Omicron variant prone to gas inflation, as Individuals hold purchasing, economist says

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According to Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the National Retail Federation, the spread of the highly contagious variant of Omicron is likely to fuel inflation as Americans keep shopping instead of spending more outside the home.

However, the advisor to the major retailer said in a press release on Wednesday that he was not up to date with the latest wave of Covid Cases that trigger an economic slowdown or company shutdowns.

“Omicron’s impact on consumer demand is little known, but people who stay at home because of the option are more likely to spend their money on retail goods than on services such as dining out or personal entertainment,” he said in the press release. “That would put inflation under further pressure as supply chains around the world are already overloaded.”

He said that “each subsequent variation has slowed the economy, but the rate of slowdown has been less.” And he added that consumers may have more confidence from being fully vaccinated or hearing of milder cases of the variant.

Covid cases in the US hit a pandemic record of more than 1 million new infections on Monday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. According to a CNBC analysis of Hopkins data, the country now reports a seven-day average of more than 480,000 new infections, almost double the previous week.

The surge in coronavirus cases has prompted retailers and restaurants, including Starbucks, Apple, Nike and gap-Own Athleta to close stores or shorten opening times as they cope with scarce staff or intensify disinfection. Walmart in the interim nearly 60 US stores closed in coronavirus hotspots last month to disinfect them. Macys said on Tuesday that it is so Reduction of shop opening times for the rest of the month.

However, many of these stores have made it easier for customers to shop another way – from home delivery to roadside collection.

The National Retail Federation also doesn’t expect the pandemic to affect Christmas sales. It predicted sales in November and December Increase between 8.5% and 10.5% compared to last year and achieve record sales of $ 843.4 billion to $ 859 billion.

Kleinhenz later raised that forecast, saying in early December that Vacation sales could increase as much as 11.5% compared to the same period last year.

The trade group expects to announce official holiday sales next week after the Census Bureau released December retail sales data.

Companies line up ‘inexperienced’ ammonia for fertilizer and future gas

As society tries to find ways to reduce its ecological footprint, the decarbonization of a wide variety of sectors and industrial processes will be crucial in the years to come.

Time is of the essence when it comes to finding new solutions and technologies for if the latest findings of the IPCC are correct.

The report released last week warned that limiting global warming to nearly 1.5 degrees Celsius or even 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels over the next two decades would be “unattainable” without immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions .

Against this sobering backdrop, a number of companies are trying to reduce the environmental impact of ammonia production, which, according to a policy briefing by the Royal Society, is responsible for around 1.8% of global carbon dioxide emissions.

On Monday, for example, three Norwegian companies – energy company Statkraft, Aker Clean Hydrogen and fertilizer specialist wound – founded a company that focuses on the production of so-called “green” ammonia.

The new company, called HEGRA, is jointly owned by the three companies. According to Statkraft, which is itself owned by the Norwegian state, HEGRA will focus on electrifying and decarbonising an ammonia plant in Herøya, Norway.

The basic idea behind the initiative is to use renewable energies to produce ammonia on a large scale. The ammonia would then be used to make carbon-free fertilizers. Statkraft also described green ammonia as “a promising zero-emission fuel for the maritime sector”.

In a conversation with CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Monday morning, Yara CEO Svein Tore Holsether emphasized the importance of developing solutions for the big picture.

“The technology is there, but it’s also about making a product out of it,” he said. “And the nice thing about ammonia production and fertilizer production is that you already have an existing infrastructure.”

“By converting some of it into renewable energy using hydropower, as we speak here in Norway, we can produce a renewable fertilizer product and deliver it to farmers on a large scale.”

In terms of a schedule, Holsether stated it would take five to seven years to get the project up and running.

Read more about clean energy from CNBC Pro

The founding of HEGRA is just one example of how companies are looking for ways to reduce the emissions associated with ammonia production.

