Fanny Lumsden tops 2021 Country Music Awards of Australia nominations, with live ceremony expected

Country music artist Fanny Lumsden has topped nominations for the 2021 Country Music Awards of Australia, also known as the Golden Guitars, appearing in seven categories.

The awards are set to go ahead live in Tamworth on January 23 despite the cancellation — due to COVID-19 — of the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival, which usually precedes it.

Lumsden and her husband, Dan Freeman, nearly didn’t make this year’s festival after a huge bushfire threatened their home in Tooma in southern New South Wales.

But stories of resilience have inspired much of the work on their album, Fallow, which is nominated for the coveted Album of the Year award.

Lumsden has also picked up nominations in the Alt-County Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Single of the Year, Heritage Song of the Year, Video of the Year and Female Artist of the Year.

Sister group The McClymonts have picked up six nominations, including for Contemporary Country Album of the Year.(AAP: Brendan Esposito)

Sister group The McClymonts have picked up six nominations, including for Contemporary Country Album of the Year, for their sixth studio album, Mayhem to Madness.

Travis Collins is also up for six nominations off the back of his new album, Wreck Me.

Tamworth local Allison Forbes has been nominated in four categories for her first album Bonedigger, while the Tamworth grown — and now Newcastle-based — Hurricane Fall will compete in the Group of Duo of the Year category.

Industry stalwarts Adam Harvey and Lee Kernaghan have been nominated in the Vocal Collaboration of the Year category for their duet Ramblin’ Fever.

If Kernaghan is successful in winning an award this year he will overtake Slim Dusty as the record holder for most Golden Guitar awards.

Travis Collins performing
Travis Collins is also up for six nominations off the back of his new album, Wreck Me.(ABC News: Tawar Razaghi)

The 2021 Golden Guitar Awards are set to be a time of celebration for the industry, which has weathered a difficult year as the global pandemic shut down many opportunities for musicians to earn a living playing gigs

The Tamworth Deputy Mayor, Phil Betts, acknowledged the current climate and paid tribute to the artists who continued to produce their music.

“This certainly is a different norm we’re emerging throughout of the COVID crisis,” he said.

“We look forward to the January (awards) event and to see the nominees that are here today, be able to enjoy the awards again as usual.”

‘Australian country music will continue’

Country Music Association of Australia chairman Dan Biddle said the industry appreciated Tamworth’s commitment to the music genre.

“There is no other regional city in Australia that invests in or supports music of any genre to the level that Tamworth does,” he said.

“The fact we’ve received a record number of entries in a number of categories shows our artists and their teams will ensure that this golden age of Australian country music will continue, no matter what challenges it may face.”

At one stage it looked like the 2021 Golden Guitars Award Ceremony would be online only, but organisers are now confident a live show in Tamworth will go ahead and also be streamed via the ABC.

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‘A very dire situation.’ Brampton’s northeast corner tops list of 30 GTA neighbourhoods with alarming rates of COVID-19 infections

An area in the northeast corner of Brampton has a “shocking” 19 per cent COVID-19 test positivity rate — a rate double that of the U.S. — and is leading a list of 30 Greater Toronto neighbourhoods that are seeing alarming numbers of people testing positive for the virus, new data shows.

Peel as a whole is recording a per cent positivity of 9.8 per cent — the highest in the GTA — while neighbourhoods in northwestern Toronto, Scarborough, and southern York Region are also reporting sky-high rates, according to a first-time look at an analysis conducted by the Toronto-based non-profit ICES (formerly the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences). The data covers the first week of November, the most recent time period of which per cent positivity rates are available, and is broken down by postal code to provide a detailed picture of the local severity of the pandemic.

“It’s shocking,” said Dr. Jeff Kwong, a senior scientist at ICES, of the positivity rate in the Brampton neighbourhood north of Queen Street East and east of Airport Road where one in five people test positive for the virus. “It may not be as high as some countries like Italy, but it is five times higher than Ontario overall and double the positivity in the U.S.”

All 30 neighbourhoods have a test positivity rate above 9 per cent; 14 are in Toronto, 13 are in Peel, two are in York and one is in Halton.

