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Kia unveils 2022 Carnival as new SUV-inspired minivan with VIP seating

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Kia Motors is replacing its Sedona minivan with a new SUV-inspired model called the Carnival beginning in the second quarter of this year.

The 2022 Carnival “multi-purpose vehicle,” also known as a minivan, features a boxy exterior, large front grille and an overall design that looks more bold and rugged than the outgoing model. It features new front and rear signature lighting as well as Kia’s new logo, which was announced earlier this year.

The vehicle, which was unveiled Tuesday, features a host of new safety features as well as new sliding configurations for the second-row seating and an available “VIP Lounge Seating” with power controls and leg extensions much like a traditional reclining chair.

 “The Kia Carnival is here to disrupt a staid segment and proves once again what is possible when conventions are shattered,” Kia Motors North America CEO Sean Yoon said in a release.

The 2022 Kia Carnival has available heated and ventilated second-row “VIP Lounge Seating” with power controls, wing-out headrests and leg extensions.

Kia

The drastic design change is the latest for the minivan segment as automakers attempt to compete against crossovers and SUVs — segments customers have been flocking to for their space, capability and more rugged persona.

After decades of growth and minivans accounting for about 8% of the U.S. light-duty vehicle market, sales in the mid-1990s to 2000, sales have nose-dived to less than 400,000 units in recent years. Much of the segment’s decline is attributed to the rise of crossovers and SUVs as well as a stigma of the vehicles being uncool and for “soccer moms.”

Sales of the Sedona declined about 70% between 2016 and 2020 to only 13,190 vehicles sold in the U.S.

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What’s weighing the stock down?

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Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk unveils a new all-wheel-drive version of the Model S car in Hawthorne, California October 9, 2014.

Lucy Nicholson | Reuters

Shares in Tesla were down as much as 8% Friday morning. They’ve since recovered to finish down less than 4% as markets showed a dramatic bounceback late on Friday, but the stock has still lost more than 15% of its value the year, and finished below $600 for the first time since Dec. 4.

Here are some of the biggest factors weighing down the cult stock, and knocking the world’s wealthiest crown off Elon Musk‘s head — the CEO owns about 22% of Tesla shares.

Fed fears

On Thursday, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said that “upward pressure on prices” and “transitory increases in inflation” might be coming to the U.S. as the economy reopens following a year of Covid restrictions that hit businesses across the board.

The market is now worried that interest rates will climb, and the feds won’t take aggressive policy actions or even be able to control it. Bond yields are surging.

This is causing a broader correction in tech stocks, which are valued based on the presumption of heavy growth in future cash flows. As inflation goes up, the value of those future cash flows declines. As CNBC previously reported, the Nasdaq 100 list of the largest 100 non-financial stocks on the exchange, is down about 8% from historic highs reached three weeks ago.

This is affecting most tech giants. For instance, Apple dropped from approximately $129 to $121 year-to-date, and Netflix has dropped from around $523 to $516. But Tesla’s drop is more precipitous, so far.

Rivian’s R1T pickup

Rivian

Bulls acknowledge competition

Some of Tesla’s biggest and most vocal backers have cashed out a chunk of their shares, and begun to acknowledge the onslaught of electric vehicle competition as a real challenge to Tesla at long last.

For example, Ron Baron sold 1.7 million Tesla shares and invested in two of the company’s biggest potential rivals, GM-owned Cruise and Amazon-backed Rivian, while paradoxically saying he expects Tesla shares to rise, eventually, to $2,000.

Former Tesla board member Steve Westly said on CNBC’s Power Lunch this week that while he remains bullish, “Tesla is not going to be king of the hill in electric forever.” He added, “They’re getting competition from all sectors. They’re going to have to double down to compete.”

Indeed, automakers including Ford and Volkswagen have seen early success with sales of their electric vehicles including the Mach E and ID.3 up against Tesla models in the US and Europe.

Meanwhile, forthcoming EV’s, including the all electric version of Ford’s F-150, the Lucid Air, Rivian’s electric SUVs and trucks, and others are stirring excitement. Just yesterday, Porsche showed off the production version of its Taycan Cross Turismo, and said it would start sales in the US this summer. It’s a $90,000 EV wagon, a more affordable, practical take on Porsche’s performance EV, the Taycan.

A close up image of a CPU socket and motherboard laying on the table.

Narumon Bowonkitwanchai | Moment | Getty Images

Part shortages

Semiconductor shortages have caused most auto makers to temporarily close some lines at their factories, and Tesla is no exception.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk acknowledged the company’s Fremont, California, plant shut down temporarily due to “parts shortages” in a tweet on February 25. He said it was shut down for just two days, but did not make clear whether partial shut-downs on some lines would continue.

Tesla had previously warned, in its Q4 2020 earnings call and filing, that chip shortages could hamper their vehicle production goals in the first half of 2021.

CFO Zachary Kirkhorn said on the call with investors, that for the first quarter of 2021:

“[Model] S and X production will be low due to the transition to the newly re-architected products. Additionally, we are working extremely hard to manage through the global semiconductor shortage as well as port capacity which may have a temporary impact.”

If Tesla does not produce a high volume of vehicles, due to parts shortages or lag times shipping parts from overseas to its U.S. plants, the company would not generate as many regulatory credits that it wants to. Tesla sells these environmental credits to other automakers, which is how it has historically achieved profitability.

The freight traffic center in the Gruenheide region east of Berlin. Tesla plans to build its new European Gigafactory in a huge forest nearby.

Patrick Pleul | picture alliance via Getty Images

Steeper expenses

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver supports new league that pays high schoolers $100,000

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National Basketball Association commissioner Adam Silver is supportive of the new high school league that pays young players at least $100,000.

