Hudson Berkshire Experience Wed, 11 May 2022 07:15:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Hudson Berkshire Experience 32 32 Mr. Cooper Group: Prepare for a smooth second quarter (NASDAQ: COOP) Wed, 11 May 2022 07:15:00 +0000

Ridofranz/iStock via Getty Images

Investment thesis

This year, the S&P 500 (TO SPY) is down 13%. How did Mr. Cooper behave? That’s up 6.7%! This is not a sell-off in the market, but a targeted rebellion against hyper-valuation. ON FRIDAY, the S&P 500 was down 0.57%, while Mr. Cooper (NASDAQ: CO-OP) increased by 1.71%. Below is a chart showing the performance of COOP against the broader index.

COOP price performance

COOP price performance (Looking for Alpha)

COOP not only beats the market index, but also outperforms its peers. The mortgage origination and servicing business is enjoying spectacular momentum, reflected in SA’s exclusive ranking score below:

Mr. Cooper Group Momentum Score

Coop Price Momentum Score (Looking for Alpha)

What is the secret of COOP’s resilience in the face of the current market turmoil? Answering the question can shed light on the nature of the market selloff and some company-specific characteristics of COOP’s portfolio, helping to set expectations for the rest of the year.

From a macro perspective, COOP offers exposure to renewed interest in the real estate market. Although COOP does not invest in real estate, loan-to-value ratios are falling as real estate prices rise, which bodes well for its business in terms of reduced risk and more refinancing opportunities. high.

This momentum is partially offset by the Fed’s efforts to slow growth by raising interest rates. Mortgage Service Rights (“MSR”) offers counter-cyclical characteristics, offsetting the effect of rising interest rates on its origination business. This is all the more true since COOP derives more than two-thirds of its income from MSRs.

Revenue Trends

MSRs are one of the few fixed income assets that increase in value with rising interest rates. How many of these assets does COOP own? A lot. Below is a breakdown of COOP’s portfolio.

Breakdown of the COOP portfolio

Breakdown of the COOP portfolio (Author’s estimates, quarterly reports)

A quick overview of COOP operations is provided for those new to the business. MSRs are the right and obligation to administer a mortgage by collecting and transmitting payments to lenders. Other services include answering borrowers’ questions, sending payment reminders, collecting late fees, foreclosure and liquidation in the event of default. Lenders, including government-sponsored “GSE” companies, such as Fannie Mae, Ginnie Mae and Freddie Mac, outsource these services to COOP to focus on core operations.

Beyond these services, MSR companies play a vital role in providing liquidity to the market. If you look at COOP’s portfolio, you will see 10% advances and other receivables. What is that? When a borrower is in default or in arrears, COOP will continue to pay mortgage payments and ancillary fees to its banking customers (known as Servicer Advances). Eventually, COOP recovers these payments either from the bank or after seizure and liquidation of the property.

It should be noted that from an operational point of view, this process is a little more complex and includes custodial accounts which also provide a safety net in the event of default. Additionally, third-party maintenance often means faster recoveries, often within thirty days. Beyond these operational details, from a risk/reward perspective, MSRs offer predictable monthly income, with multiple safety nets in the event of default.

Historically, rising interest rates have discouraged prepayment of mortgages, extending the average term of mortgage balances. The longer borrowers extend their loans, the longer they remain COOP customers. For this reason, when interest rates rise, MSRs become more valuable, contributing to COOP’s book value.

Instead of waiting for lenders to ask for help servicing their mortgages, COOP originates loans, using its field offices across the country before selling them to banks and lending institutions while retaining the MSR, rebuilding its business with more assets. It currently holds $3.4 billion in mortgages, most of which are held for sale.

Investors should expect a slowdown in origination activity over the next few quarters as the Fed raises interest rates. The good news is that COOP generates 71% of its revenue from its MSRs, which should benefit from a rising interest rate environment.

Financial situation

Last year, the company sold several non-core segments, including its Title business to Blend Labs (BLND), its Valuation segment at Voxtur Analytics (OTCQB: VXTRF), and its Field Services business to Cyprexx Services, making a gain of $528 million. The divestments helped streamline operations, contributing to Moody’s decision to upgrade COOP’s credit rating to investment grade.

Having a strong balance sheet is particularly important for COOP, which has to pay advances if a borrower defaults, and the recovery process could be lengthy. To finance its working capital, the company opened several short-term credit facilities, with a total drawdown capacity of $17 billion, of which $5 billion is drawn, leaving an additional $12 billion of safety net for finance working capital when and if necessary.

Beyond the credit facilities, all of COOP’s long-term debt is tied to fixed rates, protecting it from rising interest rates until maturity, when it will likely refinance at higher rates. students. All of its outstanding $2.7 billion notes mature after 2026.


