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McIlroy leads out Europe in Ryder Cup singles

McIlroy lost all of his matches at Whistling Straits; four-time major champion beaten by Patrick Reed in 2016 and Justin Thomas in 2018 when sent out first in the singles – Watch live on Sunday from 5pm on Sky Sports Ryder Cup.

Last Updated: 26/09/21 3:51am

Rory McIlroy has been sent out first by Padraig Harrington in the Ryder Cup singles

Rory McIlroy has been sent out first by Padraig Harrington in the Ryder Cup singles

Rory McIlroy will lead out Team Europe in the Sunday singles as they look to overturn a record-breaking deficit on the final day of the Ryder Cup.

The four-time major champion was left out of a session for the first time in his Ryder Cup career after losing both matches on Friday, with captain Padraig Harrington showing faith in the Northern Irishman despite also being beaten alongside Ian Poulter in the Saturday fourballs.

McIlroy will be looking to avoid a winless campaign when he faces Xander Schauffele in the top match, the third consecutive Ryder Cup he has been sent out first in the singles, with Europe in need of a fast start as they attempt to produce the biggest Sunday comeback in the tournament’s history.

2014 Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley and Nick Dougherty assess how Team Europe can overturn a six-point deficit in the Sunday singles at Whistling Straits.

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2014 Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley and Nick Dougherty assess how Team Europe can overturn a six-point deficit in the Sunday singles at Whistling Straits.

2014 Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley and Nick Dougherty assess how Team Europe can overturn a six-point deficit in the Sunday singles at Whistling Straits.

Shane Lowry goes out second against Patrick Cantlay, one of six players currently unbeaten in Steve Stricker’s American team, while Jon Rahm – has already won more points in one Ryder Cup than any world No 1 in history, faces rookie Scottie Scheffler.

The US Open champion won 3.5 points over the first two days and formed a 100 per cent record with compatriot Sergio Garcia, leading to comparisons with the famous all-Spanish partnership between the late Seve Ballesteros and 2012 captain Jose Maria Olazabal.

Sergio Garcia paid tribute to Jon Rahm after the Spanish duo defeated Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth in the Ryder Cup fourballs.

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Sergio Garcia paid tribute to Jon Rahm after the Spanish duo defeated Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth in the Ryder Cup fourballs.

Sergio Garcia paid tribute to Jon Rahm after the Spanish duo defeated Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth in the Ryder Cup fourballs.

Garcia takes on Bryson DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland faces fellow debutant Collin Morikawa, while Dustin Johnson – the only player to have won four points over the first two days – plays Paul Casey.

Brooks Koepka has been drawn against Bernd Wiesberger and Ian Poulter – another of the six European players currently without a point – takes on Tony Finau, with Tyrrell Hatton up against Justin Thomas and Lee Westwood playing Harris English.

Live Ryder Cup Golf

September 26, 2021, 5:00pm

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Jordan Spieth goes head to head with Tommy Fleetwood and Daniel Berger will go out in the final match against Matt Fitzpatrick, with Team USA requiring just 3.5 points to win the Ryder Cup.

Singles line-up (all times BST)

1704 Xander Schauffele vs Rory McIlroy

1715 Patrick Cantlay vs Shane Lowry

Shane Lowry says he won't stop believing after he and Tyrrell Hatton defeated Harris English and Tony Finau in the Ryder Cup fourballs.

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Shane Lowry says he won’t stop believing after he and Tyrrell Hatton defeated Harris English and Tony Finau in the Ryder Cup fourballs.

Shane Lowry says he won’t stop believing after he and Tyrrell Hatton defeated Harris English and Tony Finau in the Ryder Cup fourballs.

1726 Scottie Scheffler vs Jon Rahm

1737 Bryson DeChambeau vs Sergio Garcia

1748 Collin Morikawa vs Viktor Hovland

1759 Dustin Johnson vs Paul Case

Live Ryder Cup Golf

September 26, 2021, 5:00pm

Live on

1810 Brooks Koepka vs Bernd Wiesberger

1821 Tony Finau vs Ian Poulter

1832 Justin Thomas vs Tyrrell Hatton

1843 Harris English vs Lee Westwood

1854 Jordan Spieth vs Tommy Fleetwood

1905 Daniel Berger vs Matt Fitzpatrick

Can Europe pull off another historic comeback and retain the Ryder Cup? Watch ‘Live from the Ryder Cup’ from 2pm on Sky Sports’ dedicated Ryder Cup channel on Sunday, ahead of full coverage of the singles from 5pm.

