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In coronavirus-hit Beijing, funeral homes with sick workers struggle to keep up By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A medical worker collects a swab sample from a person at a temporary testing site next to a mobile testing vehicle dispatched from mainland China, in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tung Chung, Hong Kong, China Feb.

Written by Ryan Wu and Winnie Zhou

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Funeral homes in China’s capital Beijing, home to 22 million people, scrambled on Saturday to keep up with calls for funeral services and cremations, as workers and drivers tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

After a declaration that the Omicron strain had been weakened, and unprecedented public protests against the zero COVID policy championed by President Xi Jinping, China abruptly changed its COVID management protocols more than a week ago.

Moving away from endless testing, lockdowns and tight travel restrictions, China is retooling a largely reopened world to coexist with COVID.

China has asked its 1.4 billion people to care for their mild symptoms at home unless symptoms become severe, as cities across China prepare for their first waves of infection.

In Beijing, which has not yet reported any coronavirus deaths since a Dec. 7 policy change, sick workers have lashed service staff from restaurants and courier companies to nearly a dozen funeral parlors.

“We have fewer cars and workers now,” an employee at Miyun Funeral Home told Reuters, adding that there was a growing demand for cremation services.

“We have several workers who have tested positive.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if the struggle to meet the growing demand for cremation was due to rising COVID-related deaths.

A staff member at Huairou Funeral Home said the body had to wait three days before it could be cremated.

The clerk said: “You can move the body here yourself, it has been busy lately.”

The Chinese health authority reported the COVID deaths on December 3 in Shandong and Sichuan provinces. The last time the Chinese capital reported a death was on November 23.

However, Chinese state media reported on Friday that two veteran state media journalists had died after contracting COVID-19 in Beijing, among the first known deaths since China dismantled most of its policies on the non-spread of the coronavirus.

On Saturday, the National Health Commission reported no change in the official coronavirus death toll of 5,235.

China’s sudden lifting of its strict policies could lead to an explosion in cases and more than a million deaths through 2023, according to new projections from the US-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

She said cases in China will peak on April 1, when deaths will reach 322,000.

“normal deaths”

“There are long hearing lines here, and it’s hard to say when there will be available slots,” said one of the workers at Dongjiao Funeral Home.

“Normal deaths,” the employee said when asked if the deaths were related to COVID.

The underreporting of COVID deaths over the past 10 days has sparked controversy on social media over the disclosure of the data, which is also fueled by a dearth of statistics on hospitalizations and the number of seriously ill people.

“Why can’t these stats be found? What’s going on? Didn’t they calculate them or just don’t announce them?” asked a netizen on Chinese social media.

China stopped reporting asymptomatic cases as of Wednesday, citing a lack of PCR testing among asymptomatic people making it difficult to accurately calculate the total number.

Official numbers have become an unreliable guide as fewer tests are being done across the country after no-COVID policies were eased.

In Shanghai, more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) south of Beijing, local education authorities on Saturday asked most schools to hold online classes from Monday, to deal with worsening infections across China.

In a sign of the upcoming personnel crisis, the Shanghai Disney Resort said Saturday that the theme park may be reduced to a smaller workforce, though the park is still operating normally.

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Stock, bond and cryptocurrency investors remain on edge after a rough year for the markets

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This version is for personal, non-commercial use only. Distribution and use of this material is subject to our Subscriber Agreement and copyright law. For non-personal use or to order multiple copies, please contact Dow Jones Reprints at 1-800-843-0008 or visit www.djreprints.com.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/stock-bond-and-crypto-investors-remain-on-edge-after-brutal-year-for-markets-11672403124

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Dow Jones losses are heading towards the closing bell as US stocks approach their worst year since 2008

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US stocks were trimming losses heading towards the closing bell on Friday, but were still on track to post their worst annual loss since 2008, as the harvest of tax losses combined with concern over the outlook for US corporate and consumer earnings took its toll.

How are stock indices traded?
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average
    DJIA,
    -0.22%

    It fell about 182 points, or 0.6%, to 33,039 points.

  • S&P 500 index
    SPX,
    -0.25%

    It fell nearly 26 points, or 0.7%, to about 3,824.

  • The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 72 points, or 0.7%, to about 10,406 points.

Stocks posted their biggest gains of the month on Thursday, with the Dow Jones rising 345 points, or 1.05%, to 33,221 as major stock indexes rebounded after losses incurred earlier in the week that pushed the Nasdaq Composite to a new closing low for the year. . The S&P 500 was on track on Friday to wrap up its fourth consecutive losing week, the longest streak of weekly losses since May, according to FactSet data.

What drives the markets

US stocks traded lower on Friday afternoon, on pace to close the last trading session of 2022 with weekly and monthly losses.

Stocks and bonds have been crushed this year as the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate more aggressively than many expected, as it sought to crush the worst inflation in four decades. The S&P 500 is on track to end the year with a loss of nearly 20%, its worst annual performance since 2008.

“Investors were on edge,” Mark Heppenstahl, chief investment officer at Penn Mutual Asset Management, said in a phone interview Friday. “It seems as if being able to bring prices down might be a little easier given how bad the year has been.”

Stock indices have fallen in recent weeks as the recent rally inspired by hopes in the Fed’s policy focus faded in December after the central bank indicated it would likely wait until 2024 to cut interest rates.

On the last day of the trading year, the markets were also hit by selling to capture losses that could be written off from tax bills, a practice known as tax harvesting, according to Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bouquet Capital Partners. .