For the week of Nov. 1, Peel’s overall per cent positivity rate was 9.8 per cent, nearly double that of Toronto’s 5.9 per cent, followed by York at 4.8 per cent and Halton at 4.4 per cent. The per cent positivity — the percentage of people tested for COVID-19 who are found to have it — for Ontario as a whole was 3.7 per cent during that time.

Toronto, Peel, York and Halton are all at the “control” or red level of the province’s new colour-coded COVID-19 framework, the highest category short of lockdown.

“We wanted to highlight that certain areas are really high so people who live there are aware,” Kwong said of the ICES analysis, adding some officials might look at the map and push for more targeted public health measures rather than a provincial approach.

“In my opinion, the measures should be broader,” he said, noting areas with high positivity rates require specific and community-based interventions.

“However, restrictions in one public health unit may push residents to go to another area. And that’s a problem; then we’re just going to see a spread into those areas.”

Epidemiologist Farah Mawani, of the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions at Unity Health Toronto, said the ICES data highlights how the current pandemic response is failing.

In early October, COVID-19 testing was limited just as cases were rising and in Toronto, public health dropped all contact tracing except for high-risk settings, such as schools, hospitals and long-term-care homes.

“That combination, while cases were rising, is a recipe for disaster,” Mawani said. “We are now seeing that disaster unfolding. Those are two key tools to stopping the spread.”

The ICES data shows that over the past month, the test positivity rate is higher in the lowest-income neighbourhoods compared to the highest-income neighbourhoods — and is increasing more in the lower-income neighbourhoods.

“People in precarious work conditions can’t choose to work at home, either because of the nature of the job itself or because they don’t have the power to stay home,” Mawani said, noting those in low-income jobs often require them to be in contact with a lot of people.

“And they can’t speak out about unsafe conditions because of that lack of power and are at risk of losing their jobs,” she said. “In addition to that, they may have to take public transit a fair distance on crowded routes to get to their jobs.”

The Brampton neighbourhood with the highest per cent positivity rate includes a dozen census tracts, or small geographic areas defined by Statistics Canada. Of these, nine had infection rates of more than 200 per 100,000 people during the first week of November, according to data from Peel Public Health. This is five times the infection rate required to move into the province’s red or “control” zone.

Census data offers compelling clues for why positivity rates are soaring in these communities, which have a high concentration of visible minorities, especially South Asians. Socioeconomic data shows South Asians have been disproportionately impacted by COVID in Peel Region, accounting for 45 per cent of cases but comprising only 32 per cent of Peel’s population, according to a public health report from early August.

One census tract — just southeast of the Countryside Drive and Airport Road intersection — has Peel’s highest proportion of large households, with 49 per cent of homes occupied by five or more people. Peel has more occupants per household than cities like Toronto and Ottawa, according to Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh, and household contacts have accounted for 40 per cent of its COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks. Last week, the federal government announced it would fund a $6.5-million facility in Peel Region for people who can’t adequately self-isolate in their own homes.

This part of Brampton is also densely populated with essential workers, census data shows. One community of about 2,360 residents — an immigrant-heavy area near Queen Street East and Highway 50 — has Peel’s highest proportion of people who work in manufacturing, with 22 per cent of residents working in this industry.



Just north is another census tract with Peel’s highest proportion of retail workers (16 per cent) and the lowest levels of education, with 60 per cent of residents who did not go to post-secondary school. This community of roughly 7,000 people reported 66 cases of COVID-19 in the three weeks leading up to Nov. 7. Its most recent infection rate was 285 cases per 100,000 people.

“Those are racialized neighbourhoods where there’s poverty, where there’s overcrowding, where there are essential workers who are very low paid and can’t afford to stay home,” said Colin Furness, an infection-control epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, echoing Mawani. “They don’t get the luxury of working at home. They’ve got very little agency.”

Furness added that the government should open up isolation centres in these neighbourhoods and conduct mobile testing, and if necessary, pay people to come in for testing.

