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Coronavirus updates: The latest from around the world – Yahoo Finance

Posted: February 14, 2020 at 12:42 pm

This post has been updated as of 10:55 AM E.T. on Feb. 14.

Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, 64,460 people have fallen ill worldwide.

China is the epicenter of the outbreak. On Thursday, the country confirmed 15,152 additional cases of the coronavirus and 254 deaths in a press conference on Thursday. Chinas total number of cases is 63,866 and the death toll has now risen to 1,384.

More than 1,700 medical workers have been infected by the virus, China said, according to CNN. Six have died.

China is facing an unprecedented health crisis, SecretaryofHealthand Human Services Alex Azar told Yahoo Finance in an interview. Some of this may simply be the chaos involved in quarantining over 60 million people and trying to contain a an unknown, rapidly evolving, unknown virus spreading in your country.

Azar added: But we must ensure that the response is transparent and vigorous, and that's something the World Health Organization has got to ensure that China is held to account for transparency and cooperation by the same standards that they would require of the United States or any other country.

Even though the coronavirus outbreak remains contained largely in mainland China and its immediate regions, other parts of the world are also being affected.

There are currently 15 confirmed cases in the U.S. The latest case was discovered in Texas, at the Lackland Air Force Base, according to the CDC. Japan has announced that one person has died due to the virus.

The virus has taken more lives than the deadly Severe Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002, and several industries like travel and hospitality are scaling back operations in China, while others like Boeing sound off on concerns their difficulties operating in China.

Masked people shoot propaganda footage of the fight against Covid-19 in Hangzhou in east China's Zhejiang province Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. (Photo: Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

The outbreak began in Wuhan, which is the capital of Chinas central provide of Hubei. The virus strain was previously unknown and is speculated to have emerged late last year from illegally traded wildlife at a market in Wuhan, according to Reuters.

A very similar version of the coronavirus today had actually caused SARS almost a decade ago, and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), The Guardian reported.

Stats from China indicate that around 2% of those infected with the new virus have died, but many of them were elderly or had prior medical conditions, Reuters reported. The mortality rate for SARS was similar when it first began, but peaked at almost 10%.

Over 1,000 people have died from the coronavirus outbreak. (Graphic: David Foster)

While the outbreak has spread globally, Hubei province in China remains the epicenter. On Feb. 6, the whistleblower doctor, who had been punished for revealing the deadly respiratory virus, died.

Chinas senior medical advisor said earlier this week on Tuesday that the number of new infections are slowing, and that the outbreak may be over in April.

But during a press conference on Thursday, it revised the number of new cases and the number of deaths.

Story continues

A WHO spokesperson told Yahoo Finance the spike in cases is not abnormal.

"As is normal in a newly emerging infectious disease, case definitions adapt to improved understanding and the 13,332 clinically diagnosed cases are not newly identified in the last 24 hours only, the spokesperson stated. They include retrospectively identified cases from earlier in the epidemic; it is not uncommon for surveillance data to be updated as new definitions are adopted."

In the meantime, several countries have imposed travel restrictions from Singapore (travel ban) to the U.S.(travel restrictions).

Azar added that the U.S. has also launched a surveillance system in five cities Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago and New York to monitor people with potential flu-like symptoms.

The uncertainty is worrying health care experts.

I think now that its in more countries even Singapore, which is really good at tracing cases, has found some cases that arent linked to previous known cases its clear that there are probably many cases in countries where we havent yet found them, Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told theHarvard Gazette earlier this week.

The World Health Organization (WHO) echoed that sentiment on Friday.

How big is the iceberg? Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHOs emergencies program, said at a news conference. The question is how much is happening outside what we see?

Anjalee Khemlani is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter:@AnjKhem

Aarthi Swaminathan is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. She can be reached at aarthi@yahoofinance.com. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.

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Cans suck the THC buzz out of pot drinks. Where does that leave Canopy Growth? – Yahoo Sports

Posted: at 12:42 pm

Cannabis beverages and aluminum cans have a problematic relationship that could prove costly for licenced producers with drink production lines built for the ubiquitous metal containers. The devil is in the molecular details.

Scientists have determined that liners inside aluminum cans can cause cannabis drinks to lose their potency. That means by the time a pot drink is put in a can, shipped, stored in a warehouse, displayed in a store, and finally consumed, the buzz promised on the label may have diminished or disappeared.

Can manufacturers add the liners to prevent drinks from taking on a metallic taste, to reduce corrosion of the can, and to improve shelf stability. But when pot drinks are under pressure, the liner can attract tiny emulsified droplets of active cannabis ingredients like THC.