Read more here SkySports | News

Rishi Sunak leads UK economy fightback as workers on payrolls surge by 356,000

Rishi Sunak grilled on National Living Wage

The figures, published by the the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this morning, indicate that the number of UK workers on payrolls rose by 356,000 between May and June. However, the total has dropped by 206,000 since the start of the pandemic.

 

We’re on the right track and pushing for recovery

Mims Davies

Minister for Employment Mims Davies MP said: “In the past year we have supported over 14.5 million people across the country through our Plan for Jobs including through the Kickstart Scheme.

“We know that it’s not been possible to save every job, but we have protected as many as we can, whilst helping new jobseekers through our DWP programmes to secure work.

“There is still work to do as today’s figures show, but importantly we’re on the right track and pushing for recovery – with a sustained rise in the number of people on payrolls, including 135,000 more young people in work this month, and another rise in vacancies on offer as we continue on our roadmap.”

The ONS’s latest monthly bulletin shows that after a period of employment growth and low unemployment, since the start of the pandemic, the employment rate has generally decreased, and the unemployment rate increased.

Rishi Sunak

More than 350,000 Britons were added to payrolls last year, the data shows (Image: GETTY)

Mims Davies

Mims Davies, the DWP Secretary (Image: PA)

However, both have shown signs of recovery since the end of 2020 .

In the latest period, between March to May 2021, there was an increase in the employment rate of 0.1 percentage points, to 74.8 percent, and a decrease in the unemployment rate of 0.2 percentage points, to 4.8 percent.

The economic inactivity rate is up 0.1 percentage points on the previous quarter, to 21.3 percent.

The relaxation of many coronavirus restrictions, total hours worked increased on the quarter, but is still below pre-pandemic levels.

READ MORE: Bullish Macron stakes EU army leadership claim

ONS graph

The latest ONS data (Image: ONS)

The redundancy rate fell on the quarter and has returned to pre-pandemic levels.

There were 862,000 job vacancies in April to June 2021 – 77,500 above its pre-pandemic level in January to March 2020.

The ONS analysis also reveals the growth in average total pay (including bonuses) was 7.3 percent and regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 6.6 percent among employees for March to May 2021.

However, annual growth in average employee pay is still being affected by temporary factors whcih have inflated the increase in the headline growth rate.

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Jonathan Reynolds

Shadow DWP Secretary Jonathan Reynolds (Image: GETTY)

Young people bar work

Young people were badly hit by a scarcity of work at the start of the pandemic said Darren Morgan (Image: GETTY)

All but one industry saw quarterly increases in their number of vacancies. In June 2021, the experimental monthly vacancies data, and the experimental Adzuna online vacancies data both continued to surpass pre-pandemic levels.

The increase in payrolled workers was the biggest since those records began in 2014.

Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the Office for National Statistics, said: “The labour market is continuing to recover, with the number of employees on payroll up again strongly in June.

“However it is still over 200,000 down on pre-pandemic levels, while a large number of workers remain on furlough.”

Rule changes July 19

Rule changes on July 19 (Image: Express)

He added: “The number of job vacancies continued to rise very strongly.

“The biggest sector driving this was hospitality, followed by wholesaling and retailing.

“As the economy gradually reopened, the unemployment rate fell in March to May.

“This was especially marked for younger people, who had been hardest hit by earlier lockdowns.”

Coronavirus cases rising

The areas of the UK where COVID-19 cases are rising (Image: Express)

Responding the figures, Jonathan Reynolds MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, struck a more downbeat tone, saying: “The Government’s failure to secure the recovery has seen record long term unemployment.

“Nearly half a million people have been unemployed for a year yet the Restart jobs scheme has been live for just three days.”

He added: “Labour has a plan to buy, make and sell more in Britain so we can create the jobs of the future, nurture the skills we need and get our economy firing on all cylinders.

“Labour’s jobs promise would guarantee a job or training opportunity for any young person away from work or education for six months, and ensure no one is away from work for more than a year.”