“And if it comes back positive, you go and stay in a hotel room and we’ll feed you and take care of you. Create a situation where people actually want to show up,” he said. “If you want to tackle this, that’s how you do it.”

Loh said that while more testing can be done, the numbers tell him “we are seeing a true acceleration of the pandemic” in his community.

On Saturday, Loh took the rare step of issuing an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act mandating employers to put proper protections for employees in place and co-operate with outbreak investigations or risk fines of $5,000 per day.

The order requires businesses that have had someone diagnosed with COVID-19 to ensure the infected person does not enter the workplace and remains in isolation and co-operates with all public health directives, among other things.

Loh said more community cases inevitably lead to more hospitalizations, a prospect that worries him, especially given the fact the region now has about 3,000 active cases, with somewhere between 300 and 400 new cases every day.

“If we have even 10 per cent of 3,000 needing hospitalization in the next two weeks, that’s really concerning,” he said. “Just the infection prevention and control procedures, the isolation protocols, this is essentially a very dire situation.”

The ICES data also shows that nearly everyone who tested positive in Ontario long-term-care homes between Oct. 26 and Nov. 8 — 98.7 per cent, or 628 people — lives in an urban facility rather than a rural home. As well, 41 per cent live with diabetes, 81 per cent with dementia and 79 per cent with medical conditions that contribute to frailty.

Mawani of Unity Health said this “concerning” data is another indicator of how the consequences of the pandemic are unfairly distributed, something that could be prevented if politicians — at both the local and provincial level — quickly acted on the advice of experts who best know their communities.

“Why are we here again with such severe outbreaks in long-term-care homes, a number of them in Scarborough?” she said.

“As an epidemiologist, seeing the disaster unfold, knowing it could have been prevented, there is nothing worse. We need to focus on what is needed to improve things for those most affected. It’s critical. It’s a matter of life and death.” 

Data analysis by Andrew Bailey

Kenyon Wallace
Jennifer Yang

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Suncorp tops up potential COVID-19 loss provision by $125m

Suncorp told investors it was confident its policies “do not respond to pandemics” but extended its total provision “in the event of an unfavourable judgment”.


The ICA brought the test case on behalf of Australian insurers after consultation with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority that had received complaints from policyholders who were told their businesses were not covered for losses associated with the pandemic.

The case uses two BI policies from HDI Global Specialty SE (Australia) and The Hollard Insurance Company to examine whether definitions of “pandemic” are valid. The judgment is being considered a “high priority” but a date is not yet known.

ICA spokesman Campbell Fuller said he could not comment on individual moves by Suncorp but the case would determine whether policies that reference the Quarantine Act of 1908, which was repealed and replaced with the Biosecurity Act in 2015, would remain relevant in denying claims.

“The test case is intended to examine the threshold issue around business interruption cover in Australia,” he said. “The industry believes the intention of any exclusions is clear, the industry has not sought to cover pandemics, has not priced pandemics and has not been collecting premiums for it.”

In the United Kingdom, a similar case found partly in favour of businesses affected by the lockdowns with insurers expected to pay compensation. QBE has appealed the judgment that Mr Fuller described as “chalk and cheese”.

Most business interruption policies only cover property damage, but the UK’s financial regulator argued infectious diseases constrained the movement of populations similar to natural disasters meaning shock events that restrict trade should trigger a payout.

Tribeca Investment Partners portfolio manager Jun-Bei Liu said the test case was complex and the UK outcome was “very detailed” but welcomed Suncorp’s additional provision which provided certainty to the market.

“It’s a global phenomenon as the fallout from the pandemic continues,” she said. “If you look at [Suncorp’s] share price, it’s underperformed meaningfully and part of that is due to uncertainty.

Ms Liu said IAG, QBE and Suncorp would be most affected by an adverse judgment. “Although it’s very hard to say if they will win or lose.”

Insurance Australia Group chief executive Peter Harmer said in August there was not enough capital in the insurance industry globally to cover the financial fallout from COVID-19 and it was the government’s responsibility to foot the bill for the pandemic.

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Verstappen tops Turkish GP practice

Max Verstappen topped a slippery practice for the Turkish Formula One grand prix while Lewis Hamilton started his bid for a record-equalling seventh world title with a surprisingly lowly fourth place.

