Valneva, the French Covid-19 vaccine maker backed by the UK government, has filed for a US initial public offering seeking to take advantage of investor appetite for biotechnology during the pandemic. The Paris-listed company, with a market cap of more than €1bn, filed to raise $100m in American Depositary Shares, the day after Vaccitech, the Oxford spinout that owns the platform behind the AstraZeneca vaccine, published its filing. Valneva has a deal worth up to €1.4bn to supply Covid-19 vaccines to the UK, manufacturing the doses in a Scottish factory expanded with government funds. The UK has already agreed to buy 100m shots and has an option to purchase 90m more by 2025. Valneva has already received almost £100m from the government. But in its filing, Valneva warned that any restrictions on importing or exporting vaccines out of the EU could have a “substantial” risk to its operation. The vaccine is due to be manufactured in the UK but put into vials and packaged in the EU, it said. Shortfalls in supply of vaccines to the EU have led to tensions between the UK and the EU over importing shots and raw materials for the current approved jabs from Oxford/AstraZeneca and BioNTech/Pfizer. Valneva’s filing comes after it announced positive early stage trial results for its Covid-19 earlier this week, planning to launch a later stage study this month and apply for a UK approval in the autumn. The phase 1 and 2 study showed the shot elicited more antibodies in the participants receiving the highest dose than are usually seen in recovered Covid-19 patients, with over 90 per cent producing significant levels of antibodies. The jab also induced a response from another key part of the immune system, the T-cells. The vaccine, which uses a whole inactivated virus, a more traditional approach than the currently approved shots, could be used as a booster for the vaccinated or to tackle variants of the virus. Valneva said even though it would be approved much later, it could have a competitive advantage against its rivals.  “We believe that, if approved, our vaccine, as an inactivated virus vaccine, could offer benefits in terms of safety, cost, ease of manufacture and distribution compared to currently approved vaccines and could be adapted to offer protection against mutations of the virus,” it said in the filing. But it also said that it did not yet have the rights to use the strain of virus in the vaccine on the commercial market. It is in the process of negotiating a commercial agreement with the World Health Organisation and the Italian National Institute for Infectious Diseases. Valneva is also developing vaccines for Lyme Disease and chikungunya, a virus transmitted by mosquitoes. Total revenue was €110m in 2020, down from €126m in 2019, as sales of its travel vaccines were hit by restrictions on travel during the pandemic. It made a loss of €0.71 per share last year, after it had to make a €7.4m writedown, partly because of the limited shelf life of the products. Valneva also had to renegotiate a debt financing agreement last year as it was at risk of not meeting the minimum revenue covenant.
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Serial trophy home buyer Larry Ellison has added another prize to his vast real estate collection after purchasing an $80 million mansion in North Palm Beach this week, the third largest oceanfront home in the posh Florida county. The six-acre property—inside a gated community—boasts more than 500 feet of ocean frontage in a neighborhood that includes fellow billionaires Robert Smith, David Tepper and Steve Wynn. The 15,514-square-foot Tuscan home has seven bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, a theater, wine room, and a lawn big enough to accommodate a helicopter. Ellison, 76, became the world’s sixth $100 billion person this week. The majority of his fortune is tied to enterprise software giant Oracle, which he cofounded in 1977 and still chairs. He also holds a stake in Tesla worth more than $10 billion.  Ellison has steadily plowed his riches into real estate, amassing a portfolio worth well above $1 billion, Forbes estimates. The crown jewel of his empire: owning 98% of Hawaii’s sixth-largest island, Lanai, which he bought from Dole Food chairman David Murdock in 2012 for $300 million. Lanai, which is accessible only by a small plane or a ferry ride from Maui, has become Ellison’s personal laboratory of sorts. He has various projects underway geared toward wellness, sustainable energy and reimagining the planet’s food systems—all through a capitalist lens. “Philanthropy is the definition of not sustainable,” Ellison told Forbes last April. “Business is the definition of sustainable.”  These are big dreams for the Bronx-born son of a single mother. Ellison never graduated college, and by his early twenties he worked as a river guide and rock-climbing instructor in California. Eventually he took a series of jobs at tech startups—his projects included helping build databases for the CIA—and by 1977 he decided to team up with programmers Robert Miner and Edward Oates to launch an outfit of their own.  Today Oracle is worth more than $200 billion, and Ellison’s lucrative real estate portfolio stretches from Malibu to Japan. Here are some of the places he calls home. Newport, Rhode Island Ellison owns multiple properties in this ultra-luxury seaside enclave. His main asset, the Beechwood Mansion on Bellevue Avenue, was once occupied by the Astor family. Constructed in 1851, the Astors acquired it 30 years later. Ellison bought the home in 2010 for a reported $10.5 million and is said to have spent more than $100 million to convert it into a museum. Legend says the house is haunted. The historic Beechwood Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. Getty Images Lake Tahoe Ellison owns multiple properties in Tahoe, which has also been home to Warren Buffett, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, and NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers. In 2018 he also bought the famed Cal Neva Lodge in Tahoe out of bankruptcy for $35.8 million, according to local reports; the resort and casino was once co-owned by Sinatra. In 2014 Ellison sold one of his homes here for more than $20 million. It featured two piers and six bedrooms, but he settled on a bigger pad to the north. The entrance to the Cal Neva Lodge in Lake Tahoe, before Larry Ellison acquired it. Getty Images Lanai Ellison’s portion of this 141-square-mile oasis includes a $3,000-a-night spa called Sensei Retreat and a solar-powered hydroponic greenhouse. There’s also a Nobu outpost—embedded on one of the island’s two Four Seasons resorts—for those who can’t get away without indulging in a $195 omakase sushi menu. One of the resorts also boasts a world class golf course where Bill Gates got married on the 12th hole. All told, Ellison has sunk roughly $500 million into his Lanai investment. An aerial view of Lanai Island, Hawaii. VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images Carbon Beach Ellison commands a huge chunk of the shoreline here, where he reportedly bought a 10th home for $48 million in 2017. That estate spans 7,700 square feet, and includes a tennis court and a pool. The previous owners, Lisette and Norman Ackerberg, caused a fracas by erecting walls to keep public beachgoers away; after Norman died, Lisette ultimately settled with the California Coastal Commission and took the walls down. One of Ellison's beachfront homes in Carbon Beach, Malibu. Celebrityhomephotos/Newscom Woodside Inspired by Japanese imperial design, this estate sits on 23 acres and features an 8,000 square-foot home. Ellison reportedly sunk $200 million to upgrade the property, perhaps to advance his vision of creating a network of ultra-luxury home museums around the world. “I’m going to start these art museums that are basically converted homes,” he told CNBC in 2012. The Woodside property includes 10 buildings, a lake, tea house and koi pond.  Ellison's Japanese-style estate in Woodside, California. BWP MEDIA San Francisco At 10,000 square feet, this five-bedroom home has been part of Ellison’s portfolio for decades. Built in 1958 and designed by William Wurster, property assessments value the property at more than $20 million. It also features big-name neighbors on Billionaire’s Row, reportedly including Mark Pincus (Zynga) and Jony Ive (Apple). Ellison's San Francisco home, pictured in 2007. Celebrityhomephotos/Newscom Porcupine Creek Ellison plans to convert part of his 246-acre massive estate into a “six-star” resort for the ultra-rich. He bought the property for $43 million in 2011. It includes an amphitheater, 18-hole golf course and an 18,430 square-foot home. (Notably, Ellison doesn’t play golf.) Ellison's massive estate set in a golf course, called Porcupine Creek. CelebrityHomePhotos/Newscom Palm Beach Ellison’s latest acquisition comes thanks to Gabe Hoffman, who founded investment firm Accipiter Capital Management. According to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the sale, Hoffman purchased the property in 2012 for $17.5 million. Ellison’s deal is far from the largest in Palm Beach this year. In February a new mansion on North County Road went for more than $120 million, setting a record for the region and likely the state, according to the Palm Beach Daily News.
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Isabel Schnabel, a board member with the European Central Bank (ECB), has attacked bitcoin claiming the crypto asset “does not fulfill the basic properties of money.” She also describes bitcoin as a “speculative asset without any recognizable fundamental value and is subject to massive price swings.” Schnabel also surmises that trust in “cryptocurrencies might rapidly evaporate,” and this, in turn, causes “disruptions in financial markets.” The Digital Euro In remarks made during a recent interview, Schnabel also reveals how she and her colleagues at ECB think “it is wrong to describe bitcoin as a currency.” Still, when Schnabel is reminded of billionaire Elon Musk’s views on bitcoin, the ECB board member answered: “He is at liberty to do so.” Meanwhile, Schnabel uses the interview opportunity to reiterate the ECB’s resolve to create its own digital currency. However, she says a “great deal of preparatory work needs to be done to enable the project to be properly set up.” Schnabel also tries to justify claims that consumers would be more amenable to a digital currency issued by the ECB than one issued by private entities. She said: Nobody can offer a similar degree of security and data protection as the ECB. People find that topic important: as consumers, to whom do we want to disclose our data? They are surely more likely to trust the ECB than Facebook or other private operators. As expected, Schnabel’s comments sparked a quick reaction from some bitcoiners and cryptocurrency supporters on Twitter. For instance, responding to Schnabel’s remark that the ECB is a trusted institution, a Twitter user Plan B said: “People in Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Lebanon, Turkey beg to differ (after what central banks did to their money).”
