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US Dollar Losses are Extended, but Momentum Stalls in the European Morning

US Dollar Losses are Extended, but Momentum Stalls in the European Morning

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Overview:  US stocks extended their gains ahead of the weekend after President Trump shied away from specific actions against China-Hong Kong, and today Hong Kong shares recovered smartly from last week's 3.6% slide.  The Hang Seng rose 3.3% today, and the Shanghai Composite gained over 2%.  All the markets in the region advanced.  Europea's Dow Jones Stoxx 600 was up about 0.5% in late morning turnover, which would be the fifth gain in six sessions.  US shares are trading with a softer bias, and many link it to the social unrest in many cities that could hinder re-openings.  However, the losses are thus far too small to extrapolate to shift in sentiment or drivers.  Benchmark 10-year bonds yields have edged 1-3 bp higher, and the US 10-year yield remains pinned near 66 bp.  The dollar is weaker, with the Australian dollar leading the majors with a 1% gain.  The euro is the weakest of the majors, and it is up about 0.3%.  Most emerging market currencies are also gaining on the US dollar.  The South Korean won is the strongest, with about a 1% gain.  The JP Morgan Emerging Market Currency Index has edged higher.  Today's gain, if sustained, would be the ninth in the past 11 sessions. Gold extended its advance for a third consecutive session but stalled near $1745.  Oil is flat, with the July WTI contract around $35.40.  

Asia Pacific

China's official PMI disappointed.  The composite was unchanged from April (53.4) as the slippage in the manufacturing (50.6 vs. 50.8) offset in full the rise in services (53.6 vs. 53.2).  Manufacturing output fell to 52.2 from 53.7, but new orders and new export orders rose but remain below the 50 boom/bust level.  Construction, perhaps reflecting local government's infrastructure push, rose to 60.8 from 59.7.  Both the manufacturing and service PMIs showed a rise in business expectations but continued weakness in employment.  On the other hand, the more export-oriented Caixin manufacturing PMI rose to 50.7 from 49.4 in April.  

Reports indicate that Beijing ordered its large agriculture combines to halt US purchases as the relationship is reviewed.  There had been significant inquires into 20-30 cargoes at the end of last week, and China's imports or US soy and ethanol reportedly increased in the first half of May.   Like others, we have been skeptical that China could fulfill its obligations under the Phase 1 agreement.  China was to buy $36.5 bln of US farm products 2020 and in Q1 bought roughly $3.35 bln.  Despite threats of walking away from the agreement, the US won't because China's failure would give it yet another cudgel.  

Turnover in Hong Kong dollar options surged before the weekend (~$3.7 bln), according to reports, and a third was struck outside the band.  Forward points eased at the end last week and are little changed today, still near the most extreme in a couple of decades.  Talk that the peg could change to the Chinese yuan seems exaggerated.  Pegging to a currency that is not convertible has its own challenges and could undermine its stability.  The peg could be adjusted, but without calmer markets, it seems unduly risky.  Hong Kong is a full member of the World Trade Organization, but it is unlikely to deter the US from denying it most favored nation status.   The three- and 12-month Hong Kong dollar forward points eased but remain elevated.  

Broadly, the May PMI readings in the region were mixed.  Japan's was unchanged from the flash reading of 38.4, down from 41.9 in April.  South Korea's slipped to 41.3 from 41.6 in April.  After cutting rates last week, South Korea is expected to unveil a third budget (where 3/4 of the funds are expected to be spending in the first three months) later this week.  Australia's manufacturing PMI rose to 44.0 from 42.8 of the flash estimate and 44.1 previously.  India's PMI edged up to 30.8 from 27.4.  

Month-end flows saw the dollar recover ahead of the weekend form JPY107.10 to JPY107.90.  It is trading in a narrow range of JPY107.40-JPY107.85 today.  There are expiring options on both sides of that range.  At JPY107.40 is a $525 mln option, and at JPY107.80 is an $820 mln option.  After coiling for most of last week, the Australian jumped higher today, seemingly confirming the breakout.  It reached almost $0.6775, more than a cent above last week's close.  This is its best level since late January.  At the start of the year, it was above $0.7000.  The PBOC set the dollar's reference rate at CNY7.1316, a little lower than the models suggested and below the previous day's close.  Although the dollar eased against the yuan, it rose against the offshore yuan, fully recovering from its initial loss.  

Europe

The main interest today is the final manufacturing PMI for May.  Germany was the source of disappointment.  The flash May reading of 36.8 was shaved to 36.6.  France's edged up to 40.6 from 40.3.  Italy and Spain rose more than expected.  Italy's rose to 45.4 from 31.1 and Spain's improved to 38.3 from 30.8.   The aggregate reading was 39.4 down from 39.5 of the initial estimate but above the 33.4 final April report. 

