Moderna will supply 12 million doses of its COVID-19 shot adapted to target the Omicron variant of the coronavirus to Canada, the company said on Monday.
The federal government had entered into a deal with the company last year for supply of its COVID-19 vaccine for 2022 and 2023, with the contract allowing access to new vaccine adaptations, company officials said.
Moderna and the Canadian government have agreed to convert six million doses of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine, which targets the original virus, to an Omicron-containing bivalent vaccine.
Canada will also purchase an additional 4.5 million doses of the Omicron-containing candidate, and is moving forward the scheduled delivery of 1.5 million doses of the bivalent vaccine candidate from 2023 to 2022.
Health Canada reviewing vaccine submissions
Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said on Friday that Health Canada staff is working “very fast” to review bivalent vaccine submissions from both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.
A Health Canada spokesperson said Monday that a decision on Moderna’s bivalent vaccine is expected within the next two weeks.
“We also have secure, sufficient supply of the bivalent formulation should the regulatory authorities go on to authorize the vaccines,” Tam said, adding that officials are looking at whether the bivalent vaccine would have an “added benefit.”
The exact timing of the availability of the vaccines to the public will depend on a number of factors, including supply and rollout by local health authorities.
Health Canada has also reached out to both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech to file submissions for vaccines that target Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.
While existing COVID-19 vaccines continue to provide protection against hospitalization and death, vaccine effectiveness has taken a hit as the virus has evolved.
Moderna in June said trial data showed that when given as a fourth dose, the variant-adapted shot raised virus-neutralizing antibodies by eight-fold against Omicron.
Tam said based on the information submitted by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, the bivalent vaccines would protect against the original strain and the BA.1 strain.
Last week, British drug regulators were the first in the world to authorize an updated version of Moderna’s bivalent vaccine.
(Kitco News) – The U.S. dollar’s unrelenting rally to 20-year highs is taking its toll on the gold market as prices prepare to end the week near their lowest point since April 2020.
The greenback’s extraordinary momentum and rising bond yields have shifted sentiment among Wall Street analysts to the bearish side. At the same time, retail investors are slightly more optimistic that prices can push higher next week, according to the latest Kitco News Weekly Gold Survey.
This week, a total of 19 market professionals took part in Kitco News’ Wall Street survey. Ten analysts, or 53%, said they were bearish on gold next week. At the same time, six analysts, or 32%, said they expect higher prices in the near term and three, or 16%, neutral on the precious metal.
On the retail side, 963 respondents took part in online polls. A total of469 voters, or 49%, called for gold to rise. Another 341, or 35%, predicted gold would fall. The remaining 153 voters, or 16%, called for a sideways market.
Sentiment among retail investors has improved from the previous week as bearish sentiment has a slight advantage. December gold futures last traded at $1,655.70 an ounce, down nearly 1.7% from last week.
It has been a volatile week for the gold market as the precious metal managed to hold critical support levels even after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 75 basis points and signaled that the Fed Funds rate could peak above 4.5% next year.
Many analysts said that gold has been able to withstand the U.S. central bank’s aggressive monetary policy stance as the threat of a recession continues to grow. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said he didn’t know if the central bank’s action will push the U.S. economy into a recession, but he added that consumers should expect to see some pain as lower growth is needed to cool inflation.
Analysts said that the threat of a recession created some initial safe-haven demand for gold. However, that sentiment has been overwhelmed by volatility in global currency markets as the British pound saw the biggest price drop since 2016, when the nation voted to leave the European Union.
The selloff was triggered after Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng revealed the government’s new budget with spending commitments ranging between £36 to £45 billion in the next four fiscal years. The massive spending initiative will be paid for with new debt.
“Today’s announcement shows that right now, the U.S. dollar is the only game in town and this will continue to make it difficult for the U.S. dollar,” said Phillip Streible, chief market strategist at Blue Line Futures.
It’s not just gold; analysts note the U.S. dollar’s dominance can be felt in the broad-based selloff throughout the commodity sector.
Although there is still some optimism in the marketplace as many see gold as oversold at current levels, many of the bulls see any rally as a short-term correction.
“We are bound to see a correction in bonds with 10-year yields up 33 bp in just one week while the dollar, sharply higher, is toying with the overbought territory,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank.
Although Hansen is bullish on gold in the near term, he added, “There will be no prolonged recovery until we reach peak hawkishness, potentially still a few months away.”
Marc Chandler, managing director at Bannockburn Global Forex, said he sees a short-term bounce as bond yields consolidate. However, he added that he is watching to see if support at $1,650 can hold.
“A break of that can see $1600-$1620,” he said. “It may be too early to think a significant low in place in gold.”
Many analysts are bearish on gold as they expect the U.S. dollar can still move higher.
“Friday saw the greenback post its highest mark since May 2002 despite being sharply overbought from a technical point of view. If the dollar pulls back next week, gold could rally,” said Darin Newsome, president of Darin Newsom Analysis. “But until that happens, I’ll continue to follow Newton’s First Law of Motion applied to markets: A trending market will stay in that trend until acted upon by an outside force. And for now, the trend of the dollar is up and gold is down.”
Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management, said he is bearish on gold as the precious metal has seen some significant technical damage.
“As much as I think USD is getting overbought and due for a correction, gold not only broke down below $1,680, it also dropped under its 200-day moving average, and those are just too technically significant and bearish to ignore,” he said.
Fears of slower economic growth and a recession in Europe spooked oil markets.