It’s more important than ever to adopt a conservative style of investing. Do not leverage your portfolio and diversify it across different asset classes and industries. The odds of the economy falling into recession are increasing daily as the Fed tightens policy amid a global economic slowdown.

COOP has a superior credit rating, backed by moderate leverage, simplified and streamlined operations, and revenue predictability, unlike most of its peers. MSRs are one of the few categories that increase in value as interest rates rise. These assets make up 56% of COOP’s portfolio and more than two-thirds of revenues. Our holding rating reflects the company’s position to benefit from rising interest rates and a strong labor market, offset by expected weakness in the origination segment and growing recessionary prospects.

Housing market improves as rising mortgage rates weigh on sales Tue, 10 May 2022 10:00:01 +0000

A house is listed for sale in Chicago, Illinois.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

One of the thinnest housing markets in history could be getting fat. The supply of homes for sale could increase in the coming weeks, according to new data from

Inventories in April were 12% lower than the same month last year, the smallest year-over-year decline since the end of 2019. Another reading for the last week of April shows that inventories are only down about 3% from a year ago. .

“April data suggests that a positive turn of events is on the horizon for weary shoppers: if the trends we are currently seeing continue, we could potentially see year-over-year inventory growth. another over the next few weeks,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist for

The shift in supply is likely due to a slowdown in the pace of sales resulting from the recent rapid increase in mortgage rates, which has made expensive homes even more expensive. The average 30-year fixed rate has jumped more than 2.5 percentage points since the start of the year.

New listings were down 0.9% in April from a year ago, and active listings are still down 67% from pre-pandemic levels. Supply growth is being driven by mid-size family homes as fewer are under contract despite the spring market, a popular time for families to buy homes.

Higher mortgage rates, combined with record home prices, have shut out much of the competition. Home prices have risen about 34% since the start of the pandemic. The monthly mortgage payment on a $400,000 home, with a 20% down payment, is now $467 more than it was in March 2020, according to

These factors translate into fewer potential buyers and a slowdown in bidding wars.

“The sanity seems to be coming back,” said Paul Legere, buying agent for the Joel Nelson Group in Washington, DC. According to the lender he works with, one in four potential mortgage borrowers have been squeezed out of the market due to rising rates.

“The 25% reduction in buyers gets us to some kind of reasonableness, but it’s still tough for less-than-strong buyers,” Legere said. He said the million dollar market was still “active”.

The typical home spent just 34 days on the market, six days less than a year ago, which broke the previous record of 36 days in June 2021, according to Homes sold at the fastest rate year over year in the following markets: Miami, St. Louis, Raleigh, Orlando and Hartford.

While not one of the fastest-growing markets, offers are still strong in the Boston area, even in the luxury sector, said realtor Dana Bull of Sotheby’s International Realty.

“Prices haven’t come down yet, but some sellers have unrealistic price expectations. Tough conversations take place before listing to set expectations with sellers,” Bull said. “Although inventory is up, buyers are still coming out of the woodwork and committing to land homes, so new inventory and new demand appear to be rising in tandem.”

The key to inventory growth will be fewer buyers and more sellers, but affordability conditions aren’t exactly conducive to that. Homes are now less affordable in 95% of U.S. real estate markets than their historical averages, according to recent calculations by Black Knight, a provider of mortgage technology and data.

Another Gallup survey found that about 70% of Americans say now is a bad time to buy a home. It is the highest share since the polling organization started asking the question in 1978.

“The next eight weeks or so are going to be crucial for buyers and sellers because this is the critical time,” Bull said. “Buyers want to secure their homes now, and sellers want to capitalize on peak demand.”

Stefon Diggs stars in Marvel commercial [WATCH] Mon, 09 May 2022 16:11:15 +0000

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen isn’t just an NFL player, he’s a celebrity.

The four-year NFL pro is one of the best players in the league and is now followed by the paparazzi. Allen created TMZ and was one of the pro athletes and celebrities at the Formula 1 race in Miami on Sunday afternoon.

But Allen’s star receiver on the Bills is also a pretty famous football celebrity in his own right.

Stefon Diggs has been nothing short of fantastic since joining Buffalo in the spring of 2020. He’s caught more passes in the first two years with a new team than any other player in NFL history; beating former record holder, Wes Welker with New England (2007-2008).

Diggs also has its own mentions. You may have seen him on TV this weekend, promoting the new Marvel Cinematic Universe commercial for Doctor Strange: The Multiverse of Madness.

Diggs explains how his universe deals with the fact that there is no sport…yes, a world without sport.

Diggs is so good in this Marvel commercial.

I have a feeling we’ll be seeing both Diggs and Allen in more TV commercials over the next few months and years; the Bills are Super Bowl favorites heading into the 2022 regular season and the team has two of the best offensive players in the league.

What other types of commercials would you like to see Allen and Diggs in? Maybe one they do together?

