(Bloomberg) -- The Bank of Japan, which has helped to prop up the country’s equity market for over a decade, refrained from buying stock funds this week despite the Topix index posting its biggest three-day loss since June. That’s left some investors a little baffled.When local shares were trading at multi-year highs earlier in 2021, the central bank scrapped an annual 6 trillion yen ($54.8 billion) target for purchases of exchange-traded funds, highlighting instead that it would prefer to buy “during times of heightened market instability.”Yet the central bank didn’t buy stock funds in the three days through Thursday despite sizable market drops, and has bought only once since the start of April, when the changes it made to its stock-buying program came into effect.Asked at a parliamentary committee meeting on Thursday why the BOJ had not bought not despite the declines, Governor Haruhiko Kuroda was equivocal.“We’re not making purchases under any automatic rules, we just look at the state and movements of the market and make a practical decision,” Kuroda said. “It could have an unforeseen impact on the market to say that in a certain situation we will take a certain action.”Kuroda said that the bank would continue to make “bold” ETF purchases as necessary. But the central bank’s absence is forcing some to reevaluate their expectations.“It’s going to be negative for equities in the near term,” said Hajime Sakai, chief fund manager at Mito Securities Co. “It seems like it’s better not to bet on BOJ ETF purchases.”Sakai is among those who say they’re unsure of what the current trigger is for the BOJ to buy ETFs. While the central bank has never made those conditions explicit, a decline in the Topix of 0.5% during the morning session was at one point seen to trigger purchases. Sakai said he was unsure if the current trigger is a 2% decline, or a two-day drop of a certain extent.With the BOJ buying ETFs on April 21, when the Topix fell 2.2% in the morning, but not on May 11 when the index slid just shy of that, a 2% drop might seem like a candidate. But declines of that magnitude are rare, with Topix falling that much in the morning only twice in the past 12 months.The pain is all the sharper for the Nikkei 225, with the BOJ ending its purchases of ETFs tracking the index in April. The gauge lost 7% in the three days through Thursday, giving up almost all its 2021 gains. Stocks rebounded on Friday, with the Nikkei adding 1.6% and the Topix 1.3%.Read more: BOJ’s Snub of Nikkei 225 May Spell Pain for Venerable GaugeAs the rebound suggests, the long-term impact of the BOJ’s absence may not be so dramatic. Some doubt how impactful the decade-long buying program has been in the first place.“I think the evidence is that, their buying has done very little,” said Nicholas Smith, a strategist at CLSA Securities Japan Co.Sakai argues that over the long term, the market will get used to the new normal. “From a medium to long term perspective, it’s not something to worry too much about,” he said.(Updates with quote in 13th paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Health Commissioner Thomas Farley was forced to resign after cremating victims' remains from the 1985 police attack instead of returning them to family.
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Paul George had 20 points and 10 rebounds, Reggie Jackson added 19 points off the bench on five 3-pointers and the Los Angeles Clippers handed the slumping Charlotte Hornets their fourth loss in the last five games, 113-90 on Thursday night. Kawhi Leonard had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Clippers, who are jockeying for playoff position in the Western Conference. The Clippers (47-23) remain in third place, one game ahead of the Denver Nuggets with two games remaining.
(Bloomberg) -- A smattering of places, mainly across the Asia Pacific region, have posted breathtaking victories in the battle against Covid-19 by effectively wiping it out within their borders. Now they face a fresh test: rejoining the rest of the world, which is still awash in the pathogen.In some ways, the success of “Covid Zero” locations is becoming a straitjacket. As cities like New York and London return to in-person dealmaking and business as usual -- tolerating hundreds of daily cases as vaccination gathers pace -- financial hubs like Singapore and Hong Kong risk being left behind as they maintain stringent border curbs and try to stamp out single-digit flareups.After a brutal 18 months that claimed 3.3 million lives worldwide, nations like China, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand have suffered fewer deaths during the entire pandemic than many countries, even highly vaccinated ones, continue to log in a matter of days.That achievement has allowed people to have largely normal lives for much of the past year. Some haven’t even had to wear masks. But sustaining this vaunted status has also required stop-start lockdown cycles, near-blanket bans on international travel and strict quarantine policies. The few travelers permitted to enter have had to spend weeks in total confinement, unable to leave a hotel room.Now that mass inoculation drives are allowing other parts of the world to normalize and open up international travel, experts and residents are starting to question whether walling off from Covid is worth the trade-off, if implemented long-term.“The whole world is not going to be Covid Zero,” said Rupali Limaye, director of behavioral and implementation science at the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. “That’s not an option here.”Aggressive reactions to tiny caseloads may seem overblown to observers in countries facing thousands of infections a day, but the aim is to snuff out coronavirus before more disruptive restrictions like months-long lockdowns are needed, and largely the strategy has worked. Still, the slower pace of vaccination in these places, and the threat of new variants, has meant that measures have become more and more onerous.New York currently logs 95 new daily cases per million people, and the U.S. has just lifted its mask mandate for those vaccinated. Singapore found 4.2 new cases per million on Thursday, lifting locally acquired cases to the highest level since July last year, and is warning that the situation is on a “knife’s edge.” The city-state introduced tighter border restrictions and limited social gatherings after the city of 5.7 million reported 60 locally transmitted infections in a week.Meanwhile, Taiwan recorded 16 local cases on Wednesday -- a daily record high -- and promptly restricted access to gyms and other public venues. In Hong Kong, anyone living in the same building as a person infected with a new Covid variant was required to spend as much as three weeks in government isolation until the policy changed last week. Australia has said that it likely won’t open its international borders until the second half of 2022.“Because we have been so successful, we are even more risk-averse than we were before,” said Peter Collignon, a professor of infectious diseases at the Australian National University Medical School in Canberra.“We are very intolerant of letting any Covid come into the country. The fear has almost gotten out of proportion to what the risk is.”Paying the PriceContinued isolation is the price these places will have to pay to maintain this approach in the longer term, as other parts of the world learn to tolerate some infections as long as medical systems aren’t overwhelmed.Most experts agree that the virus is unlikely to disappear completely. Instead, it is expected to become endemic, meaning it will circulate at some level without sparking the deadly outbreaks seen since late 2019.To maintain zero infection rates, these economies will have to implement measures that are harsher and more strict, said Donald Low, professor at the Institute of Public Policy of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.“This is neither wise nor tenable for much longer,” he said. “All this puts the places that have done well to suppress Covid-19 so far at a serious disadvantage as their societies -- not having been exposed to the possibility of Covid-19 becoming endemic -- are not willing to accept any relaxation of measures that may put their health at risk.”Meanwhile, many countries -- particularly those in the west that are awash in vaccines -- are starting to reopen.Travelers from England and Scotland will be permitted to visit a dozen countries without quarantining from 17 May. In the U.S., where about 35,000 people were diagnosed with the virus on May 12, the strict quarantine rules that prevented the import of the pathogen to Covid Zero countries never existed. Most states are starting to lift their pandemic restrictions and 25 have removed them completely.For Hong Kong and Singapore, the drawbacks of maintaining an elimination strategy as financial centers like London and New York City re-open may be significant. As aviation hubs and financial centers, both cities’ economies are particularly reliant on travel, compared to export-led economies such as China and Australia that can stomach being shut for longer. In 2019, Hong Kong was the world’s most popular city with international visitors -- even after months of political unrest -- while Singapore came in fourth place. London was at No. 5 and New York at No. 11.Vaccination LagA major obstacle to reopening is the slow vaccine rollout in these Covid havens, due to a combination of supply limitations and citizens’ lack of urgency about fronting up for shots.China has administered enough vaccinations for about 12% of its population. In Australia the figure is 5% and in New Zealand, just 3%. Meanwhile, more than one-third of the U.S. -- and more than one quarter of the U.K. -- is fully protected, as those countries’ failure to mitigate the spread of Covid meant vaccination was prioritized.In places with very few infections, the public hasn’t developed the searing fear of the virus that emerged in the U.S., Europe, India and Brazil, where many families were cut off from dying loved ones or left unable to visit elderly relatives in care facilities.In fact many residents fear the vaccine more than the virus. Reports of routine side effects including fever and injection-site pain, as well as rare and potentially deadly complications like blood clots, have put people off. The lack of an immediate threat from Covid means some people would rather wait until the vaccines are more progressed.New VariantsNot everyone agrees that elimination can’t be pursued long-term. For Michael Baker, professor of public health at the University of Otago in Wellington, New Zealand, the approach’s benefits are evident in how deaths in the country -- from any cause -- actually dropped in 2020.“The evidence is overwhelming for zero Covid if you can achieve it,” he said. “If there had been the commitment to having elimination as the first option, we may have been able to eliminate it entirely and avoided this global disaster.”He’s still hopeful that the strategy will be more broadly adopted with the help of vaccination, so that coronavirus will follow the measles model rather than an endemic one.“With the measles approach, you largely stop outbreaks in every country that has high coverage,” he said.Nonetheless, Covid havens face a growing dilemma. If vaccinations don’t pick up pace, they risk being stuck in a perpetual cycle, unable to move past the pandemic.“If their vaccination rates are low, that further jeopardizes their ability to open up,” Low said. “If so, the earlier ‘victory’ of these places over Covid-19 would have been a Pyrrhic one.”(Updates to add daily case data for New York and Singapore and to reflect new U.S. mask rules.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Owen Hurcum, 23, was elected unanimously last year by the City Council in Bangor, Wales after they served as deputy mayor for a year
‘We think that this bill itself is a serious threat to freedom of speech,’ general secretary says
Jordan Spieth hasn't played much golf lately. Spieth drained a 55-foot eagle putt on the final hole to cap off a bogey-free, 9-under 63 and vault himself into a tie with J.J. Spaun for the first-round lead at the AT&T Byron Nelson on Thursday. TPC Craig Ranch, in the Dallas suburb of McKinney, Texas, is hosting the Byron Nelson for the first time.