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Forest fires are spreading across the Indian Himalayan state of Uttarakhand in what officials fear could prove to be one of the worst fire seasons in years.The Uttarakhand forest department has recorded 1,500 fire incidents in the state so far this year, with blazes intensifying in April as northern India’s hot, dry summer approaches.The Himalayan region faces forest fires in the first half of every year, a combination of factors including rising temperatures ahead of summer and crop-stubble burning as part of local agricultural practices.But scientists say that what appears to have been a particularly dry winter, perhaps the driest of the last decade, has exacerbated blazes across the mountains. Neighbouring Nepal has also faced a severe fire season, leaving the capital Kathmandu enveloped in smog.Uttarakhand, around two-thirds of which is forested, has deployed thousands of personnel to try to control the fires. But locals fear this is becoming a new normal.The forest “is the big wealth of Uttarakhand. It’s our main resource,” said Atul Sati, an environmental activist based in the state. “If we lose it, it’s not only a loss for Uttarakhand, it’s a loss for India and the world.”Fast population growth in the region is adding to pressures on Himalayan forests, with the increase in agricultural activity making it harder to manage burning.“We’re degrading the natural environment,” said Iqbal Mead of the Nepal-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development. “There are fewer and fewer places we can call wild.”Follow @ftclimate on Instagram
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Two of the most influential Democratic lawmakers on tax policy have backed a new offer by the Biden administration in OECD talks on global corporate taxation, even as Republicans on Capitol Hill warned that the changes could harm US multinationals. The US Treasury this week proposed a sweeping multilateral deal that would include a new global minimum corporate tax rate. Under the plan, national governments could tax the global profits of roughly 100 of the largest and most profitable multinationals, including America’s own big technology groups, based on their sales in those countries.Washington’s overture is intended to build momentum at the OECD for an agreement by the middle of the year. But once a deal is reached it would require approval from Congress, where Democrats hold slim majorities and Republicans are mounting stiff opposition to much of Biden’s agenda. In a statement to the Financial Times, Ron Wyden, the Democratic chair of the Senate finance committee, said the Biden administration proposal “could be the basis for a global deal” on corporate levies. Wyden is a crucial voice in the debate since his panel has jurisdiction over taxes and trade. “I have long had two goals for the OECD process: ending discriminatory digital services taxes, and enacting a global tax system that treats US companies fairly. Treasury’s new proposal has the potential to achieve both those goals,” he said. “Importantly, this proposal could support necessary reforms to US tax laws, ensuring our multinational corporations are incentivised to invest in the United States and pay their fair share.”Lawmakers in both parties are already sparring over Biden’s domestic plan to raise corporate taxes to pay for his $2tn infrastructure spending package, but congressional approval of any OECD agreement was expected to move on a separate track, according to sources familiar with the plan. Richard Neal, Democratic chair of the powerful tax-writing House ways and means committee, joined Wyden in backing Biden’s OECD plan. A Neal spokesperson said: “The chair supports a multilateral solution and believes that the Treasury Department has put forward an important proposal that has the potential to advance a conversation that has been stuck for too long now.”But familiar political battle lines are emerging on Capitol Hill over the OECD offer, with Republicans expressing doubts about the Biden administration’s overture, meaning it will not be easy to secure bipartisan support for any deal. “We are concerned that the OECD changes could directly reduce US tax revenues and also leave the door open to other countries’ continued attacks on US companies and our domestic tax base,” a group of Republicans on the House ways and means committee wrote in a letter on Thursday to Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary, requesting a briefing on the OECD plan. The Republican lawmakers, led by Kevin Brady of Texas, also objected to the US proposal for a 21 per cent global minimum corporate tax rate, suggesting the level was too high. “That result would place American workers and companies at a severe competitive disadvantage versus their foreign peers,” they wrote. Much of corporate America has blasted Biden’s domestic tax plan, which includes an increase in the corporate income tax rate from 21 per cent to 28 per cent, but has generally supported the multilateral negotiations at the OECD, complicating the political equation. Although some big US companies may be hit with higher tax under a new global regime, they will have the certainty of avoiding the patchwork of unilateral taxes on their sales that has proliferated in recent years. “US businesses seem receptive to these talks even if they are mobilising against [Biden’s domestic corporate tax plan],” said Ben Koltun, a policy analyst at Beacon Policy Advisors in Washington. “If the [OECD agreement] happens after the infrastructure push by Democrats, then I think political tensions may be able to cool over tax policy and it stands a better chance of getting Republican support.” Tech companies represented by the Information Technology Industry Council, a lobby group whose members include Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook, said they were “encouraged” that governments were trying to reach an agreement. Megan Funkhouser, the director of tax and trade policy for ITI, said her group was looking forward to “better understanding and evaluating what the US proposal entails” and encouraged “negotiators to continue advancing work towards realising political agreement that alleviates further fragmentation of our global tax system”. The Coalition for a Prosperous America, which represents trade unions and domestic manufacturers, said the new OECD tax proposal would level the playing field for domestic US producers and praised the shift towards taxation based on the location of sales. “Generally, our membership all do their business here in the US, which gives them less opportunity to engage in tax minimisation strategies and avoid US tax,” said Jeff Ferry, the group’s chief economist.
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Filecoin (FIL) is one of the most prominent coins in the storage sector of cryptocurrencies. In the past month, the price and market capitalization of FIL has rocketed to new highs. On April 1, the coin reached $233.68 along with breaking into the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization. Basically, Filecoin is a decentralized cloud-based data storage network that allows its users to gain rewards on selling their excess storage on an open-source platform. Filecoin is made by Protocol Labs.Although FIL’s stint in the top 10 list was short-lived, it’s important to note that Filecoin’s fully diluted market capitalization hit a high of $450 billion. This is nearly half of the hallowed $1-trillion mark that Bitcoin recently held for 10 days in a row. In the last 30 days, Filecoin has posted unprecedented gains of around 440% from trading around the $42 mark to trading in the $184 range. Even though the price has dropped around 20% from its all-time high on April 1, the fact that it has settled at three times the price before the surge is itself an incredible feat.On March 17, the FIL token got another push from the market. The benchmark for institutional interest in cryptocurrencies, Grayscale Investments announced new funds that would invest in five cryptocurrencies. These tokens are Chainlink’s LINK, Filecoin, Livepeer (LPT), Basic Attention Token (BAT) and Decentraland (MANA). As a result of this announcement, FIL’s price rose 40% in 48 hours, indicating that the community and the market at large reacted positively to this development. Speaking about the reasons why Filecoin is garnering institutional interest, Marie Tatibouet, chief marketing officer of Gate.io — a cryptocurrency exchange — said: “Data is the most valuable commodity today, and there is a race going on to figure out cheaper and more efficient methods of storing data.” Martin Gaspar, research analyst at CrossTower — a digital assets exchange — told Cointelegraph of how much of an impact this announcement really had on the markets:“As of April 5, 2021, the Filecoin trust only had $8.1 million of assets, according to Grayscale. This is a very small amount relative to the recent $1+ billion of 24-hour trading volume CoinGecko shows, suggesting there are other key drivers behind the increase in price.”Cameron Winklevoss, co-founder of the Gemini Exchange, pointed out that he wasn’t surprised that the token’s price was “rocketing.” He cited the core propositions that the Filecoin project brings like “the amount of network storage power” as the main drivers for the rise. Tatibouet further opined on this, saying: “Bitwise 10 Crypto Index Fund and Grayscale have both added FIL, while The9 Limited and New Universal have both made multi-million-dollar investments in Filecoin mining.”However, there are many different factors at play here.China’s market plays a deciding role for FilecoinA crypto journalist from China, Wu Blockchain, noted on Twitter that on the day FIL reached its all-time high, it saw large volumes coming from China’s largest trading exchange, Huobi, with 24-hour trading volume reaching $24.2 billion. This volume was nearly three times that of Ether (ETH) and Bitcoin (BTC) for the same day. Gaspar further mentioned: “Filecoin is popular in China and has strong interest from Chinese miners, who are required to pledge the FIL token as collateral, resulting in demand for the token. Moreover, with a shortage of BTC and ETH mining rigs, Filecoin mining seems to be an attractive alternative for these miners.”According to CoinGecko’s data, as of April 9, Huobi accounted for nearly 40% of Filecoin’s 24-hour trading volume. This data supports the notion that the interest in Filecoin is mainly driven by retail investors and miners based in China. The hype around this token in China is such that there are allegedly even posters in the subway advertising Filecoin. This is similar to the phenomenon of Bitcoin’s posters being put up in Soho, London, except with the difference that Filecoin’s are obviously an advertisement to push retail investors to buy the token.Robbie Liu, market analyst at OKEx Insights — the research team at cryptocurrency exchange OKEx — told Cointelegraph: “Filecoin’s market development in China is very strong, and Chinese miners make up more than 95% of Filecoin’s nodes.” With China being the world’s cryptocurrency mining hub, it is only natural that the market will be highly sensitive to mining economics. Tatibouet further stated that the reason for the high demand is that FIL mining “is a lot more affordable than Bitcoin and Ethereum mining.”In August 2020, the Chinese government announced its new internet infrastructure plan that will be focusing on expanding innovations in 5G, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. This plan could potentially have an impact on Filecoin’s ecosystem, as decentralized cloud storage fits into the agenda.There are also unconfirmed reports that officials in the Chinese government are quasi-officially encouraging Filecoin mining as a decentralized cloud storage solution fits in perfectly with China’s vision for homegrown internet infrastructure.The future of FilecoinAnother reason for the growing demand for Filecoin is the production cut scheduled on April 15. On the changing supply and demand economics of FIL, Liu stated: “The spike in FIL prices is mainly a result of speculation ahead of the April 15 production cut. The protocol currently releases 648,000 FIL per day, but after April 15, the production will decrease to 365,000 FIL per day.”Thus, post the mid-year release of Simple Agreement for Future Tokens on April 15, the daily production of FIL will be reduced by 43.2%. At the time of writing, FIL has a circulating supply of 65.33 million tokens, with the maximum supply capped at 2 billion coins. Thus, such a drastic decrease in daily production could lead to a perception of scarcity for the token, in turn, causing retail investors and miners to buy more of the coin to weather the upcoming planned decrease in FIL’s daily influx.Related: Is Theta worth the hype? Theta price volatile ahead of mainnet launchAnother interesting feature of FIL’s tokenomics is that it has a built-in mechanism, wherein miners must buy more FIL tokens in order to mine more of the cryptocurrency, which also acts as a utility and governance token for the Filecoin ecosystem. This mechanism prevents FIL from getting dumped in the open market by incentivizing the holders of the token by offering them more mining power.The nature of Filecoin’s product offering puts it in direct competition with tech giants like Google, Amazon Web Services and Alibaba’s offerings. As Filecoin is a blockchain-based open network, the data store is non-tamperable, and the amount of storage it has access to is theoretically limitless. Yet it is important to note that services from Amazon, Google and other tech giants are well-established and have been catering to retail and institutional needs since the beginning of cloud storage and computing being offered as a service. Liu believes that it is too early to say if Filecoin can compete with the giants, adding:“While prospects remain positive, institutional-grade solutions rely on much more than just storage space. There is a need for operational management and tech support to fully host their services on cloud.”Gaspar also explained the factors that Filecoin’s team would need to consider before really beginning to compete with the industry leaders in this space: “Filecoin will need to ensure its network remains online, files are securely stored and accessible and that the risks and costs of storing data on it are lower than that of a centralized storage solution.”Although, how the FIL tokens demand sustains beyond the scheduled production cut remains to be seen, it is clear that due to Filecoin’s real-world use cases, the rise in price and market capitalization corresponds with a period of growth for the project and its offerings to compete in a market lead by companies with practically unlimited resources at their behest.
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Saudi Aramco said on Friday it had raised $12.4bn from the sale of a minority stake in a newly formed oil pipeline venture to a consortium of investors. Saudi Arabia’s state energy giant said it had sold 49 per cent of Aramco Oil Pipelines to investors led by Washington-based EIG Global Energy Partners. The move comes as Saudi Aramco, which listed on Riyadh’s Tadawul stock exchange in 2019, seeks to monetise assets to generate cash for the government, its main shareholder. Saudi Aramco will lease the usage rights of its pipelines to the new venture, which is valued at $25.3bn and has rights to 25 years of tariff payments for oil transported through the kingdom’s crude network. The state company will hold a 51 per cent stake in the oil pipeline business while retaining full ownership and operational control of the network. Saudi Aramco did not say which other groups were part of the consortium. It is understood that EIG is still in talks with Mubadala, the UAE sovereign wealth fund, about joining the investor group, while BlackRock and Brookfield Asset Management pulled out after initial discussions. Mubadala, BlackRock and Brookfield declined to comment.Under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has leaned on its biggest revenue earner to raise funds to plough into non-oil sectors — from technology to tourism — as it seeks to diversify its economy. Amin Nasser, chief executive of Saudi Aramco, said the transaction “will help maximise returns for our shareholders”.  Saudi Arabia, which is the world’s largest oil exporter, has taken a massive financial hit in the past year as the coronavirus pandemic battered the global economy and drastically cut demand for energy. Saudi Aramco, which has pledged to pay the bulk of $75bn in annual dividends promised to the state, alongside taxes and royalties, is also expected to lead a new domestic investment plan to modernise Saudi Arabia. The latest move is similar to infrastructure deals undertaken by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, which has raised billions of dollars through selling and leasing back oil and gas pipeline assets.Yasir al-Rumayyan, chair of Saudi Aramco and head of the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, which is Prince Mohammed’s chosen vehicle for his reforms, said the kingdom would try to monetise additional assets. “Historically speaking, [Saudi Aramco] used to do everything themselves . . . they had their own airports, their own fleets, their own pipelines,” he told the Financial Times earlier this year. “Now, if it makes sense for us to divest some of these assets, we’re definitely going to do it. It could include anything except the main operations.”