The UK's manufacturing PMI edged up to 40.7 from 40.6 of the flash estimate and 32.6 in April.  Reports suggest that even though the furlough pay program will taper in Q3, the UK government is looking to provide more stimulus in July.  Later this month, the Bank of England is widely expected to increase its bond purchase program.  Although Bank of England officials have kept the option on the table, a move to negative interest rates is not likely in the coming months.  

The euro's advance extended to a fifth session today with it briefly poking above $1.1150, the best level since late March.  The momentum stalled in the European morning, and the euro slipped below $1.1120.  There is an option at $1.1100 for 1.7 bln euros that expires today.  The proximity of the ECB meeting (Thursday) where it is widely expected to substantially boost its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Progam and could adjust some other policy measures may make short-term participants hesitant about driving the euro much highs.  The late March high was just shy of $1.1165, and the $1.12 area is psychologically important.  Sterling firmed to about $1.2425.  It has not seen this level since May 8.  Sterling's momentum also stalled in Asia, and it drifted lower in the European morning. It could slip back toward the $1.2350 area with changing the tone.  

America

Merkel had already rebuffed the US invite for a G7 meeting at the end of the month when the White House suggested that will delay the meeting until September or later.  That did not seem to matter as much as getting to suggest that Australia, South Korea, India, and Russia may be invited.  It is a thinly-veiled attempt to isolate China while overlooking that Russia had been un-invited following its annexation of Crimea.  Trump argues that the G7 no longer "properly represents what is going on in the world."  Indeed, in recent years, the G20 appears to have grown in importance.  Separately, although the UK joined Australia, Canada, and the US in condemning China's move on Hong Kong, the EU itself has been quiet, and Germany, which takes over the rotating EU Presidency starting in July called for a "critical and constructive dialogue."  

The US reports the final May manufacturing PMI and the ISM.  The take-away is that nearly every survey and sentiment indicator for May ticked up from April.  While growth collapsed here in Q2, with the Atlanta Fed putting it at -51.2%, sequential improvement is consistent with a recovery in Q3.   Canada also reports May's manufacturing PMI.  It stood at 33.0 in April.  The Bank of Canada meets in the middle of the week.  It is expected to stand pat and let its past actions take effect.  Note that it is Governor Poloz's last meeting.   The data highlight of the week for both the US and Canada will be the jobs report on June 5.   Mexico's manufacturing PMI is also on tap.  In April it was at 35.0.  Also, watch Mexico's worker remittances.  This is an important source of hard currency for the country.  They unexpectedly surged in March to $4.02 bln compared with forecasts for $2.75 bln.  The strength of the dollar in March was cited as a factor.  The median forecast in the Bloomberg survey calls for a $2.6 bln in April.  Worker remittances were about $2.9 bln in April 2019. 

The US dollar slipped below CAD1.3700 in Asia for the first time since March 11.  Here too, the greenback's momentum stalled in late Asia/early Europe, and it has bounced toward  CAD1.3740.  A close above there could set the stage for a further US dollar recovery tomorrow. On the downside, the next key technical area is near CAD1.3600.   The US dollar also slipped through MXN22.00 briefly for the first time since March 16.  Nearby resistance is pegged in the MXN22.10-MXN22.20 area.  



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Sex work is real work: Global COVID-19 recovery needs to include sex workers

Societally, we need to recognize that sex workers have agency and deserve the same respect, dignity and aid as any other person selling their labour.

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Globally, sex workers have been left to fend for themselves during the pandemic with little to no support from the government. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

During the pandemic, business shifted from in person to work-from-home, which quickly became the new normal. However, it left many workers high and dry, especially those with less “socially acceptable” occupations.

The pandemic has adversely impacted sex workers globally and substantially increased the precariousness of their profession. And public health measures put in place made it almost impossible for sex workers to provide any in-person service.

Although many people depend on sex work for survival, its criminalization and policing stigmatizes sex workers.

Research shows that globally, sex workers have been left behind and in most cases excluded from government economic support initiatives and social policies. There needs to be an intersectional approach to global COVID-19 recovery that considers everyone’s lived realities. We propose policy recommendations that treat sex work as decent work and that centre around the lived experiences and rights of those in the profession.

Sex work and the pandemic

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) recently reported that apart from income-loss, the pandemic has increased pre-existing inequalities for sex workers.

In a survey conducted in Eastern and Southern Africa, the UNFPA found that during the pandemic, 49 per cent of sex workers experienced police violence (including sexual violence) while 36 per cent reported arbitrary arrests. The same survey reported that more than 50 per cent of respondents experienced food and housing crises.

Lockdowns and border closures adversely impacted Thailand’s tourism industry which relies partially on the labour of sex workers.


Read more: Sex workers are criminalized and left without government support during the coronavirus pandemic


In the Asia Pacific, sex workers reported having limited access to contraceptives and lubricants along with reduced access to harm reduction resources. Lockdowns also disrupted STI or HIV testing services, limiting sex workers’ access to necessary healthcare.

