Hong Kong has to maintain zero-Covid coverage for now: Authorities advisor

Hong Kong must stick to its zero-covid strategy until more people are vaccinated, a government adviser told CNBC on Wednesday.

“If 95% of our eligible population are fully vaccinated with three doses, there is a chance we can open our border,” said Yuen Kwok-yung, who is part of the Hong Kong Expert Advisory Committee on Covid-19.

The Chinese city is far from achieving this goal. Only 68.6% of the total population had received two doses of a vaccine by Wednesday. according to government information. About 322,781 people, or about 4.4% of the population, received their third injection.

One way to increase vaccination rates is to require a vaccination certificate for daily living, said Yuen, who also heads the microbiology department at the University of Hong Kong.

“Maybe this is [the] This is the only way to ensure, as in Israel, that a high level of vaccination coverage is achieved, “he said. Fully vaccinated people in Israel are a “green pass” that allows them to enter indoor locations such as restaurants, gyms and cinemas.

Zero Covid Strategy

At the moment, Hong Kong cannot change its strategies, Yuen told CNBC “Squawk Box Asia.”

“At this point it is the same. We have to continue with our current close to zero policy,” he said.

Hong Kong requires people who enter the city to Quarantine for up to 21 days and do multiple Covid-19 tests“Measures, Yuen said, are necessary to control the source of the infection.

But the city’s zero-covid approach is that too biggest frustration for overseas companies operating there, an analyst told CNBC on Tuesday.

However, Yuen said the city has no plans to maintain zero-Covid indefinitely only until it hits “adequate” vaccination rates.

“It’s impossible to keep it going for more than three years,” he added. “I think the government has to set a deadline for the coming years by which everyone has to have a vaccination certificate … to get around.”

Vaccination is compulsory for some activities in Hong Kong, but the borders for the unvaccinated are much looser than in places like Israel or Singapore.

Hong Kong has reported 12,548 confirmed Covid cases since the pandemic began, including 34 cases of the Omicron variant. according to government information on Wednesday.

– CNBC’s Weizhen Tan contributed to this report.

Fed might tighten cash coverage this 12 months, inflation dangers low

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank could start reversing its monetary policy as early as this year – predicting that inflation, while worrying, is temporary and will ease in the coming months.

At the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank’s annual symposium, Powell highlighted job growth and economic recovery and said, “It may be appropriate to start slowing asset purchases this year.”

Powell added that the $ 120 billion reduction in monthly bond purchases shouldn’t hurt the economy. “Even after our stock purchases end, our increased holdings of long-term stocks will continue to support accommodative financial conditions,” he said.

Powell did not say when the Fed would hike rates – a topic of discussion at the September 21st Fed meeting – but suggested that it was not imminent. Ahead of a rate hike, Powell said the Fed would try to keep inflation at 2 percent and ensure employment growth is sustained.

The Delta variant turned the Fed’s plans to meet in person in Jackson Hole on its head – and could also undo all plans to hike interest rates.AP

“The timing and pace of the impending reduction in asset purchases is not intended to be a direct signal of the timing of future rate hikes,” added Powell.

Powell’s speech comes as the debate over inflation and bond purchases reaches a climax. On Thursday and Friday, four different Federal Reserve officials called for an end to policies as inflation spikes.

The meeting, which is typically held in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, was held virtually for the second year in a row. Conference organizers announced just last week that they were moving from a face-to-face event to a virtual format for fear of the ultra-contagious Delta variant.

The recent surge in coronavirus cases hampered both the conference and the Fed’s plans to slow the pace of bond purchases and potentially hike rates. Still, Powell said he believed Delta was only a “short-term” risk.

In a Friday morning interview with CNBC, Loretta J. Mester, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, said, “We just don’t need the same type of accommodation that we needed at the height of the crisis, and I’m comfortable with it we met our conditions. “

Chairman Jerome Powell’s message boosted markets – the Dow won more than 200 points after his speech.AP

Powell spent much of his speech discussing inflationary concerns, noting that responding to inflation can “do more harm than good” because inflation is often “transitory”.

