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Clyde K. Valle

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Clyde is a business graduate interested in writing about latest news in politics and business. He enjoys writing and is about to publish his first book. He’s a pet lover and likes to spend time with family. When the time allows he likes to go fishing waiting for the muse to come.

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Image source Max Pixel

With many hundreds of millions of people around the world looking forward to the end of 2020 and the uncertainty that it has brought to the global arena, investors are likewise turning their sights towards 2021. It has understandably been an up and down year when it comes to investments. It has been difficult to make sense of it all. That is why it is important to look for solid investments that have the potential to bring many of those portfolios back into positive territory relatively quickly. With that in mind, here are some stocks to look out for in early 2021.

Pinterest

People are spending more time at home these days. That means that many people are finding that they have more time to spend on hobbies and crafts. This renewed interest in that sector of the economy is what Pinterest has capitalized on. It is such a simple concept, but they have developed a visual search engine that craft lovers have found so useful. It is possible to find advice on a range of home decor items, fashion, and even beauty. In just the past year, Pinterest has seen the number of active users each month increase by 39%. This means that 416 million people spent a significant amount of time on the site last year. That translates into tremendous revenue growth. This has occurred mostly by way of advertising space.

Blue Apron

Blue Apron is another major company in this sector. While it has spent the last few years losing revenue, that is starting to show signs of a reversal. This is a gourmet meal kit company that will send food right to the doorstep of the consumer. This is yet another way that a company is capitalizing on the fact that people are staying home more and are less willing to go out. Not everyone has the time or the knowledge to cook at home, so this is a concept that appears to be catching on. In the last quarter alone, Blue Apron has seen an increase in sales in the neighborhood of 10%. If this continues, then it is definitely a stock to look out for in early 2021.

Bumble

This is a technology stock that seems to be shunning the Corona Virus slump that many businesses find themselves in. In fact, the Bumble IPO might just be one of the hottest startups to invest in over the course of the coming year. According to Money Morning, “Bumble has been one of the winners of this post-pandemic economy”. That means you can count on this company to make some waves entering 2021. Bumble is essentially a dating app with a twist. They have created a unique spin on the sign-up process that users love. In the post-pandemic world, people will be looking for ways to meet new people without putting themselves out in massive crowds just to do so. Bumble appears to be on the cutting edge of taking advantage of this new movement, so it is an investment that you will want to consider making.

Invitation Homes

It seems that the trend of younger families and couples shunning the suburbs for urban areas is starting to reverse the other direction once again. However, home prices are often out of reach for this segment of the population. This has resulted in high demand for rental homes in areas across the country. Invitation Homes has capitalized on that and is buying up single-family homes at a record rate. They have been known to own as many as 5,000 homes in a city. This translates into enormous revenue growth in areas where the rental market is tight.

Teladoc Health and Livongo Health

With more and more people today turning to Telehealth as a way to see the doctor, it is not surprising that these two stocks are worth watching. In fact, these are two companies that have just recently joined forces. While these companies lost money last year, the fact that they are joining forces speaks well to the future. Look for revenue to increase substantially in the coming year.

These are just a few of the stocks to look out for in early 2021. You just want to make sure that any stock you choose fits within your overall investment strategy. You want to feel comfortable with the mix that you have in your portfolio, so take time in the coming months to determine what moves you want to make as the calendar gets ready to turn the page on another year.

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Image by HeungSoon from Pixabay

Golf is one of the world’s biggest sports and is a great way to stay healthy and keep fit. It is also an amazingly competitive sport that lets you compete with yourself as you try to get a lower and lower score on your local courses. Here we have five strategies that should help a golfer of any level of ability to improve their golf game.

Know Your Clubs

The chances are you have the right club in your bag for every shot you need to make. Many golfers, even semi-professionals, don’t know enough about their clubs and the distances they are capable of reaching. Practice with your clubs at the driving range to get a better idea of the distances and shots you can make with your clubs, so you are better informed when you are on the course.

Know Your Hazards

The biggest challenge on the golf course for many golfers is getting past the hazards like sand bunkers and lakes and streams.

Hazards like bunkers are usually man-made and have been put there intentionally to make a hole more difficult to play. These bunkers are usually placed before the green to make your approach more challenging, so a good technique is to over hit your shot to fly over the hazard and work back to the green from the far side.

Be careful with water hazards. Many golfers will plan an overhit shot to make sure they land comfortably clear of the water, but then have to hit back towards to get back on the fairway or green. Don’t go with too much club when you are near water; give yourself enough range to get to the other side, just. The worst thing about facing a water hazard is hitting so hard you have to face the same hazard twice to stay on the course.

Practice Makes Perfect

Getting out to the course can be difficult. Weather and family commitments can often prevent you from practicing your shots and getting the extra time you need to improve your game. A golf launch monitor lets you practice at home and provides very precise ball data that can help you correct mistakes and develop your shots.

The Most Important Yard is in Your Head

If you don’t have your head in the right place when you golf, you are going to have a bad day on the course. Golf should be relaxing and fun, and a place you can go to get away from the stresses and strains of life. Taking your trouble to the golf course will cause you trouble while you play.

Don’t play angry is great advice. Use golf as a way to clear your mind and concentrate on one thing – and do that thing well. Your greatest competitor on the course is yourself, so get your head in the right place to play. You will see your game improve and reduce the number of strokes it takes you to get around the course.

Analyze Your Game

The biggest mistake most golfers make is not analyzing their game, replaying their best and worst shots in their head, and looking for places they can improve their technique.

Think about your best shots and what made them work. Posture and swing are important in every golf shot, so you need to know what you did right so you can bring those elements to other areas of your golf game. Know your weaknesses too. You could spend hours practicing your drive, but if your putting lets you down, you are not going to improve. Take some time to strengthen the weaker aspects of your game to reduce the number of shots you have to take.

With these five tips, you should be able to knock some strokes off your game and sink your balls in fewer strokes when you go out on the course.           

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Market research is one of the most valuable methods to gain insight and data to your target market. By conducting market research, you learn exactly how your customers think, what their habits are, how much they are willing to spend, and how you can stand out from your competition.

With all of this data, you are guaranteed to create a killer strategy for your business and increase your revenue year after year. These are some of the most effective market research methods for your business.

Interviews

There is no better way to gain insight to your consumer market than sitting down face-to-face and interviewing them. Have a list of questions ready to ask them about their spending habits, where they get their news, and what they think about your product.

This insight will help you understand the wants and needs of your customers so you can tailor your product or service to meet them. It also gives you insight on how to position your brand to stand out to your customers.

While this process may be time consuming and tedious, it is worth the effort.

Surveys

How many survey opportunities do you come across every day? There are millions of surveys available online just waiting to collect data. Take advantage of the survey culture and create your own for your market research.

There are a few different ways to go about collecting data from surveys.

The first is to have an online survey with an incentive. This incentive can be a coupon for your product or a free piece of literature.

The second is interactive voice response surveys done over the phone. This allows you to reach consumers directly and gives them an easy way to answer your questions.

Lastly, send out surveys by referral to your own network and your team or employees’ network.

Competitive Analysis

Know where you stand in your industry with a competitive analysis. This type of market research studies your competitors and how they are conducting business within your market.