On a day when Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo struggled, Red Bull’s Verstappen clocked 1 minute 28.330 seconds on the 5.338km Istanbul Park circuit in the afternoon, after also leading the way in the morning.

Charles Leclerc was second, 0.401sec back for Ferrari, with the Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton following with a deficit of 0.575 and 0.850, respectively.

Hamilton was 15th in the first session where he only had a few laps.

Ricciardo, currently fourth in the drivers’ championship, had a poor couple of sessions, finishing 18th in the morning and only improving to 15th in the second.

Hamilton is 85 points ahead of Bottas with four races left and in the first Istanbul race since 2011 on Sunday can draw level with former great Michael Schumacher on seven world titles.

He needs to be 78 points ahead after the race to complete the milestone.

Drivers had their problems on the circuit which got a fresh surface after being confirmed into the revised 2020 calendar when races in Asia and the Americas were cancelled owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Many cars spun and drivers complained about the slippery tarmac, and the morning session was red-flagged early on after Leclerc destroyed a bollard.

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Oil Tops $45 a Barrel in London for the First Time in 10 Weeks


Oppenheimer Sees These 3 Stocks Skyrocketing Over 100%

The U.S. presidential election has come to a close, and Wall Street isn’t opposed to the administration change. Last week saw the S&P 500 notch its second-best performance during an election week on record, even as Trump’s chances of getting re-elected became slimer and slimer.Weighing in for Oppenheimer, Chief Investment Strategist John Stoltzfus noted, “What appears clear so far is that the equity markets are not averse to a change of administration stateside at least so long as the Republicans maintain control over the Senate. Checks and balances ‘on the Hill’ have been known to be important to investors over the course of history. The present in our view is no exception.”There is, however, some uncertainty surrounding the Senate, with the two runoff elections for seats in Georgia scheduled for January 5, only 15 days before Inauguration Day. That said, Stoltzfus points out that continued better-than-expected Q3 results from S&P 500-listed companies, economic data tied to job gains and a sharp decline in the unemployment rate have also been helping to prop stocks up.Taking Stoltzfus’ outlook into consideration, we wanted to take a closer look at three stocks earning a round of applause from Oppenheimer, with the firm’s analysts forecasting over 100% upside potential for each. Using TipRanks’ database, we learned that the rest of the Street is in agreement, as all three boast a “Strong Buy” analyst consensus. Strongbridge Biopharma (SBBP)First up we have Strongbridge Biopharma, which is focused on developing therapies for rare diseases with significant unmet needs. Ahead of a key regulatory filing, Oppenheimer believes that SBBP’s $2.12 share price reflects an attractive entry point.Representing the firm, analyst Hartaj Singh points out that investor focus has landed squarely on Recorlev, the company’s investigational cortisol synthesis inhibitor, in Cushing’s syndrome. The company is gearing up to file an NDA for the therapy in Q1 2021, and the analyst is optimistic about its potential approval.In the LOGICS study, the therapy met its primary endpoint, with SBBP reporting the number of cases of a loss of mean urinary free cortisol (mUFC) response was 54.5% higher among patients who withdrew to placebo versus those who remained on Recorlev. Additionally, there was a rapid reversibility of the Recorlev treatment benefits on cholesterol following the switch to placebo given the 8-week time frame.Meanwhile, in the SONICS study, a significant benefit on mUFC normalization was observed in 30% of the patients and several cardiovascular secondary measures. It should also be noted that none of the 44 patients who were randomized discontinued due to adverse events.“Post-LOGICS, we continue to view Recorlev as a differentiated treatment for Cushing’s, both compared to off-label ketoconazole and the branded treatment landscape. Management reiterated its confidence in the drug’s positioning, based on market research with payors and physicians. Given LOGICS reaffirming the clinical benefit profile observed in SONICS, we are encouraged by its potential to become a mainstay treatment for the disease,” Singh explained.What’s more, management is not anticipating an AdComm meeting, and Singh thinks speculation on labeling both from a safety and efficacy perspective may increase prior to the potential PDUFA decision. To this end, he expects more visibility as the NDA filing and acceptance gets closer.Adding to the good news, the launch of Keveyis, the company’s FDA-approved treatment for hyperkalemic, hypokalemic and related variants of Primary Periodic Paralysis (an ultra-rare neuromuscular disorder), is progressing well despite the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Singh.“With quarterly sales of ~$8.0 million, above our estimate of ~$7.8 million, the growing trajectory of the launch has been encouraging, with additional room for long-term growth highlighted by management. We anticipate more credit could be ascribed to these efforts, following additional updates from life-cycle management strategies,” the analyst commented.To this end, Singh rates SBBP shares an Outperform (i.e. Buy) along with a $7 price target. What’s in it for investors? Upside potential of 233%. (To watch Singh’s track record, click here)All in all, other analysts echo Singh’s sentiment. 