Our theory is the cannabis material, the droplets, will stick to the liner and cling on it. When you open the can to take a drink, it will lose its potency, Vertosa founder and chief science officer Harold Han told Yahoo Finance Canada in an interview.

Han holds a Ph.D in chemistry from NYU, and has authored two patents in emulsion chemistry. His California-based company works with cannabis-infused beverage makers to develop emulsion solutions to mitigate the effect of can liners leeching away cannabis compounds.

Oil, cannabis or otherwise, does not mix with water. Nanoemulsion helps solve that problem by breaking down oily compounds to a microscopic level so they can be suspended in a drink.

Cannabis beverages that use the technology have a faster effect compared to edibles. They also have high bioavailability, meaning the body will absorb a higher amount of the THC or CBD. However, pot drinks have yet to emerge as a major category, even though theyve been available in U.S. states with legal recreational cannabis sales for some time.

Last year, Cowen cannabis and alcoholic beverage analyst Viven Azer told Yahoo Finance Canada the U.S. market for cannabis drinks is small, fragmented, and without a clear leader. Thats the case, she said, because early products in the United States got people stoned for too long, and lacked consistent intensity, onset, and offset for the high users feel.

In Canada, drinks were part of the swath of new Cannabis 2.0 products authorized for sale last fall. So far, only a limited selection of items like infused tea bags have hit stores.

Deloitte estimates the Canadian market for cannabis-infused beverages will be worth $529 million annually, with one-in-three consumers viewing the category as an alternative to alcohol.

Han said the problem of aluminum cans draining the potency out of pot drinks first came to his attention early last year when Lagunitas, a craft beer subsidiary of Heineken (HEIA.AS), shifted its Hi-Fi Hops cannabis drinks from cans to glass bottles.

Then we thought, lets get some can liners. Lets test our emulsions. We had two at the time, he said. The loss was horrible.

Vertosa has partnered with can manufactures including Ball (BLL), Ardagh Group (ARD) and Gamer Packaging to test solutions.

Han said its difficult for the can industry to alter linings to accommodate the relatively small cannabis drinks category, and pot drink producers prefer cans over bottles due to lower costs.

Its up to us to find the solution, he said, admitting some active ingredients will always be absorbed by aluminum cans. You will always see some percentage of loss. But as long as you can manage this loss and let it plateau, that is the goal.

Canopy Growth (WEED.TO)(CGC) has been the most active in the drinks category among Canadian licenced producers, previewing an extensive line of THC and CBD drinks in late October, the vast majority packaged in cans.

Canopy Growth's cannabis drinks are expected to be ready for retail in mid-December 2019. (Yahoo Finance)

A number of other cannabis players have struck deals or formed joint ventures to produce beverages, including HEXO (HEXO.TO)(HEXO) and Tilray (TLRY). Canopys 125,000-square-foot beverage facility was constructed with a helping hand from its largest shareholder, beer and wine giant Constellation Brands (STZ).

Story continues

The Smiths Falls, Ont.-based company said in December that its first drinks would hit the market in early January. On Jan. 17, it abruptly delayed the launch, offering few details.

In order to deliver products that meet our customers high standards we are electing to revise the launch date while we work through the final details, CEO David Klein stated in a news release.

Klein, a transplanted executive from Constellation, officially began leading the worlds largest cannabis company only days earlier on Jan. 14. The company is expected to provide an update on its beverages when it reports fiscal third quarter 2020 financial results before the markets open on Feb. 14.

Craig Wiggins of the industry research group TheCannalysts told Yahoo Finance Canada that sources tell him the delay was due in part to issues with cans.

We're hearing that there is a problem with the can linings. That THC is leaching into the can linings and making shelf stability drop, and a host of other problems, he said.

Yahoo Finance Canada repeatedly attempted to reach Canopy Growth for comment. Calls and emails were not returned by the company.

Jeff Maser, CEO of the California-based cannabis beverage company Tinley (TNY.CN)(TNYBF), said he was shocked last fall when he saw photos of Canopys hotly anticipated beverage portfolio packaged in cans.

His products are sold in glass bottles.

We tried forever to try to find a solution. We worked with everybody that came along, and we spoke directly to the can manufacturers. We even spoke directly with the Hi-Fi hops guys, Maser told Yahoo Finance Canada in an October interview.

When I say there is less cannabis, there is no cannabis left. It's literally 97 per cent absorption into the can after a few months. Guys are saying they solved that problem. Nobody really has.

Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.