A third consecutive 75bps interest rate hike by the U.S. Fed forced crude prices lower earlier this week.
Oil prices dipped by 5% early on Friday, with the U.S. benchmark slumping to the lowest level since January, on the back of heightened concerns about slowing economic growth and recessions looming.
As of 10:06 a.m. ET on Friday, WTI Crude had dipped below the $80 a barrel mark, and was trading down by 5.58% at $78.83 per barrel. Brent Crude, the international benchmark, was at $86.11, down by 4.81% on the day.
The front-month WTI contract was headed to a drop of more than 5% this week, in which fears of slowing oil demand amid possible recessions trumped the escalation of the Russian war in Ukraine.
Oil prices jumped earlier this week when Vladimir Putin ordered a “partial mobilization” of 300,000 men to send to fight in Ukraine in the first mass draft in Russia since World War II. Putin also hinted at the possibility of using “any means” to defend Russia, which analysts interpreted as a threat he could use nuclear weapons.
Yet, oil prices fell later in the week on the strong dollar and fears of a recession intensified with major central banks hiking interest rates again to fight inflation. This week, the Fed raised the key rate by another 75 basis points for a third consecutive time. On the following day, the Bank of England raised rates by 50 basis points to 2.25%, the highest rate since the start of the 2008 financial crisis.
“Crude oil meanwhile headed lower after spending most of the week confined to a relative tight range with the Powell versus Putin battle (demand versus supply) not having a clear winner until Friday when both Brent and WTI dropped as the FOMC driven slump in risk appetite and growth angst was dialed up a notch as the dollar and yields continued to surge higher,” Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank said in a weekly commodities note on Friday.
“A difficult and potentially volatile quarter awaits with multiple and contradictory uncertainties having their say in the direction. While the risk to growth is being priced in, the market has left it to another day to worry about the supply-reducing impact of an EU embargo on Russian oil and fuel as well as a part reversal of the US selling 180 million barrels from its Strategic Reserves,” Hansen added.
(Kitco News) – Gold is trading near 2.5-year lows after a hawkish Federal Reserve sent the U.S. dollar and Treasury yields higher. This macro environment is likely to push more people away from gold, creating a great buying opportunity, according to analysts.
Volatility in the markets and dramatic FX plays did not leave gold untouched as the precious metal fell another 1.7% this week. After raising rates by 75 basis points for the third time in a row, the Fed upped its funds rate to 4.4% by the end of 2022 and to 4.6% in 2023.
For markets, this could translate into another 75-basis-point hike in November and an additional 50-basis-point increase in December.
“We’ve seen significant increases in the markets’ estimates of what the federal funds rate will do over the next year. It is quite a big difference from a month ago, and it is in line with the Fed being more aggressive,” TD Securities global head of commodity markets strategy Bart Melek told Kitco News. “The real rates are rising. That’s negative for gold. High cost of carry and high opportunity cost will probably drive capital away.”
Also, this type of hawkishness means that the peak in the U.S. dollar rally is still some time away, which is bad news for gold.
“Looks like this dollar rally is not peaking. The current market environment will likely remain unsettling. Fed rate hike expectations are widely swinging. We are not going to see that ease up until we see inflation come down,” OANDA senior market analyst Edward Moya told Kitco News. “The problem is that we do not see the economy weaken quickly. When we do, that’s when you’ll see a peak in the dollar. For gold, it is all about when we see that.”
With the Dow touching the lowest level of the year Friday and more volatility ahead, gold is unlikely to see a strong rally in the short term. “We will not get a strong rush to buy gold just yet. There are low volatility instruments out there that are now giving you some yield. That is taking away from gold,” Moya added.
Eventually, gold will become a safe haven again as the appetite for equities wanes. But before that happens, the economy needs to slow, and inflation needs to decelerate. “Once we start seeing inflation moving into a more benign type level, the Fed can quickly turn. As they went from dovish to hawkish, they can go the other way. But it is unlikely any time soon,” Melek pointed out.
The big risk for the precious metal is a drop below $1,600 an ounce. “If we break $1,600, then $1,540 would be the line in the sand where we start to see buyers emerge. Gold will benefit from safe-haven flows abroad,” said Moya.
Melek also sees gold falling below $1,600 an ounce as likely. “Volatility will be higher going forward. As volatility increases, margin calls increase. Long positions can’t be extended. We are not going to see a big reentrance of positions. Nasty environment for gold,” he described.
Gold is watching the upcoming employment and inflation data from September. “The market is still looking at very tight labor conditions in the U.S. and implication that wage pressures will continue to be an issue,” Melek said.
Market consensus calls are looking for the U.S. economy to have created 300,000 positions in September, with the unemployment rate at 3.5%, which is near 50-year lows.
On a positive note, gold at these levels is a great entry point for buyers.
“This makes physical gold cheaper. It’s a buying opportunity. The Fed has been stressing that they have a dual mandate. And as inflation gets under control, the Fed could be quick to reverse in 2023. Real rates will be much more friendly to gold. I do expect gold to do well in the long-term,” Melek said.
However, for now, resistance is at $1,678-80, and support is around the $1,580 an ounce level, he added.
Next week’s data
Tuesday: Fed Chair Powell speaks, U.S. durable goods orders, CB consumer confidence, new home sales Wednesday: U.S. pending home sales Thursday: U.S. jobless claims, GDP Q2 Friday: U.S. persoanl income and PCE price index, Michigan consumer sentiment
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