This data will give you insight on what you need to do for your business to stand out from your competition. Take what your competition is doing and do it better!

Pricing Research

Another essential market research method is to study the pricing aspect of your consumers. You can include these questions in your interviews and surveys or take data from studies that have already been done.

This data will tell you what your target market is willing to spend on your product. With this data, you can price your product or service accordingly to appeal to customers and increase your sales.

Secondary Research

If you are running a small business or startup and don’t have the budget to spend on large market research studies, you can always take data from secondary sources. There are thousands of studies done each year on different markets and this data is available to you either for free or for a minimal cost.

Nigeria has the second biggest Forex market in Africa. The local trading community is robust and ever-expanding. Last year, it was estimated to include 200,000 active Forex traders. In the future, the region may forge ahead and lead the industry.

Facts and Figures

Today, online trading comprises different avenues of financial speculation. The most popular instrument in Nigeria is Forex. The global foreign exchange is the largest and the most liquid market in the world. Its daily volume is spectacular — close to 6 trillion US dollars.

Retail traders account for a fraction of this volume. The market is also assessed by large institutions like banks, hedge funds, and businesses. Until the 1990s, the foreign exchange was off-limits for individuals. Today, FX trading is all the rage.

The BRICS nations account for the largest share of daily trading. On the African continent, South Africa is the leader. Last year, according to Forexbrokers.co.za, its traders bought and sold 20 billion US dollars per day. Nigeria came second with 314 million USD.

Despite the difference in volumes, the two African countries have a similar number of traders. South Africa has 190,000 — slightly fewer than Nigeria. Nigerian traders make deposits of $514.42 on average (it is $742.04 for their South African peers).

Overview of the Markets

The global currency market has no physical centre. It is classified as over-the-counter, which means that buyers and sellers connect directly. Today, foreign exchange has a colossal turnover. World currencies flow between institutional and retail traders. Individuals use digital terminals and gain access through brokers.

Through a live trading account, clients may assemble diverse portfolios. Global brokers give access to Forex, stocks, spot metals, and derivatives. The more instruments are managed — the lower the overall risk.

A sophisticated system like MetaTrader 5 allows convenient trading of different asset classes. Here are the most common options:

  • currency pairs (Major, Minor, and Exotic);
  • spot metals (gold and silver);
  • stocks of US corporate giants;
  • stock CFDs;
  • cryptocurrency CFDs;
  • commodity CFDs;
  • CFDs on market indices.

Through an online trading account, a client may buy and sell different instruments. Stocks allow you to profit from the performance of US-based corporations. It is possible to choose the biggest household names like Apple and Facebook.

Contracts for Difference (CFDs) are virtual derivatives linked to underlying assets. They are highly leveraged, which means that trading volumes can be increased by the broker. The holder does not own the asset: instead, they bet on the direction of the market. The broker pays the difference between entry and exit points.

Regulatory Landscape

Despite its rapid growth, the Forex market in Nigeria lacks regulation. Traders may use local or foreign brokers for connection to the marketplace. Due to its popularity, Forex is a gold mine for scammers. Traders must choose providers very carefully.

The safest choice is global brands licensed by foreign regulators. For instance, the ForexTime broker is part of a group which has licenses from different jurisdictions: Cyprus (the CySEC), the United Kingdom (the FCA), and South Africa (the FCSA).

Regulated brokers have to comply with industry requirements. They provide negative balance protection, so traders never lose more than they deposit. In the event of bankruptcy, their clients are eligible for compensation.

Trader’s Arsenal

Modern systems are different from pit trading, which you can see in old Hollywood movies. In the past, the speed was slow. Clients had to call their floor brokers if they wanted to buy or sell shares. Each operation involved several people. Today’s systems offer 1-click trading, which allows you to capitalize on momentary changes.

Everything is managed through an app or a desktop terminal. Traders analyse the market using streaming prices, charts and news updates. They can customize their aids to pursue different strategies. Timeframes may be switched to highlight changes over a certain period, from one minute to one month.

The most popular trading terminals, such as the FXTM Trader app, are all-in-one products. Users can research the market, place trades and withdraw their profits. Every operation is a tap away. The largest global markets are now at your fingertips, and they can be monitored at a glance.

The Bottom Line

Today, the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the local economy. Nigerians are increasingly interested in opportunities for remote work. As the job market is shrinking, online trading is a viable choice.

By 2019, Nigeria had a vast army of online traders. Today, over 200,000 residents buy and sell financial instruments through the internet. Regulated brokers provide access to a broad choice of tools, from currencies to derivatives.

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Money

“Our innovative program will make all of your debt disappear in just a few months for pennies on the dollar. We’ll also stop all collection calls and lawsuits. This guaranteed method is sponsored by the US Consumer Financial Protection Board to help people get relief from COVID-19 related financial woes. Just send us $49.95 and we’ll get right to work for you.”

Each one of the four sentences above contains clues the paragraph is promoting a scam.  Here’s what you can learn from them to help you get better at recognizing debt settlement scams.

Certain Debts are Immune to Settlement

Unsecured debts such as personal loans, credit card debt and even medical debt can be negotiated and settled. However, secured debts, such as car loans, mortgages, boat and motorcycle loans are ineligible.

This is because the lender can repossess whatever asset was used to secure the loan if you can’t make your payments — thus the term “secured debt”. However, public student loans, alimony and child support are also immune to debt settlement.

Thus, anyone saying they can make all of your debt disappear is lying — and operating in violation of the law. 

There Are No Guarantees

One of the first things any legitimate debt relief  company will tell you is there are no guarantees. This is because every situation is different and therefore negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

What worked for one person might not work for another. Thus, anyone guaranteeing positive debt settlement results is lying — and operating in violation of the law.

Government Entities Aren’t Involved 

OK, well that one isn’t entirely accurate. The Federal Trade Commission does keep an eye on the debt settlement industry to make sure companies offering debt relief are on the up and up. The same is true for your state attorney’s general office and your local consumer protection agency.

However, no government organization promotes debt settlement. Nor do any of them offer debt settlement services. Anyone claiming to be working with any branch of government to settle debt is lying — and operating in violation of the law.

Upfront Fees Are Not Permitted

As part of its effort to protect consumers, the FTC has decreed debt settlement firms can only exact fees after they’ve settled debts on a consumer’s behalf.

Yes, you will be required to set cash aside to fund your settlement agreements as they are reached. However, that money is only to be used to fulfill the arrangements your creditors offer.

Any other use of that money is prohibited. Therefore, anyone saying you need to give them money before they’ve settled one of your debts is lying — and operating in violation of the law.

Creditors Will Still Make Inquiries

One of the premises of debt settlement is you’ll stop making payments to your creditors and instead deposit that money into an escrow account to be used to fund your settlement deals.

So you’d best believe your phone is going to ring when those bills go unpaid.

Yes, you can tell your creditors you’re working with a debt settlement program and they should get in touch with your agent there. However, that cannot stop them from calling you just the same. Anyone who says they can is lying — and yes — operating in violation of the law.