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The survival of monarchy, especially in Britain, has been the story of transformation from dynasty to family; from aristocracy to middle-class paragons. But royal families are vulnerable to the contradictory obligations of their job description. They must be familiar but ceremonious; traditional yet modernising; formal here, informal there. While they are required to be politically buttoned up, they also need to show candour. At that last job, as well as so many others, Prince Philip was famously, or notoriously, good; the royal yang to the Queen’s yin. Without that complementary match, which, in a departure from much royal history other than Victoria and Albert, was born and rooted in authentic love, the monarchy might not have survived. Prince Philip wore his own catastrophic family history on the signet ring he retrieved from the funeral of his father, Prince Andrew, and never removed. The Corfu villa where he was born in 1921 was called “Mon Repos” but his early life had none of it. His grandfather King George of Greece was assassinated. His father was one of those blamed for poor military performance in the Greco-Turkish war of 1921-22; and it was thought that he might well be tried and executed like other prominent accused leaders. The baby Philip was rescued by a British cruiser. But his childhood was almost swallowed up by the European maelstrom. His sisters married Germans who served the Nazi Reich while Philip was a young hero in the Royal Navy at the battle of Cape Matapan and in the invasion of Sicily. His mother Princess Alice was institutionalised as a schizophrenic. His father lived out his days in Monte Carlo with a pneumatic actress who invented a faux-aristocratic title for herself. As princes go, then, when the cadet appeared, duly tall and handsome, to escort Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret around Dartmouth Naval College in 1939, he was uprooted, financially rocky, his family compromised in every imaginable way. Miraculously, though, the 13-year-old Elizabeth knew he was The One. And precisely because his upbringing had been so perilous, Philip embraced the marriage, the constitutionally indeterminate role of consort, and the hard work of making the morphing of empire into commonwealth seem like a chapter of British renewal rather than an unedifying retreat, with full-on energy rather than ritual resignation. There was of course all the Good Work: the hundreds of charities and organisations, social and educational, for which he put in time as patron; the Duke of Edinburgh Awards which were instituted as a forward and outward-facing revision of the austerely muscular education he had got at Gordonstoun. His prescient work for the World Wildlife Fund connected the monarchy to environmentalism. But his indispensability to the monarchy lay in two other vital roles. The first was the mission to modernise, urgently but never so crassly as to run ahead of public expectations of the dignity of the crown. The televised wedding and live broadcast of the coronation shaped one crucial route of modernisation, and in 1969 a BBC documentary did what it could to humanise the family part of the royal family, notwithstanding the Duke’s barking at the “bloody cameras” when, in his view, they were too much in the Queen’s face. At that point of course Philip could have had no inkling that, should family matters go badly wrong as they catastrophically did with the Charles-Diana mismarriage, the Firm could feel the sharper side of the two-edged sword of television.In the end, though, the anchorage he gave was personal as much as institutional. Notorious for speaking his mind, often, as he acknowledged, to the point of offensiveness and beyond, the candour was exactly what the Queen, trapped in deference, the compulsive calculations of the Firm’s managers, the rituals of the daily and yearly round, needed to hear. The paradox was that Philip’s unedited instincts, the raw side of his personality, turned out to be indispensable to her own composure, often when family matters had turned dark and the whole institution seemed almost in free fall. He was the longest-serving consort to the longest-serving monarch in British history. But actually it was not the length but the depth of the marriage which turned out, in spite of every calamity, to make the very idea as well as the reality of “royal family” something far stronger than a consolatory national myth.
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The latest declarations from Ukrainian public officials revealed a billion-dollar amount of money they allegedly own in bitcoin. An online incentive gathered data from 791,872 state employees and 652 respondents disclosed their crypto holdings. The Biggest Crypto Holder in the Report Has 18,000 BTC According to the Opendatabot site, officials currently hold a total of 46,351 BTC, which is worth over 75 billion hryvnias ($2.66 billion) as of press time. The declaration’s campaign ended on March 31, 2021. But bitcoin is not the only cryptocurrency found among the collective filings of Ukraine state employees. Per the report, ethereum (ETH), litecoin (LTC), cardano (ADA), stellar (XLM), IOTA, bitcoin cash (BCH), and bitcoin gold (BTG) are the other cryptos in which the officials have invested. Most Ukrainian crypto-holding state employees work in city councils, the Ministry of Defense, and for the National Police, said Opendatabot. However, there are also crypto holders who work in the prosecutor’s office and village councils across Ukraine. So far, the official with the highest amount of bitcoins is Mishalov Vyacheslav Dmitrovich, a Deputy from the Dnipro City Council as he held 18,000 BTC at the time of the filings. In the wake of the Opendatabot’s results, the Minister of Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, praised the collective filings, saying that it shows how the country’s officials are becoming more “progressive and far-sighted investors than we thought.” Anti-Corruption Agency Issues Warning on Officials Who Could Have Provided Inaccurate Data But the fact that a report like this has been made public was not well received by everyone in the country. Sergiy Petukhov, the head of the Mandatory Inspections Department at the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption, stated that his office conducted 250 checks this year, including bitcoin’s holdings state employees. He added that some officials claimed their filings had mistakes and warned about Opendatabot’s results: If we find that the information provided about the possession of cryptocurrency is inaccurate – this is the basis for administrative or criminal liability. Ukrainian officials are required to reveal their assets in an official electronic declarations process designed to reduce corruption. Opendatabot is a service that monitors the registration data of Ukrainian companies and officials. What do you think about this report on the bitcoin holdings of Ukrainian officials? Let us know in the comments section below. Tags in this story Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article. Read disclaimer
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Next month in New York, the popular auction house Christie’s plans to auction a rare lot of Cryptopunk non-fungible token (NFT) collectibles. The sample of work sold will be approximately nine rare Punks, courtesy of the project’s creators Larva Labs. Nine Rare Cryptopunks Going to Auction On May 13, 2021, the British auction house founded in 1766 by James Christie plans to auction nine one-of-a-kind NFTs from the Cryptopunk project. Christie’s said it will be the first of a kind occasion of “groundbreaking work offered at a traditional auction house.” The single lot of nine Punks stems from the NFTs creators Larva Labs. “The Cryptopunks are the alpha and omega of the [cypto art] movement,” Noah Davis, a specialist in Post-War & Contemporary Art at Christie’s, New York said during the announcement. “This is a historic sale,” Davis added. Several Worlds Into a Single Project- Cryptopunks Inspired the NFT Space The Cryptopunks project came from the minds of Matt Hall and John Watkinson back in 2017. The New York-based firm they started, Larva Labs, has since created thousands of NFT characters. The team launched Cryptopunks on June 23, 2017, and they consist of pixelated 8-bit 24×24 pictures of Punks. There are approximately 10,000 Punks today and some have already sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The nine rare Cryptopunks that belonged to Larva Labs. Christie’s auction house says it will be auctioning Punk # 2, 30, 58, 532, 602, 603, 635, and 757. Additionally, a “rare alien” collectible will be sold during the May 13 auction as well. Cryptopunk 635, is one of only nine alien Punks and the only one with a sub-1,000 series number. Christie’s says that Punks 532 and 602 are inspired by the ’70s London punk scene. “Cryptopunks inspired a community of collectors and connoisseurs,” Christie’s announcement details. “For fans of collectibles, it’s clearly a version of trading cards or something similar. However, generative art fans see it as an interesting example in that category. We like that its perception is flexible and brings together several of these worlds into a single project,” the auction house announcement adds. What do you think about the nine Cryptopunks being sold at the British auction house Christie’s next month? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below. Tags in this story Auction, Auction House, Christie's, collectibles, CryptoPunk 635, Cryptopunk sale, John Watkinson, Larva Labs, Matt Hall, May 13, new york, NFT art, NFT Auction, NFTs, Noah Davis, Non-fungible tokens, Punks, Rare Alien, Rare Cryptopunks, Rare Punks Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons, Cryptopunks, Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article. Read disclaimer
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Adding to the South Korean cryptocurrency industry’s stricter regulations, the central government is focusing on the “crackdown” of illegal crypto transactions. A meeting over the week held with high-ranked politicians resulted in a campaign that will soon be deployed. Government Seeks International Help to Monitor International Crypto Exchanges According to Chosun, the South Korean Government met with politicians, law enforcement, and financial watchdog authorities to take down illicit transactions from what they named an “overheated market.” The meeting was led by the Second Deputy Secretary of State Moon Seung-wook, who called authorities from the Financial Services Commission, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, the Ministry of Justice, and the National Police Agency. The purpose of the reunion was to address the “current situation of the virtual asset markets” in South Korea. They concluded that it’s a must to launch a campaign against market manipulation, money laundering, and tax evasion via cryptos. But the rule won’t cover only domestic exchanges. In fact, the government wants to strengthen international cooperation with Interpol to monitor illicit transactions coming from overseas crypto exchanges. The main objective, said Moon, is to “prevent money speculation and damages to investors.” He also added: Virtual currency is not a legal currency or financial investment product, and no one guarantees its value. Will the National Banking Industry Be Affected by the ‘Crackdown’? The announcement of the crackdown comes in the wake of the new legislation that covers the banking industry which deals with crypto businesses. The amended Special Financial Transactions Information Act was approved by the National Assembly finance committee in November last year. Under the framework, crypto exchanges are required to follow a series of banking protocols, including linking customer accounts to individuals and their bank accounts that are verified by a local identification document. Domestic tax authorities are also on top of making accountable crypto traders in terms of their tax obligations. Recently, the National Tax Service of South Korea (NTS) identified 2,416 individuals who reportedly hid their assets in cryptos to bypass taxation. What are your thoughts on the ‘crackdown’ announced by the South Korean government? Let us know in the comments section below. Tags in this story Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article. Read disclaimer
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The Shanghai-based online game operator, The9 Limited, has revealed the company is planning to acquire 2,000 Canaan Avalonminers for over $6 million in a stock deal. The9’s binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) explains that the new units will give the company 0.1 exahash of bitcoin hashpower. On April 9, the publicly-listed gaming and internet company The9 Limited (Nasdaq: NCTY) revealed the firm’s intentions to acquire 2,000 bitcoin (BTC) miners. The new miners will give the company a total hashrate of approximately 100 PH/s or 0.1 exahash (EH/s) of processing power. According to the announcement, The9 entered into a legally binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with an “unrelated bitcoin mining machine owner.” The machines will be exchanged for Class A ordinary shares. The9 said that the firm will issue approximately 8,127,390 shares based on the share price of around $24.81. But during the next six months, the number of shares could be reassessed.
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Real-world partnerships and integrations into thriving industries are some of the best forms of validation for blockchain projects that are seeking long-term sustainability and widespread adoption. They also have the ability to spark rallies that trigger long-term price appreciation as brand awareness spreads. Since February enterprise-level adoption and a wide array of use cases have worked in favor of VeChain (VET), a blockchain-powered supply chain platform that seeks to use distributed governance and Internet of Things (IoT) technology to optimize supply chain management systems. VET/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingViewData from Cointelegraph Markets and TradingView shows that the price of VET has increased more than 400% over the past two months, climbing from a low of $0.0263 on Feb. 8 to a new record high at $0.1344 on April 9Major collaborations ignite VeChain priceA scroll through the project’s Twitter feed shows that VET's price growth in 2021 has largely been stimulated by the adoption of its supply chain tracking technology. On April 8 the team announced a collaboration with the software company Salesforce.We're pleased to have worked with Daniel Nortje, Director of Strategy & Architecture at @Salesforce.Daniel has chosen VeChain as the blockchain of choice in a sample enterprise adoption case & successfully connected #VeChain ToolChain with Salesforce!https://t.co/YtZIG6Lx7B— VeChain Foundation (@vechainofficial) April 8, 2021VeChain’s technology has also been utilized on several projects that are managed by its partner DNV. DNV uses VeChain's blockchain solution to manage the data from projects with the Danish company ReSea and the Norwegian industrial company Hydro. The increase in VET price and adoption since the beginning of February has also led to a 1,000% increase in the price of VeThor Token (VTHO), which is used to pay for transactions and smart contract interactions on the network.An early March NFT-related collaboration with VIMworld also helped bring extra attention to VET and VTHO and was followed by a steady increase in price. The positive benefits of these partnerships were reflected in data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro, which shows that the market conditions for VET have been favorable for some time. The VORTECS™ Score, exclusive to Cointelegraph, is an algorithmic comparison of historic and current market conditions derived from a combination of data points including market sentiment, trading volume, recent price movements and Twitter activity.VORTECS™ Score (green) vs. VET price. Source: Cointelegraph Markets ProAs seen in the chart above, the VORTECS™ Score for VET turned bullish and reached a high of 73 on April 3, about two days before a smaller price spike on April 5. Following this move, the VORTECS™ Score increased to a high of 87 and remained in the green zone over the next three days as VET price gaine 35%. Now that institutional investors now taking a serious interest in the crypto sector and the ways that blockchain technology can be integrated into various sectors, VeChain’s real-world use cases and growing list of enterprise-level partners indicate that there is potential for further upside.The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.
