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Vitalik donates $4M to Uni of NSW for pandemic detection tool

“Imagine if someone had detected COVID-19 before it spread around the world – that is our vision,” said professor Raina MacIntyre.

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“Imagine if someone had detected COVID-19 before it spread around the world – that is our vision,” said professor Raina MacIntyre.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has donated $4 million worth of USD Coin (USDC) to the University of New South Wales (UNSW) to support the development of a pandemic detection tool.

The capital, which equates to roughly $5.3 million Aussie dollars, is part of Buterin’s self-described “moonshot anti-COVID effort” dubbed Balvi Filantropic Fund in partnership with the Shiba Inu memecoin project (SHIB) and Crypto Relief.

The funds will further support the development of the OISNT-based EPIWATCH tool which utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) and open-source data to create early pandemic warning signs.

Created by Kirby Institute Professor and Biosecurity Research head Raina MacIntyre the tool scans millions of items of publicly available online data, including social media and news reports to detect any changes that could suggest increasing health concerns.

Buterin emphasized the importance of sharing data in a decentralized and open manner to speed up pandemic detection:

“Open analysis of public data is an excellent alternative to more intrusive forms of monitoring, which are also often only available to governments and other high bidders but closed to the public.”

“By contrast, an open-source and open-access approach that allows researchers, including members of the public, to work collaboratively across the world can be more easily improved and scaled to detect new pandemics wherever they begin,” he added.

The funding will be allocated to the freshly named Shiba Inu Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) Initiative led by UNSW’s Kirby Institute.

Professor MacIntyre said the idea was to make the tool accessible at a “grassroots” level and make sure it covers enough languages to reach “villages and small towns around the world.”

“Imagine if someone had detected COVID-19 before it spread around the world — that is our vision. Using AI and real-time open-source data, EPIWATCH does not depend on people making reports. It is a great equalizer and can overcome weak health systems and censorship.”

Earlier this month, the Balvi Balvi Filantropic Fund announced its first round of financial support for various projects and organizations that are building COVID and pandemic prevention technology.

Related: Buterin: L2 transaction fees need to be under $0.05 to be ‘truly acceptable’

There were four recipients in total for the first round, including the open-source vaccine development RADVACproject, the Upper Room UVGI Project working on UV lamps that “zap viruses to death”, Active IAQ’s air filter initiative and Patient-Led’s long COVID symptom research.

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Economics

Hutchins Roundup: Unions, Inflation Dynamics, and More

What’s the latest thinking in fiscal and monetary policy? The Hutchins Roundup keeps you informed of the latest research, charts, and speeches. Want…

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By Lorena Hernandez Barcena, Eric Milstein, David Wessel

What’s the latest thinking in fiscal and monetary policy? The Hutchins Roundup keeps you informed of the latest research, charts, and speeches. Want to receive the Hutchins Roundup as an email? Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Thursday.

Unions and the Phillips curve

Declines in worker bargaining power since the 1980s may have contributed to the weakening of the Phillips curve relationship between inflation and unemployment, find David Ratner and Jae Sim of the Federal Reserve Board. A theoretical model in which trade unions seek to increase their wages and share of production rents through collective bargaining predicts that reduced worker bargaining power leads to a flatter Phillips curve, lower inflation volatility, and a decline in the labor share of income. Estimating their model using U.S. and U.K. data, the authors find that worker bargaining power declined significantly in the post-Reagan and post-Thatcher eras.  They also find that inflation is less sensitive to unemployment in U.S. cities and states with lower union density. The authors argue that the view that monetary policy is the primary driver of the decline in the Phillips curve may not sufficiently account for structural changes in the labor market.

Inflation dynamics differ from the 1960s

The 1960s carry few lessons for the current inflation situation because the economic environment was so different, explains Jeremy Rudd of the Federal Reserve Board. For example, one-time shocks to inflation and labor costs were highly persistent during the 60s, dynamics which are no longer present. He also notes that the Phillips curve relationship – the link between unemployment and inflation – was strong prior to the mid-1960s inflation surge but has since weakened. Rudd proposes several reasons why the Fed was behind the curve in the 60s, including its overreliance on model forecasts and unobservable variables, its belief that tightening could be achieved through fiscal policy, its aversion to inducing economic hardship, and its lack of institutional independence. However, he is skeptical of traditional explanations that point to a regime change in the behavior of inflation in the mid-1960s, instead arguing that the above factors were already in place at the beginning of the decade. While Rudd is optimistic that such features are no longer present, he says, “our understanding of how the economy works—as well as our ability to predict the effects of shocks and policy actions—is in my view no better today than it was in the 1960s.”

UK firms incorporated during COVID more likely to dissolve within a year

During the COVID-19 recession, there was an increase in new firms in the U,K. and many other advanced economies, a highly atypical occurrence during recessions. Saleem Bahaj and Sophie Piton of the Bank of England and Anthony Savagar of the University of Kent find that in the U.K. these new firms were more likely than preexisting firms to be online retailers and to be founded by solo entrepreneurs starting their first business, and were quicker to post job vacancies following their creation. However, they also find that firms established during the pandemic are almost twice as likely to dissolve within a year than firms that entered pre-COVID. The rate of dissolution is smaller for firms with shareholders and higher for solo entrepreneur firms. The authors warn that the rising number of dissolutions could wipe out the positive effects of firm entry on job creation.

