Omicron becomes a dominant American variant. Don’t expect the markets to react again.


People line up outside a street-side Covid-19 test booth in Times Square in New York City on December 20, 2021.

AFP via Getty Images

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The Omicron variant has usurped Delta as the dominant coronavirus strain in the United States in just a few weeks.

The extent of the transmissibility and rapid spread of the new variant was evident in the striking data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It released its latest weekly tracking of variant proportions on Monday – Omicron accounted for 73.2% of cases sequenced in the week ending December 18, up from 13% revised the week before – less than a month ago, this figure was 0.1%.

The White House on Tuesday unveiled new measures to protect the United States, focusing on supporting hospitals and increasing immunization capacity. Significantly, there were no new restrictions, although there was a strong warning for unvaccinated people.

Across the pond, however, the situation is different, as many European countries have restrictions. In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under increasing pressure to do so, while juggling opposition to the new measures within his own party.

On top of all this, investors learned yesterday that a booster dose of


Modern
‘s

vaccine appears to be protective against Omicron.

As Christmas approaches, the markets are not able to properly digest this flurry of Covid-19 news. Monday’s massive sell-off, exacerbated by Senator Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) rejection of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan, gave way to a slight rebound early Tuesday.

Volumes will only become scarce in the days to come, but the news flow from Covid is unlikely to slow. It might not be until early January before the markets fully digest the developments and make a significant directional move, by then we’ll know a lot more about the seriousness of the new variant.

Callum keown

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***

Omicron overtakes Delta variant in US

The Omicron variant accounted for nearly three-quarters of U.S. infections analyzed for the week of Dec. 12-18, down from less than 1% two weeks ago, according to the CDC. Cases double every 1.5 to three days in places.

  • Moderna said booster doses of its Covid-19 vaccine increased the immune response against Omicron in lab tests, increase antibody levels at 37 times their pre-boost level. Moderna said she would begin clinical trials of an Omicron-specific booster in early 2022, if needed.

  • The American Pharmacists Association said pharmacists are exhausted and “overwhelmed” by work stress related to Covid.


    CVS Health

    and


    Alliance of Walgreens boots

    add breaks, hire more staff and increase wages.


    Rite Help

    closes stores an hour earlier.

  • World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to master the events of the national day because of the Omicron variant. Better to cancel events now and celebrate later “than celebrate now and cry later,” he said.

  • Los Angeles canceled its outdoor New Years celebration in Grand Park, Rhode Island reinstated its indoor mask tenure for large venues, and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said people must show proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, bars and other businesses from January.

And after: The World Economic Forum is postponing its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland for the second year in a row, saying the rally scheduled for Jan. 17-21 will be held online and an in-person rally will take place in early summer.

Janet H. Cho

***

Schumer to adopt Biden’s spending plan in January

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., NY) said Democrats would support Biden’s spending program on education, health and climate at the start of the new year, continuing despite Manchin’s wish not to vote for it.

  • Democrats in the Senate need Manchin’s vote to pass the bill. Manchin told a West Virginia radio host he will not be under pressure to support it. Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.) Called on Biden to take executive action on the Build Back Better bill.

  • Goldman Sachs economists lowered their forecasts for the growth of the US gross domestic product in 2022, to 2% in the first quarter from 3% previously, saying the failure to pass the bill has “negative implications for growth.” They lowered the projections to 3% and 2.75% growth in subsequent quarters.

  • One provision of the bill is the most immediate victim. Child tax credits of up to $ 300 per child have expired. The program paid $ 15 billion per month to 35 million families this year. Without payments, consumer spending on groceries and fuel could fall, and poverty rates could rise.

  • Manchin made a counter-offer on the bill last week that included $ 1.8 trillion for universal preschool for 10 years, has extended Obamacare and the fight against climate change, the Washington Post reported. This did not include the extension of the child tax credit.

And after: The removal of the bill also removes a proposed 5% surtax on individual income over $ 10 million, a cap of $ 80,000 on state and local tax deductions, a minimum tax of 15% on corporations including annual income is over $ 1 billion and $ 79 billion to boost the Internal Revenue Service. enforcement efforts.

Janet H. Cho

***

Elon Musk’s tax bill for 2021 will rise to $ 11 billion


You’re here

Founder and CEO Elon Musk said his tax bill this year will be around $ 11 billion, which he says is more than any American never paid. This is through his sale of around 13 million shares, or roughly $ 14 billion, including shares acquired through options.

  • In November, Musk sent a survey to


    Twitter
    ,

    ask people if he should sell 10% of his Tesla shares to speed up capital gains tax recognition. The Twitterverse said yes, and the sale has started.

  • Last week, Musk exercised management stock options granted in 2012, purchasing 2.2 million Tesla shares for $ 6.24 each. They are currently trading at $ 889 each. He then sold 934,091 shares pay taxes. Gains on management stock options are taxed as regular income when exercised.

  • Musk is the the richest person in the world, with $ 243 billion in wealth, according to Bloomberg. He often courts controversy for speaking out against politicians when they say we should raise taxes on the wealthy and make them pay their fair share.

  • Tesla shares are also facing pressure from the possible collapse of the Build Back Better spending bill, which proposed tax credits to encourage people to buy electric vehicles, although the credits for Tesla’s purchases would have been smaller because they use non-union labor.

And after: Tax credits could help increase the number of electric vehicles sold in the United States, currently around 3% of all car sales compared to 20% in China. A dozen new models of electric vehicles will be available to American consumers next year.

Liz Moyer

***

Super Saturday retail sales increased in-store and online

Super Saturday retail sales figures improved significantly from last year, both in-store and online, despite concerns about the Omicron variant. Foot traffic increased 19.4% on Super Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas, compared to 2020, according to Sensormatic Solutions.

  • It was still 26.3% less same-day pedestrian traffic for in-store shoppers in 2019. The National Retail Federation survey found that 148.2 million Americans planned to visit stores and websites on Saturday, down slightly from to the 150 million in 2020.

  • Super Saturday online sale increased by 13.3%, at $ 2.4 billion, beating last year’s figure, according to data from Adobe Analytics and in line with what the research firm expected.

  • Retail stocks were much lower, and the S&P consumer discretionary sector is down about 6% in December, its worst month since March 2020, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

  • Sportswear retailer


    Nike

    reported higher than expected second quarter profits and sales despite production and supply chain disruptions, including Plant closures linked to Covid-19 and higher costs to pay workers and ship inventory.

And after: Some retailers are relying on last-minute holiday shoppers to meet their fourth quarter sales targets. Only about 18% of consumers had completed half of their purchases by November 5 of this year, up from 21% in 2020, and 7% had not started shopping by December 14, according to a Jefferies poll.

Janet H. Cho

***

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—Newsletter edited by Liz Moyer, Camilla Imperiali, Rupert Steiner


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