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Jul 9, 2020

Market Insider | Biggest Moves Premarket: Stocks making the biggest moves premarket: Walgreens, Square, Carnival, Six Flags, Alibaba & more

Fred Imbert

Check out the companies making headlines before the bell Thursday:

Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) — The pharmacy operator fell more than 3% in the premarket on weaker-than-expected results for its fiscal third quarter. Walgreens reported earnings per share of 83 cents, well below a FactSet estimate of $1.19 per share. The company's fiscal-year earnings guidance also disappointed.
DocuSign (DOCU) — Wedbush hiked its price target on DocuSign to $240 per share from $165 per share. The new price target implies an upside of 16.3% from Wednesday's close of $206.35 over the next 12 months. "We continue to believe DOCU's deal flow is holding up well/stronger than expected in this Covid-19 pandemic environment which bodes well for strong underlying metrics/headline numbers during FY2Q," a Wedbush analyst said.
Alibaba (BABA) — Needham initiated coverage of the Chinese e-commerce giant with a "buy" rating and a price target of $275 per share. The firm cited Alibaba's "well-established ecosystem" and "strategic position in the e-commerce value chain" as reasons for the rating and price target, which implies a 12-month upside of 6.7%.
Regeneron (REGN) — Regeneron shares were upgraded to "buy" from "hold" by an analyst at SunTrust, who also raised his 12-month price target on the stock to $750 a share from $400 a share. The analyst said Regeneron's base business has "demonstrated strength in a Covid environment." Regeneron traded 1.2% higher in the premarket.
Carnival (CCL) — Shares of the cruise operator climbed more than 5% after the company's German subsidiary, AIDA Cruises, said it will restart vacation trips in August.
Square (SQ) — Square dropped around 1% in the premarket after a Cowen analyst downgraded the stock to "market perform" from "outperform." The analyst noted Square's run-up of more than 200% since mid-March is "too much, too fast" and that the stock has priced in all the good news from its Cash App business.
Cisco Systems (CSCO) — Morgan Stanley upgraded Cisco to "overweight" from "equal weight," and hiked its 12-month price target on the stock to $54 per share, noting the company's earnings multiple discount to the S&P 500 is at a 10-year high. "While macro does weigh on Cisco currently … we think the valuation gap should close to a more normal 3-4x as earnings prove more resilient than investor expectations," Morgan Stanley said.
Six Flags (SIX) — Six Flags jumped more than 5% after an analyst at Janney upgraded the amusement-park company to "buy" from "neutral," noting the stock's valuation is attractive at current levels. The analyst also highlighted Six Flags' exposure to some of the biggest U.S. markets as a positive.
BioXcel Therapeutics (BTAI) — The biopharmaceutical company and Massachusetts General Hospital reached a deal in which the hospital will provide a BioXcel investigational drug to coronavirus patients that may require calming. BioXcel shares rose more than 4% on the news.

News | Markets | Investing | Europe Bonds: Bond investors wait for more headlines on EU recovery fund

Yoruk Bahceli

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Euro zone bond yields held their ground on Thursday with investors’ main focus expected to be any new developments on the European Union’s recovery fund, which aims to help the region’s economy recover from the coronavirus crisis.
FILE PHOTO: A two Euro coin is pictured next to an English ten Pound note in an illustration taken March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Illustration.

Hopes are high that the 750 billion euro ($851.70 billion)fund will be approved at a European Union summit late next week. Designed to mostly offer grants to countries worst hit by the coronavirus, it has been one of the main drivers of a drop in Southern European borrowing costs led by Italy in the past few weeks.
On Wednesday, European Council President Charles Michel said the EU needed to reach an agreement quickly on the fund but much negotiation was still needed.
Euro zone finance ministers will meet at 1300 GMT to select their new leader, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will give a joint news conference in Berlin at 1830 GMT.
“We don’t anticipate a fast agreement (little in the EU moves quickly), but would be cautious around putting too much weight on negative-sounding headlines, which are almost certain to be seen,” Mizuho analysts told clients.
“Instead, we stick to our expectation for a slow but inexorable grind towards a consensus relatively close to the Franco-German proposal,” they said, referring to an initial proposal which offered 500 billion euros in grants before the EU added 250 billion euros in loans to its plan.
On Thursday, Germany’s 10-year yield was unchanged at -0.44%, close to one-week lows, while Italian 10-year yields were also unchanged at 1.28%.
On the data front, German exports rebounded 9% in May in another sign of recovering demand spurred by the lifting of lockdown measures, but rose less than the 13.8% expected in a Reuters poll.
In the primary market, Ireland is due to sell between 1 and 1.5 billion euros via the sale of 7, 10 and 30-year bonds.