Chart of the Week: CBO releases new projections

Quote of the week:

[T]he environment facing monetary policy today has changed significantly from that which we confronted before the pandemic. The tools we were deploying at that time, aimed at combating persistent too-low inflation, are no longer appropriate. But we are also not facing a straightforward situation of excess aggregate demand: in fact, supply shocks are raising inflation and slowing growth in the near term. This means that policy normalization has to be carefully calibrated to the conditions we face,” says Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank.

“The next step in rate normalization will involve following through with our forward guidance on ending net asset purchases and on rate lift-off. If we see inflation stabilizing at 2% over the medium term, a progressive further normalization of interest rates towards the neutral rate will be appropriate. But the speed of policy adjustment, and its end point, will depend on how the shocks develop and how the medium-term inflation outlook evolves as we move forward.”

 

 

The Brookings Institution is financed through the support of a diverse array of foundations, corporations, governments, individuals, as well as an endowment. A list of donors can be found in our annual reports published online here. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions in this report are solely those of its author(s) and are not influenced by any donation.

 

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Bonds

S&P Futures Jump Above 4,000 As Fed Fears Fade

S&P Futures Jump Above 4,000 As Fed Fears Fade

After yesterday’s post-FOMC ramp which sent stocks higher after the Fed’s Minutes were…

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S&P Futures Jump Above 4,000 As Fed Fears Fade

After yesterday's post-FOMC ramp which sent stocks higher after the Fed's Minutes were less hawkish than feared and also hinted at a timeline for the Fed's upcoming pause (and easing), US index futures initially swung between gains and losses on Thursday as investors weighed the "good news" from the Fed against downbeat remarks on the Chinese economy from premier Li who warned that China would struggle to post a positive GDP print this quarter coupled with Apple’s conservative outlook. Eventually, however, bullish sentiment prevailed and even with Tech stocks underperforming following yesterday's disappointing earnings from Nvidia, e-mini futures rose to session highs as of 715am, and traded up 0.6% above 4,000 for the first time since May 18, while Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.2% after earlier dropping as much as 0.8%. The tech-heavy index is down 27% this year. Treasury yields and the dollar slipped. Fed policy makers indicated their aggressive set of moves could leave them with flexibility to shift gears later if needed.

Investors took some comfort from the Fed minutes that didn’t show an even more aggressive path being mapped to tackle elevated prices, though central banks remain steadfast in their resolve to douse inflation. Still, volatility has spiked as the risk of a US recession, the impact from China’s lockdowns and the war in Ukraine simmer.

While the Fed minutes “provided investors with a temporary relief, today’s mixed price action on stocks mostly shows that major bearish leverages linger,” said Pierre Veyret, a technical analyst at ActivTrades in London. “The war in eastern Europe and concerns about the Chinese economy still add stress to market sentiment,” he wrote in a report. “Investors will want to see evidence of improvements regarding the pressure coming from rising prices.”

“We expect key market drivers to continue to be centered around inflation and how central banks react; global growth concerns and how China gets to grip with its zero-Covid policy; and the geopolitical conflict between Russia and Ukraine,” said Fraser Lundie, head of fixed income for public markets at Federated Hermes Limited. “Positive news flow on any of these market drivers could sharply improve risk sentiment; however, there is a broad range of scenarios that could play out in the meantime.”

In premarket trading, shares in Apple dropped 1.4% after a report said that the tech giant is planning to keep iPhone production flat in 2022, disappointing expectations for a ~10% increase. The company also said it was raising salaries in the US by 10% or more as it faces a tight labor market and unionization efforts. In other premarket moves, Nvidia dropped 5.3% as the biggest US chipmaker by market value gave a disappointing sales forecast. Software company Snowflake slumped 14%, while meme stock GameStop Corp. fell 2.9%. Among gainers, Twitter Inc. jumped 5.2% after billionaire Elon Musk dropped plans to partially fund his purchase of the company with a margin loan tied to his Tesla stake and increased the size of the deal’s equity component to $33.5 billion. Other notable premarket movers include:

  • Shares of Alibaba and Baidu rise following results, sending other US-listed Chinese stocks higher in US premarket trading. Alibaba shares shot up as much as 4.5% after reporting fourth- quarter revenue and earnings that beat analyst expectations.
  • Lululemon’s (LULU US) stock gains 2.4% in premarket trading as Morgan Stanley raised its recommendation to overweight, suggesting that the business can be more resilient through headwinds than what the market is expecting.
  • Macy’s (M US) shares gain 15% in premarket trading after Co. increases its adjusted earnings per share guidance for the full fiscal year
  • Williams-Sonoma (WSM US) shares jumped as much as 9.6% in premarket trading after 1Q sales beat estimates. The retailer was helped by its exposure to more affluent customers, but analysts cautioned that it may be difficult to maintain the sales momentum amid macroeconomic challenges.
  • Nutanix (NTNX US) shares shed about a third of their value in US premarket trading as analysts slashed their price targets on the cloud platform provider after its forecast disappointed.
  • US airline stocks rise in premarket trading on Thursday, after Southwest and JetBlue provided upbeat outlooks for the second-quarter. LUV up 1.5% premarket, after raising its second-quarter operating revenue growth forecast. JBLU up 2% after saying it expects second-quarter revenue at or above high end of previous guidance.
  • Cryptocurrency-tied stocks fall in premarket trading as Bitcoin snaps two days of gains. Coinbase -2.6%; Marathon Digital -2.3%; Riot Blockchain -1.2%. Bitcoin drops 1.9% at 6:11 am in New York, trading at $29,209.88.