Buffalonians would hate to see Josh Allen endorse these companies

11 Photos of Why We Love Josh Allen

KEEP READING: See the Richest Person in Every State

Hungerford, Reading and Twyford are among the best places to live in 2022 Mon, 09 May 2022 03:54:00 +0000

Key towns and villages in Berkshire have been ranked and the results may shock some people. The historic market town of Hungerford made it to the top of the county while Bracknell ranks almost among the worst places to live in the UK.

Property consultancy Garrington has unveiled its “Best Places to Live in 2022”, which lists 1,372 homes across the UK. Many Berkshire sites were included, but some might find the results surprising.

Areas were ranked by comparing natural beauty, quality of life, architectural beauty, and environmental “green” rating. Highest atop Berkshire was Hungerford which came 140th with Reading second in the county and 192nd overall.

READ MORE: 20 fantastic photos will transport you to 1980s Berkshire

No other region in the county was above the top 500 spots – only three of the nine spots moved up from last year. BerkshireLive has listed every listed area in the county ranked from best to worst. Garrington’s full list can be seen here.


  • General classification: 140 / 1372
  • Change since last year: 21
  • Natural beauty ranking: 28 / 1372
  • Quality of life ranking: 983 / 1372
  • Architectural beauty ranking: 381 / 1372
  • Green ranking: 418 / 1372


  • General classification: 192 / 1372
  • Change since last year: -25
  • Natural beauty ranking: 98 / 1372
  • Quality of life ranking: 1209 / 1372
  • Architectural beauty ranking: 431 / 1372
  • Green ranking: 85 / 1372

Twyford (Wokingham)

  • General classification: 645 / 1372
  • Change since last year: 129
  • Natural beauty ranking: 321 / 1372
  • Quality of life ranking: 695 / 1372
  • Architectural beauty ranking: 783 / 1372
  • Green ranking: 758 / 1372


  • General classification: 745 / 1372
  • Change since last year: 116
  • Natural beauty ranking: 337 / 1372
  • Quality of life ranking: 1139 / 1372
  • Architectural beauty ranking: 947 / 1372
  • Green ranking: 335 / 1372


  • General classification: 749 / 1372
  • Change since last year: -308
  • Natural beauty ranking: 407 / 1372
  • Quality of life ranking: 1343 / 1372
  • Architectural beauty ranking: 616 / 1372
  • Green ranking: 171 / 1372


  • General classification: 785 / 1372
  • Change since last year: -212
  • Natural beauty ranking: 392 / 1372
  • Quality of life ranking: 892 / 1372
  • Architectural beauty ranking: 394 / 1372
  • Green ranking: 1117 / 1372


  • General classification: 811 / 1372
  • Change since last year: -362
  • Natural beauty ranking: 536 / 1372
  • Quality of life ranking: 1238 / 1372
  • Architectural beauty ranking: 939 / 1372
  • Green ranking: 150 / 1372


  • General classification: 904 / 1372
  • Change since last year: -16
  • Natural beauty ranking: 350 / 1372
  • Quality of life ranking: 726 / 1372
  • Architectural beauty ranking: 1024 / 1372
  • Green ranking: 906 / 1372


  • General classification: 1236 / 1372
  • Change since last year: -87
  • Natural beauty ranking: 1067 / 1372
  • Quality of life ranking: 1254 / 1372
  • Architectural beauty classification: 1279 / 1372
  • Green ranking: 100 / 1372

]]> Jared Kushner’s new fund plans to invest Saudi money in Israel Sun, 08 May 2022 13:17:00 +0000 Jared Kushner’s new private equity fund plans to invest millions of dollars of Saudi money in Israeli startups, according to people familiar with the investment plan, in a sign of warming ties between two historic rivals.

Affinity Partners, which has raised more than $3 billion, including a $2 billion commitment from the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, has already selected the first two Israeli companies to invest in, the people said.

The move marks the first known instance where money from the Saudi Public Investment Fund will be directed to Israel, a sign of the kingdom’s growing willingness to do business with the country, even if it has no diplomatic ties. This could help lay the groundwork for a groundbreaking normalization pact between the two countries.

Israel is deepening its trade and security ties with Arab states, including the United Arab Emirates, nearly two years after the United States brokered landmark normalization agreements. Mr. Kushner, son-in-law of former President Donald Trump and a former senior White House adviser, was instrumental in the so-called Abraham Accords. He has also established close ties with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the kingdom. Since leaving the White House, Mr. Kushner has tapped into his White House contacts across the Middle East to build his private equity firm, a venture that could earn him lucrative fees, regardless of either the success or failure of its investments.

Meeting in Saudi Arabia in 2017, from left, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, then-President Donald Trump, Jared Kushner and chief economic adviser Gary Cohn.



