—— US Consumer Sentiment Jumps; Baltimore Bridge Rebuild to Cost $2 Billion; FTX Founder to Serve 25 Years; US Pending Home Sales Bounce Back; NYC’s Delinquent Property Taxes Soar; Bayer-Backed Boundless Bio Falls 9%; Apple Plans New iPad Pro for May

1. US Consumer Sentiment Jumps

The University of Michigan’s final sentiment index for March showed a notable increase to 79.4 from 76.5 earlier in the month. This rise, attributed to strong stock-market gains and expectations of easing inflation, marks the highest level since mid-2021. The 2.9-point increase from the preliminary reading represents the largest intramonth gain since August 2022.

Americans anticipate a 2.9% increase in prices over the next year, down from the 3% forecast earlier in the month. Additionally, they project a 2.8% rise in costs over the next five to ten years, marking the lowest expectation since September.

Joanne Hsu, the survey director, noted a significant decline in both inflation expectations and uncertainty, indicating a consensus among consumers that inflation will continue to decelerate in the short and long term, reflecting progress in recent months.


2. Baltimore Bridge Rebuild to Cost $2 Billion

Resolve Marine, a salvage firm known for its work in containing the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and demolishing part of New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge, is preparing to tackle a significant project in Baltimore. They have begun mobilizing resources to remove a ship that collided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing its destruction, six fatalities, and the closure of Baltimore’s port.

This incident poses a threat to global supply chains and the livelihoods of numerous workers. Federal officials have informed Maryland lawmakers that replacing the 1.6-mile bridge will likely cost over $2 billion, including cleanup efforts.

On March 26, the Singapore-flagged Dali, a 984-foot (300-meter) container ship, collided with the bridge, causing the entire structure to collapse within seconds. The ship lost propulsion and was unable to maintain its intended course, leading to the accident.


3. FTX Founder to Serve 25 Years

US District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan handed down the verdict in federal court in Manhattan shortly after Sam Bankman-Fried, the co-founder of FTX, expressed remorse, stating he was “sorry about what happened at every stage.” Bankman-Fried faced a potential sentence of up to 110 years behind bars after being found guilty last year of seven charges, including fraud and conspiracy.

Once a billionaire, Bankman-Fried became emblematic of misconduct and avarice in the cryptocurrency sphere following the collapse of his immensely popular FTX exchange. This collapse revealed a multi-year scam that defrauded customers of approximately $10 billion.

Despite Bankman-Fried’s denial of knowingly engaging in fraud, he and his cryptocurrency empire were implicated in the scheme. He attributed the downfall to market downturns in 2022.


4. US Pending Home Sales Bounce Back

Pending sales of previously-owned homes in the US rebounded last month after a dip at the beginning of the year, providing further indication of a gradual improvement in the housing market. The National Association of Realtors’ index of contract signings increased by 1.6% to 75.6. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had a median estimate of a 1.5% rise in this reading.

Lawrence Yun, the Chief Economist at NAR, remarked that while modest sales growth might not be cause for excitement, it does demonstrate slow and steady progress from the lows seen late last year.

Overall, the nation’s housing market has been showing signs of improvement in recent months, indicating a gradual acceptance of borrowing costs that remain double their levels at the end of 2021 but are anticipated to decrease at some point.

A recent report also indicated a potential increase in listings, with inventory reaching its highest level for a February since 2020.


5. NYC’s Delinquent Property Taxes Soar

A concerning trend has emerged in New York City, where more residents have ceased paying their property taxes since the onset of the pandemic. City officials attribute this trend to the termination of a tax-lien sales program designed to penalize delinquency.

Overdue property taxes are projected to hit a record high, surging by over 30% to exceed $880 million by the end of the fiscal year in June compared to figures from three years ago. This development suggests that New York City may experience a decline in tax revenue, as nearly half of its revenue is derived from property tax collections.

Data from the city’s January financial plan indicates that the overall vacancy rate for Manhattan office space reached a historic high of 22.5% in November.


6. Bayer-Backed Boundless Bio Falls 9%

Shares of Boundless Bio Inc., a cancer therapeutics company with Bayer AG as one of its major investors, experienced a 9% decline following its successful $100 million initial public offering (IPO) in the United States.

The San Diego-based company’s shares dropped to $14.59 each as of 1:17 p.m. on Thursday, falling below their IPO price of $16, which was set at the midpoint of the marketed range of $15 to $17.

This trading activity values Boundless Bio at approximately $324 million, based on the outstanding shares listed in its filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Considering employee stock options and restricted stock units, the company’s fully diluted value is estimated to be around $500 million.

Boundless Bio focuses on developing therapies for cancer by targeting extrachromosomal DNA, which is associated with certain types of cancers. Last May, the company raised $100 million in a series C funding round, co-led by Leaps by Bayer and RA Capital Management.

Following the IPO, ARCH Venture Partners holds an 11.2% stake in Boundless Bio, while Bayer maintains a 6.6% ownership, according to filings.


7. Apple Plans New iPad Pro for May

Apple Inc.’s overseas suppliers have increased production of the company’s highly anticipated new iPads, with a launch planned for early May, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The upcoming release will focus on updated versions of the iPad Pro and iPad Air, the sources said, requesting anonymity because the plans are not yet public. As previously reported by Bloomberg News, the Pro models will feature new OLED displays for sharper visuals, while the iPad Air will introduce a 12.9-inch screen option for the first time.

This launch marks the end of the longest period without new iPad models since the device was first introduced by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in 2010.

It has been approximately 18 months since the last updates, a hiatus that has contributed to already sluggish demand for tablets. Apple is optimistic that the new models, featuring faster chips and redesigned accessories, will reignite interest in the category.


The content of this article comes from various financial news media such as The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and Bloomberg.