Wall Street Shakes Off Grim Economic News

Wall Street Shakes Off Grim Economic News

The latest on stock market and business news during the coronavirus outbreak. A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the facts: The financial regulations require hedge funds and wealthy investors that exceeded the $100 million equity holdings threshold to file a report that shows their positions at the end of every quarter. Even though it isn’t the intention, these filings to a certain extent level the playing field for ordinary Stocks in Asia Pacific dropped in Friday morning trade after an overnight plunge on Wall Street amid fears of a second wave resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic. SHOP stock has retreated from May highs, and seems to have plateaued after a monster rally. Investors taking the long view should be happy.

Wall Street rebounds from its steepest plunge since March.

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Stocks on Wall Street rose Friday, rebounding from their steepest drop in months, in a day of unsteady trading.

The S&P 500 closed more than 1 percent higher, after earlier having climbed more than 3 percent. On Thursday, the index plunged by about 6 percent, its sharpest drop since mid-March.

Financial markets are suffering from a shift in sentiment this week, as investors have seemed to acknowledge the risks to the economy from pandemic-related shutdowns earlier this year and the prospect of a second-wave of coronavirus infections as government’s lift restrictions on activity, The New York Times’s Matt Phillips reports.

Confidence in a quick recovery and return to normal was rattled after the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, warned that the depth of the downturn and pace of the recovery remained “extraordinarily uncertain.”

The central bank repeated that warning on Friday. In a semiannual monetary policy report to Congress, its first since the pandemic took hold, the Fed said the nation’s gross domestic product would probably contract “at a rapid pace” in the second quarter after “tumbling” in the first.

“Chairman Powell threw a bucket of cold water on the thought that the economy is going to go back to where it was in 2019 any time soon,” said Matt Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak, an asset management firm.

Analysts like Mr. Maley have also noted that the market was overdue a pullback, after a staggering rally — a gain of as much as 45 percent for the S&P 500 from March lows — had left stock prices somewhat disconnected from reality.

It was the fastest recovery off a market low for the benchmark index since 1933, and came even as tens of millions of Americans applied for unemployment benefits and the national unemployment rate surged to its highest level since the Great Depression.

Also worrying investors is data from some states that have eased quarantine restrictions, such as Texas and Arizona that shows a resurgence of the virus in those states.

“The idea that Covid is fully behind us, or that a V-shaped recovery is in front of us, were put on hold” said Steve Sosnick, chief strategist at Interactive Brokers in Greenwich, Conn.

Even if the rise in cases doesn’t lead to another large-scale lockdown, analysts say it does dash hopes for a return to a more normal environment over the summer and makes a full rebound in particularly exposed industries less likely.

A judge allows Hertz to sell new stock during bankruptcy proceedings.

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A bankruptcy court judge on Friday allowed Hertz to sell up to $1 billion in new stock, granting the car rental agency’s request as investors improbably bought up shares in recent days.

“The recent market prices of and the trading volumes in Hertz’s common stock potentially present a unique opportunity,” lawyers for the company argued in a bankruptcy court hearing on Thursday.

The judge, Mary F. Walrath of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, agreed, saying in her ruling that the stock sale “is in the best interests” of Hertz and its creditors.

The company’s stock price ended the day Friday at $2.83 per share, up from a low of 40 cents after it filed for bankruptcy last month. The stock briefly climbed above $5.50 on Monday, its highest level since mid-April.

Hertz did not immediately respond on Friday to a request for comment on when and whether it would proceed with such a sale.

The move is exceedingly rare for a bankrupt company, the DealBook newsletter notes, because most bankruptcy restructurings result in stockholders — who are last in line to recover financial assets — being wiped out. There are also precedents for investors coming out ahead. The hedge fund mogul William A. Ackman made a fortune from owning stock in the bankrupt real estate business General Growth Properties nearly a decade ago.

But in a sign of Hertz’s dire financial straits, the company has asked for permission to end leases for more than 144,000 vehicles that it says it can no longer afford.

Pushing fashion, Amazon opened a photo studio as a ‘warehouse’ exemption.

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A large Amazon fashion photo studio in Brooklyn, where models pose in clothing sold on the company’s site, sat shuttered for more than two months as the coronavirus spread in New York.