As part of negotiations to secure funding for the kingdom, Saudi officials agreed that Affinity Partners could invest in Israeli companies, people familiar with the company’s plans said. The kingdom could also open its economy to Israeli businesses by working with Mr. Kushner, they noted.

In discussions with Saudi leaders, Mr. Kushner and his team warned them that their country could lose access and opportunities in what they called “the Silicon Valley of the Middle East” to neighbors who had signed the Abraham’s agreements with the land, the people said.

In an interview, Kushner said he sees his investment plans as an extension of his White House work to advance ties between Israel and its Arab neighbors, who have long refused to normalize ties with Israel. until its leaders accept the creation of a Palestinian state.

“If we can get Israelis and Muslims in the region to do business together, it will focus people on common interests and shared values,” he said. “We have launched historic regional change that must be strengthened and nurtured to realize its potential.”

Mr. Kushner and his team declined to discuss which companies they work with or how much money is likely to be directed to Israel. Mr. Kushner also declined to discuss his talks with Prince Mohammed, who oversees strategic decisions for the Saudi investment fund. People familiar with the talks said Prince Mohammed should have approved any decision to invest directly in Israel.

A spokesman for the $600 billion Saudi Public Investment Fund, whose board is chaired by Prince Mohammed and includes senior government ministers, declined to comment. The government media office did not respond to requests for comment.

The PIF is tasked with transforming Saudi Arabia’s national economy through investment in new industries and sprawling real estate developments, such as a futuristic $500 billion city-state called Neom. Prince Mohammed told advisers and diplomats that he hoped the Israelis would play an important role in the development of Neom, with potential investments in biotechnology and cybersecurity. In November 2020, the prince met with then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Neom in a sign that Saudi Arabia may join the Abraham Accords. But new administrations in the United States and Israel have slowed the momentum.

The satellite photo shows the empty desert around where the future city of Neom, Saudi Arabia is planned.


Planet Labs PBC/Associated Press

After securing a Saudi investment, Kushner and his team traveled to Israel in March to meet with dozens of Israeli companies seeking financial support from Affinity, according to those involved in the meetings. Mr. Kushner has held meetings with Israeli startups working on everything from health care and agriculture to software and cyber, they said.

“Increasing prosperity in the region and building trade bridges across the region has the ability to cement long-term relationships developed when the Abraham Accords were signed,” said Elie Wurtman, co-founder of PICO Venture Partners. , who helped arrange meetings for Mr. Kushner and his team.

Mr Kushner introduced his investment firm to other oil-rich Arab states, including the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, which is not a party to the Abraham Accords, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Even before the agreements, the United Arab Emirates allowed access to its market to Israeli companies with operations outside other countries. The Persian Gulf state is now able to make direct investments in Israel itself and has struck deals. Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co., which manages $250 billion in assets, has invested up to $20 million in six venture capital firms based or targeted in Israel. Another Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, ADQ, led a $105 million investment in Aleph Farms, an Israeli company that produces lab-grown meat.

Lab-grown steak at Aleph Farms, an Israeli company.


amir cohen/Reuters

Saudi Arabia is not the only country without diplomatic relations with Israel that Mr. Kushner is courting. Affinity is also looking to bring Israeli technology to Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, according to people familiar with the talks. Prior to leaving the White House, Kushner and his team were working to secure a normalization deal with Indonesia and Israel, but the deal was not finalized before President Biden took office.

Indonesian officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Kushner’s decision to focus his post-government activities on the Middle East has drawn criticism from some Democratic lawmakers who questioned whether Saudi Arabia’s backing was a reward for its unwavering support for Prince Mohammed in the White House. Mr Kushner and the Trump administration backed Prince Mohammed after US intelligence concluded he had approved a plan to kill or capture Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Washington Post columnist who was killed by a team Saudi Arabia in Istanbul in 2018. Prince Mohammed denied ordering the operation.

Affinity said it was proud of its partnership with the Saudi fund and dismissed suggestions it was linked in any way to Mr Kushner’s support of Prince Mohammed while working in the White House.

Affinity faces investor competition for Israel’s top startups. A glut of global capital has led to a boom in the Israeli tech scene in recent years, with 2021 a record year for fundraising, although the market cooled in the first quarter of this year.

Ayelet Frish, an Israeli strategic adviser and branding expert who has helped organize meetings for Affinity, said Kushner’s speech resonated with many companies.


Does the Affinity Fund have the potential to strengthen business relations between Israel and its Muslim neighbours? Join the conversation below.

“Jared Kushner can open doors for you,” said Frish, who served as chief strategic adviser to late Israeli President Shimon Peres. “He can open doors for Israeli businesses even in countries where we don’t have real connections, like Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.”

Kushner said the prospect of normalizing relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel would be accelerated by deepening economic ties.