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Did Iran Manage to Find a Weak Spot in the F-35’s Stealth? – Yahoo News

Posted: at 12:42 pm

Key Point:No fighter is completely invincible. Here's what we know about the F-35's downsides.

Amid escalating tensions between Iran and the United States, in part resulting from U.S. President Donald Trumps decision unilaterally to withdraw the United States from the 2015 deal limiting Irans nuclear program, the U.S. armed forces have deployed a wide array of ships, planes and other weapons to the Middle East.

The American arsenal in the region includes F-35 stealth fighters. If tensions turn into warfare, the factory-fresh F-35s could face an Iranian air force operating some of the oldest active fighters in the world.

The Iranians with their four-decade-old F-4s, F-5s and F-14s might not seem to have a chance against the Americans flying arguably the worlds most advanced fighter aircraft. But history, and recent testing show how Iranian pilots flying old planes could defeat Americans flying brand-new ones.

For one, the F-35, while new, isnt necessarily a stellar aerial performer. In 2015 someone associated with the F-35 test effort leaked an official report explaining the stealth fighters limitations in air-to-air maneuvers with an F-16.

The F-35 was at a distinct energy disadvantage, an unnamed F-35 test pilot wrote in a scathing five-page brief. Insufficient pitch rate, he added. Energy deficit to the bandit would increase over time.

The complaints continued. The flying qualities in the blended region (20 to 26 degrees [angle of attack]) were not intuitive or favorable, the pilot wrote, adding that theres no point for an F-35 pilot to get into a sustained, close turning battle with an enemy pilot. There were not compelling reasons to fight in this region.

The pilots revelations underscore what many observers long have suspected about the F-35. While its radar-evading qualities and high-end sensors might allow it to gain a favorable position for long-range missile shots, in a close fight the F-35 hardly excels.

Story continues

If an Iranian pilot can survive a merge with an F-35 and engage the stealth fighter in a turning dogfight, the Iranian might just bag himself a stealth fighter. Its worth noting that the Iranian air force flies scores of fighters that excel precisely in that regime.

American-made F-5 Tigers, for instance. Former U.S. Navy pilot Francesco Chierici who flew F-5s in the adversary role, sang the planes praise in a 2019 article for The War Zone. The Tiger was clean, just an AIM-9 and a telemetry pod on the wingtips, and occasionally a centerline fuel tank, Chierici wrote. She slipped through the number (Mach 1) easily. The F-5 was a pair of engines and wings. It was so simple

Aerodynamically, the F-5 will always be what we call a category-three fighter, where the F-35 and F-22 are now category-five fighters. Compared to modern jets, it is underpowered, slow and bleeds airspeed badly in a sustained turn, not to mention it has no stealth other than its tiny size.

But with just a few modifications, the F-5 is being turned into a threat plane with a legitimate sting. The newest upgrades include an [electronically-scanned] radar, good [radar-warning] gear, chaff and flares, a jamming pod and a helmet-mounted cueing system for a high off-boresight IR (infrared-guided) missiles.

A Tiger so outfitted can provide Super Hornets and F-35s a legitimate threat, especially in the training environment.

Iran indeed has been upgrading its F-5 fleet, although the modifications likely will not include the latest sensors and helmet sights.

Still, all things being equal the F-5 despite its age might still possesses the agility to gain the advantage over an F-35. Again, provided the F-5 pilot survives the merge to a close-in fight.

Thats a big assumption. F-35 pilots understand the limitations of their aircraft and certainly would do their best to avoid a dogfight. The Iranians might have to ambush the Americans in order to force the fight to close range. Its unclear how the Iranians might do so, given the Americans huge advantage in sensors and situational awareness.

David Axe serves as Defense Editor of the National Interest. He is theauthor of the graphic novelsWar Fix,War Is BoringandMachete Squad.

This article was first published earlier in 2019and is being republished due to reader interest.

Image: Reuters.

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Olivia Wilde wants to change the way sex scenes are filmed: ‘Demand this new standard’ – Yahoo Celebrity

Posted: at 12:42 pm

Olivia Wilde is using her experience in the film industry to change the game of directing, starting with prioritizing the comfort of actors especially during scenes that require vulnerability.

The 35-year-old actress made her directorial debut with the 2019 release of Booksmart, which won the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature. But during a conversation with Katie Couric on the 2020 MAKERS Conference stage, Wilde said that her work as a director is aimed at changing the environment that actors and crews work within and making it more comfortable and efficient.