“Inflation at this level is of course worrying. But that concern is mitigated by a number of factors that suggest these elevated levels are likely to prove temporary, ”he said.

Market watchers paid close attention to Powell’s remarks – and appeared largely satisfied with his message. After his speech, the Dow Jones industry average rose more than 227 points to 35,440.50 on Friday.

61% of People paid no federal revenue taxes in 2020, Tax Coverage Middle says

John Ewing | Portland Press Herald | Getty Images

More than 100 million US households, or 61% of all taxpayers, did not pay federal income taxes in the past year, so a new report.

The pandemic and federal incentives resulted in a huge increase in the number of Americans who either owed no federal income tax or received tax credits from the government. According to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, 107 million households owed no income tax in 2020, up from 76 million – or 44% of all taxpayers – in 2019.

“It’s a really big number,” said Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center. “It’s really ephemeral too.”

Gleckman said the main reasons for the surge – high unemployment, extensive economic controls and generous tax credits – would largely end after 2022, so the proportion of non-taxpayers would start to decline again from next year.

The percentage of Americans who do not pay income taxes is expected to remain high this year at around 57%, according to the Tax Policy Center. It is expected to drop back to 42% in 2022 and stay at around 41% or 42% through 2025, “assuming the economy continues to recover and several temporary tax breaks expire as planned,” Gleckman said.

Although fleeting, the large number of non-taxpayers will fuel the debate in Congress about higher taxes for the rich. Many Democrats say the rich don’t pay their fair share, citing a number of recent articles in ProPublica showing that billionaires are including Jeff Bezos and Carl Icahn No federal income tax paid in certain years. The $ 3.5 trillion reconciliation bill in Congress is expected to include increases in capital gains taxes, a higher top ordinary income rate, a higher corporate tax rate, and other measures aimed at those earning $ 400,000 or more.

Some Republicans argue that the tax structure is already progressive and relies heavily on the income of a small group of high earners and corporations at the top, while many Americans pay little or no tax. The percentage of Americans who do not pay federal income taxes has been about 44% over the past decade, according to the Tax Policy Center.

The top 20% of taxpayers paid 78% of federal income taxes in 2020, up from 68% in 2019, according to the Tax Policy Center. The top 1% of taxpayers paid 28% of taxes in 2020, up from 25% in 2019.

For 2021, the congress is the size of Child tax credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child and care allowance – All of this erased federal taxes owed millions of American families.

No household earning less than $ 28,000 will pay federal taxes this year due to the loan and tax changes, according to the Tax Policy Center. About 43% of middle-income households do not pay federal income tax.

Income tax equalization payments last year for many families in terms of dollars have been small, Gleckman said.

“Imagine if someone owed $ 1,500 in income tax in 2020 until they received two stimulus payments – $ 1,200 in April and $ 600 in December,” he said. “That put them in the non-payers category. While the payments resulted in a large percentage increase in their after-tax income, the dollar amount of their tax cut was only a tiny fraction of a high-income applicant who received a tax cut from. got, say, $ 30,000 in 2017 [Tax Cuts and Jobs Act]but still owed some taxes. “

Federal income taxes do not include wage taxes. The Tax Policy Center estimates that only 20% of households have not paid federal income tax or wage tax. And “almost everyone” paid a different form of tax, including state and local sales taxes, excise taxes, property taxes, and state income taxes, the report said.

CDC to reverse indoor masks coverage, saying totally vaccinated folks ought to put on them indoors in Covid scorching spots

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to recommend Tuesday that fully vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in locations with high Covid-19 transmission rates, according to those familiar with the matter.

According to the sources, federal health officials still believe that fully vaccinated individuals represent a very low level of transmission. Still, some people who were vaccinated could carry higher amounts of the virus than previously thought and potentially pass the virus on to others, they said.

The updated forecast comes before the fall season, when the highly contagious Delta variant is expected cause another increase in new Coronavirus Cases and many large employers are planning to bring workers back into the office.