“The more we can build business ties and introduce the region’s innovators to each other, the more we empower those who want to take this new path while weakening those stuck in the old paradigm,” Kushner added. .

Write to Dion Nissenbaum at and Rory Jones at

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2 under-the-radar tech stocks to buy in 2022 Sun, 08 May 2022 11:45:00 +0000

When it comes to tech stocks, mega-caps like Apple and Amazon tend to attract attention. Due to attractive products and exposure to the consumer space, one can understand this orientation.

However, this attention may come at the expense of lesser-known tech stocks that aren’t directly focused on the US consumer. Investors looking for such companies should consider taking a closer look at tech growth stocks such as StoneCo (STNE -4.27%) and Assets received (UPST -5.78%).

Image source: Getty Images.


As a company that operates only in Brazil, StoneCo is not a well-known company among American investors. These investors probably also don’t know that Brazil’s central bank has adopted policies that make its country the center of Latin American fintech, a sector that must serve a large population that often lacks bank accounts and credit cards. credit. Therefore, fintechs like StoneCo attracted the interest of Warren Buffett before the IPO. Berkshire Hathaway.

Buffett’s team may have favored this stock because it built a similar ecosystem to BlockThe ‘s Square ecosystem in the developed world. It provides businesses with the IT infrastructure needed to manage their financial technology and financial management needs. Because Brazilian fintechs can lend money without a bank, they can provide capital more efficiently.

StoneCo also stands out for its customer service. It takes a “no bureaucracy” approach to customer service and can quickly deploy staff where needed. This allows its representatives to solve problems in a quick and personalized way.

However, pandemic-related restrictions, rising inflation and increased reserve requirements have weighed on this once high-flying stock in 2019. Over the past 12 months, it has fallen by around 85%.

Nevertheless, the activity continues to increase. The total volume of payments increased by 31% in 2021 to reach more than 275 billion reais ($54.6 billion). This volume generated 4.8 billion reais ($950 million) in revenue, an increase of 45%. Unfortunately, since all expense categories grew faster than revenue, adjusted net profit fell 79% year-on-year to just R$203 million ($41 million).

Still, lockdown restrictions have eased and tech stock appears to have priced in inflation concerns. Additionally, the price-to-sales (P/S) ratio fell below four, near record lows for the stock. Therefore, StoneCo seems on track to pursue fintech in Brazil while offering a massively discounted purchase price to investors.

2. Reached

Upstart offers a loan assessment tool. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) to assess loan applications, in direct competition with Just Isaac Corporationthe FICO-score. It originally started with personal loans, but has since expanded to car loans. It also plans to assess potential mortgages and business loans as early as next year.

Upstart makes money by collecting fees for reviews. This leaves it without direct loan risk. However, poor loan decisions could have serious consequences. The majority of its lending volume comes from New Jersey-based Cross River Bank, and it could become vulnerable if its relationship with Cross River deteriorates. Additionally, the model did not face the test of a rising interest rate environment, and Fair Isaac could add AI functionality to improve its model.

Yet Upstart approves 70% of loans instantly. Additionally, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said its model approved 27% more loans than competing models, including nearly twice as many consumers with FICO scores between 620 and 660.

The model seems to attract more interesting interest. In 2021, Upstart posted revenue of $849 million, up 264% from a year ago. This helped the company earn $224 million in adjusted net income, up from $17.5 million in 2020. Such profitability is highly unusual for growth tech stocks. And in 2022, if the company’s projections hold, Upstart will generate about $1.4 billion in revenue, about 65% above 2021 levels.

Despite growing rapidly, Upstart has fallen nearly 80% from its 52-week high. But its price-to-earnings ratio of 59 is near record lows, and if it can handle a rising rate environment, its expansion into new markets and rapid revenue growth could deliver outsized returns.

Diagnosing tumors at home? The digital transition of healthcare has arrived Sun, 08 May 2022 11:45:00 +0000

In this video clip of a Motley Fool live interview, recorded on April 11KPMG Partner Kristin Pothier answers a question from contributor Rachel Warren about some of the exciting new virtual trends in telehealth.

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Christine Pothier: A lot of the work we do is about health systems. Health systems have seen this transition to digital health, this transition to telehealth, teletherapy, especially in mental health. It has really helped a number of patients who maybe couldn’t get to the doctor or weren’t comfortable doing so.

Now we have a family health capability where families can sit in their own living room with their therapist on the other end of the line and really talk about things and be able to do that without missing an appointment. They don’t have to worry about getting on their bus or in their car to get to a therapy area and provide that help to the mental health community.

I would say for the rest of telehealth as well, there are certain things you need to see a doctor for. It will never go away. In order to do a biopsy, in order to really understand a diagnosis, you usually have to see a patient. But we are seeing that even areas that traditionally could only be done in hospitals are beginning to diversify.