Then, on May 18, Amazon reopened the studio and later began taking photos with models. It told employees on conference calls that the studio, in the Williamsburg neighborhood, could open under state rules that allowed warehouses and fulfillment operations to operate as essential businesses.

There was just one problem: It appears that Amazon was playing fast and loose with the rules.

A few days after The Times asked the state about the open studio, Amazon closed it. A manager told employees that someone in state government had given the company a heads-up that it may need to comply with an unspecified new policy. The studio remains closed.

Reopening the studio shows how Amazon has pressed ahead during the pandemic, looking to right its operations quickly after the virus initially caught it on its heels. The push to take advantage of its warehousing operations, when physical retailers were closed, was particularly evident in areas where it has long struggled, like high-end fashion.

Wealth advisers are divided over taking aid meant for small businesses.

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The federal government’s multibillion-dollar aid program to help small businesses hurt by the pandemic prompted outrage after billions went to public companies while mom-and-pop businesses were sidelined.

Now, another group of recipients is being scrutinized for taking the money: independent wealth management firms, some of which manage billions of dollars on behalf of affluent Americans. Their fees, which are typically 1 percent, can bring in tens of million annually regardless of market fluctuations.

The initial $349 billion allocated in April for the Paycheck Protection Program went quickly, prompting Congress to approve an additional $310 billion. But some business owners found the guidelines for accepting the money confusing or too restrictive.

Now, a divide is growing between advisory firms that took the money and those that declined because of ethical concerns. The issue is more than a tempest in a teapot. Some firms could lose millions in fees if their clients start pulling their wealth out.

“We didn’t think it was very credible that these firms actually needed the money,” said Gary Ribe, the chief investment officer of Accretive Wealth Partners, which manages $130 million and did not apply a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program. “Getting it out of an abundance of caution — that didn’t seem credible, either.”

The Federal Reserve painted a sober picture of the economy in its semiannual monetary policy report to Congress, highlighting risks to the financial system and emphasizing that pandemic-induced job losses were hitting lower-income workers and minorities especially hard.

“Real gross domestic product will contract at a rapid pace in the second quarter after tumbling at an annual rate of 5 percent in the first quarter of 2020,” the Fed said in its report, released Friday. It noted that the most “severe” job losses had been sustained by workers with lower incomes, and said that borrowing conditions remained tight for households and businesses with weaker credit histories.

The Fed also suggested that the pandemic was probably costing workers more than their jobs: Those who were still in the labor market were seeing weak pay growth.

“In the months ahead, labor market prospects for the unemployed and underemployed — both overall and for particularly hard-hit groups of workers — will largely depend on the course of the Covid-19 outbreak itself and on actions taken to halt its spread,” according to the report to Congress.

Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, will testify before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday and the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday.

Britain’s economic output fell by one-fifth in April, a record amount.

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The British economy shrank by 20.3 percent in April compared with the month before, a record contraction that indicated devastation in many parts of the economy.

Updated June 12, 2020

Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, “start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. “When you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.

States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

Taking one’s temperature to look for signs of fever is not as easy as it sounds, as “normal” temperature numbers can vary, but generally, keep an eye out for a temperature of 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If you don’t have a thermometer (they can be pricey these days), there are other ways to figure out if you have a fever, or are at risk of Covid-19 complications.

The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

If you’re sick and you think you’ve been exposed to the new coronavirus, the C.D.C. recommends that you call your healthcare provider and explain your symptoms and fears. They will decide if you need to be tested. Keep in mind that there’s a chance — because of a lack of testing kits or because you’re asymptomatic, for instance — you won’t be able to get tested.

The data reflects the first full month of Britain’s lockdown to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, and is likely to increase pressure to relax those rules more quickly.

Manufacturing fell by 24.3 percent, led by a 90 percent fall in the sector that includes motor vehicles, according to the Office of National Statistics.

In March, British economic output contracted by 5.8 percent.

The drop in the G.D.P. in April was the biggest Britain had ever seen and nearly 10 times worse than the steepest pre-coronavirus fall, said Jonathan Athow, the government’s deputy national statistician.

“Virtually all areas of the economy were hit, with pubs, education, health and car sales all giving the biggest contributions to this historic fall,” he said in a news release.

Earlier this week, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development projected that the British economy would contract by 12.5 percent in 2020, worsening to 14 percent if there were a second wave of infections.

