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Delta variant fears send Dow tumbling more than 700 points in worst

Delta variant  fears send Dow tumbling more than 700 points in worst

Delta variant fears send Dow tumbling more than 700 points in worst

The Delta Variant Raises A Lot Of Question About The Latest COVID … Mon, 19 Jul 2021 14:00:00 -0700-Global markets fall sharply amid growing anxiety about surging coronavirus cases and their potential to derail the economic recovery.

Global stock markets swooned Monday, with the Dow slumping more than 700 points, as investors grow increasingly anxious about a delta-led resurgence in coronavirus cases and its potential to derail the economic recovery. Oil prices also fell sharply.

The delta variant is now the dominant strain worldwide and surging rapidly, even in countries with high vaccination rates. New coronavirus infections in the United States rose nearly 70 percent in a single week, officials reported Friday, and nearly every state has reported an increase in cases. Japan declared a state of emergency in Tokyo during the Summer Games — which kick off later this week — and banned spectators, but there have been several positive coronavirus tests at the Olympic Village and an alternate for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team has tested positive. Many market watchers are fearful the uptick will lead to a resumption in travel and business restrictions.

Asian markets closed in the red across the board, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index leading the losses with a 1.8 percent slide and Japan’s Nikkei falling 1.3 percent. European markets posted even bigger declines, with Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 tumbling more than 2.5 percent and the Pan-European Stoxx 600 sliding 2.3 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 725.81 points, or nearly 2.1 percent, to 33,962.04 for its worst day of 2021. The S&P 500 index skidded 68.67 points, nearly 1.6 percent, to settle at 4,258.49. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index shed 152.25 points, or nearly 1.1 percent, to close at 14,274.98.

Companies whose fates are tethered to the recovery were hit hard in early trading, with Carnival Cruises and United Airlines sliding 5.7 and 5.5 percent, respectively. Energy stocks were also pummeled, with ExxonMobil losing 3.4 percent and Chevron sliding more than 2.7 percent.

“The big concern for the market is whether we going to see a slowdown in the global economic recovery,” Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, wrote in commentary Monday. “This could be the overriding force which results in a bad period for equities in the weeks ahead.”

The market jitters and growing case counts echo the earlier days of the pandemic when stocks whipsawed with record volatility as investors struggled to get their arms around the breadth of the pandemic’s impact on the global economy.

The pandemic plunged the U.S. economy into a two-month contraction, according to a new finding by the National Bureau of Economic Research, marking the shortest recession on record. But the public health crisis has continued to grip the economy.

On Monday, investors flocked to safe havens, pushing the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note down to just shy of 1.20 percent, its lowest level since February. Bond yields fall as prices rise.

Oil prices also tanked. Over the weekend, OPEC and its allies agreed to ramp up production despite the uncertainty with the delta variant, saying that oil demand is showing “clear signs of improvement” in a statement Sunday. Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, shed 6.9 percent to trade at $68.50 per barrel. West Texas intermediate crude, the U.S. oil benchmark, declined more than 7.6 percent to $66.94.

“While some may be focused on the potential of repeating the dramatic volatility that we saw in early 2020, it is important to keep in mind that we are in the middle of summer when trading volumes can be lighter,” Wayne Wicker, chief investment officer at Vantagepoint Funds, told The Washington Post in an email. “Additionally, the delta variant that is driving the current concerns by investors today should not prove to be devastating to the economy since vaccination rates continue to rise and health outcomes will be much better than last year.”

Even with the delta variant’s rise, signs of a strong recovery have been abundant. U.S. air travel hit a post-pandemic high on Sunday, with the Transportation Security Administration reporting more than 2.2 million travelers passing through its checkpoints. Consumer spending, which powers the bulk of the economy, has been steady, with June retail sales beating expectations, the Commerce Department reported last week.

“While goods have seen an increase in price due to supply shortages and increased demand, consumers have not let it [faze] them and instead are maintaining a post-quarantine spending spree,” Marwan Forzley, chief executive of Veem, a payments platform that works with thousands of retailers, said in commentary Friday. “Factors for this include businesses opening up with little to no restrictions, borders for travel reopened, and simply the desire to get out and engage in normal life activities again. ”

Markets had been on a record-breaking run after cratering in the early days of the pandemic. Even after allowing for Monday’s declines, the Dow was up nearly 27 percent compared to the same time last year.

“Our streak of winning weeks in the market has come to an end,” Chris Larkin, managing director of trading at eTrade, said in commentary Monday. “While pullbacks like we’re seeing today can rattle the nerves, it’s important to remember that the market is near all-time highs, and corrections are a natural part of a healthy market.”

The market turbulence comes as the trading platform Robinhood — which has capitalized on the surge in retail investing and excitement around stock trading — prepares its initial public offering with an expected valuation as high as $35 billion. Robinhood’s IPO is one of the most anticipated in a year that has already seen a slew of high-profile market debuts, including the cryptocurrency exchange Blockchain, the online gaming platform Roblox, and the dating app Bumble.

In a regulatory filing Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Robinhood said it plans to sell more than 52 million shares in the $38 to $42 range. That would raise about $2 billion if they sell in the mid-offering price.

The online brokerage was at the center of the trading frenzy earlier this year, when hordes of ordinary investors, egged on by trading forums and social media posts, flocked to so-called meme stocks such as GameStop and AMC, sending their prices soaring. The volatile trading activity also attracted the attention of lawmakers concerned about potential market manipulation and the naivete of first-time investors. As of March, the company said it has 17.7 million monthly active users, with more than half of their customers claiming that Robinhood was their first brokerage account.