For example, the liquid biopsy trend, which means that instead of taking a piece of tumor from a patient, you take a blood sample and you can look at the signature of the tumor in the blood. It is something that can be done at home. When you really look at that and you see the surveillance capabilities, and you see the progression of cancer care, we’re going to do more as we move forward.

It’s all really due to some of that innovation, both from a wet chemistry perspective, but also the availability of the digital ecosystem that comes with it.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Former security chief John Lee installed by China as head of Hong Kong Sun, 08 May 2022 05:58:57 +0000 John Lee was elected Hong Kong’s next leader after winning more than 99% of the votes cast by a largely pro-Beijing election committee.

Mr Lee received 1,416 votes in the chief executive election, far surpassing the 751 votes he needed to win and the highest support ever for the city’s leadership job.

The approximately 1,500 members of the electoral committee voted by secret ballot on Sunday morning.

“I look forward to us all starting a new chapter together, building a caring, open and vibrant Hong Kong, and a Hong Kong full of opportunity and harmony,” Lee said in his victory speech.

John Lee, Hong Kong’s former number two and only candidate for the city’s top job, celebrates after declaring victory in the Chief Executive election (Kin Cheung/AP)

He will replace current leader Carrie Lam on July 1.

As the only candidate in the polls, Mr Lee was expected to win, especially since he had the approval of Beijing and had won 786 nominations from election commission members in favor of his candidacy last month. .

Ms. Lam praised Mr. Lee in a statement and said she would submit the election results to Beijing.

“The current government and I will ensure a smooth transition with the elected Chief Executive. We will provide all necessary support for the new term of government to take office,” Ms. Lam’s statement said.

The election followed major changes to Hong Kong’s election laws last year to ensure only “patriots” loyal to Beijing can hold office.

The legislature was also reorganized to virtually eliminate opposition voices.

The elaborate arrangements surrounding the predetermined outcome speak to Beijing’s desire for a veneer of democracy.

Although they voted by secret ballot, voters in Hong Kong were all carefully selected.

The Chinese government’s liaison office in Hong Kong also praised Mr Lee in a statement and said the election was conducted in a “fair, just and orderly manner in accordance with laws and regulations”.

“Lee received numerous nominations and was elected with a high count of 1,416 votes. It is not only the solemn choice of the election committee, but also a strong expression of public opinion,” the statement said.

The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the Mainland China State Council also congratulated Lee in a statement, saying the “successful election” proved that the city’s new electoral system is ” good” and consistent with the “one country, two systems” framework. by which Hong Kong is governed.

The statement added that the new chief executive will lead the Hong Kong government and “people from all walks of life to move forward in unity.”

The British ceded Hong Kong to mainland China in 1997 under “one country, two systems”, which promised the city certain freedoms not found on the mainland, including freedom of speech and assembly.

Critics say those freedoms are being eroded as Beijing has exercised greater control over the former British colony in recent years.

On Sunday morning, three members of the League of Social Democrats, a grassroots activist group, protested the vote by attempting to march to the election site while displaying a banner demanding universal suffrage that would allow Hong Kongers to vote for the legislature and the chief executive. .

“Human rights over power, the people is greater than the country,” the banner read. “One person, one voice for the CEO. Implement universal double suffrage immediately.

John Lee attends his campaign rally for 2022 Chief Executive
John Lee’s election has raised concerns that Beijing could further tighten its grip on Hong Kong (Kin Cheung/AP)

A protester was handing out leaflets before police arrived and cordoned off the protesters and the banner. Police also searched protesters’ personal belongings and recorded their personal information, although no arrests were made immediately.

The pro-democracy camp in Hong Kong has long called for universal suffrage, which they say the city is promised in its mini-constitution, the Basic Law. It was also a key demand during the 2014 Umbrella Revolution protests and the 2019 anti-government protests.

Mr. Lee, as the future leader of Hong Kong, raised fears that Beijing could further tighten its grip on Hong Kong. He has spent most of his career in public service in the police and security bureau, and is a strong supporter of a national security law imposed on Hong Kong in 2020 aimed at stamping out dissent.

His rise was born out of massive anti-government protests in 2019 that turned into violent clashes. As security secretary, he oversaw the police campaign to confront protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets, then arrested many to arrest them later.

More than 150 people were arrested under the Security Law, which prohibits secession, subversion, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces to interfere in city affairs. Almost all prominent pro-democracy activists have been imprisoned, others have fled abroad or been bullied into silence.

Thousands of residents have left the city of 7.4 million amid 2019 protests and the severe pandemic restrictions that followed, including many working professionals and expats.

While campaigning in the weeks leading up to Sunday’s election, Mr Lee pledged to enact long-standing local legislation to protect against security threats and pledged to increase housing supply in the most expensive real estate market in the world.

