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Dow Jones Plunges 600 Points as Big Tech Stocks Tumble – Motley Fool

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High-flying tech stocks were selling off hard on Thursday, driving the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) down 1.8% by 11:45 a.m. EDT. Filings for jobless claims declined slightly last week from the week before, according to a Labor Department report, but a change in methodology muddled the numbers.

Dragging down the Dow were resident tech giants Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM), and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). The three stocks, which have all soared this year, were under intense pressure on Thursday.

A man with hands on his hand and a scared expression.

Image source: Getty Images.

Big tech tumbles

The major tech stocks that have been driving the stock market rally hit a brick wall on Thursday. The three biggest losers in the Dow were Apple, Salesforce, and Microsoft. The stocks were down 5.1%, 4.9%, and 4.4%, respectively, by late morning.

Shares of all three have logged exceptional years so far. Apple stock has soared nearly 70% since the start of 2020, buoyed by surprise sales growth during the worst of the pandemic. Salesforce stock has jumped over 60%, with a big chunk of that gain coming after an earnings report in August that beat expectations. And Microsoft stock is up around 40% thanks to the strength of its cloud computing businesses.

While the three tech giants have been performing well, valuations have become stretched. Apple and Microsoft trade for just below 40 times earnings, and Salesforce trades for over 100 times earnings. For comparison, the S&P 500 sports a price-to-earnings ratio of 30. Only during the dot-com bubble and the financial crisis has the index carried a higher earnings multiple.

When valuations become detached from the fundamentals, stocks can soar to dizzying heights and crash to stomach-churning lows independent of the underlying companies’ results. One bad day doesn’t mean these high-flying tech stocks are destined to plunge, but the enthusiasm for these pricey investments may be beginning to wane.

All three companies will face challenges in the coming months. Apple’s success during the pandemic was almost certainly due in part to unprecedented economic stimulus measures putting cash into consumers’ pockets. Direct payments to Americans, an extra $600 weekly unemployment payment, and vastly lower spending on travel and restaurants no doubt boosted demand for iPhones and other Apple gadgets.

While another stimulus bill may come eventually, it will likely be far less generous than the CARES Act. Apple will be launching new iPhones soon into the worst economy in many years. It’s hard to imagine demand for high-end smartphones holding up.

Salesforce and Microsoft are both exposed to IT budgets being tightened in a tough economy, although neither company has experienced much pain so far. Salesforce is a subscription software company, so its recurring revenue streams may prove more robust than one-off software sales. But even a subscription business model won’t protect Salesforce if a meaningful number of its customers downsize or fail during the recession.

The story is much the same for Microsoft. Sales of Office, Windows, and cloud services could suffer if businesses tighten their belts. On the consumer side, a boom in PC sales during the pandemic is unlikely to be the new normal.

While the rally in tech stocks may not be over, Thursday’s rout offers investors a reminder that stocks can move in two directions.

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Alberta could lead Canada in wind and solar power by 2025 – CBC.ca

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Growth in Alberta’s renewable energy sector should continue its upward trend, experts say, with one forecast anticipating a surge of projects that could have the province poised to be the Canadian leader in utility-scale wind and solar capacity as soon as 2025.

Rystad Energy tracks utility-scale wind and solar assets with at least one MWac (megawatt alternating current) in capacity. It forecasts that 83 percent of the combined, utility-scale wind and solar capacity built in Canada over the next five years will be in Alberta. That wouldn’t include smaller renewable development, like residential rooftop solar.

With the forecast growth, Rystad analyst Felix Tan expects Alberta will have the largest combined total of utility-scale wind and solar capacity in the country by the middle of the decade, overtaking Ontario.

“Alberta is sort of playing catch up,” Tan said in an interview from New York.

“We have seen a lot of capacity build out over the past two, three, four years in places like Ontario, in B.C. and Quebec.”

According to the data Rystad tracks, Alberta’s current renewable capacity includes 0.1 gigawatt (GW) of solar and 1.8 GW of wind. By 2025, it expects that to grow to 1.8 GW of solar and 6.5 GW of wind. 

