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Twitter, Affirm, Robinhood and more

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Check out the companies making headlines before the bell:

Twitter (TWTR) – Twitter tumbled 14.6% in premarket trading after Elon Musk tweeted that his deal to buy the company was “temporarily” on hold, as he awaits details on the number of fake and spam accounts on the platform.

Affirm Holdings (AFRM) – Affirm reported a quarterly loss of 19 cents per share, smaller than the 51 cent loss that analysts were anticipating, with the fintech company’s revenue beating forecasts. Affirm also raised its full-year revenue outlook and announced the extension of its ongoing partnership with e-commerce platform operator Shopify. The stock rocketed 33.8% higher in the premarket.

Robinhood Markets (HOOD) – Robinhood soared 22.4% in premarket trading after Sam Bankman-Fried – who founded cryptocurrency exchange FTX – revealed a 7.6% stake in a regulatory filing. The purchase makes him the third largest shareholder in the trading platform company.

Toast (TOST) – Toast added 3.2% in the premarket after the restaurant-focused technology platform company reported a smaller than expected quarterly loss as well as revenue that beat Street forecasts. It also raised its full-year revenue forecast, as more restaurants adopt Toast’s technology.

MicroStrategy (MSTR) – MicroStrategy rallied 13.9% in premarket action in what’s been a volatile week for the business analytics company. MicroStrategy, which has extensive bitcoin holdings, saw its stock fall more than 25% on both Monday and Wednesday before rising yesterday.

Roper Technologies (ROP) – The software and engineered products company is near a deal to sell its process-technology unit to private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice for about $3 billion, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke to Bloomberg.

The Honest Company (HNST) – The Honest Company’s stock rose 3.1% in premarket trading after it reaffirmed its full-year revenue outlook. The personal care and household products company also reported a quarterly loss and revenue numbers that were both in line with Wall Street forecasts.

Duolingo (DUOL) – The language software provider’s stock surged 15.3% in the premarket after it reported a narrower quarterly loss and better than expected revenue. Duolingo said active user numbers are at an all-time high, and it issued upbeat current quarter revenue guidance.

Figs (FIGS) – The health care apparel company saw its stock plummet 25.2% in premarket trading after it missed estimates with its latest quarterly results and issued weaker than expected full-year guidance.

Poshmark (POSH) – The online apparel marketplace operator reported a loss of 18 cents per share, 4 cents smaller than Wall Street had anticipated, with revenue also beating estimates. That helped send its stock up 2.1% in premarket action, even though Poshmark issued a weaker than expected current quarter revenue forecast.



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Judge blocks auction of ‘Wizard of Oz’ dress by Catholic University

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A blue and white checked gingham dress, worn by Judy Garland in the “Wizard of Oz,” hangs on display, Monday, April 25, 2022, at Bonhams in New York.

Katie Vasquez | AP

A federal judge in New York blocked Tuesday’s scheduled auction of a dress worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” that had been expected to fetch up to $1 million or more for The Catholic University of America.

Monday’s injunction barring a sale of the dress by Bonhams auction house in Los Angeles came more than two weeks after a Wisconsin woman sued to stop the sale, claiming it belonged to the estate of her late uncle, the Rev. Gilbert Hartke.

Barbara Hartke’s lawsuit now will proceed in Manhattan federal court.

Judge Paul Gardephe ordered Catholic U., which is located in Washington, D.C., and Bonhams not to sell the dress until the lawsuit is resolved.

Anthony Scordo, the attorney for Barbara Hartke, in an email to CNBC said, “I am pleased with the ruling preventing the sale.”

” I feel the judge carefully reviewed the submissions of all parties and came to a fair result,” Scordo said.

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Hartke received the “Oz” dress in 1973 as a gift from Academy Award-winning actress Mercedes McCambridge while serving as head of Catholic U.’s drama school, which he founded. It is not known how MacCambridge obtained the costume from the classic 1939 film.

As an heir to the priest, Barbara Hartke stands to inherit a fraction of the ownership dress if she prevails in her lawsuit.

The dress had been missing for decades before it was found in a trash bag in a room at the drama school last year. Catholic U. then moved to put it up for auction, generating widespread media coverage last month.

Catholic U. argues that it is the legal owner of the dress, because Hartke, as a Roman Catholic priest, had taken a vow of poverty and that the dress was intended to benefit the school.

The school also submitted affidavits from a grand-nephew of Hartke who remembered that “my grand-uncle Father Gilbert Hartke said to me that I could not have it as the dress belonged to Catholic University.”

That man, Thomas Kuipers, with a cousin said that they and other descendants of the priest supported the auction of the dress with the understanding that it was given as a gift for the school.

The dress is one of only two dresses known to still exist of the several created for Garland to wear in “The Wizard of Oz.”

The other dress was auctioned in 2015 by Bonhams for more than $1.5 million.   



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As number of billionaires climbs, new calls for wealth taxes emerge

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A mobile billboard calling for higher taxes on the ultra-wealthy depicts an image of billionaire businessman Jeff Bezos, near the U.S. Capitol on May 17, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

A new billionaire was created on average about every 30 hours during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report by Oxfam, a global charity focused on eliminating poverty.

Now, 573 more people around the world can claim billionaire status compared to 2020 when the pandemic began, for a current total of 2,668 billionaires.

At the same time, their wealth has soared 42% or $3.78 trillion during the Covid-19 pandemic, for a current total of $12.7 trillion.