It’s time to buy the dip in stocks after a steep global selloff in equity markets, according to Citi strategists. Meanwhile, Fidelity International Chief Executive Officer Anne Richards said the risk of a recession has increased and markets are likely to remain volatile, the latest dire warning on the outlook at the World Economic Forum.

“If inflation gets tame enough over summer, there may not be continued raising of rates,” Carol Pepper, Pepper International chief executive officer, said on Bloomberg TV, adding that investors should look to buy tech stocks after the selloff. “Stagflation, I just don’t think that’s going to happen anymore. I think we are going to be in a situation where inflation will start tapering down and then we will start going into a more normalized market.”

In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.3%, pare some of their earlier gains but remain in the green, led by gains for retail, consumer and energy stocks. IBEX outperforms, adding 0.6%, FTSE MIB is flat but underperforms peers. Retailers, energy and consumer products are the strongest-performing sectors, with energy shares outperforming for the second day as oil climbed amid data that showed a further decrease in US crude and gasoline stockpiles. Here are the most notable European movers:

  • Auto Trader rises as much as 3.5% after its full-year results beat consensus expectations on both top- and bottom-lines.
  • Galp climbs as much as 4.1% as RBC upgrades to outperform, saying the stock might catch up with the rest of the sector after “materially” underperforming peers in recent years.
  • Rightmove rises as much as 1.5% after Shore upgrades to hold from sell, saying the stock has reached an “appropriate” level following a 27% decline this year.
  • FirstGroup soars as much as 16% after the bus and train operator said it received a takeover approach from I Squared Capital Advisors and is currently evaluating the offer.
  • United Utilities declines as much as 8.9% as company reports a fall in adjusted pretax profit. Jefferies says full-year guidance implies a materially-below consensus adjusted net income view.
  • Johnson Matthey falls as much as 7.5% after the company reported results and said it expects operating performance in the current fiscal year to be in the lower half of the consensus range.
  • BT drops as much as 5.7% after the telecom operator said the UK will review French telecom tycoon Patrick Drahi’s increased stake in the company under the National Security and Investment Act.
  • JD Sports drops as much as 12% as the departure of Peter Cowgill as executive chairman is disappointing, according to Shore Capital.

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks were mixed as traders assessed China’s emergency meeting on the economy and Federal Reserve minutes that struck a less hawkish note than markets had expected.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed after fluctuating between gains and losses of about 0.6% as technology stocks slid. South Korean stocks dipped after the central bank raised interest rates by 25 basis points as expected. Chinese shares eked out a small advance after a nationwide emergency meeting on Wednesday offered little in terms of additional stimulus. The benchmark CSI 300 Index headed for a weekly drop of more than 2%, despite authorities’ vows to support an economy hit by Covid-19 lockdowns. Investors took some comfort from Fed minutes in which policy makers indicated their aggressive set of moves could leave them with flexibility to shift gears later if needed. Still, Asia’s benchmark headed for a weekly loss amid concerns over China’s lockdowns and the possibility of a US recession.

“The coming months are ripe for a re-pricing of assets across the board with a further shake-down in risk assets as term and credit premia start to feature prominently,” Vishnu Varathan, the head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank, wrote in a research note. 

Japanese stocks closed mixed after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting reassured investors while Premier Li Keqiang made downbeat comments on China’s economy. The Topix rose 0.1% to close at 1,877.58, while the Nikkei declined 0.3% to 26,604.84. Toyota Motor Corp. contributed the most to the Topix gain, increasing 1.9%. Out of 2,171 shares in the index, 1,171 rose and 898 fell, while 102 were unchanged.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.7% to close at 7,105.90 as all sectors tumbled except for technology. Miners contributed the most to the benchmark’s decline. Whitehaven slumped after peer New Hope cut its coal output targets. Appen soared after confirming a takeover approach from Telus and said it’s in talks to improve the terms of the proposal. Appen shares were placed in a trading halt later in the session. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.6% to 11,102.84.

India’s key stock indexes snapped three sessions of decline to post their first advance this week on recovery in banking and metals shares. The S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.9% to 54,252.53 in Mumbai, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index advanced by a similar measure. Both benchmarks posted their biggest single-day gain since May 20 as monthly derivative contracts expired today. All but one of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. gained.  HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank provided the biggest boosts to the two indexes, rising 3% and 2.2%, respectively. Of the 30 shares in the Sensex, 24 rose and 6 fell. As the quarterly earnings season winds up, among the 45 Nifty companies that have so far reported results, 18 have trailed estimates and 27 met or exceeded expectations. Aluminum firm Hindalco Industries is scheduled to post its numbers later today.

In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar fell 0.3%, edging back toward the lowest level since April 26 touched Tuesday. The yen jumped to an intraday high after the head of the Bank of Japan said policymakers could manage an exit from their decades-long monetary policy, and that U.S. rate rises would not necessarily keep the yen weak. Commodity currencies including the Australian dollar fell as China’s Premier Li Keqiang offered a bleak outlook on domestic growth. The Chinese economy is in some respects faring worse than in 2020 when the pandemic started, he said.

