Monday Morning Reads

Monday Morning Reads






Dogs who sniff Covid

Dogs can be trained to detect the majority of COVID-19 infections even when patients are asymptomatic, according to scientists from the London School of Tropical Medicine, Durham University and the group Medical Detection Dogs. Authors of the research, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, hope the screening of clothing and face masks could help replace the need to quarantine airplane travelers after incoming flights. "What we're suggesting is that dogs would give the first initial screening, and then those (arrivals) that were indicated as positive would then receive a complimentary PCR test," declared co-author James Logan.

How does it work? The results are said to be more effective than temperature checks as they could detect mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 infections. Dogs that screened arrivals at airport terminals could detect 91% of cases, resulting in a 2.24x lower rate of transmission than with PCR tests alone.

On Friday, Thailand also deployed dogs trained to detect coronavirus infections by sniffing samples of human sweat as the country deals with a severe outbreak of COVID-19. The samples are stored in small metal containers for the dogs to inspect one by one, and about 2,000 specimens have already been sniffed this month. The trained Labradors at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University have even shown a success rate of about 95% and the project's directors hope to extend the trial to airports or boat piers.

Bigger picture: Dogs have long been trained to detect odors associated with drugs or explosives, as well as malaria, cancer and diabetes, but "this is the first time that dogs are able to detect a viral disease in humans," said Dominique Grandjean, a professor at the National Veterinary School of Alfort in France. Sniffing tests would also cost as little as dollar and take seconds, compared to the expensive prices and time constraints of PCR testing.

Coronavirus testing stocks include Quidel Corporation (NASDAQ:QDEL), Fulgent Genetics (NASDAQ:FLGT), Hologic (NASDAQ:HOLX), Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT), PerkinElmer (NYSE:PKI), Fluidigm (NASDAQ:FLDM) and Quest Diagnostics (NYSE:DGX).

Commodity crackdown

U.S. stock futures are around 0.5% higher to start the week as investors size up the volatile swings in crypto markets, as well as China's intensifying campaign to rein in raw material prices. Equities are coming off a mixed week in which the DJIA logged its fourth negative week in five, while the S&P notched two consecutive weeks of losses for the first time since February. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite inched up 0.3% last week, snapping a four-week losing streak.

"It's going to be a very mixed market over the next several months until we get more information on what's really going to happen with inflation and how the stimulus in the U.S. affects spending there, but also how the coronavirus really progresses," said JoAnne Feeney, a partner at Advisors Capital Management. "While stocks are absorbing a lot of changes well so far, all the inflection points still have longer to play out," added Adam Crisafulli, founder of Vital Knowledge.

Commodity crackdown: As costs for raw materials rise to record highs, China announced several new measures to temper prices and skim some of the froth seen in commodity markets. The National Development and Reform Commission, known as the NDRC, will show "zero tolerance" for irregular trading or price gouging, as well as the spread of false information and hoarding. The government will also target monopolies in spot and futures markets, and promised severe punishments for violations. Aluminum futures (LMAHDS03:COM) dropped 2% on the news, while iron ore futures (SCO:COM) slid 4% (China's producer price index rose 6.8% Y/Y in April, up from the 4.4% growth recorded in March).

Coming up this week: Retail earnings will continue to flow in from Nordstrom (JWN), Urban Outfitters (URBN), Gap (GPS), Costco (COST) and Best Buy (BBY). Be on the lookout for reports from some tech names as well, including Nvidia (NVDA), Salesforce (CRM), Snowflake (SNOW) and Workday (WDAY). On the economic front, data will be released on consumer confidence, new home sales data, the second estimate of Q1 GDP and personal income and outlays. (13 comments)

Price swings

The crypto roller-coaster is still in full swing as extreme volatility continues to whipsaw investors. Over the course of Monday, May 17, through Friday, May 21, Bitcoin (BTC-USD) fell 20% to $32.8K, only to accelerate rapid price moves. On Saturday, it jumped touched as high as $38.8K then fell as low as $31.1K on Sunday, and rose nearly 7% overnight to climb back to $36.8K. In fact, one metric gauging implied volatility on Bitcoin, similar to the VIX index of the U.S. stock market, topped 130, exceeding the VIX's all-time high.

More crypto volatility: Ethereum (ETH-USD+8.4% to $2,301. Ripple (XRP-USD+1.8% to $0.86; Cardano (ADA-USD+7.5% to $1.47; Stellar (XLM-USD+18.9% to $0.43; Dogecoin (DOGE-USD+3.4% to $0.33; Bitcoin Cash (BCH-USD+5.9% to $621; Litecoin (LTH-USD+11.2% to $158.

What the crypto crowd is saying on Twitter:

Mike Novogratz: "Weekend illiquidity exacerbated this liquidation... We will see... With hindsight."

Larry Cermak: "This took much longer than I thought but IMO a big reason for why we’re seeing 60% super quick crashes is that there was just way too many projects stretched to crazy valuations and not enough liquidity to support the prices when new demand dries up. Add leverage and voila."

Mark Cuban: "I think this is the "Great Unwind". Traders borrow to buy Eth, used eth to borrow alt/stable coin, used that to LP a high APY Pair, took the SLPs and staked them to maxout yield. The minute Eth drops to their Tragic Number, they had to Unwind. Unstake, Remove Liqudity, Repay."

Anthony Pompliano: "Can't believe I even have to say this, but the noise is just FUD. The underlying thesis hasn't changed at all. This week should be wild. Get some rest while you can :)"

Scott Melker: A lot of bottom signals, and still believe 29k was it.... but I’ve been wrong quite a few times. Either way, anticipating some relief."

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss: "Feels oversold. Buying the dip just got better."

Barry Silbert: "Where the crypto market goes from here is completely dependent on the stock market over the next couple weeks. The ultimate source of value is so ambiguous that it has a lot to do with our narratives rather than reality."

Outlook: While recent headlines can try to ascribe meaning to the recent selloff, those reasons have been bubbling for some time, while the HODL crowd will dub them FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). On Friday, China reiterated its intent to crack down on digital assets, the U.S. Treasury Department announced plans for large crypto transactions to be reported to the government, and Elon Musk continued to post mixed messages over Twitter. A bigger item to consider is just how sensitive markets can be when sentiment changes, or the store of value for a currency that can display daily swings of 10% to 30%. (31 comments)

Galactic milestone

Virgin Galactic (SPCE) conducted a successful test flight of its VSS Unity spacecraft on Saturday after it was carried to 44K feet by the VMS Eve aircraft. From there, it climbed rapidly to the edge of space at three times the speed of sound, while founder Sir Richard Branson was present to watch the liftoff from Spaceport America in New Mexico. Shares of Virgin Galactic advanced 22% in the two sessions prior to the spaceflight test, and are up another 26% to $26.48 in premarket trade on the latest development.

What it means: The flight puts the company one step closer to developing the space tourism industry after a December attempt that was cut short by an electromagnetic interference issue. Galactic needs to pass two remaining FAA milestones before it receives a license for conducting regular spaceflights and has two remaining tests to finish the development of its SpaceShipTwo rocket system. The next spaceflight test will carry four Galactic employees to test the spacecraft's cabin, while the last test will fly Richard Branson. From there, the company will earn revenues from paying passengers (the first mission has been purchased by the Italian Air Force to conduct microgravity experiments). (131 comments)

"These lay out a pathway to commercial flight operations in 2022, which are paramount for positive EBITDA and create an attractive re-entry point for the stock and supports our Buy rating," UBS analyst Myles Walton wrote in a research note. "Limited investible options to participate in the growing commercial space economy has created a supply/demand dynamic that has had an outsized effect on [Virgin Galactic's] performance."

Go deeper: Virgin Galactic has about 700 customer reservations on its books, most of which were sold at a price of $200K to $250K per ticket several years ago. The company is currently gauging demand on its website, which allows users to register their interest in a future flight. Galactic intends to reopen sales for commercial ticket sales during 2021 following Branson's maiden space voyage.

Infrastructure compromise?

Looking to get some bipartisan support, the Biden administration has reduced the size of its infrastructure proposal to $1.7T from $2.25T. Funding for the package would remain the same - raising the tax rate on wealthy Americans and large companies that can "afford a modest increase to pay for middle-class jobs." The counteroffer is still about triple a competing proposal from Senate Republicans, which recently offered a plan to spend $568B over five years, though a separate $300B transportation bill was also unveiled in the Senate over the weekend.

"In our view, this is the art of seeking common ground," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. "This proposal exhibits a willingness to come down in size, while also staying firm in areas that are most vital to rebuilding our infrastructure and industries of the future, and making our workforce more competitive with China."

What changed? The Biden administration agreed to cut the funding request for broadband to match the Republican offer and reduce the proposed investment in roads, bridges and major projects to come closer to the number of the GOP. Some original spending areas on research & development, supply chains, manufacturing and small business would also shift to other legislative efforts like the CHIPS Act and the Endless Frontier Act. Psaki said the White House will share the complete specifics of the proposal pending the outcome of current discussions and negotiations.

Go deeper: While both sides agree on the need to update American infrastructure, there's a stark difference between Democrats and Republicans on how economies grow and what effects or outcomes will result from all the spending. The Biden administration feels that the higher investment will result in higher wages and would restore the U.S.'s competitive edge in the world. The GOP is more fearful of long-term inflation and would rather minimize taxes and other barriers for business so that the lower cost leads them to hire and expand their investment. (137 comments)

What else is happening...

Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Cook on the stand: App Store is an 'economic miracle'.

AT&T (NYSE:T) dividend cut steals focus in WarnerMedia-Discovery deal.

Quiet weekend shows cinema bounce back facing early hurdles.

U.S. House plans Monday hearing on SPACs and direct listings.

Cathie Wood says deflation will boost growth stocks next.

Energy producers fear Biden executive order on climate financial risk.

AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) CEO Pascal Soriot defends COVID-19 vaccine.

Commerce Department moves to double tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber.

U.S. set to downgrade Mexico's aviation safety rating.

Ford (NYSE:F) could jolt EV sector again with investor event this week.

Today's Markets

In Asia, Japan +0.2%. Hong Kong flat. China +0.3%. India +0.2%.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.2%. Paris +0.1%. Frankfurt +0.4%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow +0.5%. S&P +0.5%. Nasdaq +0.6%. Crude +1.7% to $64.64. Gold +0.3% at $1882. Bitcoin +6.9% to $36827.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -1 bps to 1.62%

Today's Economic Calendar

8:30 Chicago Fed National Activity Index
9:00 Fed's Brainard Speech
11:00 Fed's Mester Speech
12:00 PM Fed's Bostic Speech
5:30 PM Fed's George Speech

Known to most as Uranium Pinto Beans, Jason has more than 15 years under his belt of trading stocks, options and currencies. His expertise primarily lies in chart analysis, and he has a strong eye for undervalued stock. Because he’s got the ability to identify great risk/reward trades he usually enjoys taking the path less traveled and reaping the benefits from the adventure.

He is a co-founder of Option Millionaires, and he is best known for his weekly webinars with Scott, as well as his high level training webinars and charts found in the forums.

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