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The next wave of the global recovery could send commodity prices soaring

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A freight train carrying iron ore travels along a rail track towards Port Hedland, Australia, on Monday, March 18, 2019.

Ian Waldie | Bloomberg via Getty Images

The next phase of the economic recovery is likely to be driven by commodity-intensive infrastructure investment, analysts have told CNBC, potentially setting the stage for further gains across the industrial space in the coming months.

The prediction comes at a time when market participants are closely monitoring the strength of the global economic recovery, as many countries grapple with an upsurge in the number of reported Covid-19 infections.

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted forecasters to issue dire economic projections this year, with the OECD warning on Wednesday that the outlook remains “exceptionally uncertain.”

One sign the recovery may be gaining momentum, however, came as the world’s second-largest economy reported industrial output expanded the most in eight months in August.

China, which has been in recovery mode for months now, published data on Tuesday that showed industrial output growth accelerated to 5.6% in August when compared to a year earlier. It bolsters the view that Beijing’s demand recovery continues to gather pace, with government stimulus helping to fuel a rebound.

“We’ve already seen a metals-intensive response in China, highly metals-intensive,” Max Layton, head of EMEA commodities research at Citi, told CNBC via telephone.

“It has been absolutely stunning how strong China has rebounded on the construction side of things,” he continued, reflecting on the “spectacular” rally seen across the industrial commodity space as a result.

I’m watching things like iron ore very closely now because those sorts of industrial commodities are going to skyrocket if we do get this bounce-back driven by infrastructure.

Andy Critchlow

Head of news in EMEA at S&P Global Platts

Layton identified “three big catalysts” for commodity investors to track through to the end of the year: Coronavirus vaccine news; the strength of China’s economic recovery; and the scale of the U.S. easing package.

Iron ore prices could ‘skyrocket’

“I do think that a lot of the stimulus will be infrastructure driven. We already know that there is a massive infrastructure deficit in a lot of developed countries and that is something that could be addressed in this period,” Nitesh Shah, director of research at New York-based WisdomTree Investments, told CNBC via telephone.

“Why waste a good crisis? You can actually get through a lot of the infrastructure programs that you’ve been waiting decades to actually get through the door in this time,” Shah continued. “I’m not as optimistic on a big ‘V-shaped,’ rigorous recovery but even some sort of recovery is good for the industrial space.”

A V-shaped recovery refers to a sharp decline in economic activity which is then matched by an abrupt rebound.

“Ultimately, if you look at the response economies are making to (the coronavirus crisis), we’ve had the fiscal response, we’ve had central banks slashing interest rates, we’ve had central banks pumping more money into economies, the next phase is massive investment in infrastructure and that’s going to come globally,” Andy Critchlow, head of news in EMEA at S&P Global Platts, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” last month.

“We saw this back in 2008-2009 in response to the financial crisis (and) what did we get out of that? We got a rally in some of the industrial commodity markets — it was a super-cycle,” he said.

“I’m watching things like iron ore very closely now because those sorts of industrial commodities are going to skyrocket if we do get this bounce-back driven by infrastructure and then that will filter into oil.”

Spot iron ore prices climbed to fresh six-and-a-half-year highs on Monday, trading close to $129 a dry metric ton on the back of a construction boom in China.

The steelmaking ingredient has since pared gains, changing hands at $126.59 on Friday. Iron ore prices have climbed more than 37% year-to-date.

Twenty kilogram gold and silver bricks sit at the ABC Refinery smelter in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, on Thursday, July 2, 2020.

David Gray | Bloomberg via Getty Images

Alongside net-zero interest rates globally, demand for a hedge against a perceived inflation risk has helped spot gold futures jump more than 28% so far this year, while silver has gained around 50% over the same period.

Looking ahead to 2021, Critchlow suggested some of the world’s largest economies could soon announce “big” infrastructure developments.

These projects were likely to be led by China, India and the U.S., he argued, noting that both candidates in the upcoming U.S. presidential election had pledged to spend an “awful lot of money” on infrastructure. “That’s got to be good for oil demand and it’s got to be good for commodities across the board.”

Trump vs. Biden on infrastructure

President Donald Trump was rumored to be preparing a $1 trillion infrastructure plan earlier in the year, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed source. However, his position on future investment into infrastructure has remained vague ahead of the November 3 presidential election.

The Trump campaign announced the president’s second term agenda last month, pledging to “build the world’s greatest infrastructure system.” The press release offered no further detail on how Trump planned to fulfill this promise if re-elected. In 2016, the incumbent Republican famously committed to spending $1 trillion on infrastructure, but nothing much has happened since.

Democratic U.S. presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about climate change during a campaign event at the Delaware Museum of Natural History in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., September 14, 2020.

Leah Millis | Reuters

By comparison, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has pledged to spend $2 trillion “to build a modern, sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clean energy future.” Biden has said, if elected, he plans to rebuild roads, bridges, green spaces and water systems as well as providing universal broadband.