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As France eased its coronavirus lockdowns last month, a small army of street workers fanned out across Paris in the dark of night. They dropped traffic barriers along car lanes and painted yellow bicycle symbols onto the asphalt. By morning, miles of pop-up “corona cycleways” had been laid, teeming with people heading back to work.

As European cities emerge from quarantines, bicycles are playing a central role in getting the work force moving again. Governments are trying to revive their economies from a deep recession, but cannot fully rely on public transportation to get workers to their jobs because of the need for social distancing. In urban areas at least, bicycles are suddenly an unlikely component to restarting economic growth.

In Europe, where many cities have integrated cycling as a mode of transportation, the pandemic is speeding up an ecological transition to limit car traffic and cut pollution, especially as new research draws links between dirty air and coronavirus death rates.

Britain, France, Italy and their neighbors are accelerating hundreds of millions of euros in investments on new biking infrastructure and schemes to get people pedaling.

“This crisis has made clear that we need to change the way we live, work and move,” said Morten Kabell, chief executive of the European Cyclists’ Federation. “In the era of social distancing, people are wary of using public transportation, and cities can’t take more cars. So they are looking to the bike as a natural mode of mobility for the future.”

Airlines sue to stop Britain’s quarantine on arriving passengers.

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Three of the largest airlines operating from Britain have filed a legal challenge to the 14-day quarantine imposed by the British government on Monday on many travelers arriving in the country. According to a statement, British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair want a “judicial review” of the measures, which are intended to reduce importation of the coronavirus into Britain, as soon as possible.

The airlines said that the quarantine, which carries heavy fines for those who break the rules, would “have a devastating effect on British tourism and the wider economy and destroy thousands of jobs.” The airlines also said that the government had provided no scientific evidence that such a severe policy was warranted.

As in many countries, Britain’s lockdown has severely curtailed air travel, putting huge financial pressure on airlines, some of which have estimated that air travel won’t return to previous levels for two to three years. The quarantine has been imposed as the government is beginning to ease other parts of the lockdown, including rules on which shops can open.

The government has argued that as the virus comes under control, a quarantine will help stem imported cases.

Airline executives have become increasingly vocal in their criticism of the British government. Ryanair’s chief, Michael O’Leary, rejected the government’s recommendations that passengers check as much baggage as possible to help prevent transmission of the virus.

In an interview with the news outlet The Independent, Mr. O’Leary termed the advice “more rubbish,” and said it was much safer for passengers to keep their bags rather than turn them over to baggage handlers.

  • Lululemon, the premium athleisure brand, said on Thursday that its sales in the first quarter fell 17 percent to $652 million, showing that not even makers of comfortable, stretchy clothing have been spared during the pandemic. The company said that as of June 10, 295 of its 489 stores had reopened, and that e-commerce sales made up more than half of its first quarter revenue, compared with 27 percent in the same period last year. Still, unlike most other retailers, it managed to post a profit of $28.6 million.

  • Boeing has asked a major supplier of parts for its troubled 737 Max jet to stop work on four Max fuselages and not to start work on 16 more, which were planned for delivery this year, according to the supplier, Spirit AeroSystems. Based on that request and further correspondence with Boeing, Spirit said it expected to cut back work it had planned on 125 of the jets and would furlough some employees on the project for three weeks starting Monday.

Reporting was contributed by Karen Weise, Vanessa Friedman, Paul Sulivan, Gregory Schmidt, Stanley Reed, Mohammed Hadi, Michael J. de la Merced, Alan Rappeport, Kevin Granville, Sapna Maheshwari, Liz Alderman, Kate Conger, Paul Mozur, Carlos Tejada, Michael Ives and Niraj Chokshi.

Source: www.nytimes.com


NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn’t happen this week

NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn’t happen this week

A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the facts:

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CLAIM: Photo shows the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., vandalized, the statue of Abraham Lincoln covered in graffiti and “BLACK + BROWN LIVES MATTER” written on the wall.

