a totally new recycling market for Kadant Inc.’s fiber recycling business. Indeed, fiber-based packaging for beverages and food for consumer goods have undergone extensive trials in Europe and the United States.

In 2023, two private European (Paboco and Pulpex) and one North American (Footprint) fiber-based consumer packaging companies are expected to materially accelerate the commercialization of environmentally friendly fiber-based packaging, according to William Blair. As adoption of fiber-based food and beverage packaging becomes more widespread, it will create an entirely new market for Kadant’s IP business, the investment firm wrote in a recent research note.

“Full-scale global conversion to fiber and cellulose-based packaging will take several years to become mainstream but the estimated $315 billion market for fiber to replace plastic for food and beverage packaging will create an entirely new segment for the worldwide fiber recycling market, in which Kadant holds 60-70% global market share, according to William Blair. Kadant is benefiting from three capital expansion cycles for its core businesses: a modernization cycle for sawmills for Industrial Processing (IP); a conveyance refurbishment and expansion cycle for aggregates, ore and agricultural producers at Material Handling (MH); and a new emerging market that expands fiber recycling as cellulose and fiber packaging to replace plastic containers for Flow Control (FC).

“To meet rising demand across all its end-markets, Kadant is expanding capacity in India, Finland, Mexico and Ohio, while the government in China is building Kadant a new modernized replacement plan,” William Blair wrote. “Kadant is also improving its supply chain resilience by near-shoring capacity closer to some of its largest markets such as North America and Europe. Given the company’s strong recurring revenue from parts and consumables sales –approximately 65% of sales — management noted that it would anticipate a 5% to 10% decline in parts and consumable sales in a recession, with potentially 10% to 20% lower capital equipment sales, skewed to large projects.”

Chart courtesy of

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has shifted where fertilizer and grains are being transported around the world, with incremental demand now coming from the EU to increase capacity for material handling equipment to replace Russian exports of grain, wood, mineral and more, William Blair wrote. Valuations for food production equipment businesses are elevated due to their stability but Kadant expects moderation due to increased interest rates. Expanding Kadant’s industrial business market reach and geographic penetration could further help it to leverage a capital spending renaissance that could extend until late this decade.

Three Environmentally Friendly Industrial Stocks to Buy Should Be Aided by New Bivalent Booster

Experts at Dartmouth Health recommend that everyone eligible for a new bivalent COVID-19 booster receive it to gain increased protection against the omicron BA.5 variant, which has become the predominant strain in the United States. As a resident of Maryland, I personally received a phone call from the state’s health department on Tuesday, Oct. 11, to advise me of the booster’s availability at pharmacies close to my home.

Even though COVID cases and deaths can hurt supply and demand for environmentally friendly industrial stocks, availability of a new booster to enhance the vaccine’s efficacy is a plus for these stocks. U.S. COVID-19 deaths rose more than 3,000 in the past week but less than the 4,000-plus in the previous week.

Cases in the country totaled 96,772,268, as of early Oct. 12, while deaths jumped to 1,063,310, according to Johns Hopkins University. America stands out dubiously as the country with the most COVID-19 deaths and cases.

Worldwide COVID-19 deaths in the past week rose by more than 10,000, down about 1,000 from the prior week. The number of deaths totaled 6,560,508, as of Oct. 12, according to Johns Hopkins. Global COVID-19 cases reached 622,605,453.

Roughly 79.7% of the U.S. population, or 264,562,221, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, as of Oct. 6, the CDC reported. Fully vaccinated people total 225,870,613, or 68%, of the U.S. population, according to the CDC. The United States also has given at least one COVID-19 booster vaccine to almost 110.6 million people.

The three environmentally friendly industrial stocks to buy can be purchased at discounted prices after the market’s drop so far in 2022. Even with high inflation, Russia’s war in Ukraine and rising recession risk after 0.75% rate hikes by the Fed in June, July and Sept. 21, the three environmentally friendly industrial stocks to buy appear much more resilient than economically sensitive cyclical stocks.

Paul Dykewicz,, is an accomplished, award-winning journalist who has written for Dow Jones, the Wall Street JournalInvestor’s Business DailyUSA Today, the Journal of Commerce, Seeking Alpha, Guru Focus and other publications and websites. Paul, who can be followed on Twitter @PaulDykewicz, is the editor of and, a writer for both websites and a columnist. He further is editorial director of Eagle Financial Publications in Washington, D.C., where he edits monthly investment newsletters, time-sensitive trading alerts, free e-letters and other investment reports. Paul previously served as business editor of Baltimore’s Daily Record newspaper. Paul also is the author of an inspirational book, “Holy Smokes! Golden Guidance from Notre Dame’s Championship Chaplain,” with a foreword by former national championship-winning football coach Lou Holtz. The book is great as a gift and is endorsed by Joe Montana, Joe Theismann, Ara Parseghian, “Rocket” Ismail, Reggie Brooks, Dick Vitale and many othersCall 202-677-4457 for multiple-book pricing.


