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Middle East Breakthrough: Virus Relief Stalemate

The following is Thursday’s status check of developments in the US that can influence economic, health and political outcomes from Mace News:

  • An authentic though preliminary breakthrough; a third Arab country normalising relations with Israel. With the UAE’s agreement, Israel suspends its claims of sovereignty over the West Bank claimed by Palestinians for a future state – and officials made clear, Israel says the suspension is temporary. As President Trump said in his evening briefing, “It’s off the table.” Jared Kushner given much of the credit for the agreement and the president says more Arab countries may come forward to do the same. The Palestinians expressed opposition. Trump said he thinks they “will come around” in time.
  • A reported 2,400 students quarantined after attending re-opened schools in six states. The American Academic of Pediatrics said all students should be wearing masks, regardless where in the country. Both the NIH’s Fauci and the CDC’s Redfield issued their firmest warnings yet that more mitigation is needed, departing from the White House line. US deaths have averaged more than 1,000 a day for more than two weeks. The latest 24-hour US toll was 1,478, just slightly below Tuesday’s total which was the worst since mid-May. Fauci warned rising positivity results – one of every four in Texas – suggest more surges are coming and said he’s not happy with what’s happening. He also said school temperature checks are useless. Redfield repeated that the coming convergence of influenza with coronavirus could be the “worst fall” for health outcomes “we’ve ever had.” Hospitalisations, though, are way down.
  • Upcoming US economic data includes July retail sales at 8:30a ET, along with productivity. At 9:15am industrial production, at 10am consumer sentiment and business inventories and at 1pm the Baker-Hughes rig count.
  • In another politics-dominated evening briefing, President Trump spent much of the time criticising Democratic candidate Biden’s call for governors to mandate mask wearing “for the next three months at a minimum” to save 40,000 lives. Trump said Biden was being “anti-scientific and very defeatist.”
  • For another day, not only no move by either side toward a resumption of negotiations toward virus relief legislation but an opposite signal from the Senate, which put off any legislative business until Sept. 8. However, both House members and senators are subject to return within 24 hours should anything need a vote.
  • US stocks fell just short of any new record high closes but shrugged off any pessimism about the chances for virus relief talks, still at an impasse. Most analysts took the day’s report on fresh claims for unemployment benefits as a positive, since they fell below 1 million for the first time in more than four months. Without the largely irrelevant seasonal adjustment, claims were 831,856 last week, 15.8% fewer than the previous week. Yet the total still claiming benefits remained staggering, at 15.2 million.
  • President Trump, again in his evening briefing, said China is buying more US agricultural commodities than ever. The WSJ reported more than a dozen major US multinational companies, in a call Tuesday with White House officials, raised concern about damage that could result if the September ban on WeChat became reality. Curiously White House economic coordinator Larry Kudlow told CNBC he knew nothing about any such call. WeChat is widely used by Chinese-Americans as well as firms involved in US-China trade and iPhone use.
  • The WSJ reported the US campaign to deter shipping firms from dealing with Iran and Venezuela has been boosted with the U.S. taking custody of gasoline loaded in four tankers bound for Venezuela.


Colin Lambert

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