THE FACTS: The Lincoln statue and surrounding monument were not vandalized during recent protests, according to a spokesman for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, although some graffiti was left at the steps leading up to the monument. Altered photos showing the monument honoring former President Abraham Lincoln damaged and covered in spray paint began circulating following protests for George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes as he begged for air. “The media is trying to hide this picture from you,” an Instagram post sharing one manipulated photo said. “Democrats are saying riots and lawlessness is necessary for change.” Mike Litterst, chief of communications for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, said in an email that the photo circulating online was a hoax. “The only vandalism at the Lincoln Memorial was graffiti at the bottom of the steps at street level, far away from the statue,” he said, adding it had been removed already. The National Mall National Park Service tweeted numerous instances of vandalism to its sites on May 31. One of the photos in the tweet featured showed the steps near the Lincoln Memorial spray painted with the words “y’all not tired yet?” “For generations the Mall has been our nation’s premier civic gathering space for non-violent demonstrations, and we ask individuals to carry on that tradition,” the tweet said. The Associated Press has taken several photos showing both National Park Service police officers and National Guard members watching over the Lincoln statue as protesters demonstrate on the National Mall in front of the memorial. In the photos taken on June 6 and June 7, the Lincoln statue shows no signs of vandalism.

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CLAIM: Hitler also defunded the police and installed his own enforcers.

THE FACTS: Nazi leader Adolf Hitler did not defund the police. In fact, the opposite is true. “Let’s just say the Nazis did everything BUT defund the police,” said Gavriel D. Rosenfeld, a historian and history professor at Fairfield University, noting that Nazis made the police one of the chief recipients of state financial support aside from military spending. The claim began circulating as protesters around the nation called for defunding the police in response to police brutality. The Nazis expanded funding for police, the number of officers and their powers, said Christopher Browning, a Holocaust scholar and retired University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor. “Hitler did not disband or defund the police,” he said in an email. “The Fire Decrees of February 1933 gave the Nazis the power to take over all state governments, which meant also the power to take over each state police.” The false claim comes after protesters around the nation have called to defund the police following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against his neck for minutes as he struggled to breathe. One post with the false claim suggesting that Hitler defunded police was liked more than 32,000 times on Twitter.

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CLAIM: National Public Radio wants people to burn books written by white people.

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CLAIM: A tweet from the Obama Foundation featuring a picture of George Floyd went out on May 17, more than a week before his death, suggesting the nonprofit was aware of Floyd well before he died.

THE FACTS: The Obama Foundation’s website simply updated its Twitter card image after Floyd’s death, which changed the preview image for the site when it’s linked to on Twitter. That retroactively changed the image appearing on previous tweets pointing to the site. About two weeks after Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on May 25, social media users noticed something curious: A tweet from the Obama Foundation on May 17 displayed a picture of a George Floyd poster. “Did you tune in to @BarackObama’s commencement message last night?” the tweet read. “Here are a few of our favorite watch parties.” Along with the message, it linked to the Obama Foundation’s website. The link displayed an image of a protester holding a Floyd poster with the words “This is America.” Posts about the tweet circulated widely on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube over the weekend. Social media users speculated that it proved the nonprofit knew something about George Floyd several days before he died. “How Did the Obama Foundation Tweet a George Floyd Poster on May 17, when he wasn’t Killed until May 25?” read a headline from the Hal Turner Radio Show, a conservative talk show in New Jersey. The story racked up nearly 200,000 views on Facebook over the weekend. But a peek into the code behind the Obama Foundation’s website reveals that the image that originally displayed with the tweet is different than the image that displays now. Any website can designate a Twitter card image to appear in tweets that link to that site. On May 17, tweets pointing to the Obama Foundation site featured a picture of President Barack Obama in graduation robes. On June 8, they featured a picture of a George Floyd poster. On Twitter, when a website updates the image that’s designated to appear in tweets, the image will update on existing tweets that link to that site, in addition to newly created tweets. A version of the site that was archived on May 17 contained code showing that, at the time, the graduation photo of Obama was designated as the image to appear in tweets. There is no evidence that the foundation was aware of Floyd in any capacity before his death.

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CLAIM: Video shows “rioters destroying children’s hospital in Houston.”

