The commodities boom ignited by China’s post-Covid recovery, and stoked by the global move to green energy, broke price records last week even as fears about inflation stalked the markets. But it also risks triggering a rush on metals and minerals that could derail climate action.Iron ore reached the apex of a super-rally that drove prices to $237.57 a tonne in New York on Wednesday. The record followed a surge in demand from China’s steel-making regions, now recovering after the pandemic, which has pushed prices up from less than $94 this time last year.Copper, which is used in products from smartphones to electric cars, has doubled in price over the past year. The metal hit a fresh record of more than $10,700 a tonne last week as Chinese demand continued to rise.Market experts believe prices have further to run, as the rebound continues. But if China has sparked the bullish run on commodities, it is the global drive for green innovation that has fanned the flames.The world’s rising appetite for electric cars, solar panels, batteries and energy infrastructure to reduce reliance on fossil fuels requires metals such as copper and nickel, key materials in most electrical products.This is good news for mining companies, including Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, whose shares have been propelled to multi-year highs by investors eager to claim a stake in a prolonged commodities boom. However, the same economic trend could create a “looming mismatch” between the world’s appetite for green infrastructure investment “and the availability of critical minerals that are essential to realising those ambitions”, according to the International Energy Agency.In a recent report, the energy watchdog found that the global demand for critical and rare minerals would rise to six times higher than today by 2040 if the world were to achieve net zero emissions in 2050. An electric car requires six times the mineral inputs of a conventional vehicle, and an onshore windfarm requires nine times more mineral resources than a gas-fired plant. Electric cars and batteries, which are expected to increase dramatically in number over the years ahead, require large amount of cobalt, nickel and lithium, as well as rare earth elements. Wind power investment will also need high levels of rare earths, as well as zinc.If the world hopes to keep pace with the trajectory set out in the Paris climate agreement – to keep the global rise in temperature lower than 2C – this could mean demand for lithium alone would climb 40 times higher in the next 20 years because of its use in batteries, according to the IEA.Left unaddressed, these potential vulnerabilities could make progress towards a clean energy future slowerFatih Birol, IEABut forecasts vary widely. At its most demanding, the pace of the “green rush” could outstrip the output of all existing mines and projects under construction, which would be able to meet only half of projected lithium and cobalt requirements and 80% of the world’s copper needs.There are also concerns about the production of these raw materials, which is highly concentrated in a handful of countries. The IEA warns that the world’s top three producers account for more than three-quarters of global supplies. The Democratic Republic of the Congo produced 70% of cobalt and rare earth elements in 2019, according to IEA data, and China was responsible for refining nearly 90% of rare earths used globally.Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said: “Left unaddressed, these potential vulnerabilities could make global progress towards a clean energy future slower and more costly, and therefore hamper international efforts to tackle climate change.”Others are less pessimistic. Kingsmill Bond, an analyst at the thinktank Carbon Tracker, said: “There is no denying that there will be production bottlenecks as demand for critical minerals rises, but this is nothing new for the mining sector. The fossil system requires over 300 times more material than the renewable system. The disparity is enormous, and no amount of fancy footwork by apologists for the fossil fuel system should deflect us from the central point that we have the resources to make the energy transition a reality and to usher in a new age of growth and prosperity.”
Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has recorded its largest single-day increase in domestic Covid infections, reporting 29 new cases linked to a cluster outbreak in Taipei City’s Wanhua District.
The 29 newly reported local infections were confirmed by Taiwan’s health minister and the head of the CECC, Chen Shih-chung, alongside five separate imported cases, marking a record one-day increase for the island.All of the domestic cases are Taiwanese nationals living in the north of the island, except for one woman in the south. Four of the infected individuals are currently asymptomatic, while 25 exhibited symptoms between May 2 and 12.An investigation was launched by health officials in Taiwan into the origin of the new infections, with them concluding that there is a link between the 29 cases reported on Friday and a previous cluster from a tea parlor in Taipei’s Wanhua District.Despite the rise in domestic case numbers, Taiwan’s premier, Su Tseng-chang, refused to raise the island’s Covid alert level, as it has “more experience and resources to fight the pandemic” than last year.“With the cooperation of the central and local governments, the command center has successively found the transmission chain between the confirmed cases, and there is no need to upgrade (the alert level) for the time being,” Su said in a Facebook post.
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Taiwan considers coronavirus lockdown as island registers record 16 domestic transmissions
The comments from Su contradict Health Minister Chen’s suggestion on May 12 that the alert level might be raised and restrictions stepped up to prevent a widespread outbreak sweeping across the island. While some restrictions have been imposed on the island during the pandemic, a full lockdown has never been imposed.Since the beginning of the pandemic, Taiwan has reported 1,290 confirmed cases of the virus – the majority of which were imported – with 12 fatalities from coronavirus.Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!