Central banks were busy overnight:

  • Russia’s central bank delivered its third interest-rate reduction in just over a month and said borrowing costs can fall further still, as it looks to stem a rally in the ruble and unwinds the financial defenses in place since the invasion of Ukraine.
  • The Bank of Korea raised its key interest rate on Thursday as newly installed Governor Rhee Chang-yong demonstrated his intention to tackle inflation at his first policy meeting since taking the helm. New Zealand’s central bank has also shown its commitment this week to combat surging prices.

In rates, Treasuries bull-steepen amid similar price action in bunds and many other European markets and gains for US equity index futures. Yields richer by ~3bp across front-end of the curve, steepening 2s10 by ~2bp, 5s30s by ~3bp; 10-year yields rose 2bps to 2.76%, keeps pace with bund while outperforming gilts. 2- and 5-year yields reached lowest levels in more than a month, remain below 50-DMAs. US auction cycle concludes with 7-year note sale, while economic data includes 1Q GDP revision. Bund, Treasury and gilt curves all bull-steepen. Peripheral spreads tighten to Germany with 10y BTP/Bund narrowing 5.1bps to 194.6bps.

The US weekly auction calendar ends with a $42BN 7-year auction today which follows 2- and 5-year sales that produced mixed demand metrics, however both have richened from auction levels. WI 7-year yield at ~2.735% is ~17bp richer than April’s, which tailed by 1.7bp. IG dollar issuance slate includes Bank of Nova Scotia 3Y covered SOFR; issuance so far this week remains short of $20b forecast, is expected to remain subdued until after US Memorial Day.

In commodities,  WTI trades within Wednesday’s range, adding 0.6% to around $111. Spot gold falls roughly $7 to trade around $1,846/oz. Cryptocurrencies decline, Bitcoin drops 2.5% to below $29,000. 

Looking at the day ahead now, and data releases from the US include the second estimate of Q1 GDP, the weekly initial jobless claims, pending home sales for April, and the Kansas City Fed’s manufacturing index for May. Meanwhile in Italy, there’s the consumer confidence index for May. From central banks, we’ll hear from Fed Vice Chair Brainard, the ECB’s Centeno and de Cos, and also get decisions from the Central Bank of Russia and the Central Bank of Turkey. Finally, earnings releases include Costco and Royal Bank of Canada.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures little changed at 3,974.25
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.2% to 435.16
  • MXAP little changed at 163.17
  • MXAPJ down 0.3% to 529.83
  • Nikkei down 0.3% to 26,604.84
  • Topix little changed at 1,877.58
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.3% to 20,116.20
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.5% to 3,123.11
  • Sensex up 0.4% to 53,975.57
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.7% to 7,105.88
  • Kospi down 0.2% to 2,612.45
  • German 10Y yield little changed at 0.90%
  • Euro little changed at $1.0679
  • Brent Futures up 0.5% to $114.55/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,847.94
  • U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 102.11

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • Federal Reserve officials agreed at their gathering this month that they need to raise interest rates in half-point steps at their next two meetings, continuing an aggressive set of moves that would leave them with flexibility to shift gears later if needed.
  • Russia’s central bank delivered its third interest-rate reduction in just over a month and said borrowing costs can fall further still, halting a rally in the ruble as it unwinds the financial defenses in place since the invasion of Ukraine.
  • China’s trade-weighted yuan fell below 100 for the first time in seven months as Premier Li Keqiang’s bearish comments added to concerns that the economy may miss its growth target by a wide margin this year.
  • Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve won’t necessarily cause the yen to weaken, saying various factors affect the currency market.

A more detailed breakdown of global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asia-Pac stocks were indecisive as risk appetite waned despite the positive handover from Wall St where the major indices extended on gains post-FOMC minutes after the risk event passed and contained no hawkish surprises. ASX 200 failed to hold on to opening gains as weakness in mining names, consumer stocks and defensives overshadowed the advances in tech and financials, while capex data was mixed with the headline private capital expenditure at a surprise contraction for Q1. Nikkei 225 faded early gains but downside was stemmed with Japan set to reopen to tourists on June 6th. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp were mixed with early pressure after Premier Li warned the economy was worse in some aspects than in 2020 when the pandemic began, although he stated that China will unveil detailed implementation rules for a pro-growth policy package before the end of the month, while the PBoC issued a notice to promote credit lending to small firms and the MoF announced cash subsidies to Chinese airlines.