THE FACTS: The video does not show people destroying the children’s hospital, according to a spokeswoman with Texas Children’s Hospital. The video was filmed in downtown Houston on May 29. On June 4, the video was posted on YouTube with a description claiming that “rioters” attacked a children’s hospital in Houston. The video then circulated on Twitter and Facebook on June 6. The video captures a crowd outside a large building in downtown Houston. At one point, some people throw objects at the building’s windows. “RIOTERS DESTROYING CHILDRENS HOSPITAL IN HOUSTON,” one Twitter post falsely stated. The video was viewed more than 300,000 times. The video was then shared to Facebook that same day with those false claims. The Texas Children’s Hospital is not located in that area. A geolocation search confirms that the video shows a building near the intersection of Walker and Austin streets. There are parking garages and offices in the area. While there are other children’s hospitals in Houston, the closest one is nearly four miles away from where the unrest was captured on video. “The location in this video is not Texas Children’s Hospital. We have not experienced any damage to our hospital as a result of the protests against the death of George Floyd and the injustices our communities of color continue to experience,” a spokeswoman with Texas Children’s Hospital confirmed to the AP. A spokesperson with Houston police confirmed to The Associated Press on Monday that the incident from the video occurred on May 29. According to a spokesperson, there are no specifics yet on property damage, and the incident may have been related to the protests going on downtown. Thousands rallied in Houston for George Floyd; the unarmed black man killed after being restrained with a knee on his neck by a white police officer. Floyd grew up in Houston.

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CLAIM: Photo shows antifa member who was tackled by Trump supporters then duct taped to an electrical box.

THE FACTS: The photo actually shows a work by street artist Rallitox, from the 2015-2016 participatory art series “Human Stickers,” in Berlin. A photo circulated on Facebook showing a man duct-taped to an electrical box with “I’m a unicorn” written on him. “Trump supporters tackled an antifa thug, unmasked him, duct taped him to an electrical box, placed a dildo on his head & wrote ’I’m a unicorn on him…,” a Facebook post published on June 10 falsely claimed. The post had over 1,400 shares. The post featured a screenshot from a now suspended Twitter parody account titled “Fifth Avenue Antifa.” The screenshot of the tweet states: “How can we let Nazis do this to our comrades.” The tweet from the antifa – short for anti-fascist – parody page has been circulating since at least 2017. According to the Rallitox website, the creation was, in fact, part of the “human stickers” series. “Rallitox’s latest sociological experiment in Warschauer strasse, Berlin, is to transform a friend into a sticker – or rather – to stick a friend to a wall with duct tape,” the website states. The making of the project was filmed and published to Rallitox’s Instagram account on March 31, 2016.

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CLAIM: When Minneapolis residents call 911 they are now told there are “no officers available” due to the defunding of the police department after protests in the city against police brutality.

THE FACTS: The 911 center is still operating and accepting phone calls, a spokesperson for Minneapolis Police Department confirmed to The Associated Press. Hours after a majority of members on Minneapolis City Council said Sunday that they support disbanding the city’s police department, a false video was posted to Tik Tok claiming to show the automated response that residents get when they call 911. On the video recording, a man says that “there are no officers available” to respond to calls because the police department has been defunded as a result of protests against police brutality. “Minneapolis now that they are dismantling the police department,” text over the video says. The Minneapolis Emergency Communications Center “is open and handling 911 calls,” Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder told the AP in a text message. The TikTok user who posted the video acknowledged in the comments section that the video is a “joke,” but several users appear to believe the recording is real. “Unreal!” one TikTok user wrote. “I’m speechless,” wrote another.

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CLAIM: Gen. Robert E. Lee, who led the Confederate States Army in the Civil War, “opposed both secession and slavery.” He did not own slaves.

THE FACTS: According to historians, not only did Lee own slaves, but he also fought in court to keep working slaves from his father-in-law’s estate. Claims casting Lee as an anti-slavery figure are tied to a false narrative known as the Lost Cause, which says the Confederate experience in the Civil War was not about slavery, but states’ rights. As protests following the death of George Floyd lead to a reexamination of historical injustice, campaigns have emerged calling for monuments celebrating the Confederacy to be taken down. False posts emerged on Facebook claiming that Lee “opposed both slavery and secession.” The false post was shared tens of thousands of times. Between owning a handful of slaves from his own family and then managing his father-in-law’s 200 slaves, Lee was very, very involved with slavery during his life up until the end of 1862,” said John Reeves, a historian and author of the book, “The Lost Indictment of Robert E. Lee: The Forgotten Case Against an American Icon.” Reeves explained that Lee worked the slaves for about five years in order to pay off legacies associated with his father-in-law’s estate. “He was utilizing the slave labor in order to pay the legacies,” Reeves explained. Lee fought in court to keep the slaves working because he didn’t know if he would be able to pay off his legacies. Wesley Norris was born a slave on the plantation that Lee managed after his father-in-law died. Norris testified during the court fight that Lee beat him when he tried to run away. “Every one of the facts in Wesley Norris’ account has been shown to be true,” Reeves noted. The Lost Cause ideology imagines Lee as a gifted military general who was fighting not for slavery but for states’ rights.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

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Find all AP Fact Checks here: https://apnews.com/APFactCheck

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Follow @APFactCheck on Twitter: https://twitter.com/APFactCheck

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Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.

