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Trump strikes out in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania ballot challenges, Biden’s lead more secure

President Donald Trump has refused to concede to Joe Biden in the presidential race, despite a strong lead by Biden in popular and Electoral College results….

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U.S. President Donald Trump walks down the West Wing colonnade to the Rose Garden to deliver an update on the so-called “Operation Warp Speed” program, the joint Defense Department and HHS initiative that has struck deals with several drugmakers in an effort to help speed up the search for effective treatments for the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at the White House in Washington, November 13, 2020.

Carlos Barria | Reuters

President Donald Trump’s already long-shot efforts to reverse an apparent win for President-elect Joe Biden by challenging votes in courts suffered three big setbacks in Arizona, Michigan and Pennylvania on Friday.

But Trump still refused to concede the race, which he has falsely claimed to have won, even as experts say he has little if any hope left of invalidating enough Biden votes — in multiple states — to surpass the former Democratic vice president in the Electoral College tally.

In Arizona on Friday, Trump’s campaign dropped a legal challenge of a number of ballots in Maricopa County, saying Biden’s overall lead in the state is too large for the disputed ballots to make a difference.

The move came a day after NBC News and other media outlets projected that Biden will win the state’s popular vote.

In Michigan, where Biden last week was projected as the winner, a judge declined a request by Trump backers to block the certification of election results in Detroit.

And in Pennsylvania, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said she has determined not to order a recount and a recanvass of the election return in 67 counties.

For a recount to be ordered, Trump would have to be losing by less than .5% of the votes cast.

But Biden’s lead over Trump was 49.8% to Trump’s 48.9%, or more than 60,000 votes, as of Friday afternoon in the Keystone State, which has 20 Electoral votes.

Later Friday, a judge in Montgomery County, Pa., rejected a request from Trump’s campaign to halt the counting of nearly 600 ballots there, which the campaign claimed were missing their addressess under a signature on the outer envelope.

Court of Common Pleas Judge Richard Haaz in his ruling said that state law does not require a voter to provide an addres on the envelope.

In the Michigan case, the judge rejected allegations by two poll challengers who claimed to have seen irregularities that allowed invalid ballots to be counted. 

Timothy Kenny, chief judge of Wayne County Circuit Court in Detroit, said those people “did not have a full understanding” of the vote counting process and their “interpretation of events is incorrect and not credible.”

Biden is ahead of Trump by more than 145,000 votes in Michigan.

In its filing Friday in Maricopa County court, where Trump’s campaign had claimed that numerous voters had their ballots invalidated, the campaign said that “the tabulation of votes statewide,” which showed Biden leading by nearly 11,000 votes, has rendered unncessary a judicial ruling as to the presidential electors.”

Arizona has 11 votes in the Electoral College. NBC last week had projected that Biden will win Michigan, which has 16 electoral votes.

Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh told CNBC, in response to the filing in Arizona, “All parties acknowledge that in-person voters, who were likely predominately Trump voters, were disenfranchised by having their votes kicked out by the machines in Maricopa County, so for Democrats to celebrate that fact is shameful.”

“We continue to explore President Trump’s options in Arizona,” Murtaugh said.

But Biden’s campaign said, “The Trump campaign’s lawsuit was frivolous and their motion to withdraw any claims of relief related to the presidential campaign confirms that this was nothing more than a waste of time.”

“President-Elect Joe Biden won Arizona, and now it’s time to unite the country and move forward,” his campaign said.

The Arizona complaint, which was filed Saturday in Maricopa County Superior Court, alleged that numerous voters filing ballots in person on Election Day had been tricked into having their votes disqualified by the electronic tabulation machines.

The Trump campaign had originally argued if the disqualified ballots were added to the vote tally, it “will prove determinative of the outcome of the election for President of the United States in Arizona and/or other contested offices in Maricopa County.”

“Numerous voters were alerted by these devices to a facial irregularity in their ballot … but were induced by poll workers to override the tabulator’s rejection of the ballot in the good faith belief that their vote would be duly registered and tabulated,” the complaint alleged.

“In actuality, overriding the electronic tabulator’s alert automatically disqualifies the putative ‘overvotes’ without additional review or adjudication.”

In its filing Friday, the campaign said that while the issue of the ballots affecting Trump’s electoral chances is moot because of the statewide lead for Biden, it also said that two down-ballot races, for the Board of Supervisors in Maricopa County, and for a state Senate seat, “remain at issue” in the case.

But during a status conference in the case later Friday afternoon, a lawyer for Trump’s campaign reportedly said that the dispute over how those ballots could affect those other races appears to be moot as well because of the current vote tallies in the contests.

Biden was projected to win the presidential race as of last Saturday.