Coronasvirus: South Korea finds just one case of coronavirus antibodies out of 3,000 tested

2-3 minutes - Source: Reuters

SEOUL, July 9 (Reuters) - Just one person in a South Korean survey of more than 3,000 people showed neutralizing antibodies to the novel coronavirus, health authorities said on Thursday, indicating the virus has not spread widely in the community.

While the sample size is small it is believed to be a reliable indicator of a low infection rate among the 51 million people of a country held up as a coronavirus mitigation success story.
“The results indicate that each citizen has taken an active participation in tough social distancing,” Kwon Jun-wook, the deputy director of the Korea Centers for Disease and Prevention (KCDC), told a briefing.

South Korea at one time had the most serious outbreak of the coronavirus outside China. It has had 13,293 cases and 287 deaths and has won praise for handling the pandemic without a full lockdown of its economy.

It has credited its success to widespread testing and strict social distancing.

Antibody, or serology, tests show whether a person has been exposed to the virus.
Out of 1,555 people tested nationwide between April 21 and June 19, none showed antibodies. One person was found with neutralizing antibodies from another sample of 1,500 people tested in late May in the capital, Seoul, the KCDC said.

Similar testing has shown rates ranging from 0.1% in Tokyo to 17% in London and 5% in Spain, it said.

The KCDC plans to expand testing to 3,300 people every two months and include regions hard hit by the virus, such as Daegu city, which had South Korea’s biggest outbreak.
It was hoped the survey would offer insight into the level of herd immunity and asymptomatic infections, the KCDC said.

Despite its success, South Korea is battling small but persistent clusters of infections with 50 new cases reported on Wednesday. (Reporting by Sangmi Cha Editing by Miyoung Kim, Robert Birsel)

News | Politics | Asia & Pacific: Australia suspends Hong Kong extradition treaty, tells citizens to consider leaving

Gerry Shih

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Australia suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and offered an immigration pathway for residents fleeing the city, after several Western countries aligned with Washington, including Canada and Britain, introduced similar measures to confront China's security crackdown in the city.
As Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the measures on Thursday, the Australian government also issued a stark new travel advisory asking its roughly 100,000 citizens in Hong Kong to consider leaving the Asian business hub, citing the risk of arbitrary detention.
The developments came as several Western governments signaled they were taking a more coordinated tack a week after China introduced a security law to punish what it considers terrorist, separatist and subversive behavior in Hong Kong. Several foreign ministers from the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group — the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand — publicly disclosed Thursday morning that members of the alliance had held a conference call to discuss Hong Kong.
Australia's immigration move — which came after Britain, Hong Kong's former colonial ruler, unveiled a sweeping immigration offer last week — welcomed highly skilled workers and talented entrepreneurs in particular, Morrison told reporters.
"As a result of changes that have occurred in Hong Kong, there will be citizens of Hong Kong who may be looking to move elsewhere, to start a new life somewhere else, to take their skills, their businesses . . . and seek that opportunity elsewhere," Morrison said at a news conference as he declared Australia to be "a great immigration nation."
China, which has been increasingly wary of what it considers a U.S.-led effort to sabotage its rise, accused Australia of interfering in Hong Kong's affairs and warned of possible retaliation. The Morrison government risked "lifting a rock only to hit its own feet," the Chinese Embassy in Canberra said in a harshly worded statement.
Western countries have condemned China's new security law for Hong Kong as a violation of the city's handover agreement, under which Beijing promised to safeguard the financial center's political freedoms and a high degree of autonomy until 2047. The law sharply curtails political freedoms and applies globally, which legal experts have said could expose a citizen of any jurisdiction with an extradition treaty with Hong Kong to prosecution in China if they promote causes such as Hong Kong independence or publicly criticize the ruling Communist Party.
Mainland Chinese security agencies also opened a new office in a bustling Hong Kong commercial district on Wednesday to carry out their new duties under the law.
That has raised the risk of Hong Kongers and foreigners alike running afoul of Chinese law enforcement. In its updated travel advisory Thursday, the Australian government told its citizens they "could be deported or face possible transfer to mainland China for prosecution under mainland law."
The Beijing government, for its part, has warned it would wield the law to extinguish Hong Kong's protest movement it believes to be fanned by Western nonprofit groups and media outlets. Those Western organizations "should be frightened" upon the inauguration of the new national security office in Hong Kong staffed by mainland officials, according to a headline in the state-run Global Times this week.
Already, there are signs that many Hong Kongers are planning to leave the city rather than live under Beijing's authoritarianism.
Under Morrison's measures, Australia will extend temporary visas for Hong Kongers in the country and offer similar measures for future applicants, allowing them to stay for an additional five years and thus a path to permanent residency. Notably, he offered incentives to businesses in Hong Kong to relocate to Australia, saying the country would welcome talented and entrepreneurial people who would generate jobs.
Australia's actions followed Britain's move to provide residency and a path to citizenship for almost 3 million Hong Kongers born before the city's 1997 handover to China who are eligible for a special passport. Canada last week also suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong after China introduced the security law.
Canada has accused China of arbitrarily detaining two of its citizens in retaliation for Canada's seizing Meng Wanzhou, the senior Huawei executive, during a layover in Vancouver at the behest of the United States, which is seeking her extradition on fraud charges.
Crawshaw reported from Hong Kong.