Union body says flexible working - including job shares and flexitime - should be offered to many more workers
In a major step toward returning to pre-pandemic life, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people on Thursday, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings. “Today is a great day for America,” President Joe Biden said during a Rose Garden address heralding the new guidance, an event where he and his staff went without masks. Hours earlier in the Oval Office, where Biden was meeting with vaccinated Republican lawmakers, he led the group in removing their masks when the guidance was announced.“If you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask,” he said, summarizing the new guidance and encouraging more Americans to roll up their sleeves. “Get vaccinated — or wear a mask until you do.”The guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but it will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools and other venues — even removing the need for social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.“We have all longed for this moment — when we can get back to some sense of normalcy,” Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said at an earlier White House briefing.The CDC and the Biden administration have faced pressure to ease restrictions on fully vaccinated people — those who are two weeks past their last required COVID-19 vaccine dose — in part to highlight the benefits of getting the shot. The country’s aggressive vaccination campaign has paid off: U.S. virus cases are at their lowest rate since September, deaths are at their lowest point since last April and the test positivity rate is at the lowest point since the pandemic began.Walensky said the long-awaited change is thanks to the millions of people who have gotten vaccinated and is based on the latest science about how well those shots are working.“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities — large or small — without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” Walensky said. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”The new guidance is likely to open the door to confusion, since there is no surefire way for businesses or others to distinguish between those who are fully vaccinated and those who are not.“Millions of Americans are doing the right thing and getting vaccinated, but essential workers are still forced to play mask police for shoppers who are unvaccinated and refuse to follow local COVID safety measures,” said Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. “Are they now supposed to become the vaccination police?”Walensky and Biden said people who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks indoors.“We’ve gotten this far — please protect yourself until you get to the finish line,” Biden said, noting that most Americans under 65 are not yet fully vaccinated. He said the government was not going to enforce the mask wearing guidance on those not yet fully vaccinated.“We’re not going to go out and arrest people,” added Biden, who said he believes the American people want to take care of their neighbors. “If you haven’t been vaccinated, wear your mask for your own protection and the protection of the people who also have not been vaccinated yet.”On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she is not changing the rules requiring masks on the House floor.“No,” Pelosi told CNN. “Are they all vaccinated?”Recent estimates have put the percentage of unvaccinated lawmakers in the House at 25%.That ambiguity over who is and isn’t vaccinated led Lawrence Gostin, a public health law expert at Georgetown University, to declare the CDC guidance “confusing and contradictory.”“The public will not feel comfortable in a crowded indoor space if they are unsure if the maskless person standing next to them is or is not vaccinated,” he said.The announcement came as many states and communities have already been lifting mask mandates amid improving virus numbers and as more Americans have been shedding face coverings after getting shots.Dan Witte, a 67-year-old musician from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, stopped wearing a mask after receiving the vaccine two months ago and recently rejoined his band playing gigs at crowded bars and weddings. He was encouraged by the CDC’s new guidance, but said it just confirmed his trust that the vaccines offered protection from spreading infections.“I went right from being hypervigilant for almost a year to being right in the crowd without a mask,” Witte said.To date more than 154 million Americans, nearly 47% of the population, have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and nearly 119 million are fully vaccinated. The rate of new vaccinations has slowed in recent weeks, but with the authorization Wednesday of the Pfizer shot for children ages 12 to 15, a new burst of doses is expected in the coming days.