Taipei’s mayor has announced the indefinite closure of bars, cafes, restaurants and entertainment venues from midnight on Friday after Taiwan reported 29 new community transmission cases of Covid-19, its highest single-day figure since the pandemic began, including seven with no known source.Business closures were announced by local governments in the capital and in other northern counties in response to the growing outbreak in those areas, going beyond national restrictions set by the central government.“The outbreak continues to widen so we have to upgrade the pandemic prevention measures,” said the Taipei mayor, Ko Wen-je. “But we urge residents not to panic. We had kept the pandemic under control effectively in the past year but we may have become too relaxed. We need to be vigilant again and we can still bring it under control.”Other local authorities announced measures including the closure of an outpatient clinic at a Songshan hospital and the closure of various hospitality and entertainment venues from midnight in Taoyuan, Keelung and Hsinchu, local media reported.The Taiwan Centers for Disease Control said 16 new cases were linked to teahouses and hostess bars in the Wanhua neighbourhood in Taipei. One was linked to a cluster in Yilan and five to a cluster in New Taipei.Most of the people affected are in their 50s and 60s, the youngest is 10 and the oldest in their 70s. Several are teahouse employees. Authorities said they were focusing on the health response and did not intend to arrest sex workers, local media reported.Rapid testing stations will be set up in the Wanhua area, the first time Taiwan has used such a measure. Ko said immigrants who were in the country illegally would not be targeted at testing stations, and he encouraged everyone in the area to present for screening.“Medical treatment is a human right. I guarantee that administrative units will not arrest or repatriate during the inspection,” he said.Taiwan has kept itself free of major Covid outbreaks so far in the pandemic, but the rise in case numbers has prompted widespread fear. Taiwan is on level 2 of a four-level alert system.There was high concern over two clusters in the counties of Taoyuan and Yilan, which did not have a known link for several days. The outbreak has since expanded to include New Taipei, Taipei and Changhua, in central Taiwan.The alert level will rise to 3 if there are three community clusters reported within a week or 10 locally transmitted cases from an unknown source in one day. Many people and businesses appear to have increased their precautions beyond what is mandated.On Wednesday Taiwan’s premier, Su Tseng-chang, said people had been getting “more relaxed or careless as time goes by”, having been largely untouched by the pandemic. Taiwan locked down early, restricting non-resident entries, and has run a strict hotel and home quarantine system. Voluntary mask use has remained high.Of Taiwan’s 1,290 total Covid cases, just 164 have been local. The rest were detected in recent arrivals who were in hotel quarantine. A dozen people have died.
The US shortfall this year is 30.3 percent higher than the $1.48 trillion deficit run up over the same period a year, the Treasury Department said on Wednesday.The United States budget deficit surged to a record of $1.9 trillion for the first seven months of this budget year, bloated by the billions of dollars being spent on coronavirus relief packages.
The shortfall so far this year is 30.3 percent higher than the $1.48 trillion deficit run up over the same period a year ago, the US Department of the Treasury said Wednesday in its monthly budget report.
The oceans of red ink in both years are largely due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which led the government to approve trillions of dollars in relief to cover three rounds of individual payments, extra unemployment benefits and support for small businesses.
The deficit for the budget year that ended Sept. 30 totalled a record $3.1 trillion and many private economists believe this year’s total will surpass that amount. Some are forecasting a deficit of $3.3 trillion.
For April, the deficit totalled $225.6bn, down from a deficit in April 2020 of $738bn. That improvement reflected the fact that fewer relief payments were made this year and individuals making quarterly tax payments had to meet the normal April deadline. Last year, all tax payments were delayed at the onset of the pandemic.
For the October-April period, revenues totalled $2.14 trillion, up 16.1 percent over the same period a year ago, a gain that was boosted by individuals’ quarterly tax payments in April. The April payment was delayed last year after 22 million people lost their jobs because of pandemic shutdowns.
Outlays for the first seven months of this budget year totalled $4.07 trillion, up 25.8 percent from the same period a year ago, as the government in both periods was passing massive pandemic relief bills.
The $1.93 trillion deficit for the first seven months of this budget year was $459.4bn higher than the $1.48 trillion deficit run up in the same period a year ago.
Taiwan is tightening its coronavirus restrictions after 16 new domestically transmitted Covid-19 cases were detected, marking the highest-ever daily increase on the island, which has largely kept the pandemic under control.
