Momentum Grows for 2-Step Strategy on Infrastructure
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators that’s working to make a deal on infrastructure with President Joe Biden’s administration has made progress, as their ranks late Wednesday swelled to 21 senators from just 10 previously. That new figure includes 11 Republicans, up from five and enough potentially for the Senate to approve the bipartisan group’s package if all 50 of the chamber’s Democrats back it.
“Under this approach a traditional infrastructure-centric PAVE, -1.91% bill would be passed under regular order (60 votes) satisfying moderate Democrats’ demand for Republican inclusion. Then, in parallel, the Democrats would pass a reconciliation bill including core climate-centric pieces based on the American Jobs Plan,” he added, referring to Biden’s infrastructure proposal, which his administration has scaled back during negotiations from an initial price tag of $2.3 trillion.
Commodities Futures from Copper to Corn Tumble on China Reserve Release, Rising Dollar
The prices of commodities were falling sharply late last week, cutting into months of gains and weighing on equity markets, as China takes steps to cool off rising prices and the U.S. dollar strengthens. The decline in commodities was widespread, with futures prices for palladium and platinum falling more than 11% and 7%, respectively, along with declines of nearly 6% for corn futures and 4.8% for contracts tied to copper. Oil prices were also down more than 1%.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, has risen about 1.6% since the Fed’s updated projections were released. Commodities often move inversely to the greenback since they are mostly priced in U.S. dollars globally.
Initial Jobless Filings Unexpectedly Rose to 412,000
Initial unemployment claims unexpectedly rose last week to end a six-week streak of improvements, even as economic activity ramped further and reopenings broadened out. But in the coming weeks, a phase-out of enhanced unemployment benefits across many states may decrease the total number of claimants.
Here were the main metrics from the report, compared to consensus data compiled by Bloomberg:
- Initial jobless claims, week ended June 12: 412,000 vs. 360,000 expected and a revised 375,000 during prior week
- Continuing claims, week ended June 5: 3.518 million vs. 3.425 million expected and a revised 3.517 million during prior week
Debt Ceiling Battle Looms in Congress
Congress is barreling toward a fight as soon as next month over raising the debt ceiling, creating a huge challenge for President Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress. Under a 2019 deal during the Trump administration, Congress agreed to let the government borrow through July 31.
In the Senate, raising the debt ceiling is subject to the filibuster, meaning Democrats will need GOP support. But GOP senators say they don’t expect their caucus to provide the 10 votes needed to hike the borrowing limit, which would set up a high-profile financial showdown with dramatic implications for the world’s economy.
NYS Vaccine and COVID Update – Pop-Up Vaccine Sites to Open at Primary Polling Places
Governor Cuomo announced Saturday that nine new pop-up vaccination sites will open at or near early voting locations, focusing on areas where zip code data shows the vaccination rate is lower than the statewide average. These sites are made possible through partnerships with local governments and medical partners and are aimed to make the vaccine convenient and accessible in those areas most in need
Vaccine Stats as of Sunday morning:
One Vaccine Dose
- 58.8% of all New Yorkers – 11,312,365 (plus 23,768 from a day earlier)
- In the Hudson Valley 1,203,312 (plus 2,233)
- 51.8% of all New Yorkers – 10,124,471 are fully vaccinated (Plus 39,896)
- In the Hudson Valley – 1,072,386 (plus 4,073) are fully vaccinated.
The Governor updated COVID data through Saturday June 19th. There were 4 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,918.
- Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 491
Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:
- Statewide 0.38%
- Mid-Hudson: 0.33%
- Read the press release
- Visit the vaccine tracker site
- See the School Districts Dashboard
- See the SUNY Dashboard
- State Vaccine Information Site
US COVID Update – US to Invest More Than $3 Billion in Covid-19 Antiviral Development
The Biden administration will invest more than $3 billion on developing and manufacturing antiviral pills to treat coronavirus, the Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday.
The $3.2 billion investment will be allocated from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Mr. Biden signed into law in March. In a briefing Thursday, Dr. Fauci said the funding could accelerate clinical trials “already in progress” for some antiviral pills and potentially make some of them available by year’s end. The oral antiviral medicines would be designed to be taken at home and to treat symptoms early in the course of infection.
Regeneron Antibody Therapy is Effective, Expensive and In Short Supply
An antibody therapy from Regeneron, a firm in upstate New York, improves the survival of patients with covid-19 and offers renewed hope for the treatment of those most seriously ill with the disease. This new weapon in the war against SARS-CoV-2 is welcome, but it is expensive and in short supply.