I learned that many of the parts of the system that we accept just to be true, the way a film set works, the hierarchy and how it exists are actually something its something we have more control of than we assume, she said. So when I got onto a set, its like, okay, Im finally steering this ship. Do I have to steer it the same way Ive seen guys do it? Or can I do my own thing? I can do my own thing. So Im going to change the way this usually works.

And, although Wilde provided examples of how she set a new standard from day one of filming, her most important lesson came during a Booksmart sex scene. I thought, okay, Ill finally teach everyone what a closed set means. And I said to our actresses that are doing this intimate scene, When youre on your next film set, I want you to demand what Im showing you today.

She went on to explain just how she made sure that only the essential people were on set, and even put in extra measures to ensure that security was maintained throughout filming the scene. It takes a lot of effort, but its one example of providing an example of how things can be and telling these actresses, Now go off and demand this new standard, Wilde said. As a result, people had a better on-set experience.

I loved the opportunity to use what I have learned and to make it a better environment for the actors as well, she said.

Follow the 2020 Makers Conference at Makers.com.

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How Barbie has survived for over 60 years in a ‘volatile’ toy industry – Yahoo Finance

Posted: at 12:42 pm

The Barbie brand, at 61 years old, is still evolving to attract new customers.

Lisa McKnight, global head of Barbie and dolls portfolio at Mattel (MAT), says her team has spent the last five years trying to make her a better reflection of the world that girls see around them.

The classic blonde Barbie, who was known for her disproportionate body, has grown and reinvented herself into many new versions. Just last month, Mattel introduced an inclusive line ranging from a Barbie without hair to one who has the skin condition vitiligo.

We know that if girls can see themselves in the line, they will find Barbie more relatable and accessible, McKnight told Yahoo Finance at the MAKERS Conference in Los Angeles this week.

28 January 2020, Bavaria, Nuremberg: Barbie dolls from the Fashionistas line of the U.S. toy manufacturer Mattel are on display at the company's stand at the International Toy Fair. (Photo by Daniel Karmann/picture alliance via Getty Images)

This kind of re-invention has helped Barbie, a toy launched in 1959, stay relevant in 2020, according to McKnight. We are so honored to have the privilege to work on a brand that has spanned multiple generations ... This is an industry that is volatile, where the average life cycle for a toy is three to five years, she said.

So for Barbie to stand the test of time, its all about reinvention, evolution and really ensuring shes connecting to culture. So when we look to the future, well be going where culture goes. And well be making sure that Barbie is in lock step with that.

Still, Margot Robbie, who resembles the classic doll, is set to play the live-action version of Barbie in the forthcoming film written by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach. When asked whether shes a good representation for this diverse new world of Barbie, McKnight said, We are thrilled to be working with Margot, although its still early days. The script is still in early stages of development and all I can share is there will definitely be a multidimensional view of beauty in the film and the brand will be conveyed as multifaceted, modern and not what you might not expect.

Mattel is set to report fourth quarter results after the bell on Thursday. This comes as the toymaker closes factories in an attempt to streamline its supply chain. Earlier this week, Hasbro (HAS) reported a blowout holiday quarter, driven by its Frozen 2 and Star Wars toy sales, part of its licensing agreement with Disney.Like other toy manufacturers, Mattel will likely remain concerned over whether the coronavirus in China affects its supply chain.

Melody Hahm is Yahoo Finances west coast correspondent, covering entrepreneurship, technology and culture. Follow her on Twitter@melodyhahm.

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Lululemon exec: Mental health is the ‘next major step in our journey’ – Yahoo Finance

Posted: at 12:42 pm

Lululemon (LULU) has become a leader in promoting a healthy workplace culture.

Celeste Burgoyne, the companys EVP of Americas and Global Guest Innovation, made a pledge to promote and support mental wellness on Wednesday at the MAKERS Conference in Los Angeles.

MAKERS an organization that promotes and accelerates womens equality encourages board members to get on stage at its annual conference and commit to a specific goal to support accountability. Burgoyne, who is on the board, reflected on her pledges over the last three years.

We achieved 100% pay equity in 2018, a leading parenthood program offering up to six months paid leave [for both mothers and fathers] in 2019, and our senior leadership team is comprised of 60% women as of today. The next major step in our journey is leading the way in mental wellbeing because we know in order to be 100% authentically you, you need to be well. In 2020, we commit to offering our people leading mental health benefits, and providing training to all people managers so that they are equipped to support mental health conversations, she said.

Amid a relatively tight labor market, these offerings are critical in attracting high caliber talent.

This mental health pledge is really in our journey in... being the number one place that people come to work and develop as leaders, she added.

