World air journey restoration will stay weak near-term, says analyst

International air traffic is likely to remain sluggish in the short term as uncertainties about Omicron’s Covid variant persist, according to an aviation analyst.

Brendan Sobie, independent analyst at Sobie Aviation, said omicron has achieved passenger confidence in “travel right now because things are changing every day”.

“The recovery that we hoped would continue into the first half of next year is simply not going to happen. That will be a setback, “Sobie told CNBC’s” Squawk Box Asia “on Thursday. “Because we don’t know too much about this variant and we don’t know what’s coming up.”

While much is still unknown about Omicron, the World Health Organization warned that the variant spreads “significantly faster” than the delta strain and could change the course of the pandemic.

The highly infectious variant has now been detected in at least 89 countries and forced some governments to impose stricter containment measures during the holiday season.

Singapore freezes new quarantine-free ticket sales

On Wednesday Singapore said it would freeze new ticket sales for quarantine-free travel to limit the number of Omicron cases imported.

Singapore’s vaccinated itineraries program has been key to the hinge of the country’s “Living With Covid” strategy, and the latest move is dealing a significant blow to those efforts. Stocks of Singapore’s travel stocks like Singapore Airlines fell Wednesday after the announcement.

“Singapore Airlines will be hit by the setback in the VTLs,” noted Sobie.

He added that things are not moving in the right direction for Asia Pacific airlines which is “very disappointing”.

“It’s been such a difficult year for airlines in the Asia-Pacific region – a lot worse than expected,” said Sobie.

“It looked like it would get better. Unfortunately, it is only going in the opposite direction now.”

Weak jobs report may spur, sluggish Biden’s large cash package deal

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden’s promised economic comeback hit a pace on Friday with the April job report that saw modest job gains of 266,000, complicating his $ 4 trillion boost to infrastructure, education and children.

The employment report did not show that the US economy, much as it appeared to be stuttering, picked up as the unemployment rate rose to 6.1%. Economists had forecast around a million additional jobs last month, and the humble attitudes indicated that the $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package has so far provided an uneven boost.

The numbers pose a new challenge for Biden at a critical moment in his presidency. He insists that an open embrace of massive government spending will help resolve the country’s public health and financial turmoil – and improve the political outlook for Democrats en route to next year’s election. But the disappointing employment numbers could also encourage critics and heighten Republican resistance to the infrastructure package that Biden is trying to push through Congress.

Biden responded to the report and tried to allay the concerns.

Biden delivers an infrastructure message during the trip to Louisiana

“We knew this wasn’t going to be a sprint – it would be a marathon,” he said. The Pandemic Aid Package “was designed to help us over a period of one year, not 60 days. A year. We never thought that after the first 50 or 60 days everything would be fine. Today there is more evidence that our economy is moving in the right direction. But it is clear that we still have a long way to go. “

Biden’s opponents say the legislation has exacerbated the problems in at least one way, with increased unemployment benefits giving the unemployed a reason to stay home instead of looking for work.

The president said the job data doesn’t show that. And proponents of its plans can argue that the report shows that more spending is needed to keep the economy going.

There are also problems with supply shortages for computer chips and lumber, which are holding back growth. This is a reminder that the world’s largest economy seldom perfectly matches the wishes of the legislature.

The fate of the president’s agenda could depend on how the public processes and understands the April job report in the coming weeks, said Jon Lieber, executive director of Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy and advisory firm.

Biden wants 70% of adults to get at least one shot by July 4th

“Can Republicans use this to say, ‘This is what happens when the government interferes with the economy and messes things up?’ Or does the public see this as a need for more government support? “Said Lieber.” That is the argument for the next month.

A clear aspect across the partisan borders was the need for caution in interpretation. A single monthly report can be volatile. The three-month average employment growth is still a healthy 524,000.

Michael Strain, an economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, noted that many companies have reported that they cannot find work despite increased hourly wages. Strain said he plans to monitor upcoming reports to see if this pattern is a worrying sign of Biden’s vision of how government spending can drive growth.

“If we continue to hear a growing chorus of companies complaining about labor shortages, and if wages keep rising, it will be tempting to conclude that many of the 8 million jobs we are currently missing are not returning,” said Strain.

The US Chamber of Commerce calls for the termination of the additional $ 300 per week unemployment benefit

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents companies, blamed the relatively generous unemployment benefits Biden provided as part of his relief package. The group said the controls prevent people from taking jobs.

“One step that policymakers should take now is to end the $ 300 additional weekly unemployment benefit,” said Neil Bradley, chief policy officer for the chamber. “Based on the Chamber’s analysis, the $ 300 benefit means that roughly one in four recipients takes home more unemployment than they earned.”

Jared Bernstein, a member of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, said he heard that companies were having difficulty finding workers, but he did not see those concerns in the employment report. For example, restaurants and bars created 187,000 jobs in the last month, although in theory workers in this relatively low-wage sector would have an incentive to just collect unemployment.

The job report pointed to other factors that could bolster Biden’s agenda. It showed losses to women forced to care for children and relatives due to the pandemic. The family demands prevented them from working outside of jobs.

There was a drop of 165,000 among women over 20 who had or were looking for work in the past month. In contrast, men saw labor force participation increases by 355,000.

One way to bring women back could be Biden’s plans to fund childcare, set up a national family vacation program, and expand child tax credits through 2025. The idea is that government action is needed to open up the labor market.

“Apparently, when you start blinking at this data to find out what’s going on, you need more government to tackle a labor shortage,” said Michael Madowitz, an economist at the Liberal Center for American Progress.

House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi cited the “disappointing” job report as evidence that Biden’s $ 4 trillion agenda must be approved quickly.

