Tag Archives: blazing

California battles wildfire as blazing heat hits western US

‘Record-breaking heat’ is expected to affect much of the west and southwest US over the weekend, weather centre warns.

Firefighters battled a surging wildfire in Northern California under blazing temperatures as another heat wave hits the Western United States this weekend, prompting an excessive heat warning for inland and desert areas.

California’s Death Valley National Park, about 177km (110 miles) west of Las Vegas in the neighbouring state of Nevada, registered a high of 54 Celsius (130 Fahrenheit) on Friday and was expected to reach the same temperature on Saturday.

If verified, the temperature reading would be the hottest high recorded there since July 1913, when the same Furnace Creek desert area hit 57C (134F), considered the highest reliably measured temperature on earth.

The Beckwourth Complex – two lightning-caused fires burning 72km (45 miles) north of Lake Tahoe – showed no sign of slowing its rush northeast from the Sierra Nevada forest region after doubling in size between Friday and Saturday.

Local newspaper The Mercury News reported that about 1,300 personnel were deployed on Saturday to stop the flames from reaching populated areas near the blaze, while some evacuations had been ordered.

Smoke envelops trees as the Sugar Fire, part of the Beckwourth Complex Fire, burns in Doyle, California, on Friday [Noah Berger/AP Photo]

The National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Prediction Center said on Twitter on Friday morning that “record-breaking heat” was expected to affect “much of the West and Southwest” during the weekend.

“Over 31 million people are currently under an Excessive Heat Warning or Heat Advisory. Highs well into the triple digits could threaten Las Vegas’ all-time high temperature record of 117F,” the centre said.

California’s northern mountain areas already have seen several large fires that have destroyed more than a dozen homes.

Although there are no confirmed reports of building damage, the fire prompted evacuation orders or warnings for roughly 2,800 people along with the closure of nearly 518 square kilometres (200 square miles) of Plumas National Forest.

The blazes come just weeks after the northwestern US and Canada’s west coast were hit by record temperatures late last month, prompting authorities in both countries to open cooling centres and urge residents to stay cool indoors.

The heat wave contributed to hundreds of deaths in the province of British Columbia alone, officials said.

Experts have said climate change is fuelling more extreme weather events, such as wildfires and heat waves – and some have urged US President Joe Biden to take up an ambitious, long-term strategy to reduce the risk of devastating wildfires.

The weekend’s potentially record temperatures on the US west coast come after the hottest June in 127 years of record-keeping, according to the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA).

Eight states recorded their hottest June on record this year, while another six logged their second-hottest, the NOAA said.

Back in California, on Friday hot rising air formed a gigantic, smoky pyrocumulus cloud that reached thousands of feet high and created its own lightning, fire information officer Lisa Cox said.

Spot fires caused by embers leapt up to 1.6 kilometres ahead of the northeastern flank – too far for firefighters to safely battle – and winds funnelled the fire up draws and canyons full of dry fuel, where “it can actually pick up speed”, Cox said.

US Forest Service firefighters monitor the Sugar Fire burning in Plumas National Forest, California, on July 9 [Noah Berger/AP Photo]

Firefighters usually take advantage of cooler, more humid nights to advance on a fire, Cox said, but the heat and low humidity never let up.

The air was so dry that some of the water dropped by aircraft evaporated before reaching the ground, she added. “We’re expecting more of the same the day after and the day after and the day after,” Cox said.

The NWS’s Weather Prediction Center also said on Saturday that even if the temperatures do not break records, “the widespread, oppressive, and long-lasting heat remains a threat”.

Susanna Reid and Piers Morgan’s ‘blazing row’ behind-the-scenes as he admits faking smiles

Addressing his swift exit, Susanna said as part of a lengthy statement on air: “Piers and I have disagreed on many things, and that dynamic was one of the things that viewers loved about the programme.

“He is, without doubt, an outspoken, challenging, opinionated, disruptive broadcaster. He has many critics and he has many fans.

“You all know that I disagreed with him about Meghan’s interview, he himself clarified his comments about her mental health on the show yesterday.

“There are many voices on GMB and everyone has their say. But now Piers has decided to leave the programme. Some of you may cheer and others will boo.”