The island, regarded by China as an integral part of the country, reported 16 new domestic cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday. Four more imported cases, including one from India and three from the Philippines, were reported as well, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).The figure became the highest reported in a single day on the island since the beginning of the pandemic. Taiwan has kept the coronavirus well under control for months, registering only 1,210 cases and 12 deaths in over a year.The surge has already prompted the authorities to tighten restrictions, with all business venues ordered to increase prevention measures – or face closure if they fail to comply.“Taiwan currently has more than two chains of transmission for which we have yet to identify their sources. We are in critical condition now, and this is not a joke,” Health Minister Chen Shih-chung told the legislature on Wednesday.The minister urged the public not to panic buy amid the Covid-19 spike, assuring them that the island has stockpiled plenty of protective equipment and medical supplies. At the same time, Chen said that the country might see its coronavirus alert bumped to Level 3 “in the coming days.”
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‘Not a god reborn’: Taiwan defends health minister criticized over minor uptick in Covid-19 cases, urges public to follow rules
Taiwan has a four-tier alert system and has never gone past Level 2, which is currently active. This level bans large-scale indoor and outdoor gatherings of 100 and 500 people respectively, as well as enforcing mask wearing on public transport and in crowded venues.Level 3, however, effectively stops short of imposing a nationwide lockdown. Under this alert, Taiwanese citizens would be required to wear face masks at all times outside of their homes, while indoor gatherings of more than five people and outdoor ones of more than 10 would be banned, while non-essential businesses would be ordered to shut down.Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!
Death toll surges past a grim milestone as the pandemic rages across the vast country of 1.35 billion people.India has posted a record rise in deaths from COVID-19 over the last 24 hours, pushing its total fatalities past the 250,000 mark.
Deaths from the coronavirus swelled by 4,205, while daily coronavirus cases rose by 348,421, with India’s overall caseload now surging past 23 million, according to health ministry data on Wednesday.
Many experts suspect the real numbers are much higher.
Scores of dead bodies were found floating down the Ganges river in eastern India, with the authorities saying they haven’t yet determined the cause of death.
Health officials working through the night Monday retrieved 71 bodies, officials in Bihar state said.
Images on social media of the bodies floating in the river prompted outrage and speculation that they died from COVID-19.
Authorities performed post mortems on Tuesday but said they could not confirm the cause of death due to the decomposition of the bodies.
More corpses were found floating in the river on Tuesday, washing up in Ghazipur district in neighboring Uttar Pradesh state. Police and villagers were at the site, about 50 km (30 miles) from Monday’s incident.
“We are trying to find out where did these dead bodies come from? How did they get here?” said Mangla Prasad Singh, a local official.
Surinder, a resident of Ghazipur who uses one name, said villagers didn’t have enough wood to cremate their dead on land.
“Due to the shortage of wood, the dead are being buried in the water,” he said. “Bodies from around 12-13 villages have been buried in the water.”
Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are experiencing rising COVID-19 cases as infections in India grow faster than anywhere else in the world.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday said a variant of COVID-19 first detected in India last year has been found in at least 44 countries.
The UN health body has designated the virus strain as a “variant of concern” based on preliminary research, alongside those that were first detected in Britain, South Africa and Brazil.
Meanwhile, India’s foreign ministry late on Tuesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not travel to Britain for the Group of Seven (G7) summit next month because of the coronavirus situation in the country.
“While appreciating the invitation to the Prime Minister by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to attend the G7 Summit as a Special Invitee, given the prevailing COVID situation, it has been decided that the Prime Minister will not attend the G7 Summit in person,” the ministry said in a statement.
Modi has been criticised for allowing huge gatherings at a religious festival and holding large election rallies during the past two months even as cases surged.
US President Joe Biden is expected to join other leaders at a G7 summit chaired by Britain’s Johnson in Cornwall, southwestern England, on June 11-13.
Tokyo, Japan – The unprecedented success of the film Demon Slayer has helped underline the potential of its anime industry and its focus on mass entertainment, and boost Japanese morale as the country battles a renewed surge in coronavirus cases.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train now owns the Japanese record books.
After a dozen consecutive weeks at the end of last year as the highest-grossing movie in Japan – it is still going strong – in December it surpassed Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away as the No. 1 highest-earning Japanese film of all time.
Now it is topping the box office in the United States, only two weeks after its release there.
Japan’s top government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, this week celebrated Demon Slayer as “bright news that the Japanese manga culture has been regarded highly across the world”.
In the 29 weeks since its release, the movie has sold almost 29 million tickets and brought in about $365m in sales in the Japanese market alone.
Roland Kelts, author of the book Japamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture has Invaded the US, attributes Demon Slayer’s phenomenal success to the gathering of “a perfect storm”.