Continue reading: Americans will need masks indoors as the US is heading for a “dangerous fall” with a surge in Delta Covid cases

Health experts fear that Delta, already the dominant form of the disease in the US, hits states with low vaccination rates and high prevalence of the virus. These states are now being forced to reintroduce mask rules, capacity limits and other public health measures that they have largely withdrawn in recent months.

The Whites’ chief medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday the CDC was considering revising mask guidelines for vaccinated Americans, saying it was “in active consideration.”

“It’s a dynamic situation. It’s in the works, it’s developing like so many other areas of the pandemic, “Fauci, also director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, told CNN. “You need to look at the data.”

The CDC guidelines are just a recommendation, leaving it up to state and local officials to reintroduce their masking rules for specific individuals. But even before the expected guidance from the CDC on Tuesday, some regions were reintroduced Mask mandates and notices.

Several California and Nevada counties are now advising all residents to wear masks in public indoor spaces, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not. In Massachusetts, Provincetown officials advised everyone to return to wearing masks indoors after the July 4 celebrations resulted in an outbreak of new cases.

Dr. Paul Offit, a pediatrician and vaccine advocate who served on advisory boards for both the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC earlier this month that the US is still “undervaccinated” and about half the population is not fully vaccinated be .

Even people who are fully protected have cause for concern when it comes to variants of Covid, Offit said. While the vaccines protect well against serious illness and death, they may not protect as well against minor illness or the spread of Covid to others, he said. No vaccine is 100% effective, he noted.

“It is not a bold prediction to believe that SARS-CoV-2 will be circulating in two or three years. I mean, there are 195 countries out there, most of which haven’t received a single dose of vaccine. ”“ Offit said. “Will it still be circulating in the United States? I think that would be very, very likely.”

Israel publishes preliminary data Last week showed that the Pfizer vaccine there was only 39% effective against the virus, which officials attributed to the fast-spreading Delta variant. Its effectiveness against serious illness and death remained high, the data showed.

– CNBC’s Meg Tirrell and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Suga’s top-down administration fashion beneath scrutiny after collection of speedy coverage shifts

While Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga calls for a faster introduction of vaccines for a nation that is catching up with much of the developed world, his top-down leadership style is being scrutinized after weeks of quick decisions that bypassed even members of his own cabinet.

Within a month, Suga quickly set ambitious vaccine targets. Opening of mass vaccination sites carried out by the self-defense forces who complete all vaccinations for people aged 65 and over by the end of July and The goal is 1 million doses per day. Annoyed by a surprisingly slow rollout, the prime minister turned to a commanding style that he refined during his nearly eight years as chief cabinet secretary in an attempt to find a more ambitious way forward.

“I think vaccines are the key to protecting every life,” Suga said on May 14.

However, this top-down approach of delivering results quickly could backfire and undermine the government’s traditional chain of command.

In fact, the government’s armament may already be cracked: when Suga decided to put three prefectures – Hiroshima, Okayama, and Hokkaido – under quasi-emergency viral measures instead of a full state of emergency in mid-May, it was him forced to withdraw due to strong objections from experts in a government body.

More than eight months after taking office, the Suga government continues to grapple with how to resolve disagreements between officials and present a unified front to the public. As chief cabinet secretary, Suga has been recognized for his exceptional ability to coordinate with various government agencies and bureaucrats. The lack of a Suga-like figure in his own cabinet has been lamented by some, including Suga’s old boss Shinzo Abe, who noted that there is no Suga in the Suga administration.

“Someone who is responsible for the coordination within the administration becomes a bulwark against the high-ranking ruler. So it is okay to have discussions or hesitation about political decisions between them,” said Takashi Ryuzaki, former political reporter and political scientist professor at Ryutsu Keizai University.

“However, when a prime minister tries to coordinate himself and his decisions are incoherent, questions about his determination arise, as is the case now. … I have the impression that Suga can only be satisfied when he has to make decisions about everything. “

Suga showed his appetite for control with recent measures taken to respond to the health crisis by issuing orders directly to cabinet ministers.

