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Pro-Biden super PAC plans Super Tuesday investment as former vice president starts a comeback – CNBC



Democratic presidential hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 22, 2020.


A political action committee backing Joe Biden’s run for president has decided to invest in key Super Tuesday states as they pick up wealthy financiers in the wake of what appears to be a comeback for the former vice president.

In the wake of Biden’s successful debate, and a separate town hall in South Carolina, Unite the Country, a pro-Biden super PAC, has seen a surge in high dollar contributions from donors, one of its leaders told CNBC on Thursday. That’s allowed the organization to invest into delegate rich primary states that are set to take place on Super Tuesday, which is scheduled for March 3. The PAC will first target voters in Alabama and North Carolina with radio and digital ads.

“We’ve done very well in terms of the response with everything that’s happened the last couple of weeks,” Larry Rasky, the group’s treasurer, told CNBC. “I would say things are starting to resonate with donors,” he said, while pointing to Biden’s debate and town hall performances as two reasons why donors are writing big checks to the PAC. Rasky noted that a new poll in the key state of Florida, which shows Biden surging ahead of former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, also peaked interest from donors.

Bloomberg was, at first, slowly picking up some of Biden’s top fundraisers, but since his sluggish debate performance in Nevada two weeks ago, many of those people have decided to shift back into the former vice president’s corner and give to the super PAC instead, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The PAC has also started to acquire donors who were backing other primary contenders, this person noted.

Rasky would not say how much they are investing into the states or the amount they have raised but noted that they plan to focus more of their resources toward other Super Tuesday states. Contrary to campaigns, super PACs can raise and spend an unlimited amount of money. In January, the pro-Biden PAC raised just over $4 million and spent $3.8 million, according to a Federal Election Commission filing. Their recent fundraising success was on the backs of business executives such as Silicon Valley investor Reid Hoffman, who contributed $500,000 last month, along with Blackstone executive, John McCormick.

The move by the super PAC comes as Biden is looking to pick up his first primary victory in South Carolina and trying to find momentum into next week’s Super Tuesday contests. Sen. Bernie Sanders has become the Democratic primary frontrunner after seeing victories in New Hampshire and Nevada.

The Biden campaign launched a separate six figure ad buy that will include broadcast spots in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Biden is looking to overtake Sanders while he continues to lead in most polls and in the delegate count. A Real Clear Politics polling average has Biden in second behind Sanders, followed by Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former mayor Pete Buttigieg.

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Investment advisors worry U.S. response to coronavirus is too little too late – National Post



NEW YORK — Investment-advisors are increasingly worried that U.S. authorities are not be doing enough to prevent a widespread outbreak of coronavirus in the country, potentially adding further downside to already-battered markets.

Their criticisms include the number of people so far tested by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which some say is too small, the possible difficulties of imposing lockdowns on U.S. cities and concerns that the White House could bungle containment efforts.

The worries have magnified the uncertainty that has accompanied the coronavirus outbreak over the last several weeks, as investors scramble to adjust their portfolios to price in the virus’ potential for damage to the global economy and assess its further impact on asset prices.

The CDC states on its website that “as of Feb. 24, CDC teams are working with the Department of Homeland Security at 11 airports where all flights from China are being directed to screen travelers returning to the United States, and to refer them to U.S. health departments for oversight of self-monitoring.”

U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said as of Thursday morning the CDC had tested 3,625 specimens for the fast-moving virus.

For some investors and analysts, those assurances ring hollow.

“Much of what we’ve seen about this virus has shaken confidence in governments,” said James Bianco, head of Chicago-based advisory firm Bianco Research.

His list includes doubts over China’s accuracy in counting cases, criticism over Japan’s handling of a cruise ship quarantine at one of its ports, and the comparatively small number of people that U.S. authorities have so far tested.

Worries over the growing number of cases outside China sent the S&P 500 into intraday correction territory on Thursday morning. Stocks took an earlier hit on Wednesday after health officials in Nassau County, New York, said they were monitoring 83 people who visited China and may have come in contact with the coronavirus. Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state has had no confirmed cases so far.

