Futures Slide After US Suspends J&J Vaccine

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JNJ shares slumped on the news, with the DJIA member dropping 3% in the pre-market. Travel stocks such as CCL and DAL all fell on J&J vaccine concern.

By Tyler Durden for ZeroHedge News

Futures Slide After US Suspends J&J Vaccine

After trading flat for much of the overnight session in anticipation of today’s key event, the CPI report (due out at 830am ET), US equity futures and European markets tumbled at precisely 7am after a report that the US will pause Johnson & Johnson vaccines amid health concerns, potentially dealing a blow to efforts to reopen the world’s largest economy.

Futures on the S&P 500 fell and reopening sensitive Russell 2000 contracts lost almost 1% after the New York Times reported and FDA confirmed that the US would will call for an immediate pause in use of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose coronavirus vaccine  after six U.S. recipients developed a rare disorder involving blood clots. All the six recipients were women between the ages of 18 and 48. One woman died and a second woman in Nebraska has been hospitalized in critical condition, the NYT reported.

“This is a setback and it’s going to make people nervous,” Sebastien Page, amulti-asset strategist at T. Rowe Price, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “But the destination is Covid off. We’ve had 100 million doses already so in our portfolios we remain positioned for the recovery trade.”

The move from the U.S. regulators comes less than a week after Europe’s drug regulator said it was reviewing rare blood clots in four people in the United States who received th shot. JNJ shares slumped on the news, with the DJIA member dropping 3% in the pre-market. Travel stocks such as CCL and DAL all fell on J&J vaccine concern. Elsewhere in premarket trading, cryptocurrency and blockchain-related firms including Riot Blockchain and Marathon Digital Holdings jumped 9% and 8% as bitcoin prices soared 4.5%, a day ahead of listing of Coinbase, the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange.

While the vaccine news quickly dominated newsflow, attention still remains on the CPI print at 830am, where although US central bankers expect a bump in consumer prices to be short-lived, many traders disagree, with fears of faster CPI playing out across duration-heavy assets from bonds to tech stocks.

“A jump in U.S. CPI today is well-flagged, but it should be a wake up call to what we think will be stickier inflation in the coming months, if not years,” strategists at ING Groep NV including Padhraic Garvey wrote in a client note. “This would render the Fed’s position increasingly stretched.”

“Policy-sensitive” five-year securities way be most vulnerable to a deeper selloff, according to the ING strategists. The Treasury plans to auction 30-year bonds Tuesday after sales of three- and 10-year notes attracted decent demand Monday.

Europe’s value-heavy Stoxx 600 index, which has soared in recent weeks on expectations of reopening and good news, dropped in the red on the vaccine news. Cyclicals such as retailers, travel companies and miners gained, while utilities lagged. Here are some of the biggest European movers today:

  • Avanza shares rise as much as 8.1% after the online broker reported preliminary 1Q numbers that topped analyst expectations.
  • Getinge shares climb as much as 4.9% to the highest on record after it was upgraded to buy at DNB Markets, which cited anticipated margin improvements following the company’s efficiency initiative.
  • Norsk Hydro shares jump as much as 4.6% after Goldman Sachs initiated with a buy rating and price target of NOK72, representing about 35% upside. The broker said the stock benefited from aluminum “tailwinds and best green transition exposure in mining.”
  • JD Sports shares gain as much as 3.4% to a record high, with Peel Hunt saying the company is “now in an enviable position.” The broker added that the U.S. was “the jewel in the crown” for the retailer throughout the year.
  • Fagron shares fall as much as 12% in its biggest decline for a year after the pharmaceutical supplier reported 1Q revenue that KBC Securities said was below expectations.
  • Lundbeck shares drop as much as 11% after the company extended the last-stage trial for Rexulti, its Alzheimer’s disease treatment candidate.