Earlier this year, he hired Taro Kono as minister in charge of introducing the vaccine and Minoru Kihara, a special adviser to the prime minister, to oversee border control operations. The changes came despite two ministers – Health Minister Norihisa Tamura and Economic Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura – already tasked with handling the government’s coronavirus response.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks to reporters with Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi (left) at a major vaccination center in Tokyo on Monday. | POOL / VIA KYODO

He later switched on other cabinet ministers. On April 27, Suga ordered Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi to accelerate plans to open mass vaccination centers for the Self-Defense Forces in Osaka and Tokyo as both metropolitan areas were hit by a fourth wave of infections. These instructions bypassed Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, Nishimura, Tamura and Kono.

Until then, the municipalities were solely responsible for carrying out vaccinations according to the Ministry of Health’s timetable. Frustrated by the slow progress hampered by bureaucratic bureaucracy, the Prime Minister’s office continued the plan to mobilize SDF doctors and nurses to vaccinate up to 10,000 people a day in Tokyo and 5,000 a day in Osaka.

Other decisions followed a similar path.

During a press conference on April 23, the Prime Minister outlined his plan to have vaccines for every 36 million people aged 65 and over by the end of July. On May 7th, he also introduced a target of 1 million doses a day to meet the July target. Much like the plan for mass vaccination sites, Suga issued direct orders to Minister Ryota Takeda to have his Department of Home Affairs and Communications assist municipalities in ensuring a smooth vaccination program.

The prime minister’s top-down decision-making process has been an essential feature of the administration. With a view to speed, Suga used similar tactics in terms of carbon neutrality, cell phone bills, and digitization.

Rather than giving instructions to his chief cabinet secretary, who usually acts as the prime minister’s ambassador, Suga has shown a willingness to bypass Kato and deal directly with ministers. He often calls them to the Prime Minister’s office for updates and, if necessary, reprimanding them in order to speed up the project they are working on.

Ryuzaki of Ryutsu Keizai University noted that while Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga acted as an intermediary between Abe and other ministers and bureaucrats, he was frequently asked to make decisions on behalf of the Prime Minister. Suga has apparently not outgrown this position as he “does the same thing as the chief cabinet secretary,” said Ryuzaki.

“The prime minister has different issues to deal with, so there is a limit to what a person can do,” he said. “The Prime Minister makes the final decision based on the premise that there is someone in charge of broad coordination, as Mr Suga used to be. In other words, no prime minister can make all the decisions alone.

When Abe was prime minister, he consulted with a narrow circle of elite bureaucrats. He controlled the bureaucracy through Suga and Kazuhiro Sugita, the deputy head of cabinet, in order to carry out his political decisions.

Together, they employed a top-down style of leadership that expanded the decision-making authority of the Prime Minister’s office rather than letting the bureaucrats take responsibility for their own departments. Suga has earned a reputation among bureaucrats for not being ready to listen to opposing views and not hesitating to dismount them if they persistently disagree with his policies.

Sugita, who still serves as assistant cabinet secretary, reportedly orchestrated the mass vaccination plan with the help of the Self-Defense Forces. In his role, Sugita is supposed to support the chief cabinet secretary and manage bureaucrats as their head of administration. Despite his successful push for the mass vaccination sites, he appears to be less involved in making coronavirus policy decisions compared to his time under Abe. Instead, Suga often consults directly with advisor Hiroto Izumi and three senior officials from the Ministry of Health.

In terms of coordination within the administration, someone like Sugita could temporarily help with crisis management, but it would be difficult for someone in his position to do so continuously, said Izuru Makihara, a professor of Japanese politics at the University of Tokyo.

“I believe there has to be someone who can govern all ministers involved in the coronavirus response in the long term,” Makihara said.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga attends a Cabinet meeting with Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato (left) on May 14 KYODO

There are signs that the lack of a reliable coordinator and Suga’s leadership style may not be tenable.

On May 14, the government asked experts in a government body for approval to take emergency countermeasures against several prefectures, including Okayama and Hiroshima, and not to grant Hokkaido a state of emergency. Apparently concerned about the economic impact of a total state of emergency, Suga urged a targeted approach to stem an increasing wave of infections in these areas.

