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Suez officials hope massive container ship operational Saturday, can’t say when refloat will happen

The owners of the massive ship blocking the Suez Canal aim to refloat the vessel by Saturday night.

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Imagery of the Ever Given in the Suez Canal captured by the company’s WorldView-3 satellite on Saturday, March 27, 2021.

Maxar Technologies

The Suez Canal Authority hopes to have the massive ship blocking the canal back in operation by Saturday, but doesn’t know when the ship will refloat, Chairman Osama Rabie said at a press conference.

“Today, we managed to create a space with a depth of 18 meters and we believe we will be able to have the ship back into operation by today,” Rabie said.

“The soil we are working on is tough. Other negative factors were the low tide, and the strong winds in addition to the other factors which I mentioned earlier, including the weight, width and length of the stranded ship,” he added.

Rabie said that 9,000 metric tons of ballast water had been removed from the stranded ship, Ever Given, and that the vessel’s rudder and propeller had started working again.

The vessel, a 220,000-ton mega ship nearly a quarter-mile long with a 20,000 container capacity, ran aground while entering Egypt’s Suez Canal from the Red Sea.

Some reports have indicated strong winds contributed to the stranding. However, Rabie said winds were not the main factor and human or technical error may have played a role.

The ship has completely blocked the canal that is home to as much as 12% of the world’s seaborne trade and through which 50 container ships normally transit per day. The Suez Canal Authority chairman on Saturday said 321 ships are awaiting transit.

The shipping crisis, now in its fifth day, has added to anxieties over the global supply chain which had already been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Each day of blockage disrupts more than $9 billion worth of goods, according to Lloyd’s List, which translates to about $400 million per hour.

The owners of the massive ship blocking the Suez Canal on Friday said they aimed to refloat the vessel by Saturday night, hoping that a high tide and the further removal of sediment will finally dislodge it.

26 March 2021, Egypt, Suez: A boy observes two tugboats taking part in the refloating operation carried out to free the “Ever Given”.

picture alliance | picture alliance | Getty Images

At a press conference Friday, Yukito Higaki, the president of Shoei Kisen which owns the Ever Given, said it was aiming to free the ship “tomorrow night Japan time,” according to a translation by the Nikkei news agency.

“We are continuing work to remove sediment as of now, with additional dredging tools,” he added, while apologizing for the “great trouble and concern” that the incident has caused.

Other media reports suggest at least two attempts will be made on Saturday to free the ship using the expected high tide. Reuters reported, citing sources, that work would begin at 2:30 p.m. local time.

Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, the Dutch technical manager working to free the Ever Given, said there have been no reports of pollution or cargo damage, and initial investigations rule out any mechanical or engine failure as a cause of the grounding.

“All 25 crew are safe and accounted for and they remain in good health and spirits. All crew are Indian nationals and remain onboard,” BSM said in a statement.

“They are working closely with all parties involved to re-float the vessel. The hard work and tireless professionalism of the Master and crew is greatly appreciated.”

Some ship operators have already decided to re-route their vessels around Africa, anticipating that the Ever Given won’t be dislodged soon.

Oil and natural gas prices have risen due to the blockage, but some economists believe the impact will be short lived.

“While there may be a temporary boost to commodity prices as freight is disrupted and ships are forced to divert around Africa, we don’t foresee any long-lasting implications. Countries will source commodities from elsewhere or draw down stocks until the canal re-opens,” the commodities team at Capital Economics said in a research note on Friday.

Close up imagery of the dredging operations underway around the Ever Given in the Suez Canal, captured by the company’s WorldView-3 satellite on Saturday, March 27, 2021.

Maxar Technologies

—CNBC’s Natasha Turak, Pippa Stevens and Hannah Miao contributed to this article.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/27/suez-canal-ever-given-owners-in-new-attempt-to-free-ship.html

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Explaining the volatile stock and bond market moves this week following the Fed’s update

The Fed unleashed a huge repositioning in markets, as investor reacted to a world where the central bank no longer guarantees its policies will remain easy.

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The Federal Reserve unleashed a huge repositioning in global financial markets, as investors reacted to a world where the U.S. central bank is no longer guaranteeing its policies will be dovish — or easy.

The dollar surged the most in a year over a two-day period against a basket of currencies.

Stocks were mixed around the world on Thursday, as were bond markets. Many commodities sold off. The Nasdaq Composite was higher, while the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average slid. Tech gained, and cyclical stocks fell.

The central bank delivered a strong message Wednesday when Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said officials have discussed tapering bond buying and would at some point decide to begin the process of slowing the purchases. At the same time, Fed officials added two rate hikes to their 2023 forecast, where there were none before.