The post Three Environmentally Friendly Industrial Stocks to Buy for War or Peace appeared first on Stock Investor.

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New IRS Report Provides Fascinating Glimpse Into Your “Fair Share”

New IRS Report Provides Fascinating Glimpse Into Your "Fair Share"

Authored by Simon Black via,

Every year the IRS publishes…



New IRS Report Provides Fascinating Glimpse Into Your "Fair Share"

Authored by Simon Black via,

Every year the IRS publishes a detailed report on the taxes it collects. And the statistics are REALLY interesting.

A few weeks ago the agency released its most recent report. So this is the most objective, up-to-date information that exists about taxes in America.

This is important, because, these days, it’s common to hear progressive politicians and woke mobsters calling for higher income earners and wealthier Americans to pay their “fair share” of taxes.

But this report, directly from the US agency whose job it is to tax Americans, shows the truth:

The top 1% of US taxpayers paid 48% of total US income taxes.

And that’s just at the federal level, not even counting how much of the the local and state taxes the wealthy paid.

Further, the top 10% paid nearly 72% of total income taxes.

Meanwhile, the bottom 40% of US income tax filers paid no net income tax at all. And the next group, those making between $30-$50,000 per year, paid an effective rate of just 1.9%.

(Again, this is not some wild conspiracy theory; these numbers are directly from IRS data.)

But the fact that 10% of the taxpayers foot nearly three-fourths of the tax bill still isn’t enough for the progressive mob. They want even more.

The guy who shakes hands with thin air, for example, recently announced that he wants to introduce a new law that would create a minimum tax of 25% on the highest income earners.

But the government’s own statistics show that the highest income earners in America— those earning more than $10 million annually— paid an average tax rate of 25.5%. That’s higher than Mr. Biden’s 25% minimum.

So he is essentially proposing an unnecessary solution in search of a problem.

I bring this up because whenever you hear the leftist Bolsheviks in government and media talking about “fair share”, they always leave out what exactly the “fair share” is.

The top 1% already pay nearly half the taxes. Exactly how much more will be enough?

Should the top 1% pay 60% of all taxes? 80%? At what point will it be enough?

They never say. They’ll never commit to a number. They just keep expanding their thinking scope.

Elizabeth Warren, for example, quite famously stopped talking about the “top 1%” and started whining about the “top 5%”. And then the “top 10%”.

She has already decided that the top 5% of wealthy households should not be eligible for student loan forgiveness or Medicare.

And when she talks about “accountable capitalism” on her website, Warren calls out the top 10% for having too much wealth, compared to the rest of households.

Soon enough it will be the “top 25%” who are the real problem…

Honestly this whole way of thinking reminds me of Anthony “the Science” Fauci’s pandemic logic on lockdowns and mask mandates.

You probably remember how reporters always asked “the Science” when life could go back to normal… and he always replied that it was a function of vaccine uptake, i.e. whenever enough Americans were vaccinated.

But then he kept moving the goal posts. 50%. 60%. 70%. It was never enough. And there was never a concrete answer.

This same logic applies to what the “experts” believe is the “fair share” of taxes which the top whatever percent should pay.

They’ll never actually say what the fair share is. But my guess is that they won’t stop until 100% of taxes are paid by the top 10% … and the other 100% of taxes are paid by the other 90%.

Tyler Durden Wed, 03/29/2023 - 11:25

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Financial Stress Continues to Recede

Overview: Financial stress continues to recede. The Topix bank index is up for the second consecutive session and the Stoxx 600 bank index is recovering…



Overview: Financial stress continues to recede. The Topix bank index is up for the second consecutive session and the Stoxx 600 bank index is recovering for the third session. The AT1 ETF is trying to snap a four-day decline. The KBW US bank index rose for the third consecutive session yesterday. More broadly equity markets are rallying. The advance in the Asia Pacific was led by tech companies following Alibaba's re-organization announcement. The Hang Seng rose by over 2% and the index of mainland shares rose by 2.2%. Europe's Stoxx 600 is up nearly 1% and US index futures are up almost the same. Benchmark 10-year yields are mostly 1-3 bp softer in Europe and the US.