Yara also works in Australia ENGIE in the development of a plant for the production of renewable hydrogen and ammonia. The project is supported by an Australian $ 42.5 million ($ 31.15 million) grant from the Australian Government.

Last week, oil and gas giant BP announced that “producing green hydrogen and green ammonia using renewable energy” is now technically feasible in Australia.

The conclusion of the energy major is based on the results of a feasibility study announced in May 2020, which is supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the solar developer Lightsource bp and the professional service company GHD Advisory.

In a statement, BP described the vast state of Western Australia as “an ideal place” to develop “large-scale renewable energy plants that can in turn produce green hydrogen and / or green ammonia for domestic and export markets.”

– CNBC’s Sam Meredith contributed to this report

Report: Utah Board Misused Public Cash on Fossil Gas Tasks, Didn’t Fund Rural Neighborhood Wants

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Clean Infrastructure Coalition publishes a report Today it is revealed that the Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund board has allocated more than $ 109 million in public funds to projects to promote or expand fossil fuel extraction in violation of federal mineral leasing law.

The report also documents that needed infrastructure projects in rural communities are not being funded while Utah leaders are using federal leases and royalties to help the fossil fuel industry, including a planned oil railroad and oil refinery.

“Utahns are deeply damaged by drought, forest fires, smoke and extreme weather exacerbated by fossil fuels,” said Deeda Seed of the Center for Biodiversity. “It is outrageous that Utah leaders are using public money to subsidize the fossil fuel industry that is causing this climate crisis. That has to end now. We need to invest in sustainable, resilient infrastructure for all communities in Utah. “

Oil, gas, and coal companies pay the federal government the right to develop federally owned minerals on public land and pay royalties for any minerals they mine. Congress intended to use this money to help rural communities facing rapid growth and infrastructure problems due to fossil fuel extraction.

Utah is responsible for distributing the money to the affected communities. However, today’s report noted that much of that administered by the governor-appointed Permanent Community Impact Fund Board has been used to enable fossil fuel extraction. Meanwhile, millions of dollars in community projects identified by rural communities have not been funded, including water and sanitation services, recreation centers, road improvements, and public safety equipment.

“I have stayed out of politics since I left office, but I cannot remain silent when I witness the misconduct of the elected and appointed people who represent the people of Utah,” said the former Salt Lake City mayor and State MP Jackie Biskupski at a press conference on the steps of the State Capitol. “I respectfully urge the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management to conduct a thorough investigation of state mineral lease spending in the state of Utah since 2009 and to take the necessary steps to ensure that local Utah communities receive these funds for their community- and infrastructure projects. “

Today’s report reinforces the findings of a 2020 report from Utah’s Office of the Legislative Auditor General, who raised serious concerns about the Community Impact Board, including the board’s failure to properly fund economic development projects. Despite the findings and recommendations of the audit, the board of directors continued to abuse public funds.

“We call on the legislature and the Utah Community Impact Board to adopt the recommendations set out in the report, including a motion to ban the use of CIB public funds on projects designed to promote or facilitate the extraction of fossil fuels, in accordance with federal law. “Said Carly Ferro, executive director of the Sierra Club’s Utah Chapter. “The Sierra Club will continue to hold regulators and industry accountable for ensuring that polluters are given priority over people. We must continue to invest in communities, people and the environment, and only together can we achieve what is possible. “

“The misuse of money by the Community Impact Fund Board, which is legally intended to help communities affected by the dirty fossil fuel industry, is reprehensible and illegal,” said Jonny Vasic, executive director of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. “These funds should be used to help local communities deal with the impact of the mining industry, not to duplicate a polluting industry that affects people’s health and contributes to climate change.”

Utah Clean Infrastructure partners include the Center for Biological Diversity, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Sierra Club, Rural Utah Project, Utah Physicians for a Health Environment, Utah Tar Sands Resistance, Living Rivers, Utah Environmental Caucus, No Coal In Oakland, No Coal In Richmond and the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah (HEAL Utah).