Earlier in the session, Asian shares were slightly higher in late afternoon trading, sharply paring an earlier advance as gains by Chinese tech firms in Hong Kong almost evaporated on mounting regulatory concerns. China’s food delivery giant Meituan was the biggest drag as the Hang Seng pared a 1.5% gain to about 0.2%. In a meeting with Meituan and other companies, Chinese regulators said they will crack down on information leaks, abuse of market dominance and other violations by internet platforms. Tencent and JD.com also declined. China imposed a record $2.8 billion antitrust fine on e-commerce giant Alibaba late last week, raising concerns that the country’s other tech firms would also be in its sights. Insurer AIA boosted both the Hang Seng Index and MSCI Asia Pacific Index on plans by Hong Kong to relax border control measures and ease restrictions for travelers from the mainland as soon as the end of April. South Korea’s Kospi advanced more than 1% as President Moon Jae-in called for more active government spending to support low-income people and create jobs. Philippine stocks fell the most in Asia as sentiment remained cautious mobility curbs in the capital and surrounding provinces to contain coronavirus infections were kept in place. Thailand’s stock market is closed through Thursday for holidays.

China’s exports rose less than expected in March even as global demand continued to strengthen, while imports grew at a faster pace. Exports climbed 30.6% in dollar terms from a year earlier, while imports surged 38.1%, the customs administration said Tuesday

Japanese stocks also rose as investors remained optimistic the economy will pick up as the nation recovers from the pandemic. Automakers and retailers gave the biggest boosts to the Topix index as the majority of its 33 industry sub-gauges rose. Shares of Fast Retailing and SoftBank Group provided the most support to the Nikkei 225 Stock Average, which gained the most in more than a week. “There’s a possibility that funds will rotate out of shares related to chips and infrastructure investment companies that rose on earnings, and flow into stocks that will benefit from the reopening of the economy,” said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, a market strategist at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo. Makers of machinery and related components rose after a trade group report on Monday showed machine-tool orders jumped the most in over a decade in March. Orders surged 65% from a year earlier, the largest increase since 2011, according to the Japan Machine Tool Builders’ Association. Orders were boosted by “fiscal-year-end effect,” purchasing subsidies in Japan and recovery in overseas demand, Jefferies analyst Sho Fukuhara wrote in a report.

In rates, Treasuries unwound losses, but then quickly reversed, after the J&J news. Yields reverted to little changed after cheapening during Asia session. Earlier, the Treasury curve bear-flattened and the 10-year yield briefly touched 1.7%. Bond yields steadied before consumer-price index numbers due at 8:30 a.m. New York time. Fund managers across the world now see inflation, a taper tantrum and higher taxes as bigger risks than Covid-19, according to the latest Bank of America Corp. survey.

Bonds were jittery ahead of the March CPI and 30-year bond reopening, as well as Fed’s next Treasury purchase schedule at 3pm, expectations for which have driven outperformance of 20-year on the curve in past week.

China’s benchmark 10-year government bond yield heads for its lowest close in about three months after a central bank official pledged ample liquidity for local debt sales and March exports missed estimates.

In FX, the dollar rose from near a three-week low against other major currencies on Tuesday, trading in narrow ranges versus its Group-of-10 peers. The euro was steady around $1.19 as it fluctuated around a 30 pips range; overnight volatility suggests euro options traders see no reason to be alarmed despite all the talk about the importance of the U.S. inflation data due later Tuesday. The Norwegian krone led losses while the pound reversed a decline as data showed U.K. gross domestic product rose 0.4% in February

Bitcoin jumped to an all-time high as the mood in cryptocurrencies turned bullish before Coinbase Global Inc. goes public. Oil rose above $60 a barrel.

