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The four astronauts of the SpaceX Crew Dragon splash down to earth after record mission

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Crew Dragon capsule, is launched carrying four astronauts on a NASA commercial crew mission to the International Space Station at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, April 23, 2021.

Joe Skipper | Reuters

The four astronauts aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule have safely returned to earth, splashing down in parachutes landing in the Gulf of Mexico after a record-setting mission to the International Space Station. The astronauts spent more than five months in space, the longest-ever duration for a crew launched in an American-built spacecraft.

NASA’s Shannon Walker, Mike Hopkins, and Victor Glover and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi reached the space station via the Dragon capsule, Resilience, last November.

After undocking from the space station at 8:35 p.m. Saturday, the astronauts traveled through the atmosphere and touched down in Mexico’s Gulf near Panama City, Florida, via parachutes at about 2:57 a.m. ET on Sunday. They exited the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft less than an hour after landing.

Weather conditions were reported to be near perfect, with little wind and a calm sea. “It really could not have been a more flawless journey home for Crew Dragon Resilience,” NASA public affairs officer Leah Cheshier said.

The landing was the first U.S. spacecraft splashdown amid darkness since 1968, and the second time a space capsule has ever landed in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s also only the second time NASA and SpaceX have brought astronauts back to earth on a Crew Dragon spacecraft.

SpaceX mission control welcomed the astronauts with some humor after they touched down: “We welcome you back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX. For those of you enrolled in our frequent flyer program, you’ve earned 68 million miles on this voyage.”

The second operational SpaceX crew mission arrived at the International Space Station early on the morning of April 24, carrying four astronauts for a six-month stay in space.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft ‘Endeavour,’ which launched on a Falcon 9 rocket the day before, docked with the ISS at 5:22 a.m. EDT. The capsule carried an international cadre of astronauts: NASA’s Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA’s Akihiko Hoshide and ESA’s Thomas Pesquet.

At that time, the Crew-2 mission temporarily brought the total number of astronauts on board the orbiting research laboratory to 11.

SpaceX developed its Crew Dragon spacecraft and fine-tuned its Falcon 9 rocket under NASA’s Commercial Crew program, which provided the company with $3.1 billion to develop the system and launch six operational missions.

—CNBC’s Michael Sheetz contributed to this report.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/02/spacex-crew-splashes-back-down-to-earth-after-record-mission.html

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Disney misses on subscriber expectations, parks revenue still hurt by Covid restrictions

Disney+ had been bolstering the company’s success as it was losing out on business from Covid restrictions, but it seems the rapid growth is starting to slow.

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In this handout photo provided by Walt Disney World Resort, guests stop to take a selfie at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort on July 11, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Matt Stroshane | Walt Disney World Resort | Getty Images

Disney reported second quarter results Thursday, posting lower-than-expected revenue and subscriber counts for its streaming service.

The company’s stock dipped around 3.5% in after-hours trading.

  • Earnings per share: 79 cents vs 27 cents expected in a Refinitiv survey of analysts
  • Revenue: $15.61 billion vs $15.87 billion expected in the survey

Streaming

The company missed on subscriber estimates for Disney+, coming in at 103.6 million paid subscribers. It was expected to post 109 million, according to FactSet.

The streaming service had been bolstering the company’s success as it was losing out on business from Covid restrictions, but it seems the rapid growth is starting to slow. Still, the company reiterated its plans to see between 230 million to 260 million subscribers to Disney+ by 2024.

“This quarter’s numbers were exactly as we projected internally, so no disappointment here,” CEO Bob Chapek told CNBC’s Julia Boorstin.

Average monthly revenue per user dipped 29% year over year to $3.99, which the company attributed to the launch of Disney+ Hotstar. The service has lower average monthly revenue per paid subscriber than traditional Disney+ in other markets, pulling down the overall average for the quarter.

Disney CFO Christine McCarthy said on the company’s earnings call that excluding Hotstar, average revenue per paid Disney+ subscriber would have been $5.61 in the quarter.

Average monthly revenue per paid subscriber grew slightly for Disney’s other direct-to-consumer platforms, ESPN+ and Hulu.