“All of us, let’s be patient, be patient with one another,” Biden said, acknowledging some Americans might be hesitant about removing their masks after more than a year of living in a pandemic that has killed more than 584,000 people in the U.S. and more than 3.3 million people worldwide.The CDC’s announcement that Americans could begin to shed one of the most visible symbols of the pandemic stood in stark contrast to other nations, with much of the world still struggling to contain the virus amid global disparities in vaccinations.Just two weeks ago, the CDC recommended that fully vaccinated people continue to wear masks indoors in all settings and outdoors in large crowds.Walensky said that evidence from the U.S. and Israel shows the vaccines are as strongly protective in real world use as they were in earlier studies and that so far they continue to work even though some worrying mutated versions of the virus are spreading.The more people continue to get vaccinated, the faster infections will drop — and the harder it will be for the virus to mutate enough to escape vaccines, she stressed, urging everyone 12 and older who is not yet vaccinated to sign up.And while some people still get COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, Walensky said, that’s rare. She cited evidence that those infections tend to be milder, shorter and harder to spread to others. If people who are vaccinated do develop COVID-19 symptoms, they should immediately put their mask back on and get tested, she said.There are some caveats. Walensky encouraged people who have weak immune systems, such as from organ transplants or cancer treatment, to talk with their doctors before shedding their masks. That’s because of continued uncertainty about whether the vaccines can rev up a weakened immune system as well as they do normal, healthy ones.The new guidance had an immediate effect at the White House, which has taken a cautious approach to easing virus restrictions. Staffers were informed that masks are no longer required for people who are fully vaccinated.First lady Jill Biden, who was traveling in West Virginia, told reporters that “we feel naked” as she and her party removed their face coverings. Then she paused. “I didn’t mean it that way!”(AP)
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(Bloomberg) -- Ant Group Co.’s profit rose to $3.4 billion in the December quarter after Chinese regulators thwarted its record initial public offering and told it to scale back its sprawling business.Billionaire Jack Ma’s fintech giant contributed nearly 7.2 billion yuan to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s earnings, a company filing showed Thursday. Based on Alibaba’s one-third stake in Ant, that translates to 21.8 billion yuan ($3.4 billion) in profit, up 50% from 14.5 billion yuan in the previous three months. Ant’s earnings lag one quarter behind Alibaba’s. Ant declined to comment.The tally underscores the earnings powers Ant boasted before authorities demanded China’s largest fintech company fold its financial business into a holding company, curtailing its growth prospects. Regulators have issued a battery of proposals that threaten to curb Ant’s dominance in online payments and scale back its expansion into consumer lending and wealth management.While Chairman Eric Jing has promised staff that the company will eventually go public, it’s likely to be worth much less than before the crackdown that saw the IPO halted in November. Fidelity Investments halved its valuation estimate for Ant to about $144 billion in February, compared with $295 billion assigned in August.Ant isn’t alone in facing the clampdown. The government imposed wide-ranging restrictions on the financial divisions of 13 companies including Tencent Holdings Ltd. and ByteDance Ltd. Units of JD.com Inc., Meituan and Didi Chuxing were also among companies summoned to a meeting where regulators handed out stricter compliance requirements in April.The company’s affiliate Alibaba reported its first loss in nine years, vowing to hike spending for expansion next year in technology and community commerce. (Updates with Alibaba profit details in last paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Police say as many as eight people may have been shot in incident
The Los Angeles City Council is moving toward making the emergency outdoor dining wrought by the pandemic a permanent feature of local life. On Wednesday, the council asked the city’s agencies for reports on the pros and cons of L.A. Al Fresco, an outdoor dining program that was started in the pandemic. The program allows restaurants […]
Patrick Corbin pitched seven strong innings and the Washington Nationals defeated the visiting Philadelphia Phillies 5-1 on Thursday to salvage the finale of the three-game series. Kyle Schwarber and Josh Bell each hit two-run, first-inning homers for Washington, which had lost four straight and seven of its previous eight. Washington's Starlin Castro extended his hitting streak, which started on May 1, to 11 games.
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Player Gleyber Torres tested positive for a second time months after battling COVID-19 in the offseason
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House Republicans gathered behind closed doors Thursday evening to hear from candidates vying to fill the No. 3 role previously held by Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who signaled in an interview she might run for president in order to keep former President Donald Trump out of the White House. GOP members are expected to meet behind closed doors Friday morning to elect a new conference chair, with New York Rep. Elise Stefanik remaining the leading candidate, despite some members not satisfied with her conservative credentials. On NBC's "Today" show, asked three times if she would run for president to stop Trump from regaining the Oval Office and to "restore" the GOP, Cheney did not rule it out, saying only she would do "whatever it takes."