Silver spoke to media this weekend to provide his annual update on the NBA, a day before it hosts the 2021 All-Star game in Atlanta. The NBA boss discussed media company Overtime’s new basketball league (Overtime Elite) for 16-18-year-olds.

“I think it’s generally good for the community to have optionality, especially when very solid people, which appears to be the case in [OTE], are backing it and behind it,” Silver said. “That’s one thing we will pay a lot of attention to because those players are potentially the future of our league.”

On Thursday, OTE announced it would be starting in September and pay up to 30 players at least $100,000 if they decide to join. The league is backed by Overtime investors including NBA stars Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, and venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Silver said he has “no opposition to paying young people” on a different path to becoming pro and skipping the NCAA.

An Overtime logo on a basketball court

Source: Overtime

“We created team Ignite in the G League as an opportunity for players who choose not to go to college and want to become professionals,” Silver said. “They can go directly into the G League and be well compensated.”

The NBA requires a player to be age 19 before entering the league. The Ignite program was created for individuals who decide to skip college but are not yet eligible. Ignite players are paid roughly $200,000 to $500,000 while they await eligibility. Silver said the NBA could change its rule around eligibility in the next collective bargaining agreement, but for now, the NBA will monitor OTE.

“It’s good for the game,” Silver said. “It’s more focus on the game, especially with all that’s happening right now in digital media; social media, new streaming services. There’s definitely interest in this content, so we’re paying attention to that.”

Back to regular business in the fall

On the call, Silver also mentioned the NBA anticipates a return to its regular schedule for the 2021-22 season with full arenas. The NBA reduced its schedule to 72 games this season due to Covid-19 impacts but wants to return to an 82-game season.

“The plan remains to try to resume our season as close to normal as possible next year,” Silver said, adding he’s “fairly optimistic” the league will start in October. “If vaccines continue on the pace they are and continue to be as effective as they have been against the virus and its variants, we’re hopeful that we’ll have relatively full arenas next season as well.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

Stacy Revere | Getty Images

Asked by CNBC to provide a financial update on the NBA, which nearly a year ago suspended games due to the pandemic, Silver was optimistic. He said the league is “fortunate to be working under these circumstances” though its missing 40% of its revenue with fans still limited.

“The long-term health of the league is very solid,” Silver said. “Between last year and this year, we’re looking at considerable losses. I generally don’t talk about that publicly because teams are largely privately held, and we’re not suggesting that’s anybody else’s issue but ours.

“But last season and this season has required a significant investment on the part of the team owners – they accept that,” Silver continued. “Players will end up taking a reduction in salary this season because they are partners with teams and the league on revenue.”

The NBA missed revenue projections by $1.5 billion due to Covid-19, according to the Associated Press. But by resuming its games last July and concluding its 2020-21 campaign, it fought off massive losses. Should it resume normal operations for 2021-22, Silver said all NBA players would not require vaccinations.

“I don’t see every player needing to get vaccinated as an impediment to fans returning to the arena,” Silver said. “No more do I think the fact that every fan won’t be vaccinated is an impediment to fans coming back in the arena.”

Men walk past a poster at an NBA exhibition in Beijing, China October 8, 2019.

Jason Lee | Reuters

NBA-China business update

Asked about the NBA’s affairs in China, Silver suggested its business as usual.

“Our business has continued there,” Silver said. “We have hundreds of millions of fans in China, and we see it as our business to serve those fans.”

NBA team executive Daryl Morey’s 2019 Twitter comments supporting Hong Kong protesters started the rift with China. Morey’s action led to China suspending NBA games on CCTV, and streaming platform Tencent also restricted NBA content. The media companies returned NBA games during the Finals.

During the 2020 All-Star game, Silver initially suggested the feud could result in a $400 million loss. The NBA valued its business in China at over $5 billion following a $1.5 billion media rights agreement with Tencent in 2019.

“Our values remain the same, and our business continues,” Silver said. “And it’s largely the business of exporting American basketball and the culture that comes with it to China.”

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U.S. coronavirus relief package, currency moves, oil

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Vehicles are reflected in a window as electronic boards display stock information at the Australian Securities Exchange, operated by ASX.

Lisa Maree | Bloomberg | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets were set to trade higher Monday as investors reacted to last week’s U.S. jobs report that trounced expectations and fueled hopes for a faster economic recovery.

Australian shares opened in the green. The benchmark ASX 200 climbed 1.73% in early trade as all sectors traded higher, with the heavily-weighted financials subindex adding 1.83%. Major banking and mining stocks rose: Shares of Commonwealth Bank jumped 1.86% while Rio Tinto added 2.54%, Fortescue was up by 2.49% and BHP gained 2.57%.

Nikkei futures pointed to opening gains in Japan.

Monday’s session in Asia-Pacific is set to follow a wild day in U.S. markets last Friday, where stocks roared back from a sharp sell-off as a stronger-than-expected nonfarm payrolls report improved optimism for a quicker economic recovery.

“Investors remain wary of the impact that the massive Biden fiscal experiment will have on longer-term interest rates, making for a fragile equity environment,” analysts at ANZ Research said in a morning note on Monday. “That defensiveness may prevail into the mid-March (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting.”

U.S. relief package

The U.S. Senate passed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package over the weekend that includes direct payments of up to $1,400 to most Americans. The bill is expected to pass in the Democratic-held House this week and sent to President Joe Biden for his signature before a March 14 deadline to renew unemployment aid programs.

Last month, Fed Chair Jerome Powell told lawmakers that the U.S. economy was a long way from its employment and inflation goals and that it will likely take time for substantial further progress to be achieved. He said that inflation is still “soft” and that the Fed was committed to current policy, which implied interest rates are likely to remain low for now.

Currencies and oil

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