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In this articleZGDAI-DEZillow President Susan Daimler told CNBC on Friday that the housing market remains hot, despite the drop in pending home sales in the month of February.The National Association of Realtors reported that signed contracts on existing homes declined more than 10% that month from January.Daimler said it was just a blip rather than a trend, attributing the decrease to a persistent housing shortage and bad weather that rocked the country that month."All the indicators that we see say that this housing market ... [continues] to be hot, and there are a lot of reasons for that," she said in an interview on "Closing Bell.""What we know is that moving is on a lot of people's minds, and we're imagining a lot of would-be movers are going to come off the sidelines here," said the president of the online real estate marketplace.More homes could be put up for sale as the Covid-19 vaccine drive continues to make progress and workers gain more certainty about whether their companies will require them to come back into the office, Daimler said. Google searches about the homebuying and selling process are also up, another sign that the market could hold shape, she added.Despite a recent rise in mortgage rates, the market is also being met by high demand as the "great reshuffling" plays out, Daimler said. Beyond urban-to-suburban flight, many people are simply looking to move into new spaces rather than escape the big city, she said."Those mortgage rates are really what feed the affordability," Daimler said. "As long as those stay low and also we have this pent-up demand from buyers ... it's quite possible that we see a bunch of listings come on and there's enough buyers to scoop them up and we'll stay in this place we're at right now."Even at an average 30-year fixed loan rate of 3.45%, up from 3% at the start of 2021, mortgages are still historically low, according to Mortgage News Daily.Supply in the U.S. housing market is at severely low levels, putting pressure on homebuyers to place higher bids. Existing home inventory shrank nearly 30% in February from a year prior, with just 1.03 million properties on the market, based on data from the realtors association.
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The internet has reshaped society over the past 40 years, and experts are predicting that digital technologies and artificial intelligence will continue to transform how humans interact with data for the foreseeable future.One AI-focused cryptocurrency project that has seen tremendous growth since the beginning of 2021 is SingularityNET and its talented humanoid robot named Sophia.AI developers can utilize the SingularityNET platform to create, share and monetize their services through its AI marketplace, which allows users to browse, test and purchase those services using SingularityNET's native AGI token. Data from Cointelegraph Markets and TradingView shows that the price of AGI rose by nearly 1,000% in 2021, increasing from a low of $0.046 on Jan. 1 to a high at $0.50 on April 6, its highest level since February 2018. AGI/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingViewThree reasons for AGI's impressive rally over the past few months are the growth of its cross-chain collaboration with Cardano, its entrance into the decentralized finance arena and the release of SingularityNET Layer 2 (SL2), which enables the creation of tokens on top of the SingularityNET platform. DeFi and the SingularityDAODeFi has emerged as a potent source of growth for the cryptocurrency ecosystem ever since the sector exploded in June 2020 when projects like Uniswap and Yearn.finance began to reshape the industry.SingularityDAO was first revealed in November 2020 with the mission of facilitating the growth and funding for early- and mid-stage blockchain projects by “leveraging AI and well-designed tokenomics to create radically more liquidity for the corresponding tokens,” according to the project’s website. This DeFi-related activity along with offering the ability for AGI holders to participate in platform governance, network security and earn a yield through staking helped the token rally throughout January and February. The robot Sophia also captured some of the nonfungible token (NFT) hype for AGI in March after becoming the world’s first artificially intelligent being to create NFT-based artworks, and the products generated more than $1 million in sales during her debut drop on Nifty Gateway. AGI ecosystem expands via CardanoThe second source of growth for AGI and its ecosystem has been its partnership with Cardano and IOHK, the company backing the development and expansion of the Cardano network. Developers at SingularityNET recently revealed plans to create a new AGI token on the Cardano platform, which informally has been called AGI-ADA. This will allow tokens to be swapped back and forth with their AGI ERC-20 counterpart while maintaining the same value. The SingularityNET Marketplace on Cardano will utilize the protocol's Plutus smart contract language to introduce a host of new features, including the integration of AI-DSL, “a new domain-specific language that lets AI agents on the network efficiently and formally describe their properties to each other.”To move ahead with the phase two expansion and collaboration with Cardano, a majority of AGI tokenholders needed to vote on and approve the expansion, which included a motion for the creation and release of 1 billion new AGI-ADA tokens in monthly increments over 91 years.The voting period lasted from Feb. 3 to Feb. 7, with the community ultimately approving the implementation of phase two. Layer-two functionality could drive AGI price higherThe introduction of SingularityNET Layer 2 is the third factor behind AGI's growth in 2021. Its integration enables the creation of secondary agent networks on top of the SingularityNET network. One of the major challenges facing the Ethereum network and the tokens operate on it are high transaction costs and network congestion that leads to lengthy confirmation times. By building on SL2, networks could create their own tokens, which will require a small fee in AGI to conduct transactions at a rate that is much cheaper than Ethereum gas fees. Several popular projects on the network are already slated to become the first SL2 projects, such as SingularityDAO and NuNet, with newer projects including Awakening Health nursing assistant robots and the SophiaDAO benevolent robotics AI network, which is also in line for integration. According to the SingularityNET Foundation, these projects are just a way to get the SL2 "off to a running start,” with the organization aiming to “stimulate the creation of a variety of amazing third-party SL2 projects” that grow their communities and build software that helps “drive AGI token utilization in the underlying SingularityNET network.”SingularityNET's focus on artificial intelligence and big data has the project well-positioned to see further growth, especially as cross-chain connectivity, DeFi integration and layer-two functionalities merge with the AGI ecosystem.The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and you should conduct your own research when making a decision.
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Federal Reserve Vice Chair Richard Clarida said policy makers will await evidence on whether they’re reaching their goals on price stability and employment before adjusting monetary policy.“It’s not projective progress — it’s hard numbers on the labor market and on prices” that the Fed is looking for, Clarida said Friday in an interview on Bloomberg television. “It’s an evolution, but it’s a robust evolution and primarily is outcome-based.”Minutes of the Fed’s March meeting released Wednesday showed policy makers expect it will likely be “some time until substantial further progress” was made on employment and inflation. That refers to the tests they’ve set for scaling back bond purchases of $120 billion a month.Richard Clarida, vice chairman of the U.S. Federal ReserveBloomberg NewsTheir latest forecasts show officials don’t expect to raise interest rates from near zero before the end of 2023, even as they sharply upgraded projections for economic growth and employment this year. Inflation was projected to end this year at 2.4% before settling back at the Fed’s 2% goal in 2022.“On a year-over-year basis, headline inflation is going to likely move above 2% because we’re going to be comparing this year’s prices with last year collapsing prices but we expect in our baseline most of that to be transitory, and for inflation to return later this year to around 2%,” Clarida said.“Around a baseline there are risks on both sides and in the risk case in which inflation were to begin to move above a level consistent with price stability we would have the tools to address that,” he said.Data released later on Friday showed U.S. producer prices accelerated in March, exceeding expectations and suggesting underlying inflationary pressures continue to build across the nation’s economy.Chair Jerome Powell said Thursday that there were up to 10 million fewer Americans now working compared with February 2020 before the pandemic struck.“We will not forget those people and we’ll provide the economy the support that it needs until that job is done,” he said.Clarida noted there is “a lot of pent-up supply in the economy,” with so many people unemployed, and that as the economy reopens, there could be “temporary imbalances in certain sectors,” which he said the Fed also expects to be transitory.“If they’re not, then we’ll have to take that into account, certainly,” he said.