To the day ahead now, and the main highlight will be the aforementioned release of the US CPI reading for March later on, though ahead of that from Europe, we’ll also get the UK’s GDP and Italian industrial production for February, along with the German ZEW survey for April. Meanwhile from central banks, today’s speakers include the Fed’s Harker, Daly, Barkin, Mester, Bostic and Rosengren, and the ECB’s Villeroy.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures down 10.75 to 4,109.25
  • MXAP up 0.1% to 205.61
  • MXAPJ little changed at 683.12
  • Nikkei up 0.7% to 29,751.61
  • Topix up 0.2% to 1,958.55
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.2% to 28,497.25
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.5% to 3,396.47
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.2% to 436.28
  • Sensex up 0.8% to 48,271.74
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 little changed at 6,976.92
  • Kospi up 1.1% to 3,169.08
  • Brent Futures up 0.4% to $63.52/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,727.55
  • U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 92.18
  • German 10Y yield rose 1.1 bps to -0.282%
  • Euro down 0.1% to $1.1896
  • Brent Futures up 0.4% to $63.53/bbl

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • China’s trade jumped in March, a sign that the global recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic is well on track as vaccine rollouts around the world pick up pace.
  • Growing panic over the financial health of one of China’s largest bad-debt managers, China Huarong Asset Management, spilled into the broader market, as traders circulated a Caixin report that openly considered the worst-case scenario for the company
  • Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet is expected to approve legislation on Tuesday setting out nationwide rules on restrictions designed to stem Covid-19 infections
  • The Covid-19 variant that emerged in the U.K. and became the dominant strain in the U.S. isn’t as deadly as earlier research indicated, although it’s confirmed to be faster-spreading than other versions, according to a study
  • Binance Coin has strengthened its position as one of the world’s largest cryptocurrencies after a 53% rally in the past seven days to the third spot behind Bitcoin and Ether
  • The European Investment Bank plans to harness the power of blockchain to sell bonds, potentially boosting use of the digital-ledger technology as a tool for the region’s debt market
  • Bond traders searching for a chink in the armor of central banks are starting to look Down Under, where a likely showdown over yield-curve control is set to test the power of policy makers to contain the next wave of reflation bets
  • The Executive Council that advises Hong Kong’s leader has approved a bill to help implement China’s plan to overhaul the city’s elections, local media reported, one of the final steps in Beijing’s efforts to limit the influence of the pro-democracy opposition
  • China’s air force sent 25 fighters and bombers over the Taiwan Strait, escalating military pressure on the government in Taipei as it boosts ties with the U.S.

Quick look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asian equity markets mostly shrugged off the subdued handover from Wall St peers but with gains capped ahead of this week’s risk events including US earnings and as participants digested the latest mixed Chinese trade data. ASX 200 (Unch.) and Nikkei 225 (+0.8%) were lifted from early trade with Australia initially led higher by outperformance in tech although upside was later capped by a subdued commodities complex and ongoing vaccine delay concerns after Australia abandoned plans to purchase Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ) one-dose COVID-19 vaccine due to AstraZeneca (AZN LN) similarities, while Tokyo sentiment was underpinned as exporters found relief from a reversal of some of the recent currency inflows. Hang Seng (+1.0%) and Shanghai Comp. (Unch.) were varied with outperformance in Hong Kong as Alibaba shares extended on the prior day’s post-penalty gains and after affiliate Ant Group kowtowed to Beijing via an overhaul in which it will become a financial holding company, although the mainland was indecisive as participants digested the March trade figures in which Exports and Trade Balance missed expectations but Imports topped estimates and which also followed mixed loans and aggregate financing data from China. Finally, 10yr JGBs were flat with demand sapped amid the gains in Japanese stocks and after the results of the enhanced liquidity auction for long to super-long end JGBs showed the b/c printed unchanged from the previous, while yields across the Tasman were higher with the Australian 10yr up around 6bps after the inflation-indexed bond auction and 2032 bond sale through syndication in Australia, as well as a slightly reduced RBNZ QE operation.

