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Postng Days From Monday to Thursday

Nov 29, 2020

From The Desk of Fernando Guzmán Cavero.

 Dear friends : 

Unfortunately Some Themes, Pages and other features are not working fine in an appropriate manner with quite a few mistakes that for the time being will keep me away with my work for a few more days which I hope will Google makes the corrections pertinent to new dashboard  - not very long ago changed from the old one - which unfortunately is making loosing our time without having tested the effectiveness of this new tool. 

Please stay tuned: 

                                                               Fernando Guzmán Cavero

                                                      


Nov 22, 2020

From The Desk of Fernando Guzmán Cavero: Press Notification

Press Notification


This coming week we are making some important  changes to our Financial news blog. Therefore we won't be on the air for a few days.

We hope on your understanding of the time we are taking off to evaluate and  make changes in order to serve you better.


If you may consider, please let us know any suggestion through our contact form.


                                                                      Please stay tuned

                                                                Fernando Guzman Cavero

Nov 19, 2020

Wall Street Closing Report: Stocks rise as Wall Street turns to tech for safety amid increasing Covid-19 cases

 

Fred Imbert, Jesse Pound


Stocks traded slightly higher on Thursday as traders increased their exposure to major tech names amid a rising number of coronavirus cases.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 85 points higher, or 0.3%. Earlier in the day, the Dow was down more than 200 points. The S&P 500 gained 0.5% and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.9%.

Netflix and Amazon advanced 1% and 0.4%, respectively. Alphabet climbed 1% and Microsoft traded higher by 0.8%. Apple rose 0.4% along with Facebook.

Stocks also got a boost after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, had agreed to resume negotiations on new fiscal stimulus.

A CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data found that the seven-day average of daily new U.S. coronavirus infections is now at 161,165, up 26% from last week. In total, more than 11.5 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the U.S.

“While we wait for clarity on a vaccine and additional fiscal stimulus, investors are really struggling to interpret the near-term impacts” of surging coronavirus cases, said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors. “What’s also been clear is technology stocks have become investors’ security blanket. When anxiety rises, they go back to the reliable growth of technology.”

The recent uptick in Covid-19 cases has prompted some parts of the country to retake stricter measures to curb the virus spread. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered schools to close for in-person learning “out of an abundance of caution.” On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised Americans against traveling for Thanksgiving due to the outbreak.

“Negative COVID headlines/increased economic lockdowns (especially in NYC and LA County) are starting to offset vaccine optimism, and that’s weighing on stocks,” wrote Tom Essaye, founder of The Sevens Report. “We are now facing the biggest number of economic restrictions since the spring, and that will weigh on economic growth and, potentially, earnings.”

Sentiment on Thursday was kept in check, however, after the release of preliminary data showed University of Oxford and AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate triggered a similar immune response among all adults. Oxford and AstraZeneca’s data came a day after Pfizer and BioNTech said their Covid-19 vaccine candidate was 95% effective.

Stocks have ripped higher this month amid clarity following the U.S. election and the positive news on potential coronavirus vaccines. The S&P 500 has gained more than 9% in November and the small-cap Russell 2000 is up more than 15% in that time period.

“You see the market really kind of wanting to move in one direction, and then I think the vaccine news was certainly a catalyst to accelerate that a little bit. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see that trade persist for some time,” Jeff Mills, chief investment officer at Bryn Mawr Trust, said about the rotation into cyclical names.

“That being said, I do think the leadership in the market could be volatile over the next couple of months because you’re going to be battling Covid case increases and incrementally better news relative to the vaccine,” Mills continued.

European Markets Closing Report: European markets close lower as shutdown fears outweigh vaccine news



Elliot Smith,Holly Ellyatt


LONDON — European stocks closed lower Thursday as a rally prompted by positive vaccine news started to peter out amid renewed fears of shutdowns due to rising coronavirus cases.

TICKER COMPANY NAME PRICE CHANGE %CHANGE VOLUME
.FTSEFTSE 100FTSE6334.35-50.89-0.80898754031
.GDAXIDAXDAX13086.16-115.73-0.8868038761
.FCHICAC 40 IndexCAC5474.66-36.79-0.6793376635

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed down by 0.7% provisionally, with travel and leisure stocks dropping 1.7% to lead losses as almost all sectors and major bourses slid into negative territory.

Results published Thursday on the coronavirus vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca indicated that it is safe and triggers a similar immune response among all adults. The study, published in The Lancet, failed to boost market sentiment.

Pfizer said Wednesday that final analysis had shown its vaccine was 95% effective and would be submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval within days. This came as New York City announced that it was closing schools due to a rising positivity rate.

Other authorities are moving to reinstitute some of the stay-at-home orders, curfews and public safety measures, including shutting down nonessential businesses in a handful of cities. There are growing worries that if the infection spread is not contained, widespread lockdowns could be reinstated.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 indexes fell slightly on Thursday amid disappointing U.S. unemployment data and the rising cases. The Labor Department said that 742,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week of Nov. 14, topping a Dow Jones estimate of 710,000.

European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde on Thursday cautioned that euro area inflation is likely to remain negative into early 2021 as fresh economic shutdowns sweep through the continent. Lagarde also warned policymakers in Brussels of the potential damage that would be caused to the bloc’s economy should they fail to implement its historic stimulus plan, after Hungary and Poland vetoed the agreement on Monday.