Recognizing debt settlement scams is relatively simple when you bear in mind the old adage; “If it sounds too good to be true — it probably is.” Don’t let desperation be a motivator, keep your wits about you. Understand that just as it took time for the debt situation to develop, unwinding it is going to take time too and you will come out of the situation OK.

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Japan’s Naomi Osaka has defeated Belarusian Victoria Azarenka in a compelling US Open final and claimed her third Grand Slam title.

The 22-year-old fourth seed Naomi Osaka won 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 for her second US Open title.

Naomi Osaka was overwhelmed in the first set and was in danger of trailing 3-0 in the second before recovering to win 10 of the next 11 games to take momentum.

Victoria Azarenka, 31, playing in her first major final since 2013, lost serve for 5-3 in the decider.

The Japanese shrieked with joy as she took her second match point, then calmly laid out on the court and stared at the New York sky as she contemplated her latest achievement.

Naomi Osaka’s level raised considerably as Victoria Azarenka was unable to maintain the intensity she showed in a one-sided opening set.

The fight back ensured Naomi Osaka, who won the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open, maintained her record of winning every Grand Slam final she has played in.

Her maiden victory at Flushing Meadows in 2018 came in straight sets against Serena Williams in a hostile environment following the American’s infamous argument with umpire Carlos Ramos.

This second success could not have been more different.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

US Open 2020: Novak Djokovic Disqualified After Hitting Line Judge with Ball

This year, Naomi Osaka had to fight back from a set down against an inspired Victoria Azarenka – and navigate a tricky decider which could have swung either way – on a virtually empty Arthur Ashe Stadium because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Naomi Osaka looked a little lost as Victoria Azarenka overwhelmed her in a fast start, hitting 13 unforced errors and struggling to cope with the Belarusian’s proactive play and controlled aggression.

Eventually, though, the mental resilience which the Japanese says she has developed over recent months came to the fore.

That resulted in a major momentum shift in Naomi Osaka’s favor as Victoria Azarenka threatened to move 3-0 ahead in the second set.

The former world No 1 maintained that level in the decider to earn a 4-1 lead, but was unable to convert one of three break points to move 5-1 ahead.

That might have proved costly when Victoria Azarenka immediately put the set back on serve, only for Naomi Osaka to battle back again by winning what proved to be the final two games.

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Novak Djokovic has been disqualified from this year’s US Open after accidentally hitting a ball at a line judge.

In the fourth-round match, Novak Djokovic, 33 showed his frustration after losing serve to trail 6-5 against Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta.

The Serbian world No 1 took a ball out of his pocket and hit it behind him, striking the female line judge in her throat.

After a lengthy discussion, the top seed at the US Open was defaulted by tournament officials.

Coronavirus: Novak Djokovic Tests Positive for Covid-19

The Grand Slam rules state: “Players shall not at any time physically abuse any official, opponent, spectator or other person within the precincts of the tournament site.

“The referee, in consultation with the Grand Slam chief of supervisors may declare a default for either a single violation of this code.”

Novak Djokovic was the heavy favorite to win the men’s singles title at the US Open, which is being played behind closed doors and is the first Grand Slam to take place since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Going into the match against 20th seed Pablo Carreno Busta, Novak Djokovic had not lost a singles match in 2020.

Novak Djokovic was aiming for an 18th Grand Slam triumph to move closer to rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who are not playing in New York, in the race to finish with the most men’s major titles of all-time.

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No professional sports team likes the idea of being viewed as a little brother. Unfortunately, since the Clippers relocated to Los Angeles, they have been in a pretty big shadow of the Los Angeles Lakers.

It is understandable for a team with 16 championships to overshadow a franchise without even one NBA Finals appearance, but that has not always been the case. In fact, in the first half of the 2000s, most notably before and after the Lakers’ title run, the flashiest team in the city was the Clippers. How did they pull that off? A slew of youngsters, some not even old enough to drink, were making waves as the upstart to the establishment winning titles.

Prior to the 2001-2002 season, the Los Angeles Clippers traded for Elton Brand. This move gave them one of the most exciting young nucleuses in basketball, as he was joining Corey Maggette, Darius Miles, Quentin Richardson, and Lamar Odom. The Lakers are winning championships with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, but this was the cool, young, and hip team grabbing the younger generation. For a franchise looking to make the rest of the league take notice, this was a beautiful opportunity.

Every player brought something different to the table, as the Clippers looked to do more than make headlines. They wanted to compete, and they did that for the first time in decades.

Elton Brand

When the Chicago Bulls traded Elton Brand to the Los Angeles Clippers, the franchise believed that they had their centerpiece. He was a dominant force for the Chicago Bulls in his first two seasons in the NBA, and the Clippers needed the go-to guy to throw the ball to in the post.

Brand played like a number one player for the Clippers from the beginning. He only had one season where he took over the scoring load, but he was a consistent 20 points and 10 rebounds type of guy almost every single night. Injuries started to catch up to him after a few years, but he was a major reason why the Clippers became relevant once again.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Lamar Odom

The left-hander from New York City was viewed by many as a guy who had no flaws. He was a 6’10” forward who could point guard if he needed to. Another top-five pick on the team, he hit the ground running with the Clippers in his very first season. There were times in which he would run the offense, and there were also times in which he would be looked at as a scorer.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Corey Maggette

Brand and Odom might have had more hype, but Corey Maggette was the glue to the Los Angeles Clippers team of that era. He was the one guy who ended up sticking around for the majority of his prime, and he was able to have quite a bit of success. He was capable of playing multiple positions, and that allowed him to stay on the floor when going up against nearly every team.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

What happened to Corey Maggette?

It is hard for younger players to swallow their pride and fill in where needed, but Maggette was fine coming off the bench if that made the most sense. His ability to give many different players a breather and play multiple positions added to roster flexibility. Today he runs a children’s basketball league and has taken over responsibilities for the community to fill the void when Kobe Bryant tragically left this world. We’re all thankful and lucky to have such an amazing human being like Corey Maggette still.

Darius Miles

The excitement surrounding Darius Miles when he came out of high school in the 2000 NBA Draft certainly had Clippers fans excited. He had all the potential in the world, but it was never truly developed with the Clippers. He would have some highlights here and there, but he was mostly a guy at the bench still learning the game of basketball at the highest level. That is expected for a guy who only played two seasons of the Clippers, and was with the Cleveland Cavaliers by the time he was 21 years old.

Quentin Richardson

Used mostly as a bench player for the Los Angeles Clippers, Richardson was able to provide some scoring punch when he caught fire. He was perhaps the most unheralded of the younger players that helped make up the exciting core, but he became a fan-favorite with his ability to get on a roll.

Shooting was always a major part of the game, as he shot 35% from three-point land during his four seasons with the team. In his final season with the Clippers, he was able to average over 17 points per contest.

An exciting time for the franchise

There are no championship banners for the Los Angeles Clippers during this era, but they were still exciting in the eyes of many. They just missed out on the playoffs in the 2001–2002 season, and there was finally the breakthrough they needed in 2005-2006. The younger core started to mature by then, which led to a 45-win season. Only Brand and Maggette were still around for the playoff appearance, but it showed just how exciting that collection of talent was during that time.