Sign on facade at Lululemon athleisure clothing store on Santana Row in the Silicon Valley, San Jose, California, December 14, 2019. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

Founded in 1998 as a womens yoga pants retailer, Lululemon has morphed into a dual gender brand, catering to both male and female consumers. Still, of the companys 20,000 global employees, 78% are women. And over 320 people, 200 of whom are store employees, have so far taken advantage of a gender neutral policy that gives up to three months of paid parental leave to employees who have been with the company for at least two years.

Lululemons internal focus on being gender neutral, providing both men and women equal opportunity and access to parental leave benefits, mirrors that of its business.

One of our big goals is growing our mens business. We do see doubling our mens business in the next four years, and were really doing that by continuing to connect with communities and connect people. Mens is a huge opportunity for us, Burgoyne said.

In the third quarter, revenue from mens apparel grew 38%. In 2018, the companytold investorsthat 21% of Lululemons $3.3 billion in sales last year came from mens products.

Disclaimer: MAKERS and Yahoo Finance are both part of Verizon Media.

Melody Hahm is Yahoo Finances west coast correspondent, covering entrepreneurship, technology and culture. Follow her on Twitter@melodyhahm.

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How to fix the Lions: Keep Matthew Stafford and draft Tua Tagovailoa – Yahoo Sports

Posted: at 12:42 pm

The Detroit Lions arent engaged in trade talks to deal quarterback Matthew Stafford because doing so right now would be financially crippling and a reversal of a contract restructuring done just months ago.

Late last season, the Lions and Stafford converted a $6 million roster bonus into a signing bonus. It was a salary-cap sleight of hand that means Staffords cap hit this season is $21.3 million if he plays in Detroit and $32 million if he is traded or cut.

What front office, let alone a front office with a win-now mandate to keep its job, is going to deal a good starting QB and handcuff itself financially just months after creating the handcuffs?

None. Not even at a franchise that has won just a single playoff game since 1957.

That didnt stop WDIV-TV in Detroit on Wednesday from reporting Stafford was on the trading block, citing sources close to both the Lions and Stafford.

Nor did it stop Staffords wife, Kelly, from going on Instagram and noting above a story that suggested the Los Angeles Chargers could be a possible destination that, Well, if Detroit is done with us I could stay in Cali.

100% False!! Lions general manager Bob Quinn responded via text message to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

And so it appears that this was much ado about nothing. The Lions denial might not mean much, but $32 million in dead money does.

None of this necessarily means Stafford shouldnt be dealt its just he shouldnt be dealt this offseason.

If the Lions wanted to set a bold path forward, they would follow the lead of the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and draft their quarterback of the future now while still retaining their starting quarterback of the present.

Matthew Stafford isn't going anywhere, but the Lions need to develop his successor. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

In K.C., that meant trading up in the 2017 NFL draft to take Patrick Mahomes 10th overall and then having him sit and learn from established starter Alex Smith for a season. (Mahomes played in just one game, a Week 17 win when the Chiefs had already clinched a playoff spot).

Even though the Chiefs were in the middle of a prolonged run as a playoff team and title contender (they had won 23 games combined in 2015-16 behind Smith), the franchise was forward thinking.

The most valuable thing in the NFL is not a great quarterback, but a great quarterback on a rookie salary that allows a team to surround said quarterback with lots of talent.

You always have to think a few years ahead, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.

The Lions went 3-12-1 last season and have the No. 3 pick in the NFL draft. Stafford, 32, has been their quarterback for 11 mostly fruitless seasons. Hes good. Hes isnt necessarily the problem in Detroit. Hes more likely a solution. Hes expensive though.

Mahomes cap hit in Kansas City in 2020 is just $5.2 million, a fraction of Staffords in Detroit.

If a team has a top-five pick in the NFL draft, then it should spend the entire scouting process figuring out what quarterback it should select. Its by far the most important position on the field. Any top-five selection not used on a quarterback should be defended with some kind of iron-clad reason (all the QBs stink; the team already has a franchise QB on a cheap deal).

Otherwise, trade the pick to a team that wants a quarterback.

Running backs and cornerbacks maybe even edge rushers such as Chase Young out of Ohio State arent generally worth it. At least not if a QB is available.

Which brings everything to Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who has received positive medical feedback three months after a massive hip injury ended his college career. The hip placed a question mark on a guy with the talent to be the No. 1 pick overall.

Its possible that a team trades up with Washington at No. 2 overall to get Tagovailoa (LSU QB Joe Burrow is the presumed No. 1 overall selection to Cincinnati). If not, and Tagovailoa falls to No. 3, then the Lions should go the Chiefs route.