Analysis | The Cybersecurity 202: These are the top things officials say they need to run November’s elections

By Joseph Marks

More money, better and earlier planning by political leaders – and a big dose of bipartisan cooperation.
Those are some of the top-line items state and local election officials are seeking as they scramble to prepare for November’s general election.
The officials were summoned by the Election Assistance Commission, a federal body that helps guide best practices for elections, to pore over the good, the bad and the ugly from more than three months of primaries since the coronavirus pandemic struck in March.
They described elections that were completely revamped in a matter of weeks and massive shortages of poll workers, since many were not willing or able to risk their health by showing up on Election Day. The percentage of absentee voters climbed to 10 and even 20 times their typical levels in many states.
The public hearing was among just a handful of instances when election officials from different states will gather before November, in hopes the lessons learned will help the general election run more smoothly.
“It's difficult to plan for this election [because] we always look back on history,” Sherry L. Poland, director of elections for Hamilton County, Ohio, told commissioners. “For presidential elections, you look back on past presidential elections …We have no history to go back to of conducting an election during a pandemic.” 

A voter casts a ballot at a polling location. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News)
Here are five big takeaways from the state and local officials:
1. More money will be vital. 
Every official said they’ll need more money from the state or federal government to run the November election. In most cases, their share of the $400 million in election money Congress sent out during the early days of coronavirus is already running low.
Kentucky, for example, spent about 60 percent of that money preparing for its June 23 primary, said Jared Dearing, executive director of the State Board of Elections. Some of that was for equipment that can be reused during the general election. But a lot of it was for one-time purchases such as envelopes for mail ballots, he said.
“Funding is going to be an incredibly important topic we're going to have to face in November,” he said.
Yet, it’s far from clear whether Congress will be willing to commit more money to elections this year. House Democrats passed a bill that included an additional $3.6 billion for elections along with a slew of mandates such as requiring states to make early voting and voting by mail available to all residents.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), however, has been loath to commit any new money to elections and is steadfastly opposed to any mandates.
“We’re not sure what it’s going to look like in November,” Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) said. “We don't want to cry wolf, but, at the same time, we need to make sure we're prepared.”
2. Bipartisanship will be key — but it might be in short supply. 