Author: Samantha Masters
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Celebrity News

After blazing U.S. stock rally, some warn of tougher market ahead

Author Reuters
This post originally appeared on Stock Market News

After blazing U.S. stock rally, some warn of tougher market ahead© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Wall St. street sign is seen near the NYSE in New YorkNYSE in New York

By Lewis Krauskopf and Saqib Iqbal Ahmed

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Some of Wall Street’s biggest names are predicting a pause in a rally that has taken the to fresh records this year, leaving investors trying to determine whether to lock in some of the breathtaking gains or stay the course.

Among the most recent has been Goldman Sachs (NYSE:), whose analysts on Wednesday said an expected second-quarter peak in U.S. growth could be tied to weaker stock returns. Morgan Stanley (NYSE:) earlier this week warned stocks would soon face headwinds. Deutsche Bank (DE:) this month called for a pullback of as much as 10% in the S&P 500 as growth decelerates, and BofA Global Research backed a year-end target for the index about 8% below current levels.

A comparatively long period without a serious drop in stocks has also made some investors uneasy. The S&P 500 has declined at least 5% every 177 calendar days, according to Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA. The latest market advance has lasted 211 days without such a drop.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see some kind of pullback for no particular reason other than people start to think maybe this is a little bit ahead of itself,” said Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Dakota Wealth.

The flurry of warnings present a conundrum for some investors. While many would like to protect profits from the market’s 85% run since last year’s pandemic low, pullbacks over the past year have been difficult to time and followed by sharp rebounds, bolstering the case for holding on and buying more when stocks dip.

The S&P’s two significant declines since March 2020 have averaged a drop of around 8%, lasting 12 days on the way down and taking 45 days to regain lost ground, according to Stovall. In both cases, the market went on to new highs weeks later, a pattern some have attributed to unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus buoying investor confidence.

“Since the bear market of March of last year, buying dips has been handsomely rewarded,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab (NYSE:).

Since the lows of the Great Financial Crisis, the index has climbed 511%, despite five drops of 10% or more and the 34% fall last March, offering investors another argument for buying and holding.

Nevertheless, some are bracing for potential turbulence, reflecting concerns ranging from rising COVID-19 cases, and worries that most of the economic benefits from massive fiscal stimulus have already been priced in. On Thursday, sources said the White House will propose nearly doubling capital gains taxes for the wealthy.

Stocks were on track for a decline this week but the S&P 500 is still up 10% in 2021.

In options markets, the one-month moving average of open puts to open calls, a measure of sentiment, is the most bearish in about a year, indicating demand for protection against a decline in stocks.

Options data also show a drop in demand for upside positioning. The S&P’s two-month call skew, an options-based measure of investors’ demand for upside, has fallen sharply since early April.

“Investors are potentially seeing a lack of catalysts for another leg higher,” Susquehanna International Group’s Chris Murphy said in a recent note.

Next week, investors will be keeping a close eye on the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting, as well as a speech by U.S. President Joe Biden to Congress and earnings from companies such as Apple Inc (NASDAQ:) and Google-parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:) Inc.

One worry is the comparatively rich valuation of stocks, with the S&P 500 trading at 22.3 times forward earnings estimates, compared to a historic average of 15.4 times, according to Refinitiv Datastream.

“The market is expensive, so we have been looking for stocks that still seem to have upside,” said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia.

His firm sold some holdings in tech-related stocks such as Apple and Amazon (NASDAQ:) Inc in recent weeks, and bought shares of Prudential Financial (NYSE:), energy company Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE:) and homebuilder Green Brick Partners (NASDAQ:).

For a graphic on Ripe for a reversal?


Still, the market has outperformed analysts’ projections before. A Reuters poll of strategists from May 2020 forecast the S&P 500 ending the year with a marginal decline from that point. Instead, the index went on to rally about 25%. A February 2019 poll projected a 3.8% S&P 500 rise for the rest of that year, when it ended up rising some 15% more.

Even with the market’s run, “you actually can find companies that are not overly expensive right now,” said Scott Schermerhorn, chief investment officer at Granite Investment Advisors.

Sitting in cash, “you are going to make nothing,” he said.