Story continues

Take Tua and sit him behind Stafford, who was on pace for about 5,000 yards and 38 touchdowns before injuries halved his season.

One year of full rehab can only help the hip. The chance to sit and learn worked not just for Mahomes, but other guys who werent immediate starters such as Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.

If Detroit likes what it sees, then one year from now trade Stafford. If Stafford plays like he normally does, then hes worth a haul in draft picks at least a first- and second-rounder and probably more than that. His dead cap number lessens and within another season, Detroit will have all sorts of flexibility and draft picks to build around Tagovailoa.

Stafford, a good soldier in Detroit, might actually get the chance to win in his career. He has been fiercely loyal to the Lions, but a change of scenery isnt the worst thing either.

No, its not a full-proof plan. Tagovailoa may not pan out. Or he may never be healthy. This is a team that has done almost nothing for over six decades though. Its clearly embarked on far worse ideas.

Kansas City had a playoff team and it traded draft picks to go get Mahomes. That looked like a gamble. Detroit has the No. 3 pick and is just a listless, drifting ship. What isnt a gamble at this point?

So sorry to Kelly Stafford. No California sun for you. At least not this winter. Check back a year from now though.

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Tesla Bruises Another Hedge Fund With Bearish GMT Facing Losses – Yahoo Finance

Posted: at 12:42 pm

(Bloomberg) -- Tesla Inc.s stock surge is taking a toll on another hedge fund manager as Tom Clauguss GMT Capital suffered losses last month after betting against the electric-car maker.

GMTs three Bay Resource long-short equity funds, which have roughly $3.3 billion in combined assets, each plunged about 10% in January, Claugus confirmed. Teslas heavily shorted stock soared 55% in the month, helped by the companys second straight quarter of blowout earnings.

Tesla has done a really good job getting to sustainability, Claugus said in a telephone interview. Still, he said, the valuation is detached from reality.

Claugus joins investors including hedge fund managers David Einhorn and Crispin Odey who have held bearish wagers on Tesla as the stock reached records before retreating from the Feb. 4 peak. Some traders have covered their short positions against Elon Musks company, such as famed Big Short investor Steve Eisman, who called the stock cult-like.

The shares gained 83% this year through Wednesday. The stock is up 0.8% at 10:36 a.m. in New York after falling as much as 4.2% earlier Thursday.

Even brief pullbacks in the stock barely slowed Tesla down. The company had a market capitalization of $138 billion at the close of trading Wednesday. It has turned a profit in four of the last six quarters, and Musk accelerated the expected introduction of the new Model Y crossover vehicle, which he predicts will outsell all other Teslas combined.

For Einhorn, whose Greenlight Capital fell 7.6% across its funds in January, the bet against Tesla is mostly expressed through put options, so his firms exposure to the position has shrunk as the stock rallied, Bloomberg has reported.

Odeys flagship Odey European Inc. fund dropped 11.2% in January, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. A short bet on Tesla was its fourth-largest position, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information isnt public. A spokesman for Odey declined to comment.

GMT has been short Tesla for a number of years. The position currently amounts to about 4.4% of its portfolio, said Claugus, who started the Atlanta-based firm in 1993. The funds were up 10% to 12% last year, depending on the fund.

Claugus said Tesla was just one factor in last months loss. Long bets on stocks with conservative valuations, largely in the oil and gas and materials sectors, also hurt.

The coronavirus is hitting anything thats cyclical and economically sensitive, so its sort of a worst of all worlds for us, Claugus said. When markets get this overheated I think its a very risky period. The run-up has lasted for a long time and is turning into a little big of a speculative bubble.

Hedge funds overall have had a tough start to the year, with the average manager falling about 0.2% in January, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Global equity markets fell and bonds rallied last month amid concerns that the spread of the coronavirus will hurt growth.

--With assistance from Nishant Kumar.

To contact the reporter on this story: Melissa Karsh in New York at mkarsh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sam Mamudi at smamudi@bloomberg.net, Josh Friedman, Alan Mirabella

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

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Trump is elevating judges who could gut the Voting Rights Act – Yahoo News

Posted: at 12:42 pm

WASHINGTON Fresh from handing President Trump a victory in his impeachment trial, the U.S. Senate has moved to install federal judges who have expressed disdain for the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 law that struck down rules across the South that kept African-Americans from the ballot box.

Overturning voting-rights protections tends to benefit Republicans, who have said states, not the federal government, should decide the particulars of how elections are conducted. Some scholars even believe that weakening the Voting Rights Act ahead of the 2016 election helped Trump win the presidency.