3 Buys and no Holds or Sells add up to a Strong Buy consensus rating. With an average price target of $8, the upside potential comes in at 272%. (See SBBP stock analysis on TipRanks)Molecular Templates (MTEM)Molecular Templates works to bring the next generation of immunotoxins called engineered toxin bodies (ETBs), which are a novel class of therapeutics with unique biology and a differentiated mechanism of action, to market. Although one of its trials was put on a partial clinical hold, Oppenheimer still believes its long-term growth narrative is strong.The Phase 2 monotherapy trial evaluating lead candidate MT-3724, an ETB that targets CD20 (a B-cell marker that is expressed in 90 percent of B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL)), was placed on partial clinical hold on November 4 following a treatment-related fatality. Management pointed to capillary leak syndrome (CLS) as the cause of the patient death. MT-3724 is being evaluated in three ongoing Phase 2 trials, one monotherapy and two combination.It should be noted that six patients (fatality patient and five treated in DLBCL monotherapy study) received the drug from the same batch, and the first five completed the study without evidence of CLS. Later PK analysis found peak drug exposure (Cmax) 3-4x expected levels in five out of six patients receiving the therapy from the lot. Management plans to investigate what caused the higher Cmax levels.Oppenheimer’s Kevin DeGeeter told clients, “We would look to accumulate MTEM shares into any weakness based on expectation: 1) manufacturing batch inconsistency may have resulted in excess Cmax in limited number of patients providing clear path to remedy the problem, 2) limited read through on immunogenicity from MT-3724 (only product on first-gen ETB backbone) to other pipeline programs, and 3) guarded expectation for commercial opportunity of MT-3724 prior to clinical hold with market opportunity focused primarily on salvage patients.”Even if the CLS is determined to be dose-related, the five-star analyst argues there may still be a path forward for MT-3724, as the monotherapy study is evaluating a dose of 50 µg/kg while combination studies are assessing a 10-25 µg/kg dose.Reflecting another positive, the hold doesn’t impact studies for products on the second-generation ETB backbone, including MT-5111, TAK-169 and MT-6402. In addition, the company is set to provide a clinical update on CTX001, a potential treatment for sickle cell disease (SCD).DeGeeter opined, “Our investment thesis is based, at least in part, on continued partnering of ETB platform to large biotechs for targets outside of MTEM’s core oncology focus. Despite the clinical hold on MT-3724, MTEM remains in active discussions with potential partners. We’d view additional partnering deals as validation of the platform’s overall safety profile.”In line with his optimistic approach, DeGeeter rates MTEM an Outperform (i.e. Buy) along with a $20 price target. This figure indicates 123% upside potential from current levels. (To watch DeGeeter’s track record, click here)Are other analysts in agreement? They are. Only Buy ratings, 3 to be exact, have been issued in the last three months. Therefore, the message is clear: MTEM is a Strong Buy. Given the $18.33 average price target, shares could soar 108% in the next year. (See MTEM stock analysis on TipRanks)Provention Bio (PRVB)At the forefront of the autoimmune disease space, Provention Bio is working to improve the lives of patients from all over the world. With the company making significant headway in its efforts to gain approval for one of its therapies, Oppenheimer thinks that now is the time to snap up shares.On November 2, Provention Bio announced that the rolling submission of a BLA to the FDA for regulatory approval of teplizumab for the delay or prevention of clinical type 1 diabetes (T1D) in at-risk individuals had been completed. The submission included chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC) and administrative information modules. Now, the FDA has 60 days to review the final submission to determine if the BLA is complete, and then, a PDUFA date will be set.Writing for Oppenheimer, analyst Justin Kim points out that the BLA acceptance will be a key milestone for PRVB. “We believe the external validation and review of the application would reflect favorably on the significant efforts Provention has made towards completion of this filing, namely manufacturing scale-up. As a potential advisory committee meeting and regulatory decision offer subsequently greater validation, we have confidence into these events based on teplizumab’s established clinical profile.”Going forward, Kim believes the therapy’s commercialization will become a central theme in 2021. Based on teplizumab’s 14-day infusion cycle, logistics and physician/patient reception of the modality, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, are attracting major attention, according to the analyst.Should the candidate ultimately be granted approval, screening and awareness work could reflect a significant tailwind, in Kim’s opinion. With it already having established meaningful relationships across key T1D advocacy groups and foundations, “Provention is well-positioned and connected to build momentum for screening and identification initiatives.” The analyst added, “While the hurdle to execute successfully is high, reward, in our view, would be commensurate.”When it comes to the long-term opportunity, “the TN-10 population criteria” remains a key area of focus for Kim, as “these opportunities may not only expand the market opportunity for teplizumab but also significantly solidify its positioning the treatment paradigm.” He also mentions that re-dosing paradigms and adjunctive use post-transplant for teplizumab are other points of strength.Summing it all up, Kim stated, “PRVB remains underappreciated in our universe, potentially given macro themes around COVID-19 and intensified focus on momentum names. However, as continued execution carries PRVB through successful regulatory, pre-commercial, and commercial milestones, we believe the shares could enter a period of significant re-rating.”Everything that PRVB has going for it prompted Kim to leave his Outperform (i.e. Buy) rating as is. Along with the call, he keeps the price target at $29, suggesting 106% upside potential. (To watch Kim’s track record, click here)Turning to the rest of the Street, the bulls have it on this one. With 4 Buys and no Holds or Sells assigned in the last three months, the word on the Street is that PRVB is a Strong Buy. At $28.75, the average price target implies 104% upside potential. (See PRVB stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.