Top Asian News

  • PBoC issued a notice to promote credit lending to small firms and is to boost financial institutions' confidence to lend to small firms, according to Reuters.
  • BoK raised its base rate by 25bps to 1.75%, as expected, via unanimous decision. BoK raised its 2022 inflation forecast to 4.5% from 3.1% and raised its 2023 forecast to 2.9% from 2.0%, while it sees GDP growth of 2.7% this year and 2.4% next year. BoK said consumer price inflation is to remain high in the 5% range for some time and sees it as warranted to conduct monetary policy with more focus on inflation, according to Reuters.
  • Morgan Stanley has lowered China's 2022 GDP estimate to 3.2% from 4.2%.
  • CSPC Drops After Earnings, Covid Impact to Weigh: Street Wrap
  • China Builder Greenland’s Near-Term Bonds Set for Record Drops
  • Debt Is Top Priority for Diokno as New Philippine Finance Chief

European bourses are firmer across the board, Euro Stoxx 50 +0.7%, but remain within initial ranges in what has been a relatively contained session with much of northern-Europe away. Stateside, US futures are relatively contained, ES +0.2%, with newsflow thin and on familiar themes following yesterday's minutes and before PCE on Friday.  Apple (AAPL) is reportedly planning on having a 220mln (exp. ~240mln) iPhone production target for 2022, via Bloomberg. -1.4% in  the pre-market. Baidu Inc (BIDU) Q1 2022 (CNY): non-GAAP EPS 11.22 (exp. 5.39), Revenue 28.4bln (exp. 27.82bln). +4.5% in the pre-market. UK CMA is assessing whether Google's (GOOG) practises in parts of advertisement technology may distort competition.

Top European News

  • UK Chancellor Sunak's package today is likely to top GBP 30bln, according to sources via The Times; Chancellor will confirm that the package will be funded in part by windfall tax on oil & gas firms likely to come into effect in the autumn. Subsequently, UK Gov't sources are downplaying the idea that the overall support package is worth GBP 30bln, via Times' Swinford; told it is a very big intervention.
  • UK car production declined 11.3% Y/Y to 60,554 units in April, according to the SMMT.
  • British Bus Firm FirstGroup Gets Takeover Bid from I Squared
  • Citi Strategists Say Buy the Dip in Stocks on ‘Healthy’ Returns
  • The Reasons to Worry Just Keep Piling Up for Davos Executives
  • UK Unveils Plan to Boost Aviation Industry, Passenger Rights
  • Pakistan Mulls Gas Import Deal With Countries Including Russia

FX

  • Dollar drifts post FOMC minutes that reaffirm guidance for 50bp hikes in June and July, but nothing more aggressive, DXY slips into lower range around 102.00 vs 102.450 midweek peak.
  • Yen outperforms after BoJ Governor Kuroda outlines exit strategy via a combination of tightening and balance sheet reduction, when the time comes; USD/JPY closer to 126.50 than 127.50 where 1.13bln option expiries start and end at 127.60.
  • Rest of G10, bar Swedish Crown rangebound ahead of US data, with Loonie looking for independent direction via Canadian retail sales, USD/CAD inside 1.2850-00; Cable surpassing 1.2600 following reports that the cost of living package from UK Chancellor Sunak could top GBP 30bln.
  • Lira hits new YTD low before CBRT and Rouble weaker following top end of range 300bp cut from CBR.
  • Yuan halts retreat from recovery peaks ahead of key technical level, 6.7800 for USD/CNH.

Fixed Income

  • Debt wanes after early rebound on Ascension Day lifted Bunds beyond technical resistance levels to 154.74 vs 153.57 low.
  • Gilts fall from grace between 119.17-118.19 parameters amidst concerns that a large UK cost of living support package could leave funding shortfall.
  • US Treasuries remain firm, but off peaks for the 10 year T-note at 120-31 ahead of GDP, IJC, Pending Home Sales and 7 year supply.

Commodities

  • Crude benchmarks inch higher in relatively quiet newsflow as familiar themes dominate; though reports that EU officials are considering splitting the oil embargo has drawn attention.
  • Currently WTI and Brent lie in proximity to USD 111/bbl and USD 115/bbl respectively; within USD 1.50/bbl ranges.
  • Russian Deputy PM Novak expects 2022 oil output 480-500mln/T (prev. 524mln/T YY), via Ria.
  • Spot gold is similarly contained around the USD 1850/oz mark, though its parameters are modestly more pronounced at circa. USD 13/oz

Central Banks

  • CBR (May, Emergency Meeting): Key Rate 11.00% (exp. ~11.00/12.00%, prev. 14.00%); holds open the prospect of further reductions at upcoming meetings.
  • BoJ's Kuroda says, when exiting easy policy, they will likely combine rate hike and balance sheet reduction through specific means, timing to be dependent on developments at that point; FOMC rate hike may not necessarily result in a weaker JPY or outflows of funds from Japan if it affects US stock prices, via Reuters.

US Event Calendar

  • 08:30: 1Q PCE Core QoQ, est. 5.2%, prior 5.2%
  • 08:30: 1Q Personal Consumption, est. 2.8%, prior 2.7%
  • 08:30: May Continuing Claims, est. 1.31m, prior 1.32m
  • 08:30: 1Q GDP Price Index, est. 8.0%, prior 8.0%
  • 08:30: May Initial Jobless Claims, est. 215,000, prior 218,000
  • 08:30: 1Q GDP Annualized QoQ, est. -1.3%, prior -1.4%
  • 10:00: April Pending Home Sales YoY, est. -8.0%, prior -8.9%
  • 10:00: April Pending Home Sales (MoM), est. -2.0%, prior -1.2%
  • 11:00: May Kansas City Fed Manf. Activity, est. 18, prior 25

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

A reminder that our latest monthly survey is now live, where we try to ask questions that aren’t easy to derive from market pricing. This time we ask if you think the Fed would be willing to push the economy into recession in order to get inflation back to target. We also ask whether you think there are still bubbles in markets and whether equities have bottomed out yet. And there’s another on which is the best asset class to hedge against inflation. The more people that fill it in the more useful so all help from readers is very welcome. The link is here.