“It’s the end of peak dovishness,” Bleakley Global Advisors chief investment officer Peter Boockvar said. “It’s not going hawkish. It’s just we’re past peak dovishness. This market response is as if they were already tapering.”

Not an immediate shock, but volatility ahead

Strategists say the Fed’s slight step toward tightening policy didn’t shock markets Wednesday, but it will likely make them volatile going forward. The Fed, in essence, is acknowledging the door is now open to future rate hikes.

It is expected to make a fuller declaration about the bond program later this year, and then within several months start the slow process of bringing $120 billion a month in purchases down to zero.

The yields of shorter-duration Treasurys, like the 2-year note, rose. Longer duration yields, such as the benchmark 10-year, fell. That so-called “flattening” is a go-to trade when interest rates rise. The logic is that longer yields fall since the economy may not do as well in the future with higher interest rates, and short-end yields rise to reflect expectations of the Fed raising rates.

U.S. longer-dated Treasurys, like the 10-year, have been lower than many strategists had expected lately. That’s in part because they are highly attractive to foreign buyers due to negative rates in other parts of the world and liquidity in the U.S. markets. The 10-year yield shot to 1.59% after the Fed news, but was back down at 1.5% Thursday afternoon. Yields move opposite price.

Commodities-related stocks, like energy names and materials shares, were down sharply Thursday afternoon. Energy was the worst-performing S&P 500 sector, falling 3.5%. Materials lost 2.2%.

“It’s a massive flattening of the yield curve. It’s an interest rate trade, and it’s the belief the Fed is going to slow growth,” Boockvar said. “So sell commodities, sell cyclicals… and in a slow growing economy people want to buy growth. It’s all happening in two days. It’s just a lot of rewinds.”

Boockvar said the curve flattening has been happening swiftly, too. For instance, the spread between the 5-year yield and 30-year bond yield quickly compressed, moving from 140 basis points to 118 basis points within two days.

“You’re watching an incredible unwind of positioning in the bond market. I don’t think people thought the Fed would do it,” BlackRock CIO of global fixed income Rick Rieder said.

“We thought the flattening trade was the right move when we saw some of the news out of the Fed. That was something we jumped on pretty quickly. I have to say we’re letting some Treasurys go into this rally,” Rieder told CNBC.

For stock investors, the shift in cyclical stocks goes against a trade that has been popular as the economy reopened. Financial stocks fell on the flatter yield curve, but REITs were slightly higher. Technology stocks rose 1.2%, and health care gained 0.8%.

“The implication is higher stock market volatility, which I think we’re going to have and going to continue to have,” BTIG head of equity and derivatives strategy Julian Emanuel said. “Yesterday changed things. This whole idea of data dependency — the market is going to trade it like crazy, particularly given the fact that the public participation remains very elevated and the stocks the public is most interested in are high multiple growth stocks that have been leading the last several weeks as the bond market remained range bound.”

Even as Powell acknowledged inflation was higher than the Fed expected, the central bank also pressed its message that inflationary pressures could be temporary. The Fed’s boosted its forecast for core inflation to 3% for this year but was at just 2.1% for next year, in its latest projections. Powell used the example of the rise and fall of lumber prices to illustrate his view that inflation will not be long lasting.

But Emanuel said it will be difficult to tell whether inflation is fleeting , and the economy’s emergence from the pandemic has been difficult to predict. “Whether it’s the Fed or paid economists on the sell side, or paid economists on the buy side, the ability to measure what’s going on in the economy is really nothing more than … educated guess work at this point because the statistics are just all over the place,” Emanuel said, adding inflation readings have all been hotter than expected.

He expects the market will trade in a range for now, with the bottom at 4,050 on the S&P 500 and the top at 4,250. The S&P 500 closed at 4,221 on Thursday, down just 1 point. The Dow was of by 0.6% at 33,823, and the Nasdaq rose by 0.9% at 14,161.

The late-July Fed meeting now looms large. That could add even more volatility as investors wait to see if the Fed will provide more details on tapering after that meeting. Many economists expect the Fed to use its annual Jackson Hole symposium in late August as a forum to lay out its plan for the bond program.

The bond purchases, or quantitative easing, were launched last year as a way to provide liquidity to markets during the economic downturn that started last year. The Fed purchases $80 billion in Treasurys and $40 billion in mortgage securities each month. Rieder expects the Fed could slow purchases by $20 billion a month once it starts the tapering. Once the Fed gets to zero, it could then consider when to raise interest rates.