In North America, sex workers have been excluded from the government’s recovery response. And many began offering online services to sustain themselves.

A woman stands backlit next to a dimly lit bus that reads 'Thailand' with green lighting.
Sex workers stand in a largely shut-down red light area in Bangkok, Thailand on March 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Government vs. community response

Globally, sex workers have been left to fend for themselves during the pandemic with little to no support from the government. But communities themselves have been rallying.

Elene Lam, founder of Butterfly, an Asian migrant sex organization in Canada, talks about the resilience of sex wokers during the pandemic.

She says organizations like the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform are working in collaboration with Amnesty International to mobilize income support and resources to help sex workers in Canada.

Organizations in the United Kingdom, Germany, India and Spain have also set up emergency support funds. And some sex worker organizations have developed community-specific resources for providing services both in person and online during the pandemic.

Global recovery needs to include sex workers

The International Labour Organization’s “Decent Work Agenda” emphasizes productive employment and decent working conditions as being the driving force behind poverty reduction.

Sociologist Cecilia Benoit explains that sex work often becomes a “livelihood strategy” in the face of income and employment instability. She says that like other personal service workers, sex workers also should be able to practice without any interference or violence.

In order to have an inclusive COVID-19 recovery for all, governments need to work to extend social guarantees to sex workers — so far they haven’t.

As pandemic restrictions disappear, it is crucial to ensure that everyone involved in sex work is protected under the law and has access to accountability measures.

A woman stands wearing a mask with a safety vest on in front of a collage of scantily clad women and a sign that reads 'nude women non stop'
A volunteer helps out at Zanzibar strip club during a low-barrier vaccination clinic for sex workers in Toronto in June 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Recommendations

As feminist researchers, we propose that sex work be brought under the broader agenda of decent work so that the people offering services are protected.

  1. Governments need to have a legal mandate for preventing sexual exploitation.

  2. Law enforcement staff need to be trained in better responding to the needs of sex workers. To intervene in and address situations of abuse or violence is critical to ensure workplace safety and harm reduction.

  3. Awareness and educational campaigns need to focus on destigmatizing sex work.

  4. Policy-makers need to incorporate intersectionality as a working principle in identifying and responding to the different axes of oppression and marginalization impacting LGBTQ+ and racialized sex workers.

  5. Engagement with sex workers and human rights organizations need to happen when designing aid support to ensure that an inclusive pathway for recovery is created.

  6. Globally, there needs to be a steady commitment towards destigmatizing sex workers and their services.

Despite the gradual waning of pandemic restrictions, sex workers continue to face the dual insecurity of social discrimination and loss of income support. Many are still finding it difficult to stay afloat and sustain themselves.

Societally, we need to recognize that sex workers have agency and deserve the same respect, dignity and aid as any other person selling their labour.

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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OU researchers award two NSF pandemic prediction and prevention projects

Two groups of researchers at the University of Oklahoma have each received nearly $1 million grants from the National Science Foundation as part of its…

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Two groups of researchers at the University of Oklahoma have each received nearly $1 million grants from the National Science Foundation as part of its Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention initiative, which focuses on fundamental research and capabilities needed to tackle grand challenges in infectious disease pandemics through prediction and prevention.

Credit: Photo provided by the University of Oklahoma.

Two groups of researchers at the University of Oklahoma have each received nearly $1 million grants from the National Science Foundation as part of its Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention initiative, which focuses on fundamental research and capabilities needed to tackle grand challenges in infectious disease pandemics through prediction and prevention.

To date, researchers from 20 institutions nationwide were selected to receive an NSF PIPP Award. OU is the only university to receive two grants to the same institution.

“The next pandemic isn’t a question of ‘if,’ but ‘when,’” said OU Vice President for Research and Partnerships Tomás Díaz de la Rubia. “Research at the University of Oklahoma is going to help society be better prepared and responsive to future health challenges.”

Next-Generation Surveillance

David Ebert, Ph.D., professor of computer science and electrical and computer engineering in the Gallogly College of Engineering, is the principal investigator on one of the projects, which explores new ways of sharing, integrating and analyzing data using new and traditional data sources. Ebert is also the director of the Data Institute for Societal Challenges at OU, which applies OU expertise in data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning and data-enabled research to solving societal challenges.

While emerging pathogens can circulate among wild or domestic animals before crossing over to humans, the delayed response to the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for new early detection methods, more effective data management, and integration and information sharing between officials in both public and animal health.

Ebert’s team, composed of experts in data science, computer engineering, public health, veterinary sciences, microbiology and other areas, will look to examine data from multiple sources, such as veterinarians, agriculture, wastewater, health departments, and outpatient and inpatient clinics, to potentially build algorithms to detect the spread of signals from one source to another. The team will develop a comprehensive animal and public health surveillance, planning and response roadmap that can be tailored to the unique needs of communities.