(More to follow)

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: UK Feed

Kane leads England past Ukraine and into Euro 2020 semi-finals

England’s 4-0 victory over Ukraine sets up a semi-final match against Denmark on Wednesday at Wembley Stadium.

Harry Kane scored twice as a buoyant England cruised through to the semi-finals of Euro 2020 with a one-sided 4-0 win over Ukraine in Rome on Saturday.

Kane ended a worrying international scoring drought by netting in the 2-0 last-16 defeat of Germany in midweek and he put England ahead inside four minutes on a sweaty evening in the Italian capital.

Gareth Southgate’s side then put this quarter-final tie out of sight with two more goals early in the second half, one from Harry Maguire before Kane netted again.

Substitute Jordan Henderson got the fourth, and as Denmark lie in wait in the Wembley semi-final on Wednesday England will be confident of going on to reach a first ever European Championship final and even now claiming a first major international title since 1966.

The draw here was kind for them, with Ukraine surely as weak an opponent as they could hope to face in a quarter-final, a stage at which they have lost to the likes of Italy and Portugal in recent European Championships.

However the statistics are impressive, with England having come through five games at this tournament all without conceding a goal.

England’s Harry Kane scores their first goal [Alberto Pizzoli/Pool via Reuters]

Some of their play in wide areas was outstanding, with Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho – making his first start at the Euro – too hot for Ukraine to handle.

Kane, their captain, had gone close to eight hours without finding the net for his country but his opener here was his second in just eight minutes following the late strike that secured victory over Germany.

Regardless of the opposition, their display at the Stadio Olimpico was a step-up in class in the final third to previous games at the Euro and they will be favourites at home against a Danish side who played their own quarter-final against the Czech Republic on Saturday in distant Baku.

Hat-trick of headers

This will be the only match England play away from home in the competition and it marked quite a difference to their defeat of the Germans, which was watched by more than 40,000 supporters at Wembley, where coronavirus restrictions were eased.

With Italy currently imposing a five-day quarantine on all arrivals from the United Kingdom, the number of England fans in Rome was limited to those already based in the European Union although they still made themselves heard in the crowd of under 12,000.

They had plenty to celebrate, unlike their Ukrainian counterparts, as Andriy Shevchenko’s team came up short in their bid to take the country to a first ever major tournament semi-final.

They scraped out of their group and then edged 10-man Sweden in extra time in the last 16, and their chances of shocking England looked dead and buried when they fell behind early on.

Sterling, who terrorised the Ukraine defence down the left, played in Kane who poked the ball past Georgiy Bushchan.

England fans celebrate in Trafalgar Square after the match [Henry Nicholls/Reuters]

Ukraine’s giant striker Roman Yaremchuk forced a save from Jordan Pickford and a Declan Rice piledriver was kept out by Bushchan, with England looking comfortable.

However Ukraine were a different proposition after injured defender Serhiy Kryvtsov was replaced by Dynamo Kiev winger Viktor Tsygankov in the 36th minute.

They finished the first half strongly and more pessimistic England fans may have spent the interval reliving their exit from Euro 2016, when they lost to Iceland in the last 16 despite also having opened the scoring in the fourth minute.

They need not have worried.

England scored again less than a minute after the restart when a foul on Kane allowed Luke Shaw to deliver a free-kick from the left for Maguire to head in.

Four minutes after that Sterling supplied the overlapping Shaw and he crossed for a rejuvenated Kane to head home.

The Tottenham star nearly had his hat-trick, a stinging volley producing a fine save from Bushchan.

From Mason Mount’s resulting corner came the fourth goal, another header, this time from Henderson, the first of five substitutes sent on by Southgate who would have been thinking about the semi-final long before this quarter-final was officially over.