Top Asian News

  • China AMCs Lead Selloff in IG Debt as Huarong Worries Deepen
  • U.S. May Name Taiwan, Thailand as Currency Manipulators: TD
  • Huarong AMC’s Ratings Placed on Review for Downgrade by Moody’s
  • Mubadala Says It’s Close to IPO of Emirates Global Aluminium

In a similar vein to yesterday, European equities (Eurostoxx 50 +0.3%) trade with little in the way of firm direction amid a lack of fresh macro impulses for the region. More broadly for European performance, the Stoxx 600 currently remains just shy of its 437.65 all-time high printed on April 9th with Goldman Sachs in a recent note stating a 3-month target of 450, 6-month target of 460 and 12-month target of 470. Europe continues to be subject to regional lockdowns as COVID cases remain stubbornly high with Germany a notable example. However, in a recent note, ABN AMRO highlights that vaccinations over the past week in Germany have exceeded those of the UK (0.6% of the population per day receiving a dose compared with 0.5% in the UK). Furthermore, the Dutch bank noted that in May, vaccine doses delivered will be triple the March levels, and on recent trends EU countries look now to be on track to meet the EU target of 70% of the population being fully vaccinated by September. In terms of sectoral performance, sectors are broadly firmer with outperformance in retail, technology and chemicals, whilst downside laggards include telecoms, health care and oil & gas. In terms of individual movers, Hays (+2.6%) sit near the top of the Stoxx 600 amid the Co. forecasting FY21 operating profit to be ahead of market expectations. Other gainers include Givaudan (+2.5%) and JD Sports (+3.0%) after respective Q1 and FY20 results. To the downside, one of the main standouts is Air France (-2.3%) after the Co. launched a EUR 988mln capital increase with individual stock-specific newsflow otherwise relatively light.

Top European News

  • Goldman Sachs to Open Birmingham Office to Widen U.K. Footprint
  • U.K. Economy Rebounds in February as End of Lockdown Nears (2)
  • Goldman Adds to Trades Positioning for a Bond Selloff in Europe
  • Babcock Jumps as New CEO Lockwood Details Restructuring Plan

In FX, again a choppy session thus far within a relatively tight 92.092-302 range despite US yields erring higher as participants remain on standby for the US CPI print later today with the M/M forecast at 0.5% and the Y/Y at 2.4%. Analysts at ING argue that such an outcome could add to the narrative that US inflation is starting to overheat. However, policymakers at the Fed will likely continue to attribute upside in price pressures to transitory factors in the near-term. On this note, the rest of the week sees a plethora of Fed speak (including Powell, Williams and Clarida tomorrow). From a technical standpoint, DXY briefly topped its 200 DMA (92.282) in early European trade with upside levels, including Monday’s 92.331 high and the 20 DMA at 92.396. To the downside, the 92.000 mark has proved to be formidable support as the index tested but failed to convincingly breach the level for three consecutive sessions.

  • GBP, EUR, JPY: Another Deja-vu session for Sterling thus far as it encountered early unexplained strength. However, some of this strength coincided with EUR/GBP accelerating its losses as it dipped below 0.8650, which subsequently gave Cable a leg above 1.3750. The February UK GDP figures were overlooked as the economy continues to reopen and the vaccination drive remains in gear. Elsewhere, EUR/USD remains pinned around the 1.1900 mark (1.1884-1916 range), awaiting further direction/influence, with the softer-than-expected ZEW prompting some modest unstained downticks. JPY meanwhile encountered some more pronounced strength in early hours as upticks in US Treasury yields failed to keep the lower-yielding JPY under pressure, with some citing a technical downside breach of the 21 DMA around 109.50 as a potential driver of recent action.
  • NZD, AUD: The antipodeans see mixed trade with the Aussie somewhat subdued following the sub-par Chinese trade data whilst the Kiwi reaps modest benefit from the AUZ/NZD cross drifting below 1.0850. AUD/USD briefly dipped below 0.7600 (0.7596-7630) whilst NZD/USD reside around the top end of its current 0.7005-37 band ahead of tonight’s RBNZ which isn’t expected to spur much action.
  • CNH/CHF/TWD: Remain contained within recent ranges despite source reports suggesting that US Treasury Secretary Yellen will not label China a currency manipulator in the Treasury’s FX report due Thursday. Source added that there were also discussions to raise the threshold at which an economy is deemed a currency manipulator that could take the heat off the Swiss Franc and subsequently the SNB. Reports also suggested that Taiwan could be labelled a manipulator as it fits the criteria, but this could hamper the US and Taiwan’s strategic ties, according to analysts.