The first of those nominees, Andrew L. Brasher, 38, was formerly the solicitor general of Alabama, a position that allowed him to stake out conservative stances on issues from gun control to reproductive rights. He was confirmed to an Alabama district court last year and, in a rapid elevation, was nominated only months later for a seat on the 11th Circuit court of appeals, which is based in Atlanta. Despite intense opposition by progressive groups, Brasher was confirmed by the full Senate on Feb. 11 in a 52-43 vote.

He is the 188th judge confirmed during Trumps time in the White House.

The other nominee is Cory Wilson, 49, a former Mississippi politician who is now a state appellate judge there. He is currently being considered for a Mississippi federal district judgeship and is expected to face a full Senate vote sometime in March.

The nominations were an opening salvo to 2020, and not a welcome one at that, said Lena Zwarensteyn, an expert on the judiciary at the progressive Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. She worried that these two jurists, and others, were advancing really extreme arguments when it comes to voting rights.

Conservatives argue that it is unfair to characterize judges like Brasher for work they did on behalf of constituents they were required to defend in court. When lawyers take litigating positions on behalf of their clients, theyre doing their jobs, says Mike Davis, whose Article 3 Project advocates for a conservative judiciary.

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Democrats, he warned, need to remember that Eric Holder provided free legal services to suspected terrorists. The reference is to pro bono work by Holders firm, Covington and Burling, on behalf of suspected jihadists detained at Guantnamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. Holder served as U.S. attorney general for former President Barack Obama.

Brashers confirmation means that half of the judges on the 11th Circuit are now Trump nominees. None of those judges is African-American, though there are nearly 8 million African-Americans living in the three states it covers.

Wilson, meanwhile, would be seated in the Southern District of Mississippi, which is part of the Fifth Circuit along with Texas and Louisiana. Of the five Trump appointees to the Fifth Circuit, four have been white men.

Trump has remade federal courts all across the country, but those changes could be especially consequential in the Deep South, where judges helped keep segregation in place, but then later struck segregation down during the civil rights era. Many decades since then, courts have continued to struggle with race, in particular regarding the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which gave the federal government great powers to supervise elections in Southern states that had previously kept African-Americans from voting.

Fairness of elections was also at the heart of Democrats argument about the just-concluded impeachment inquiry. Trump was accused of pressuring the Ukrainian government to open investigations that would benefit him domestically, but he was acquitted by a Republican-controlled Senate.

Senate Republicans are trying to rig the election at every turn, Nan Aron of progressive organization Alliance for Justice told Yahoo News.

After giving Trump a pass on withholding foreign aid in exchange for interference in the election, they immediately returned to confirming nominees with terrible records, including on voting rights, she added.

As far as the presidents critics are concerned, appointing judges who will roll back voting-rights protections also has long-term effects on elections. Even if the new judges dont help Trump in the near-term, their lifetime tenure on the federal bench could ensure Republican majorities for a generation to come. Bob Moser, author of a book on Southern politics called Blue Dixie, notes that voter suppression efforts have been moving forward in Florida, Tennessee and Texas.

A former solicitor general of Alabama, Brasher has a long history of resisting federal oversight of state election laws. In 2012, he filed a petition in favor of an Arizona law that would require identification at the polls. Voter ID laws, as they are known, tend to decrease participation by poor people and minorities because they are sometimes unable to meet the kind of stringent documentary requirements such laws demand. The brief was signed by some of the most conservative attorneys general in the nation, including Greg Abbott of Texas and Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma.

In 2013, he filed a brief in Shelby County v. Holder, a case in which an Alabama county tried to get out from under the supervision foisted on it by the Voting Rights Act. The Alabama of 2013 is not the Alabama of 1965 or of 1970, 1975, or 1982, Brasher wrote in his brief. He argued that Congress violated the constitution by continuing to treat the state as if it somehow persisted in restricting African-American participation in the democratic process.

Later that year, the Supreme Court decided Shelby County in favor of Alabama, handing conservatives a long-sought victory.

In 2014, he argued Alabamas case against African-American legislators who charged that Republicans created electoral districts that concentrated black voters, depriving Democrats of broad statewide support, a practice known as gerrymandering.

Brasher denied that any gerrymandering took place. A district judge disagreed, writing that the evidence here is overwhelming that the State has intentionally singled out individuals based on race. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme court agreed, rejecting Brashers claim.