Source: www.washingtontimes.com

Author: The Washington Times http://www.washingtontimes.com


Here is What Hedge Funds Think About Uranium Energy Corp. (UEC)

Here is What Hedge Funds Think About Uranium Energy Corp. (UEC)

The financial regulations require hedge funds and wealthy investors that exceeded the $100 million equity holdings threshold to file a report that shows their positions at the end of every quarter. Even though it isn’t the intention, these filings to a certain extent level the playing field for ordinary investors. The latest round of 13F filings disclosed the funds’ positions on March 31st, about a week after the S&P 500 Index bottomed. We at Insider Monkey have made an extensive database of more than 821 of those established hedge funds and famous value investors’ filings. In this article, we analyze how these elite funds and prominent investors traded Uranium Energy Corp. (NYSE:UEC) based on those filings.

Uranium Energy Corp. (NYSE:UEC) investors should be aware of a decrease in support from the world’s most elite money managers recently. Our calculations also showed that UEC isn’t among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (click for Q1 rankings and see the video for a quick look at the top 5 stocks). Video: Watch our video about the top 5 most popular hedge fund stocks.

In the 21st century investor’s toolkit there are numerous tools investors have at their disposal to analyze stocks. Some of the most useful tools are hedge fund and insider trading sentiment. Our researchers have shown that, historically, those who follow the top picks of the best fund managers can outpace the market by a very impressive amount (see the details here).

Joe Huber of Huber Capital Management

Joe Huber – Huber Capital Management

At Insider Monkey we leave no stone unturned when looking for the next great investment idea. For example, 2020’s unprecedented market conditions provide us with the highest number of trading opportunities in a decade. So we are checking out stocks recommended/scorned by legendary Bill Miller. We interview hedge fund managers and ask them about their best ideas. If you want to find out the best healthcare stock to buy right now, you can watch our latest hedge fund manager interview here. We read hedge fund investor letters and listen to stock pitches at hedge fund conferences. Our best call in 2020 was shorting the market when the S&P 500 was trading at 3150 after realizing the coronavirus pandemic’s significance before most investors. Now we’re going to take a glance at the new hedge fund action encompassing Uranium Energy Corp. (NYSE:UEC).

At the end of the first quarter, a total of 6 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were long this stock, a change of -14% from the previous quarter. On the other hand, there were a total of 9 hedge funds with a bullish position in UEC a year ago. With the smart money’s capital changing hands, there exists a select group of key hedge fund managers who were adding to their stakes meaningfully (or already accumulated large positions).

Is UEC A Good Stock To Buy?

The largest stake in Uranium Energy Corp. (NYSE:UEC) was held by Falcon Edge Capital, which reported holding $1.2 million worth of stock at the end of September. It was followed by CQS Cayman LP with a $0.4 million position. Other investors bullish on the company included Sprott Asset Management, Citadel Investment Group, and Huber Capital Management. In terms of the portfolio weights assigned to each position Falcon Edge Capital allocated the biggest weight to Uranium Energy Corp. (NYSE:UEC), around 0.13% of its 13F portfolio. CQS Cayman LP is also relatively very bullish on the stock, earmarking 0.03 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to UEC.

We view hedge fund activity in the stock unfavorable, but in this case there was only a single hedge fund selling its entire position: AQR Capital Management. One hedge fund selling its entire position doesn’t always imply a bearish intent. Theoretically a hedge fund may decide to sell a promising position in order to invest the proceeds in a more promising idea. However, we don’t think this is the case in this case because none of the 750+ hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey identified UEC as a viable investment and initiated a position in the stock.

Let’s go over hedge fund activity in other stocks similar to Uranium Energy Corp. (NYSE:UEC). We will take a look at Strongbridge Biopharma plc (NASDAQ:SBBP), Sierra Oncology, Inc. (NASDAQ:SRRA), Drive Shack Inc. (NYSE:DS), and Ceragon Networks Ltd. (NASDAQ:CRNT). This group of stocks’ market caps are closest to UEC’s market cap.