Corporate earnings continued to drive individual share price movement, with Royal Mail climbing more than 3% after a promising earnings report.

At the bottom of the European blue chip index, German manufacturer Kion Group dropped 7% after a capital increase, while steel giant Thyssenkrupp fell over 3% after its third-quarter results.

-CNBC.com staff contributed to this market report.

Market Insider | Biggest Moves Premarket: Stocks making the biggest moves in the premarket: Macy's, L Brands, Sonos, Jack In The Box & more

 

Peter Schacknow


Take a look at some of the biggest movers in the premarket:

Macy's (M) – The retailer lost 19 cents per share for its latest quarter, smaller than the 79 cents a share loss that Wall Street was anticipating. Revenue beat estimates, however. Same-store sales dropped 20.2%, but that was smaller than the 23.3% loss anticipated by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv. The shares fell 2% in premarket trading as of 7:35 a.m. ET.

BJ's Wholesale (BJ) – The warehouse retailer earned 92 cents per share for the third quarter, beating the 64 cents a share consensus estimate. Revenue topped estimates as well. Comparable-store sales rose 18.5%, compared to a FactSet estimate of up 16.7%. The stock lost 2% in premarket trading as of 7:35 a.m. ET.

Nasdaq (NDAQ) – The exchange operator is buying Verafin for $2.75 billion in cash. Verafin is a provider of technology designed to detect and fight financial crimes. The shares fell 3% in premarket trading as of 7:35 a.m. ET.

Nvidia (NVDA) – Nvidia reported quarterly earnings of $2.91 per share, beating the consensus estimate of $2.57 a share. The graphics chipmaker's revenue also beat forecasts, however the shares are coming under pressure after the company said data center chip revenue would fall slightly during the current quarter. Nvidia shares fell 2% in premarket trading as of 7:35 a.m. ET.

L Brands (LB) – L Brands earned $1.13 per share for its latest quarter, well above the 9 cents a share consensus estimate. Revenue exceeded estimates as well. L Brands saw record sales growth at its Bath & Body Works chain, and a rebound at its Victoria's Secret operation. The shares jumped 16% in premarket trading as of 7:35 a.m. ET.

AstraZeneca (AZN) – The drugmaker said the Covid-19 vaccine candidate being developed with Oxford University produced a strong immune response in older adults. Late-stage trials are currently being conducted to confirm those findings.

Starbucks (SBUX) – Starbucks plans to hike pay for U.S. employees by at least 10%, effective Dec. 14. The coffee chain will also raise starting pay to help attract new workers.

JOYY Inc. (YY) – JOYY is on watch once again after shares in the Chinese social media platform plummeted more than 26% Wednesday. That followed accusations by short-seller Muddy Waters that JOYY was a "multibillion-dollar fraud." JOYY responded by saying Muddy Waters was ignorant about its business and that the report contains numerous errors.

Coca-Cola (KO) – The beverage giant was ruled to have placed too much of its profit in foreign operations rather than its higher-taxed U.S. unit, according to a ruling from a U.S. Tax Court judge. The IRS has been seeking more than $3.3 billion in taxes for the years 2007 through 2009, although the ruling does not yet set an actual amount that Coca-Cola may owe. Coca-Cola has maintained that the IRS claims are without merit.

Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBGI) – Sinclair is partnering with casino operator and sports betting company Bally's (BALY) to rebrand its 21 regional sports networks under the Bally name. Sinclair had acquired regional Fox Sports networks from Walt Disney (DIS) last year, in a deal that cleared the way for Disney's purchase of 21st Century Fox's film and TV assets.

Jack In The Box (JACK) – Jack In The Box earned $1.61 per share for its latest quarter, compared to a $1.14 a share consensus estimate. The restaurant chain's revenue topped forecasts as well. Comparable-restaurant sales were up 12.2%. The shares gained 6% in premarket trading as of 7:35 a.m. ET.

Sonos (SONO) – Sonos earned 15 cents per share for its latest quarter, compared to expectations of a breakeven quarter. The maker of smart speakers and other audio equipment saw revenue beat estimates as sales jumped 15%, including 67% growth in its direct-to-consumer business. Sonos is benefiting from purchases by consumers spending more time at home amid the pandemic. The stock surged 18% in premarket trading as of 7:35 a.m. ET.

GoPro (GPRO) – The high definition camera maker is planning to raise $100 million through the sale of senior convertible notes.

Nuance Communications (NUAN) – The provider of artificial intelligence services for a variety of businesses beat estimates by 2 cents a share, with quarterly earnings of 18 cents per share. Revenue also came in above Wall Street forecasts. Nuance cited particularly strong results in its cloud-based health care industry solutions, among other factors.

News | About Bloomberg New Economy Forum: Bloomberg Forum: Virus Hunters Kick Off Final Day of Bloomberg Forum: NEF Update

 

2-3 minutes - Source: BLOOMBERG


Bill Gates

Bill Gates

Photographer: Takaaki Iwabu/Bloomberg

The fourth and final day of the Bloomberg New Economy Forum will focus on the future of health care around the globe in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Thursday program will kick off with a session spotlighting virus hunters. It features scientists studying zoonotic pathogens who will discuss the lessons learned from Covid-19, which has infected more than 56 million people and killed over 1.3 million around the world.

