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Blockchain to help drive ‘next industrial revolution:’ Federated

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One of Wall Street’s biggest bulls sees blockchain playing a big role as an economic growth driver.

It still may be considered an emerging technology, but Federated Investors portfolio manager Steve Chiavarone is folding the electronic system, which records cryptocurrency transactions, into his stock market forecast.

“This is going to be one of five key technologies — along with automation, robotics, A.I. [artificial intelligence] and the Internet of things that drive this next industrial revolution,” he said Friday on CNBC’s “Trading Nation.”

He’s not letting the growing pains currently gripping the cryptocurrency market affect his bullish view.

Bitcoin, which has been referred to as the FANG stock of the crypto world, has been struggling to break $10,000 — just months after hitting a record price just shy of $20,000 last December.

In fact, Chiavarone sees FANG stocks, which include top tech names Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google [Alphabet], as ultimately reaping benefits from blockchain’s processing power — as well as areas from health care to financials.

“A lot of investors went to bitcoin first because it was the first way to access blockchain,” added Chiavarone. “Look, big banks are investing in this heavily. Bank of America boasted at Davos earlier this year that they’re investing the most.”

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Dr. Fauci says Covid vaccines appear to be less effective against some new strains

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New data shows that the Covid-19 vaccines currently on the market may not be as effective in guarding against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Thursday.

A handful of new strains of the coronavirus have emerged overseas that have given scientists some cause for concern. Some variants that have been identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil appear to be more transmissible than previous strains but not necessarily more deadly.

While it’s no surprise the virus is mutating, researchers are quickly trying to determine what the changes might mean for recently developed lifesaving vaccines and therapeutics against the disease.

Some early findings that were published in the preprint server bioRxiv, which have yet to be peer reviewed, indicate that the variant identified in South Africa can evade the antibodies provided by some coronavirus treatments, and may reduce the efficacy of the current line of available vaccines.

However, even if the drugs are less effective, they will still likely provide enough protection to make the vaccines worth getting, Fauci said. Both vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have proven to be highly effective, creating a “cushion effect” that would allow for some dip in their effectiveness.

A dip in the vaccines’ effectiveness would be “all the more reason why we should be vaccinating as many people as you possibly can.” Mutations occur when the virus spreads and replicates itself, which can be suppressed if enough people are inoculated against the disease to build so-called herd immunity.

“Bottom line: We’re paying very close attention to it. There are alternative plans if we ever have to modify the vaccine. That’s not something that is a very onerous thing, we can do that given the platforms we have,” Fauci said during the White House press briefing.

This is a developing story. Please check back later for updates.

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Democrats file ethics complaint against Cruz, Hawley

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Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, right, and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., attend the Senate Judiciary Committee markup on judicial nominations and the Online Content Policy Modernization Act, in Dirksen Building on Thursday, December 10, 2020.

Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Seven Democratic senators filed a formal complaint Thursday urging the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate GOP Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley’s efforts to overturn the presidential election results.

The complaint comes over two weeks after the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol led by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

“Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley lent legitimacy to President Trump’s false statements about election fraud by announcing that they would object to the certification of electors on January 6,” the senators wrote in a letter to Senate Ethics Committee leaders Chris Coons, D-Del., and James Lankford, R-Okla.

Cruz, a Republican from Texas, signed a written objection to certifying Arizona’s votes toward the beginning of the joint session to count electoral votes on Jan. 6, prompting a debate in both chambers. Then, pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol building and lawmakers evacuated.

After the Capitol was secured and lawmakers resumed the session, Cruz and Hawley along with other Senate Republicans voted against Arizona’s Electoral College results, even as others who had planned to object decided to vote for the certification following the deadly attack.

Hawley, of Missouri, also continued with his previously announced plan to sign a written objection to Pennsylvania’s electoral votes. Cruz and Hawley voted against accepting Pennsylvania’s election results.

“By proceeding with their objections to the electors after the violent attack, Senators Cruz and Hawley lent legitimacy to the mob’s cause and made future violence more likely,” the senators said in the letter.

The letter is signed by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

In the letter, the senators ask Coons and Lankford to investigate whether the actions of Cruz and Hawley constitute “improper conduct” or otherwise violate the Senate code of ethics.

The offices of Cruz, Hawley, Coons and Lankford did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

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IBM earnings Q4 2020

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SVP and Director at IBM Research Arvind Krishna speaks on stage during the 2016 Wired Business Conference in New York on June 16, 2016.

Brian Ach | Getty Images

IBM shares moved 6% lower in extended trading on Wednesday after the company reported fourth-quarter revenue that fell short of analysts’ expectations.

Here’s how IBM performed:

  • Earnings: $2.07 per share, adjusted, vs. $1.79 per share as expected by analysts, according to Refinitiv.
  • Revenue: $20.37 billion, vs. $20.67 billion as expected by analysts, according to Refinitiv.

Revenue fell 6% on an annualized basis, the fourth consecutive quarter of declines, according to a statement. Revenue had not fallen so sharply in five years. The company has sought to go bigger in cloud computing and artificial intelligence under new CEO Arvind Krishna, but revenue declines also rankled his predecessor, Ginni Rometty.

IBM’s Cloud and Cognitive Software segment that includes Red Hat produced $6.84 billion in revenue, down about 5% year over year. That’s lower than the FactSet consensus estimate of $7.18 billion.

The Global Technology Services unit came up with $6.57 billion in revenue, which was down 6% and below the $6.92 billion FactSet consensus.

Global Business Services, which includes consulting, contributed $4.17 billion, down about 3% and more than the $4.08 billion consensus.

Systems revenue of $2.50 billion, from sales of mainframe computers and other hardware, was down by 18% and under the $2.26 billion consensus estimate. The company is comparing against a period when Systems revenue rose from a new mainframe.

The company did not issue formal earnings guidance but did say it expects revenue growth in 2021, along with $11 billion to $12 billion in free cash flow.

The company’s earnings per share fell 66%, the sharpest decline in three years, partly because of a $2.04 billion pre-tax charge for structural actions in the quarter. The hit was less than expected; in October the company had said it would be around $2.3 billion.

The charge relates to the plan IBM announced in October to spin off its Managed Infrastructure Services division, which offers hosting for web sites and web-based software, into a separate public company by the end of 2021. The spin-off amounted to the first major shift for IBM since Krishna replaced Rometty as CEO in April. That division currently sits within Global Technology Services.

Also in the quarter IBM said it had agreed to buy cloud consulting services provider Nordcloud for an undisclosed sum.

Excluding the after-hours move, IBM stock is up about 5% since the start of 2021, while the S&P 500 is up around 3% over the same period.

Executives will discuss the results with analysts on a conference call starting at 5 p.m. Eastern time.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

WATCH: Gary Cohn to join IBM as vice chairman

Nominations are open for the 2021 CNBC Disruptor 50, a list of private start-ups using breakthrough technology to become the next generation of great public companies. Submit by Friday, Feb. 12, at 3 pm EST.

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