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Styrian Grand Prix LIVE: Max Verstappen leads with Lewis Hamilton second in Austria

Lewis Hamilton’s ‘natural ability is fantastic’ says Button

Styrian Grand Prix: Summary

  • Max Verstappen starts on pole, with Hamilton second
  • Three-place grid penalty relegates Valtteri Bottas from second to fifth
  • Lando Norris’ strong qualifying puts him on Row 2
  • Verstappen leads Drivers’ Championship by 12 points from Hamilton
  • Red Bull leads Constructors’ Championship by 37 points from Mercedes

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton

Max Verstappen will start from pole position at the Styrian Grand Prix (Image: GETTY)

Styrian Grand Prix: Live Race Updates

Lap 26: Big moment for Lewis Hamilton, who very nearly lost the back end of his Mercedes as he exited Turn 5. It shows just how hard the seven-time world champ is pushing to keep pace with Verstappen, who is now five seconds up the road. It’s looking like Red Bull have things well under control at this stage in proceedings. But, don’t forget, it all looked comfortable for Verstappen in Baku… until it wasn’t.

Lap 20: Both Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton have been on the radio complaining about handling, but it’s the Red Bull man who holds the advantage after 20 laps of this 71-lap Grand Prix. He leads by four and a half seconds over the world champion, with the window for pit stops about to open. Red Bull have had the edge in strategy and pit work in recent races, but Mercedes need something special here to bring Hamilton into striking distance. The next few laps could be fascinating…

Running order after 20 laps: 

  1. Verstappen
  2. Hamilton
  3. Perez
  4. Bottas
  5. Norris
  6. Stroll
  7. Alonso
  8. Russell
  9. Tsunoda
  10. Sainz

Lap 13: Norris has been passed twice. First, Sergio Perez blew past him with ease, then Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas followed suit. But any worries about the McLaren man’s car appear unfounded at this point. It seems he’s just trying to run a sensible early pace to get as much out of his tyres as possible and potentially go long in his first stint. Up front, Verstappen is holding his lead, with the Red Bull man around 2.8 seconds clear of Hamilton, who is holding steady in second.

Lap 8: Lando Norris is reporting that there’s a lot of debris on the track, and has asked his team to keep an eye on his tyre pressures to make sure he hasn’t picked up a puncture. The opening lap shenanigans in the midfield have caused some shards of wing to be left on the track. Norris’ team-mate Daniel Ricciardo suffered a loss of power and has dropped down the pack. 

Lap 4: Lewis Hamilton reported that “something heavy” hit his car. Could that have been a piece of Verstappen’s car? Or perhaps debris from the opening lap? Watch this space. Charles Leclerc faces a mountainous task in Austria after damaging his front wing on the first lap. He’s going to have to battle his way through the field. He’s pitted and changed his wing and is now languishing back in 18th.

Lap 1: Verstappen gets away cleanly and leads, with Hamilton slotting into second. Sergio Perez has started superbly and squeezed past Lando Norris, who later retook the Red Bull to secure third. Pierre Gasly’s race is likely, however, after suffered a puncture and suspension damage to his rear-left. 

1:55pm: We’re just five minutes from the start, and things could get VERY interesting on the first lap. Not only do we have the battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who will duel it out for the apex in Turn 1, we also have the prospect of a racy Lando Norris looking to pull a fast one from third on the grid.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1, even his face mask couldn’t hide Lando’s grin when he was asked about going for it and taking the fight to the front two in the first few corners. Make no mistake, the McLaren man is going to try to throw the cat among the pigeons from the start. 

The cars are just about ready to embark on their warm-up lap, then it’ll be lights out in Austria!

Styrian Grand Prix: Starting Grid

1. Max Verstappen  |  2. Lewis Hamilton

3. Lando Norris  |  4. Sergio Perez

5. Valtteri Bottas*  |  6. Pierre Gasly

7. Charles Leclerc  |  8. Fernando Alonso

9. Lance Stroll  |  10. George Russell

11. Yuki Tsunoda**  |  12. Carlos Sainz

13. Daniel Ricciardo  |  14. Sebastian Vettel

15. Antonio Giovinazzi  |  16. Nicholas Latifi

17. Esteban Ocon  |  18. Kimi Raikkonen

19. Mick Schumacher  |  20. Nikita Mazepin

*Bottas penalised three grid places for “dangerous driving” during Friday’s free practice.
**Tsunoda penalised three grid places for blocking during Saturday’s qualifying session.

The gripping title fight between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton continues in Austria, with Red Bull looking strong at their home circuit this weekend.

Verstappen took pole position in Saturday’s qualifying session, with Hamilton only good enough for third-quickest.

