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Shanghai moves closer to the Covid lockdown exit, as Beijing defends.

Shanghai is carefully restoring transportation services. This week, Shanghai reported almost no new community cases; Beijing is on high alert as new diseases emerge.

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Shanghai cautiously advanced efforts to restore half of its transportation network on Saturday, a crucial step toward ending a weeks-long COVID-19 lockdown, as Beijing bolstered its defences in a month-long epidemic.

Shanghai’s shutdown, which began in early April, has wreaked havoc on China’s most populated metropolis, sparked discussion about the country’s zero-COVID policy, and fueled worries of future lockdowns and disruptions.

Unlike Shanghai, Beijing has avoided ordering a city-wide lockdown, reporting only a few dozen new instances each day, compared to tens of thousands in Shanghai at its peak. Nonetheless, the restrictions and unending mass testing placed on China’s capital have shaken the country’s economy and upended the lives of its citizens.

Workers in Shanghai were sanitising subway stations and trains before the expected reopening of four metro lines on Sunday, as Beijing remained concerned about COVID.

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While the service will only be available during certain hours, it will let citizens to travel across districts and connect to one of the city’s two airports. In addition, more than 200 bus lines will restart.

Commuters will be examined for abnormally high body temperatures and need to provide negative results of PCR tests done within 48 hours, according to Shanghai officials.

Shanghai municipal health authorities reported 868 new local cases on Friday, down from 858 the day before, a long cry from the peak in daily caseloads last month.

Health officials said no new cases were discovered outside of confined regions, down from three the day before.

With communal transmissions mostly eradicated in recent days, the metropolis of 25 million has progressively reopened retail malls, convenience stores, and wholesale markets, allowing more residents to walk out of their houses.

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Nonetheless, Shanghai increased restrictions in two of its 16 districts on Friday. Residents and businesses in a third district in downtown Shanghai were subjected to new restrictions on Saturday.

An official from the city’s emergency office told a press conference on Saturday that the authorities “encourage companies to carefully execute safe manufacturing, which is their duty, especially in satisfying specific epidemic prevention and control standards.”

Delta Airlines said on Friday that one daily route from Shanghai to Detroit via Seoul would restart on Wednesday.

Comparing and Contrasting

Although the majority of Beijing’s recent occurrences occurred in places that had already been blocked, police remained vigilant and swift to act in accordance with China’s rigorous policy.

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Since Friday, bus and metro stations in Fengtai, a 2 million-person district at the heart of Beijing’s anti-COVID activities, have been mainly closed, and residents have been advised to stay at home.

On Saturday, a Fengtai resident was loading up on goods at a neighbouring Carrefour, unsure whether the limitations would last.

“I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to do any more shopping in the next week or so,” she explained, “so I got a lot of goods today and even bought some dumplings for the Dragon Boat holiday” in early June.

According to the state-run China Youth Daily, hundreds of people from a neighbourhood in Chaoyang, Beijing’s most populated district, were transported to hotel quarantine on Friday after several cases were found.

In some cases, whole residential complexes were brought to centralised quarantine facilities in reaction to a single positive COVID case, as social media users on China’s Twitter-like Weibo quickly noted.

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While unconfirmed stories from Nanxinyuan locals received hundreds of comments and likes on Weibo, a similar hashtag could not be found on the site on Saturday, implying internet suppression.

“Perhaps, with the exception of Shanghai residents, no one will care about Beijing’s Nanxinyuan. However, I’m not sure how many people will notice this line “Xie Tiantian, a Shanghai-based director and actor, posted on Weibo.

Sun Shuwei, an employee at a digital firm, told Reuters that the situation in Nanxinyuan, barely 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) from his house, has caused him to contemplate leaving Beijing. Sun expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation.

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Cramer’s lightning round: AGNC Investment is not a buy

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Paramount Global: “Too cheap to believe. … I don’t know where it bottoms, but it sure isn’t close to the top.”

Hasbro Inc: “I don’t like the earnings, and I think that Mattel‘s actually cheaper.”

Citigroup Inc: “The book value is so different from where the common stock is, the price. Something is very wrong there.”

Cramer's lightning round: AGNC Investment is not a buy

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Jim Cramer says not to fear bearish economic talk from bank CEOs – there’s no ‘financial apocalypse’

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Jim Cramer says not to fear bearish economic talk from bank CEOs
CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Wednesday told investors that they should take gloomy economic commentary from bank executives with a grain of salt. 

“Don’t panic the next time you hear one of these bank CEOs say something terrifying — they don’t know the impact of their words,” he said, adding, “Sure, we’ve got plenty of problems, but they’re not financial apocalypse problems.”

The S&P 500 slipped for a fifth trading session on Wednesday as investors mulled the possibility of a recession.

Adding to investors’ worries, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said on Tuesday that inflation is eating away at consumers’ pocketbooks and could create a recession. 

The chief executives of Bank of America and Wells Fargo also warned that the economy is slowing down as Americans cut back on spending.

“Memo to America’s bankers: Don’t try to frighten us. Don’t try to get us to sell everything,” Cramer said. “Don’t be Grinches telling us a hurricane could be coming.”

He urged the chief executives to remind investors of what’s going right in the Fed’s fight against inflation, and gave an example of what he believes one of the CEOs should have said: 

“There will come a day when the Fed will be done tightening, although that may be when the S&P 500 is a good bit lower. But I don’t know if I want to take the chance of possibly missing the [next] big rally. Hey, maybe buy small,” he said.

Disclaimer: Cramer’s Charitable Trust owns shares of Wells Fargo.

Watch Jim Cramer's message to U.S. bank leaders

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Mortgage demand falls again even as rates sink further

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A “For Sale” sign in front of a home in Sacramento, California, on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Lower mortgage rates are pulling some current homeowners back to the refinance market, but not enough to offset the drop in demand from homebuyers.

Mortgage application volume fell 1.9% last week compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($647,200 or less) decreased to 6.41% from 6.49%, with points decreasing to 0.63 from 0.68 (including the origination fee) for loans with a 20% down payment. That is 73 basis points lower than it was a month ago but still more than three full percentage points higher than it was a year ago.

Applications to refinance a home loan rose 5% for the week but were still 86% lower than the same week one year ago. There are still precious few current borrowers who can benefit from a refinance at today’s higher interest rates. The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 28.7% of total applications from 26.1% the previous week.

Housing has a fair amount of room to fall, says Morgan Stanley's Egan

Mortgage applications to purchase a home fell 3% for the week and were 40% lower than the same week one year ago.

“Purchase activity slowed last week, with a drop in conventional purchase applications partially offset by an increase in FHA and USDA loan applications,” noted Joel Kan, an MBA economist in a release.

The average loan size for homebuyer applications decreased to $387,300 — its lowest level since January 2021, which is consistent with slightly stronger government applications and a rapidly cooling home-price environment, according to Kan.

Mortgage rates haven’t moved much this week, with no significant economic news making headlines. The next big shift will likely come next week, with the much-anticipated monthly read on inflation.



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