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Chicago will host a virtual investors’ conference May 6 with the municipal market looking for insights into how the city will use its $1.8 billion of new federal relief, manage rising pension payments and the long-term COVID-19 fiscal fallout.The city has so far only sent out a “Save the Date” for the May 6 conference that is open to bondholders, real estate investors, and financial stakeholders. An agenda is not yet available.The city will likely field a wide swath of questions from market participants covering use of the new stimulus dollars and whether the infusion of cash means the administration will scrap scoop-and-toss restructuring plans for budgetary relief.Looming pension contribution spikes to bring two more funds up to an actuarial contribution and a new state mandate to raise a cost-of-living benefit for firefighters also are weighing on investor minds. Moody’s Investors Service issued a report labeling the latter a credit negative on Friday. The city carries a BBB-minus from Fitch Ratings, an A from Kroll Bond Rating Agency, and BBB-plus from S&P Global Ratings, all with negative outlooks. For investors, questions over whether the city still will meet a 2023 target to reach structural balance and longer-term challenges including pandemic-related trends on downtown properties also await the finance team led by Chief Financial Officer Jennie Huang Bennett.“I am very interested to see how the city uses its money and how disciplined they can be in trying to close their structural deficit versus funding expanded programs that will require steady revenues beyond federal aid,” said Howard Cure, director of municipal bond research at Evercore Wealth Management LLC.“The city is going to get a lot of cash so I’m not as worried about the short-term. The credit factor I’m most worried about is how the city might deal with the impact of the pandemic on downtown commercial and industrial real estate” given the county assessor’s shift to those areas away from residential in assessments and the pandemic’s impact “as well as the higher end residential real estate,” said Richard Ciccarone, president of Merritt Research Services.“What precautions are being taken in the event there is a flight?” Ciccarone asked. Property taxes are a key revenue source for the city with much of the revenue going to cover debt and pensions and raising rates draws a political backlash.How the city will manage a looming $300 million spike in 2023 and whether it will use some of the stimulus to curtail planned scoop-and-toss borrowing also loom large on Ciccarone’s list of questions.Chicago bonds don’t trade frequently and Refinitiv market strategist Daniel Berger hasn’t seen recent trades. He believes they likely have benefitted from current market conditions. Illinois is trading around a 100 basis-point spread to the Municipal Market Data’s AAA benchmark and Chicago Public Schools are trading around a 105 basis point spread. Both are 15 to 20 basis points narrower than just a couple weeks ago, outperforming the general market.“We’ve seen increased optimism caused by the stimulus and optimism about the economy and there’s been inflows from high-yield buyers,” Berger said. High-yield funds pulled in $821 million in the latest reporting week, according to Refinitiv Lipper.The investors’ conference was begun under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel and continued by Mayor Lori Lightfoot after taking office in 2019. Past events have offered presentations and question-and-answer sessions with the mayor and other issuing authorities, such as the Chicago Public Schools, park district, and transit agency. While typically held in late summer or early fall, last year’s conference was put off amid the city’s management of the pandemic.Stimulus and budgetWhen asked recently whether the city would cancel its scoop-and-toss plans given the looming infusion of new aid, Lightfoot remained non-committal but did stress that the goal is to avoid adding to structural budget struggles.“We are looking at a range of different things that we will do,” Lightfoot said. “Obviously we are getting discretionary funds … . We are looking at lot at what happened in 2008 and 2009 when we had a similar, but smaller-scale economic meltdown and making sure that we understand the past so we don’t repeat any of the problems.” When asked recently whether the city would cancel its scoop-and-toss plans given the looming infusion of new federal aid, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot remained non-committal but did stress that the goal is to avoid adding to structural budget struggles.Bloomberg News Lightfoot referenced former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s spend-down of federal dollars from then President Obama’s stimulus package and then his use of most of the funds raised from the $1.1 billion lease of the meter system. That deal has drawn the public’s ire as rates continue to rise and the city has little funds left to show from handing it over to private operators.“We don’t want to repeat that history … we absolutely want to look at ways we can address our structural fiscal challenges,” Lightfoot said. Lightfoot expects to bring a plan to the council in May or June.The City Council late last year approved $1.92 billion of refunding and restructuring of general obligation and Sales Tax Securitization Corp. debt.The city will push off $450 million of debt service owed in 2020 and $500 million owed in 2021.The restructuring helps close an $800 million 2020 gap due pandemic-related tax blows and a $1.2 billion 2021 gap that’s due to $800 million in tax hits and $400 million in expected structural costs.Late last year as debate heated up over direct relief for tax losses after President Biden’s November election, Chicago turned to short-term borrowing through the Federal Reserve's Municipal Liquidity Facility to cover the $450 million of debt savings for the 2020 budget to leave the door open to avoid the restructuring if more aid came to fruition.If the city goes through with the full refunding and restructuring plan for 2020 and 2021 relief and refunding savings, it would tack three years on to the city’s debt-service schedule, extend the life of the debt being restructured by eight years and add $1 billion to future debt service.The traditional refunding piece will generate sufficient savings to blunt the present-value penalty so the overall transaction is projected to generate about $30 million of present-value savings.PensionsThe city must cover a $300 million jump in contributions as the ramp to an actuarially based contribution hits for the municipal and laborers fund like it did for the police and fire funds in 2020. The city has $31.8 billion of net pension liabilities with its funds ranging from 18% to 42% funded.The city must now absorb and additional $18 million to $30 million annually and about $800 million over the next three decades under HB 2451 that Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed over Lightfoot’s objections on April 5. It raises the cost-of-living adjustment to 3% from 1.5% for a group of firefighters who missed a cut off based on their birth date.“The legislation is credit negative for the City of Chicago (Ba1/negative) because it will cause the city's reported unfunded pension liabilities, and thus its annual contribution requirements, to rise,” Moody’s wrote in a report published Friday. “Pensions are the largest credit challenge facing Chicago.”Moody’s applies its own formula to calculate the pension tab known as the adjustment net pension liability which for Chicago is at $46.6 billion, the highest relative to its revenue among all large local governments. “While significant, the roughly $800 million liability increase stemming from House Bill 2451 that the city has forecast is not outsized relative to the scale of the city's already extremely-high liabilities,” Moody’s said.The birth date had repeatedly been changed to encompass firefighters within the tier one group of benefits. The last change in 2016 moved the birth date to 1966 from 1955 and resulted in a $277 million increase in the actuarial accrued liability, Moody’s said.d
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The municipal market took a breather on Friday after a busy week which brought with it continued strength as triple-A general obligation yield curves were largely unchanged and Treasuries were stronger. A hefty slate of taxables, corporate CUSIP and university-led issues will dominate the calendar next week.An estimated $7.33 billion of new supply is headed to market. That compares to total sales of $7.60 billion this week.In another nod to improving credit situations after federal stimulus dollars, vaccination and reopening efforts, Moody’s Investors Service on Friday affirmed New Jersey’s A3 rating and revised the state’s outlook to stable from negative. "While the negative outlook connotes downward pressure and a higher possibility of a downgrade in the next 12-24 months, a stable outlook translates to stability and the expectation the rating should not change for the same time period," the agency said. "The rating and new outlook applies to New Jersey's forthcoming $400 million sale of general obligation Bonds (various purposes) (tax-exempt), which are expected to price the week of April 19."Moody's has also affirmed the A3 rating on New Jersey's outstanding general obligation debt, and revised the outlook to stable from negative, along with various other state-related credits.For Friday, the market was mostly quiet with little trading activity and a steady tone as participants packed up for the weekend. Treasuries were trading flat and marginally softer to close the week, but still stronger at 1.66% compared to 1.74% a week prior.Ratios aren't budging as municipal to UST outperformance is not abating. The 10- and 30-year benchmarks closed at 62% and 70% on Friday, according to Refinitiv MMD while ICE Data Services had the 10-year at 62% and the 30 at 71%.“Retail is not in love with these rates, but for institutions and banks munis still make a lot of sense,” a New York money manager said.The new issues consist of $5.4 billion of negotiated municipal bond sales and $1.92 billion of competitive sales, versus a revised $4.66 billion and $2.94 billion."If you are an issuer with room to price exempt paper, no matter your rating, I would highly suggest that now is the time," a New York trader said. "You have the 10-year itching to fall below 1%, which it did on BVAL, so it wouldn't be a stretch to see that kind of level stick for a time. We are in an incredibly interesting time right now with tax rates, stimulus, potential infrastructure investments all colliding into something meaningful for the muni market."April is starting as an extension of March, which brought benchmark 10- and 30-year muni yields lower, noted Jeff Lipton, managing director of credit at Oppenheimer & Co. said on Friday. “The story for munis is simple; demand has kept munis well-performing and on a different return trajectory than the one followed by U.S. Treasuries," said Jeff Lipton, Oppenheimer & Co. “While Treasuries sold off appreciably last month, munis are outperforming a more stabilized Treasury market in April,” he said.“This week's move to lower yields has been back-dropped by a well-placed primary market and a strong bid in the secondary,” Lipton said. “The story for munis is simple; demand has kept munis well-performing and on a different return trajectory than the one followed by U.S. Treasuries.”Lipton said he expects continued outperformance by the municipal asset class as long as technicals hold in."There is rather lofty amounts of sidelined cash still seeking investment guidance and there is ample room to put much of this money to work, despite somewhat lower relative value ratios compared to a week ago," he said. "Fund flows and [exchange-traded funds] contributions have been quite active and we expect this trend to continue given a number of intersecting factors that have made munis the fixed income investment du jour," Lipton added.Both the improving economic and political landscape has contributed to the improvement in the market.In the latest progress on the stimulus plan, on Friday it was announced that President Joe Biden plans to meet with a bipartisan group of U.S. House and Senate lawmakers Monday on his proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan.Inflation talk reduxA larger-than-expected jump in March producer prices suggests inflationary pressures will increase in the near term, at least on a temporary basis, but it will take months for analysts to determine if inflation will become an issue.PPI gained 1.0% in March, while the core index climbed 0.7%, with the headline number up 4.2% for the year, its biggest gain since a 4.5% surge in the year ended September 2011. The core climbed 3.1% in the 12 months.Economists polled by IFR Markets expected the headline number to rise 0.5% and the core to increase 0.3% for the month, with 3.8% and 2.7% gains, respectively for the annual numbers."We know there is inflationary pressure today, but there remains a significant amount of uncertainty as to whether the pressures will prove temporary as supply chains normalize over the course of the year," according to Scott Ruesterholz, portfolio manager at Insight Investment.The uncertainty of how long inflation pressures remain high is "challenging" markets, he said. And this release "gives ammunition to both sides of the argument," he said. "Headline inflation is moving higher, yes, but more persistent categories, like health care services rose a more modest 0.2%. We continue to be very focused on health care and shelter inflation to see whether the rise in inflation that is now occurring proves durable."“It appears that much of the PPI increase came from finished goods,” which grew 1.3% in the month, said Steve Sosnick chief strategist at Interactive Brokers.While the year-over-year gain “could sound frightfully high,” Sosnick said, “bear in mind that the 3.8% estimate was already a sizable bounce from a weak level that was registered just as lockdowns were taking hold.”The large gains were not surprising to Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com, who expects high reads for the next couple of months, when compared to year-ago levels.During the early stages of the pandemic, March through may, prices fell, so these numbers offer “the appearance of outsized increases."After those drops "wash out” there will be “a true sense of the pace of price increases and whether those increases are temporary or more sustained,” McBride said.Stronger demand coupled with supply chain issues are also pushing up producer prices. “Both of these will lead to increases in prices now but at a pace that likely proves to be only temporary,” he said.Sosnick believes that it's “hard to read too much” into PPI because it “tends to take a back seat” to the consumer price index and the personal consumption expenditures deflator, which give a better read of how much of price increases producers can pass along to consumers.“It’s a big clue to those numbers, but not with an ironclad correlation,” he said.Stock traders chose to focus on comments from Federal Reserve Vice Chair Richard Clarida and Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan who see the gains as “transitory,” so the Fed “will be relatively slow to pull the trigger,” Sosnick said.Also released Friday, wholesale inventories grew 0.6% in February, following an upwardly revised 1.4% gain in January, initially reported as a 1.3% increase, while wholesale sales fell 0.8% after a 4.4% jump a month earlier.Secondary municipal marketHigh-grade municipals were mostly flat on Refinitiv MMD’s AAA benchmark scale, with short yields steady at 0.07% in 2022 and 0.13% in 2023. The yield on the 10-year remained at 1.03% and as did the 30-year at 1.66%.The ICE AAA municipal yield curve showed a steady tone at 0.07% in 2022 and 0.11% in 2023. The 10-year maturity at 1.02% while the 30-year sat at 1.65%.The IHS Markit municipal analytics AAA curve showed yields at 0.07% in 2022 and 0.12% in 2023, the 10-year at 1.00% and the 30-year at 1.64%.The Bloomberg BVAL AAA curve showed yields at 0.06% in 2022 and 0.10% in 2023, while the 10-year fell remained at 0.99%, and the 30-year yield fell a basis point to 1.64%.The three-month Treasury note was yielding 0.03%, the 10-year Treasury was yielding 1.66% and the 30-year Treasury was yielding 2.34% near the close. The Dow was up 234 points, the S&P 500 rose 0.60% and the Nasdaq gained 0.33%.Primary market to comeThe Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority (Aa3//A+/) is set to price $827 million of taxable state system of higher education Act 105 Project revenue bonds on Tuesday. Serials, 2022-2036, term, 2042. Barclays Capital Inc. is bookrunner.The Public Finance Authority, Wisconsin is set to price $633.5 million of senior secured taxable private activity bonds (Alabama Department of Corrections Facilities Project) on Thursday. Serials, 2025-2036, term, 2041, 2054. Barclays Capital Inc. is lead underwriter.The Higher Education Loan Authority of the State of Missouri is set to price $523.9 million of taxable student loan asset-backed notes, $125 million Series A1Fix (/AA+//), $387 million Series A1FRN (/AA+//) and $11.9 million of Series 1BFRN (/AA//). BofA Securities is head underwriter.The State Public Works Board of the State of California (Aa3/A+/AA-/) is set to price $359.1 million of lease revenue bonds, 2021 Series B. Loop Capital Markets will run the books.Summa Health, Ohio (/AA//) is set to price $325 million of taxable corporate CUSIP bonds insured by Assured Guaranty Municipal Corp. on Wednesday. Serials 2051. Barclays Capital Inc. is lead underwriter.The San Diego County Water Authority (Aa2/AAA/AA+/) is set to price $299.9 million of water revenue refunding green bonds, Series 2021B, Serials, 2022-2038. Citigroup Global Markets Inc. is head underwriter.The nonrated Capital Trust Agency is set to price $249 million of (Educational Growth Fund, LLC Charter School Portfolio Projects) Senior Revenue Bonds, Series 2021A-1, Subordinate Revenue Bonds, Series 2021B. Citigroup Global Markets Inc. is bookrunner.The Deschutes Public Library District, Deschutes County, Oregon (Aa2///) is set to price $195 million of general obligation bonds on Tuesday. Piper Sandler & Co. is lead underwriter.The California Community Housing Agency is set to price $175.8 million of essential housing revenue bonds on Wednesday. Series 2021A (Aster) $116.2 million Senior 2021A-1 bonds, term 2056 and $59.6 million Junior 2021A-2 Bonds term, 2043. Jefferies LLC will run the books.The Idaho Housing and Finance Association (A2//A+/) is set to price $170.7 million of Garvees, Series A 2021, serials 2029-2039. Citigroup Global Markets Inc. is head underwriter.The Michigan Finance Authority (A1//AA-/) is set to price $140.2 million of hospital revenue refunding bonds (McLaren Health Care) Series 2015D-1 (FRN Rate or Term Rate) Series 2015D-2 (FRN Rate or Term Rate). J.P. Morgan Securities LLC is lead underwriter.The New York City Housing Development Corporation (Aa2/AA+//) is set to price $124.6 million of taxable multi-family housing revenue sustainable development bonds on Wednesday. Serials, 2022-2032, terms: 2036, 2041, 2046, 2051. Wells Fargo Securities is bookrunner.The California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (Aa1///) is set to price $118.5 million of refunding revenue bonds (The Broad) (Sustainability Bonds), Series 2021A. Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC is head underwriter.The State of Oregon (Aa2/AAA//) is set to price $111.8 million of Oregon State Lottery taxable revenue refunding bonds on Tuesday. 2021 Series B, serials, 2023-2033. Citigroup Global Markets Inc. will run the books.The Board of Regents for the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical Colleges Oklahoma State University (/AA-/AA-/) is set to price $104.3 million of taxable general revenue and refunding bonds, Series 2021B, serials 2021-2036, terms 2041, 2045. RBC Capital Markets is lead underwriter.Board of Regents for the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical Colleges Oklahoma State University (/AA-/AA-/) is also set to price $76.1 million of tax-exempt general revenue and refunding bonds, serials 2021-2041, terms, 2046, 2051, on Wednesday. RBC Capital Markets will run the books.The Museum of Modern Art, New York (Aa2/AA//) is set to price $100 million of taxable Series 2021 bonds on Tuesday. Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC is head underwriter.The Unified School District No. 475, Geary County, Kansas (Aa3///) is set to price $88 million of taxable general obligation refunding bonds, Series 2021. Piper Sandler & Co. is the lead underwriter.The Mountain View Whisman School District, Santa Clara County, California (Aaa///) is set to price $84.5 million of taxable general obligation refunding bonds. Serials, 2021-2038, term 2042. RBC Capital Markets is bookrunner.The Billings School District No. 2 (Yellowstone County), Montana, (/AA-//) is set to price $81.5 million of taxable general obligation refunding bonds. D.A. Davidson & Co. is head underwriter.In the competitive market, the Metropolitan Council of Minnesota is set to sell $185.8 million of Series 2021B GO grant anticipation notes and $204.1 million of Series 2021C grant anticipation notes on Tuesday.Also on Tuesday, Palm Beach County, Fla., (AA-plus) is competitively selling $166.865 million of bonds in three offerings. The deals consist of $68.795 million of Series 2021C taxable public improvement revenue refunding bonds for the Professional Sports Franchise Facility project, $53.2 million of Series 2021A tax-exempt public improvement revenue bonds for the Supervisor of Elections Operations building project and $44.87 million of Series 2021B taxable public improvement revenue refunding bonds .On Wednesday, gilt-edged Delaware is planning to sell $293.1 million of GO bonds.Lynne Funk contributed to this report.