The dollar is mixed. The Swiss franc is leading the advancers (~+0.3%) while euro, sterling and the Canadian dollar are posting small gains. The Japanese yen is the weakest of the majors (~-0.6%). The antipodeans and Scandis are also softer. A larger than expected decline in Australia's monthly CPI underscores the likelihood that central bank joins the Bank of Canada in pausing monetary policy when it meets next week. Most emerging market currencies are also firmer today, and the JP Morgan Emerging Market Currency Index is higher for the third consecutive session. Gold is softer within yesterday's $1949-$1975 range. The unexpectedly large drop in US oil inventories (~6 mln barrels according to report of API's estimate, which if confirmed by the EIA later today would be the largest drawdown in four months) is helping May WTI extend its gains above $74 a barrel. Recall that it had fallen below $65 at the start of last week.

Asia Pacific

The US dollar is knocking on the upper end of its band against the Hong Kong dollar, raising the prospect of intervention by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. It appears to be driven by the wide rate differential between Hong Kong and dollar rates (~3.20% vs. ~4.85%). Although the HKMA tracks the Fed's rate increases, the key is not official rates but bank rates, and the large banks have not fully passed the increase. Reports suggest some of the global banks operating locally have raised rates a fraction of what HKMA has delivered. The root of the problem is not a weakness but a strength. Hong Kong has seen an inflow of portfolio and speculative capital seeking opportunities to benefit from the mainland's re-opening.  Of course, from time-to-time some speculators short the Hong Kong dollar on ideas that the peg will break. It is an inexpensive wager. In fact, it is the carry trade. One is paid well to be long the US dollar. Pressure will remain until this consideration changes. Eventually, the one-country two-currencies will eventually end, but it does not mean it will today or tomorrow. As recently as last month, the HKMA demonstrated its commitment to the peg by intervening. Pressure on the peg has been experienced since last May and in this bout, the HKMA has spent around HKD280 defending it (~$35 bln).

The US and Japan struck a deal on critical minerals, but the key issue is whether it will be sufficient to satisfy the American congress that the executive agreement is sufficient to benefit from the tax- credits embodied in the Inflation Reduction Act. The Biden administration is negotiating a similar agreement with the EU. The problem is that some lawmakers, including Senator Manchin, have pushed back that it violates the legislature's intent on the restrictions of the tax credit. Manchin previously threatened legislation that would force the issue. The US Trade Representative Office can strike a deal for a specific sector without approval of Congress, but that specific sector deal (critical minerals) cannot then meet the threshold of a free-trade agreement to secure the tax incentives. 

The Japanese yen is the weakest of the major currencies today, dragged lower by the nearly 20 bp rise in US 10-year yields this week and the end of the fiscal year related flows. Some dollar buying may have been related to the expirations of a $615 mln option today at JPY131.75. The greenback tested the JPY130.40 support we identified yesterday and rebounded to briefly trade above JPY132.00 today, a five-day high.  However, the session high may be in place and support now is seen in the JPY131.30-50 band. Softer than expected Australian monthly CPI (6.8% vs. 7.4% in January and 7.2% median forecast in Bloomberg's survey) reinforced ideas that the central bank will pause its rate hike cycle next week. The Australian dollar settled near session highs above $0.6700 in North America yesterday and made a margin new high before being sold. It reached a low slightly ahead of $0.6660 in early European turnover. The immediate selling pressure looks exhausted and a bounce toward $0.6680-90 looks likely. On the downside, note that there are options for A$680 mln that expire today at $0.6650. In line with the developments in the Asia Pacific session today, the US dollar is firmer against the Chinese yuan. However, it held below the high seen on Monday (~CNY6.8935). The dollar's reference rate was set at CNY6.8771, a bit lower than the median projection in Bloomberg's forecast (~CNY6.8788). The sharp decline in the overnight repo to its lowest since early January reflect the liquidity provisions by the central bank into the quarter-end.


Reports suggest regulators are finding that one roughly 5 mln euro trade on Deutsche Bank's credit-default swaps last Friday, was the likely trigger of the debacle. The bank's market cap fell by1.6 bln euros and billions more off the bank share indices. Then there is the US Treasury market, where the measure of volatility (MOVE) has softened slightly from last week when it rose to the highest level since the Great Financial Crisis. While the wide intraday ranges of the US two-year note have been noted, less appreciated are the large swings in the German two-year yield. Before today, last session with less than a 10 bp range was March 8. In the dozen sessions since, the yield has an average daily range of around 27 bp. The rapid changes and opaque liquidity in some markets leading to dramatic moves challenges the price discovery process. The speed of movement seems to have accelerated, and reports that Silicon Valley Bank lost $40 bln of deposits in a single day.