In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures see modest gains as the geopolitical landscape remains tense following yesterday’s Houthi attacks on Saudi Aramco facilities. Further, JCPOA talks are set to continue this week with Tehran sticking to its guns with regards to its demands in return for cooperation. Eyes will remain on whether (if at all) the US manages to ease enough sanctions to get Iran back to the table. Elsewhere, tensions between Russia and Ukraine persist and have seeped into the west as seen via a joint G7 statement and a stern warning from Moscow to Washington regarding the deployment of warship to the Black Sea. Ahead of the US CPI figures, WTI May sees itself above USD 60/bbl while Brent Jun resides around USD 64.00/bbl. Note, the OPEC MOMR is also due today, which could prove to be stale given the monthly OPEC+ meetings and the fluidity of the environment, but markets could focus on the outlook and current risks in the eyes of OPEC. Elsewhere, spot gold and silver vary with the former posting mild losses and dipping sub-1,725/oz briefly (vs high 1,736/oz) whilst the latter continues to edge higher towards USD 25/oz (vs low 24.69/oz). UBS forecasts spot gold at USD 1,600/oz at end-2021 as it expects a further weakening of the metal and a continuation of the slide into 2022. Turning to base metals, LME copper is firmer despite a softer performance in Shanghai. LME prices however remain sub-9,000/t heading into the US inflation figures, with some potential tailwinds emanating from China’s copper imports rising some 25% Y/Y due to firm demand.

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: March CPI MoM, est. 0.5%, prior 0.4%; CPI Ex Food and Energy MoM, est. 0.2%, prior 0.1%
  • 8:30am: March CPI YoY, est. 2.5%, prior 1.7%; Ex Food and Energy YoY, est. 1.5%, prior 1.3%

DB’s Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

Since we last spoke I’ve played 8 rounds of golf, had a couple more bottles of wine than normal, had 17 lie-ins, had awful hay fever, saw many family and friends for the first time since last summer, had lunch outside in a snow storm with hot water bottles as rules didn’t allow us inside, and last but certainly least, went to Peppa Pig World on its grand reopening yesterday. Peppa Pig World is in the middle of a big theme park and I was dragged on numerous rollercoasters which the older I get the more I hate. I get really bad motion sickness and to be honest am a little scared on most. My wife is the same and as we have three young kids that all need accompanying we had to take turns to go twice on each ride. It was truly awful. What made matters worse was that the park was operating at a heavily reduced capacity on their first day back meaning practically no queues and lots of rides. My wife and I were wrecks as we drove home. Meanwhile the kids loved it. Life was so much more peaceful under full lockdown but on the flip side golf courses were closed!!

While I’ve been off, markets haven’t really been rollercoaster-like but have instead edged repeatedly to fresh record highs. However the rally in global equity markets ran out of a little steam yesterday. The pullback was fairly modest and still leaves the major indices just shy of their all-time highs from Friday, but a few jitters surfaced, from rising Covid cases, to nervousness about the upcoming earnings season, to geopolitical tensions in multiple regions. A good last 45 minutes meant that the S&P 500 (-0.02%) finished less than an index point from its Friday record close, after Europe’s STOXX 600 (-0.46%) had earlier lost a bit of ground.