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Nonfungible tokens (NFT) have handsomely rewarded early investors over the past few months, especially as they gained mainstream attention thanks to record-breaking digital art sales and well-known influencers like Paris Hilton throwing their support behind the sector. April has seen the hype behind NFTs quiet down some, but the recent growth in Waves (WAVES) shows that there is still plenty of excitement remaining in the cryptocurrency community for newly released NFT projects. WAVES/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingViewData from Cointelegraph Markets and TradingView shows that the price of Waves has increased 320% in 2021, climbing from a low of $4.86 on Jan. 4 to a new all-time high at $20.82 on April 9 thanks to a record $883 million in 24-hour trading volume. NFT airdrop lures new investorsExcitement for WAVES reached a new peak today after the protocol released Duck Hunters, a game that combines NFT collectibles with yield farming. Who let the ducks out? #Waves did! The Duck Hunters' season is now officially on. Collect $EGG tokens for completing tasks & build your own duck empire with #NFT tokens. Check the roadmap with buyback details and beyond. Ducks are coming after you!https://t.co/AF8Ws3QJUW— Waves Tech (@wavesprotocol) April 9, 2021A follow-up tweet announcing the launch of Round 1 of the Duck Hunters game stated that all participants who complete a few social engagements will receive 1 EGG immediately after the round expires. Momentum for the token had been building for several weeks prior to the release of Duck Hunters, starting with the listing of a USDT-WAVES market on the Bittrex on March 23. This was followed by the March 24 announcement that Waves Enterprise would be expand to Singapore as part of its strategy to focusing more on the creation of hybrid networks that can interface with public blockchains like Ethereum (ETH).VORTECS™ data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro also began to detect a bullish outlook for WAVES on April 8, prior to the recent price rise. The VORTECS™ Score, exclusive to Cointelegraph, is an algorithmic comparison of historic and current market conditions derived from a combination of data points including market sentiment, trading volume, recent price movements and Twitter activity.VORTECS™ Score (green) vs. WAVES price. Source: Cointelegraph Markets ProAs seen in the chart above, after staying relatively flat in the yellow range for most of the week, the VORTECS™ Score for Waves climbed into the green and registered a high of 66 on April 8, roughly five hours before the price began to increase 60% over the next day. The addition of NFT functionality to the Waves ecosystem alongside its growing decentralized finance ecosystem has created a well-rounded protocol that is positioned to see further growth as blockchain technology becomes further integrated into mainstream commerce. The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.
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Florida has filed a federal lawsuit against the Biden administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for safety orders that have continued to keep cruise ships locked at the dock amid a pandemic that killed dozens of cruise ship passengers in the early days of the outbreak.The suit alleges that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "Conditional Sailing Order" is so stringent that cruise lines can't comply with it, an action which officials say is hurting the state’s travel industry.“We must allow our cruise liners and their employees to get back to work and safely set sail again,” DeSantis said at a press conference at the Port of Miami. “To be clear, no federal law authorizes the CDC to indefinitely impose a nationwide shutdown of an entire industry. This lawsuit is necessary to protect Floridians from the federal government’s overreach and resulting economic harm to our state.” A passenger is stretchered off the Holland America Zaandam in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in April 2020 after a COVID-19 outbreak that ultimately killed four. Florida state officials are trying to get cruises going again.Bloomberg News Attorney General Ashley Moody filed the action in the U.S. District Court, Middle District, Tampa Division on Thursday.“Cruises are a vital part of Florida’s tourism industry — employing thousands and boosting our state’s economy,” Moody said in filing the suit. “Every day the federal government unfairly keeps this economic giant docked, our economy suffers."Three large cruise operators have headquarters in Florida — Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line — though all the ships they sail from the Sunshine State are foreign-registered and foreign-crewed."We don’t have a direct response to a lawsuit nor a comment on a specific legal action, but I will just reiterate that the CDC guidance is based on data and health and medical guidelines, hence that’s why they put it out and why they regularly update it," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said a at daily briefing.The formal CDC recommendation is that all people avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide, because the risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high.As COVID-19 vaccine distribution continues to increase, other industries such as airlines, hotels, restaurants and theme parks have already opened with safety measures and capacity protocols in place.On Friday afternoon, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava joined other South Florida elected officials and cruise industry leaders at a press conference to urged the safe return of cruising.According to Thursday's lawsuit, the CDC does not have the authority to issue a year-and-a-half-long nationwide lockdowns of entire industries. Florida also claims the CDC’s actions are arbitrary and capricious and violate the Administrative Procedure Act.Cruise ships played a starring role in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic: Carnival's Diamond Princess held the world's attention in February 2020, during a quarantine in Yokohama, Japan. Ultimately more than 700 passengers and crew caught COVID-19 and 14 died, underscoring the transmission risks in the enclosed and largely indoor environment of a passenger ship.DeSantis was much less welcoming when one of Carnival's Holland America ships, amid an outbreak that ultimately killed four passengers and crew, was trying to dock at Port Everglades, Florida, in March 2020.Florida's complaint asks the court to set aside the CDC’s actions and compel it to allow cruises to operate with reasonable safety protocols which have been enacted in other countries that now operate cruises. It says without court intervention Florida will lose hundreds of millions of dollars. The Diamond Princess during quarantine in Japan in February 2020. Ultimately 14 passengers died of COVID-19. Florida officials say the Biden administration is to safety-conscious about cruising.Bloomberg News The vast majority of cruise ships around the world remain out of operation; in a recent story industry trade publication Cruise Industry News identified less than a dozen large ships operating this month worldwide out of many hundred.“It is economically imperative to find the pathways to reopening, and the evidence is clear that a layered approach to health and safety allows the safe resumption of travel,” the Cruise Lines International Association said in a recent statement. “We join the calls to identify the way toward lifting the Conditional Sail Order and allowing the phased resumption of cruise operations as quickly as possible.”The CDC issued a no-sail order in March 2020 and the cruise industry in Florida and elsewhere totally closed down. A September report from the Federal Maritime Commission last September estimated that in the first six months of the pandemic, the state's losses due to the shutdown totaled $3.2 billion in economic activity, including the loss of 49,500 jobs paying $2.3 billion in wages. The CDC later replaced the order with the current "phased-in" approach.“Local seaports are key economic engines, creating jobs while also contributing to Florida’s economy. Ensuring that local seaports are not restricted in their ability to conduct business and create economic development opportunities remains a top priority,” Michael Rubin, the Florida Ports Council Vice President of Governmental Affairs, testified last week before the state legislature.Florida’s seaports have seen operating revenue fall nearly $300 million since last year with estimates nearing a $400 million loss by July.“These federal bureaucrats, who have no concept of what is actually happening out in the real world, have never had to face the reality of a prolonged furlough or have had their job jeopardized by the pandemic,” said Congressman Carlos Gimenez. “I guarantee if it were their job on the line and they had to handle the things hardworking Americans have had to face ahead of this pandemic, they would find the solution and rectify this issue immediately.”The American Association of Port Authorities said Thursday that it “applauds the Biden administration’s significant advances in battling the pandemic, while also safely reopening other tourism sectors. Ports are confident in their role to see the safe restart of cruising on track with President Biden’s July 2021 goal of Americans safely enjoying a ‘new normal’ this summer.”