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Brent crude tops $40 a barrel after Biden clinches U.S. presidency

FILE PHOTO: Oil pump jacks work at sunset near Midland, Texas, U.S., August 21, 2019. Picture taken August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Jessica Lutz

November 9, 2020

By Florence Tan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices gained more than 2% on Monday, with Brent futures rising above $40 a barrel, after Joe Biden clinched the U.S. presidency and buoyed risk appetite, offsetting worries about impact on fuel demand from the worsening coronavirus pandemic.

Brent crude futures <LCOc1> for January climbed 82 cents, or 2.1%, to $40.27 a barrel by 0101 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude <CLc1> for December was at $37.98 a barrel, up 84 cents, or 2.3%.

Prices recovered from a 4% decline on Friday, rising along with other financial markets after Biden emerged as the winner in the U.S. presidential race on Sunday.

“Trading this morning has a risk-on flavour, reflecting increasing confidence that Joe Biden will occupy the White House, but the Republican Party will retain control of the Senate,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney. “The outcome is ideal from a market point of view. Neither party controls the Congress, so both trade wars and higher taxes are largely off the agenda.”

McCarthy added that investors’ focus is likely to turn to the renewed coronavirus outbreaks now that the U.S. election is out of the way.

U.S. President-elect Biden and his team are working on tackling the worsening health crisis. The United States became the first nation worldwide since the pandemic began to surpass 10 million COVID-19 infections, according to a Reuters tally on Sunday.

Separately, U.S. oil production is set to climb as producers are tapping into a backlog of drilled wells left uncompleted (DUCs) to boost output. The number of operating oil and gas rigs in the United States rose for an eighth week last week, according to Baker Hughes.