Unique: MeWe appears to be like to boost cash to gasoline enlargement

MeWe, a subscription-based social media platform that sees itself as a privacy-oriented alternative to Facebook, wants to raise two new rounds of money to boost its growth, says its founder and chief evangelist Mark Weinstein to Axios.

The news is driving: The company is in talks with strategic investors, mostly venture capital and private equity groups, over a round it plans to raise between $ 10 million and $ 30 million this year, Weinstein says. He hopes to raise even more money the following year, up to $ 75 million.

  • MeWe has raised $ 23 million to date from a number of high net worth donors including former NFL executive Rick Smith, designer Rachel Roy, professional surfer Kelly Slater, and Earth Wind and Fire bassist Verdine White.
  • Going forward, the company plans to raise capital from strategic investors, possibly including media or communications companies, to scale it up and invest more in marketing. To date, most of the growth has been organic.

According to the numbers: In an interview with Axios, Weinstein says MeWe benefited from some of the censorship lawsuits brought against large social networks this year, most of which were from conservatives.

  • The company, which said break-even last year, had revenue of over $ 3 million in the first four months of 2021 and expects to see $ 8 million to $ 10 million for the full year. That’s way more than the $ 1.165 million in 2020 and $ 137,000 in 2019.
  • According to Weinstein, the app now has 20 million registered users, up from nine million in October. Of these, around 20-30% are considered monthly active users.
  • The app, which is available in 20 languages, has a global user base with around 50% of users from North America, 26% from Asia, 23% from Europe and 1% from Australia. It also advertises a fairly even age distribution among users.

The big picture: MeWe is part of a growing class of alternative social media networks that have gained prominence among users who feel unjustly censored by mainstream social platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

  • While some of these networks, including MeWe, insist on being politically neutral, many have gained popularity with the right and among Trump supporters, who argue that they were censored after the January 6th Uprising in the Capitol.
  • MeWe has its share of Moderation battles since then. As a sign of the company’s conscientious efforts to moderate content, Weinstein points out that MeWe’s tech partners – app stores like Google and Facebook and web servers like Amazon – never banned it as with Parler Par.
  • Weinstein points out several groups on the platform, including Berner for progress, Progressive views and Warren Democrats, as proof that the site welcomes all points of view.

Details: Unlike most social media platforms, the app makes all of its money from users paying for memberships and premium products like additional cloud storage. It doesn’t sell or plan to sell targeted advertising.

  • It also avoids using algorithms to rank posts in its feed, which leaves users’ feeds “natural and not manipulated”.
  • “We have no censorship bias,” says Weinstein. “We don’t allow hate speech or speech that incites violence, but we’re not going to censor you for being progressive or conservative.”
  • Still, 99% of the open groups on the platform are not political, says Weinstein. “MeWe is a mainstream social network. It appeals to all good people.”

What to see: MeWe isn’t the only alternative social network that has caught the attention of investors.

  • YouTube alternative Rumble raised an undisclosed amount of money from conservative investors including Peter Thiel and Senate candidate JD Vance earlier this year. The new. Money values ​​the video sharing app at $ 500 million each The Wall Street Journal.

Inventory picks to climate excessive gasoline pump costs

Gas prices rose over $ 3 per gallonThis was the highest level since the end of 2014, when the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline depressed supplies.

The price hike precedes what is expected to be a busy summer cruising season, with reopenings and pent-up demand fueling consumer travel.

However, Mark Tepper, president of Strategic Wealth Partners, doesn’t expect this to fail summer road trips.

“If you think about it, a family of four has received over $ 10,000 from the government over the past year. On July 1, they are paid $ 300 per month per child, so you know an additional $ 100 per child for a month or so that they pay at the pump is really nothing in the grand scheme of things, considering what’s going on right now, “Tepper told CNBC.”Trading nation” On Wednesday.

Tepper added that rising airline prices could also force consumers to take road trips via flying to vacation destinations.