For a franchise with no NBA titles and very few bright spots overall, fans still remember these guys decades later. Not all of them panned out, but the Clippers turned into a team that had just as much attention from casual fans as the Lakers for the first time.

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Photo Getty Images

Before the worldwide COVID virus pandemic hit in early 2020, retail gasoline prices were already relatively low compared to the prior four years. But once the historically unique economic impact of the virus sank in, the cost of a gallon of fuel dropped by about 50 percent for most consumers. Plus, that entire and massive plunge in value took place within a four-week window of time. Necessity of the mother of invention, as the old saying goes. In this case, millions of individual investors started thinking about investment opportunities in oil, assuming COVID wouldn’t last forever and that per-gallon costs would eventually bounce back.

It’s important for every investor to understand the way the health crisis affect the fuel market, who some of the key players are, how the overall economic shutdown is continuing to change the world, and what at the pump prices are likely to do in the near future. The good news for people who wish to turn a crisis into an opportunity is that oil prices still have room to rise before they’re back at pre-crisis levels. Anyone who wants to know how to buy crude oil should consider such diverse methods as ETFs (exchange-traded funds), corporate stocks, futures, options, and CFDs (contracts for difference).

The COVID Effect on Recent Prices

Why did a worldwide virus lead to a huge drop in the price of crude, and by extension, gasoline? The primary factor was economic shutdown, which took place in most developing and developed nations. With millions of people either not working or doing their jobs from home, there was a gigantic drop in the need for vehicle fuel, which meant an over-supply situation. Like a 1,000-pound boulder in a pond, the value of the world’s most preferred fossil fuel sank about 50 percent within a couple of weeks.

The Iran Effect

Political turmoil in producer nations can lead to unusual changes in the energy markets, as the recent Iranian situation clearly demonstrates. After the U.S. pulled out of a large international coalition and decided to impose trading sanctions on Iran, the market reacted quickly, anticipating a possible oil shortage if Iran decides to cut production in retaliation for the U.S. move. For at least 30 years, the volatile leadership in Iran has wreaked havoc on the worldwide energy markets, which is one reason investors always keep a close eye on that nation’s financial news.

OPEC+ and Russia

There has been a recent change at the top of the global energy-producing hierarchy. For decades, Saudi Arabia, as the leading member of OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), was in near-total control of international supply. However, OPEC is now only number three in a trio of the globe’s top petroleum producers, which includes the U.S. at the top and Russia in the second spot. But investors should remember that OPEC still has a lot of power because its members act in unison, while U.S. and Russian producers do not.

The Economic Shutdown

In the second half of 2019, the per-barrel cost of crude petroleum sat at about the $55 mark. Now that the virus effect is slowing, that $55 level is still about $12 above the current $43 cost. That’s good news for anyone who still wants to take part in what could be a rise back to the normal, or at least pre-crisis values.

Prices at the Gas Pump

For consumers who worry about their monthly transportation budgets, there is an upside and a downside. As the national and world economies rebound and employment numbers get back to financially healthy levels, the price of petrol at the pump is also going back to its 2019 averages, slowly but surely.

For Investors to Consider

Before heading to your favorite trading platform to place orders for fuel-based CFDs, futures, and industry stock shares, consider some key facts about recent price activity and industry behavior, including the following:

  • Since 2014, the price, in U.S. dollars, of a barrel of crude oil dropped from $104 to $30.
  • The huge fall in per-barrel values were only partly due to COVID-related factors.
  • The new trio of top producers, the U.S., Russia, and OPEC are the predominant influencers behind global production and supply.
  • When the world economy is doing well, per-barrel prices usually go up due to increased industrial demand.
  • Natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes can have profound temporary effects on the industry.
  • At-the-pump costs for consumers are affected by at least a half-dozen factors, including retail demand, inflation, supplies, economic headlines in producing countries, and political turmoil. That makes it difficult to predict future market behavior.

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car-insurance

When looking into car insurance plans, the variety of options, prices, and coverage may cause confusion. The overwhelming amount of information can cause car owners to not fully understand the coverage that works best for their car, causing them to either be too covered or undercovered.

As you go through the car insurance process, you’ll need to ask a few questions to yourself and a representative to get the full picture. We’ll go over five of those questions in this article to help you better understand exactly what coverage you need and what you are able to afford.

What type of driver are you?

There are car insurance plans that cater to all types of drivers. When purchasing your plan, you need to ask yourself what you’ll be using your car for primarily. Do you use it for long road trips? To commute to work daily? Casually? Or, is it a car that needs a special type of coverage, such as an antique car?

Whatever your circumstances are, you’ll need to ask an insurance representative which type of coverage is best for you. For example, people who tend to drive on the safer side prefer a plan from Nationwide car insurance, as they offer benefits for those who drive safely.

How much can you afford?

Depending on your car and circumstances, your auto insurance premiums can increase or decrease. Typically, the nicer car you have, the more your premiums will be. Or, if you have a past accident on record, your premiums can increase as well. Other factors for price increases may include the type of coverage you choose, your location, the number of drivers on your policy, and more.

Make sure you can afford the coverage you choose before purchasing a plan. But, don’t cheap out on insurance either just to save a few dollars every month, as an accident can end up costing you more in the long run.

What type of coverage do you need and who is covered?

There are different types of coverage for auto insurance plans. The main types include:

  • Auto liability coverage
  • Collision coverage
  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage
  • Personal injury protection
  • Medical payments
  • Comprehensive coverage

You can learn more about the specifics of each coverage by researching the basics of auto insurance. Based on where you live, some types of coverage may be required — or not. There are also different minimum coverage amounts required in every state. As you get ready to purchase an auto insurance plan, make sure you have all the coverage you need for your car and driving habits.

Are there any possible discounts?

Many auto insurance companies offer a variety of discounts for their policyholders. Some discounts may include student discounts, safe driver discounts, military discounts, bundled discounts, low mileage discounts, training discounts, auto-pay discounts, and more. Simply ask a representative what discounts may be available.

What is your risk assessment?

You should understand what your risk assessment is before purchasing an auto insurance policy. Risk assessment is the way policymakers determine how much of a risk you and/or your car holds as a policyholder. This is based on demographics, driving records, the car itself, and more. Your risk assessment will help the insurance company determine how much to charge you every month.

Once you determine the answers to these five questions, you’ll be able to understand what auto insurance policy you’re purchasing much better. The more you know about auto insurance plans, the easier it will be to make claims, changes, and payments in the event of an accident.

Image source Flickr

Apple has become the first US company to be valued at $2 trillion on the stock market.

The tech giant reached the milestone just two years after becoming the world’s first trillion-dollar company in 2018.

Apple’s share price hit $467.77 in mid-morning trading on August 19 to push it over the $2tn mark.

The only other company to reach the $2tn level was state-backed Saudi Aramco after it listed its shares in December 2019.

However, the oil giant’s value has slipped back to $1.8tn since then and Apple surpassed it to become the world’s most valuable traded company at the end of July.

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Apple’s shares have leapt more than 50% in 2020, despite the coronavirus crisis forcing it to shut retail stores and political pressure over its links China.

In fact, the iPhone maker’s share price has doubled since its low point in March, when panic about the coronavirus pandemic swept the markets.