On Wednesday evening, U.S. President Donald Trump told Americans that the risk from coronavirus remained “very low,” and appointed Vice President Mike Pence to run the U.S. response to the looming global health crisis.

Bianco said he fears many investors are still complacent about how quickly the number of cases could multiply in the United States, as it has in countries such as Iran, Italy and South Korea.

He is advising his clients to tread lightly until the full extent of the outbreak is known.

“I would rather risk a lost opportunity by being out of the market or underweight and finding out that this is not a big deal, than being fully invested and worrying that this will get worse,” Bianco said.


Others are concerned over the consequences if the United States were forced to implement a lockdown similar to the one imposed by Chinese authorities on Hubei Province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

Wuhan, Hubei’s capital, imposed strict controls on movement of residents, then eased them, then later announced that the relaxation had been revoked. Such measures could be more difficult to enforce in the United States.

“Those of us sitting here in Hong Kong looking at financial markets think there is a tremendous amount of risk in the system,” said Simon Powell, equity strategist at Jefferies in Hong Kong.

Powell is particularly worried that there could be spread of the virus from people from countries outside China which were not subject to travel restrictions coming into the United States. He is particularly concerned about the outbreak in Iran.

Iran said on Thursday that its coronavirus death toll had risen to 26, by far the highest number outside China. The death rate among confirmed cases of the virus has been running at around 10% in Iran compared to around 3% elsewhere.

Powell also thinks that a Trump government is unlikely to choose reduced economic activity , writing in a recent research note that “our base case hypothesis is that a Trump government is unlikely to choose reduced economic activity, and supply chain disruption, so spread of the virus, if it were to emerge in the US, would be more likely.”

Others have pointed to what they believe are shortcomings in the CDC’s approach.

“The initial response from the U.S. has been targeted to mount a response to confirmed high-risk or infected cases, not directed to a more generalized public health containment,” said Wouter Jongbloed, head of policy and risk analysis at New York-based Exante Data.

With coronavirus having spread well outside China, CDC testing was “likely insufficiently effective in preventing a potential outbreak in the U.S.,” Jongbloed said. (Reporting by Megan Davies; Additional reporting by Ira Iosebashvili; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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Ottawa-based real estate investment group looking to build retail space behind LCBO – mybancroftnow.com



If you have gone to the LCBO recently, you might have noticed the large sign out front touting the future development of an 8,000 square foot retail space.

Director of Leasing for Properties Group Bruce Barrett’s name and phone number are listed on the sign. He tells the MyBancroftNow.com newsroom the Ottawa-based real estate investment and management firm wants to bring in two, maybe three retailers to occupy the space. “Because of the proximity of our site to the neighbouring tenants of Canadian Tire and the LCBO, there has been a little bit of interest,” he says. Barrett adds that Bancroft being a popular destination for cottagers has also helped build interest in the future retail space.

Barrett says they are looking to bring in “traditional” retail or services, not a restaurant. “Simply because of the structure of the centre,” he explains. “We don’t have the capacity to handle a sit-down restaurant.” He says that’s due to the well and septic system set-up at the lot.

He says they have gotten calls from interested businesses, noting he is in conversation with one group interested in taking up 4,000 square feet for retail space. Barrett isn’t able to name the businesses but says they have talked to national retailers about occupying space on the lot. He says they’re also in talks with some “service-oriented” groups. No calls have come in from any locals looking to set-up shop.

“The ideal plan is two tenants with 4,000 square feet each,” Barrett explains.

“I would love to tell you we have something locked in, but we have nothing at the moment,” he says. Barrett says their goal is to have something starts by 2021, or early 2022. “If we were able to lock down a lease this year, finish our planning and go through those stages and go on to construction it would be an 18-to-22 month curve,” he explains.

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Gold producers focused on dividends; investment sentiment upbeat – BMO – Kitco NEWS



(Kitco News) – Investors remained optimistic about equities of gold-mining companies, and producers remained focused on returning capital to shareholders, in particular by paying dividends.