Other speakers include Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Stephane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna Inc., whose vaccine was found to be 94.5% effective in a preliminary analysis of a large late-stage clinical trial; Anne Wojcicki, co-founder and CEO of genetic testing firm 23andMe Inc.; Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization; Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund; and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Read more: Encouraging breakthroughs offer hope for controlling virus

The forum begins at 8 a.m. New York time with remarks from Justin B. Smith, chief executive officer of Bloomberg Media and chair of the New Economy Forum.

More information can be found online at www.neweconomyforum.com and on the Bloomberg terminal. The New Economy Forum is being organized by Bloomberg Media Group, a division of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

— With assistance by Mark Schoifet

Currencies | The Dollar: Dollar up on COVID-19 case rise, gains curbed by Fed easing expectations

 

3 minutes - Sorce: CNBC


U.S. one-hundred dollar banknotes are arranged for a photograph in Hong Kong on April 15, 2019.

U.S. one-hundred dollar banknotes are arranged for a photograph in Hong Kong on April 15, 2019.

Paul Yeung | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The dollar strengthened on Thursday as broad optimism about COVID-19 vaccines ran into worries about rising infection numbers and risks to the fragile global economic recovery.

The dollar was also caught between two opposing forces, with a safety bid supporting it while fresh speculation over monetary easing to boost the economy held it back somewhat.

Euro/dollar shed 0.2% to last trade at $1.1833.

With fiscal stimulus plans falling by the wayside as President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede electoral defeat consumes lawmakers’ attention, speculation is growing that the Federal Reserve may further loosen monetary policy in December.

Two top Fed officials on Wednesday held out the option of doing more, and Treasuries have rallied in anticipation of a possible expansion of Fed bond buying.

An index which tracks the dollar against a basket of currencies was flat at 92.55, though close to the weakest it has been since August.

Still, the Scandinavian currencies and the Australian dollar - beneficiaries of the dollar’s recent decline - lost strength.

The Norwegian crown fell 0.3% both against the U.S. dollar and the euro at 9.0535 and 10.7165 respectively. The Swedish crown was down by the same extent against both, while the Aussie dollar fell 0.4% at 0.7278 .

“It seems that market participants are confused. They don’t know where to place more emphasis, on the positive vaccine headlines or on the acceleration of the infections from the pandemic,” said Charalambos Pissouros, senior market analyst at JFD Group.

Pissouros said he was sticking to his guns, however, “that any declines in risk-linked assets are likely to stay limited.”

“We would treat them as corrective moves within the broader uptrend, which we expect to eventually resume,” he said.

Safe-haven Japanese yen fell 0.2% against the greenback to 103.96, having gained 1.6% in the week since Pfizer announced promising trial results on its COVID-19 vaccine.

U.S. jobs figures will be closely watched on Thursday as a key factor ahead of the Fed’s next moves, and at 1000 GMT European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde appears at a European Parliament Committee hearing in Frankfurt.

Elsewhere, sterling dipped 0.4% to $1.3210 and 0.2% at 89.53 pence against the euro after The Times newspaper reported that European leaders will urge the European Commission to publish no-deal Brexit plans as the year-end deadline approaches.

Bonds: Treasury yields slump amid state coronavirus restrictions

 

Vicky McKeever


U.S. Treasury yields fell on Thursday as the country’s death toll from the coronavirus topped 250,000 and states sought to impose restrictions in order to curb the spread of the virus.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note slipped to 0.849% at 5:22 a.m. ET, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond fell to 1.575%. Yields move inversely to prices.

Treasurys

TICKER COMPANY YIELD CHANGE %CHANGE
US3MU.S. 3 Month Treasury0.071-0.0150.00
US1YU.S. 1 Year Treasury0.107-0.0020.00
US2YU.S. 2 Year Treasury0.173-0.0020.00
US5YU.S. 5 Year Treasury0.389-0.0090.00
US10YU.S. 10 Year Treasury0.86-0.0220.00
US30YU.S. 30 Year Treasury1.59-0.030.00

Treasury yields dipped as confirmed deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S. surpassed a quarter of a million, at 250,537, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

A handful of states and cities in the U.S. are closing nonessential businesses, limiting public and private gatherings and imposing mask mandates to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

There was reportedly weak demand for the sale of $27 billion sale 20-year bonds on Wednesday, which briefly prompted yields to rise.

Loretta Mester, president of the Cleveland Federal Reserve, is due to speak at 10:30 a.m. and 2:35 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Weekly jobless claims data, along with the four-week average figures, are set for release at 10:30 a.m. ET, along with the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index.

October existing homes sales data is due out at 12 p.m. ET.

Auctions will be held on Thursday for $30 billion worth of 4-week bills and $35 billion of 8-week bills, as well as $12 billion of 9-year 8-month Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities.

CNBC staff contributed to this article.

Energy | Oil Price Report: Oil prices ease as rising Covid-19 cases outweigh vaccine optimism

 



The Johan Sverdrup oil field in the North Sea, operated by Equinor, is the third-largest oil field on the Norwegian continental shelf, with 2.7 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

The Johan Sverdrup oil field in the North Sea, operated by Equinor, is the third-largest oil field on the Norwegian continental shelf, with 2.7 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

CARINA JOHANSEN | AFP | Getty Images

Oil futures eased on Thursday, surrendering some gains from the previous day as the surge in coronavirus cases and tighter economic restrictions around the globe stoked fears over slower fuel demand, outweighing upbeat vaccine news.