Tech companies, which have been viewed as winners despite lockdowns, have seen their stock surge in recent weeks, even though the US is in recession.

Apple posted strong Q3 figures towards the end of July, including $59.7 billion of revenue and double-digit growth in its products and services segments.

The next most valuable US company is Amazon which is worth around $1.7tn.

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Have you been trying to apply for a small business loan without any glimpse of success? If so, then you should know that thousands of others are undergoing similar experience across the globe. Actually, research shows that 74% of small business loan applications are rejected by many lending institutions especially the banks and some alternative small business loans lenders. This might be a high figure but not surprising at all. This is because, a couple of reasons exists to justify the reluctance of lending institutions to give loans to small businesses. Therefore, if you want to increase the odds of approval, you ought to familiarize with these reasons and how to lessen the risks.

  1. Your business lacks a significant history

Lenders usually feel comfortable when extending loans to those enterprises which have been operating for a relatively long period.  This way, the lender is able to assess the credit worthiness of a business as well as its ability to repay back.  Therefore, for a new company, it is difficult to convince a lender with a word of mouth or a mere business plan without a compelling operation history. However, this should not discourage new entrepreneurs as they can seek funding from other sources which usually don’t dwell much on operation history. Some of such lenders include the Venture Capitalist Investors, crowdfunding, and many others.

2. Your business is in a high-risk industry

Traditional lending institutions have got strict rules which they usually prioritize while gauging the qualifications of loan applicants. One of such rules is the assessment of a business   failure rate. This is whereby a bank will determine whether the business to be funded is likely to thrive or fail in future depending on various micro and macro economy factors as determined by the lender. Therefore, once a bank has considered your business to have high failure rate, the chances of receiving funding is almost zero. The solution to this is seeking alternative lenders and also seeking for recommendation from other entrepreneurs in the same industry.

3. Weak cash flow

When your business lacks a solid and strong cash flow, chances of having your loan approved are very minimal. The reason for this is that lenders will question the ability of your business to service the loan on full and also on time. Therefore, prior to delivering the application, make it your priority to assess the financial statements of your business and come up with a plan on how you will be repaying the loan on monthly basis. To boost the financial flow of your business, make sure all the goods or services delivered are paid on time if not promptly.

4. Poor Credit score

Lenders usually check the personal or business credit score to determine the worthiness of extending a loan. If the business is new, some lenders will go for the personal credit score especially if the business has no long history. Therefore, if the score happens to be below a certain acceptable threshold, then the chances of having loan approved is very low. To address this, usually check both personal and your business credit reports and ensure any existing anomaly is fixed before applying for a loan.

5. Lack of Plan

While applying for a small business loan, it is prudent to build a strong case which will remove doubts from a lender on your capability to repay. One of such ways of building a solid case is having a candid plan on how to use the loan as well as the repayment plan. If this plan lacks, or is not strong enough to convince the lender, then chances of approval are very low. Therefore, always develop a solid plan and perhaps let a friend have a look at it before you go for the loan.

6. Applying for very low amount

I know you are wondering how asking for too little will affect your chances of securing a loan. Well, it depends from where you are sourcing the loan.  Usually, commercial banks prefer issuing large loans since they obtain more profits from them as opposed to the small ones. Since the resources and efforts required to service both the small and large loans are the same, banks will often be reluctant to offer a loan of less than $250,000. However, applying for a very large amount without a solid plan on how to repay will also get you rejected.  Therefore, always purpose to understand the standard amount which you can get from the bank by perhaps asking friends.

Being aware of the above reasons why a small business loan application might fail is the first step towards securing a successful funding. Therefore, keep note of the above points and they will surely help you in your future small business loan application.

The US jobs growth slowed sharply in July as the country struggled to control the coronavirus pandemic.

1.8 million jobs have been added last month, down from a record 4.8 million in June.

The US unemployment rate fell to 10.2%, continuing to improve from the high of 14.7% seen in April.

The figures reignited calls for Washington to approve further economic stimulus, though the slowdown was not as bad as many economists had feared.

The US Labor Department report, “confirms that the resurgence in new virus cases caused the economic recovery to slow, but also underlines that it has not yet gone into reverse,” said Andrew Hunter, senior economist at Capital Economics.

The job gains in July came from many of the sectors hit hardest by shutdowns, including restaurants, bars and retail outlets.

Photo Getty Images

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Economists have said this kind of hiring, happening as states around the country allow establishments to reopen, represents the “easy” part of a long recovery ahead.

Since February, the US has lost more than 12 million jobs and seen unemployment spike from a roughly 50-year-low of 3.5%.

In Q2 of 2020, the US economy was hit by its sharpest quarterly contraction in more than 70 years of record-keeping, shrinking at an annual rate of 33% or nearly 10% year-on-year.

The 10.2% unemployment rate the Labor Department reported for July is higher than the worst of the 2007-2009 financial crisis, when the jobless rate peaked at 10%.

This week, nearly 1.2 million people filed new claims for unemployment. More than 31 million people – roughly 1 in 5 American workers – continue to collect the benefits.

Economists have said the loss of momentum last month is a sign of the peril facing the economy, as health concerns put a dampener on consumer spending and temporary measures passed in March, including bans on evictions and a $600 emergency boost to unemployment benefits, expire.

While Washington lawmakers have been trying to negotiate further stimulus, many Republicans oppose a deal of the size Democrats say is necessary.

“The most responsible thing we can do is to take proactive measures to allow people to return to work safely, instead of continuing to lock down the economy,” Republican Congressman Kevin Brady said after the report.

Republicans want a deal to include legal protections for employers against virus-related health claims from workers.

They are also pushing to reduce the $600 emergency supplement to unemployment benefits, which expired last month, and have proposed far less aid to local governments than Democrats want.

Their stance has presented a challenge for President Donald Trump, who had hoped to use a strong economy as his calling card to voters in his campaign for re-election in November. He has said he may act unilaterally to extend some aid.

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TikTok has threatened legal action against the US after President Donald Trump ordered companies to stop doing business with the Chinese app within 45 days.

The Chinese company said it was “shocked” by an executive order from the President Trump outlining the ban.

It also said it would “pursue all remedies available” to “ensure the rule of law is not discarded”.

President Trump issued a similar order against China’s WeChat in a major escalation in Washington’s stand-off with Beijing.

WeChat’s owner, Tencent, said: “We are reviewing the executive order to get a full understanding.”

As well as WeChat, Tencent is also a leading gaming company and its investments include a 40% stake in Epic Games – the company behind popular Fortnite video game.

Image by krittiyanee thumjaikul from Pixabay

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President Trump has already threatened to ban TikTok in the US, citing national security concerns, and the company is now in talks to sell its American business to Microsoft. They have until September 15 to reach a deal – a deadline set by President Trump.

The Trump administration claims that the Chinese government has access to user information gathered by TikTok, which the company has denied.

TikTok, which is owned by China’s ByteDance, said it had attempted to engage with the US government for nearly a year “in good faith”.

However, the company said: “What we encountered instead was that the administration paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses.”

The executive orders against TikTok and WeChat are the latest measure in an increasingly broad Trump administration campaign against China.