But the Brit received an unexpected bonus with the three-place grid penalty meted out to teammate Valtteri Bottas, who span in the pit lane during free practice earlier in the weekend.

It meant the Finn was demoted from second on the grid to fifth, as Hamilton was bumped up from Row 2 to the front row, alongside title rival Verstappen.

It means the scene is perfectly set for a thrilling race at the short, technical Red Bull Ring, where passing opportunities are available around the relatively short lap in Austria.

The race gets underway at 2:00pm, and we’ll bring you regular updates throughout the Grand Prix. Will there be another twist in the title race, or can Red Bull and Verstappen extend their lead over Hamilton and Mercedes in the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships, respectively? We’ll find out this afternoon!

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Royal Ascot 2021: Guests stun in bold hats for day four – giant flower hat leads

Royal Ascot guests showed up with umbrellas at the track today with some matching their hats to them. The five-day event has seen thousands of guests walk through its doors as lockdown restrictions continue to ease.

Another memorable piece of headwear was worn by a guest carrying a matching umbrella.

The black headwear sat on the guest’s head on a slight slant with mesh fabric creating the design of the hat.

Black wiring sat on top of the hat in oval shapes, creating an eye catching look.

One racegoer wore a bright pink boater hat with pieces of mesh fabric coming out from either side of the hat to create a beautiful shape.

It matched the umbrella and dress perfectly.

Royal Family members have also made several appearances over the course of the event.

Yesterday, Sophie, Countess of Wessex stunned fans in a palm print green dress with nude accessories.

It featured a pleated skirt, fitted bodice and the royal added a belt to cinch in her waist.

Zara Tindall also made an appearance for Ladies Day wearing a gorgeous floral dress and a unique dusty pink fascinator.

Her dress had long sleeves and a pleated skirt, reaching just above her knee.

She added a nude pair of block heels to complete the look along with a matching coloured clutch bag.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Life and Style Feed
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'Appalling' Tory MP leads fury as Chris Whitty is harassed in street by 'vile' anti-vaxxer

The video, which was shared online by the person who confronted the Chief Medical Officer for England in Oxford, saw Prof Whitty walking down a street as he was being followed and bombarded with questions.

The person filming – who was identified as Geza Tarjanyi – asked: “Hello Chris. Lying to the public again? You don’t represent us, you don’t represent the public.

“Oxford-AstraZeneca right in the centre – what a surprise you’re here.

“Come speak to us Chris, come speak to the public – you’re the expert.”

He then questioned whether Bill Gates is “funding this”.

Prof Whitty refused to reply to his comments and is seen stopping beside a police van to ask if the officers can stop the man following him.

After the video was shared online, many were quick to defend Prof Whitty, with Tory MP Tom Hunt condemning the sick attack.

Speaking to Express.co.uk Mr Hunt said: “I condemn it.

“Clearly any fair-minded person will utterly condemn this sort of harassment.

READ MORE: ‘Never had a day’s fun!’ Chris Whitty slammed on pub calorie count

One person wrote: “This is appalling!

“Not good at all, Chris is just doing his job.”

Someone else simply said: “Not right at all!”

Another person said: “Rather listen to the experts than the conspiracy theorists who get their info from Facebook.”

A third social media user said: “No-one should be harassed in public like that, regardless of your thoughts on his actions during this pandemic.”

Someone else added: “Poor bloke just doing his best.

“It’s his job. Feel for him.”

Another Twitter user said it was “very disturbing”.

A sixth person wrote: “The lack of respect the public has for our scientists is disgusting.

“Reminder that over the Christmas period, Whitty volunteered to treat covid patients, whilst advising the government.

“They are simply doing their jobs, advising the Government.

“If you have an issue, take it up with the Government.”

Even those critical of Professor Whitty and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic lept to his defence.

One person wrote: “I don’t like what he’s done to this country either, but this is vile.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

UFO sighting over Florida leads to underwater alien base claims

Beachgoers in Florida were stunned to see what appeared to be a UFO travelling through the skies. The object in question looks as if it is perfectly spherical and pitch black. It hovers in a straight line, barely moving off course along the horizon.

A witness statement accompanying a video uploaded to UFO investigation network MUFON claimed the object suddenly disappeared.

The statement said: “Object flew west to east and disappeared about 500 feet above the ocean.