The company said it now has around 159 million total subscribers across its streaming services as of the end of the second quarter. Revenue for Disney’s direct-to-consumer business grew 59% to $4 billion, which has helped offset losses in other segments affected by the pandemic.

Disney announced it is also extending its MLB contract through 2028 and that it signed an eight-year soccer deal with LaLiga.

Parks

Revenue at Disney’s parks, experiences and products segment fell 44% to $3.2 billion, as many of its theme parks were either closed or operating at reduced capacity and its cruise ships and guided tours were suspended.

The company said the outbreak cost this division around $1.2 billion in lost operating income during the latest quarter.

Disney recorded a one-time $414 million charge during the quarter for impairments and severance for the planned closure of an animation studio and Disney-branded retail stores, and severance paid to workers at its parks and and resorts businesses.

Disney reopened its two California-based parks on April 30, so any revenue garnered over the last few weeks is not reflected in the fiscal second-quarter results. However, the parks’ reopening could boost expectations for the fiscal third quarter.

“We are very encouraged by the initial guest response,” McCarthy said, adding that forward-looking bookings are strong as coronavirus case counts decline and vaccines ramp up.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said earlier Thursday fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a face mask or stay six feet away from others in most settings, whether outdoors or indoors. Chapek pointed toward the new guidance as good news for the company, saying in the earnings call it will be a bigger catalyst for growth and attendance.

“I think in relatively short order you’re going to see our attendance go up significantly,” Chapek later told CNBC.

As of Thursday, Disney’s Paris-based theme park is the only location that has not reopened to the public.

Content sales and licensing revenues fell 36% for the quarter to $1.9 billion. The award-winning “Nomadland” was Disney’s only theatrical release in the U.S. over the quarter (it debuted simultaneously on Hulu). “Raya and the Last Dragon,” Disney’s latest animated feature, also debuted in some theaters internationally. It was made available on Disney+ Premier Access for $30.

Several Marvel titles are on the horizon, such as “Black Widow,” “Eternals,” “Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings,” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home” as well as “Cruella,” “Jungle Cruise,” “Free Guy,” “Encanto” and “West Side Story.”

The company said that “Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings” and “Free Guy” will be released first in theaters, with an exclusive 45-day window. Disney said earlier Thursday its blockbuster film “Jungle Cruise” will debut in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access on July 30.

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Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/13/disney-dis-q2-2021-earnings.html

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As much as $365 billion wiped off cryptocurrency market after Tesla stops car purchases with bitcoin

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Tesla would suspend car purchases using bitcoin, wiping off billions of dollars of value from the cryptocurrency market.

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Artur Widak | NurPhoto | Getty Images

GUANGZHOU, China — Hundreds of billions of dollars were wiped off the entire cryptocurrency market after Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the electric vehicle maker would suspend car purchases using bitcoin.

At around 6:06 a.m. Singapore time on Thursday when Musk made the announcement, the value of the whole cryptocurrency market stood at around $2.43 trillion, according to data from Coinmarketcap.com.

Around 8:45 a.m., the market capitalization had dropped to around $2.06 trillion, wiping off around $365.85 billion. The market has pared some losses. Since Musk’s tweet, the cryptocurrency market had seen $165.75 billion wiped off its value at around 9:22 a.m. Singapore time.

In February, Tesla announced in a regulatory filing that it had purchased $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin and planned to accept the cryptocurrency for payments.

Musk cited environmental concerns on Thursday and said Tesla is “concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel.”

Bitcoin is not issued by a single entity like a central bank. Instead, it is maintained by a network of so-called “miners.” These miners use purpose-built computers that require a lot of energy to solve complex mathematical puzzles in order for bitcoin transactions to go through. Bitcoin’s energy consumption is larger than some individual countries.

At around 9:34 a.m. Singapore time, bitcoin was down over 12%, dipping below the $50,000 mark for the first time since Apr. 24, according to CoinDesk data. Despite the recent pullback, bitcoin is still up over 400% in the last 12 months.

Other cryptocurrencies ether and XRP were also sharply lower.

