Fox Business/Associated Press
Job losses from virus 4 times as bad as 2009 financial crisis

Four times as many jobs were lost last year due to the coronavirus pandemic as during the worst part of the global financial crisis in 2009, a U.N. report said Monday.

The International Labor Organization estimated that the restrictions on businesses and public life destroyed 8.8% of all work hours around the world last year. That is equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs – quadruple the impact of the financial crisis over a decade ago.

“This has been the most severe crisis for the world of work since The Great Depression of the 1930s. Its impact is far greater than that of the global financial crisis of 2009,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. The fallout was almost equally split between reduced work hours and “unprecedented” job losses, he said.

The United Nations agency noted that most people who lost work stopped looking for a job altogether, likely because of restrictions on businesses that hire in big numbers like restaurants, bars, stores, hotels and other services that depend on face-to-face interactions.

The drop in work translates to a loss of $3.7 trillion in income globally — what Ryder called an “extraordinary figure” — with women and young people taking the biggest hits.

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Reuters/Sumita Layek
Gold rises on U.S. stimulus hopes; firm dollar weighs

Gold inched higher on Tuesday, as expectations that a large U.S. stimulus package would be passed eventually boosted the metal’s appeal as a hedge against inflation, although a stronger dollar capped gains.

Spot gold rose 0.1% to $1,856.33 per ounce by 0549 GMT. U.S. gold futures gained 0.1% to $1,856.80.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told MSNBC that Democrats may try to pass much of a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill using a procedural manoeuvre to bypass a Republican filibuster.

“If we get the stimulus, gold can break through $1,900,” said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at financial services firm Axi.”The quicker the package gets delivered, the more favourable it’s for gold. Whether it’s a smoother process or not, the market doesn’t care.”

Further supporting gold, U.S. 10-year Treasury yields hovered near a three-week low touched in the previous session, but the dollar rose 0.1%, making gold expensive for other currency holders.

The U.S. Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting is set to begin later in the day.

“The Fed is cognizant that the world economy is still struggling and that will have a negative knock-on effect on the domestic market … so, it will indicate low Fed funds rates for quite a long time and push back on tapering,” Innes said.

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CNBC/Patti Domm
Mania in stocks like GameStop, surging options activity suggest a market pullback is coming

Speculative trading in some high momentum stocks and options could be signaling a near-term top, but the bull market is likely to run on for some time, stoked by prospects of an improving economy and easy Fed money, investors said.

Julian Emanuel, head of equity and derivative strategy at BTIG, said the surge of options buying and frothy trading in some high-flying stocks is very similar to the period leading up to the tech bubble crash in 2000. He said it’s very possible if the market behaves the same, the S&P 500 could go to a lofty 5,047 before the bull market ends, though he is not forecasting such a surge.

Most strategists expect the S&P 500 to end this year higher, with CNBC’s strategist survey at a median 4,100. But many do expect at least one pullback early in the year. The S&P 500 closed at 3,855 Monday, up 0.4%.

“We don’t see any signs yet, concrete signs, of a medium term trading top, but this type of volatility leads us to believe that similar to 1999 to 2000, you could get a 10% to 15% pullback at any time,” said Emanuel. “From what we see right now the level of speculation leads us to conclude the typical retail investor is as bullish in the aggregate as we have seen in over 20 years. With valuations where they are now, that is the recipe for potentially rapid, albeit temporary set back in the market.”

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CNBC/Berkeley Lovelace Jr.
Minnesota confirms first known U.S. case of more contagious Covid variant originally found in Brazil

The Minnesota Department of Health said Monday it has confirmed the first known U.S. case of a more contagious coronavirus variant originally found in Brazil.

The Brazil strain was found through the health department’s variant surveillance program, according to a press release. The department collects 50 random samples each week for genome sequencing.

The patient with the Brazil variant is a resident of the Twin Cities metro area who recently traveled to Brazil, according to state health officials. The person became ill during the first week of January and the specimen was collected Jan. 9, the state said.

“We’re thankful that our testing program helped us find this case, and we thank all Minnesotans who seek out testing when they feel sick or otherwise have reason to get a test,” Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said in a statement. “We know that even as we work hard to defeat COVID-19, the virus continues to evolve as all viruses do.”

Earlier in the day, President Joe Biden extended travel restrictions for Europe, the U.K. and Brazil, in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19, particularly as new strains of the coronavirus are identified.

Health officials are concerned that the Covid-19 vaccines currently on the market may not be as effective in guarding against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus. Moderna said Monday it is working on a booster shot to guard against another strain found in South Africa.

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