For markets it’s been a relatively quiet session over the last 24 hours compared to the recent bout of cross-asset volatility. The main event was the release of the May FOMC minutes, which had the potential to upend that calm given the amount of policy parameters currently being debated by the Fed. But in reality they came and went without much fanfare, and failed to inject much life into afternoon markets or the debate around the near-term path of policy. As far as what they did say, they confirmed the line from the meeting itself that the FOMC is ready to move the policy to a neutral position to fight the current inflationary scourge, with agreement that 50bp hikes were appropriate at the next couple of meetings. That rapid move to neutral would leave the Fed well-positioned to judge the outlook and appropriate next steps for policy by the end of the year, and markets were relieved by the lack of further hawkishness, with the S&P 500 extending its modest gains following the release to end the day up +0.95%.

As the Chair said at the meeting, and has been echoed by other Fed officials since, the minutes noted that the hawkish shift in Fed communications have already had a noticeable effect on financial conditions, with Fed staff pointing out that “conditions had tightened by historically large amounts since the beginning of the year.” Meanwhile on QT, which the Fed outlined their plans for at the May meeting, the minutes expressed some trepidation about market liquidity and potential “unanticipated effects on financial market conditions” as a result, but did not offer potential remedies.

With the minutes not living up to hawkish fears alongside growing concerns about a potential recession, investors continued to dial back the likelihood of more aggressive tightening, with Fed funds futures moving the rate priced in by the December meeting to 2.64%, which is the lowest in nearly a month and down from its peak of 2.88% on May 3. So we’ve taken out nearly a full 25bp hike by now, which is the biggest reversal in monetary policy expectations this year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began. That decline came ahead of the minutes and also saw markets pare back the chances of two consecutive +50bp hikes, with the amount of hikes priced over the next two meetings falling under 100bps for only the second time since the May FOMC. Yields on 10yr Treasuries held fairly steady, only coming down -0.5bps to 2.745%.

Ahead of the Fed minutes, markets had already been on track to record a steady performance, and the S&P 500 (+0.95%) extended its existing gains in the US afternoon. That now brings the index’s gains for the week as a whole to +1.98%, so leaving it on track to end a run of 7 consecutive weekly declines, assuming it can hold onto that over the next 48 hours, and futures this morning are only down -0.13%. That said, we’ve seen plenty of volatility in recent weeks, and after 3 days so far this is the first week in over two months where the S&P hasn’t seen a fall of more than -1% in a single session, so let’s see what today and tomorrow bring. In terms of the specific moves yesterday, it was a fairly broad advance, but consumer discretionary stocks (+2.78%) and other cyclical industries led the way, with defensives instead seeing a much more muted performance. Tech stocks outperformed, and the NASDAQ (+1.51%) came off its 18-month low, as did the FANG+ index (+1.99%).

Over in Europe, equities also recorded a decent advance, with the STOXX 600 gaining +0.63%, whilst bonds continued to rally as well, with yields on 10yr bunds (-1.5bps) OATs (-1.5bps) and BTPs (-2.7bps) all moving lower. These gains for sovereign bonds have come as investors have grown increasingly relaxed about inflation in recent weeks, with the 10yr German breakeven falling a further -4.2bps to 2.23% yesterday, its lowest level since early March and down from a peak of 2.98% at the start of May. Bear in mind that the speed of the decline in the German 10yr breakeven over the last 3-4 weeks has been faster than that seen during the initial wave of the Covid pandemic, so a big shift in inflation expectations for the decade ahead in a short space of time that’s reversed the bulk of the move higher following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Nor is that simply concentrated over the next few years, since the 5y5y forward inflation swaps for the Euro Area looking at inflation over the five years starting in five years’ time has come down from aa peak of 2.49% earlier this month to 2.07% by the close last night, so almost back to the ECB’s target. To be fair there’s been a similar move lower in US breakevens too, and this morning the 10yr US breakeven is down to a 3-month low of 2.56%.

That decline in inflation expectations has come as investors have ratcheted up their expectations about future ECB tightening. Yesterday, the amount of tightening priced in by the July meeting ticked up a further +0.2bps to 32.7bps, its highest to date, and implying some chance that they’ll move by more than just 25bps. We heard from a number of additional speakers too over the last 24 hours, including Vice President de Guindos who said in a Bloomberg interview that the schedule for rate hikes outlined by President Lagarde was “very sensible”, and that the question of larger hikes would “depend on the outlook”.

Overnight in Asia, equities are fluctuating this morning after China’s Premier Li Keqiang struck a downbeat note on the economy yesterday. Indeed, he said that the difficulties facing the Chinese economy “to a certain extent are greater than when the epidemic hit us severely in 2020”. As a reminder, our own economist’s forecasts for GDP growth this year are at +3.3%, which if realised would be the slowest in 46 years apart from 2020 when Covid first took off. Against that backdrop, there’s been a fairly muted performance, and whilst the Shanghai Composite (+0.65%) and the CSI 300 (+0.60%) have pared back initial losses to move higher on the day, the Hang Seng (-0.13%) has lost ground and the Nikkei (+0.07%) is only just in positive territory. We’ve also seen the Kospi (-0.08%) give up its initial gains overnight after the Bank of Korea moved to hike interest rates once again, with a 25bp rise in their policy rate to 1.75%, in line with expectations. That came as they raised their inflation forecasts, now expecting CPI this year at 4.5%, up from 3.1% previously. At the same time they also slashed their growth forecast to 2.7%, down from 3.0% previously.