“Integrating and developing new sources of data with existing data sources combined with new tools for detection, localization and response planning using a One Health approach could enable local and state public health partners to respond more quickly and effectively to reduce illness and death,” Ebert said. “This planning grant will develop proof-of-concept techniques and systems in partnership with local, state and regional public health officials and create a multistate partner network and design for a center to prevent the next pandemic.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes One Health as an approach that bridges the interconnections between people, animals, plants and their shared environment to achieve optimal health outcomes.

Co-principal investigators on the project include Michael Wimberly, Ph.D., professor in the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences; Jason Vogel, Ph.D., director of the Oklahoma Water Survey and professor in the Gallogly College of Engineering School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science; Thirumalai Venkatesan, director of the Center for Quantum Research and Technology in the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences; and Aaron Wendelboe, Ph.D., professor in the Hudson College of Public Health at the OU Health Sciences Center.

Predicting and Preventing the Next Avian Influenza Pandemic

Several countries have experienced deadly outbreaks of avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, that have resulted in the loss of billions of poultry, thousands of wild waterfowl and hundreds of humans. Researchers at the University of Oklahoma are taking a unique approach to predicting and preventing the next avian influenza pandemic.

Xiangming Xiao, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology and director of the Center for Earth Observation and Modeling in the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences, is leading a project to assemble a multi-institutional team that will explore pathways for establishing an International Center for Avian Influenza Pandemic Prediction and Prevention.

The goal of the project is to incorporate and understand the status and major challenges of data, models and decision support tools for preventing pandemics. Researchers hope to identify future possible research and pathways that will help to strengthen and improve the capability and capacity to predict and prevent avian influenza pandemics.

“This grant is a milestone in our long-term effort for interdisciplinary and convergent research in the areas of One Health (human-animal-environment health) and big data science,” Xiao said. “This is an international project with geographical coverage from North America, Europe and Asia; thus, it will enable OU faculty and students to develop greater ability, capability, capacity and leaderships in prediction and prevention of global avian influenza pandemic.”

Other researchers on Xiao’s project include co-principal investigators A. Townsend Peterson, Ph.D., professor at the University of Kansas; Diann Prosser, Ph.D., research wildlife ecologist for the U.S. Geological Survey; and Richard Webby, Ph.D., director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Studies on the Ecology of Influenza in Animals and Birds with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Wayne Marcus Getz, professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is also assisting on the project.

The National Science Foundation grant for Ebert’s research is set to end Jan. 31, 2024, while Xiao’s grant will end Dec. 31, 2023.


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GSK and IQVIA launch platform of US vaccination data, showing drop in adult rates

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the issue of vaccine uptake has been a point of contention, but a new platform from GSK and IQVIA is hoping to shed more…

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Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the issue of vaccine uptake has been a point of contention, but a new platform from GSK and IQVIA is hoping to shed more light on vaccine data, via new transparency and general awareness.

The two companies have launched Vaccine Track, a platform intended to be used by public health officials, medical professionals and others to strengthen data transparency and display vaccination trends. According to the companies, the platform is intended to aid in increasing vaccine rates and will provide data on trends to assist public health efforts.

Judy Stewart

The platform will also allow users to identify vaccination trends for adults in the US across multiple vaccine types. Users will also be able to scan claims data nationally to track trends alongside pre-Covid metrics.

“For the first time, Vaccine Track brings quarterly data tracking and trends together in a comprehensive platform for immunization partners, decision-makers and stakeholders. Our goal for Vaccine Track is to support the return to pre-pandemic vaccination rates for adults and to go beyond by empowering the vaccine and public health community with frequently updated, actionable information to get ahead of disease together,” said Judy Stewart, GSK’s head of vaccines in a statement.

This move comes as vaccination rates in adults were already low even before the pandemic, with a CDC report stressing that vaccine coverage in adults was low across all age groups.

So far the platform’s data show a decline in adult immunizations, excluding flu vaccinations, across the country during the pandemic. The platform currently only has information from January 2019 to December 2021 on hand but will be updated every quarter.

The data itself observed that rates were especially low in minority populations, which were already showing lower rates of immunization pre-pandemic.

The platform also showed that national trends for adults aged 19 and older are still low, with an average decrease of 18% through last year in overall claims. Average monthly claims through 2021 for recommended vaccines were between 12% and 42% below 2019 rates, with nearly half of the states in the US facing greater than 30% reductions in overall claims for recommended vaccines from pre-pandemic levels.

In Medicare patients, the platform’s analysis found a more than 30% reduction in overall claims for recommended vaccines among Black and Hispanic populations between 2019 and 2021.

The information itself is sourced from medical claims data and longitudinal prescription data, the companies said.

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