On August 6, Washington announced recommendations that Chinese firms listed on US stock markets should be delisted unless they provided regulators with access to their audited accounts.

China’s Foreign Ministry on August 7 accused the US of using national security as a cover to exert hegemony.

In both executive orders, President Trump says that the spread in the US of mobile apps developed and owned by Chinese companies “threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States”.

The US government says TikTok and WeChat “capture vast swaths of information from its users”.

“This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information.”

President Trump’s executive order also claims both apps gather data on Chinese nationals visiting the US, allowing Beijing “to keep tabs” on them.

The executive order also says TikTok’s data collection could allow China to track US government employees and gather personal information for blackmail, or to carry out corporate espionage.

He notes that reports indicate TikTok censors content deemed politically sensitive, such as protests in Hong Kong and China’s treatment of the Uighurs, a Muslim minority. 

The orders have been issued under legal authority from the National Emergencies Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

In its most robust response so far to the US government, TikTok says the executive order that has been issued is based on “unnamed reports with no citations”.

“We have made clear that TikTok has never shared user data with the Chinese government, nor censored content at its request,” the company said.

“We even expressed our willingness to pursue a full sale of the US business to an American company.”

President Trump said this week he would support the sale to Microsoft as long as the US government received a “substantial portion” of the sale price.

TikTok said the new executive order “risks undermining global businesses’ trust in the United States’ commitment to the rule of law”, adding it sets “a dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets”.

“We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly – if not by the administration, then by the US courts,” the company said.

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Image by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to always expect the unexpected. Thriving economies can be stalled at a moment’s notice, lucrative deals can fall apart at the final hurdle, and even the most stable businesses are vulnerable to external pressures. In other words, all business leaders eventually have to address an organizational crisis. The good news is that being prepared for this moment will help you meet it and protect your business from any potential threat. To that end, here are five crisis-management tips all business owners should know:

Install Safeguards

Many business leaders are, by their very nature, optimists. After all, you have to possess a certain amount of self belief to become an entrepreneur in the first place. Nevertheless, even optimists should have contingency plans and internal safeguards ready to go should a big problem arise. Never embark on any project unless you have a backup plan in place. Otherwise, you could end up scrambling to address an issue you don’t know how to solve.

Assemble a Winning Team

The best leaders understand how to delegate important tasks effectively. Of course, in order to delegate assignments, business leaders need to first surround themselves with capable colleagues. So making quality hires is essential to long-term business viability. Ideally, a business leader should feel comfortable trusting their team to handle any major issue that may come up. And if they’re not, they should reconsider their internal structure.

Remain Solutions Oriented

When a big project goes south, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with panic or fear. However, business leaders need to remain calm and solutions-oriented when addressing a serious issue. Staying positive won’t make a problem go away, but it will help you salvage what you can even when things look bleak.

Innovate

New tech, procedures, and ideas could –– in some instances –– provide business owners with a solution to a potential crisis. Naturally, adopting a new methodology at the 11th hour won’t be easy. That’s why business leaders must be willing to embrace innovation and to remain patient with a new process.

Pull Out All the Stops

It should go without saying, but when their organization is in trouble, business leaders should spring into action and do whatever it takes to improve the situation. For example, booking private jet rentals to set up time-sensitive meetings could give you a way to broker an important deal. Or, hiring a third-party expert like a lawyer or financial consultant could help you navigate a tricky set of circumstances. Regardless, going the extra mile could very well prove the difference between saving your business and losing it. So when things get tough, make sure you get going!

Image by vicky gharat from Pixabay

Streaming giant Netflix has seen a surge in sign-ups due to the coronavirus lockdown, but the company has warned investors that subscriber growth will slow.

Netflix added more than 10 million subscribers in Q2 of 2020, bringing the total of new subscribers to 26 million in 2020.

In contrast, Netflix saw 28 million new subscribers for the whole of 2019.

The company said: “Growth is slowing as consumers get through the initial shock of coronavirus and social restrictions.”

Netflix shares dropped in after-hours trading as investors received the company’s quarterly update.

Its revenue increased almost 25% to $6.1 billion, while profits rose to $720 million in the quarter, up from $271 million a year ago.

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The subscriber additions were far higher than analysts had expected.

While, some people might still end up quitting the service, the pandemic has clearly shown that Netflix is an indispensable part of viewers lives, analysts said.

Netflix also announced it was promoting chief content officer Ted Sarandos to co-chief executive.

CEO Reed Hastings told investors: “This change makes formal what was already informal – that Ted and I share the leadership of Netflix.”

Netflix was founded in 1997by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph in Scotts Valley, California. The company’s initial business model included DVD sales and rental by mail, but Hastings abandoned the sales about a year after the company’s founding to focus on the initial DVD rental business. Today, Netflix produces and distributes content from countries all over the globe.

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Image source: Wikipedia

Keep your Chevy Avalanche exploring new terrain and safely navigating your daily commute with the latest accessories and affordable parts. Reliable Chevy Avalanche auto parts can be difficult to find, so learn where to go to locate the parts you need at the prices you love.

Chevy Avalanche Accessories

There are plenty of accessories that you can use to personalize or repair your Avalanche. Search for accessories that make your life more convenient or prepare your truck for your next camping trip. Here are just some popular options you can find online or at your nearest auto parts store:

  • Floor mats
  • Door handles
  • Exhaust systems
  • Entertainment systems
  • Oil and other fluids
  • Filters

Floor mats are the perfect way to keep the interior of your truck clean. Muddy boots can really do a number of the leather or carpet of your interior, so pick up matching floor mats that are designed to fit your Avalanche.

Entertainment systems are another popular way to improve your ride. Simply pick up additional speakers or other smart devices that fit your Chevy and follow the instructions to personalize your ride.

Filters, oil and other fluids are key maintenance components. Find these online or visit an auto parts store to ask about the correct oil weight, filter size and other specifications. Hassle-free shopping ensures quick and successful DIY auto maintenance projects in the comfort of your own garage.

Be sure to shop for accessories by using your VIN. Your local auto parts technician or an online store will ask for your make, model and year of vehicle to help you find the best part, but a VIN lookup tool is another easy way to ensure the accessories you order match your truck.

Once you have the accessories you need, ask about free repair guides online or in store. An Avalanche firing orders repair guide can help you tune up your own engine to keep your Chevy running like a dream. Other repair guides ensure you have the right tools and techniques to easily install your new accessories. These resources help you shop online confidently knowing that you’re purchasing the right accessory for your truck.

Used Chevy Avalanche Parts

A damaged part can cripple your truck, so order affordable replacement parts for a DIY repair task. Shop for affordable mass air flow sensors, oxygen sensors, tires and other components to keep your older truck running or tune up your new ride.

Aftermarket components can be just what you need to enjoy long-lasting performance. All-terrain tires, replacement body panels and performance exhaust systems are excellent ways to tune up your Chevy. These parts can be an affordable way to repair a damaged ride or they can boost the horsepower, fuel economy and traction of your vehicle.

How do you know if you have a bad mass air flow sensor? Find the answers online or by speaking to a local auto parts expert. Troubleshooting a performance issue is difficult without the right guide, so discuss common issues with your truck and see whether a particular sound or warning light requires immediate attention or preventative maintenance.