(Reporting by Florence Tan. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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America Tops 100,000 Coronavirus Cases in a Day

By early September, the pandemic faded to its lowest level since June, with the country reporting only about 34,000 cases a day. Experts warned that the winter months could prove catastrophic, but President Trump took a victory lap. The country was “rounding the final turn” on the pandemic, he announced at a Pennsylvania rally on September 3, a line he echoed at the White House a week later.

In fact, the country was already riding a third wave of infection. By then, cases and hospitalizations were rising in the upper Midwest and Great Plains; North Dakota and Wisconsin busted through their all-time records. Then the Mountain West exploded, and Utah, Montana, and Idaho set new records. Then finally the Northeast, which had been lacerated in the spring, saw cases tick up.

Now the country has reached the 100,000 mark that Fauci predicted. Today, 34 states reported more than 1,000 new cases apiece, forming a single belt of infection from Massachusetts to Nevada. Sixteen states saw a record number of their residents hospitalized with the virus. More than 47,000 Americans have died since Trump’s Pennsylvania rally two months ago.

Today’s six-figure record reflects high levels of infection across the country, including in some of the most populous states. Texas reported 9,600 new cases, with nearly a third coming from El Paso, where hospitals are above capacity. Indiana has set a single-day record with 3,698 new cases. Illinois recorded 7,500 new cases, and its number of hospitalizations increased.

In addition, South Dakota reported—and North Dakota will likely soon report—more hospitalizations per capita than Arizona saw in its summertime surge.

No matter who wins the presidential election, it is virtually guaranteed that the next several months will be among the darkest of the pandemic. Hospitalizations are virtually certain to rise, and cases could spread further if Americans travel for Thanksgiving. And even if a vaccine were to be approved this month, it would likely not be deployed widely enough to bestow protective immunity for most at-risk Americans until well into the new year, Scott Gottlieb, who led the Food and Drug Administration from 2017 to 2019, has said.

The next president will take power in a country where 100,000 cases forms a new baseline. It is November 4, 2020, and the United States is not a healthy country.

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Ten years of construction. Billionaire Arkady Rotenberg’s company tops list Moscow’s main outside contractors under Mayor Sobyanin

Russian billionaire Arkady Rotenberg, a friend of President Vladimir Putin, has been the main outside contractor for the Moscow authorities during the ten years that Mayor Sergey Sobyanin has been in charge of the city, reports a new joint investigation from the investigative site Proekt and business magazine Forbes. 

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Tasmania tops CommSec State of the States report again as population growth powers island’s performance

Tasmania’s economy continues to outperform rest of the nation, but economists warn the island state isn’t without challenges on the horizon.

It’s the second time in a row that Tasmania’s economy has topped CommSec’s quarterly State of the States report, which compares states and territories’ performances against their decade averages.

The report looks at eight performance indicators to gauge how each state’s economy is performing — population growth, retail spending, economic growth, unemployment, equipment investment, construction work, housing finance and dwelling starts — using data captured from the June quarter onwards.

Prior to July this year, the state was last awarded the top spot in its own right back in October 2009. It then entered a recession.

This quarter, along with the top spot, Tasmania also led the way on five of the eight indicators: population growth, equipment investment, housing finance, dwelling starts and retail trade.

Tasmania has now recorded 75 days without a new case of coronavirus, and CommSec chief economist Craig James said the state’s handling of the pandemic had contributed to its broader economic success.

“Certainly, that has been a contribution to the overall economic performance, but when we think about economic performance, we’re looking at something that evolves over a longer period of time,” he said.

“The fact that Tasmanian population growth has been picking up over the last couple of years, that’s created demand for homes, so home building has picked up, and we’ve seen a degree of improvement in terms of retail spending as well.”

He said population growth has an “element of power” that helps drive the state’s economy.

“If there’s more people coming to Tasmania, that creates demand for jobs, creates demand for homes for home building, all those related industries,” Mr James said.

Tasmania’s tourism industry may continue to struggle.(Tourism Tasmania/City of Hobart)

Despite Tasmania maintaining its top-tier economic performance, it doesn’t necessarily mean the state now has a clear path out of recession.