The experts, who by then had reliably approved government decisions, rebelled against Suga’s assessment: Both infectious disease specialists and economists questioned the government’s plan to keep these regions out of a state of emergency – especially Hokkaido, which has a record of 712 new cases reported the day before.

Nishimura surrendered, left in the middle of the panel and rushed to the prime minister’s office. Nishimura then conferred with Suga, Health Minister Tamura and Kato after a cabinet meeting.

In an unprecedented move, Suga went back to his decision and decided to enforce the emergency. The government gave in because almost everyone on the panel felt the strictest option was necessary, according to a senior administrator familiar with the development.

The opposition camp took the opportunity to criticize Suga’s flip-flop.

Jun Azumi, the head of the Constitutional Democratic Party on Food, reprimanded Suga, claiming the incident broke public confidence in the government’s ability to govern itself.

The turnaround exposed the government’s inadequate coordination, Ryuzaki said.

Normally, Nishimura would have “called Kato asking for Suga’s decision, which is the role of chief cabinet secretary,” said Ryuzaki. “But Nishimura rushed to the prime minister’s office knowing that talking to Kato would be meaningless and would have to ask Suga’s decision.” directly to contain the situation. “

“Nishimura should rightly have known what the experts would propose (the day before the panel discussion) and advise the prime minister, if not the chief cabinet secretary,” he said. “But he knows the Prime Minister would tell him, ‘It’s your job to convince the experts.’ … Since Suga adopts such a style, the current environment would not have allowed Nishimura to give the Prime Minister his opinion beforehand. “

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Goal, Starbucks replace masks coverage for vaccinated prospects

A person wearing a protective mask enters a Starbucks coffee shop in San Francisco, California, United States on Thursday, January 21, 2021.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

aim and Starbucks On Monday, it was joined by a growing list of retailers and restaurants that will simplify mask requirements for fully vaccinated customers unless local or state laws require face coverings.

Companies began changing their guidelines for wearing masks in shops and cafes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that fully vaccinated people no longer have to cover their faces indoors.

Walmart, Costco, Trader Joe’s and Publix were among the first to make mask-free shopping possible. But Home Depot, gap and Ulta Beauty are among those who said they would keep theirs pandemic Take precautions while monitoring the latest developments.

In a statement, Target also said employees do not need to wear masks when fully vaccinated. It said it would keep other security measures like extra cleaning and social distancing in its stores.

The CDC said Thursday that in most cases, whether indoors or outdoors, fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask or stay 6 feet away from others. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose Pfizer– –BioNTech or Modern Vaccines or the single dose of Johnson & Johnson.

The sudden change by the federal agency created confusion and criticism. At the weekend, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and the Chief Medical Officer of the White House, Dr. Anthony Fauci made the rounds on news broadcasts to explain and defend the policy change.

Some feel the new guidance will encourage more people to be vaccinated, However, others are concerned that policies rely too heavily on people being honest about their vaccination status. The possibility of unvaccinated people going maskless is an issue for those who have not yet been vaccinated or have children under the age of 12 who cannot yet receive the vaccine.

As of Saturday, around 47% of the US population had received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the CDC. According to the agency, around 37% are fully vaccinated.

Walmart executives said in the memo that the retailer “will continue to require unvaccinated customers and members to wear face covers in our stores and clubs.” They said the stores will have updated signs to reflect this new policy. They didn’t say whether or how Walmart will check whether customers are vaccinated or not.

For employees who want to work in a store, distribution center, or other facility without a mask, Walmart will check their status by asking if they have been vaccinated or not. It will be based on the person’s answer of “yes” or “no” in a daily health assessment.

“Integrity is one of our core values, and we trust that employees respect this principle when responding,” the memo reads.

However, in order to receive a vaccination bonus, according to Walmart, employees must present their original, completed vaccination cards to a store manager or HR manager. Starting next Tuesday, each person will be entitled to US $ 75 “as a thank you for the vaccination.” All U.S. employees below the branch manager level are eligible.

