Australia coronavirus – locked-down state Victoria records another increase in new cases

A post if you are following developments in Australia, where half the country (population) has been placed back under lockdown.

  • Second-largest population state Victoria has recorded 26 new cases for the preceding 24 hours. Previous couple of days were 13 (for Monday) and 22 (for Tuesday)
  • State health authorities in Melbourne say all 26 are linked to known cases
  • 2 of the 26 were circulating in the community while infectious
Numbers from other locked-down state New South Wales and South Australia will follow a little later.
Australian authorities have a low tolerance (basically zero) for virus cases, hence the lockdowns.
The naughty corner:
A post if you are following developments in Australia, where half the country (population) has been placed back under lockdown.

Australia coronavirus – Commonwealth Bank CEO says more lockdowns coming

Head of one of Australia’s ‘big four’ banks, CBA, says have to be prepared for further lock downs in Australia in the months ahead.

Cites slow vaccination progress, going to take some time to get vast majority of the population vaccinated
  • further shut downs will slow the economy’
  • will impact the labour marekt
  • will be e bounce back for the economy once health situation is controlled
Via local media here in Oz, link for more

Here is how the vaccination rollout is progressing:

Australia is ranked last in the OECD for its vaccination rate. Someone’s gotta be last I guess. federal government incompetence and complacency helped assure the place.

How 6 countries are faring after easing covid-19 rules

The lay of the land in the post (?) covid world

Netherlands cases
Markets have been acting like covid-19 is over for the past year but the price action this month suggests some second thoughts. As one person put it, “the basketball game looked over but covid hit a miracle 3-pointer at the buzzer to send it to overtime.”
BBC look at six countries who eased restrictions illustrates the challenge.
1) Israel began lifting restrictions back in February and 56% of the country is fully vaccinated but in mid-June after the country was fully reopened trouble began to start. The delta variant led to climbing new cases, which hit 1118 on Friday. The country has reinstated mask mandates and introduced harsher visitor quarantines. The latest talk is that vaccine passports may be reintroduced.
2) Netherlands – the picture tells the story after restrictions were lifted at the end of June. There is a bit of good news in the past week with cases appearing to plateau, but only after curbs were reintroduced.
Mask off3) South Korea – This was the poster-child for how to handle the virus in an open democracy but after some relaxation in curbs in mid-June, it’s now facing its worst outbreak yet with around 1500 daily cases.
4) Australia – Cracks continue to form in the Australian dam. Victoria has entered its fifth lockdown and the effort to completely suppress the virus is beginning to look futile. The problem is that Australia’s success with low cases has spawned vaccine hesitancy.  With AUD/USD at the lowest since December, the market has certainly noticed.
5) USA
USA covid moronsCases are ticking up everywhere, particularly in areas with the least amount of vaccines administered. One spot that’s telling might be San Francisco. It’s the most-vaccinated city in the country but cases are rising there all the same and public health officials on Friday recommended masks in all indoor public places.
6) Sweden – This continues to offer an interesting counter-point. Cases have remained low despite re-opening and the delta variant is responsible for 60% of cases. It will be a spot to watch with first dose vaccinations above 70% and second doses at 45% and rising quickly.
Hospitals:  The good news in all these places is that serious cases remain low. To be clear, they’re rising but they’re at low and completely manageable. That needs to be monitored but so far, the vaccines appear to be doing a great job of protecting the vulnerable.
I continue to believe that the ongoing trade in markets is more about growth/value trades being reoriented in a low-conviction market but I’m open to the idea that it’s covid — something I wrote about on Friday. I think now is a good time to keep a close eye on the virus and variants, particularly these countries. Early trading this week is slightly tilted towards risk aversion once again.

UK covid cases continue to accelerate, hit 15,810 in latest report

Deaths still under control

Deaths still under control
UK covid cases hit a four-month high of 16,705 yesterday and remained elevated at 15,810 today. They have steadily increased from 3200 on June as the delta variant circulates.
This is still a long ways off from the +60K numbers in January but headed in the wrong direction.
Hospitalizations are also rising with 1485 people in hospital. Deaths yesterday were 18 which is far from the approximately 1300 peak in January. I suspect that’s what officials are focused on as younger people get the virus. Some require hospitalization but most can fight it off.
I still don’t think this derails the reopening but nearly 44m of the 56m adults in the UK have gotten at least one dose of the (mostly) Astra-Zeneca vaccine. Percentages are lower in London though and that’s worrisome. What mostly bothers me though is the potential for the delta variant to cause problems globally especially in places where MRNA vaccines aren’t available and in schools.
In Israel, the town of Binyamina, became the country’s first “red” location for several months, after the appearance of 122 active cases, reflecting a surge in lockdowns that has been identified around schools. A local report said that in two schools, there were nine fully-vaccinated teachers who contracted the virus.

US weekly EIA crude oil inventories -7614K vs -3500K expected

Weekly EIA petroleum inventories for the week ending June 18, 2021:

US weekly EIA crude oil inventories
  • Prior was -7355K
  • Gasoline -2930K vs +1050K exp
  • Distillates +1754K vs +1000K exp
  • Refinery utilization -0.4% vs +0.5% exp
  • Cushing -1833K
API data released late yesterday:
  • Crude -7199K
  • Gasoline +959K
  • Distillates +992K
  • Cushing -2550K
The surprise in this report is the drawdown in gasoline inventories. The headline was foreshadowed by yesterday’s API numbers so it wasn’t a big surprise but gasoline tightening up points to strong driving demand.

EU, US to aspire to ending COVID-19 pandemic, vaccinate two-thirds of the world by end of next year

Reuters reports, citing a draft document prepared for a summit between the EU and US for 15 June in Brussels

The document also says that both sides are to commit to lifting steel tariffs before 1 December and also avoid any further trade disputes. A bit of wishful thinking but we’ll see how things go on that part in the months ahead.
 
Adding to the headline, they are also to call for a new study into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, which likely will not go down well with China again.

US report says theory that COVID-19 virus leaked from a Chinese lab in Wuhan is plausible

The Wall Street Journal cite a report from May 2020 by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

  • People familiar with the study said that it was prepared by Lawrence Livermore’s “Z Division,” which is its intelligence arm. Lawrence Livermore has considerable expertise on biological issues. Its assessment drew on genomic analysis of the SARS-COV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, they said.
The actual report remains secret. Which, of course, makes it impossible to assess.
Here is the link to the Journal piece, sure to be a source of contention given the politicisation of the origin question. Journal, of course, may be gated.
The Wall Street Journal cite a report from May 2020 by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

UK says no one died from covid-19 yesterday

Great news in the UK

What a wonderful headline.
Medicine and vaccines are an absolute marvel. The UK is getting closer to normal every day and aside from today’s blip, GBP has reflected that.
I expect more upside in the coming years in GBP as it emerges from the clouds of covid and Brexit.
More than 128,000 people in the UK have been killed by covid but the daily average over the past seven days has fallen to just 8.

A coronavirus ICYMI – China first lockdown since January – Guangdong / Guangzhou partial lockdown

Guangzhou is a city in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong

  • a partial lockdown has been imposed on Guangzhou
  • travel restrictions apply in Guangdong
  • mass testing is under way
  • lockdown in place in the worst-hit district of Guangzhou
  • residents of some otGuangzhou districts have been told to get tested and large-scale screening is also under way in Foshan and Shenzhen
  • Guangzhou officials have focused its Covid-19 vaccination programme on priority groups
Guangzhou is a city in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong 
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