“History does tell us that even though Tasmania might have been doing better than other states and territories heading into the present recession, that’s unfortunately no guarantee that we’ll come out of it better, earlier or faster than other states and territories do,” independent economist Saul Eslake said.

“If you look back over the last three recessions … on two of those three occasions, Tasmania went into it with a lower unemployment rate and in some other ways, faster economic growth than the rest of Australia,” he said.

“But on each of those three occasions, we took longer to come out of it and it took longer than the rest of Australia to regain the jobs that had been lost during the recession.

Long-term challenges

Tasmania’s narrow economy is what will present some of the biggest challenges for the island as it looks ahead.

Although the state will reopen its borders to low-risk jurisdictions today, tourism will likely remain one of the key industries that will require ongoing support, with about 17 per cent of Tasmania’s workforce employed in the sector.

“We know that one of the industries that has sustained long-term damage to its prospects from the pandemic and its aftermath has been tourism,” Mr Eslake said.

“That alone is probably one reason why, no matter how well we were doing before the pandemic and the recession hit us, it will be more of a struggle to get out of it than it will have been for other states and territories,” Mr Eslake said.

It is for that reason Mr Eslake said it will be important that the State Government announces ongoing support for Tasmanian households and businesses in its upcoming Budget.

“Tourism will continue to struggle to get back to where it was, if indeed, it ever does.”

Mr Eslake said the state should now consider broadening its horizons beyond its tourism drawcard

Those other areas, he said, could include agriculture and food, minerals processing, and “perhaps some areas of manufacturing in which we have a comparative advantage”.

It’s an idea supported by Mr James.

“Now you need to be focusing on broadening the base in terms of export industries, and also creating enough internal demand making sure that Tasmanians focus on Tasmanian products, rather than going elsewhere to either the mainland or even to the rest of the world,” Mr James said.

Mr James said unemployment would also remain one of the bigger long-term challenges for Tasmania, with the indicator a noted area of weakness for the state in the CommSec report.

“That’s always been the sticking point for Tasmania; the unemployment rate has been a little bit higher than compared with the rest of the nation,” he said.

“Hopefully, what we will see is that, given the degree of normalcy that exists in Tasmania, that more people return to their place of employment, they re-engage with the workforce, and there won’t be an issue.

“But I think what we are seeing, unlike other parts of the country like Victoria, Tasmanian workers are re-engaging with their workforces, and what we’re seeing is a degree of improvement for those people who had positions before COVID.”

In a statement, Premier Peter Gutwein said the report is evidence that the Government’s economic support package of more than $1 billion has helped sustain the Tasmanian economy.

“The Government is doing everything it can to support confidence, drive investment and create jobs, and this report is proof that we’re delivering on our plan and doing exactly that.”

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US tops coronavirus infection tally with nearly 85,000 cases in one day, but hospitalizations remain below peak — RT USA News

The US has again smashed its record for daily coronavirus infections, reporting just shy of 85,000 new patients over the last 24-hour period as much of the country sees a significant surge in cases.

The record-breaking single-day spike saw 84,218 new cases reported on Friday, according to data collected by Reuters, easily shattering the previous record of 77,299 infections tallied on July 16.

Though the US has also experienced a jump in hospitalizations in recent weeks – with increasing numbers reported across 39 states – it remains below the level reached in July, when more than 47,000 patients were hospitalized for Covid-19. Today, that number stands at 41,000, with some 800 coronavirus-related deaths per day, compared to July’s 1,200.

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In addition to the unprecedented nationwide daily case count, 16 states also marked record infection numbers on Friday, while 11 reported record hospitalizations.

While it’s unclear what’s driving the spike, health experts have warned that colder temperatures could contribute to spreading the virus as it forces people into closer quarters indoors. Students returning to school may also play a role, as well as relaxed precautions as a result of fatigue with government-imposed restrictions.

To date, the US has confirmed a total of nearly 8.5 million coronavirus infections since the outbreak was first observed in Wuhan, China late last year, as well as more than 223,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The virus has afflicted in excess of 42 million people worldwide, killing some 1.1 million.

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