Brent crude futures shed 25 cents, or 0.56%, to $44.10 a barrel, after gaining 1.4% on the previous day. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude declined 44 cents, or 1%, to $41.38 a barrel, having risen nearly 1% on Wednesday.

“The spread of coronavirus infection and fresh restrictions in the United States and other parts of the world hit market sentiment as it would hamper fuel demand,” said Kazuhiko Saito, chief analyst at Fujitomi Co.

“Investors are also booking profits from the recent rally before the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday later this month,” he said.

The U.S. death toll from Covid-19 surpassed a grim new milestone of 250,000 lives lost on Wednesday, as New York City’s public school system, the nation’s largest, called a halt to in-classroom instruction, citing a jump in coronavirus infection rates.

Daily coronavirus cases in Tokyo and South Korea hit fresh highs, as pollution-cloaked New Delhi struggled with rising cases and Australia reported a highly contagious virus strain which forced a state-wide lockdown.

Worries about coronavirus-related economic damage overshadowed upbeat news from Pfizer and BioNTech that are seeking U.S. and European authorization for their Covid-19 vaccines next month.

“Weaker global equities amid growing worries over the surging pandemic also bolstered fears over slowing consumption and fuel demand,” said Satoru Yoshida, a commodity analyst with Rakuten Securities.

Asian shares eased from all-time highs on Thursday as widening Covid-19 restrictions in the United states weighed on Wall Street.

Boosting worries about oversupply, Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) and France’s Total discussed NOC’s efforts to raise capacity and increase production rates to the highest levels.

Supporting prices, U.S. crude inventories rose 768,000 barrels last week, less than analyst expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.7 million-barrel rise, government data showed. Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 5.2 million barrels, far exceeding expectations.

“Still, lingering worries over a global supply glut, especially with the COVID-19-hit economies, will likely limit upside of oil prices,” Fujitomi’s Saito said, predicting WTI to be traded between $40 and $42 a barrel until the OPEC+ meeting later this month.

OPEC+, comprising the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other producers, is due to discuss policy at a full ministerial meeting to be held on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

Members of OPEC+ are leaning towards delaying the current plan to boost output in January by 2 million barrels per day (bpd), sources have said.

Commodities | Gold Price Report: Gold slips on firmer dollar, vaccine boost to economic outlook

 



Gold

A worker tends to gold bars at a precious metals plant.

Andrew Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Gold fell to a one-week low on Thursday as the dollar regained momentum and optimism that progress on vaccine development would hasten economic recovery eroded bullion’s safe-haven appeal.

Spot gold fell 0.6% to $1,859.38 per ounce, having earlier hit its lowest since Nov. 9 at $1,854.60. U.S. gold futures slipped 0.9% to $1,857.60.

Gold is the victim of optimism over a coronavirus vaccine and a strengthening dollar pushing it towards the bottom end of its range, Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said.

“U.S. fiscal stimulus remains an issue because (Donald) Trump hasn’t yet conceded the presidential election, so fiscal support remains far away,” he added.

The dollar , considered a rival safe haven, was up 0.3% versus rivals, benefiting from uncertainties over a spike in new coronavirus cases in the United States and resultant restrictions. Rising cases in Europe too pushed world stocks further away from record peaks scaled after promising vaccine announcements from Pfizer and Moderna.

The vaccines could be ready for U.S. authorisation within weeks, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Wednesday.

“In the short term, (gold) prices may continue to drift lower towards $1,800,” Vincent Tie, sales manager at Silver Bullion, said.

Gold has gained some 23% this year, boosted by its appeal as a hedge against inflation and currency debasement that may follow the unprecedented global stimulus.

“What hasn’t changed is the prospect of near-term economic damage due to rising virus cases,” said Hewson, adding that central banks might have to do the “heavy-lifting” in the short-term.

Investors awaited U.S. jobs data at 1330 GMT for evidence on the state of the economy. Silver dipped 1.7% to $23.89 per ounce.

Platinum fell 0.5% to $937.71, while palladium eased 0.6% to $2,316.02

Analysis | The Cybersecurity 202: Fears grow about White House interference at CISA after Krebs’s ouster



Joseph Marks


It’s going to be a challenge to overcome the chilling effect from having had a leader of the organization fired for telling the truth,” Suzanne Spaulding, who led DHS cybersecurity operations during the Obama administration, told me.  

President Trump fired Krebs on Twitter earlier this week after his public statements contradicting the president’s baseless claims that fraud caused his election loss to Joe Biden and for maintaining a rumor control page that fact- checked some of those claims. Two other top CISA officials were also forced to resign in recent weeks. 

As of now, that rumor control page is still up and Krebs will be replaced — at least temporarily and on an acting basis — by Brandon Wales, a longtime Department of Homeland Security official with extensive experience who is well respected at CISA. 

But Wales’s days as director could be numbered, especially if the agency continues to draw Trump’s ire by contradicting him. 