“The evidence is clear that the economy requires urgent action and it is not preventing or delaying Congress from making transformation investments for the people,” said the Democratic leader of the Congress.

Hasbro income falls quick on weak leisure manufacturing enterprise

FIILE PHOTO: A Monopoly board game from Hasbro Gaming can be seen in this illustrative photo taken on August 13, 2017. REUTERS / Thomas White / Illustration

Hasbro Inc. (HAS.O) Sales estimates for the first quarter were not met on Tuesday as COVID-19 delays weighed on the toy maker’s film and television production business.

The company has focused on entertainment production for the past several years to drive growth faster than traditional toy sales.

In 2019, the company acquired Entertainment One, the company behind Peppa Pig and the television series “The Walking Dead”, to quickly expand its entertainment capabilities. However, production setbacks and the closure of theaters resulted in a 34% drop in sales in the TV and film businesses.

The Monopoly maker’s net sales rose 1% to $ 1.11 billion in the three months to March 28, but fell short of analysts’ estimates of $ 1.17 billion, according to an IBES estimate by Refinitiv.

Hasbro’s net income was $ 116.2 million, or 84 cents per share, compared to a loss of $ 69.7 million, or 51 cents per share, last year.

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Vaxart shares plunge on weak antibody response to oral vaccine

An experiment Coronavirus The orally taken vaccine showed promising results in an early clinical trial of 35 healthy adults from South San Francisco Vaxart said Wednesday. Despite the results, Vaxart’s stock fell about 57%.

Vaxart scientists divided volunteers between the ages of 18 and 54 into three groups. The first group received two low doses of the vaccine – called VXA-CoV2-1 – 29 days apart, while the remaining groups received a single low or high dose.

The vaccine, contained in a small tablet, produced a type of T cell responsible for killing virus-infected cells in about 75% of the volunteers who received a single low or high dose. It is said that the reported responses are higher than those in Modern and Pfizers Vaccinations.

However, neutralizing antibodies were not detected in volunteers after a single dose, Vaxart said. Researchers believe that the antibodies play an important role in the defense of cells against the virus. The company said it is currently testing second-dose antibody responses after antibodies were detected in two-dose volunteers’ nasal swab samples.

Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the University of Toronto, said the company’s shares could fall after the first dose due to the lack of neutralizing antibodies.

“The immune response is diverse,” he said, adding that one aspect of the immune response is to make antibodies, especially neutralizing antibodies. “While it is great to see that there seems to be a decent T-cell response, the lack of antibodies detected is problematic and can reduce the effectiveness of this vaccine.”

The company said no serious adverse events were reported in the Phase 1 study, with side effects generally being mild. Volunteers reported common side effects such as headache and fatigue, and there was a “slight increase” in the high-dose group of loose stool cases, the company said.

The data will be presented on Wednesday afternoon at the New York Academy of Sciences symposium.

“The most exciting thing about the [phase one data] is that we can get a very, very strong T-cell response even after one dose, “Sean Tucker, Vaxart’s chief scientific officer, told CNBC in a telephone interview, adding that T-cells do compared to antibodies fighting the virus is likely to be “underestimated”.

The biotech company said the vaccine has the potential to provide better protection against current and emerging strains of the virus than existing vaccines. Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax have said in the past few days that their vaccines may be less effective against B.1.351. highly contagious strain found in South Africa. US officials have raised concerns that Covid may continue to mutate and defy the protection of existing vaccines.

Vaxart’s vaccine contains DNA instructions for making the spike protein that allows the virus to enter human cells, as well as instructions for making the N protein, which is involved in other processes. Tucker said the inclusion of the N protein could cause the vaccine to retain its ability to work against emergent strains.

Many other vaccines under development chose spike protein as a “primary target,” he said. “But the problem with that [spike] Protein it definitely mutates more over time. We also added the N protein, which is highly conserved in the virus. “

According to Vaxart, the vaccine is the only oral tablet in the US that has been tested in humans. Similar technology is being used to develop vaccines against influenza and norovirus.

The company was investigated and investigated by the federal government late last year for allegedly exaggerating its involvement in Operation Warp Speed, former President Donald Trump’s vaccines and treatments program. It said in a press release in June that “Vaxart’s Covid-19 vaccine was selected for US government’s Operation Warp Speed,” which rocketed its stocks.

However, it found that the company had received no federal government funding for vaccine doses and was only participating in preliminary U.S. studies to identify potential areas for potential Warp Speed ​​partnership and support. according to the New York Times.

Tucker told CNBC the company is in talks with the US and other governments to find possible ways to collaborate on its vaccine.

If Vaxart’s vaccine goes through other clinical trials and US approval, it could offer advantages over needle-based vaccines.

Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the FDA’s Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Allied Biological Products, said that an orally taken vaccine may be better accepted by the public who may be afraid of needles. Two US-approved Covid-19 vaccines – from Pfizer and Moderna – are injected into the arm and require two injections three to four weeks apart.

Vaxart said his vaccine is stable even at room temperature and does not require a freezer, which means it “can be stored and delivered to mass populations around the world”. For comparison: Pfizer’s vaccine is a must stored in ultra-cold freezers that keeps it between negative 112 and negative 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Moderna vaccine must be delivered between 13 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Vaxart said the vaccine also doesn’t require any special medical training and can be taken at home. This will help comply with social distancing guidelines while relieving the burden on the health system.

The company said it was still critical whether it was single- or two-dose therapy.

A phase 2 study is expected “in the next few months,” Tucker said. In its “Fastest Accelerated Timeline,” the company expects Phase two and three studies to be completed by early 2022.

– CNBCs Hugh Son contributed to this report.