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Chinese Port Closure Offers Glimpse of Autumn Headwinds for Markets

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Never has the immediate past told us so little about the near future. Stock markets are on a roll both in the U.S. and Europe after a string of often surprisingly strong earnings, even though investors in Asian equities show more caution on account of the spread of the Delta variant of coronavirus.
The pan European STOXX 600 index is already up 19% this year, and the Dow (+17%) and the S&P 500 (+20%) are up in similar proportions. That would qualify as stellar performance in any year.
But the year has only just passed the halfway point. And look ahead to the fall, beyond the summer’s traditional thin trading volumes, and the strong second-quarter recovery powered by broadly successful vaccination campaigns in most western countries: Covid-19 hasn’t gone away, and new disruptions to the world’s supply chains seem to spring up every day.
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A key Chinese terminal at the Ningbo-Zhoushan port—one of the world’s busiest by container volumes—was closed indefinitely Thursday after just one worker was diagnosed with coronavirus.
This is just the latest example of the unpredictable bumps that lie ahead. It will add to supply-chain disruptions such as the global microchip shortage, and Beijing’s proclaimed zero-tolerance on the virus could lead to other similar decisions. Past earnings matter for markets. So does the health of the global workforce.
—Pierre Briançon
*** Join Barron’s senior managing editor Lauren R. Rublin, deputy editor Ben Levisohn and Jason Brady, CEO and President, Thornburg Investment Management Monday at noon to discuss what’s ahead for financial markets and the Fed. Sign up here.
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FDA Amends Emergency-Use Authorizations for Covid-19 Vaccine Boosters
On Thursday the Food and Drug Administration authorized booster doses of the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines for people with weaker immune systems.
So far Israel and Germany have introduced booster shots, but scientists remain divided over the benefits for general use.
have introduced booster shots, but scientists remain divided over the benefits for general use. Johnson & Johnson ’s 96% effective against death in a study of 478,000 healthcare workers in South Africa. White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci called it the first real-world data showing J&J’s effectiveness against the Delta variant.
in a study of 478,000 healthcare workers in South Africa. White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci called it the first real-world data showing J&J’s effectiveness against the Delta variant. The seven-day average of new infections is 113,000 a day , up 24% from last week. Average hospitalization rates are up 31% and deaths are up 22%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Florida and Texas account for nearly 40% of U.S. hospitalizations.
, up 24% from last week. Average hospitalization rates are up 31% and deaths are up 22%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Florida and Texas account for nearly 40% of U.S. hospitalizations. The Danish head of a World Health Organization-led team that traveled to China earlier this year to examine the origins of Covid-19 called for closer scrutiny of a laboratory near the site of the first known cluster of cases in Wuhan.
What’s Next: San Francisco will become the first major U.S. city to require everyone 12 and older to be fully vaccinated to enter indoor restaurants, bars, gyms, and theaters, as well as events with 1,000 or more people, starting Aug. 20. Employees must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 13.
—Janet H. Cho and Rupert Steiner
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Schools Open Amid Soaring Infections and Political Fights
Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett on Thursday rejected an emergency request to block Indiana University’s requirement that returning students prove they have Covid vaccinations. Eight students filed the suit against the university, and lower courts also upheld the mandate.
Schools are reopening amid soaring coronavirus infections and political fights over mask-wearing rules and vaccination mandates . More than 700 colleges and universities now require students and or staff to be vaccinated.
. More than 700 colleges and universities now require students and or staff to be vaccinated. In Mississippi, where some K-12 districts are mask-optional, 1,000 children and 300 teachers and staff have tested positive since schools opened, and 5,000 children and staff are now quarantined, the state health department said.
1,000 children and 300 teachers and staff have tested positive since schools opened, and 5,000 children and staff are now quarantined, the state health department said. The executive council of the American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest teachers union, has reversed its previous objection to vaccine mandates, voting unanimously to work with districts planning such requirements for teachers, citing the rise in Delta variant infections.
to vaccine mandates, voting unanimously to work with districts planning such requirements for teachers, citing the rise in Delta variant infections. As California started requiring teachers and staff to be vaccinated, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Arkansas, and Oklahoma have all banned schools from imposing mask-wearing or vaccine mandates. School districts in Fort Lauderdale, Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio still plan to require masks for students and staff.
What’s Next: President Joe Biden on Thursday called out the mayors, superintendents, educators and local leaders who are “standing up to the governors politicizing mask protection for our kids,” saying, “This isn’t about politics. It’s about keeping our kids safe.”
—Janet H. Cho
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Travel Industry Gets an Initial Boost, but Outlook Remains Cloudy
Despite signs of stress in the travel industry’s rebound, Airbnb, the home-rental site popular with travelers, said second-quarter revenue nearly quadrupled from a year ago, smashing expectations and beating even prepandemic levels.
