World Opinion

Opinion pieces from around the world

Analysis | Biden prioritizes experience with Cabinet picks

NEW YORK (AP) — Competence is making a comeback. President-elect Joe Biden has prized staying power over star power when making his first wave of...

Explainer | China’s claims of coronavirus on frozen foods

BEIJING (AP) — China has stirred controversy with claims it has detected the coronavirus on packages of imported frozen food. Frozen shrimp imported from an...

AP Fact Check | Trump still uses distortion in hopeless quest

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump isn't giving up on his false accusations of a rigged election now that his administration is making room...

Explainer | Why the Dow topped 30,000 for the first time

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street busted through its latest milestone Tuesday, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 30,000 for the first time. It’s an attention-grabbing psychological threshold, and it’s an encouraging signal that the market’s rally is broadening beyond the handful of stocks that carried Wall Street through the pandemic. But the Dow at 30,000 means less to most investors’ 401(k) accounts than the fact that broader market indexes are also at record highs. Here’s a look at how the Dow has rallied to its latest multiple of 10,000, the first time that’s happened since January 2017, and what it means for investors. WHAT IS THE DOW, EXACTLY?It’s a measure of 30 companies, mostly blue-chip stocks spread across a range of industries. They include tech stars like Apple and Microsoft, as well as more traditional industrial companies like Boeing and Caterpillar. Other behemoths in the Dow include Nike and The Walt Disney Co.Unlike many other measures of the market, the most important thing for the Dow is how big a stock’s price is, not how much a company is worth in total. That means a 1% move for UnitedHealth Group has a bigger effect on the Dow than the same movement for Apple, even though Apple is worth more than six times the insurer. That’s because UnitedHealth Group’s stock price is $337.51, versus $114.92 for Apple, due to having a smaller number of total shares. HOW BIG A DEAL IS DOW 30,000?It’s just an arbitrary number, and it doesn’t mean things are much better than when the Dow was at 29,999. What’s more impactful is that the Dow has finally clawed back all its losses from the pandemic and is once again reaching new heights. It is up 61.3% since dropping below 18,600 on March 23. It took nearly nine months for the Dow to surpass the record it had set in February, before panic about the coronavirus triggered the market’s breathtaking sell-off.WHAT GOT THE DOW THIS HIGH?The Dow’s rocket ride to 30,000 got big boosts from the Federal Reserve, which slashed short-term interest rates back to roughly zero and took other measures to stabilize financial markets, and Congress, which came through with trillions of dollars of financial aid for the economy. The economy has improved since the pandemic’s initial shock. For instance, claims for unemployment benefits dropped from 6.9 million in March to 742,000 last week. Company profits didn’t tank as much as initially feared. And the possibility that a COVID vaccine could begin distribution by the end of the year has recently given the market more reason to be optimistic. Among individual companies, Apple did much of the heavy lifting early in the Dow’s recovery after its price soared nearly $275 to above $500 by late August. A four-for-one stock split on Aug. 28 cut Apple’s stock price below $130, diminishing its impact on the Dow, even though its total market value continued to rise.Since then, Honeywell and Caterpillar have provided the biggest boosts to the Dow as expectations have built for a recovering economy. Looking over the longer term, profits strengthened sharply for most Dow companies since it first rose above the 20,000 threshold at the start of 2017. At American Express, for example, analysts expect earnings per share to bounce back from the pandemic and tally $6.69 next year, versus $6.07 in recurring earnings in 2016. At the same time, investors today are more willing to pay higher prices for each $1 of earnings because alternatives are less attractive. The yield on the 10-year Treasury Tuesday was 0.88% compared with 2.5% in January 2017. SO THIS MEANS MY 401K IS DOING BETTER?Probably, but not because the Dow is at 30,000. For most 401(k) accounts, what matters much more is how the S&P 500 is performing. That’s because many, many more stock funds either directly mimic the S&P 500 or benchmark themselves against that index than the Dow. Nearly $4.6 trillion in investments directly track the S&P 500, while another $6.65 trillion measure themselves against the index’s performance. That total of $11.24 trillion is roughly 360 times the $31.5 billion in investments that track or benchmark their performance against the Dow. The S&P 500 was within striking distance Tuesday of eclipsing its record high set on Nov. 16.WHY PAY ANY ATTENTION TO THE DOW, THEN? One thing the Dow’s final leap to 30,000 indicates is that it’s no longer just tech stocks driving the market. Five Big Tech companies — Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Google’s parent company — alone account for nearly 22% of the S&P 500 by market value. That gives their movements incredible sway over the S&P 500. The Dow doesn’t even include Amazon, Facebook or Google’s parent company. The dominance of Big Tech early in the market’s recovery is a big reason the S&P 500 returned to its pre-pandemic record in August compared to November for the Dow. More recently, with hopes rising that a vaccine or two may be arriving soon, the stock market’s gains have begun to broaden out. The Dow is more heavily weighted toward stocks in the financial and industrial industries, which have done better than tech recently after earlier getting walloped by the pandemic. NEXT STOP IS DOW 40,000, RIGHT?Many strategists along Wall Street are optimistic that stocks can keep climbing in 2021, mainly because of the prospects for a vaccine. But the market is facing plenty of threats in the near term. Chief among them is the worsening pandemic, which is pushing governments around the world to bring back varying degrees of restrictions on businesses. Bitter partisanship also means Congress is making little to no progress on delivering more financial support for the economy in the meantime. That sets the stage for a potentially bleak winter for both health and the economy. So don’t be surprised if the Dow crosses back and forth over the 30,000 threshold a few more times.