“The company I like here is Six flags. I like it when the regional amusement park plays over the target parks Disney and Water world. I think they’re easier to get to, you can go there, you can go on a day trip, you can go for a weekend, “said Tepper.

Shares in Six Flags, a park operator valued at $ 3.5 billion, are up 21% in 2021, more than double the earnings for the broader market. Tepper said the stock has room to grow.

“Six Flags is trading at a discount, and I really think expectations and earnings revisions for these people will keep rising over the next few quarters, so I think it’s a buy here,” he said.

According to FactSet, the company is projected to post a loss of 82 cents per share in fiscal 2021, which is less than the pandemic loss of nearly $ 5 per share in 2020. In 2022, earnings are projected to be $ 1.92 per share.

Gina Sanchez, CEO of Chantico Global and chief market strategist at Lido Advisors, likes Six Flags in the short term but says that another game at the amusement park is a better choice in the long term.

“Disney has a few other legs to offer besides the park game as they also have Disney Plus and many other elements in their business,” Sanchez said in the same interview. “We think it’s still attractive because the prospects for these destination parks are still pretty bleak. … Disney was the hottest park in the world before Covid. I think it will still be the hottest park after Covid.”

Disney will report the win after the bell on Thursday. Analysts expect a profit of 26 cents per share compared to 60 cents per share in the previous year. The parks and experiences segment accounts for 23% of total sales.

Disclosure: Lido holds Disney.

Disclaimer of Liability

Cheniere and Shell gas tankers change course to keep away from logjam as oil tankers divert routes

A dredger tries to free the stranded container ship Ever Given, one of the largest container ships in the world, after it ran aground in Egypt’s Suez Canal on March 26, 2021.

Suez Canal Authority | Reuters

Companies are trying to divert shipping ships to avoid congestion on the Suez Canal, including at least two U.S. ships carrying natural gas Cheniere and Bowl/ BG Group according to information from MarineTraffic and ClipperData.

At least ten tankers and container ships change course as Ever Given, one of the largest container ships in the world, continues to be stranded along the canal along Egypt, MarineTraffic spokesman Georgios Hatzimanolis told CNBC in an interview.

“We assume that this number will increase as the closure continues,” said Hatzimanolis.

The 1,300-foot ship ran aground on Tuesday en route from Malaysia to the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The stranded ship has caused other ships to return in the canal, holding goods worth around $ 400 million an hour, according to Lloyd’s List shipping journal. That has slowly increased in recent days after Egypt’s repeated efforts to get the 247,000-ton container ship afloat again failed. The officials there are digging sand around the earthed ship on the banks of the canal with eight large tugs and excavation equipment.

According to MarineTraffic, 97 ships are stuck in the upper part of the canal, 23 ships are waiting in the middle and 108 ships are waiting in the lower part. The traffic jam extends through the Red Sea, past the Gulf of Aden to the border between Yemen and Oman.

“Ships from Asia to Europe are being diverted in the Indian Ocean below the southern tip of Sri Lanka,” added Hatzimanolis. For Europe-bound ships from Asia, the journey through Africa instead of the canal can take up to seven days, he said.

The LNG tanker Maran Gas Andros took off from Ingleside, Texas on March 19, loaded with Cheniere fuel and a deadweight of 170,000 cubic meters of liquefied natural gas. Pan Americas’ LNG tanker carrying Shell / BG fuel left Sabine Pass on March 17 and can carry up to 174,000 cubic meters of liquefied natural gas. Matt Smith, Director of Commodity Research at ClipperData, confirmed which companies are using the ships.

Both tankers changed course in the middle of the North Atlantic before sailing around the cape.

ClipperData is also showing the Suezmax Marlin Santorini loaded with 700,000 barrels of Midland West Texas intermediate crude oil diverted away from the canal. Smith said the original route to Suez was an “unusual diversion”.