Rystad forecasts Ontario will have about 1.8 GW solar, 5.8 GW wind in 2025.   

Tan said Alberta’s commitment to stop burning coal to generate electricity by 2030 “opens the door” for wind and solar to play a larger role. 

In this file photo, a solar field can be seen situated directly adjacent to the Trans-Canada Highway near Brooks. Alberta is said to have some of the best sunlight in the country for solar electricity. (Kyle Bakx/CBC)

He also said the province’s deregulated electricity market creates a favourable environment for solar and wind development.

The market allows corporate buyers to enter into contracts with wind and solar generators directly — something a growing number of companies are expected to seek as they look to green their operations.

Blake Shaffer, an assistant professor in the department of economics and school of public policy at the University of Calgary, isn’t anticipating as much growth as Rystad projects, but he agrees with the forecast’s direction.

“We’re going to continue to add renewables in this province,” said Shaffer, whose work focuses on electricity markets, climate policy and energy transitions.

“Whether or not we surpass Ontario in that timeframe, I can’t say definitively right now. But certainly it’s going to grow. And it’s simply a function that the cost of building renewables has just gotten so cheap.”

Like Tan, he also sees the benefit of Alberta’s competitive market structure for electricity. 

Shaffer said Texas, a place with a long history in oil and gas, has become a growth centre for renewables in the United States. He believes Alberta will also become a growth leader in renewable energy.

“That’s not because of an intrinsic love for renewables,” he said. 

“It’s simply that we have the best resource in terms of what we call capacity factor — so the frequency with which the wind blows here is high, which makes the unit cost low.”

He said Alberta’s solar resources are second only to Saskatchewan.

A number of multimillion-dollar wind and solar projects are planned for Alberta in the next few years.

Edmonton International Airport and Alpin Sun announced this summer they are working on an agreement that will see the company develop Airport City Solar, a 254-hectare solar farm on the west side of the airport lands.

The massive Travers Solar project in Vulcan County is also in works.

The $750-million project, led by Calgary’s Greengate Power, will consist of 1.5 million solar panels and generate about 800 million kWh a year, enough to power more than 100,000 homes.

CEO Dan Balaban said if things go to plan, they hope to begin construction later this year.

“It’ll be by far the largest [solar project] in Canada,” he said.  “And I think there’s certainly the potential for more mega renewable energy projects in this country and in this province as time goes on.”

Balaban said the discussion around energy shouldn’t be framed as oil and gas versus renewable energy.

“I think we should be developing our oil and gas resources and our renewable energy resources,” he said. “We have a phenomenal opportunity in this province if we can all work together.”

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Banks moved alleged dirty money despite red flags: Reports – Aljazeera.com

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Several global banks moved large sums of allegedly illicit funds over a period of nearly two decades, despite red flags about the origins of the money, BuzzFeed and other media have reported, citing confidential documents submitted by banks to the United States government.

The series of news reports on Sunday was partly based on documents, called suspicious activity reports (SARs), filed by banks and other financial firms with the US Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

The SARs, which the reports said numbered more than 2,100, were obtained by BuzzFeed News and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and other media organisations.

In all, the ICIJ reported that the files contained information about more than $2 trillion worth of transactions between 1999 and 2017, which were flagged by internal compliance departments of financial institutions as suspicious. The SARs are in themselves not necessarily proof of wrongdoing.

Five global banks appeared most often in the documents – HSBC, JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered and Bank of New York Mellon (BNY Mellon), the ICIJ reported.

A bank has a maximum of 60 days to file SARs after the date of the initial detection of a reportable transaction, according to the Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. 

Delay in reporting

The ICIJ report said that in some cases, the banks failed to report suspect transactions until years after they had processed them.

The SARs also showed that banks often moved funds for companies that were registered in offshore havens, such as the British Virgin Islands, and did not know the ultimate owner of the account, the report said.