“If Brandon Wales is allowed to stay in place as acting director, I think CISA is in good hands,” said Spaulding, who worked with Wales when she led a predecessor agency to CISA called the National Protection and Programs Directorate. 

“But CISA is going to have to continue its disinformation mission and it’s hard to see how that doesn’t put them in a tough situation vis-a-vis the White House,” she said. “Brandon will have to convey to the organization how important it is to continue to surface what might be seen as bad news, to call it as they see it — and ideally to do it in a way that doesn’t get him immediately removed.” 

CISA didn’t respond to a request for comment about its plans for the remainder of the transition. 

The White House announced plans in October to bring in Sean Plankey, an Energy Department political appointee, to be CISA’s assistant director, which could put him in line to be director — but he hasn’t yet made the transition. 

Wales has been trying to raise morale and salve concerns as he takes the helm. 

“A change in leadership is not a change in mission,” he wrote in a letter to CISA staff yesterday. 

He stressed the importance of continuing to help states protect election processes, including certifying the presidential election and protecting runoffs in Georgia and Louisiana. 

“We made great strides in our election security efforts, and we need to stay focused on continuing to provide the assistance and guidance that state and local election officials have come to rely on,” he wrote. 

Wales also emphasized the agency must focus on protecting coronavirus vaccine development by “continu[ing] to support healthcare systems and vaccine manufactures in their defense against ransomware attacks and foreign adversaries.” 

CISA Senior Cybersecurity Adviser Matt Masterson also urged calm in a tweet.

But without permanent leadership in place, former officials still fear the agency could be vulnerable to White House pressure. 

“What if a massive disinformation operation comes out about the elections or the vaccine? Who’s going to be the voice of truth and rationality?” Phil Reitinger, a top DHS cybersecurity official during the Obama administration, told me. “I’m sure the career people will try, but they need the backing of political people to do the best job.”

There’s also concern the White House could hamper CISA’s efforts to respond to digital attacks aiming to undermine state election officials’ efforts to conduct audits or certify vote totals. 

A similar situation might play out if there were digital attacks on groups Trump frequently criticizes, such as Democrats, media organizations and social media companies

“I worry very much as we face a political apparatus that seems to be oscillating out of control, that directives could come down that severely adversely affect national security,” Reitinger said. “There could be a major incident and it would not shock me if word came down, ‘You guys help people who are politically useful to me and don’t help those who aren’t.’”

More officials also stepped forward to praise Krebs and protest his firing — including some Republicans. 

Former national security advisor John Bolton told my colleague Robert Costa that Trump had no “legitimate reason” to fire Krebs. 

“I’m sure the reason he fired Chris Krebs was that Krebs said there was no evidence in cyberspace of fraud, election hacking or other malfeasance, which is completely contradictory to the fantasy world that the president lives in,” he said. 

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) told StateScoop’s Benjamin Freed that Krebs “has been a strong partner to me and my team, as well as state election officials across the nation, and I’m disappointed to see him go.” LaRose, who openly criticized Trump’s pre-election claims about election fraud, appeared to be the only Republican secretary of state to criticize Krebs’s firing. 

Outgoing Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.) was more definitive in his statement on Twitter:

Praise also came in from colleagues. 

“The professionals at CISA and Chris Krebs deserve a ton of credit for keeping a watchful eye on our nation-state adversaries,” Brian Harrell, former assistant director at CISA, told me. “It’s a shame that in this administration you can be fired for safeguarding the American people and faithfully doing your duties.”

Spaulding also praised Krebs, who she said “knows he did the right thing and he can sleep well at night.”

“But I do worry about the rest of the men and women at CISA,” she said, “who are having to experience what so many in the government have experienced over the last four years — having to deal with picking up the pieces and continuing your mission in the midst of a political maelstrom.” 

The keys

Georgia will announce the results of its statewide audit of all 5 million ballots at noon today.

Officials expressed confidence the initial results would not be overturned or found to be seriously flawed, Michelle Lee and Felicia Sonmez report. So far officials have found discrepancies in just four counties, decreasing Biden's lead in the state from 14,156 to 12,781.

Only 21 of the state's 159 counties had not yet reported results yesterday afternoon.The audit involved hand counting all the state's ballots because Biden's victory was so slim. But it wasn't an official recount. Trump could still request such a recount two days after the state certifies the results on Friday. Gabriel Sterling, who manages the voting information system in Georgia, said officials were preparing for that possibility.

“We feel good about where we stand right now. We feel comfortable about the direction of the audit,” Sterling said. “I’m prayerful that we can get through this, and that we can find a way to have everybody, at the end of the day — Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, socialist, whatever — have faith in the outcome of the election, regardless of how it came out.” 

The Trump campaign is seeking a recount in two Wisconsin counties.  

It's unlikely the recount of the two Democratic counties would reverse his loss, experts say. Trump trails Biden by about 20,600 votes, or about 0.6 percent, in the state, Rosalind S. Helderman reports. About 804,000 ballots were cast in the two counties the campaign is paying to recount. 

The state will have 13 days to complete the process.

The campaign just narrowly beat the state's deadline to file for a recount. Recounting the whole state would have cost the campaign around $8 million. Recounting the two counties will cost around $3 million. The recounting process will prolong Trump's ability to raise public doubts about his loss in the state and the presidential election. 

Wisconsin law automatically allows for a candidate to request a recount if the margin of victory is under 1 percent. Trump allies have failed to secure recounts in other states, including Arizona.

A bill tightening cybersecurity requirements for government-owned Internet-connected devices is prepped to become law.

The bill mandates that devices must meet minimum cybersecurity standards from the Commerce Department. Providers must also immediately notify agencies if their devices have a cybersecurity vulnerability under the law.

The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously.

“The bipartisan Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act will ensure that the U.S. government purchases secure devices,” said Rep. Robin L. Kelly (D-Ill.), who sponsored the bill.

Hurd also sponsored the bill in the House, and Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) sponsored the Senate version.

Separately, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) introduced a bill that would make it harder for federal agencies to opt out of cybersecurity rules. Underwood is chair of the House Homeland Security Committee's cybersecurity subcommittee.

Global cyberspace

Canada's intelligence agency called out China, Russia, Iran and North Korea as major cybercrime threats for the first time in a report. 

The nation follows the United States and the United Kingdom in specifically calling out those countries as threats during an uptick in nation-sponsored hacking during the pandemic, David Ljunggreen at Reuters reports. The four nations have largely denied any attempts to hack other nations' infrastructure.

More cybersecurity news:

Chat room

The New York Times's Kate Conger spins a roaring tale of how a cybersecurity maverick's beloved pig couch became the source of numerous Craigslist scams. 

Roesch joined in on the fun:

Some more fun trivia from the piece.

Daybook

  • MIT Technology Review’s CyberSecure conference will take place Dec. 2 and 3.

Secure log off

The government official holding up Biden's transition by refusing to release funds for it spoke up on Twitter. About what? We aren't quite sure.

US market | Futures Indicator: Dow futures extend losses following Wednesday's sell-off

 

Fred Imbert, Jesse Pound


U.S. stock futures traded slightly lower early Thursday on the heels of a market slide a day earlier as a recent rally lost steam.

Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 62 points, or 0.2%. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 0.1% and 0.3%, respectively. Futures were off their lows, however, after the release of preliminary data showed University of Oxford and AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate triggered a similar immune response among all adults.

Weakness in the futures follows a Wednesday session that finished on a sour note. After bouncing around the flat line for most of the day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average turned south in the final hour of trading to register a loss of 345 points, or 1.2%. The S&P 500 also dropped 1.2%, while the Nasdaq Composite shed 0.8%.

The slide for stocks accompanied mixed news about the coronavirus crisis. On Wednesday morning, Pfizer announced that a final analysis showed that its vaccine candidate was 95% effective against Covid-19. However, New York City announced during the afternoon that it was closing schools due to a rising positivity rate.

“This is the perfect day that describes what we’re calling the ‘Covid air pocket.’ We have a linearity issue, which is that you can’t get there from here without going through a lot of bad news and some slowdown in the real economy,” Alicia Levine, chief strategist at BNY Investment Management, said on Thursday’s “Closing Bell.”

Despite Wednesday’s struggle, Wall Street has still seen a strong November. The S&P 500 has gained 9.1% month to date, while the small-cap Russell 2000 hit an intraday record high on Wednesday.

The strength for small caps has been part of an outperformance for cyclical stocks in recent weeks after growth-oriented tech stock fueled much of the market’s rally from its March lows.

“You see the market really kind of wanting to move in one direction, and then I think the vaccine news was certainly a catalyst to accelerate that a little bit. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see that trade persist for some time,” Jeff Mills, chief investment officer at Bryn Mawr Trust, said about the rotation into cyclical names.

“That being said, I do think the leadership in the market could be volatile over the next couple of months because you’re going to be battling Covid case increases and incrementally better news relative to the vaccine,” Mills continued.

Thursday morning will bring another look at how the labor market recovery is faring amid rising cases of Covid-19. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expect the reading for initial jobless claims to come in at 710,000, roughly flat compared with the prior week.

News | Economy | Asia: Vietnam economy is Asia's shining star during Covid


 Tim McDonald

3-4 minutes - Source: BBC


Vietnamese factoryimage copyrightGetty Images

image captionVietnamese factory

Vietnam has minimised the economic damage from Covid-19 and is the only country in South East Asia on track for growth this year.

Its economy is expected to grow 2.4% this year, according to latest figures from the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF credited “decisive steps to contain the health and economic fallout from COVID-19” for the country’s success.

Vietnam has had only 1,288 Covid-19 cases and 35 deaths.

The IMF is predicting a strong economic recovery in 2021, with growth projected to strengthen to 6.5% “as normalisation of domestic and foreign economic activity continues.”

Although Vietnam lacks the health infrastructure of many wealthier countries, it has been widely praised for its public health measures, which quickly brought numbers under control.

It was quick to develop testing kits, and used a combination of strategic testing, aggressive contact tracing to help control numbers.

The country has seen slower growth this year and its once-thriving tourism sector has taken a particularly bad hit, but it has avoided the worst economic effects of the pandemic.

Work from home windfall

A number of factors have cushioned the blow, according to Michael Kokalari, chief economist for Vinacapital, a Vietnam-focused investment company.

Perhaps the most unexpected windfall has come from the huge increase in the number of people working from home globally.

“People have bought a new laptop computer or they’ve bought new office furniture, for both working and spending more time at home. Well, a lot of those products are made in Vietnam,” he told the BBC.