“The vast majority of US crude exports avoid the Suez Canal and instead head either to Europe or to Asia around the Cape of Good Hope,” said Smith. The Suezmax Marlin was at Magellan’s Seabrook Terminal in Houston, Texas on March 10, where it was replenished with 330,000 barrels of West Texas light crude before heading to the Galveston firing zone a day later.

The ship then left the United States, declaring itself for Port Said in northeastern Egypt, but turned south on Thursday after passing the Azores near Portugal. “The ship has yet to update its declared destination,” said Smith.

ClipperData shows the number of fully loaded fuel tankers waiting outside Port Said and on the US Gulf Coast. From Friday afternoon, two more tankers and a Suezmax, the largest tanker that can navigate the Suez Canal and transport vacuum gas oil from the USA, drove past Crete and anchored off the coast of Egypt.

Another ship, the container ship HMM Rotterdam, turned away from the canal shortly before entering the Strait of Gibraltar and changed course to circumnavigate Africa.

Peter Sand, chief shipping analyst at BIMCO, said the diversion pattern is similar for other ships.

“We see not only container ships diverting in both directions, but also LNG carriers and dry matter from the US Gulf of Mexico,” said Sand. “The ships turn sharply right in the middle of the Atlantic to head south to the Cape of Good Hope and avoid the traffic jam around Suez.”

Kevin Book, managing director of ClearView Energy Partners, says while a long Suez hiatus introduces latency into the utility system, the length of the delay depends on where the ship started, where it is going, and where it changed course in the voyage Has .

“For US golf exporters, circumnavigating the Horn means only three days or less at sea for the port of Tokyo,” Book said. “For cargoes from Doha to northwestern Europe, this route could take ten days.”

Cargo originating in the Gulf of Mexico and stuck in the Mediterranean Sea may face a ten-day diversion instead of three, he said.

At the time of publication, Cheniere and Shell / BG responded to CNBC’s request for comment.

MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company said 11 of his ships were diverted, 19 ships were anchored on either side of the canal and two ships were turned back from Friday afternoon.

The blockade of the Suez Canal is one of the “biggest disruptions to world trade in recent years,” said Caroline Becquart, senior vice president of MSC, in an email on Saturday.

“We expect the second quarter of 2021 to be more disruptive than the first three months and maybe even more challenging than the end of last year,” she said. “Companies should expect the Suez blockade to reduce shipping capacity and equipment in the coming months, and thus to some deterioration in the reliability of the supply chain.”

Overview: An indiscretion, a stalker and a marriage gas novel | Leisure

This cover photo, published by William Morrow, shows “Every Vow You Break” by Peter Swanson.


From BRUCE DeSILVA Associated Press

“Every Vow You Break” by Peter Swanson (William Morrow)

When Bruce, a fabulously wealthy financier, suggests Abigail after just three appointments, she says yes. Then she gets drunk at a bachelorette party he paid for and sleeps with a complete stranger. She feels guilty afterwards, if not terribly, and decides to keep the indiscretion to herself.

But when she returns to New York, the stranger who goes by the name of Scott emails her asking her to annul the marriage because she belongs to him. She tries to gently let him down, but then at their wedding she believes that she sees him lurking outside.

This beginning – and the book title “Every Vow You Break,” reminiscent of a famous stalker song by The Police – prepares readers for what the publisher’s hype has promised. A thriller.

But for a thriller, the first 130 pages unfold at an excruciatingly slow pace. Writer Peter Swanson takes time to tell us about Abigail’s childhood in a small Massachusetts town where her parents own a local theater. He tells us about Abigail’s first friend. And her second. And you third. It turns out that none of this has anything to do with the plot, nor does it develop its character in any way that explains their later actions.

If readers stick with it, Swanson will pick up the pace about halfway through. Abigail’s fear of Scott and her fear of losing Bruce to indiscretion grows – and then turns into horror when the stalker crashes her honeymoon at a nightmarishly strange island resort.