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Asian stocks reach 29-month top, China services surprisingly strong

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian shares notched a 29-month high on Monday as investors wagered monetary and fiscal policies globally would stay super stimulatory, while an upbeat reading on China’s service sector augured well for continued recovery there.

FILE PHOTO: Passersby wearing protective face masks following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are reflected on a screen displaying stock prices outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.5% to reach its highest since March 2018, extending a 2.8% gain last week.

Chinese blue chips .CSI300 firmed 0.7% to reach levels not seen since mid-2015. Surveys showed Chinese manufacturing activity edged back a tick to 51.0 in July, but services jumping a full point to 55.2 in a hopeful sign of reviving consumer demand.

E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 ESc1 climbed another 0.5%, while EUROSTOXX 50 futures STXEc1 added 1%.

Tokyo’s Nikkei .N225 rallied 1.9% aided by news Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N) had bought more than 5% stakes in each of the five leading Japanese trading companies.

The Nikkei had dipped on Friday after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s resignation stirred doubts about future fiscal and monetary stimulus policies.

Those concerns were eased somewhat by news Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, and a close ally of Abe, would join the race to succeed his boss. A slimmed-down leadership contest is likely around Sept. 13 to 15.

Attention was now on a host of Federal Reserve officials that are set to speak this week, kicking off with Vice Chair Richard Clarida later Monday as they put more flesh on the bank’s new policy framework

Fed Chair Jerome Powell boosted stock markets last week by committing to keep inflation at 2% on average, allowing prices to run hotter to balance periods when they undershot.

The risk of higher inflation in the future, assuming the Fed can get it there, was enough to push up longer-term Treasury yields and sharply steepen the yield curve.

Yields on 30-year bonds US30YT=RR jumped almost 16 basis points last week and were last at 1.52%, 139 basis points above the two-year yield. The spread was now approaching the June gap of 146 basis points which was the largest since late 2017.

That shift was of little benefit to the U.S. dollar given the prospect of short rates staying super-low for longer, and the currency fell broadly.

Early Monday, the dollar index was off at 92.341 =USD and just a whisker above the recent two-year low of 92.127. The euro stood at $1.1902 EUR=, having climbed 0.9% last week.

Marshall Gittler, head of investment research at BDSwiss Group, noted speculators had already built up record levels of long positions in the euro which could work to limit further gains.

“A truly crowded trade that will take more news to push higher,” he argued.

The dollar did steady a little on the yen at 105.55 JPY=, after dropping 1.1% on Friday before finding support in the 105.10/20 zone.

In commodity markets, the weakness in the dollar helped underpin gold at $1,969 an ounce XAU=. [GOL/]

Oil prices steadied, having dipped on Friday after Hurricane Laura passed the heart of the U.S. oil industry without causing any widespread damage. [O/R]

Brent crude LCOc1 futures rose 26 cents to $46.07 a barrel, while U.S. crude CLc1 gained 13 cents to $43.10.

Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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Tesla slashes the price of the Powerpack by 27% on Battery Day – Electrek

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Tesla has greatly reduced the price of its Powerpack battery system today ahead of its Battery Day event.

Powerpack hasn’t been talked about much lately.

It has been relegated to the background since Tesla introduced the bigger Megapack for utility-scale projects.

However, Tesla is still making the product and it is still being used for many commercial-scale projects, like Electrify America’s charging stations.

Now we’ve learned that Tesla is slashing the price of the Powerpack.

Earlier this year, Electrek reported that Tesla revealed the price of the battery system through its new commercial solar configurator.

At the time, the Powerpack was being sold for $172,000 before incentives and including a commercial inverter.

Now a tipster pointed out to Electrek that Tesla has updated the pricing today, reducing the Powerpack to $125,000:

It brings the cost of the system down to $539 per kWh, but that’s including the expensive commercial inverter.

The price per kWh goes down significantly when adding more Powerpacks to the same inverter system.

That’s also without incentives.

Tesla’s price guide for commercial solar is only available in California, where they have strong incentives for energy storage for self-generation.

According to Tesla’s configurator, a Powerpack can be added to a 40 kW solar system for just $26,000 after incentives.

The price change happens as Tesla is about to announce new batteries at its Battery Day event later today.

Electrek’s Take

While the timing is interesting, it could be completely coincidental, but I guess we will know in just a few hours.

It is a significant price drop before incentives, but the system was already expensive to start with.

The price difference might also be on the inverter side and not the battery side.

Either way, it is worth noting, especially considering the crazy incentives in California. If I was a business owner in California, I would certainly consider this solution.

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Canada signs deal with VBI Vaccines to develop coronavirus candidate by 2022 – Global News

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VBI Vaccines Inc said on Monday it had entered into an agreement with Canada to develop a potential vaccine for COVID-19 by 2022 through mid-stage trials conducted exclusively in the country.

Canada will contribute around 75% of the U.S.-based company’s development costs and C$55.9 million ($42.2 million) for the project.

VBI Vaccines said last month that together with the National Research Council Canada it was investigating the vaccine candidate, VBI-2900, in preclinical trials.

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As per the agreement, signed last week, the company’s Ottawa-based unit is obligated to complete the vaccine development in or before the first quarter of 2022.






3:06
Ottawa signs 2 new COVID-19 vaccine deals for Canada


Ottawa signs 2 new COVID-19 vaccine deals for Canada

There are currently no approved vaccines for COVID-19, but around 38 vaccines are being tested in humans around the world.

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© 2020 Reuters

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Wall Street falls, S&P 500 down 1.2% as global markets swoon – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Stan Choe, Damian J. Troise And Alex Veiga, The Associated Press


Published Monday, September 21, 2020 3:03PM EDT


Last Updated Monday, September 21, 2020 11:23PM EDT

NEW YORK – Wall Street slumped Monday as markets tumbled worldwide on worries about the pandemic’s economic pain, though the S&P 500 had pared its losses by the end of the day.

The drops began in Asia as soon as trading opened for the week, and they accelerated in Europe on worries about the possibility of tougher restrictions there to stem rising coronavirus counts. In the U.S., stocks and Treasury yields weakened, while prices sank for oil and other commodities that a healthy economy would demand.

The S&P 500 fell 38.41 points, or 1.2%, to 3,281.06. It extends the index’s losing streak to four days, its longest since stocks were selling off in February on recession worries. But a last-hour recovery helped the index more than halve its loss of 2.7% from earlier in the day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 509.72, or 1.8%, to 27,147.70 after coming back from an earlier 942 point slide. The Nasdaq composite slipped 14.48, or 0.1%, to 10,778.80 after recovering from a 2.5% drop.

Wall Street has been shaky this month, and the S&P 500 has dropped 8.4% since hitting a record Sept. 2 amid a long list of worries for investors. Chief among them is fear that stocks got too expensive when coronavirus counts are still worsening, Congress is unable to deliver more aid for the economy, U.S.-China tensions are rising and a contentious U.S. election is approaching.

Investors should expect the stock market to stay volatile, perhaps through the November elections, as they wait for these questions to shake out, said Jason Draho, head of asset allocation for the Americas at UBS Global Wealth Management.

Monday’s selling was exacerbated by worries about the possibility of more business restrictions in Europe, particularly as the United States heads into flu season, Draho said, and “some investors may be stepping aside.”

David Joy, chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial, noted how Monday’s sharpest drops were concentrated in areas of the market most closely tied to the economy’s strength, such as energy companies and raw-material producers.

“It seems to be a broader expression of worry about the economy,” he said.

Bank stocks took sharp losses after a report alleged that several continue to profit from illicit dealings with criminal networks despite U.S. crackdowns on money laundering.

Shares of electric and hydrogen-powered truck startup Nikola plunged 19.3% after its founder resigned as executive chairman and left its board amid allegations of fraud. The company has called the allegations false and misleading.

General Motors, which recently signed a partnership deal where it would take an ownership stake in Nikola, fell 4.8%.

Investors are also worried about the diminishing prospects that Congress may soon deliver more aid to the economy. Many investors call such support crucial after extra weekly unemployment benefits and other stimulus expired. But partisan disagreements have held up any renewal of what’s known as the CARES Act.

“The stimulus money from the CARES Act, the impact of that, is running off and there doesn’t seem to be any urgency in Washington to get another package together,” said Joy of Ameriprise Financial..

Partisan rancour is only continuing to rise, deflating hopes further. The sudden vacancy on the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the latest flashpoint dividing the country.

Tensions between the world’s two largest economies are also weighing on markets. President Donald Trump has targeted Chinese tech companies in particular, and the Department of Commerce on Friday announced a list of prohibitions that could eventually cripple U.S. operations of Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat. The government cited national security and data privacy concerns.

That raises the threat of Chinese retaliation against U.S. companies.

A U.S. judge over the weekend ordered a delay to the restrictions on WeChat, a communications app popular with Chinese-speaking Americans, on First Amendment grounds.

Trump also said on Saturday he gave his blessing to a proposed deal between TikTok, Oracle and Walmart to create a new company that would likely be based in Texas.

Layered on top of all those concerns for the market is the continuing coronavirus pandemic and its effect on the global economy.

On Sunday, the British government reported 4,422 new coronavirus infections, its biggest daily rise since early May. An official estimate shows new cases and hospital admissions are doubling every week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson later this week is expected to announce a slate of short-term restrictions that will act as a “circuit breaker” to slow the spread of the disease. The number of cases has been rising quickly in many European countries and while authorities don’t seem ready to return to the tough restrictions on public life that they imposed in the spring, the new wave of the pandemic threatens the economic outlook.

The FTSE 100 in London dropped 3.4%. Other European markets were similarly weak. The German DAX lost 4.4%, and the French CAC 40 fell 3.7%.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 2.1%, South Korea’s Kospi fell 1% and stocks in Shanghai lost 0.6%.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 0.66% from 0.69% late Friday.

September’s losses for markets are reversing months of remarkable gains. Beginning in late March, when the Federal Reserve and Congress pledged massive amounts of support for the economy, the S&P 500 erased its nearly 34% in losses caused by the pandemic. Signs of budding economic improvements accelerated the gains, but growth has slowed recently.

AP Business Writer Joe McDonald contributed.

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