Vietnam’s exports to the US have increased by 23% in the first three quarters compared to the same period in 2019, with electronics exports up 26%.

Tariffs woes

Vietnam’s manufacturing sector has grown enormously over the past decade because businesses have started to look elsewhere as labour costs in China increased.

The ongoing US-China trade war has also made China a less attractive place to manufacture, with a number of tariffs in place on exports.

Many multinationals have started operating in Vietnam, including global technology leaders like Apple and Samsung.

Apple now has plans to manufacture its high-end Airpods studio earphone in Vietnam.

The pandemic has also prompted more companies to consider manufacturing there, because of the need to diversify their supply chains, said Mr Kokalari.

“When Covid comes, you thought you had a global supply chain, and you find out that you only have a China supply chain and you can’t produce.

Well that’s a much more urgent, emotionally catalysing problem,” he added. 

News | Australia | Politics: Australian 'war crimes': Elite troops killed Afghan civilians, report finds

6-8 minutes - Source: BBC


There is "credible evidence" that Australian elite soldiers unlawfully killed 39 people during the Afghan war, a long-awaited report has found.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has released findings from a four-year inquiry into misconduct by its forces.

It said 19 current or former soldiers should be investigated by police over the killings of "prisoners, farmers or civilians" between 2009 and 2013.

The ADF blamed crimes on an unchecked "warrior culture" among some soldiers.

The inquiry - conducted by Major Gen Justice Paul Brereton - conducted interviews with more than 400 witnesses. It also found evidence that:

  • Junior soldiers were told to get their first kill by shooting prisoners, in a practice known as "blooding"
  • Weapons and other items were planted near Afghan bodies to cover up crimes
  • An additional two incidents could constitute a war crime of "cruel treatment"

Afghanistan said it had been assured by Australia that it was committed to "ensuring justice".

Samantha Crompvoets, an academic who carried out the initial research into the incidents, told the BBC they were "deliberate, repeated and targeted war crimes" and said she felt vindicated by the report.

What did the report find?

It said 25 special forces soldiers had taken part in unlawful killings directly or as "accessories", across 23 separate incidents.

ADF chief General Angus Campbell said none of the incidents could be "described as being in the heat of battle".

"None were alleged to have occurred in circumstances in which the intent of the perpetrator was unclear, confused or mistaken," he told reporters on Thursday.

Gen Campbell said there was alarming evidence that some Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers had taken "the law into their own hands".

"The report notes that the distorted culture was embraced and amplified by some experienced, charismatic and influential non-commissioned officers and their proteges, who sought to fuse military excellence with ego, elitism and entitlement," he said.

The report said it would be a "gross distortion" to blame senior ADF command, saying the crimes were "commenced... and concealed at the patrol commander level".

Dr Crompvoets said the incidents "involved in some instances very influential non-commissioned officers".

"Platoon commanders were encouraging or insisting junior soldiers execute prisoners to achieve their first kill, so it was that sort of pattern of behaviour of grooming these junior soldiers for, or initiating them into, the squadron - that's what was very disturbing," she told BBC World Service's Newsday programme.

The inquiry was conducted behind closed doors, meaning few details have been reported until now.

What's been the reaction?

Last week, Mr Morrison warned the report contained "difficult and hard news for Australians" about its special forces.

"It is the environment [within the ADF], it is the context, it is the rules, it is the culture and the command that sat around those things," he said. "And if we want to deal with the truth of this, we have to deal with the truth of that."

The office of Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani said Mr Morrison had phoned to express his "deepest sorrow" over the findings. Afghanistan has not commented directly on the findings of the report.

Elaine Pearson, from Human Rights Watch, told the BBC: "This is a vindication - this is an acknowledgement that these crimes occurred."

Dr Crompvoets said she had faced "huge resistance" when her initial report was leaked but had now been proved right.

"I was certainly criticised for being a female, a civilian, a feminist, that somehow I was trying to feminise defence," she said.

"It wasn't about me not understanding what it's like to be at war," she added. "It was quite evident there were fundamental things that had gone wrong."

Presentational grey line


The defence chief's language was as part of this story as the findings themselves. He started by apologising to the Afghan people for any wrongdoing, then told the Australian people they had the right to expect better from their special forces.

He used words like shameful, appalling and toxic when describing the actions of some troops and the culture in which they operated.

And it wasn't just that these alleged executions took place, it was the manner of impunity by which they happened. In fact, according to the report, there was an air of competitiveness within the special forces.

One moment stood out in General Campbell's address: when he described how some junior soldiers had allegedly been coerced to shoot unarmed civilians to get their "first kill" - a practice known as "blooding". He said that weapons and radios had then been allegedly planted to support claims that the victims had been enemies killed in action.

The public version of the report is highly redacted and we don't know details of specific incidents or specific individuals. But it has been enough to make for very uncomfortable reading for the military, the government and for the Australian public.

Presentational grey line

What happens next?

Last week, Mr Morrison said a special investigator would be appointed to consider prosecutions from information contained in the report.

Australian media reported that police investigations would be likely to take years, even before possible criminal trials.

Gen Campbell said one SAS squadron had been shut down, and it was the ADF's responsibility to "set things right".

The government said it would also establish an independent oversight panel to provide "accountability and transparency that sits outside of the ADF chain of command".