The market expectations for rate hikes have moved forward, and the euro-dollar futures market now sees four rate hikes by the end of 2023, according to Marc Chandler of Bannockburn Global Forex. Prior to the Fed’s announcement Wednesday, futures showed expectations for about 2.5 rate hikes.

Strategist expect some of the Fed reaction is just temporary, and reflects investors who were too far offsides in some positions. “I’m still a commodities bull,” Boockvar said. Commodities had already begun falling ahead of the Fed announcement, after China announced plans to release metals reserves.

“The Fed needed to reign in the inflation story. They did it only very very slightly, but at least they accomplished it, and they’ve squeezed out inflation expectations and they’ve seen a pullback,” he said. “The question is can they through. To raise rates in two years or baby step tapering is not going to do it, but at least for two days they’ve succeeded in calming things down.”

The dollar index jumped 0.8% on Thursday afternoon, about the same as Wednesday’s move.

Chandler said the dollar move could also be a temporary adjustment and not part of a much bigger move. The dollar index’s gain largely reflect the dollar’s move against the euro, weaker as the European Central Bank continues to sound dovish.

“Norway signaled [Thursday] that they are going to hike rates in September and yet the dollar rallied against Norway. I think what happened yesterday set off a new wave of positioning in the currencies. … If it’s not done it’s nearly done,” he said.

The biggest component of the dollar index basket is the euro. “The correction is long in the tooth. It began in late May. That’s when the euro put in its last high,” said Chandler.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/18/explaining-the-volatile-stock-and-bond-market-moves-this-week-following-the-feds-update.html

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The Fed moves up its timeline for rate hikes as inflation rises

However, the central bank gave no indication as to when it will begin cutting back on its aggressive bond-buying program.

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The Federal Reserve on Wednesday considerably raised its expectations for inflation this year and brought forward the time frame on when it will next raise interest rates.

However, the central bank gave no indication as to when it will begin cutting back on its aggressive bond-buying program, though Fed Chairman Jerome Powell acknowledged that officials discussed the issue at the meeting.

“You can think of this meeting that we had as the ‘talking about talking about’ meeting,” Powell said in a phrase that recalled a statement he made a year ago that the Fed wasn’t “thinking about thinking about raising rates.”

As expected, the policymaking Federal Open Market Committee unanimously left its benchmark short-term borrowing rate anchored near zero. But officials indicated that rate hikes could come as soon as 2023, after saying in March that it saw no increases until at least 2024. The so-called dot plot of individual member expectations pointed to two hikes in 2023.

Though the Fed raised its headline inflation expectation to 3.4%, a full percentage point higher than the March projection, the post-meeting statement continued to say that inflation pressures are “transitory.” The raised expectations come amid the biggest rise in consumer prices in about 13 years.

“This is not what the market expected,” said James McCann, deputy chief economist at Aberdeen Standard Investments. “The Fed is now signaling that rates will need to rise sooner and faster, with their forecast suggesting two hikes in 2023. This change in stance jars a little with the Fed’s recent claims that the recent spike in inflation is temporary.”

Markets reacted to the Fed news, with stocks falling and government bond yields higher as investors anticipated tighter Fed policy ahead, including the likelihood that the bond purchases will slow as soon as this year.

“If you’re going to get two rate hikes in 2023, you have to start tapering fairly soon to reach that goal,” said Kathy Jones, head of fixed income at Charles Schwab. “It takes maybe 10 months to a year to taper at a moderate pace. Then you’re looking at we need to start tapering maybe later this year, and if the economy continues to run a little bit hot, rate hikes sooner rather than later.”

Even with the raised forecast for this year, the committee still sees inflation trending to its 2% goal over the long run.

“Our expectation is these high inflation readings now will abate,” Powell said at his post-meeting news conference.

Powell also cautioned about reading too much into the dot-plot, saying it is “not a great forecaster of future rate moves. “Lift-off is well into the future,” he said.

Powell did note that some of the dynamics associated with the reopening are “raising the possibility that inflation could turn out to be higher and more persistent than we anticipate.”

Powell said progress toward the Fed’s dual employment and inflation goals was happening somewhat faster than anticipated. He particularly noted the sharp rebound in growth that now has the Fed seeing GDP 7% in 2021.

“Much of this rapid growth reflect the continued bounceback in activity from depressed levels, and the factors more affected by the pandemic remain weak but have shown improvement,” he said.

Officials raised their GDP expectations for this year to 7% from 6.5% previously. The unemployment estimate remained unchanged at 4.5%.

The statement tempered some of the language of previous statements since the Covid-19 crisis. Since last year, the FOMC had said the pandemic was “causing tremendous human and economic hardship across the United States and around the world.”