Those are some of the takeaways of analysts at BMO Capital Markets following the Canadian bank’s 29th annual conference for investors and representatives of the mining industry this week. Company officials gave presentations over a three-day period. BMO analysts listed their overall assessment in a followup 102-page report issued late Wednesday.

The BMO conference drew with roughly 500 investors and 753 corporate attendees, including 142 presenting companies.

“Anecdotally, we have found the mood at the conference to be relatively mixed – optimistic toward gold equities, while more cautious toward base metals/bulk commodities,” BMO said. “The general investor expectation is that gold can maintain its current high levels for a prolonged period, though admit that the strength of the recent rally has been surprising.

“Meanwhile, base metals and bulks fundamentals remain overshadowed by the current situation in China,” BMO continued, referring to coronavirus outbreak that has impacted the economy in the key consuming nation for base metals.

In terms of terms of commodity preferences, investors are generally bullish on gold and other precious metals, particularly as Treasury yields fall, BMO said. Copper is a favorite among base metals, due to potential demand growth, asset scarcity and a grade decline, and potential new sources of demand from the green economy.

BMO said senior gold producers appear “firmly focused” on paying dividends.

“Capital returns continue to be the preferred asset allocation decision amongst large-cap gold producers,” BMO said. “In our investor polls on Monday, we saw a clear bias toward dividends, particularly for the largest miners. As balance sheets are strong, production profiles are relatively flat in the near term, and investors are optimistic…in the persistence of high gold prices, the market is clearly messaging its preference for capital returns rather than accelerating growth or raise cut-off grades at existing operations.”

Meanwhile, many medium-sized gold producers have undertaken transactions that puts their annual output above 1 million ounces, “arguably justifying higher valuation multiples,” BMO said.

“For many of those that have not transacted, and for some that have, capital returns via share buybacks and∕or dividends are being pursued at an increased level,” BMO continued. “With the gold price moving favorably recently, there also seems to be a resurgent desire for growth in the smaller producer space, which may spur continued M&A [mergers and acquisitions] in 2020.”

Producers of base metals are walking a “fine line” between capital returns, shareholder returns, innovations, adapting to a green economy, and cash flow from long-lived, low-cost assets, BMO said. This sector was described as being in the early stages of a significant transition and will continue to evolve over the next decade.

BMO characterized the growing Covid-19 epidemic as “the elephant in the room,” commenting that most producers indicated no direct impact on their sales yet, although some flagged challenges in the chain for raw materials sourced from China.

Meanwhile, BMO analysts said they sensed a more serious attitude toward efforts in “ESG,” or environmental, social, governance. There has been a risen in sustainable, green and ethics investment funds in recent years.

“Major diversified miners each addressed sustainability themes extensively through their presentations; some base-metal miners are shifting their asset portfolios toward increasingly ‘green’ initiatives, senior gold producers featured social programs as key aspects of their identities, while the mini-mill steel producers highlighted the increasing importance of their environmentally advantaged production process,” BMO said.

The chief executive of Anglo American, Mark Cutifani, reiterated a commitment to exit the thermal coal business within five years.

“Several other miners have also indicated plans to realign their asset portfolios to the expected needs of a low-carbon world,” BMO said.

A number of companies also emphasized efforts to move toward more environmentally friendly energy sources an effort to reduce emissions, BMO continued. 

“All of the major companies that presented highlighted their efforts to this end, which range from building/sourcing renewable energy generation (Anglo American, Antofagasta, BHP, Teck Resources) to mine electrification (Anglo American, Boliden, Newmont) and the hydrogen economy (Anglo American),” BMO said. “One of the challenges facing mining companies is how to measure the effectiveness of emissions-reduction strategies, given a lack of consensus in emission-reporting standards, uncertainty around carbon pricing, and where the responsibility for Scope 3 targets will ultimately lie.”

“Of these themes, renewable energy generation was the most prevalent. Several miners have committed to increasing their own exposure to renewable energy.”

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