[table] Ticker, No of HFs with positions, Total Value of HF Positions (x1000), Change in HF Position SBBP,10,12910,1 SRRA,9,42852,0 DS,3,711,-1 CRNT,3,4412,-1 Average,6.25,15221,-0.25 [/table]

View table here if you experience formatting issues.

As you can see these stocks had an average of 6.25 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $15 million. That figure was $2 million in UEC’s case. Strongbridge Biopharma plc (NASDAQ:SBBP) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand Drive Shack Inc. (NYSE:DS) is the least popular one with only 3 bullish hedge fund positions. Uranium Energy Corp. (NYSE:UEC) is not the least popular stock in this group but hedge fund interest is still below average. Our calculations showed that top 10 most popular stocks among hedge funds returned 41.4% in 2019 and outperformed the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) by 10.1 percentage points. These stocks gained 13.9% in 2020 through June 10th and still beat the market by 14.2 percentage points. A small number of hedge funds were also right about betting on UEC as the stock returned 82.1% during the second quarter and outperformed the market by an even larger margin.

[company-follow-email id=1334933][/company-follow-email]

Disclosure: None. This article was originally published at Insider Monkey.

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Source: finance.yahoo.com

Author: Debasis Saha


Asia Pacific markets drop as South Korea falls more than 2%

Asia Pacific markets drop as South Korea falls more than 2%

Stocks in Asia Pacific dropped in Friday afternoon trade after an overnight plunge on Wall Street amid fears of a second wave resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic.

South Korea’s Kospi led losses among the region’s major markets, dropping around 2% to close at 2,132.30 as shares of automaker Hyundai Motor fell 4.61%. The Kosdaq index also declined around 1.45% to 746.06.

Over in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index dropped 1.08% by the afternoon as shares of HSBC fell 1.59%. Mainland Chinese stocks also edged lower, with the Shanghai composite closing almost flat to 2,919.74 while the Shenzhen component edged up marginally to close at 11,251.71.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 shed 0.75% to 22,305.48 while the Topix index fell 1.15% to close at 1,570.68.

Meanwhile, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 declined 1.89% to close at 5,847.80.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 1.51% lower.

“The market needed a breather,” Shaw and Partners’ Senior Investment Adviser Adam Dawes told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Friday. “We’re really confident and comfortable with a pullback because … it’s somewhat needed going forward.”

“For the Australian market and for Asia markets this is a really good pullback,” Dawes said. “”It’s now starting to give us some good opportunities to pick up some stocks that we’ve missed out previously.”

Investor reaction to the overnight drop stateside, which saw stocks suffering their biggest one-day plunge since March, was watched on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 1,861.82 points, or 6.9%, to close at 25,128.17. The S&P 500 slid 5.9% to 3,002.10 while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 5.3%. to end the day at 9,492.73

“Yesterday’s new infection numbers brought the total number of  US COVID19 cases to above two million, with a number of localised hotspots — 18 states are seeing an increase, including Arizona, Florida, Texas and parts of California. And globally, Wednesday’s new case load of 135,000 is the highest daily tally to date,” Ray Attrill, head of foreign exchange strategy at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note.

“Whether the latest COVID-19 news is fanning concerns about fresh lockdowns with all that entails for economic activity, or (and perhaps more realistic, in the US at least) a more extended period of cautious consumer behaviour, it is doubtless a factor behind the sharp falls in stocks,” Attrill said.

Oil prices fell further in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 3.32% to $37.28 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also slipped 3.60% to $35.04 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 96.762 after rising from levels around 96 earlier.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.07 per dollar after seeing an earlier high of 106.57. The Australian dollar was at $0.6858 after plunging from levels above $0.696 observed in the previous trading day.

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

Source: www.cnbc.com

Author: Eustance Huang


Investors Should Root for a Dip in Shopify Stock

Investors Should Root for a Dip in Shopify Stock

Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) has stalled out. A rally to all-time highs last month reversed quickly. SHOP stock has now traded flat over the past five-plus weeks.

That’s not bad news, however. With a name like Shopify, which has gained a staggering 693% in the last three years, it’s almost tempting to assume that flat trading means something has gone wrong.

But SHOP stock has seen these patterns before. The stock consolidated toward the end of last year after a summer swoon. Within three months it had doubled to an all-time high. Shares flattened in the second half of April; new highs again followed. Investors can go back to the second half of 2018 — when SHOP declined — or the quiet summer of 2017. The story has always ended the same way.

To put it simply, we’ve been here before. Each time, SHOP stock simply needed a pause before resuming its upward march. I expect the same pattern will repeat.

In the meantime, investors taking the long view should be rooting hard for another short-term stumble to create an even better buying opportunity.

At this point, I don’t believe there’s much debate over the quality of Shopify as a business. Back in 2017, short seller Citron Research alleged that Shopify was using aggressive tactics in affiliate marketing to create an unsustainable burst in users and revenues. Citron has had some hits — most notably on Valeant Pharmaceuticals, now known as Bausch Health (NYSE:BHC) — but its short case for Shopify was a clear miss.

With those allegations falling flat, there’s simply not much to dislike here. Shopify’s turnkey platform for small and medium businesses is absolutely dominant. The company is moving upmarket to larger customers as well. In a world where small, unique and online are all positive attributes, Shopify is perfectly positioned.

The debate for the most part comes down to valuation. SHOP stock trades at a staggering 46x trailing twelve-month revenue.

We’ll get to valuation in a moment, but it’s worth staying with the business discussion to make a key point. I actually believe Shopify’s business, at this point, is somewhat underrated.

Investor attention focuses on the core platform. But it’s the company’s expanding reach that underpins a growth story that literally has decades to play out.

Shopify’s move into fulfillment last year garnered headlines. But investors should review the news from the company’s Reunite virtual event from last month as well. The announcements Shopify made highlight just how integral the company is becoming to businesses worldwide.

Shopify launched Balance, which provides a business account for entrepreneurs. It includes credit and debit cards, merchant rewards and payment tracking.

The company is enabling “Buy Now, Pay Later” for its merchants. It’s adding a local delivery option. And the event follows the launch of a direct-to-consumer app named Shop.

Investors should understand the totality of these moves. What Shopify is giving merchants — and not just small online retailers — is essentially the ability to act like a much larger company.

Put another way, these efforts, combined with the core platform and fulfillment, bring the benefits of scale to entrepreneurs and businesses who lack that scale.

That is a truly transformative offering. Without exaggeration, Shopify is upending the business world.

And that’s why I think the business has become underrated at this point. Investors know Shopify has a great platform. I’m not sure enough investors realize how much the company’s additional efforts matter.

Skeptics will retort that this all might be true, but SHOP stock still is too expensive. With the exception of Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ:ZM) and Datadog (NASDAQ:DDOG), there isn’t a major tech stock that has a higher price-to-revenue multiple. A forward price-to-earnings multiple over 1,100x seems almost ludicrous.

But there are simple retorts to that concern. First, SHOP stock obviously shouldn’t be cheap. This is a company growing revenue at a 35%-plus clip whose addressable market is absolutely massive. There’s not going to be a market that puts Shopify stock truly “on sale.”

Second, the price-to-earnings multiple is inflated somewhat by thin margins. And those margins are being impacted by investments made in sales, marketing and the new efforts (including fulfillment). Those are precisely the kind of investments Shopify should be making right now.

Finally, its high valuation is not a reason to sell, particularly in this market. Again, good companies are not supposed to be cheap. Given that we’ve seen Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Zoom and so many others rally through short-term valuation fears, that lesson should be learned by now.

SHOP stock is not going to get cheap. The only hope at this point is that it might get cheaper. Again, we’ve seen investors sell off the stock in the past, and after rocky trading Thursday that may occur again.

Long-term investors should hope it does, because Shopify’s stock is a buy at the current price. It would be an even better buy if the market makes the same mistake again.

Matthew McCall left Wall Street to actually help investors — by getting them into the world’s biggest, most revolutionary trends BEFORE anyone else. The power of being “first” gave Matt’s readers the chance to bank +2,438% in Stamps.com (STMP), +1,523% in Ulta Beauty (ULTA) and +1,044% in Tesla (TSLA), just to name a few. Click here to see what Matt has up his sleeve now. Matt does not directly own the aforementioned securities.

Source: investorplace.com

Author: By Matt McCall and the InvestorPlace Research Staff, Editor, MoneyWire


Wall Street Shakes Off Grim Economic News


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