One key element was its “strategic rollout,” he said.
It began as a serialised manga – Japanese comics or graphic novels – in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump in February 2015, before evolving into a 26-part television anime series that was released in a staggered fashion from April 2019 and later streamed on various platforms, only then becoming the feature film that was released in October of last year.
The extended process allowed the buzz to build gradually.
Another element was the timing of the cinematic release. It came during a lull in Japan’s COVID-19 pandemic – between its second and third waves – when cinemas were open but there were few films to choose from.
Demon Slayer opened in Japan during a lull in the COVID pandemic. It is now the country’s highest-grossing movie, pushing Spirited Away from the top spot [FIle: Issei Kato/Reuters]Kelts says that when he dropped by the major cinema in his Tokyo neighbourhood at the time of its October 2020 release “there were virtually no options… it was all-day Demon Slayer.”
Of course, even then the film could not have achieved its record-breaking success without possessing broader appeal.
“It’s got an attractive young hero who is very empathetic,” said Carol Hayes, associate professor of Japanese studies at Australian National University. “The dilemmas that he is worrying about are very human.”
Good vs evil
The central character of the series, Tanjiro Kamado, sets out on an adventure that seems familiar and timeless.
He is the brave young man from the country who sets out to combat threatening villains and to both avenge and save his family. In that sense, it could be a tale from any culture of any time period in human history.
We hear the hero’s internal monologue as he struggles with “the moral dilemma of what is good and what is evil.”
Hayes also suggests that it draws from the contemporary popularity of zombie and vampire films and that because the anime is so beautifully drawn, it can be quite engaging to a wider audience.
At the same time, Demon Slayer is not entirely dark, as many of the characters and situations are designed to make the audience laugh and to preserve a lighter and more whimsical mood.
“They’ve made an effort to make it funny, and that’s a good way of coping with violence,” Hayes observed.
Moreover, by taking “demons” as the antagonists, the killing which takes place in almost every episode becomes less of a problem from a moral perspective.
Emerald King, lecturer in Japanese at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, adds that, beyond Tanjiro, there is “a really great cast of secondary characters and supporting characters, and there’s somebody for everybody… None of the characters are wasted. They all serve a purpose.”
Making a point that other analysts also cite, King observes that despite having the typical structure of young men’s manga, the female characters also have depth.
“There’s really great women characters… they’re allowed to have as many flaws and strengths as the boys have,” she said.
Kamado Tajiro sets out from his village to avenge, and to save, his family [File: Sam Yeh/AFP]On the other hand, those who study Japanese manga and anime also tend to agree that, despite its success, there is no single element within the Demon Slayer series that can be said to be truly groundbreaking.
“There’s nothing new,” admitted King, “It has taken the best bits from everything and kind of brought them together.” The series makes use of “what’s worked in other genres and [is] using it to their advantage.”
In this context, Kelts goes so far as to suggest that its reputation may fade over time.
“I don’t think it’s going to be revered as an anime classic five years from now,” he said.
The genius of Demon Slayer may lie not in its innovation or artistic depth, but rather in its ability to deliver exactly what it set out to deliver.
Kelts notes that a lot of investment money has been flowing from the US into the Japanese anime world in the past five years or so, meaning that the studios are “being forced to sharpen up” their act from a commercial perspective.
“The industry is realising that their job is to deliver a product that now has a global audience,” Kelts said. The mature craftsmanship of Demon Slayer reflects this more tightly written, well-executed style.
The film’s national and international success virtually guarantees that other studios and industry players will study Demon Slayer, hoping to ride the wave it has created. It will serve as a model for much that will follow, including, no doubt, some uninspired rip-offs aiming to cash in.
Demon Slayer started out as a comic book before becoming a television series and, finally, a feature film. The strategy helped ensure success, according to experts [File: Kyodo/via Reuters]But even many of the better anime products of the future are likely to feel the impact of the commercial success that Demon Slayer has achieved, and some of the effects may be lamented by certain groups of anime fans.
The perfect storm could leave behind it an altered landscape.
As a studio insider told Kelts, “Our generation has realised that anime is entertainment; it’s not art.”