Regen-Cov is a combination of two monoclonal antibodies, known as casirivimab and imdevimab. Antibodies are immune-system proteins that disable pathogens by locking specifically onto them. Both casirivimab and imdevimab bind to different sites on the coronavirus’s “spike” protein, preventing the virus from infecting cells. Using two antibodies instead of one reduces the risk of the virus evolving resistance to the treatment.
WHO Says Delta is Becoming the Dominant Covid Variant Globally
Delta, the highly contagious Covid-19 variant first identified in India, is becoming the dominant strain of the disease worldwide, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist said Friday. Studies suggest delta is around 60% more transmissible than alpha, the variant first identified in the U.K. that was more contagious than the original strain that emerged from Wuhan, China, in late 2019.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Friday urged Americans to get vaccinated against Covid, saying she expects delta to become the dominant coronavirus variant in the United States. “As worrisome as this delta strain is with regard to its hyper transmissibility, our vaccines work,” Walensky told the ABC program “Good Morning America.” If you get vaccinated, “you’ll be protected against this delta variant,” she added.
NY HERO Act Imposes Safety Obligations on Employers
New York recently enacted the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (the “HERO Act”), which requires private employers in New York State to take certain measures to prevent occupational exposure to an airborne infectious disease. We summarize the two main employer obligations under the HERO Act, based upon the amendments that were recently enacted.
- Industry Specific Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan (“Prevention Plan”) must be distributed to all employees.
- Workplace Safety Committee
Employers should start preparing to become compliant with relevant requirements under the two main components of law; this includes reviewing their existing COVID-19 related workplace guidelines to evaluate areas that may need to be reconfigured to comply with minimum safety standards and deciding how to comply with the specific rules for establishing safety committees.
US Refinery Throughput Rising Faster than Demand
US refiners are increasing gasoline production faster than demand is growing and delaying maintenance work, raising concerns of a potential oversupply and causing a series of failures at refining units from California to Texas.
Refinery runs climbed to their highest level since February 2020 in the week through June 4, while capacity utilization reached 91.3%, the most since January 2020, pushing gasoline supplies above the seasonal five-year average.
Hudson Valley Employment Up Year on Year, Still Well Off Pre-Pandemic Levels
Private sector jobs in the Hudson Valley rose over the year by 95,300, or 14.6 percent, to 747,300 in May 2021. Job gains were largest in leisure and hospitality (+30,500), trade, transportation and utilities (+26,600), educational and health services (+13,500), professional and business services (+9,900), natural resources, mining and construction (+7,500), other services (+6,900) and manufacturing (+2,700). Job losses were greatest in financial activities (-2,300). While the region’s private sector has regained a large portion of the jobs lost, it remains 75,300, or 9.2 percent below the pre-pandemic levels of May 2019.
Manufacturing employment in the region now stands at 41,000 (plus 100 from April). Within the region, the Kingston MSA’s private employment sector grew the fastest year-over-year, up 17.2 percent. The second fastest growth was recorded in the Orange-Rockland-Westchester labor market area (+15.3 percent), followed by Sullivan County (+13.3 percent), and the Dutchess-Putnam MSA (+10.8 percent).
McMahon: At Current Pace, NY is Still Years Away from Pre-Covid Payrolls Peak
On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the statewide private-sector payroll job count swelled last month to just under 7.5 million, up 13.2 percent from the (historically deflated) level of the same month a year ago. Nationally, private employment in May was up 10.4 percent, according to initial estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Those numbers are a bit misleading in isolation, however. New York’s job loss last spring was much worse than the national average—bottoming out in April at nearly 23 percent (-1.87 million jobs) below the prior year’s level, compared to a national decline of 15 percent in the same period. As of last month, the U.S. private job count of 123.4 million was just 3.8 percent below the May 2019 level, while New York’s total was still down 10 percent from two years ago. To put it another way, in employment terms, New York has come a bit more than halfway back—still 825,000 jobs below its employment level in the comparable “before time” of May 2019.
UK Joins EU in Suspending Boeing Tariffs
Britain on Thursday said it had agreed a truce with the United States over a 17-year long tariffs dispute involving European planemaker Airbus and U.S. rival Boeing. It comes in the wake of a similar deal between the European Union and U.S. announced Tuesday.
The dispute, the longest-running in the history of the World Trade Organization, has seen damaging retaliatory tariffs levied on products on both sides of the Atlantic owing to disagreements over support for large civilian aircraft, the UK government explained in a statement Thursday. But both sides have finally agreed “to suspend retaliatory tariffs for five years,” it added.