Apples, Hawks And Boosters

Uncertainty lingered on Thursday, as traders assessed a smattering of Omicron headlines, more relatively hawkish Fed banter and reports of weakening demand for Apple’s iPhone 13 lineup.

On the virus front, the Biden administration unveiled a new COVID plan. “New actions to protect Americans against the Delta and Omicron Variants as we battle COVID-19 this winter,” read the title of a fact sheet. Good luck making an acronym from that.

The White House listed multiple steps aimed at ensuring some 100 million eligible Americans who haven’t yet gotten their booster shot get one “as soon as possible.” The administration called boosters “more important than ever.”

Pfizer said it doesn’t expect a significant drop in protection versus Omicron. The company should know more about efficacy versus the variant within two to three weeks. The CDC reiterated that the vaccines will help with Omicron, but said efficacy rates remain unknown.

Biden also exhorted businesses to move forward expeditiously with requiring their workers to get vaccinated or tested weekly.” The White House promised to make “any new COVID-19 treatment pills” that meet the FDA’s standards “equitably accessible to all Americans, regardless of their income or their zip code.”

Notably, The White House is accelerating Washington’s efforts to vaccinate the rest of the world. Biden pledged to deliver 200 million more doses in the next 100 days.” As a reminder, the US has committed to donating 1.2 billion doses. The figure (below) shows you the progress.

Another widely-reported notable from the plan involves new, global pre-departure testing protocols. “Early next week, the US will requir[e] all inbound international travelers to test within one day of departure globally, regardless of nationality or vaccination status,” The White House said, confirming multiple media reports.

Meanwhile, Loretta Mester told Bloomberg she supports ending the taper in the first quarter or early in Q2. The Fed, she said, “should” be able to hike rates “a couple” of times next year if “needed.” She reiterated that a swifter taper gives the Fed the option to hike.

The figure (below) is familiar, but before you skip over it, do note that an accelerated taper would likely free up the Fed to hike in March if they really wanted to.

A hike before June still seems unlikely but, again, it’s possible assuming the end of the taper is brought forward in line with Wall Street’s expectations.

“The convergence of Fed views appears to be coalescing around two rate hikes next year with Loretta Mester adding to those in favor of a faster end to tapering,” Bloomberg’s Mark Cranfield wrote, adding that “traders may now take this view as the base case, but should the inflation data remain elevated, it may need a third hike to be priced in for 2022.”

Finally, Apple reportedly told suppliers that demand for its new phones has waned. That’s notable not just because Apple is the most important company on the planet and the iPhone is its most important product. Recall that Apple’s last quarter was marred by supply chain delays. Now, the company is apparently coping with slowing demand.

Obviously, Apple will still make plenty of money this holiday season, but as Bloomberg wrote, summing things up, “shortages and delivery delays have frustrated many consumers and with inflation and the Omicron variant bringing fresh concerns to pandemic-weary shoppers, they may forgo some purchases.”

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6 thoughts on “Apples, Hawks And Boosters

  1. Smartphones have achieved the same state as PC’s did in the early 2000’s. New products are not significant improvements over their previous models enough to drive consumers to upgrade annually or even biannually anymore. This should be concerning to investors as Dell, Gateway, and HP were all crushed by slowing PC purchase momentum.

  2. ” The White House promised to make “any new COVID-19 treatment pills” that meet the FDA’s standards “equitably accessible to all Americans, regardless of their income or their zip code.”

    — if only we could have the same standards apply for voting purposes… in the US and rest of world… imagine …

  3. H-Man, rarely do I disagree with your assessments of the current state of affairs. But I think accelerated tapering is a done deal and hikes will follow immediately. But that wisdom and a $1 buys a cup of cheap coffee.

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