NBC News as of Friday projected that he now has 306 Electoral College votes, 36 more than he needs to clinch a White House win.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/11/13/trump-drops-ballot-court-challenge-in-arizona-biden-lead-too-big.html

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JPMorgan Chase beats profit estimates on strong trading, $5.2 billion release of loan-loss reserves

JPMorgan posted first-quarter profit of $4.50 a share, much higher than the $3.10 per share expected by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.

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JPMorgan Chase on Wednesday reported profit and revenue that exceeded analysts’ expectations on robust trading results and a $5.2 billion benefit from releasing money it had previously set aside for loan losses that didn’t develop.

The bank posted first-quarter profit of $14.3 billion, or $4.50 a share including a $1.28 per share benefit from the reserve release, higher than the $3.10 per share expected by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv. Excluding the impact of a $550 million charitable contribution, which lowered earnings by 9 cents, the bank earned an adjusted figure of $4.59, exceeding the $3.10 estimate.

Companywide revenue of $33.12 billion exceeded the $30.52 billion estimate, driven by the firm’s trading operations, which produced about $1.8 billion more revenue than expected.

JPMorgan’s release of $5.2 billion in reserves is the biggest sign yet that the U.S. banking industry is now expecting to have fewer loan losses than it did last year, when it set aside tens of billions for defaults anticipated from the coronavirus pandemic. A year ago, the firm had added $6.8 billion to credit reserves.

“Overall, this was a great quarter for JPMorgan,” said Octavio Marenzi, CEO of consultancy Opimas. “It is now increasingly clear that the bank over-reserved, and that money is now flowing back into its earnings, concealing some of the weakness in consumer banking.”

JPMorgan shares dipped less than 1%.

Fixed income trading produced $5.8 billion in revenue, a 15% increase that exceeded analysts’ estimates by more than $800 million, on activity in securitized products and credit markets. Equities trading revenue surged 47% to $3.3 billion, a full $1 billion more than estimates, on “strong performance across products.”

JPMorgan, with the world’s biggest Wall Street bank by total revenue, was expected to benefit from robust investment banking fees driven by record issuance of special purpose acquisition companies, which saw more activity in the first quarter than all of 2020, itself a record year.

That came to pass: The firm said first-quarter investment banking revenue surged 222%, or a full $2 billion, to $2.9 billion, exceeding the estimate of $2.65 billion.

Most of the quarter’s reserve release came from the bank’s retail division: The firm said $3.5 billion was tied to the bank’s credit card borrowers, and another $625 million from home loan borrowers.

While that meant that the firm’s consumer and community banking division saw profit surge by $6.5 billion from a year earlier, to $6.73 billion, the bank said that card and mortgage revenue was impacted by lower balances as flush consumers pay down their debts.

In the release, CEO Jamie Dimon called loan demand “challenged,” but during a call with reporters Wednesday, Dimon added that the dynamic would ultimately be good for loan demand because consumers were in good shape.

Dimon struck an optimistic tone for the near-term economic future in the U.S., similar to comments he made this month in his annual shareholder letter.

“With all of the stimulus spending, potential infrastructure spending, continued quantitative easing, strong consumer and business balance sheets and euphoria around the potential end of the pandemic, we believe that the economy has the potential to have extremely robust, multi-year growth,” Dimon said in the release.

Analysts will also be curious about the pace of share repurchases the bank is expected to make. Last month, the Federal Reserve said banks that pass the industry’s 2021 stress test at mid-year will be allowed to resume higher levels of dividend payouts and buybacks starting June 30.

Shares of JPMorgan rose 21% so far this year, compared to the 25% advance of the KBW Bank Index.

After JPMorgan’s earnings statement, Goldman Sachs also released first-quarter results that crushed forecasts with record first-quarter net profits and sales due to strong performance in trading and investment banking.

Here are the JPMorgan numbers:

Earnings: $4.59 per share vs. $3.10 per share expected by analysts polled by Refinitiv.
Revenue: $33.12 billion vs. $30.52 billion expected.

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Correction: JPMorgan’s EPS figure comparable to estimates has been adjusted 9 cents higher to account for a one-time charitable contribution.

JPMorgan shares dipped less than 1%.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/14/jpmorgan-jpm-earnings-q1-2021.html

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Coinbase drops below debut price

Coinbase held its direct listing on the Nasdaq on Wednesday, luring public market investors who’ve been waiting to get into the cryptocurrency exchange.

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Coinbase shares opened at $381 on the Nasdaq Wednesday morning, giving the cryptocurrency exchange an initial market cap of $99.6 billion on a fully-diluted basis. Shares quickly shot up as high as $429, giving it a market cap of $112 billion on a fully-diluted basis, before dropping back below the debut price.