Higher-end hotels have seen the biggest drop in revenue per room versus 2019 levels, with luxury down 8.8% last week and upper upscale off by 23.5%. Economy hotels had a 12.7% increase compared with the same week in 2019.
compared with the same week in 2019. The Transportation Security Administration on Tuesday screened 1,727,075 individuals, the lowest level since July 4. The number rose Wednesday but was still below levels reached earlier in the month.
The number rose Wednesday but was still below levels reached earlier in the month. Southwest Airlines deceleration of bookings and a rise in cancellations in August, which it attributed to the surge in coronavirus cases linked to the Delta variant.
and a rise in cancellations in August, which it attributed to the surge in coronavirus cases linked to the Delta variant. Booking site Expedia Group ’s affected by the Delta variant, “and we’ve seen some backwards movement in July,” but overall pointed to a stronger period than earlier in the pandemic.
What’s Next: Airbnb’s big earnings beat was partly overshadowed by its outlook. The company cited uncertainty in failing to offer specific guidance for the third quarter. It sees bookings declining from the second quarter, though it did say it expected “significant” year-over-year improvements.
—Liz Moyer
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Disney Theme Parks Recover as Streaming Increases
Walt Disney’s latest quarter had a bit of everything for investors. Streaming strength was complemented by a recovery for its legacy media and parks businesses.
The biggest improvement came from Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Products segment, which includes its domestic and international theme parks, cruises, and merchandise licensing and retail businesses. Revenue was more than four times the year-ago quarter, at $4.3 billion.
Disney ended the period with 116 million Disney+ subscribers (which includes Disney+ Hotstar in India and Star+ in other international markets), which was ahead of analyst expectations. ESPN+ subscribers hit 14.9 million while Hulu subscribers hit 42.8 million. The latter two were just short of estimates.
(which includes Disney+ Hotstar in India and Star+ in other international markets), which was ahead of analyst expectations. ESPN+ subscribers hit 14.9 million while Hulu subscribers hit 42.8 million. The latter two were just short of estimates. The return of sports leagues and advertisers boosted TV network revenue 16% from the year-ago period, to about $7 billion, but the segment’s operating earnings fell 33%, to $2.2 billion, as programming and production costs also returned.
What’s Next: Direct-to-consumer revenue jumped 57% from a year ago, to $4.3 billion, and its operating loss narrowed by 53%, to $293 million. Former CEO Bob Iger and his successor Bob Chapek have staked the future of Disney on its direct-to-consumer streaming push.
—Connor Smith and Nicholas Jasinski
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Adidas Top German Riser on Plan to Sell Reebok to Authentic Brands for $2.5 Billion
German sportswear group Adidas said Thursday that it had “entered into a definitive agreement” to sell its Reebok division to U.S.-based Authentic Brands Group for a total of up to €2.1 billion ($2.5 billion), with the majority to be paid in cash.
Adidas bought then-competitor Reebok for $3.8 billion in 2005 to allow it to better compete with rival Nike
for $3.8 billion in 2005 to allow it to better compete with rival Authentic Brands, partly owned by U.S. asset manager BlackRock , labels such as Forever 21 and Eddie Bauer , as well as the intellectual property on the Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali and Marilyn Monroe names.
, as well as the intellectual property on the Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali and Marilyn Monroe names. Reebok accounted for 8% of Adidas’ revenue in 2020 and turned a net profit of €68 million on €823 million of sales in the first half of this year.
What’s Next: Adidas was the top riser on the German stock exchange Friday even though the sale had long been expected. Authentic Brands filed to go public last month.
—Pierre Briançon
***
Do you remember this week’s news? Take our quiz below about this week’s news. Tell us how you did in an email to thebarronsdaily@barrons.com.
1. The July consumer-price index increased at the same pace year-over-year compared with June. The figure was the highest 12-month rate since 2008. By how much did the consumer-price index increase year-over-year in July?
a. 3.4%
b. 4.4%
c. 5.4%
d. 6.4%
2. This week the Senate passed an infrastructure package worth roughly $1 trillion. Of the $1 trillion, how much does new spending represent?
a. $450 million
b. $550 billion
c. $650 billion
d. $750 billion
3. The 2020 census data are used to determine which states will gain or lose seats in the House of Representatives. Which of the following states will gain two seats in the House?
a. Florida
b. Texas
c. Hawaii
d. California
4. Unfilled job openings in June rose to the highest level since record-keeping began. How many unfilled jobs are there as of June?
a. 550,000
b. 1.1 million
c. 5.1 million
d. 10.1 million
5. Which of the following airlines has implemented a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for all U.S. employees?
a. American Airlines
b. Southwest Airlines
c. Delta Air Lines
d. United Airlines
Answers: 1(c); 2(b); 3(b); 4(d); 5(d)
—William Philip
***
—Newsletter edited by Liz Moyer, Mary Romano, Camilla Imperiali, Rupert Steiner

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