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A man wearing a protective face mask walks by 14 Wall Street in the financial district of New York, November 19, 2020.Shannon Stapleton | ReutersThe earnings reporting season gets underway in the week ahead, and it is expected to be a positive catalyst that could continue to send stocks higher for now.The week is also packed with Federal Reserve speakers and important data, including a much anticipated inflation reading Tuesday when the consumer price index is released. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell kicks off another busy week for Fed appearances with a Sunday evening interview on "60 Minutes."Powell, in comments this past week, continued to reinforce that the Fed will keep its easy policies in place for a long time, and that any emergence of inflation should be temporary. But hotter-than-expected producer price inflation data Friday has made the consumer price index release Tuesday all the more important. PPI gained 1%, double the expected increase.Kevin Cummins, U.S. economist at NatWest Markets, said he expects core CPI to rise 0.2% for March, or 1.5% year-over-year, but headline inflation should reach 0.5% or 2.5% year-over-year. Cummins said March is the beginning of a period where inflation could appear greater, just because of the comparison to low levels last year when the economy was shut down."I think the Fed has already moved ahead of it," Cummins said. He said he expects CPI to peak at 3.6% in May but then calm down during the summer.The other key piece of data in the coming week is the retail sales report for March, which Cummins said could show a 10% gain.Cummins said the March sales should be boosted by the $1,400 stimulus checks sent to individuals, which started reaching bank accounts in mid-March. More of the economy has also been opening up, as more people get vaccinated."The back end of the month should be very strong," he said. "If you look at auto sales, that was the highest level in four years. It seems like restaurants are getting more crowded, with outdoor seating."Earnings seasonBut it may be the earnings season that is the real tell for the economy.'It isn't what they report," said James Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Leuthold Group. "For the first time, we are going to hear more and more companies now actually making comments about the future. Are they going to upwardly revise some of their outlooks or are they note? That's what's really going to be key about it."The big banks kick off the reporting Wednesday, with JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo. Bank of America and Citigroup report Thursday. Morgan Stanley reports Friday. PepsiCo and Delta Airlines are also among the first to report."The consensus for the first quarter is are supposed to be up roughly 22%. We have an easy comp from last year. That number could be closer to 30%," said Brian Rauscher, head of global portfolio strategy at Fundstrat.Rauscher said he expects the most earnings beats to be in the cyclical sectors, like consumer discretionary, financials and materials, all sectors that benefit from the reopening economy."I think earnings season is going to be constructive, and it's going to be good enough to keep the market going higher," he said.Based on estimates and early reports, Refinitiv now expects earnings growth of 25% for the first quarter. Companies have been beating estimates so far at a pace of 81%. Earnings for the financial sector are expected to be up 75%. The consumer discretionary sector was hit hard by shutdowns a year ago, and its earnings are expected to bounce back by 98%, according to Refinitiv."I think what we're going to start to see is the operating leverage for these companies is really underappreciated. The earnings are going to start to come back faster than the revenues," said Rauscher. "Corporate America has really done a good job in the last year of streamlining their operations, their cost structures and everything else. Revenues could come back 50%, and earnings could come back 100%."The major stock market indices were higher in the past week, but small caps lagged with the Russell 2000 losing ground.Week ahead calendarMonday1:00 p.m. Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren2:00 p.m. Federal budget TuesdayEarnings: Fastenal 6:00 a.m. NFIB small business survey8:30 a.m. CPI12:00 p.m. Fed panel on race and economy – Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, Kansas City President Ester George, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari, San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly12:00 p.m. Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker  Wednesday Earnings: JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Bed Bath and Beyond, Infosys, First Republic Bank 8:30 a.m. Import prices2:00 p.m. Beige book2:30 p.m. New York Fed President John Williams4:00 p.m. Atlanta Fed President Raphael BosticThursdayEarnings: Bank of America, Citigroup, UnitedHealth, PepsiCo, BlackRock, Alcoa, PPG Industries, U.S. Bancorp, Charles Schwab, Delta Air Lines, Rite Aid, Wipro, Taiwan Semiconductor, Truist Financial, SunTrust8:30 a.m. Initial claims8:30 a.m. Retail sales8:30 a.m. Philadelphia Fed survey8:30 a.m. Empire State manufacturing9:15 a.m. Industrial production10:00 a.m. Business inventories10:00 a.m. NAHB home builders sentiment11:30 a.m. Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic2:00 p.m. San Francisco President Mary Daly4:00 p.m. TIC data4:00 p.m. Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester Friday Earnings: Morgan Stanley, PNC Financial, Kansas City Southern, Bank of NY Mellon, Citizens Financial, Ally Financial, State Street8:30 a.m. Business leaders survey8:30 a.m. Housing starts10:00 a.m. Consumer sentiment
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Stephanie Wiggins has been tapped to head the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority as the transit agency struggles to recover from pandemic-driven ridership losses.As LA Metro’s CEO, Wiggins will manage a budget of nearly $7 billion and oversee up to $20 billion in capital construction projects. The agency has 11,000 employees that transport more than a half-million boarding passengers daily on a fleet of 2,200 buses and six rail lines consisting of 98 miles of light and heavy rail lines.“It is an incredible privilege and honor to be given the opportunity to lead LA Metro, a key job generator of the region, and to center it in equity and continue the work of reducing the impact of climate change,” Wiggins said after Thursday’s unanimous board vote to appoint her to the position. Stephanie Wiggins will be the first woman to head the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.Metrolink She will take over between May 30 and June 14, and earn $400,004.80 annually in a four-year contract with two one-year options to renew at board discretion.Wiggins — who LA Metro board member and county supervisor Hilda Solis described as someone who sees obstacles not as challenges, but opportunities — noted the system has experienced a significant drop off, but less of a decline in ridership than other major cities indicative of how important it is to county residents.The city reduced service during the pandemic and doesn’t expect to resume full service until September.Rail ridership declined by 6 million to 3 million in February compared to a year earlier and bus boardings fell 50%, dropping to 487,240 in February compared to 997,395 a year earlier, according to data from LA Metro.Based on ridership, it is the third largest system in the U.S., after New York and Chicago; and the bus system is the second largest in the U.S., after New York, according to a Moody’s. The authority also provides highway construction funding and traffic flow management for the county.LA Metro received ratings of AAA from S&P Global Ratings and Aa1 from Moody’s Investors Service when it priced $325 million in sales tax revenue bonds to pay for rail projects in a competitive deal on March 30. Both assigned stable outlooks.There has been a clamor to lure Wiggins back for the CEO job after current CEO Philip A. Washington announced on Feb. 3 he would be stepping down after six years in the position, according to Metro board members.Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian, who is second vice chair of the LA Metro Board and chair of Metrolink’s board, is among those who received calls from people asking if LA Metro “could get Stephanie back.”Wiggins, who considers Washington a mentor, was deputy CEO in 2018, before she left to become CEO of Metrolink, a 538-mile passenger rail system in Southern California that traverses six counties.She was the first African-American and female to lead that 28-year-old organization where she managed a $793 million budget and 282 full-time employees. She will be the first woman to head LA Metro.“My greatest accomplishment at Metro has been the development of people,” Washington said.The best CEOs build on the work of their predecessors to take an agency to new heights, according to Washington, who believes Wiggins will do that and “be the best CEO LA Metro has seen.”During her tenure at LA Metro, she was instrumental in helping to get Measure M, a half-cent sales tax extension expected to bring in more than $120 billion over 40 years, approved by county voters in 2016, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.That funding, along with Measure R, another half-cent sales tax, of which Fitch Ratings said 85% has already been tapped to support existing bonds, is providing the funding to build out the rail system ahead of the 2028 Olympic Games. LA Metro and Garcetti have promoted a program of completing 28 projects improving the rail network by then.“We welcome you back with open arms,” said Garcetti, who chairs Metro’s board. “There was unanimous support for you on this board. You will deliver the equitable transportation system of the future.”
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Hong Kong tech company Meitu revealed on April 8 that it had added $10 million worth of Bitcoin (BTC) to its holdings which were purchased at an average rate of $57,000 per coin. After the latest purchase, Meitu’s total cryptocurrency portfolio consists of $49.5 million worth of Bitcoin and $50.5 million worth of Ether (ETH). This acquisition shows that institutional investors are confident that the rally in Bitcoin is still in its early stages.Tom Jessop, Fidelity’s head of the crypto division, believes that Bitcoin has reached a tipping point and that traditional finance companies will continue to adopt cryptocurrency aggressively in the next few years. Jessop believes the massive monetary stimulus from governments and central banks has accelerated institutional adoption and this is a trend that could extend for at least another year.Daily cryptocurrency market performance. Source: Coin360It is not only institutional investors who are rushing into cryptocurrencies. Data shows that the number of retail investors trading cryptocurrency has also increased. Popular trading app Robinhood reported on April 8 that crypto trading on its platform surged to 9.5 million users in Q1 2021, a six-fold increase over Q4 2020.While crypto adoption is on the rise, some legacy finance firms are still taking an anti-crypto approach. HSBC has reportedly blacklisted MicroStrategy stock and will not allow customers on its HSBC InvestDirect platform to buy shares from the company. Will Bitcoin and major altcoins extend their uptrend and attract more buyers or will they enter a corrective phase? Let’s analyze the charts of the top-10 cryptocurrencies to find out.BTC/USDTThe bears could not capitalize on Bitcoin’s break below the 20-day exponential moving average ($57,043) on April 7. Their failure to break the 50-day simple moving average ($54,572) support could have attracted buying from the aggressive bulls, resulting in the rebound on April 8.BTC/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingViewHowever, today's Doji candlestick suggests the bulls are struggling to sustain the momentum at higher levels. The BTC/USDT pair has formed an inverse head and shoulders pattern that will complete on a breakout and close above $60,000. This bullish setup has a target objective at $69,540. If the bulls sustain the momentum and clear this hurdle, the uptrend may reach the next target at $79,566.Contrary to this assumption, if the price turns down from the current level, the bears will once again try to break the critical support at the 50-day SMA. If they succeed, the selling could intensify as short-term traders may rush to the exit. That could pull the pair down to $50,460.02 and then $43,006.77.ETH/USDTEther’s (ETH) drop on April 7 was arrested at the 20-day EMA ($1,933), which shows the bulls are accumulating on dips. The price rebounded sharply on April 8 and rose above the resistance at $2,040.77.ETH/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingViewThe bulls will now make one more attempt to climb above the all-time high at $2,150. If they manage to do that, the ETH/USDT pair could resume its uptrend and march toward the next target objective at $2,618.14. However, the bears are likely to have other plans. They will try to pull the price below the 20-day EMA. If that happens, several aggressive bulls may get trapped. That could intensify the selling, resulting in a drop to the trendline. A break below this support will suggest a change in trend. BNB/USDTBinance Coin (BNB) continues to be in a strong uptrend. The bulls flipped the $348.69 level to support on April 7 and followed that up with a breakout to a new all-time high on April 8. This shows a strong appetite from the bulls.BNB/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingViewThe upsloping moving averages and the relative strength index (RSI) above 75 indicate that the bulls are in command. The next target objective on the upside is the $500 to $530 zone where the bears may mount a stiff resistance. On any correction, the first support to watch out for is the 20-day EMA ($334). A strong rebound off this support will suggest the sentiment remains bullish and traders are buying on dips. However, if the BNB/USDT pair dips below the 20-day EMA, it will suggest that the bullish momentum is weakening.XRP/USDTXRP made successive inside day candlestick formations on April 7 and April 8. The current price action is pointing to another inside-day candlestick pattern today. The drop in daily volatility shows the altcoin is still digesting the recent gains.XRP/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingViewThis tightening of the intraday range usually ends with a strong breakout. If the uncertainty resolves to the upside and the bulls drive the price above $1.11, the XRP/USDT pair could start the next leg of the rally that could take it to $1.34 and then $1.66.Alternatively, if the indecision resolves to the downside, it will suggest that supply exceeds demand and traders have dumped their positions. If that happens, the pair could drop to the 20-day EMA ($0.72). A break below this level could pull the price down to $0.65.ADA/USDT Cardano (ADA) dipped below the 20-day EMA ($1.18) on April 7 but the bulls did not allow the price to slip below the 50-day SMA ($1.16). This shows the bulls are defending the moving averages aggressively.ADA/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingViewThe buyers will now try to push the price above $1.33. If they manage to do that, the ADA/USDT pair could rise to $1.48. This is an important level to watch out for because the pair has returned from it on two previous occasions.If the price again reverses direction from $1.48, it will suggest that the range-bound action may continue for a few more days. On the other hand, if the bulls can drive the price above $1.48, the pair could resume the uptrend toward the next target objective at $2.A break below the moving averages will be the first sign of weakness and that could result in a drop to the $1.02 support. If this level breaks down, the bears could start a deeper correction to $0.80.DOT/USDTPolkadot (DOT) bounced off the 20-day EMA ($38.68) on April 7, indicating buying on dips. The bulls will now try to push the price above the overhead resistance at $42.28.DOT/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingViewIf they succeed, the DOT/USDT pair will retest the all-time high at $46.80. A breakout and close above this level could start the next leg of the rally that has a target objective at $53.50 and then $57.The gradually upsloping 20-day EMA and the RSI in the positive territory suggest the bulls have the upper hand.However, if the price turns down from the current level and breaks below the moving averages, it will indicate that traders are closing their positions on rallies. That could result in a fall to $32.50 and then $26.50.UNI/USDTThe bulls successfully held the $27.97 support on April 7, which is a positive sign as it shows accumulation on dips. Uniswap (UNI) bounced back above the 20-day EMA ($29.65) on April 8 and the buyers will now try to push the price above $32.50.UNI/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingViewIf they succeed, the UNI/USDT pair could rally to the $35.20 to $36.80 overhead resistance zone. The bears are likely to defend this zone aggressively. If the price turns down from this resistance, the pair may extend its stay inside the range for a few more days.Contrary to this assumption, if the price turns down from the current level, the bears will make one more attempt to pull the price below the $27.97 to $25.50 support zone. If they manage to do that, the pair could start a deeper correction to $20.74.LTC/USDTLitecoin (LTC) successfully completed the retest of the breakout level from the symmetrical triangle on April 7. That was followed by a rebound on April 8, but the bulls are struggling to pick up momentum.LTC/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingViewThis shows hesitation to buy at higher levels. If the bulls do not overcome the hurdle at $246.96 within the next few days, the possibility of a break below the 20-day EMA ($207) increases. In such a case, the LTC/USDT pair could drop to the support line.Contrary to this assumption, if the bulls sustain the momentum and propel the price above $246.96, the pair could start the next leg of the uptrend that may reach $307.42. The gradually rising 20-day EMA and the RSI above 59 suggest a minor advantage to the bulls.LINK/USDTChainlink’s (LINK) sharp reversal on April 7 could not break below the 20-day EMA ($30.29). This shows the sentiment remains positive and the bulls are buying on dips. The rebound on April 8 rose above the $32 resistance but the bulls are struggling to build on this strength today.LINK/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingViewIf the price turns down and breaks below the moving averages, it will suggest that supply exceeds demand at higher levels. That could pull the price down to the critical support at $24. On the other hand, if the bulls again defend the 20-day EMA, the LINK/USDT pair could rise to the all-time high at $36.93. A breakout and close above this resistance will suggest the bulls have absorbed the supply and that may indicate the start of the next leg of the uptrend. However, if the price again turns down from $36.93, the pair could extend its stay inside the range for a few more days.THETA/USDTAfter the large range day on April 7, THETA made an inside day candlestick pattern on April 8 and has followed it up with another one today. This shows indecision among the bulls and the bears about the next directional move. While the bears are defending the overhead resistance, the bulls are buying on every minor dip. THETA/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingViewThe upsloping 20-day EMA ($11.33) and the RSI above 62 suggest a minor advantage to the bulls. The buyers will have to clear the hurdle at $14 to signal the start of the next leg of the uptrend. If they manage to do that, the THETA/USDT pair could rally to $17.65 and then $22.50. On the contrary, if the bears sink the price below the 20-day EMA, it will be the first sign of a possible change in sentiment. It will suggest that the bulls are no longer buying the dips to the 20-day EMA. The next critical support to watch will be $10.35. If this level is taken out, a deeper correction to the 50-day SMA may start.The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.Market data is provided by HitBTC exchange.