There wasn’t much in the way of data yesterday, though we did get the preliminary reading for US durable goods orders in April. They grew by +0.4% (vs. +0.6% expected), although the previous month was revised down to +0.6% (vs. +1.1% previously). Core capital goods orders were also up +0.3% (vs. +0.5% expected).

To the day ahead now, and data releases from the US include the second estimate of Q1 GDP, the weekly initial jobless claims, pending home sales for April, and the Kansas City Fed’s manufacturing index for May. Meanwhile in Italy, there’s the consumer confidence index for May. From central banks, we’ll hear from Fed Vice Chair Brainard, the ECB’s Centeno and de Cos, and also get decisions from the Central Bank of Russia and the Central Bank of Turkey. Finally, earnings releases include Costco and Royal Bank of Canada.

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/26/2022 - 07:50

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Ecommerce Stocks Could be Recession Proof as Household Spending Holds Up (AMZN, FBCD, SHOP, EBAY, BABA, PYPL, CVNA, ONLN)

The ecommerce space is a prime example of a new path toward recession-proof non-cyclicality in a world where household savings are robust into the teeth…

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The ecommerce space is a prime example of a new path toward recession-proof non-cyclicality in a world where household savings are robust into the teeth of a potential recession. (1)

At this point, Goldman Sachs and other major Wall Street firms are starting to project a strengthening likelihood of a near-term recession as the Fed begins to tighten monetary policy while prices for basic goods, including gas and electricity, are rising. (2)

But, unlike other past recessionary periods, households have savings to tap to stay in the game, helping the most efficient retailers stand their ground as demand shifts. (3)

The ecommerce space could be a beneficiary because it offers greater efficiency in acquiring basic goods such as clothing, household durable goods, and basic daily necessities. When you shop online, you don’t have to use gasoline or time or energy to gain access to the goods you need. Ecommerce cuts out the middle-man. (4)

The pandemic was an exercise in market penetration for ecommerce retailers, converting the previously unconverted, providing everyone with a reason to try 21st century shopping, bringing hundreds of millions of people into the fold of a new way to acquire goods. (5)

For retailers already positioned for this boon, it represents a structural transformation and a tailwind. With that in mind, we take a look at some of the most interesting growth stories in the ecommerce space below.

 

Shopify Inc. (NYSE:SHOP) operates a cloud-based commerce platform designed for small and medium-sized businesses. Its software is used by merchants to run business across all sales channels, including web, tablet and mobile storefronts, social media storefronts, and brick-and-mortar and pop-up shops.

The firm’s platform provides merchants with a single view of business and customers and enables them to manage products and inventory, process orders and payments, build customer relationships and leverage analytics and reporting. It focuses on merchant and subscription solutions.

Shopify Inc. (NYSE:SHOP) recently announced financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2022, including total revenue in the first quarter grew 22% to $1.2 billion, which represents a two-year compound annual growth rate of 60%. The first quarter of 2021 marked the highest revenue growth in the company’s history as a public company driven by stimulus and COVID-19 lockdowns. Shopify merchants are emerging from the last two years stronger and better prepared for commerce everywhere. (6)

“While we’ve experienced massive macro shifts since the start of the pandemic, the one mainstay has been that Shopify is the commerce platform of choice for merchants in any environment, with the ability to support commerce on any surface,” said Harley Finkelstein, Shopify’s President. “This has earned Shopify significant merchant trust and the ability to help them with more parts of their business, which is why we are eager to bring Deliverr’s team and technology to our merchants.”

Even in light of this news, SHOP has had a rough past week of trading action, with shares sinking something like -8% in that time. That said, chart support is nearby, and we may be in the process of constructing a nice setup for some movement back the other way.

Shopify Inc. (NYSE:SHOP) managed to rope in revenues totaling $1.2B in overall sales during the company’s most recently reported quarterly financial data — a figure that represents a rate of top line growth of 21.7%, as compared to year-ago data in comparable terms. In addition, the company has a strong balance sheet, with cash levels exceeding current liabilities ($7.2B against $681.9M).

 

FBC Holding Inc. (OTC US:FBCD) is a tiny newcomer in the ecommerce retail fashion space that has started to make some waves, up 150% in the past few days as the company lays its foundation as a brand in the street fashion domain after announcing its intention to land a major influencer brand ambassador and connecting up with Amazon and eBay on the distribution side.

The company’s primary brand is “Formrunner” (https://formrunnerapparel.com/) (7).

FBC Holding Inc. (OTC US:FBCD) announced this week that it has begun selling its Premium High-End Apparel by expanding its E-Commerce presence on eBay.com. The company is thrilled to add sales from eBay as an additional revenue opportunity following its successful launch on Amazon last week.