The price was still well above the reference price of $250 set on Tuesday night, but no shares were traded on public markets at that price.

Skirting the traditional IPO process, Coinbase listed its stock directly, allowing employees and existing shareholders to sell shares immediately at a market-based priced.

Excluding options and restricted stock units, Coinbase’s market cap was about $80 billion at the opening price. Including options and RSUs, it’s already one of the 85 most valuable U.S. companies.

Founded in 2012 as a way to simplify the purchase of bitcoin, Coinbase has emerged as the most popular crypto exchange in the U.S. and soared in value alongside digital currencies bitcoin and ethereum. The service now has 56 million users, up from 43 million at the end of 2020 and 32 million the year before that. In its last private financing round in 2018, investors valued Coinbase at $8 billion.

Coinbase is hitting the public market as a record amount of cash pours into cryptocurrencies and tech investors are thirsty for high-growth stories. Snowflake, Palantir, DoorDash, Airbnb and Roblox have all gone public in the past six months and have market capitalizations ranging from $45 billion to $106 billion.

Relative to those companies and others in the IPO pipeline, Coinbase’s recent growth is unparalleled. The company said last week in announcing preliminary first-quarter results that revenue in the period surged ninefold from a year ago to $1.8 billion, and net income climbed from $32 million to between $730 million and $800 million. The number of monthly transacting users (MTUs) climbed from 2.8 million three months earlier to 6.1 million.

For the full year of 2020, revenue more than doubled to $1.28 billion, and the company swung from a loss in 2019 to a profit of $322.3 million.

Most transactions on Coinbase involve the purchase of bitcoin or ethereum, which have been on a historic tear, climbing over 800% and 1,300%, respectively, in the past year. The company has said that its short-term performance will largely be determined by crypto prices.

Bryan Armstrong, Coinbase’s co-founder and CEO, owns 39.6 million shares. In August, Armstrong was granted a multibillion-dollar performance award tied to the company’s stock price, potentially letting him purchase up to 9.29 million options at $23.46 over 10 years.

WATCH: Coinbase public debut is historic moment for cryptocurrencies

Founded in 2012 as a way to simplify the purchase of bitcoin, Coinbase has emerged as the most popular crypto exchange in the U.S. and soared in value alongside digital currencies bitcoin and ethereum. The service now has 56 million users, up from 43 million at the end of 2020 and 32 million the year before that. In its last private financing round in 2018, investors valued Coinbase at $8 billion.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/14/coinbase-to-debut-on-nasdaq-in-direct-listing.html

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States rush to replace J&J vaccine appointments after FDA recommends pause

The FDA and CDC recommended a pause in the use of J&J’s vaccine after six women developed a rare blood clotting disorder.

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More than two dozen states took steps Tuesday to halt inoculations with Johnson & Johnson‘s coronavirus vaccine, shortly after the Food and Drug Administration recommended to pause its use after reports some women developed a rare blood clotting disorder.

The states, like the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stressed that they were acting out of an abundance of caution, as more than 6.8 million doses of J&J’s vaccine have been injected and only six of the blood clotting cases have so far been reported.

J&J said in a statement that “no clear causal relationship” has been identified between the rare type of blood clots and the vaccine, adding it is working closely with regulators to assess the data.

New York Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said the state will “immediately” stop administering the single-dose J&J inoculation, and will use Pfizer‘s two-shot vaccine in its place for already scheduled appointments.

At least 25 other states, along with Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, also announced they are taking J&J’s vaccine doses out of their distribution plans.

Those precautions may not be in effect for long, however: Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said Tuesday that she expected the pause to last only for a matter of days.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, noted Tuesday that people who got the J&J vaccine more than a month ago are at very low risk for developing the blood clots. All six reported cases occurred in women ages 18 to 48, whose symptoms developed within two weeks after they received the shot.

New Jersey’s Department of Health said that all vaccination sites in the state “have been told to cancel or put on hold appointments for the J&J vaccine until further notice.” The agency said it will work with those sites to replace J&J appointments with an alternative two-dose vaccine.

Virginia “will cease all Johnson & Johnson vaccines” while the FDA investigates the “extremely rare possible side effect,” according to a statement from the state’s vaccination coordinator, Dr. Danny Avula.

Connecticut’s Department of Public Health recommended all Covid vaccine providers stop using J&J’s vaccine “for the time being” while the FDA and the CDC complete their review.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and top health officials in his state issued a similar advisory.

Massachusetts’ Department of Public Health notified all vaccine providers in the state to stop administering the J&J vaccine, “effective immediately.”

The other states are Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/13/states-rush-to-replace-jj-vaccine-appointments-after-fda-recommends-pause.html

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