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Ben & Jerry’s has joined a growing list of companies pulling advertising from Facebook platforms throughout July.

The move is part of the Stop Hate For Profit campaign, which calls on Facebook to have stricter measures against racist and hateful content.

Ben and Jerry’s tweeted: “We will pause all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram in the US in support of the #StopHateForProfit campaign. Facebook, Inc. must take the clear and unequivocal actions to stop its platform from being used to spread and amplify racism and hate. >>>https://benjerrys.co/2CtB2WE

Earlier this week outdoor brands The North Face, Patagonia and REI joined the campaign.

Ben & Jerry’s said it is standing with the campaign and “all those calling for Facebook to take stronger action to stop its platforms from being used to divide our nation, suppress voters, foment and fan the flames of racism and violence, and undermine our democracy.”

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Ben & Jerry’s

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After the death of African-American George Floyd in police custody, Ben & Jerry’s chief executive Matthew McCarthy said “business should be held accountable” as he set out plans to increase diversity.

Earlier this week the freelance job listing platform Upwork and the open-source software developer Mozilla also joined the campaign.

Facebook has said it was committed to “advancing equity and racial justice”.

The social network said in a statement on June 21: “We’re taking steps to review our policies, ensure diversity and transparency when making decisions on how we apply our policies, and advance racial justice and voter engagement on our platform.”

Ben & Jerry’s statement also pointed to the company’s Community Standards, which include the recognition of the platform’s importance as a “place where people feel empowered to communicate, and we take seriously our role in keeping abuse off our service”.

The Stop Hate for Profit campaign was launched last week by advocacy groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Color Of Change.

The movement has said it is a “response to Facebook’s long history of allowing racist, violent and verifiably false content to run rampant on its platform”.

Stop Hate for Profit has called on advertisers to pressure Facebook to adopt stricter measures against racist and hateful content on its platforms by stopping all spending on advertising with it throughout July.

In 2019, Facebook attracted advertising revenue of almost $70 billion.

The company and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg have often been criticized for the handling of controversial subjects.

This month Facebook’s staff spoke out against the tech giant’s decision not to remove or flag a post by President Donald Trump.

The same message was shared on Twitter, where it was hidden behind a warning label on the grounds that it “glorified violence”.

Novak Djokovic has become the latest tennis player to test positive for the new coronavirus.

Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki all revealed they have tested positive for Covid-19 after playing at Djokovic’s Adria Tour competition.

The 33-year-old world’s No 1 played fellow Serb Troicki in the first event in Belgrade.

In a post on Twitter, Novak Djokovic said it had been “too soon” to stage the tournament.

“I am so deeply sorry our tournament has caused harm,” he said.

He said the tournament had been organized with “a pure heart”, “good intentions” and a belief that they had “met all health protocols”.

“We were wrong and it was too soon,” he said.

The remaining Adria Tour events in Banja Luka and Sarajevo have now been canceled Novak Djokovic’s brother Djordje, who is a director of the tournament, has confirmed.

“Unfortunately, due to all the events that happened in the last few days, we have decided that the most important thing right now is to stabilize the epidemiological situation, as well as for everyone to recover,” he said.

A statement on Novak Djokovic’s website said: “Immediately upon his arrival in Belgrade [after the second event] Novak was tested along with all members of the family and the team with whom he was in Belgrade and Zadar. He is not showing any symptoms.”

There have been no ATP Tour events since February because of the global pandemic and the Adria Tour, which is not an ATP Tour event, was one of the first competitions to be staged since then.

The first leg in Serbia attracted 4,000 fans, and players were later pictured dancing close together in a Belgrade nightclub.

Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov played Croatia’s Borna Coric on June 20 in the second leg in Zadar, Croatia.

With Croatia easing lockdown measures, players were not obliged to observe social distancing rules and were seen embracing at the net at the end of their matches.

Photo Getty Images

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Pictures on the tournament’s social media site from June 19 showed Grigor Dimitrov playing basketball with Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Marin Cilic, while he also put his arm around Borna Coric before their match.

Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic and Andrey Rublev, who also played in the Adria Tour, have tested negative, but suggested they will all now self-isolate for up to 14 days.

The ATP Tour season is set to restart on August 14 and the US Open will be held without fans from August 31 to September 13, despite some players voicing concerns about travelling to New York.

Quaker Oats has announced it will rename its brand Aunt Jemima (a line of syrups and foods), acknowledging it was based on a racial stereotype.

For over 130 years, Aunt Jemima’s logo has featured a black woman named after a character from minstrel shows in the 1800s that mocked African-Americans.

The company said past branding updates to address these issues were “not enough”.

Criticism against the brand has renewed amid the national debate over racism sparked by George Floyd’s death.

Image source: AuntJemima.com

Kristin Kroepfl, Quaker Foods North America’s chief marketing officer, said the company is working “to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives”.

She said: “We also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations.

“We are starting by removing the image and changing the name.”

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Quaker has not offered further details on the coming changes, which were first reported by NBC News.

In addition, Aunt Jemima is to donate at least $5 million over the next five years to support the African American community, according to parent company PepsiCo.

The branding on Aunt Jemima’s syrups, mixes and other food products features an image of a black woman that has often been linked to stereotypes around slavery.

In a 2015 opinion piece for the New York Times, Cornell University African-American literature professor Riché Richardson described Aunt Jemima as “an outgrowth of Old South plantation nostalgia and romance”.

He said the brand perpetuated the idea of a “mammy” character – a submissive black woman who nurtured her white master’s children.

Founded in 1889, the Aunt Jemima logo was based on storyteller, cook and missionary Nancy Green, Quaker’s site says.

According to the African American Registry non-profit database, Nancy Green was born into slavery in Kentucky in 1834.

Aunt Jemima joins a number of companies offering change in light of the global protests and renewed debate over racism in America, sparked by the recent police killings of George Floyd and other African Americans.

The US economy will be affected by the coronavirus pandemic for almost a decade, according to projections by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The CBO forecasts the outbreak will cut US economic output by 3% between this year and 2030, a loss of $7.9 trillion.

The warning comes as tens of millions of people are out of work due to lockdown measures.

The CBO is a federal agency within the US government that provides budget and economic information to Congress.

America’s historic downturn comes even after trillions of dollars have been pumped into the economy.

Image source Wikimedia

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The CBO said the majority of the loss was caused by the sharp contraction in economic activity this year, which it had not predicted in its last 10-year report, published in January.

CBO director Phillip Swagel wrote in response to an inquiry from Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer: “Business closures and social distancing measures are expected to curtail consumer spending, while the recent drop in energy prices is projected to severely reduce US investment in the energy sector.”

“Recent legislation will, in CBO’s assessment, partially mitigate the deterioration in economic conditions,” he added.

Since the virus pandemic hit the US the government and the Fed have provided trillions of dollars of support for the world’s biggest economy.

Still, unemployment has soared to levels not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s as more than 40 million Americans have already been put out of work.

The US unemployment rate hit 14.7% in April and on June 5 the Labor Department is expected to confirm that it reached 20% in May. In March that figure stood at just 4.4% having risen from a 50-year low from the month before.