President & CEO Lisa Nelson states “We are beyond excited to offer our Apparel on eBay! Our clothing will be available with eBay’s “Buy it Now” option and will kick off the launch with free shipping to the entire United States. Customers around the world will now have an additional platform to purchase our clothing with more to come moving forward.” Lisa Nelson also stated, “Over the past two years, Formrunner Apparel Inc. has been continuously expanding the company’s vertical sales channels, and eBay along with Amazon, are two great retail giants that will assist with expansion throughout the United States along with the rest of the world!” (8)

As noted in the release, with 185 million active buyers and nineteen million sellers worldwide, eBay is one of the world’s leading marketplace and eCommerce platforms. eBay serves customers globally. Like every popular site, there are tons of loyal customers who prefer to purchase on eBay. Customers may prefer to purchase from merchants like these than a site that they land on the first time. eBay also offers affiliate programs through multiple affiliate marketers will take your product link and promote your products to receive the affiliate commission. This will help to increase your sales. So, in addition to running your affiliate program, you can also benefit from the eBay affiliates.

The release goes on to note that the apparel market encompasses every kind of clothing, from sportswear to business wear, from value clothing to statement luxury pieces. After difficulties in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic, when sales across the apparel industry took a hit, the global demand for clothing and shoes is set to rise again. The revenue of the global apparel market was calculated to amount to 1.5 trillion U.S. dollars in 2021 and was predicted to increase to approximately two trillion dollars by 2026. The countries that account for most of this apparel demand are the United States and China, both generating higher revenues than any other country.

FBC Holding Inc. (OTC US:FBCD) has been powering higher over recent days as the crowd starts to take notice. The recent upside momentum comes after a deep bear move well into sub-penny status driven by the company’s reorganization and pivot. But now that we have passed through that phase, shares may have found a more stable bottom in front of emerging catalysts that speak to the company’s new identity and momentum.

 

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. ADR (NYSE:BABA) engages in providing online and mobile marketplaces in retail and wholesale trade. It operates through its Core Commerce, Cloud Computing, Digital Media & Entertainment, and Innovation Initiatives and Others segments.

The Core Commerce segment consists of platforms operating in retail and wholesale. The Cloud Computing segment consists of Alibaba Cloud, which offers a complete suite of cloud services, including elastic computing, database, storage, network virtualization, large scale computing, security, management and application, big data analytics, a machine learning platform, and Internet of Things (IoT) services. The Digital Media & Entertainment segment relates to the Youko Tudou and UC Browser businesses. The Innovation Initiatives and Others segment includes businesses such as AutoNavi, DingTalk, and Tmall Genie

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. ADR (NYSE:BABA) recently announced that it has joined Low Carbon Patent Pledge (LCPP), an international platform that encourages sharing patents for low carbon technologies, to accelerate adoption of green technology and foster collaborative innovation by making nine key patents for green data center technology available for free to external parties. In keeping with its support for green initiatives, Alibaba Cloud, the digital technology and intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group also aims to have its global data centers running entirely on clean energy by 2030, starting with upgrades to five of its hyper-scale data centers in China.

“We believe technology innovation is a key driver in transitioning to the low-carbon circular economy of the future. As a pioneer and global technology leader, we are committed to taking broader social responsibility to use technology to level the playing field and to empower the wider social groups, creating long-term value. We are excited to join the pledge as a way to encourage a collective approach to build a sustainable and inclusive future for the society and environment through open collaboration, joint innovations and mutual inspiration.” said Dr. Chen Long, Vice President of Alibaba Group and Chair of Alibaba’s Sustainability Steering Committee. (9)

Traders will note -6% plucked from share pricing for the stock in the past week. That said, BABA has evidenced sudden upward volatility on many prior occasions. What’s more, the name has seen a growing influx of trading interest.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. ADR (NYSE:BABA) has a significant war chest ($654.4B) of cash on the books, which compares with about $502.2B in total current liabilities. One should also note that debt has been growing over recent quarters. BABA is pulling in trailing 12-month revenues of $1008.6B. In addition, the company is seeing major top-line growth, with y/y quarterly revenues growing at 14.3%.

 

Other key ecommerce players include Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq:AMZN), eBay Inc. (Nasdaq:EBAY), PayPal Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq:PYPL), Carvana Co. (NYSE:CVNA), and ProShares Online Retail ETF (NYSEArca:ONLN).

 

References:

  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/02/23/savings-bank-accounts-covid/
  2. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-05-15/goldman-s-blankfein-says-companies-should-prepare-for-recession
  3. https://www.forexlive.com/news/world-bank-president-malpass-russian-invasion-of-ukraine-could-trigger-a-global-recession-20220526/
  4. https://hbr.org/2009/04/how-to-market-in-a-downturn-2
  5. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasongoldberg/2022/02/18/e-commerce-sales-grew-50-to-870-billion-during-the-pandemic/
  6. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/shopify-reports-first-quarter-2022-110000301.html
  7. https://formrunnerapparel.com/
  8. https://www.otcmarkets.com/stock/FBCD/news/FBC-Holding-Inc-FBCD-Launches-Premium-High-End-Apparel-on-eBayTM-Platform?id=358337
  9. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/alibaba-group-joins-low-carbon-002400632.html

Please make sure to read and completely understand our disclaimer at https://www.wallstreetpr.com/disclaimer. While reading this article one must assume that we may be compensated for posting this content on our website.

The post Ecommerce Stocks Could be Recession Proof as Household Spending Holds Up (AMZN, FBCD, SHOP, EBAY, BABA, PYPL, CVNA, ONLN) appeared first on Wall Street PR.

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