Musk has been a big proponent of digital currencies including bitcoin and dogecoin, helping to drive their prices higher in recent months.

The Tesla CEO said the company will not be selling any bitcoin and intends to use it for transactions “as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy.”

Bitcoin has garnered interest in the last year as companies such as Square and Tesla announced bitcoin purchases and large institutional investors entered the cryptocurrency space. Major investment banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have also sought ways to allow their wealthy clients to get bitcoin exposure.

Around 8:45 a.m., the market capitalization had dropped to around $2.06 trillion, wiping off around $365.85 billion. The market has pared some losses. Since Musk’s tweet, the cryptocurrency market had seen $165.75 billion wiped off its value at around 9:22 a.m. Singapore time.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/13/bitcoin-btc-price-falls-after-tesla-stops-car-purchases-with-crypto.html

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As the U.S. economy restarts from the pandemic, parts of it are severely broken

Manufacturers are struggling to catch up with a jolt in demand amid supply crunches in components and raw materials

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A customer wearing a protective mask loads lumber at a Home Depot store in Pleasanton, California, Feb. 22, 2021.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The U.S. economy is trying to restart its engine after tumbling into its deepest recession in generations, but a variety of supply chain constraints are threatening the country’s rebound.

The country faces major shortages in everything from labor to semiconductors, lumber and packaging materials. Not even swimming pools can be counted on this summer with the U.S. running low on chlorine. The scarcity left and right is not only preventing the economy from reaching its full potential, but it’s also raising fears of higher inflation as companies are forced to hike prices amid the low supply.

People swim in a pool at a country club in Bloomfield Hills Township, Michigan, U.S., on Monday, June 8, 2020.

Emily Elconin | Bloomberg | Getty Images

“These shortages, both labor and non-labor, will affect the speed under which the economy recovers,” Barclays head of U.S. economics research Michael Gapen said. “Labor and non-labor inputs are complements in production. You need both. If I can’t get my semiconductors to make my autos, then I don’t necessarily need to hire more labor right now.”

The U.S. labor force participation rate remains well below pre-pandemic levels as many Americans have yet to go back to work. This is partly due to generous unemployment benefits and childcare duty.

Meanwhile, manufacturers are struggling to catch up with a jolt in demand amid supply crunches in components and raw materials. This has stalled the rebound across broad swaths of the economy from housing to services, tech, autos and leisure.

“This is going to be a longer process coming out than when it went in,” Gapen said. “Like the global economy is recovering at an uneven pace, it’s likely that the U.S. economy is going to do the same. There are some kinks to still work out in the system.”

’10 million jobs short’

While the labor market is ready to snap back, there appears to be a lack of available workers to keep powering the grand recovery.

Hiring was a huge letdown in April, with nonfarm payrolls increasing by just 266,000, compared to a Dow Jones consensus estimate of 1 million jobs.

“This is a labor market that is 10 million jobs short of where it should be. But unlike the normal shortages that we have, I think this is just as much about a shortage in labor supply as it is about a shortage of labor demand,” said Jason Furman, an economist at Harvard University and a former Obama administration advisor.

Companies are struggling to hire workers at a time when Covid infection risk persists. Federal jobless benefits, as well as child care obligations with many schools still closed, could be preventing many Americans from re-entering the labor force.

The labor force participation rate plunged to its lowest level since 1973 in April 2020 as the pandemic kicked a massive number of workers out of the jobs market. While the rate has edged higher in the following months, it is still stubbornly below pre-Covid levels — 61.7% in April versus more than 63% before March 2020.

“We have job openings at record levels, we have workers voting for their confidence in labor markets with near-record levels of quits,” Furman said. “If you look at April, it appears that there were about 1.1 unemployed workers for every job opening. So there are a lot of jobs out there, there is just still not a lot of labor supply.”

Companies raise alarm bells on chip shortage

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, an already red-hot semiconductor industry experienced a demand explosion in products like smartphones and computers, causing an unprecedented supply shock that grips businesses across the board rushing to meet orders.