There is an ongoing debate in the Congress over a new $3 trillion a new stimulus plan as well as a proposal to renew several federal aid programs that would otherwise lapse, including a temporary increase to jobless benefits that is set to expire in July.

Volkswagen must pay compensation to a German plaintiff who had bought one of its diesel minivans fitted with emissions-cheating software, Germany’s highest civil court has ruled.

The ruling sets a benchmark for about 60,000 other cases in Germany.

Herbert Gilbert will be partially reimbursed for his vehicle, with depreciation taken into account.

The German auto maker said it would now offer affected car owners a one-off payment. The amount will depend on individual cases.

VW has already settled a separate €830 million class action suit involving 235,000 German car owners.

The company said in a statement on May 25: “For the majority of the 60,000 pending cases, this ruling provides clarity as to how the [Federal Court of Justice] assesses essential questions in German diesel proceedings.

“Volkswagen is now seeking to bring these proceedings to a prompt conclusion in agreement with the plaintiffs. We will therefore approach the plaintiffs with the adequate settlement proposals.”

VW has paid out more than €30 billion in fines, compensation and buyback schemes worldwide since the scandal first broke in 2015.

The company disclosed at the time that it had used illegal software to manipulate the results of diesel emissions tests.

Volkswagen said that about 11 million cars were fitted with the “defeat device”, which alerted diesel engines when they were being tested. The engine would then change its performance in order to improve the result of the test.

VW’s current and former senior employees are facing criminal charges in Germany.

Volkswagen must pay compensation to a German plaintiff who had bought one of its diesel minivans fitted with emissions-cheating software, Germany’s highest civil court has ruled.

The ruling sets a benchmark for about 60,000 other cases in Germany.

Herbert Gilbert will be partially reimbursed for his vehicle, with depreciation taken into account.

The German auto maker said it would now offer affected car owners a one-off payment. The amount will depend on individual cases.

VW has already settled a separate €830 million class action suit involving 235,000 German car owners.

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The company said in a statement on May 25: “For the majority of the 60,000 pending cases, this ruling provides clarity as to how the [Federal Court of Justice] assesses essential questions in German diesel proceedings.

“Volkswagen is now seeking to bring these proceedings to a prompt conclusion in agreement with the plaintiffs. We will therefore approach the plaintiffs with the adequate settlement proposals.”

VW has paid out more than €30 billion in fines, compensation and buyback schemes worldwide since the scandal first broke in 2015.

The company disclosed at the time that it had used illegal software to manipulate the results of diesel emissions tests.

Volkswagen said that about 11 million cars were fitted with the “defeat device”, which alerted diesel engines when they were being tested. The engine would then change its performance in order to improve the result of the test.

VW’s current and former senior employees are facing criminal charges in Germany.

The number of US unemployment claims has hit 33.3 million since mid-March amid coronavirus lockdown, about 20% of the US workforce.

A further 3.2 million Americans sought unemployment benefits last week as the economic toll from the coronavirus pandemic continued to mount.

The number of new claims reported each week by the Department of Labor has subsided since hitting a peak of 6.9 million in March.

However, they remain extraordinarily high.

The number of Americans collecting benefits has continued to rise, despite recent moves to start re-opening in some parts of the country.

Photo Getty Images

Companies such as Lyft, Uber and Airbnb are amongst the companies that have announced cuts in recent weeks, as shutdowns halted significant amounts of travel.

The impact has been felt across the economy, affecting medical practices, restaurants and administrative workers among many others.

Economists say the monthly unemployment rate for April, which will be released on May 8, is likely to reach 15% or higher.

Just two months ago, the unemployment rate was at 3.5%, a 50-year low.

Since the coronavirus has taken hold in the US, the country has suffered its worst growth numbers in a decade, the worst retail sales report on record and declines in business activity not seen since the 2008 financial crisis.

Meanwhile, weeks of elevated unemployment claims have far surpassed the prior record of 700,000.

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Food pantries have seen spikes in demand, and homeowners and renters have delayed monthly payments.

The National Multifamily Housing Council – an industry group for apartment owners – reported last month that nearly a third of renters did not make their full payment by the first of the month.

Economists are hoping the pain will ease as businesses gradually restart.

Retailers such as Gap have already announced plans for re-opening some stores. Others, including J Crew and department store Neiman Marcus, have been pushed into bankruptcy.

Moody’s Investors Service has predicted that the US unemployment rate could fall back to 7% by the end of the year, but that forecast depends on the virus. The longer the shutdown persists, the harder it will be for the economy to rebound.

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Germany is to reopen all shops as lockdown restrictions are eased.

Meanwhile, Bundesliga soccer has been given the green light to resume and schools will gradually reopen in the summer term.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany’s goal of slowing the spread of coronavirus has been achieved.

Germany’s 16 federal states, under an agreement with the government, will take control of timing the reopening.

They will operate an “emergency brake” if there is a new surge in infections.

General contact rules involving will continue for another month. A limited resumption has already begun, but this easing of restrictions is far broader.

Two households will be able to meet and eat together, and elderly people in nursing homes and facilities for the disabled will be able to have visits from one specific person.

Chancellor Merkel said: “I think we can safely state that the very first phase of the pandemic is behind us. But we need to be very much aware we are still in the early phases and we’ll be in it for the long haul.”

Germany has seen fewer than 7,000 deaths in the coronavirus pandemic – a much lower figure than in other Western European countries including the UK, Italy, France and Spain.

Image source Wikimedia

On May 6, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), a federal public health body, reported 165 deaths in the past 24 hours and some 947 new infections.

The rate of infection has been consistently low for some time, and Angela Merkel said she was very pleased that the number of new, daily infections was into three digits. She praised the responsibility of German citizens in sticking to lockdown measures to protect the lives of others as well as themselves.

Shops of up to 800 square meters (8,600ft) in size have already been allowed to open. All restrictions on shops will now be lifted, although masks must be worn and social distancing maintained.

Schools have already begun opening for older children; all pupils will be allowed to return to class gradually during the summer term.

Germany, in common with other countries, is wary of a second surge in infections. If new infections rise to above 50 people in every 100,000 in a district over a seven-day period, then it will be up to the local authority in the affected area to re-impose restrictions.

A number of the 16 lands have been less affected by the crisis, so some are more eager to ease restrictions than others.

Bavaria in the south plans to reopen restaurants on May 18 while Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in the north plans to do that on May 9.

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Reopening restaurants and hotels is seen as a particular risk because it will heighten the number of people travelling across Germany and raising infection rates. Large public events will remain banned.

The German soccer league, the Bundesliga, has been given the green light to kick off for the first time since March.

So-called ghost games without spectators could start again as early as May 15 or 21 as long as a two-week quarantine is put in place for the players, in the form of a type of training camp. A decision on the date will be made by the football authorities on May 7.

The Bundesliga will be the first major football league in Europe to resume after the pandemic. However, it is not without risk. Ten positive cases were revealed this week by the German football league out of 1,724 tests across the top two divisions.

Meanwhile, tourism commissioner Thomas Bareiss has held out the hope that Germans will be able to go on holiday this summer.

If the outbreak remained under control, he suggested they could go away in Germany and in neighboring countries that had seen a similar drop in infections.