Forrest added that an uncertain outlook for 2023 has also weighed in, as investors worry about the strength of corporate earnings, the US economy and consumer as the fourth-quarter earnings season approaches early next year.

“I think the Fed, and then earnings in mid-January — they’ll set the tone for the next six months. Until then, it’s anyone’s guess.”

The US central bank has raised its benchmark interest rate by more than four percentage points since the start of the year, pushing borrowing costs to their highest levels since 2007.

The timing of the first Fed rate cut will likely have a significant impact on markets, according to Forrest, but the outlook remains uncertain, even as the Fed tries to signal that it plans to keep interest rates higher for longer.

On the economic data front, the Chicago PMI for December, the latest major data release for the year, Came stronger than expected. Climbing to 44.9 from 37.2 in the previous month. Readings below 50 indicate contraction.

In the coming year, Heppenstahl said, “we are likely to shift toward concerns about economic growth rather than inflation.” “I think the decline in growth will eventually lead to an even greater drop in inflation.”

Read: Stock market investors face 3 recession scenarios in 2023

Eric Sterner, chief information officer at Apollon Wealth Management, said in a phone interview on Friday that he expects the US to fall into a recession next year and that the stock market could see a new bottom as companies likely review their earnings. “I think the earnings outlook for 2023 is still very high,” he said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite were all on pace Friday afternoon posting weekly losses of around 1%, according to FactSet data, at last check. For the month, the Dow was down about 5%, the S&P 500 was down about 7% and the Nasdaq was about to crash down about 10%.

Read: Value stocks are outperforming growth stocks in 2022 by a large margin historically

As for bonds, Treasury yields rose on Friday as the US sovereign debt market was set to post its worst year since at least the 1970s.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note
TMUBMUSD10Y,
3.879%

It rose about four basis points on Friday at 3.88%, according to FactSet data, in the latest check. Ten-year yields jumped about 2.34 percentage points this year through Thursday, on track for the biggest annual gain ever based on data going back to 1977, according to market data from Dow Jones.

Meanwhile, the yield on the two-year note
TMUBMUSD02Y,
4.423%

Up about 3.64 percentage points in 2022 through Thursday to 4.368%, 30-year return
TMUBMUSD30Y,
3.971%

It jumped 2.03 percentage points over the same period to 3.922%. That marks the largest increase in a calendar year for each based on data going back to 1973, according to market data from Dow Jones.

Outside the US, European stocks capped their biggest percentage drop in a calendar year since 2018, with the Stoxx Europe 600
xxxp,
-1.27%
And the
It is an index of euro-denominated stocks, down 12.9%, according to market data from Dow Jones.

Read: A downturn in the US stock market is trailing these international ETFs as 2022 draws to a close

Companies in focus

Steve Goldstein contributed to this article.

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Fed’s reverse repo facility reaches $2.554 trillion by Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Federal Reserve Building in Washington, US, January 26, 2022. (Reuters)/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

Written by Michael S Derby

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A key facility used by the Federal Reserve to help control short-term interest rates saw record inflows on Friday, the last trading day of the year.

The New York Fed said its reverse repo facility took in $2.554 trillion in cash from money market funds and other eligible financial firms, beating the previous high seen on Sept. 30, when inflows totaled $2.426 trillion.

The cash rally was almost certainly tipping into record territory in the usual end-of-quarter pattern that could worsen further towards the end of the year. On those dates, for a variety of reasons, many financial firms prefer to deposit money in the central bank rather than in the private markets.

The Fed’s reverse repo facility has been very active for some time. After seeing almost no absorption for a long time, money began to gravitate toward the central bank in the spring of 2021 and then grew steadily. Daily reverse repo usage has been steadily above the $2 trillion mark since June.

The reverse repo facility takes cash from qualified financial firms in what is an actual loan from the Federal Reserve. The current rate is 4.3%, a yield that is often better than rates for short-term private sector lending.

The reverse repo facility is designed to provide a soft floor for short-term rates and the federal funds target rate, and is the Fed’s primary tool for achieving its function and inflationary mandates. To mark the higher end of the range, the Fed is also pushing deposit-taking banks to deposit cash at the central bank, where the interest rate on reserve balances is now 4.4%.

The federal funds rate is currently set between 4.25% and 4.5% and is trading at 4.33% as of Friday, sandwiched between the reverse repo rate and interest on reserve balances.

There are no signs of shrinkage

Even with the heavy use of reverse repo, Fed officials have always remained unconcerned about large outflows, even as some in financial markets worried about the potential for the Fed to drain the borrowing and lending lives of private money markets.

Fed officials also expected that as the central bank continues to raise interest rates with the goal of bringing down very high levels of inflation, the use of the reverse repo facility should decrease. But that hasn’t happened yet, and some in the markets now believe that the consistently high utilization of the Fed facility will be around for some time to come.

Research by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York indicated that banking regulation issues make demand for the Fed’s reverse repo instrument high. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Fed added its view that large inflows are related to limited private market investment opportunities and policy uncertainty.

Strong cash flows to the central bank may not have alarmed central banks, but they have driven their operations to an actual loss. The Federal Reserve finances itself through interest on the bonds it owns as well as the services it provides to the financial community. It usually makes a noticeable profit and by law returns it to the treasury.

Currently, the cost of paying interest on reverse repo agreements and reserve balances outweighs income. The Fed reported Thursday that as of Dec. 28, the accounting metric it uses to track losses was $18 billion. Many observers expect that the Fed’s plans to raise interest rates further and keep them at high levels will mean fairly large losses for the central bank over time, even if these losses will not affect the action of the Fed’s monetary policy.

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