The big highlight today will be the US CPI reading for March at 13:30 London time, which has emerged as a key focal point for markets given the debates surrounding inflation and its implications for monetary policy moving forward. Indeed, part of the reason that markets have brought forward their expectations for Fed rate hikes is based around rising inflation expectations that they think the Fed might have to rein in, with 2yr US breakevens at 2.678% as of last night’s close. Among economists (including our own at DB), there’s a widespread expectation that inflation is set to rise in the coming months, but also a consensus for the most part that this will be a transitory phenomenon, and Fed officials have reiterated that they’ll look through the rise in inflation for this reason. Nevertheless, some economists like former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers have raised concerns about the quantity of stimulus, particularly when considering the amount of excess savings relative to normal and pent-up demand expected to filter through as life returns to normal. So whatever happens with today’s print, this is unlikely to be the last word on the matter.

Ahead of the release yesterday, there was a notable blog post on the White House website discussing the inflation question from Jared Bernstein and Ernie Tedeschi of the Council of Economic Advisors. There wasn’t much in the way of new information, with the note saying that they expected “measured inflation to increase somewhat, primarily due to three different temporary factors: base effects, supply chain disruptions, and pent-up demand, especially for services.” However, the fact they put out an intervention was interesting in its own right, and suggests the administration is alive to the criticism that their policies could lead to a more permanent rise in inflation.

Speaking of such policies, President Biden spoke about his $2.25 trillion “American Jobs Plan” again yesterday. Similarly to the pandemic relief bill, President Biden said he is “prepared to negotiate” when speaking to a group of bipartisan senators in the Oval Office. The President acknowledged that the initial bill has a broad definition of infrastructure saying that, “everyone acknowledges we need a significant increase in infrastructure; it’s going to get down to what we call infrastructure.” The final piece of legislation is not expected to move through Congress until mid-Summer, at which point we will likely have a better idea of the economic recovery and inflation data.

Overnight in Asia markets are largely trading higher with the Nikkei (+1.13%), Hang Seng (+0.99%), CSI 300 (+0.51%) and Kospi (+1.11%) all posting gains. Outside of Asia, futures on the S&P (+0.03%) are trading broadly flat while European ones are pointing to a strong open as they try to catch up with yesterday’s late recovery in the US. Meanwhile, yields on 10yr Treasuries are up +1.9bps ahead of the CPI print due later. Otherwise, bitcoin is trading at $60,450 (+0.78%) ahead of a listing by the largest US cryptocurrency exchange. In terms of data, China reported its March export in USD terms grew by +30.6% yoy (vs. 38% yoy expected) while imports grew by a stronger +38.1 yoy (vs. +24.4% expected).

In other overnight news, Bloomberg reported that US Treasury Secretary Yellen won’t name China as a currency manipulator in the semiannual foreign-exchange report, citing people familiar with the matter. The report further added that the current team has also discussed whether to reverse a Trump administration decision to lower thresholds for determining whether an economy is manipulating its currency for competitive advantage, which could cut the number of countries under scrutiny by the US. It’s worth noting however that China was only designated a currency manipulator by the US for 5 months, before the designation was lifted as part of the trade negotiations.

Back to yesterday and in rates, there wasn’t a big move in US Treasuries ahead of the CPI release, and yields pretty much moved in line with their counterparts in the other developed economies. 10yr yields ended the session up +0.7bps at 1.666%, but this was a similar move to that among bunds (+1.0bps), OATs (+1.2bps) and gilts (+1.5bps). This move higher in yields proved supportive for bank stocks, with the S&P 500 banks (+0.28%) and the STOXX Banks (+0.24%) both gaining ahead of the start of the earnings cycle which begins tomorrow and in spite of the losses seen more broadly yesterday.

On the other hand, technology stocks lost ground yesterday with the NASDAQ falling -0.36% and the S&P 500 industry groups of Tech Hardware (-1.18%) and Media (-0.72%) led losses in the S&P. However the highly concentrated FANG+ index continued to show its resilience as it rose +1.22% to mark its 11th successive advance, the longest such run since February. That previous 11-day run concluded with the index at all-time highs, a level just over 5% higher than where the index closed last night. As a fun fact, if the index manages a 12th successive gain today, that’ll be the index’s longest winning run since it was first constructed. Energy stocks (-0.94% in S&P and -0.48% in STOXX 600) were another laggard yesterday in both indices even as oil prices edged higher following increasing geopolitical tensions.