“Object suddenly appeared flew by for a couple of minutes and then disappeared.”

Prominent alien hunter Scott C Waring Waring caught uploaded it to his blog, UFO Sightings Daily.

Mr Waring claimed UFOs have the ability to travel to sub-ocean bases.

He did not offer any explanation as to how, however.

The conspiracy theorist wrote: “The clip is 1 min and 12 seconds and shows a craft tilting slightly and seems to be a UFO in a thick almost pentagon shaped craft.

“The object was seen during sunset and flew over the ocean and suddenly disappeared from sight.

READ MORE:UFOs ‘are real!’ insists expert ahead of US intelligence report

While there is no proof that UFOs are here, the sightings and claims from conspiracy theorists can lead to bigger questions.

Chris Impey, university distinguished professor of astronomy at University of Arizona, wrote for The Conversation: “While UFOs continue to swirl in the popular culture, scientists are trying to answer the big question that is raised by UFOs: Are we alone?

“Astronomers have discovered over 4,000 exoplanets, or planets orbiting other stars, a number that doubles every two years.

“Some of these exoplanets are considered habitable since they are close to the Earth’s mass and at the right distance from their stars to have water on their surfaces.

“The nearest of these habitable planets are less than 20 light years away, in our cosmic ‘back yard’.

“Extrapolating from these results leads to a projection of 300 million habitable worlds in our galaxy.

“Each of these Earth-like planets is a potential biological experiment, and there have been billions of years since they formed for life to develop and for intelligence and technology to emerge. Astronomers are very confident there is life beyond the Earth.

“As astronomer and ace exoplanet-hunter Geoff Marcy, puts it, ‘The universe is apparently bulging at the seams with the ingredients of biology’.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Weird Feed

Cardano leads tepid crypto market recovery ahead of Memorial Day

Cardano’s ADA cryptocurrency was back in the spotlight Sunday, leading a tepid market recovery following news that the developer network was inching closer to launching smart contracts. 

Market update

The combined value of all cryptocurrencies rose 4.4% on Sunday to $ 1.6 trillion, according to data from Coingecko. Among the majors, it was Cardano’s ADA leading the rally with a 17% gain. ADA peaked at $ 1.70, according to TradingView, and was last seen hovering just north of $ 1.63.

At current values, Cardano was the fourth-largest cryptocurrency with a total market capitalization of $ 52.9 billion.

ADA posted a strong rebound on Sunday after languishing for much of last week. Source: TradingView.

Every cryptocurrency in the top-20 reported gains on Sunday. Bitcoin (BTC) price rose 3.5% to $ 35,833, Ether (ETH) added 4.3% to $ 2,431 and Binance Coin (BNB) climbed 6% to $ 327.

Despite the modest rally, market sentiment remains tilted to the downside this weekend, with investors continuing to speculate about whether Bitcoin has actually bottomed out. The Crypto Fear & Greed Index has fallen to 10, on a scale of 1-100 where lower scores are associated with “extreme fear.”

What’s driving ADA?

The presence of oversold conditions following the latest market correction appears to have worked in ADA’s favor on Sunday. The cryptocurrency briefly penetrated the oversold indicator on the hourly Relative Strength Index Saturday before rebounding sharply over the next 24 hours.

Prior to the May 19 crypto market flash crash, ADA was among the top-performing digital assets. It peaked at $ 2.46 on May 16 before unwinding 55% over the next week. Looking beyond the immediate shift in market sentiment, ADA fundamentals remain intact.

On a fundamental note, ADA supporters are celebrating the launch of the Alonzo smart contract testnet by Cardano’s development team Input Output Hong Kong, or IOHK. As Cointelegraph recently reported, IOHK was eyeing a gradual deployment of Alonzo’s testnet in May and June. Early adopters will have the opportunity to test Alonzo Blue, the first alpha testnet, over the next month.

As IOHK explained:

The ‘Alonzo’ hard fork will bring exciting and highly-anticipated new capabilities to Cardano through the integration of Plutus scripts onto the blockchain. These will allow for the implementation of smart contracts in Cardano, enabling the deployment of a wide range of new DeFi applications for the first time.

Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson recently indicated in a YouTube video that attention will shift to solving the scalability issue once the Alonzo rollout is complete.