Wednesday’s statement instead noted the progress vaccinations had made against the disease, noting that “indicators of economic activity and employment have strengthened. The sectors most adversely affected by the pandemic remain weak but have shown improvement.”

Investors were watching the meeting closely for statements about how Fed officials see an economy undergoing rapid expansion since the depths of the pandemic crisis in 2020.

Recent indicators show that in some respects the U.S. is expanding at the fastest rate since World War II. But that growth also has come with inflation, and the central bank has faced pressure from various sources to at least start curtailing the at least $120 billion in bond purchases it is making each month.

At his post-meeting news conference Chairman Jerome Powell noted that Fed officials “had discussions” on the progress made toward the inflation and employment goals relative to the asset purchases, and will continue do do so in the months ahead.

Markets had been looking for the possibility that the committee would address its open-market operations where it provides short-term funding for financial institutions. The so-called overnight repo operations, where banks exchange high-end collateral for reserves, have been seeing record demand lately as institutions look for any yield above the negative rates they are seeing in some markets.

The committee did raise the interest it pays on excess reserves by 5 basis points to 0.15%.

In a separate matter, the FOMC announced that it would extend dollar-swap lines with global central banks through the end of the year. The currency program is one of the last remaining Covid-era initiatives the Fed took to keep global markets flowing.

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“This is not what the market expected,” said James McCann, deputy chief economist at Aberdeen Standard Investments. “The Fed is now signaling that rates will need to rise sooner and faster, with their forecast suggesting two hikes in 2023. This change in stance jars a little with the Fed’s recent claims that the recent spike in inflation is temporary.”

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/16/fed-holds-rates-steady-but-raises-inflation-expectations-sharply-and-makes-no-mention-of-taper.html

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Oracle guidance misses expectations, stock drops

Oracle reported better-than-expected results and showed accelerating growth compared with the immediate impact of the coronavirus last year.

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Safra Catz, co-chief executive officer of Oracle Corp.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Oracle shares fell 5% in extended trading on Tuesday after the company offered lower quarterly revenue guidance than expected as it plans to increase capital expenditures to support cloud computing workloads. The guidance came on Oracle’s earnings call after the enterprise software maker issued better-than-expected earnings and faster revenue growth than last quarter.

Here’s how the company did:

  • Earnings: $1.54 per share, adjusted, vs. $1.31 per share as expected by analysts, according to Refinitiv.
  • Revenue: $11.23 billion, vs. $11.04 billion as expected by analysts, according to Refinitiv.

With respect to guidance, Oracle CEO Safra Catz called for 94 cents to 98 cents in adjusted earnings per share and 3% to 5% revenue growth in the fiscal first quarter. Analysts polled by Refinitiv are expecting fiscal first-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.03 per share and the equivalent of 3% revenue growth.

“We expect to roughly double our cloud capex spend in FY 2022 to nearly $4 billion,” Catz said. “We are confident that the increased return in the cloud business more than justifies this increased investment, and our margins will expand over time.”

Revenue rose 8% year over year in Oracle’s fiscal fourth quarter, which ended on May 31, according to a statement. In the prior quarter revenue grew 3%. The accelerating growth benefited from a comparison against the quarter last year when the coronavirus arrived in the U.S. and Oracle’s revenue fell some 6%.

Oracle’s top segment by revenue, cloud services and license support, generated $7.39 billion, which was up 8% and above the FactSet consensus estimate of $7.32 billion in revenue. The company said revenue from its second-generation cloud infrastructure doubled in the quarter, but it did not provide the figure in dollars.

The cloud license and on-premises license segment contributed $2.14 billion in revenue, up 9% and more than the $2.05 billion consensus.

The company’s hardware revenue, at $882 million, was exactly in line with analysts’ estimates, declining 2%.

During the quarter Oracle announced new public-cloud computing options that draw on Arm-based chips, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a longstanding case between Oracle and Google, declaring that Google’s copying of Java code was fair use.

Notwithstanding the after-hours move, Oracle stock is up 26% since the start of the year, while the S&P 500 index is up 13% over the same period.

In May, Barclays analysts lowered their rating on the stock to the equivalent of hold from the equivalent of buy after the price had moved upward as investors rotated out of growth and into value. “To see further relative outperformance a growth acceleration at Oracle is needed, and we don’t have enough tangible data points for this yet,” the analysts wrote.

WATCH: The great tech tug-o-war

Here’s how the company did:

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/15/oracle-orcl-earnings-q4-2021.html

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The Fed moves up its timeline for rate hikes as inflation rises

However, the central bank gave no indication as to when it will begin cutting back on its aggressive bond-buying program.

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