He also said it will improve the city’s competitiveness and establish a solid foundation for its development.

Investors flock to defensive ETFs as market turbulence increases Fri, 06 May 2022 20:42:00 +0000 Nervous investors are pouring money into exchange-traded funds tied to defensive sectors, seeking safety in a market that continues to be rocked by concerns about rising interest rates.

Net inflows into defensive ETFs – or those linked to the consumer staples, healthcare, utilities and real estate sectors, as well as precious metals, Treasuries and commodities – totaled 50 billion this year, according to Morningstar data through April. That sum has already surpassed the group’s $42 billion in entries for all of 2021 and is also on track to surpass the $75 billion total for 2020.

“Investors want safety, they want safety, and they want to go somewhere where they feel like their money will be a little bit more protected, even in a turbulent environment,” said Ryan Jackson, management research analyst at passive funds at Morningstar.

Ongoing inflationary pressures, geopolitical unrest and worries about a possible recession have dragged the S&P 500 down 13% this year. The technology-focused Nasdaq composite index fell another 22%. The latter suffered its worst session since June 2020 on Thursday, as investors worried about the pace of the Federal Reserve’s rate hike campaign.

ETFs in the consumer staples and healthcare groups have seen some of the biggest inflows of late. Commodities, healthcare, utilities and real estate sectors are seen as security players as consumers tend to pay for food, hospital bills, electricity and rent before discretionary purchases.

The Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR ETF, which tracks the stocks of 34 companies in sectors ranging from tobacco to food and beverages, saw $1.25 billion in net inflows in April, the most since January. Shares of cigarette maker Marlboro Altria Group Inc.

and grocer Kroger Co.

are among the best performers in the fund this year. Both stocks jumped almost 20%, while the fund itself slipped 0.5%.

Meanwhile, the Health Care Select Sector SPDR ETF saw $1.7 billion in inflows in April, the most since July 2021. The Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF saw $923 million in net inflows in the month last and the Real Estate Select Sector ETF SPDR received $306 million. These entries were the highest since January 2022 and December 2021, respectively.

“These funds are basically designed to provide smooth journeys for investors. I consider them house cats – they will occasionally lure a rodent into the house and they will do what you would expect most of the time, but they will misbehave once in a while because that is in their nature,” Mr. Jackson said.

Behind the energy group, which has climbed around 45% this year, the utilities and consumer staples segments are the best performers in the S&P 500 this year, with utilities up 0, 7% and Core Goods down 0.6%, respectively. The tech sector fell 19% and the communications services group, which includes tech-focused companies like Netflix Inc..

Alphabet Inc..

and Facebook’s parent meta-platforms Inc.

— fell by 25%.

The Fed on Wednesday approved a half-point interest rate hike – the biggest since 2000 – and a plan to trim its asset portfolio by $9 trillion as authorities shifted into gear superior in a campaign to slow inflation’s four-decade highs. Tech stocks are particularly sensitive to rising rates because they are priced against long-term growth expectations.

“We are not in the recession camp, but we believe there will be pockets in the bull [market] where you see recession or much slower growth,” said Keith Lerner, co-chief investment officer and chief market strategist at Truist Advisory Services Inc.

Lerner says his firm has recommended market sectors like commodities, health care stocks and real estate investment trusts to investors this year as a hedge against slowing global growth or an aggressive Fed.

Other investors betting that inflation will stay high are turning to commodity-focused funds. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has propelled commodities from aluminum to wheat to new heights this year. Commodities tend to rise in line with inflation and act as a downside hedge against other assets in a portfolio.

The VanEck Gold Miners ETF is up 6.8% this year and received $432 million in net flows in April, the most since June 2021. The Invesco DB Commodity index tracker fund, which holds forward contracts commodity futures in the energy, precious metals, industrial metals and agriculture categories, jumped 36%.

Rising Covid-19 cases in China and a stronger US dollar, however, took some commodities off their highs.

“I’m going to take an approach that’s kind of a ‘belt and suspenders’ approach, which is to say I’ll be long on what’s least volatile within the market, and my risk is that I’ll give up. some up so suddenly this market starts to rally,” Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott, said of his firm’s commodity holdings.

US markets indicate that investors expect inflation to decline from its current 40-year high, but its decline will be slower than previously thought. The WSJ’s Dion Rabouin explains why and what it could mean for Americans. Image: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Write to Hardika Singh at

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Stocks drop 3% as concerns grow over rising interest rates | app Thu, 05 May 2022 18:11:55 +0000

NEW YORK (AP) — A sell-off left the Dow Jones Industrial Average more than 1,000 points lower on Thursday, wiping out gains from Wall Street’s biggest rally in two years, as concerns grow over interest rates higher that the Federal Reserve uses in its fight against inflation will derail the economy.