Progressives mounted a ferocious opposition to Bashers nomination. For Republicans determined to snuff out voting rights in the courts, Brasher is an ace in the hole, wrote former Florida gubernatorial nominee and voting rights advocate Andrew Gillum in a Tampa Bay Times op-ed.

Wilson, the Mississippi district court nominee, is also in favor of voter identification laws. In a 2013 article for the Press-Register of Mobile, Ala., he complained about the recent mayor election in nearby Hattiesburg, Miss., which a Democrat had won. Wilson, a Republican, complained of voter impersonation and disenfranchised felons voting, a claim frequently repeated by conservative media outlets covering elections.

In his article, Wilson argued that federal oversight was not necessary, while more stringent voting regulations were. They might spend less time chasing agendas that aren't there, he wrote of federal monitors, and more time investigating the voter fraud and other irregularities.

Writing in another op-ed, Wilson argued that Voter ID is a part of ensuring cleaner elections. Studies have found that to not be the case. Wilson blamed both politicians and the media: The Rachel Maddows of the media world have joined the chorus of voter suppression right on cue from Team Obama, he wrote.

Brashers confirmation was not a surprise, and Wilsons record of inflammatory writing may not make a difference. The current chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, has previously supported extension of Voting Rights Act provisions. But he is now one of President Trumps closest allies on Capitol Hill and has made confirming Trumps judicial nominees a priority.

The full Senate has sometimes proved more problematic for Trump nominees. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only African-American member of the Republican conference, has more or less single-handedly stopped the confirmations of two Trump nominees: Thomas Farr of North Carolina, who had been accused of voter-suppression efforts, and Ryan Bounds, who had published inflammatory articles on race.

But as the vote on Brasher neared, it became clear that Scott was not going to stand in the way. Scotts spokesman, Sean Smith, noted in response to a Yahoo News query that Scott had voted in favor of Brashers confirmation to the district court last year. I have not heard anything to indicate his position has changed, Smith said.

Judicial nominees could potentially encounter resistance from moderate Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska for reasons unrelated to voting rights. Collins and Murkowski have both expressed disfavor for judges who want to strike down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Wilson has called Roe the result of a liberal activist court and, as a state legislator, has endorsed a number of measures that would make it more difficult for a woman to terminate a pregnancy. As the solicitor general of Alabama, Brasher routinely defended similar measures.

Neither the office of Collins nor Murkowski responded to a request for comment ahead of the Brasher vote. Both senators voted to install him on the 11th Circuit.

Trump has appointed several judges with records on voting rights similar to those of Brasher and Wilson. Some of those judges have begun to agitate for the kind of lessened federal oversight conservatives have long yearned for.

Earlier this month, as the impeachment trial was coming to an end, a Trump-appointed judge said, in a dissenting opinion, that the Voting Rights Act infringed on states rights. That judge, Lisa Branch, sits on the 11th Circuit. She will soon have an ideological ally in Brasher.

In another dissent on voting rights, Fifth Circuit Trump judge Don Willett argued that states had the right to oversee their own elections, something conservatives want and progressives fear. Willett opened his dissent by invoking Abraham Lincoln, author of the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed African-Americans from slavery.

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Shopify, Bed Bath & Beyond, Google, Apple: Companies to Watch – Yahoo Finance

Posted: at 12:42 pm

Here are the companies the Yahoo Finance team is watching for you today.

Shopify (SHOP) is climbing this morning after posting a big beat on earnings and revenue last quarter. Shopify provides those back-of-the-house services like payment processing and marketing tools for small businesses. It saw revenue soar 47% last quarter and it boosted guidance for the rest of the year. Shopify is up more than 60% in the last 3 months.

Things arent looking good for Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY). The home goods retailer said its same-store sales fell more than5% in December and January, as the company struggles to attract customers to its stores. On the bright side, same-store sales from Bed Baths e-commerce channel grew about 20% in that two month period. CEO Mark Tritton said the company is going through short term 'growing pains' as it tries to modernize the business.

Google (GOOGL) is set to take on the European Union in court today over antitrust fines.The tech giant is looking to overturn the first of three large fines this first one being worth $2.6 billion. EU regulators are saying that Google favored its own shopping ads over those from smaller European companies. The EU has fined Google nearly $9 billion overa decade-long saga.

Good news for Apple (AAPL). China's Foxconn, the company that's a key supplier to the iPhone maker, is looking to restart some of its production facilities soon, according to Reuters.Production lines have been closed in China overthe coronavirus outbreak. Foxconn wants half of its plants up and running by the end of the month and to be at 80% capacity by the end of March.

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