Poll workers instruct a voter on where to go to fill out their ballots during the Kentucky primary. (Timothy D. Easley/AP)

Kentucky ran one of the most successful primary elections, a fact Dearing attributed to cooperation between the state’s Democratic governor and Republican secretary of state.
“Our primary election’s… success was contingent on one factor: bipartisan agreement,” he said.
But that sort of cooperation may be in short supply come November — especially because President Trump has consistently used election administration and mail ballots in particular as an attack on Democrats since the pandemic began.
3. States must prepare for a surge in voting by mail. 
Every official described a huge jump in voting by mail during the primaries, including some that held their contests nearly entirely by mail. That led to a crush of onerous paperwork, including tracking which residents had requested ballots and getting those ballots back to them on time. In many cases, officials had to deal with requested ballots that didn’t arrive, forcing voters to risk their health by voting in person.
Officials in Ohio learned a bitter lesson when the state legislature opted to send voters a postcard laying out their options for requesting a mail ballot for the primary rather than sending ballot request forms directly to voters.
Officials hoped people would print and mail absentee request forms that were available online but many voters didn’t have printers and couldn’t access them because public libraries and printing and shipping stores were closed, Poland said.
During the general election, the state now plans to send voters ballot request forms.
4. Last-minute decisions can be hugely detrimental. 

Voters observe social distancing guidelines as they wait in line to cast ballots in the presidential primary election in Milwaukee. (Morry Gash/AP)

That was especially true in Wisconsin, where Democratic Gov. Tony Evers wanted to delay the state’s April 7 primary but lost a last-minute battle with the Republican-controlled legislature.
That meant many people who thought they had plenty of time to mail in absentee ballots suddenly had less than 24 hours.
Barbara Goeckner, who runs elections in Cambridge, Wis., enlisted volunteers to call and warn people who’d requested absentee ballots that they were running out of time. People who hadn’t yet received absentee ballots had to risk voting in person.
Even though they may have been at high risk for covid, the only manner they could [vote] now was to come to the polls in person,” she said.
5. Officials need to start recruiting younger poll workers — and training them, too. 
Every official described a huge drop-off in poll workers during the primaries. That's largely because poll workers tend to be older and at greater risk from the virus. Some recruited high school students to replace them. Others recruited teachers and school staff.
The officials are already at work trying to recruit younger poll workers for the general election, but replacing so many people is a monumental task..
And merely replacing the workers won’t be sufficient, if there’s not enough time or resources to train the new workers for the complex task of managing a polling location — especially under the dangerous circumstances of a pandemic.
I worry about the expertise level and the experience those poll workers would bring to polling locations,” Dearing said. “It could ultimately create more problems.”

The keys
Trump family members are urging Republicans to vote by mail as the president condemns it.

Lara Trump, Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Tiffany Trump listen as President Trump delivers his State of the Union address. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post).

Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and daughter-in-law Lara Trump both recorded robocalls urging people to vote by mail in special elections during the coronavirus pandemic, CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reports.
The president has consistently claimed without evidence that voting by mail leads to widespread fraud, but Republican election officials and even party strategists are breaking ranks with him.
“Nancy Pelosi and liberal Democrats are counting on you to sit on the sidelines this election, but you can prove them wrong. You can safely and securely vote for Mike Garcia by returning your mail-in ballot by May 12,” Lara Trump said in the April robocall sponsored by the Republican National Committee stumping for a U.S. House candidate in California.
In fact, House Democrats have passed a $3.6 billion measure that would make voting by mail easier in November. It's being blocked by Senate Republicans. Republicans broadly have grown more distrustful of mail voting because of the president’s criticisms.
Facebook shut down a network of accounts affiliated with Roger Stone. 

Roger Stone, longtime political ally of President Trump, flashes a victory gesture as he departs following a status conference in the criminal case against him. (Jim Bourg/Reuters).

Stone, a felon and longtime friend of Trump’s, used fake accounts and other deceptive measures to manipulate public debate, the social network said. The company removed more than 100 accounts and pages affiliated with him for breaking its policies on “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” Craig Timberg and Isaac Stanley-Becker report
The violating activity dated back to 2015 but was especially active during the 2016 presidential election when Stone was advising Trump’s campaign, and in 2017, as federal investigators were probing his business dealings and links with Russia. On some occasions Stone amplified posts from the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, which at the time was publishing damaging Democratic Party emails initially stolen by Russian hackers, Facebook said.
Stone’s personal accounts were also shut down, said Nathaniel Gleicher, head of security policy for Facebook. Stone’s personal accounts were “deeply enmeshed” in the inauthentic behavior, Gleicher said.
Cybersecurity researchers are begging the Supreme Court to roll back the nation's major anti-hacking law. 

The U.S. Supreme Court building. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images).