FAANG stocks displayed at the Nasdaq.Adam Jeffery | CNBCFutures contracts tied to the major U.S. stock indexes slipped at the start of the overnight session Monday evening after investors punished Big Tech equities during the regular session.S&P 500 futures shed 0.1%, while those tied to the Dow were little changed. Nasdaq 100 futures came under the most pressure and retreated 0.25%.Big Tech got clobbered on Monday as investors exited stocks like Apple and Microsoft, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 off their record highs. Both of those stocks lost at least 2% to start the week.The Nasdaq Composite suffered the worse of the selling and fell 2.5%, finishing the day at its session low. Facebook lost more than 4%, while Amazon and Netflix both dropped over 3%. Alphabet dipped more than 2% after a downgrade by Citigroup. Cathie Wood’s Ark Innovation ETF fell 5% to its lowest level since November as Tesla, its top holding, shed more than 6%.Gasoline futures whipsawed in volatile trading on Monday after a ransomware attack forced Colonial Pipeline to close the largest U.S. fuel pipeline over the weekend. The company, which operates a 5,500-mile system, said Monday afternoon that parts of its system are being brought back online, and it hopes to restore service by the end of the week.Gasoline futures ended the day 0.31% higher at $2.1334 per gallon. At one point in the overnight session, gasoline futures jumped as high as $2.217, levels not seen since May 2018.Several stocks made moves in extended trading on Monday following earnings results.Simon Property Group saw its stock retreat about 1% after the bell despite better-than-expected numbers. The real estate property manager reported first-quarter earnings of $1.36 per share on revenues of $1.15 billion.Callaway Golf, meanwhile, said it’s seeing robust demand for its equipment and apparel, pushing shares up 5% after regular trading ended in New York. Electronic Arts, Chesapeake Energy, Hanesbrands, and Palantir Technologies will all deliver earnings results on Tuesday.The Labor Department will on Tuesday publish the latest results of its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. Several high-ranking Federal Reserve officials, including Governor Lael Brainard and New York Fed President John Williams, are also scheduled to deliver remarks.Become a smarter investor with CNBC Pro. Get stock picks, analyst calls, exclusive interviews and access to CNBC TV. Sign up to start a free trial today
U.S. stocks jumped to record levels on Friday even after a disappointing April jobs report as the weak number made investors believe easy monetary policies that powered the market’s historic rebound will stay in place for longer. Some investors also dismissed the report as a one-time blip that doesn’t signal any slowdown in the economic recovery.The S&P 500 climbed 0.7% to 4,232.60, hitting a record high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 229.23 points, or 0.7%, to 34,777.76 to reach another closing high. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite popped 0.9% to 13,752.24.For the week, the Dow rallied 2.7% to break a two-week losing streak. The S&P 500 gained 1.2%, while the Nasdaq Composite shed 1.5% this week.The Labor Department said nonfarm payrolls increased by just 266,000 in April, far less than the 1 million total economists were expecting, according to Dow Jones. The unemployment rate rose to 6.1% last month amid an escalating shortage of available workers, higher than an expectation of 5.8%. Meanwhile, March’s originally estimated total of 916,000 was revised down to 770,000.Investors bet that the big jobs miss could keep the easy policies of the Federal Reserve in place, including record low interest rates and a massive bond-buying program. Tech stocks, which have been winning under the low-rates regime during the pandemic, outperformed after the data release. Microsoft and Tesla both rose more than 1%, while Netflix, Alphabet and Apple all registered gains. Higher rates tend to hit growth stocks the most since they reduce the value of their future earnings.”The Fed will feel some vindication in their hesitancy to embrace tapering,” Adam Crisafulli, founder of Vital Knowledge, said in a note following the jobs report Friday.Bank of America research warned as recently as Friday that strong economic data could hit stocks, especially tech shares, if it caused the central bank to dial back on its easy monetary policies.There were also some investors who believe that April’s jobs number was not exactly what it seems.”It was a huge surprise,” Goldman Sachs chief economist Jan Hatzius said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.” “I think that you always have to take every data release with a grain of salt and this one I think you may have to take with a rock of salt,” he said, citing seasonal adjustments as a potential source of error.Still, the disappointing jobs number poured cold water on many economists who estimated a sharp rebound in job growth. Goldman Sachs economists expected a total of 1.3 million jobs to have been added in April.Some economists are forecasting double-digit growth in the current quarter after gross domestic product rose at a 6.4% annualized pace in the first quarter and more weak data could put those forecasts at risk.”It was a disappointing read on job creation and brings into question the assumption that Q2 is going to carry-forward the positive momentum established at the beginning of the year,” Ian Lyngen, head of U.S. rates at BMO, said in a note.Shares of Roku rallied more than 11% after the streaming company blew past expectations with its first-quarter results. Roku posted adjusted earnings of 54 cents per share, compared to an estimated loss of 13 cents per share, according to Refinitiv. Revenue rose 79% from a year ago and exceeded expectations.Become a smarter investor with CNBC Pro. Get stock picks, analyst calls, exclusive interviews and access to CNBC TV. Sign up to start a free trial today
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