Italy's Meloni government will tap into a 21 bln euro reserve in the budget to give a three-month extension of help to low-income families cope with higher energy bills but eliminate it for others. It is projected to cost almost 5 billion euros. The energy subsidies have cost about 90 mln euros. Most Italian families are likely to see higher energy bills, though gas will still have a lower VAT. Meloni also intends to adjust corporate taxes to better target them and cost less. Separately, the government is reportedly considering reducing or eliminating the VAT on basic food staples. Meanwhile, the EU is delaying a 19 bln euro distribution to Italy from the pandemic recovery fund. The aid is conditional on meeting certain goals. The EU is extending its assessment phase to review a progress on a couple projects, licensing of port activities, and district heating. These are tied to the disbursement for the end of last year. The EU acknowledged there has been "significant" progress. Italy has received about a third of the 192 bln euros earmarked for it. Despite the volatile swings in the yields, Italy's two-year premium over Germany is within a few basis points of the Q1 average (~46 bp). The same is true of the 10-year differential, which has averaged about 187 bp this year. 

After slipping lower in most of the Asia Pacific session, the euro caught a bid late that carried into the European session and lifted it to session highs near $1.0855. The session low was set slightly below $1.0820 and there are nearly 1.6 bln euros in option expirations today between two strikes ($1.0780 and $1.0800). Recall that on two separate occasions last week, the euro be repulsed from intraday moves above $1.09. A retest today seems unlikely, but the price actions suggest underlying demand. Sterling has also recovered from the slippage seen early in Asia that saw it test initial support near $1.2300. Yesterday, it took out last week's high by a few hundredths of a cent, did so again today rising to slightly above $1.2350. However, here too, the intraday momentum indicators look stretched, cautioning North American participants from looking for strong follow-through buying.


What remains striking is the divergence between the market and the Federal Reserve. On rates they are one way. Fed Chair Powell was unequivocal last week. A pause had been considered, but no one was talking about a rate cut this year. The market is pricing in a 4.72% average effective Fed funds rate in July. On the outlook for the economy this year, they are the other way. The median Fed forecast was for the economy to grow by 0.4% this year. The median forecast in Bloomberg's survey anticipated more than twice the growth and projects 1.0% growth this year. As of the end of last week, the Atlanta Fed sees the US expanding by 3.2% this quarter (it will be updated Friday). The median in Bloomberg's survey is half as much. 

The US goods deficit in February was a little more than expected and some of the imports appeared to have gone into wholesale inventories, which unexpectedly rose (0.2% vs. -0.1% median forecast in Bloomberg's survey). Retail inventories jumped 0.8%, well above the 0.2% expected and biggest increase since last August. Given the strength of February retail sales (0.5% for the measure that excludes autos, gasoline, food services and building materials, after a 2.3% rise in January), the increase in retail inventories was likely desired. FHFA houses prices unexpectedly rose in January (first time in three months, leaving them flat over the period). S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller's measure continued to slump. It has not risen since last June. The Conference Board's measure of consumer confidence rose due to the expectations component. This contrasts with the University of Michigan's preliminary estimate that showed the first decline in four months. Moreover, when its final reading is announced at the end of the week, the risk seems to be on the downside, according to the Bloomberg survey. Meanwhile, surveys have shown that the service sector has been faring better than the manufacturing sector. However, the decline in the Richman Fed's business conditions, while its manufacturing survey improved, coupled with the sharp decline in the Dallas Fed's service activity index may be warning of weakness going into Q2.

The US dollar flirted with CAD1.38 at the end of last week is pushing through CAD1.36 today to reach its lowest level since before the banking stress was seen earlier this month. The five-day moving average has crossed below the 20-day moving average for the first time since mid-February. Canada's budget announced late yesterday boosts the deficit via new green initiatives and health spending, while raising taxes, including a new tax on dividend income for banks and insurance companies from Canadian companies. The market appears to be still digesting the implications. Today's range has thus far been too narrow to read much into it. The greenback has traded between roughly CAD1.3590 and CAD1.3615. On the other hand, the Mexican peso has continued to rebound from the risk-off drop that saw the US dollar surge above MXN19.23 (March 20). The dollar is weaker for fifth consecutive session and seventh of the last nine. It finished last week near MXN18.4450 and fell to about MXN18.1230 today, its lowest level since March 9. However, the intraday momentum indicators are stretched, and the greenback looks poised to recover back into the MXN18.20-25 area. Banxico meets tomorrow and is widely expected to hike its overnight target rate by a quarter-of-a-point to 11.25%.



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The ONS has published its final COVID infection survey – here’s why it’s been such a valuable resource

The ONS’ Coronavirus Infection Survey has ceased after three years. Two experts explain why it was a uniquely useful source of data.