“To the degree the market believes they are going to put through infrastructure easing, then yes, it is good news either way for the commodities that are going to be exposed to both candidates’ proposals,” Citi’s Layton said.

He suggested Trump’s prior commitments to “old school” infrastructure projects, such as roads and bridges, would likely be “steels-intensive.”

Biden’s commitment to develop solar and wind technologies would likely benefit copper and, to a lesser degree, silver, he added.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/18/world-economy-infrastructure-led-recovery-could-send-commodity-prices-soaring.html

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eBay makes a dedicated portal for officially refurbished gear

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eBay launches a Certified Refurbished site for used goods
eBay

eBay is taking on Amazon Warehouse with a new destination called Certified Refurbished, selling used goods from brands like Lenovo, Microsoft and Makita. The idea is that you can buy second-hand products at significant discounts over new, but still get a two-year warranty (from Allstate), a money-back guarantee and 30-day “hassle-free” returns, along with new accessories, manuals and manufacturer-sealed packaging.

eBay’s Certified Refurbished has five priority categories: laptops, portable audio,power tools, small kitchen appliances and vacuums. It offers several brand exclusives, including De’Longhi, Dirt Devil, Hoover, Makita and Philips, along with inventory exclusives from Dewalt, iRobot and Skullcandy. It’s also selling products from participating brands including Dell, Acer, Bissel, Black & Decker, Cuisinart, KitchenAid, Lenovo, Microsoft, Miele and Sennheiser.

To make the cut, manufacturers must offer items in “pristine, like-new condition that has been professionally inspected, cleaned, and refurbished by the manufacturer, or a manufacturer-approved vendor,” according to eBay. It also must be in new packaging with original or new accessories.

For an example of the savings, the site is offering Dell’s best-equipped 2020 XPS 15 9500 for $1,950, or $650 off the current price at Dell. Samsung’s Powerbot R7040 robot vacum is $199 rather than $399, and if you’re looking for a drill, Dewalt’s 20V combo tool kit used costs $235, while a new version runs $399 on Amazon.

eBay Certified Refurbished doesn’t have as many categories or brands as Amazon Warehouse or Amazon Renewed, but it seems to offer free shipping on most items, along with the guarantee and other perks. It’s now available to users in the US, and eBay said that applications are now open to retailers in Australia.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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The Morning After: GMC’s Hummer EV, AOC on Twitch and iPhone 12 reviews

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The 5G iPhones are almost here. This time around, Apple is offering four models in its iPhone 12 lineup and while we haven’t tested all of them (the 12 mini and the 12 Pro Max are coming later), we’ve given the other two devices our full scrutiny. And we kind of had to — the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro are remarkably similar phones in so many ways.

iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro

No, seriously, if you didn’t spot the third camera (the telephoto one that does zoom), you’d struggle to tell them apart by eyesight alone. You can take this two ways: The Pro phones don’t warrant the extra money this time around, or the iPhone 12 is a well-priced phone where you make barely any compromises. Our full review combines both phones for these very reasons. 

If you’re looking for an even cheaper iPhone, wait for that iPhone 12 mini, perhaps. And if you want the very best imaging in an iPhone, wait for the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which has even better cameras than the smaller Pro model. Yes, it’s easy to get confused. Oh and the iPhone 11 is still on sale, too!

— Mat

GMC’s 1000HP Hummer EV is an ‘all-electric supertruck’

After a series of teasers dating back to the Super Bowl, GMC finally revealed the new Hummer. 

The GMC HUMMER EV is driven by next-generation EV propulsion technology that enables unprecedented off-road capability, extraordinary on-road performance and an immersive driving experience.

The four-door crew cab boasts AWD, 1,000 HP and 11,500 ft/lb of torque generated by three motors run from the vehicle’s Ultium battery pack. That’s enough oomph to reportedly propel it from standing to 60MPH in just three seconds, the same timing as the Rivian R1, and an announced range of 350 miles.

Ultium batteries come in sizes as large as 200kWh — double what you’d find in a Model S and 80kWh bigger than what the massive Bollinger B1 uses — however, GMC has not confirmed what the Hummer EV is sporting. Using the higher throughput recharge options and the fact that the Hummer EV utilizes an 800V power architecture, GMC estimates the Hummer EV will fill 100 miles worth of power in just ten minutes using DC at 350kWh.

The Hummer will also have something called Crab Mode, where the front and rear wheels rotate at the same tilt angle, so the vehicle moves diagonally — you know, like a crab. According to GMC, the Hummer EV will be able to scale “18-inch verticals and [drive] through water that is more than two feet deep,” and its open-air Infinity Roof consists of removable, transparent “sky panels.”

The 2021 Hummer EV Edition 1 is slated for release in fall 2021. It will have a starting MSRP of $112,595. The model year 2022 Hummer EV is expected to retail for $99,995, the 2023 should start at $89,995 and the 2024 model (which will not include a third motor) will start at $79,995.
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AOC’s ‘Among Us’ Twitch stream peaked at over 435,000 viewers

The stream encouraged viewers to make a plan to vote on or before Election Day.