Among the types of transactions highlighted by the report: funds processed by JPMorgan for potentially corrupt individuals and companies in Venezuela, Ukraine and Malaysia; money from a Ponzi scheme moving through HSBC; and money linked to a Ukrainian billionaire processed by Deutsche Bank.

In a statement to Reuters news agency, HSBC said “all of the information provided by the ICIJ is historical”.

The bank said that as of 2012, “HSBC embarked on a multi-year journey to overhaul its ability to combat financial crime across more than 60 jurisdictions.”

Standard Chartered said in a statement to Reuters, “We take our responsibility to fight financial crime extremely seriously and have invested substantially in our compliance programmes.”

‘Kleptocracy tour’ highlights London money-laundering

BNY Mellon told Reuters it could not comment on specific SARs.

“We fully comply with all applicable laws and regulations, and assist authorities in the important work they do,” the bank said.

JPMorgan did not immediately respond to a request for comment but said in a statement to BuzzFeed that “thousands of employees and hundreds of millions of dollars are devoted to helping support law enforcement and national security efforts”.

Deutsche Bank said in a statement on Sunday that to the “extent that information referenced by the ICIJ is derived from SARs, it should be noted that this is information that is pro-actively identified and submitted by banks to governments pursuant to the law.”

FinCEN said in a statement on its website on September 1 that it was aware that various media outlets intended to publish a series of articles based on unlawfully disclosed SARs, as well as other documents, and said that the “unauthorized disclosure of SARs is a crime that can impact the national security of the United States”.

Representatives for the US Treasury did not immediately respond to an email for comment on Sunday.

SOURCE:
Reuters news agency

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Second AstraZeneca volunteer reportedly suffers rare neurological condition, but UK company says it’s not related to vaccine – RT

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Two people have fallen ill during the trials of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine in the UK, the company’s internal papers revealed, and a source said they had both suffered from the same serious neurological disorder. 

The company published details of the trials on Saturday, after facing criticism over the lack of transparency surrounding the testing of the much-anticipated vaccine against the virus, which has so far infected more than 30.8 million people and caused over 958,000 fatalities worldwide.

The first participant of the British trials – which are being conducted in conjunction with Oxford University – fell ill after receiving one dose of the experimental vaccine in July. 

The female volunteer was later diagnosed with transverse myelitis, a rare inflammatory disease that affects the spinal cord, causing weakness, sensory alterations, and autonomic nervous-system dysfunction. The company’s spokeswoman later told the media the volunteer had undiagnosed multiple sclerosis, and the trials resumed.




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AstraZeneca vaccine volunteer developed spinal inflammation & ‘rare neurological condition’ after two doses – report



The second female recipient of the vaccine suffered complications after the follow-up dose in September. AstraZeneca didn’t confirm her diagnosis, but a source told the New York Times it was also transverse myelitis. 

On September 6, trials of the drug were paused again, after the second woman felt ill, but they resumed in Britain, Brazil, India, and South Africa less than a week later. The US hasn’t yet green-lighted the continuation of the test, however. 

AstraZeneca, which has administered its vaccine to some 18,000 people worldwide, said in internal documents that the two cases of the illness were “unlikely to be associated with the vaccine, or there was insufficient evidence to say for certain that the illnesses were or were not related to the vaccine.” 

Transverse myelitis is a serious and rare disease, and its repeated cases among the participants of the trials may well see AstraZeneca losing its vaccine bid all together. 

AstraZeneca’s vaccine uses a monkey adenovirus that shares a gene with the Covid-19 coronavirus. It’s an untested method of vaccine development, according to Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund that bankrolled the Russian vaccine development.




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Are Western attacks on the Russian Covid-19 vaccine a corporate cold war against humanity?



Unlike AstraZeneca’s jab, Russia’s Sputnik V, the world’s first registered vaccine, uses human adenoviruses as a vector – an extensively studied approach.

Earlier this month, respected British medical journal The Lancet published the Russian Ministry of Health’s Sputnik V study, showing the vaccine to be 100 percent effective, producing antibodies in all 76 participants of early-stage trials.

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