March 24 marked the publication of the final bulletin of the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Coronavirus Infection Survey after nearly three years of tracking COVID infections in the UK. The first bulletin was published on May 14 2020 and we’ve seen new releases almost every week since.

The survey was based primarily on data from many thousands of people in randomly selected households across the UK who agreed to take regular COVID tests. The ONS used the results to estimate how many people were infected with the virus in any given week.

In the survey’s first six months, we had results from 1.2 million samples taken from 280,000 people. Although the number of people participating each month declined over time, the survey has continued to be a highly valuable tool as we navigate the pandemic.

In particular, because the ONS bulletins were based on surveying a large, random sample of all UK residents, it offered the least biased surveillance system of COVID infections in the UK. We are not aware of any similar study anywhere else in the world. And, while estimating the prevalence of infections was the survey’s main output, it gave us a lot of other useful information about the virus too.

Unbiased surveillance

An important advantage of the ONS survey was its ability to detect COVID infections among many people who had no symptoms, or were not yet displaying symptoms.

Certainly other data sets existed (and some continue to exist) to give a sense of how many people were testing positive. For example, earlier in the pandemic, case numbers were reported at daily national press conferences. Figures continue to be published on the Department of Health and Social Care website.

But these totals have usually only encompassed people who tested because they had reason to suspect they may have been infected (for example because of symptoms or their work). We know many people had such minor symptoms that they had no reason to suspect they had COVID. Further, people who took a home test may or may not have reported the result.

Similarly, case counts from hospital admissions or emergency room attendances only captured a very small percentage of positive cases, even if many of these same people had severe healthcare needs.

Symptom-tracking applications such as the ZOE app or online surveys have been useful but tend to over-represent people who are most technologically competent, engaged and symptom-aware.

Testing wastewater samples to track COVID spread in a community has proved difficult to reliably link to infection numbers.

Read more: The tide of the COVID pandemic is going out – but that doesn't mean big waves still can't catch us

What else the survey told us

Aside from swab samples to test for COVID infections, the ONS survey collected blood samples from some participants to measure antibodies. This was a very useful aspect of the infection survey, providing insights into immunity against the virus in the population and individuals.

Beginning in June 2021, the ONS survey also published reports on the “characteristics of people testing positive”. Arguably these analyses were even more valuable than the simple infection rate estimates.

For example, the ONS data gave practical insights into changing risk factors from November 21 2021 to May 7 2022. In November 2021, living in a house with someone under 16 was a risk factor for testing positive but by the end of that period it seemed to be protective. Travel abroad was not an important risk factor in December 2021 but by April 2022 it was a major risk. Wearing a mask in December 2021 was protective against testing positive but by April 2022 there was no significant association.

We shouldn’t find this changing picture of risk factors particularly surprising when concurrently we had different variants emerging (during that period most notably omicron) and evolving population resistance that came with vaccination programmes and waves of natural infection.

Also, in any pandemic the value of non-pharmaceutical interventions such wearing masks and social distancing declines as the infection becomes endemic. At that point the infection rate is driven more by the rate at which immunity is lost.

A woman wearing a face mask receives a vaccine.
The survey gave us insights into the protection offered by vaccines and non-pharmaceutical interventions. Paul Maguire/Shutterstock

The ONS characteristics analyses also offered evidence about the protective effects of vaccination and prior infection. The bulletin from May 25 2022 showed that vaccination provided protection against infection but probably for not much more than 90 days, whereas a prior infection generally conferred protection for longer.

After May 2022, the focused shifted to reinfections. The analyses confirmed that even in people who had already been infected, vaccination protects against reinfection, but again probably only for about 90 days.

It’s important to note the ONS survey only measured infections and not severe disease. We know from other work that vaccination is much better at protecting against severe disease and death than against infection.

Read more: How will the COVID pandemic end?

A hugely valuable resource

The main shortcoming of the ONS survey was that its reports were always published one to three weeks later than other data sets due to the time needed to collect and test the samples and then model the results.

That said, the value of this infection survey has been enormous. The ONS survey improved understanding and management of the epidemic in the UK on multiple levels. But it’s probably appropriate now to bring it to an end in the fourth year of the pandemic, especially as participation rates have been falling over the past year.

Our one disappointment is that so few of the important findings from the ONS survey have been published in peer-reviewed literature, and so the survey has had less of an impact internationally than it deserves.

Paul Hunter consults for the World Health Organization. He receives funding from National Institute for Health Research, the World Health Organization and the European Regional Development Fund.

Julii Brainard receives funding from the NIHR Health Protection and Research Unit in Emergency Preparedness.

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