CNBC Health & Science

Read the latest coverage from CNBC on the Covid pandemic:

CDC cheered and criticized for new mask leadership; Retail workers don’t want to be vaccination police

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Air, train and bus travelers still have to wear masks even if they are vaccinated

According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people do not need to wear face masks indoors or outdoors in most environments

The company is currently evaluating whether masks may still be required for certain health and hygienic labor regulations and will be releasing additional guidance shortly. Employees can continue to wear masks as they wish.

Walmart’s policy change is a departure from other major retailersincluding aim, gap and Ulta Beauty, that is, they will be kept pandemic Logs. However, Trader Joe’s said customers could shop without a mask if they were fully vaccinated.

The update to Starbucks’ mask policy does not appear to have any impact on the wearing of the mask by baristas. Since February, the coffee chain has been requiring its restaurant employees at company-operated locations in the United States and Canada to wear multi-layer face covers or double masks. Starbucks has required face coverings in his cafes for customers since July 15th.

Starbucks shares are up nearly 4% so far this year, giving the company a market value of $ 131 billion. Business was hit by the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, but sales in the same store in the US returned to pre-pandemic levels during the second fiscal quarter.

The target stocks have risen by almost 20% since the beginning of the year. It has a market value of $ 105 billion.

China cash charges hit 21-month excessive on vacation demand, coverage tightening worries

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the central bank, is pictured in Beijing, China on September 28, 2018. REUTERS / Jason Lee

Emerging markets

Reuters employees

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s short-term monetary interest rates extended rallies to over 21-month highs on Wednesday as investors feared policymakers may move to a tighter stance to cool price and property market gains.

Unlike in recent years, the central bank has not made any net liquidity injections into the banking system to meet the strong demand for cash for the long New Year holidays. In fact, it used up the funds and surprised dealers.

The vacation starts on February 11th of this year.

On Wednesday, the volume-weighted average price of the Chinese benchmark overnight repurchase agreements (repo) traded on the interbank market rose to 2.976% by late morning, an increase of 20.14 basis points on the day and the highest level since April 17, 2019.

The 7-day repo rose to 6.0%, its highest level since June 27, 2018.

China’s major stock indices were up more than 4% this month before pulling back in recent days.

“Cash conditions are very tight today,” said a trader at a foreign bank.

“Investors have given up hope for high-quality liquidity support before the New Year celebrations.”

People’s Bank of China (PBOC) injected 180 billion yuan ($ 27.86 billion) through open market operations at the beginning of the session, as opposed to at least 2 billion yuan a day in previous sessions, but still 100 billion yuan on a net basis 280 billion yuan withdrawn should expire.

The PBOC said the injection was intended to “keep the liquidity of the banking system adequate” as budget spending soared towards the end of the month. [CN/MMT]

A second trader at a Chinese bank said the PBOC’s moves suggested regulators were keen to reduce leverage in financial markets as many investors were betting on relatively loose monetary terms ahead of the holiday.

PBOC advisor Ma Jun said this week that if China fails to adequately change its monetary policy stance in the face of recent rapidly growing leverage, the risk of asset bubbles will remain.

“It is the forerunner that the Chinese central bank begins to normalize its monetary policy,” said Marco Sun, a financial analyst at MUFG Bank.

Other economists also warned that the central bank will gradually weaken its policy stance this year after massive emergency measures to cushion the shock from the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

“Monetary policy in 2021 will be a gradual normalization that depends on COVID-19,” said Lu Ting, China’s chief economist at Nomura.

“With the reintroduction of lockdowns and travel bans due to the recent wave of COVID-19, we believe the PBOC will be marginally slowing its normalization.”

However, the state-run Securities Times in a front-page comment urged investors not to exaggerate the impact of the central bank’s short-term liquidity operations on the equity and bond markets.

The PBOC was expected to resume the 14 day reverse repo and run medium term credit facilities (MLF) to increase liquidity and reduce financing costs to more reasonable levels.

Reporting by Winni Zhou and Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Tom Hogue and Kim Coghill

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