AOC's 'Among Us' Twitch stream

Last year, Donald Trump joined Twitch — before enduring a two-week ban over hateful content — and now US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has joined the service. Her first broadcast featured games of Among Us played with fellow Rep. Ilhan Omar and a few popular streamers. 

That proved to be a good strategy, as Twitch reports the concurrent viewer count peaked at 435,000. That’s the third highest count we’ve heard of, behind the Ninja/Drake stream in 2018 that topped 600k and Shroud’s return stream that crossed 500k.
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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx successfully collected bits of an orbiting asteroid

After over a decade of planning, the $800 million mission achieved a major milestone.

OSIRIS-REx

NASA made history on Tuesday afternoon as its OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully “tagged” the asteroid 101955 Bennu, and in doing so collected a small sample of regolith from the passing celestial body’s surface. This marks the first time a NASA mission has managed to intercept, interact with and collect samples from an asteroid.

Collecting those samples involved a never-before-tried technique dubbed the touch-and-go (TAG). Before beginning its approach, the OSIRIS unfolded and deployed its Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) while pulling its solar panels back into a Y-shape so that if the TAGSAM arm did accidentally overshoot and crunch into Bennu, the rest of the spacecraft would still have the necessary power to function. 

To ensure it has a sufficiently large sample, OSIRIS will first take a picture of the collector head to confirm the presence of regolith, and then on Saturday, will extend its TAGSAM arm and spin on its axis like a centrifuge to measure the mass of rock and dust in the collection bin. If all goes well, the collection capsule will return to Earth at the Utah Test and Training Range in 2023.
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The Department of Justice sues Google over antitrust concerns

This is arguably the biggest antitrust move since the government sued Microsoft in 1998.

On Tuesday, the US government’s Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google. The company, which is a part of Alphabet, is accused of having an unfair monopoly over search and search-related advertising. In addition, the department disagrees with the terms around Android, the most widely used mobile operating system, that forces phone manufacturers to pre-load Google applications and set Google as the default search engine. 

Rebutting the charges, Google’s chief legal officer Kent Walker wrote that “People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives.”
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Sony plans to optimize the PS5’s fan speed using game data

What a cool idea. Who’s a fan?

PS5 teardown

Sony will be monitoring the system and collecting data on individual games, so if a game really taxes the PS5, the fans could kick in at higher (and noisier) speeds to keep things running smoothly. These currently theoretical fan optimizations would presumably be delivered via software updates. PlayStation owners are used to firmware patches that change or add new features to their system. But an update that changes the physical performance of the hardware? That’s unusual.
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But wait, there’s more…

Windows 10’s October 2020 update is rolling out with a refreshed Start menu

Quibi chairman reportedly looked into selling its content library

Impossible Foods is working on plant-based milk that tastes like the real thing

DJI’s Pocket 2 handheld promises higher quality and mods

Photoshop’s new AI features include neural filters and sky replacement

‘Fortnite’ will host a Halloween ‘cross reality’ concert with singer J Balvin

Adobe’s tool to identify edited images comes to Photoshop

Cyberpunk 2077’s dialogue was lip-synced by AI

Novation and Aphex Twin’s limited-edition Bass Station II embraces the weird

In this article: themorningafter, newsletter, gear
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Vivo phones are coming to Europe

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Vivo has expanded its reach and announced its entry into the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain. The Chinese tech manufacturer has also presented its first European line-up at an online media briefing broadcast from Dusseldorf, Germany, revealing that it’s hoping to win new fans in the region with the Vivo X51 5G. As Trusted Reviews notes, the flagship phone’s specs are almost identical to the X50 Pro with its micro gimbal camera that can keep videos stable. The main difference between the two is that the X51 5G has software modified for the European market.

Aside from the new flagship, Vivo is making its European debut with a series of mid—range smartphones: the Y70, Y20s and Y11s. It’s also releasing two Google Assistant-capable wireless earphone models in the region. First is the True Wireless Stereo Earphone Neo, which features AI noise canceling, while the other is Vivo’s Wireless Sport Earphone. The latter was designed for outdoor activities and hence boasts strong battery performance.

In its announcement, Vivo says its European launch followed extensive preparations, including research and interviews with 9,000 people across the continent. Vivo has a pretty decent share of the global smartphone market and is the sixth leading manufacturer in the world, according to Counterpoint Research. Like other Chinese OEMs venturing into Europe, though, it may see the continent as a market that promises even more growth, in part due to an opening left by Huawei after it was placed in the US entity list. The move prevents the manufacturer from offering Google’s services on its devices and from working with other US companies. Huawei used to be pretty popular in Europe until 2019, when it saw its sales drop in the region. The company was only able to prevent its numbers from slipping too much this year by re-releasing older devices, which can still use Google’s services, in the continent.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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