Best Buy reports 3Q results that exceed Wall Street views

NEW YORK (AP) — Best Buy Co. reported fiscal third-quarter results that blew through analysts' expectations as the nation's largest retailer enjoyed surging demand for items like home theater and appliances that help people learn, cook, work and connect in their homes during the pandemic. The Richfield, Minnesota-based retailer, said that third-quarter profits rose 33% while sales were up 21%. Sales at stores opened at least a year rose 23%, while domestic online revenue surged 174%.Best Buy joins big box stores like Walmart, Target, Home Depot and Lowe's in reporting strong fiscal results. Unlike mall-based stores and other businesses that sell non-essentials, big box retailers were allowed to stay open during the lockdown in the spring and have all seen their dominance increase as consumers focus on necessities and home-related activities. Best Buy reported fiscal third-quarter profit of $391 million, or $1.48 per share, compared with $293 million, or $1.10 per share, in the year-ago period. Earnings, adjusted for restructuring costs and amortization costs, were $2.06 per share.The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.76 per share.The consumer electronics retailer posted revenue of $11.85 billion in the period, also beating Street forecasts. Eight analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $11.02 billion.Best Buy shares slipped about 3% in premarket trading on Tuesday morning. Shares have increased 39% since the beginning of the year, while the S&P 500 index has increased 11%. The stock has increased 69% in the last 12 months.____Elements of this story was generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on BBY at https://www.zacks.com/ap/BBY

Asia Today | China reports 2 virus cases after mass testing

BEIJING (AP) — China on Tuesday reported two new coronavirus cases in the cities of Shanghai and Tianjin as it seeks to prevent small outbreaks from becoming larger ones.The National Health Commission said that there were two new locally spread cases in the previous 24-hour period, one in each city. It also reported 20 cases among people who had arrived from overseas.In Shanghai, the mass testing of 17,719 workers at the city’s Pudong aiport found one infection, a Fedex employee. Everyone else tested negative.Three UPS workers at the airport have also tested positive in recent days, along with the wife of one of them. In all, Shanghai has reported eight non-imported cases since Friday.In Tianjin, where 2.3 million people had been tested as of Monday, the city reported one case in a person who developed symptoms after testing positive earlier. China does not include people without symptoms in its confirmed case count.To date, the health commission has recorded 86,464 confirmed cases and 4,634 deaths.In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:— Philippine officials say about 60 million Filipinos are being targeted for vaccination against the coronavirus next year at a cost of more than 73 billion pesos ($1.4 billion) to develop considerable immunity among a majority of Filipinos. Carlito Galvez Jr., who oversees government efforts to secure the vaccines, said negotiations were underway with four Western and Chinese pharmaceutical companies, including U.S.-based Pfizer Inc. and China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd., to secure the vaccines early next year. He said that one company based in the U.K., AstraZeneca, can commit to supply up to 20 million vaccines. The Philippines has had more than 420,000 confirmed cases, the second-most in Southeast Asia behind Indonesia, and 8,173 deaths.— India has registered 37,975 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and 480 deaths in the past 24 hours, maintaining a downturn. The latest increase has taken the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 9.18 million, with 134,218 deaths, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday. Even though the number of daily cases nationwide has remained below 50,000 for several weeks, after peaking in September, several cities have are seeing a jump in cases and are implementing stricter restrictions. State governments in Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat have decided to impose a night curfew on some of their cities and have postponed the re-opening of schools.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

What Biden means for Asia? | Excerpts from ST’s webinar with...

SINGAPORE (Strait Times/ANN) — Ties between the United States and Asia are set to improve under US President-elect Joe Biden, ushering in a period...

Report: Mobile fingerprinting a core tool in US deportations

BOSTON (AP) — A mobile fingerprinting app U.S. immigration agents use to run remote ID checks in the field has become a core tool...

Analysis | Medvedev, Thiem get tennis set for intriguing 2021

No one thinks it’s time to write off Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal — or even Roger Federer — just yet. Well, they shouldn’t,...

Reports | Israeli PM flew to Saudi Arabia, met crown prince

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli media reported Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Saudi Arabia for a clandestine meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed...