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Just 11 days after Richard Branson flew to space on Virgin Galactic's (NYSE:SPCE) spaceplane, Jeff Bezos will make his own attempt aboard Blue Origin's (BORGN) New Shepard rocket. He'll fly with a crew of three, including his older brother Mark, female aviation pioneer Wally Funk and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, a fill-in for the winner of a $28M charity auction. The passengers will experience a few minutes of weightlessness, before their capsule parachutes onto the desert just 10 minutes after liftoff, which is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. ET.

Quote: “To see the Earth from space, it changes you. It changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity,” Bezos said before the flight. “It's a thing I've wanted to do all my life.”

Backdrop: Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000 and has been funding the company by selling $1B in Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) stock a year. His high school girlfriend even once remarked, “Jeff started Amazon just to get enough money to do Blue Origin,” to which Bezos exclaimed, “I can't prove her wrong.” Since 2015, Blue Origin has completed 15 test flights, carrying up experiments and the company's test dummy named Mannequin Skywalker. Besides a booster crash landing on the maiden flight, all the trips were successful.

Differences: As mentioned earlier, Bezos' capsule sits atop a rocket (compared to Galactic's VSS Unity which takes off on a jet plane and is released at 50,000 feet). Test pilots and flight engineers will also not be aboard the Blue Origin journey from West Texas, as the capsule is entirely automated (Galactic requires two pilots to get to space and back). Meanwhile, Bezos' flight will shoot above the Kármán line, a boundary commonly referred to as the beginning of space, with an altitude of about 66 miles vs. Branson's 53.5 miles.

Outlook: Congress has restricted the FAA from regulating the safety of commercial space flights since 2004 to help the sector develop without heavy compliance costs. The policy has been extended several times over the years and now runs until 2023. Crews today fly under a regime known as “informed consent,” meaning potential astronauts take on similar risks to skydivers and bungee jumpers. Bezos is fighting for a share in the space market that will triple in size to more than $1T in annual sales by 2040, according to Morgan Stanley, whose forecast assumes rapid developments in space tourism, moon landings and satellite broadband Internet. (25 comments)

Banking on higher yields

Treasury yields tumbled yesterday, pushing the benchmark 10-year below 1.2% for the first time since February. That had a knock-on effect on reflation plays, with the Dow (DJI) (NYSEARCA:DIA) seeing its biggest down day since October. This morning, yields are ticking up a little, with the 10-year Treasury (NYSEARCA:TBT) (NASDAQ:TLT) up 3 basis points to 1.21%. A sharp decline in yields coincidental to a rise in COVID Delta variant cases indicates economic growth concerns. But technical factors are also at play.

“It's a battle between the fundamentals and the technicals,” says Myles Bradshaw, J.P. Morgan Asset Management head of global aggregate fixed income strategies. “The fundamentals, we all know. The economy is strong, the economy is recovering, inflation is rising, so why are bond yields falling? It seems bizarre, doesn't it?”

"Bond yields are falling, I think, critically because of a lot of positions issues,” he says. Bradshaw said on Bloomberg that prior to the most recent Fed meeting “there was a lot of positions, short position in the long bond sector, and therefore you had short covering. You've also had increased buying from liability-driven investors that has meant there has been no marginal sellout on the long end.”

“I think the technicals are extremely positive, there's a demand for a safe asset as equities move higher and that's been beating fundamentals of late.”

Another transitory phenomenon?: Just as the Fed has been banging the drum on inflation being transitory, Wall Street strategists still look convinced that the path for rates is higher this year. Halfway into 2021, the median 10-year yield forecast among 30 analysts was 1.75%. The predictions ranged between 1.5% and 2%.

The probability of a recession next year is just 7%, “far below the 20% that has forecast nearly every recession back 60 years,” BTIG's Julian Emanuel writes. “What has the bond market bid in our view is the Wall of Money,” he says. “Monetary and fiscal policy enacted and proposed equal to 55% of GDP; the Fed’s balance sheet, government debt, money supply, and money market balances all moving skyward. This same Wall has bid up stocks, commodities, crypto, houses and goods of all kinds - inflation.”

“We think the market’s focus on rate hikes and the flattening of the yield curve is a bit premature,” Subadra Rajappa, fixed income strategist at Société Générale, writes. “We believe risks are skewed towards higher yields and recommend positioning for it by way of positive carry steepeners in cash and conditionally via swaptions.”

“We think the fall in yields partly indicates confidence that - inflation will prove fleeting,” UBS says. “But it also reflects technical factors in the Treasury market that we expect to fade and worries over growth that we think are overdone. As a result, we see 10-year yields rising back to 2% over the coming year.” (4 comments)

Statin study

Statins, a popular class of cholesterol-lowering drugs, may also lower the risk of death from COVID-19, according to new findings.

Examining data from the American Heart Association’s COVID-19 Cardiovascular Disease Registry, researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that patients taking statin medications had a 41% lower risk of in-hospital death from COVID-19. Statins' anti-inflammatory effects and binding capabilities may potentially hinder progression of COVID-19. (34 comments)

No deal for Intel?

Thomas Caulfield, CEO of semiconductor manufacturer GlobalFoundries, shot down reports that Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) was in talks to buy the company in a $30B deal.

"There's nothing to that story," he bluntly told CNBC in an interview Monday. Caulfield also gave an upbeat forecast for the chip-making industry, saying that an increase in capacity won't create a boom-and-bust cycle for the sector because current demand can support a massive expansion in output. (37 comments)

IBM tops forecasts

Led by gains in its hybrid cloud business, IBM (NYSE:IBM) reported second-quarter earnings results that topped Wall Street analysts' forecasts, and revenue that edged upward from the same period a year ago.

IBM reported a second-quarter profit of $2.33 a share, on revenue of $18.7 billion, excluding one-time items. Analysts that cover IBM had forecast Big Blue to earn $2.29 a share, on $18.3 billion in revenue. (22 comments)

What else is happening...

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPLdelays return to the office as COVID cases climb.

Snap (NYSE:SNAPbuys 3D AR solutions provider Vertebrae; terms not disclosed.

Bitcoin (BTC-USDcontinues to test $30K level after Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (OTC:GBTC) unlocking.

Duolingo (DUOLsets $85-$95/share IPO terms, valuing language-app firm at up to $3.5B.

U.S. is said to near $26B opioid settlement with drug distributors, J&J (NYSE:JNJ).

U.S., Germany to announce deal on Nord Stream 2 in coming days - Reuters.

Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), ViacomCBS (VIACVIACA) heads reportedly met last month to discuss international streaming partnership.

Today's Markets

In Asia, Japan -0.96%. Hong Kong -0.5%. China -0.1%. India -0.5%.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.7%. Paris +0.9%. Frankfurt +0.6%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow +0.5%. S&P +0.4%. Nasdaq +0.4%. Crude +0.4% at $66.62. Gold +0.4% at $1816.15. Bitcoin -5.4% at $29715.
Ten-year Treasury Yield +1.9 bps to 1.20%

Today's Economic Calendar

8:30 Housing Starts and Permits
8:55 Redbook Chain Store Sales

Monday's Key Earnings

IBM (NYSE:IBM) tops Wall Street forecasts +3.8% PM on strong cloud business revenue.
PPG (NYSE:PPG) Industries plunges -5.7% AH as supply disruptions, cost inflation drive Q2 miss.
Steel Dynamics (NASDAQ:STLD) slips -1.2% AH despite record Q2 results, continued strength seen in Q3.

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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