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Homebuyers in U.S. Face Worst Affordability Squeeze in 12 Years

China’s Yuan, Stocks Rally to New Highs in Bullish End to Year

China’s stocks and the yuan climbed on the final trading day of 2020 on signs an economic recovery is on solid footing.

The benchmark CSI 300 Index and the tech-heavy ChiNext gauge were both up at least 1.5% to head for five-year highs. The Chinese currency climbed to as high as 6.5148 a dollar, the strongest since June 2018.

Chinese assets have shown resilience in a year that has seen the outbreak of a virus pandemic and worsening ties between the U.S. and China on issues ranging from tech and trade to human rights and political freedoms in Hong Kong. China on Thursday reported that an official gauge of the manufacturing industry moderated in December, signaling the economy’s rebound is stabilizing.

Sentiment also got a boost as the country’s regulators approved a domestically made vaccine for general use. The Covid-19 shot developed by China National Biotec Group Co., a unit of Sinopharm, has received regulatory approval to go on the market with conditions, according to an official announcement.

— With assistance by Charlie Zhu, and Philip Glamann

CLS Gourmet Recalls Various Meat Products

CLS Gourmet CL Saigon Food Co. is recalling around 128,841 pounds of various meat products that were produced without the benefit of federal inspection, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service or FSIS.

The recall involves around ten raw and fully cooked meat products that were produced and distributed between April 29, 2020 and December 5, 2020. The affected items bear establishment number “Est. 8776” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations across the country.

The agency noted that the issue was discovered after various meat products produced by CL Saigon Food and labeled with the marks of inspection were observed in commerce at a retail market.

FSIS confirmed that the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based company distributed amenable products without the benefit of inspection.

However, there were no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products to date.

Consumers are urged to throw away the affected products or return to the place of purchase.

In similar incidents, Taher Inc. in October recalled about 22,096 pounds of its meat products after the products were found to be produced without the benefit of federal inspection.

Nashville, Tennessee -based Coco’s Italian Market, in late July, recalled around 16,868 pounds of various ready-to-eat frozen meat products for the same reasons.

China gives conditional approval to Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine

  • The vaccine is the first one approved for general use in China.
  • The vaccine is an inactivated, two-dose vaccine from the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, a subsidiary of state-owned conglomerate Sinopharm.
  • The company announced Wednesday that preliminary data from last-stage trials had shown it to be 79.3% effective.

China has given conditional approval to a coronavirus vaccine developed by state-owned Sinopharm.

The vaccine is the first one approved for general use in China.

Chen Shifei, the deputy commissioner of China's National Medical Products Administration, said at a news conference Thursday that the decision had been made the previous night.

The vaccine is an inactivated, two-dose vaccine from the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, a subsidiary of state-owned conglomerate Sinopharm. The company announced Wednesday that preliminary data from last-stage trials had shown it to be 79.3% effective.

Sinopharm is one of at least five Chinese developers that are in a global race to create vaccines for the disease that has killed more than 1.8 million people.

The Beijing Institute vaccine is already under mass production, though officials did not answer questions about current production capacity.

"Production capacity is a dynamic and continuous process," said Mao Junfeng, Vice Director of the Department of Industry of Consumer Products of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

UGI To Buy Mountaintop Energy Holdings For An Enterprise Value Of $540 Mln

UGI Corp (UGI) announced that it has agreed to acquire Mountaintop Energy Holdings LLC for an enterprise value of $540 million, which includes the assumption of approximately $140 million of debt. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of calendar year 2021.

UGI stated that the enterprise value represents approximately 1.4 times projected 2021 rate base

UGI expects to finance the acquisition through debt and / or equity-linked securities and existing liquidity to optimize accretion while maintaining a strong balance sheet. UGI said it does not expect to issue common equity to finance the acquisition.

UGI sees Mountaineer Gas Company transaction to be accretive to adjusted EPS in the first full year of combined operations. This transaction will support UGI’s long-term annual commitments to grow EPS and dividends by 6% – 10% and 4%, respectively.

UGI expects Mountaineer Gas Company acquisition will increase UGI’s regulated utility rate base and customers served by nearly 14% and 30%, respectively.

Homebuyers in U.S. Face Worst Affordability Squeeze in 12 Years

Record-low mortgage rates were supposed to make it easier for homebuyers. Instead, they’ve helped push affordability to a 12-year low.

Buyers in the fourth quarter needed to spend almost 30% of the average wage to afford a typical house, the biggest share for any three-month period since 2008, according to preliminary figures from Attom Data Solutions. Low borrowing costs, now below 3% for a 30-year loan, have spurred a buying frenzy, driving up prices across the country as shoppers compete for a shrinking supply of listings.

Read more: U.S. home prices see biggest gain since 2014

During the pandemic, prices have increased faster than earnings, leaping by double digits in 79% of the 499 counties included in the report. More than half of those counties are now less affordable than their historic averages, Attom said in a report Thursday.

“The future remains wholly uncertain and affordability could swing back into positive territory,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer at Attom. “But, for now, things are going in the wrong direction for buyers.”