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Delta variant fears send Dow tumbling more than 700 points in worst … Mon, 19 Jul 2021 14:00:00 -0700-As COVID-19 cases rise due to the delta variant, we examine who is at risk, and what's the best way to protect yourself and others. Also, with a spate of …

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The Delta Variant Raises A Lot Of Question About The Latest COVID Surge

July 19, 2021

As COVID-19 cases rise due to the delta variant, we examine who is at risk, and what's the best way to protect yourself and others. Also, with a spate of outbreaks at camp, what parents need to know.

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

After a steep decline, coronavirus cases are once again on the rise thanks to the fast-spreading delta variant. New daily cases are up by nearly 70% in just a week. And hospitalizations and deaths are rising as well. The increases are concentrated in places with low vaccination rates. NPR's Allison Aubrey joins us to discuss. Allison, sounds like big increases. Can you help put us in – put those things in perspective?

ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: Sure. The U.S. is averaging about 30,000 new cases a day. This is far fewer than the 200,000 or so cases back in the winter. But it's triple the number of cases compared to just June. So there are significant increases in states, as you say, with low vaccination rates, including Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned yesterday on CNN that the rise in hospitalizations and deaths that are largely preventable may continue.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

VIVEK MURTHY: I am worried about what is to come because we are seeing increasing cases among the unvaccinated in particular. And while if you are vaccinated, you are very well protected against hospitalization and death, unfortunately, that is not true if you are not vaccinated.

AUBREY: In fact, 97% of people hospitalized now with COVID are unvaccinated. I mean, there are instances where fully vaccinated people are getting infected, so-called breakthrough cases. But they tend to get much less sick. And CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has said this has become a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

MARTINEZ: So a combination of unvaccinated people and the delta variant are causing these surge in cases?

AUBREY: That's right. I mean, the delta variant is about 225% more transmissible than the original coronavirus strain. So when this variant finds pockets of unvaccinated people, it just spreads so much more quickly. Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb spoke on CBS yesterday about what this means in the coming weeks and months.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: This variant is so contagious that it's going to infect the majority – that most people will either get vaccinated or have been previously infected or they will get this delta variant. And for most people who get this delta variant, it's going to be the most serious virus that they get in their lifetime in terms of the risk of putting them in the hospital.

AUBREY: He says this variant just can't be underestimated. And that's why there are yet again more pleas to the roughly 30% of adults who have yet to be vaccinated in the U.S. to go ahead and get the shots.

MARTINEZ: So many people remain hesitant. Yet, at the same time, millions of people who were eager to get vaccinated at the first opportunity that was back in the winter are now wondering, when can I get a booster?

AUBREY: That's right. I mean, there's no decision yet on boosters. But at a White House briefing on Friday, adviser Jeff Zients said that the administration is ready for the possibility of boosters if and when the science shows they're needed. Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that the CDC and FDA are getting as much data as they can, including tracking the levels of immunity and people enrolled in the vaccine clinical trials to see if the immunity is waning. There's also a study underway to test a kind of mix-and-match approach that could work for boosters. They're giving a shot of the Moderna vaccine as a booster to people who originally got any of the three authorized vaccines, including the J&J or Pfizer. I spoke to Robert Atmar. He's a professor of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine. He's helping lead the study.

ROBERT ATMAR: What we want to figure out is, what kind of reactions do people have when they get a booster dose? And do they generate a good immune response both to the original coronavirus strain but also to the variants of concern?

AUBREY: Again, no booster strategy yet. But it could be that boosters could be recommended for some portion of the U.S. population, such as older adults above a certain age and people who are immune-compromised.

MARTINEZ: So meantime, as the delta variant continues to surge where I'm at here in LA County – that was the first day of mask mandates indoors. So Allison, what are the chances of this becoming more widespread?

AUBREY: Well, you know, local public health officials have the flexibility to do this, to reinstate a mask mandate. Though, this is very, very unlikely to happen nationally. Lots of public health experts tell me, you know, as a personal health choice, it makes good sense to stay masked up in crowded indoor settings because it is still possible for fully vaccinated people to become infected. I spoke to Dr. Sage Myers. She's an emergency department physician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She points out masking can help protect children, too.

SAGE MYERS: We're expecting or unvaccinated children to continue to wear those – wear their masks. And helping them to feel more comfortable takes us doing it, too. And so I definitely will wear my mask when I'm with my 11-year-old, who can't be vaccinated yet, who has to have her mask on, even if it's a situation that, as a vaccinated person, I may otherwise have been able to not wear it.

AUBREY: It's a simple way to stay protected.

MARTINEZ: It's a no-brainer. And speaking of kids, it's summer camp season. And there have been a spate of outbreaks tied to camp. So what's the best advice to keep kids safe?

AUBREY: Yeah. Well, there have been reports of camp outbreaks in many states, including Texas, Illinois, Florida, Missouri, Kansas. Doctor Sage Myers is also a medical director at a sleep-away camp where, she says, the risks can be higher than at a day camp because kids are bunking together, just – they're in close quarters more. So she says more precautions may be needed.

MYERS: We are testing prior to arrival, encouraging families to quarantine their children for the days prior to going to camp, definitely between five and seven days of quarantine and keeping them away from other contact with other people. And so camps really need to be on top of that and even minor symptoms. Kids have to quarantine and be tested to ensure that they aren't the start of a spread.

AUBREY: And this is especially true for the under-12 crowd that can't be vaccinated yet.

MARTINEZ: That's NPR's Allison Aubrey. Allison, thanks a lot.

AUBREY: Thanks, A.

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– July 20, 2021

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