That law, called the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, dates to 1986 and is written so broadly it criminalizes many innocuous actions, such as lying about your name on a Web form or otherwise violating a website’s strict terms of service. The Supreme Court agreed to review the law in April. Top cybersecurity and privacy groups led by the Electronic Frontier Foundation are asking the justices to put strict limits on the law, Sean Lyngaas at CyberScoop reports.
The researchers warned that if violations of a company’s ‘terms of service’ are deemed to be illegal, it risks chilling important research into voting systems, medical devices and other key equipment,” Sean reports.
The friend-of-the-court brief was signed by the Center for Democracy & Technology, cybersecurity companies including Bugcrowd, Rapid7, SCYTHE and Tenable and top cybersecurity researchers.
Congress intended to outlaw malicious computer break-ins, not give private companies and the government the power to shut down valuable research and make us all less safe,” Naomi Gilens, a legal fellow at EFF, said in a statement.

Securing the ballot

Maryland plans to open every voting precinct despite the coronavirus, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) says.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R). (Brian Witte/AP)

The decision to run what Hogan called a “normal” election puts Maryland at odds with many other states that are planning to consolidate voting precincts. Hogan will also ask the state Board of Elections to send absentee ballot applications to all registered voters, Erin Cox reports.
More on cybersecurity, campaigns and elections:

A mathematician’s quest to make American elections more trustworthy.
New Yorker

Government scan

Researchers are buying used police body cameras and finding them full of footage. 

A body camera is seen on a police officer in Atlanta. (Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters)

Some of the footage allows researchers to identify which police department the cameras came from and could lead to serious privacy violations, Motherboard’s Janus Rose reports.
The company Axon, which is the largest supplier of body cameras, said it is “reevaluating our processes to better emphasize proper disposal procedures for our customers.”
More cybersecurity news from the public sector:

As countries race to deploy coronavirus-tracking software, researchers are reporting privacy and security risks that could affect millions of people and undermine trust in public health efforts.
New York Times

Manufacturers selling cars in places including Japan, South Korea and the European Union will soon be required to secure connected vehicles against cyberattacks under a new regulation.
Wall Street Journal

Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are pressuring Twitter, Facebook and Google to be more transparent about COVID-19 disinformation on their platforms, asking the tech giants to produce monthly rep

The Hill

Chat room

Advice from voting machine security expert and Georgetown University professor Matt Blaze:
The people who discover and analyze these problems (like me) are among the first in line to vote on election day, because we know how much voting matters.
— matt blaze (@mattblaze) July 8, 2020


  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee will host a hearing on consumer risks during the covid-19 pandemic at noon today.

Secure log off

Ken Burns on liberty, the Statue of Liberty and the meaning of monuments:

US Market | Futures Indicator: Stock futures edge lower after Nasdaq clinches new record

Thomas Franck

Futures contracts tied to the major U.S. stock indexes were slightly lower early Thursday, hours after the Nasdaq Composite clinched its 25th record close for 2020.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures implied an opening loss of about 40 points when trading resumes on Thursday. S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 futures pointed to similar muted action.

The after-hours moves Wednesday evening followed a positive regular session, with the major indexes brushing off a record daily increase in new U.S. Covid-19 cases. Big Tech continued to carry the broader market higher on during regular trading and again allowed the Nasdaq Composite to outpace the S&P 500 and Dow industrials.

The Nasdaq rose 1.44% between a 2.3% rally in Apple, a 2.7% rise in Amazon and a 3.49% climb in Nvidia. The index closed at a record high 10,492.50.

The S&P 500 notched a more modest 0.78% gain on Wednesday while Microsoft and Goldman Sachs helped push the Dow up 177 points, or 0.68%

Since last week’s close, the S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq Composite are up 1.28%, 0.93% and 2.79%, respectively. The Nasdaq is up 29.68% over the last three months.
The latest iteration of the Labor Department report on weekly jobless claims will be released Thursday morning.

The weekly figures provide Wall Street with critical insight on how many Americans continue to collect unemployment benefits, known as continuing claims.

Another 1.39 million workers are expected to have filed first-time claims for state unemployment benefits during the week ended July 4. That would mark a deceleration from the prior week, though still well above any reading prior to the pre-Covid-19 era.

Last week, the government said initial jobless claims rose by 1.427 million in the final week of June. That marked the 15th straight week in which initial claims remained above 1 million.