Supermarket

Today's the day the whatever hit the fan after the best unemployment data since the COVID-19 virus began ramping up led markets back into inflation fear. Last week only 684,000 new jobless claims were received (including one to NY State from the guy who stole my wallet, which resulting in a query to me because he was using my social security card.) The estimate had been for 735,000 new claims. Jerome Powell's comment was that the economic recovery is coming faster than expected, which to some extent removes the justification for the next round of government stimulus spending.

Meanwhile the good news I reported yesterday was wrong: the Empire State Building-sized container ship in the Suez Canal is still blocking that key artery, further adding to price rises, if not for oil itself, lower. The Dow-Jones opened down over 300 points, wiping out all 2021 profits for the key index.

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Bitcoin fell 10% despite the enthusiasm of my Malaysian techie who repaired the computers yesterday. Game Stop GME rose 43%+. Markets are still in thrall to SPACs and Cathie Wood.

Today I got the most exotic renewal check I ever received, with a Chinese character return address in Taipei and the US check wrapped in a supermarket ad. Which brings me to important news: that the Biden Administration is not backing down from what the Trump one asked the SEC to require from China companies dual-listed here: that they prove they are not controlled by entities of the PRC government and use the US generally accepted accounting principles in their reports. This result came after the acrimonious meeting of the US Secy of State and his Chinese counterpart in Alaska. The Holding Foreign Company Accountable Act is back with a vengeance and took down the companies it applies to and more. More on regulation below.

Taiwan Semiconductor, the largest holding by far (~20%) in Taiwan Fund, TWN, will supply Intel with chips under a new contract.

Drug dealers

*Astra-Zeneca won contrarian support rising about 1% to $49.25 after it said it could supply the data demanded by the US drug watchdog by tomorrow. It won a bull rating from UK Investors Intelligence. AZN.

*Bristol Myers' BMY anti-2AG-3 melanoma jab uses antibodies to stop cancer. This is an argument for Spanish Grifols which extracts antibodies from blood plasma, GRFS.

*Eisai ESALY of Japan gained as it partnered with Merck MRK in a successful trial against endometrial cancer.

*Danish Novo-Nordisk is ex-div, why NVO stock fell.

*Novartis NVS rose today after the company walked back a commentary given to a Swiss newspaper yesterday by Chairman Joerg Reinhardt on the $678mn fine NVS paid last year over bribing doctors to subscribe its drugs. The kickbacks let them attend resort events with their wives pitched as education. His comments violated the terms of the US settlement

*Teva was a real bummer, down 3.9%, reflecting the latest Israeli political impasse. The anti-Netanyahu coalition has nearly as many votes as the PM, so it will be a long haul. But there is no particular risk to TEVA. The same is not the case for the half dozen Israeli SPACs

Finance

*Fidelity, the US fund group, will seek SEC permission for a new bitcoin exchange-traded fund, which will compete with the one coming from CBOE—aimed at the institutional and global markets.

*Classic haven gold is both up and down today. If you don't like the price wait 10 minutes.

*Lazard, our newest financial stock, is planning to offer SPACs, and the LAZ share rose. It will not use its US LGI closed-end fund of funds for this.

*Banco Latino-Americano de Comercio Exterieur, BLX, of Panama is up.

*So is The Bank of Nova Scotia, BNS, of Canada.

*Mexican inflation in the period to mid-March was 4.12% annualized, a bad sign.

*Sumitomo Mitsui, SMFG, gained 1.35%, but Mitsubishi, MSBHF, lost 0.3%.

*Banco Santander fell 2.52% in European trading. SAN.

*AIA Group, AAIGF, the Hong Kong insurer, is up as Hong Kong wants to keep its business going while dropping democracy. I am not sure if the spinoff from US AIG is game for this.

*Swedish Investor A/B gained. It owns a chunk of Q. IVSBF.

Industrials

*Fanuc, the robotics maker of Japan, is up. FANUY.

*ABB of Switzerland got all its changes approved a the AGM. There will be no walk-back.

*Qualcomm QCOM, a US share I own, will supply its Snapdragon 780-5G with premium features to cheap 5G phone-makers. This will hurt pricier Nokia and Ericsson.

*Cement stocks are up again as US infrastructure spending will come.

*Cosan, now CSAN, the Brazil conglomerate, was flat today. I named it my stock of the year.

*Nintendo was tipped in seeking alpha by Icaria Capital, an analyst, who backs Abhimanyu. We sold before the TV platform was launched but kept some shares. NTDOY.

Marketing

*With the Taiwan supermarket flyer to hand I am letting you all know that Carrefour, the French chain which turned down a bid from Alimentation Couche-Tard ANCUF of Quebec, is buying a Brazilian chain. Carrefour is no. 1 in Brazil and the target firm is no. 3. The deal would not be ok'd in a normal country.

*Mercado Libre, MELI, gained again. It can beat the global players with its special online finance and vendor skills.

*However the stock of its Korean counterpart, Coupang, CPNG, is down.

Utilities

*Azure Power was tipped as an Indian stock by Barron's yesterday, although it is Mauritian. This cut its appeal. Your editor bought more at $26.6 as the share fell but today it is at $26.11, so I missed the bottom. Ultra-safe AZRE is controlled by the Caisse de Dépôts (Quebec Province retirement fund) and the International Finance Corp., the free market arm of the World Bank. Modi can do nothing except sign checks for solar panels on rooftops and railroads in India. Offshore is the way to go in India.

*Canadian Solar is the second cheapest solar stock out there according to "Enterprise Investors" on Seeking Alpha, which provided the tables. Jinko is cheaper in P/E but earns less. CSIQ.

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Herbert Blank 1 year ago Contributor's comment

Great commentary, Vivian. The only thing constant in life is inconstancy. The only thing constant in capital market decisions is uncertainty. Many risks abound on all sides b ut articles like this helps to focus on the most salient risks associated with the best opportunities.

William K. 1 year ago Member's comment

A always, VL, well written, informative, and interesting. It will be interesting and possibly exciting to see how the dealings with China develop. My observation, after spending a year there one month, is that with one technically literate generation China will be an equal world power, at least financially. The only possible way to prevent that is to have all of their labor become members of either the UAW or the Teamsters unions, and contantly demand more money and less work. Yes, I am aware that this is dirty fighting at it' very worst. But that is what it would take to win.