The benchmark S&P 500 index fell 3.6%, marking its biggest loss in nearly two years, a day after posting its biggest gain since May 2020. The Nasdaq fell 5%, its worst drop since June 2020. The losses of the Dow Jones and other indices offset the gains of the previous day.

“Yesterday’s strong rally was not rooted in reality and today’s dramatic selloff is a reversal of that misplaced exuberance,” said Ben Kirby, co-chief investment officer at Thornburg Investment Management.

The frantic daily reversal on Wall Street reflects the degree of uncertainty and unease among investors about the range of threats facing the economy, starting with inflation at the highest level in four decades, and the efficiency of the Federal Reserve’s attempt to tame rising prices by raising interest rates will.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve announced a widely expected half-percentage-point hike in its short-term interest rate. Shares rebounded from the move but then rose sharply as bond yields fell after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell reassured investors that the central bank was not considering a move to hikes rate hikes by three-quarters of a point as the Fed continues with further rate hikes in the months ahead.

But whatever relief Powell’s remarks brought to stock market investors disappeared on Thursday. Stocks fell and bond yields rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.04%. Rising yields will certainly put upward pressure on mortgage rates, which are already at their highest level since 2009.

Investors remain worried about whether the Fed can do enough to rein in inflation without tipping the economy, which is already showing signs of slowing, into a recession. In addition to high inflation and rising interest rates, investors are grappling with uncertainty regarding ongoing supply chain disruptions and geopolitical tensions.

“The biggest problem is that there are only so many moving parts and the unanswered question is to what extent the Fed’s attempts to control inflation will lead to an economic slowdown and possibly a recession” said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

The S&P 500 fell 153.30 points to 4,146.87, while the Nasdaq slipped 647.16 points to 12,317.69. The Dow briefly slipped 1,375 points before closing 1,063.09 points, or 3.1%, at 32,997.97.

Shares of smaller companies also fell sharply. The Russell 2000 fell 78.77 points, or 4%, to 1,871.15.

The Fed’s aggressive move to raise interest rates has investors wondering if it can pull off the delicate dance to slow the economy enough to halt high inflation, but not so much as to cause a downturn.

On Wednesday, Powell said there was a “good chance” the economy would experience a “soft or soft landing or outcome” as the central bank raises rates.

But Wall Street is not necessarily convinced.

“Concerns center on whether the Fed will have to get even more hawkish to depress demand — and that would mean slowing the economy more than they currently expect,” said Quincy Krosby, chief strategist. shares for LPL Financial. “And today’s market action questions whether ‘soft-ish’ is plausible.”

The Fed’s latest decision to raise interest rates by half a percentage point was widely expected. Markets stabilized this week ahead of the policy update, but Wall Street feared the Fed might decide to raise rates by three-quarters of a percentage point at its next meeting. Powell allayed those concerns, saying the central bank is “not actively considering” such an increase.

The central bank also announced that it would start trimming its massive $9 trillion balance sheet, made up mostly of Treasury bonds and mortgage bonds, starting June 1. These large holdings are a policy tool the Fed uses to keep long-term interest rates, such as those on mortgages, low.

When Powell said the Fed was not considering a gigantic hike in short-term rates, it sent a signal to investors to send stock prices skyrocketing and bond yields plummeting. A slower pace of rising interest rates would mean less risk of the economy tipping into recession, as well as less downward pressure on the prices of all kinds of investments.

But diminishing the odds of a three-quarter point hike doesn’t mean the Fed is done raising rates steadily and sharply as it struggles to get inflation under control, not even close. BNP Paribas economists still expect the Fed to keep raising the fed funds rate until it hits a range of 3% to 3.25%, from zero to 0.25% earlier This year.

“We don’t believe this is President Powell’s intention,” BNP Paribas economists wrote in a report, citing market jubilation on Wednesday, “and we believe we could see the Fedspeak coming to seek tightening. financial terms”.

The Bank of England raised its benchmark interest rate to the highest level in 13 years on Thursday, its fourth rate hike since December as UK inflation hit 30-year highs.

Energy markets remain volatile as the conflict in Ukraine continues and demand remains high amid oil shortages. European governments are trying to replace energy supplies from Russia and are considering an embargo. OPEC and allied oil producing countries decided on Thursday to gradually increase the flow of crude they send around the world.

Rising oil and gas prices have contributed to uncertainty hanging over investors as they try to gauge the impact of inflation on businesses, consumer activity and overall economic growth.

Homebuilders fell overall on Thursday as average long-term home loan rates rose. DR Horton slipped 5.8%.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit 5.27% this week, its highest level since 2009, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. A year ago, it averaged 2.96%. Mortgage rates tend to follow movements in the 10-year Treasury yield. The sharp rise in mortgage rates has put a strain on the affordability of buyers after years of sharply rising prices.

AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed. Veiga reported from Los Angeles.