Elsewhere yesterday, the contest to be the joint CDU/CSU chancellor candidate in Germany heated up further as the two parties each endorsed their own leader to be the candidate. Though the nomination normally goes to the much larger CDU, which is led by Armin Laschet, his approval ratings are weaker than the CSU’s Markus Soeder, who on Sunday publicly announced for the first time that he was interested in the nomination. In terms of how this is resolved, there isn’t actually a formal process, but Soeder’s chances took a knock yesterday as he had said that he’d only take on the role if he had the support of the CDU, so their decision to endorse Laschet makes it more difficult for him to get the nomination. Nevertheless Soeder is not backing down just yet, and has sought to appeal for support beyond the party committees, saying that “It shouldn’t be 10, 20 or 30 people deciding on their own, you can only win elections with broad support and active party members who are willing to fight.”

In terms of the latest on the pandemic, there was some positive news from Oxford University, who said that the asthma drug budesonide was found to reduce the Covid recovery time by an average of 3 days among those at higher risk of more severe illness and who were treated in the community. In the trial, 961 patients were randomly assigned to receive budesonide at home, and were compared to 1819 patients randomly assigned to the normal standard of NHS care, and the results found that the estimated median recovery time among those who received budesonide was 3.011 days shorter.

On the more negative side, there was reports that China’s Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine is less effective at fighting off Covid-19 than previously thought. In trials in Indonesia and Brazil the jab was found to be just above 50% effective, which is just higher than the minimum required level by leading global drug regulators. Other Chinese vaccines have been reported at between the 66% and 79% level, compared to the over 90% protection rate offered by the Pfizer, Moderna and Sputnik shots. The Chinese shots are particularly important to the developing world, where many countries have already approved at least one of the country’s shots given they are cheaper than the mRNA varieties that are being used primarily in richer countries.

One of the hardest hit places worldwide currently is India, where the country saw a record 168,912 Covid-19 cases yesterday. Help may soon be coming as the country granted emergency use approval for the Sputnik V shot, the third vaccine approved by the country as it tries to accelerate its national vaccination programme. Staying on the Sputnik V vaccine, European Medicines Agency experts reportedly visited Moscow-based clinics that were involved with Phase 3 trials of Russia’s vaccine. EU regulators are currently conducting a review of the shot, but it is uncertain how quickly a resolution could take.

In the US, the weekly Covid death toll rose for the first time since February and overall cases rose for a fourth straight week, even as the vaccination rates continue to increase. New York City has now passed 5 million shots administered, with the city’s mayor hoping to get 5 million of the city’s 8 million residents fully vaccinated by the start of June. Some states are starting to see a slowdown in vaccine uptake, with Kentucky notably reporting that 42% of the state’s vaccine allotment went unused in the last week of March into April. The state’s Governor has now said he’ll roll back nearly all pandemic restrictions once 2.5 million residents get vaccinated. Even though some states – notably Texas and Florida – rolled back restrictions before vaccination campaigns got underway, this vaccine conditional reopening could be an interesting potential strategy moving forward to combat vaccine-hesitancy.

Rounding things out, on the economic data front there wasn’t much out at all yesterday, though Euro Area retail sales grew by a stronger-than-expected +3.0% in February (vs. +1.7% expected).

To the day ahead now, and the main highlight will be the aforementioned release of the US CPI reading for March later on, though ahead of that from Europe, we’ll also get the UK’s GDP and Italian industrial production for February, along with the German ZEW survey for April. Meanwhile from central banks, today’s speakers include the Fed’s Harker, Daly, Barkin, Mester, Bostic and Rosengren, and the ECB’s Villeroy.

By Tyler Durden for ZeroHedge News

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