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Just before a power lunch at Sant Ambroeus in Palm Beach, real estate billionaire Jeff Greene picks up the phone to discuss the past year’s “huge migration” to Southern Florida. “People have realized that they can get a much higher quality life and still make the same amount of income,” he says. “I'll see more interesting people at Sant Ambroeus in Palm Beach than I would at Sant Ambroeus in Manhattan.”  But Greene—who owns more than $2 billion worth of property, roughly half of it in Florida, Forbes estimates (he says it’s worth more)—thinks the frenzy is nearing a peak. “Prices have just gone higher than anyone ever could have imagined,” he says. Come autumn, he believes, many families will return to their original homes in New York, Los Angeles and other cities, causing prices to moderate. It’s a cooling effect Greene expects to see far outside of Palm Beach. “My view on all the markets is that we're in somewhat of an omni-bubble in every category,” he says. “Between central banks around the world and the government's fiscal and monetary stimulus we have trillions and trillions of dollars of extra money that wasn't around before….At some point you can't keep printing.” Florida’s real estate market has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the pandemic, beckoning wealthy Americans with low taxes, warm weather and a relative lack of crowds. “It's been a seven-day-a-week work week, from the time you get up until the time you go to bed,” says Nathan Zeder, a broker-associate at the Jills Zeder Group, which is based in Miami Beach and Coral Gables. The firm sold about $800 million worth of property in the second half of 2020, he says, more than it did in all of 2019. One of the largest purchases of the pandemic closed on Thursday, when Larry Ellison reportedly acquired an $80 million megamansion in North Palm Beach, just above the original asking price. (Chris Leavitt, Ashley McIntosh and Tonja Garamella of Douglas Elliman, who handled the sale for the buyer and seller, declined to comment.)  An even larger deal closed in February, a newly completed mansion at 535 N. County Road in Palm Beach that went for more than $120 million, setting a record for the region and likely the state, according to the Palm Beach Daily News. Overall, properties in Palm Beach have appreciated nearly 8% in the last year, according to Zillow data, though some areas are seeing an even larger boost. Such figures are even more striking considering the shift in buyers. Almost half of the Miami real estate sales market is ordinarily composed of foreign individuals, Zeder says. During the pandemic that number has fallen close to zero. “Generally if we were a 100% domestic market, the market would go down. But it’s done the exact opposite.” The climb is partly attributable to the arrival of so many wealthy New Yorkers. According to Placer.ai, a data analytics firm, the two most popular destinations outside of the Northeast for those fleeing New York County between January of 2020 and 2021 were Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade County. Frederick Peters, CEO of Warburg Realty in New York, says it’s a trend stretching back years. “People, especially in the top .01%, just find the tax advantages such that they're looking at becoming Florida residents,” he says. “That probably accelerated during the pandemic... But it didn't start during the pandemic.” As for Greene, he plans to stick it out in Palm Beach no matter how quickly the trend slows. “I have deep roots in this community,” he says. Greene’s parents moved to Florida when he was in high school, and he continued to visit on breaks from Johns Hopkins University; during winter vacations he worked as a waiter and busboy at the famed Breakers Hotel.   Greene, who is worth $3.9 billion overall, first got into real estate while at Harvard Business School, when he bought a house and rented out rooms to earn extra cash. By the time he graduated he owned 18 properties. It was decades later, though, that he became a billionaire, thanks to credit default swaps he bought in the run-up to the housing market collapse that ignited the financial crisis.  “I moved here in December of 2009,” he says, of Palm Beach, at which point he started buying up properties, including the Tideline Hotel and dozens of condominiums. “I really felt it was very undervalued. Today Greene is continuing to bet on Florida’s long-term vitality, despite his muted predictions for the fall. He is building two 30-story towers in Palm Beach at a reported cost of $250 million—on a 3.3 acre site he bought in 2014—and which sparked headlines last year over construction delays due to zoning issues.   “I'm a long-term believer in this area,” he says. “I hope I have a long life and can enjoy the fruits of my labor.”
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Blackstone's Byron Wien on CNBC on Friday projected that Wall Street will get hit by another correction before the bull run resumes and stocks end the year higher than current levels.Inflation will shoot up faster than most forecasts, which will drive the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy and likely lead to a market sell-off, the closely followed strategist told CNBC Friday."Maybe it'll shrug it off, but I'm worried that now is the time that you should apply some caution," Wien, vice chairman of Blackstone Private Wealth Solutions, told Squawk on the Street." "The market is very fully priced, in my view, and the dangers of higher interest rates are ahead of us."If the Fed were to hike rates from near zero Covid-era levels to tamp down the economy from overheating, Wien sees a 10% correction in the stock market. A decline of 10% in the S&P 500 would bring it down to about 3,700 from Thursday's record high close. The broad market index was little changed midday Friday."I think we could see that, maybe even something more, but I think since the fundamentals are very strong, I think the S&P 500 could earn as much as $200 this year," Wien said. "So as a result of that, I think the bull market will resume and I think we'll end the year higher than where we are right now."In his annual list of Ten Surprises in 2021, Wien said in January that after a correction the S&P 500 could finish the year at 4,500, which would be nearly 10% higher than Thursday's close.Wien told CNBC that Friday's higher-than-expected increase in March producer prices was a troubling indicator of rising inflation, which could keep pushing bond yields higher. The 10-year Treasury yield ticked higher Friday but remained firmly below 1.7% and last month's run of 14-month highs.The good news, according to Wien, is the U.S. economic recovery will be a long-term play that could last for several years."If the 10-year were to go to 3%, that would still be a relatively low interest rate [historically]. And if earnings continue to be strong and the virus continues to be under control, I think after a correction the market can resume its upswing because this is going to be a long cycle," he said. "I think investors are going to be willing to pay for that."
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A man wears Levis Strauss & Co. clothing during the company's initial public offering (IPO) at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Thursday, March 21, 2019.Jeenah Moon | Bloomberg | Getty ImagesCheck out the companies making headlines in midday trading.Levi Strauss – Shares of the retailer jumped 5% after the company beat top- and bottom-line estimates during the first quarter. Levi's earned 34 cents per share on an adjusted basis, while reporting $1.31 billion in revenue. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting the company to earn 25 cents on $1.25 billion in revenue. The results were boosted by strength in Levi's digital sales, which jumped 41%.FuboTV – The streaming service jumped more than 18% after FuboTV won the exclusive streaming rights to the qualifying matches of the Qatar World Cup 2022. The qualifying matches will feature 10 teams in the South American Football Confederation.WD-40 — The stock tanked 14% after reporting earnings per share of $1.24, 8 cents below analyst estimates, according to Refinitiv. Revenue also missed expectations. The company said supply chain issues hurt its ability to meet customer demand.Honeywell – Shares of the conglomerate rose about 2% after Deutsche Bank upgraded the stock to buy from hold. Deutsche said it saw an attractive buying opportunity after sharp year-to-date underperformance. The bank also cited attractive end-market exposures, high-quality nature and likely near-term earnings upside.DraftKings — Shares of the sports betting company popped nearly 3% after Jefferies named DraftKings a top pick. The Wall Street firm called DraftKings a "top operator" and leader as states continue to legalize gaming.Sogou — The internet search company rose 3.5% on Friday after Reuters reported that China's antitrust regulators were prepared to approve Tencent's plan to take the company private. The $3.5 billion deal would allow Tencent to buy the 60% of Sogou that it doesn't already own.PriceSmart — Shares of the discount retailer tanked 7% after missing analyst estimates for its quarterly earnings. PriceSmart said the pandemic continues to weigh on its business in certain markets. Bridgetown Holdings — The SPAC backed by billionaire investors Peter Thiel and Richard Li dropped 7% on news it is in advanced talks to take Indonesia-based travel services company Traveloka public, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke to Bloomberg. Boeing – Shares of the airplane maker fell nearly 2% after U.S. airlines temporarily grounded more than 60 of the company's 737 MAX jets on Friday. The move came after Boeing asked 16 carriers who operate the jet to address an electrical power system issue in the aircraft.Okta — The software company rose 2.4% after BTIG upgraded the stock to buy from neutral. The firm said in a note that there appeared to be rising demand for Okta's customer identity business and that competition from Microsoft did not appear to be a near-term threat.— with reporting from CNBC's Yun Li, Jesse Pound and Pippa Stevens.
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