The semiconductor scarcity has been well documented by executives on earnings calls this quarterly reporting season. At least 70 S&P 500 companies highlighted the chip shortage during their earnings calls over the past three months, according to a CNBC analysis of FactSet data.

Ford Motor said the chip crunch slashed first-quarter vehicle volume by 17%, hitting 2021 free cash flow by $3 billion. CEO Jim Farley warned the impact to production will get worse before it gets better.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the electric carmaker suffered “some of the most difficult supply chain challenges” in the firm’s history in the first quarter.

“Insane difficulties with supply chain with parts – over the whole range of parts. Obviously, we’ve heard about the chip shortage. This is a huge problem,” Musk said on an April 26 earnings call.

It’s not just electronics and autos — companies of all types are updating investors on the fallout of the semi crunch. Chips have become such a ubiquitous component to so many products that firms selling medical devices, chemicals, apparel and even tobacco are sounding the alarms, according to the analysis.

Lumber prices driving up home costs

Lumber — the wood used to frame a house as well as in cabinets, doors and flooring — saw its prices surging more than 80% this year and up 340% from a year ago. The soaring prices were triggered by a combination of reduced supply amid pandemic shutdowns and surging demand for new homes.

Brooks Mendell, president and CEO of forest industry consulting firm Forisk, said Monday on CNBC’s “Worldwide Exchange” that consumer demand for lumber did not slow down even when many manufacturers were forced to halt operations.

“Beginning last year when Covid and the recession hit, the sawmills slowed down, projects that were expanding mill capacity slowed down,” he said. “But meanwhile, everybody at home kept doing their projects, home demand continued and repair and remodeling just kept cooking along.”

The shortage led to the average price of a new single-family home increase by nearly $36,000, according to an analysis by the National Association of Home Builders.

“This unprecedented price surge is hurting American home buyers and home builders and impeding housing and economic growth,” NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke said in a statement.

Packaging materials costs soar 50%

There is also a major shortage in packaging materials such as plastics, paper and metals, which drove packaging costs up more than 50% since the start of the pandemic, according to data from Mintec Global.

A rapid rise in e-commerce during the lockdown created a surge in demand for paper packaging materials, which tightened supply further amid reduced wastepaper from the retail sector, according to analysts at Mintec.

Supply is also expected to be limited for longer as many paper mills stop for scheduled maintenance in the spring, the analysts said.

Prices for most plastic materials are trending at multiyear highs, with U.S. polypropylene prices more than doubling year over year, according to Mintec. On top of lockdown restrictions at the height of the pandemic, plastic markets were hit by substantial plant outages in the third quarter caused by hurricanes followed by severe winter storms during February.

Mintec also said logistical problems including container bottlenecks and a lack of shipping containers have led to an exponential rise in freight costs.

It’s widely expected that some of the supply chain bottlenecks and increasing price pressures will get passed down to consumers.

“Over the course of 2021, goods price inflation will be above its longer-term trend,” Gapen said.

Economists expect the consumer price index to rise by 0.2% in April from March following a 0.6% gain the prior month. But on a year-over-year basis, the index is expected to look sizzling with a 3.6% jump, according to Dow Jones.

Chemical fire shrinks chlorine supply

Chlorine had already been more in demand than usual this past year due to pandemic-induced home improvement projects and staycations. Then a chemical fire erupted at one of the country’s major manufacturers of chlorine products in Louisiana, cutting off a key source of supply.

Chlorine prices started to rise after the August fire, data from IHS Markit shows, and are up 72% from January 2019 levels. The plant is not expected to reopen until 2022.

Americans may be forced to seek alternatives this summer such as converting pools to saltwater systems. Those, however, are also in short supply.

— CNBC’s Tom Franck contributed reporting.

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The country faces major shortages in everything from labor to semiconductors, lumber and packaging materials. Not even swimming pools can be counted on this summer with the U.S. running low on chlorine. The scarcity left and right is not only preventing the economy from reaching its full potential, but it’s also raising fears of higher inflation as companies are forced to hike prices amid the low supply.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/11/as-the-us-economy-restarts-from-the-pandemic-parts-of-it-are-severely-broken.html

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