Australia maintains an operation of around 400 soldiers in Afghanistan as part ongoing peacekeeping efforts with the US and other allies.

Have other countries faced allegations?

Earlier this year, the International Criminal Court (ICC) began investigating alleged war crimes by the US and others in the Afghan conflict.

The actions of the Taliban, the Afghan government and US troops since May 2003 are expected to be examined.

A 2016 report from the ICC said there was a reasonable basis to believe the US military had committed torture at secret detention sites operated by the CIA.

The report also said it was reasonable to believe the Afghan government had tortured prisoners and the Taliban had committed war crimes such as the mass killing of civilians.

The UK is also investigating whether allegations of unlawful killing by UK Special Forces were investigated properly.

News | Business | China Economy:: President Xi at Apec: China pledges to open up its 'super-sized' economy

 



Chinese President Xi Jinping speaking at a conference earlier this month.image copyrightGetty Images

Chinese president Xi Jinping has said China will open up its "super-sized" economy to import more high-quality goods and services.

China will also sign free trade pacts with more countries, he said on Thursday.

Mr Xi was speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum, which includes the US and Russia.

It is as yet unclear if US President Donald Trump will be speaking at the event, which continues on Friday.

China and the US have been involved in a trade war since 2018 with a number of flashpoint over import taxes and Chinese technology firms operating in America.

Mr Xi also used Thursday's Apec speech to deny that China would be pulling away from other economies - known as decoupling - and warn against protectionism.

"We will not reverse course or run against the historical trend by 'decoupling' or forming a small circle to keep others out," Mr Xi said.

media captionChip wars: The US v China

Free trade

Mr Xi's comments come off the back of signing the world's largest regional free-trade agreement over the weekend, encompassing almost a third of the world's economic output.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), almost a decade in the making, includes China, Japan, South Korea and 12 other Asian nations.

"In today's world where economic globalisation has become an irreversible trend, no country can develop itself by keeping its doors closed," Mr Xi added.

However, China is involved in a number of trade disputes with rival economies, including Australia which it has imposed import tariffs of up to 80% on barley.

Last month, Mr Xi and other Chinese leaders laid out a blueprint for China's five-year plan and key objectives for the next 15 years.

They include a goal to turn China into a "high income" nation by 2025 and advance to a "moderately developed" nation by 2035.

Asia- Pacific Markets Closing Report: Asia-Pacific markets trade mixed as vaccine optimism clashes with economic worries

 

Saheli Roy Choudhury


SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets retraced some losses on Thursday to trade mixed as traders grappled with optimism around a potential coronavirus vaccine and economic worries.

In Australia, the benchmark ASX 200 erased earlier losses to finish up 0.25% at 6,547.20. The so-called Big Four banks closed higher, with Westpac up by 2.31%. Major miners were mixed, with BHP down by 0.87%.

Jobs in the country surged, beating expectations in October after the state of Victoria eased coronavirus restrictions. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed employment increased by 178,800 people from September while the unemployment rate rose fractionally from 6.9% to 7% — Victoria’s employment rose by 81,600 people.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 declined 0.36% to 25,634.34 while the Topix index rose 0.33% to 1,726.41. In South Korea, the Kospi index erased earlier losses to rise fractionally to 2,547.42.

Chinese mainland shares reversed course to erase earlier losses: The Shanghai composite was up 0.47% to 3,363.09, Shenzhen composite rose 0.63% to 2,275.84 and the Shenzhen component advanced 0.87% to 13,777.45. Elsewhere, in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index dropped 0.46% in afternoon trade.

The session in Asia followed U.S. stocks falling for a second straight day, pausing a recent rally to new records.

“It was a consolidative day for financial markets, which are caught in the crosscurrent of vaccine optimism and near-term economic weakness,” Daniel Been, head of foreign-exchange and G3 research at ANZ, wrote in a morning note.

Coronavirus worries

TICKER COMPANY NAME PRICE CHANGE %CHANGE
.N225Nikkei 225 IndexNIKKEI25634.34-93.80-0.36
.HSIHang Seng IndexHSI26356.97-187.32-0.71
.AXJOS&P/ASX 200ASX 2006547.2016.100.25
.SSECShanghaiSHANGHAI3363.0915.780.47
.KS11KOSPI IndexKOSPI2547.421.780.07
.FTFCNBCACNBC 100 ASIA IDXCNBC 10010006.68-54.92-0.55

Currencies and oil

The dollar index, which measures the U.S. dollar against a basket of its peers, traded up 0.15% at 92.457 as of 2:52 p.m. HK/SIN, slipping from levels near 93.00 last week.

U.S. dollar “continues to be driven by conflicting headlines around vaccine progress and high infection rates (and renewed lockdowns),” said Kim Mundy, senior economist and currency strategist, at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, in a morning note.

“The risk is that a vaccine is not ready fast enough to offset near‑term economic damage of widespread lockdowns as a number of countries battle to get infection rates back under control,” Mundy said.

The Japanese yen traded near flat at 103.86 against the greenback while the Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7292, dropping from earlier levels around $0.73.

Oil prices fell Thursday during Asian trading hours: U.S. crude futures were down 0.77% at $41.5 per barrel while global benchmark Brent declined 0.41% to $44.16.

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