Yet 263 million people are at risk of falling into extreme poverty this year, signaling deepening wealth inequality exacerbated by the pandemic.

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The widening divide between the haves and have-nots highlights the need for more taxes on the wealthiest, according to Oxfam.

“We really need for Congress to step in and for the administration to step in and tax the most wealthy in our society so that we can really start to invest in public services and in working people,” said Irit Tamir, director of the private sector department at Oxfam America.

The report comes as business leaders, politicians and billionaires meet face-to-face this week in Davos, Switzerland, for the first time in two years.

Political leaders on Capitol Hill, including President Joe Biden, have put forward their own proposals to make the wealthy pay more.

“Right now, the average billionaire — there are about 790 of them or so in America — has a federal tax rate of 8%,” Biden tweeted on Sunday.

“No billionaire should be paying a lower tax rate than a teacher, a firefighter, an electrician or a police officer,” he said.

There are two main ways policy makers can “tax the rich,” according to Howard Gleckman, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

That includes either taxing the income or taxing the wealth of rich people.

“Generally, what we do in the U.S. is we tax income,” Gleckman said. “We don’t really tax wealth.”

That could change, based on some proposals that have been put forward. One key idea that has received attention is taxing unrealized capital gains, or the value of assets that have not yet been sold.

This may be tricky with privately held businesses, particularly when it comes to determining a value both the IRS and owners can agree on. Consequently, one idea from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., calls for applying this tax annually to just publicly-traded assets. Other non-traded assets would instead be taxed when they are sold.

This approach could become complicated for taxpayers if the value of their assets declines, and they have to reconcile the taxes they have already paid.

Another approach would be to get rid of a mechanism that allows people to avoid paying taxes on the increases in the value of assets over their lifetimes, formally known as a step-up in basis at death.

For example, suppose you buy a stock for $10, and then it is worth $100 when you die. When your heirs receive the stock, their basis will be $100, based on current rules. Consequently, they will not be taxed on the $90 increase in value that happened during your lifetime.

That could be changed so that heirs will owe taxes on any gains since the original cost basis, or the $10 at which you originally purchased the stock.

However, one key disadvantage to this change is it would take a long time for the government to raise revenue, since it requires the stock owner to die and for their heir to sell it. “That can take decades,” Gleckman said.

With any of the proposals, the government will have to strike a balance between generating money and trying to limit the administrative challenges any implemented changes require.

Most Americans will never have to worry about paying these taxes, even if they have $5 million or $10 million in assets.

“This is really for people with extreme wealth,” Gleckman said.





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CDC officials sound alarm for gay and bisexual men as monkeypox spreads in community

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday alerted gay and bisexual men that monkeypox appears to be spreading in the community globally, cautioning people to take precautions if they have been in close contact with someone who may have the virus and to be on the lookout for symptoms.

Dr. John Brooks, a CDC official, emphasized that anyone can contract monkeypox through close personal contact regardless of sexual orientation. However, Brooks said many of the people affected globally so far are men who identify as gay or bisexual. Though they may have greater chance of exposure to monkeypox right now, that doesn’t mean the risk is limited only to the gay and bisexual community, he said.

“We want to help people make the best informed decisions to protect their health and the health of their community from monkeypox,” Brooks said.

Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease, which are generally passed through semen or vaginal fluid, but it can be transmitted through sexual and intimate contact as well as through shared bedding. The virus spreads through contact with body fluids and sores, Brooks said. It’s important for physicians and individuals to be aware of the symptoms associated with monkeypox, particularly anal or genital lesions that can be confused with herpes, syphilis or chickenpox, he said.

“Anyone with a rash or lesion around or involving their genitals, their anus or any other place that they have not seen it before, should be fully evaluated, both for that rash but particularly for sexually transmitted infection and other illnesses that can cause rash,” Brooks said.

The U.S. has confirmed one case of monkeypox in Massachusetts and four cases of orthopox in New York City, Florida and Utah, according to Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, a CDC official. State labs have tests that can identify orthopox, which are presumed to be monkeypox, but they have to be sent to the CDC in Atlanta for further analysis to confirm that diagnosis, McQuiston said.

The cases identified in the U.S. are a milder West African strain, McQuiston said. Most people who catch the virus recover in two to four weeks without specific treatments, she said.

The World Health Organization has identified about 200 confirmed or suspected monkeypox cases across at least a dozen countries in Europe and North America in recent days.

It’s unusual, though not unheard of, for monkeypox cases to be found outside a handful of West and Central African nations where the virus is endemic. The U.S. had an outbreak of more than 70 cases in 2003 that stemmed from people keeping infected prairie dogs as pets.

There has been a surge of cases in Nigeria in recent years, but the cases identified around the world over the past two weeks are unusual because most of the patients did not have recent travel history to Nigeria or another country where the virus is usually found, according to McQuiston.

The smallpox vaccine appears to be about 85% effective at preventing monkeypox based on research in Africa, according to the CDC. The U.S. has a stockpile of 100 million doses of an older generation vaccine called ACAM2000 that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for people at high risk of smallpox, according to McQuiston. However, the vaccine can have significant side effects and any decision to use it widely would require serious discussion, she said.

The U.S. also has more than 1,000 available doses of a vaccine called Jynneos that is FDA approved for people ages 18 and older at high risk of monkeypox or smallpox. It is administered as two shots and doesn’t have the same risk of severe side effects. McQuiston said the number of doses should increase quickly in the coming weeks as the company provides more.

“We are hoping to maximize vaccine distribution to those that we know would benefit from it, so those are people who have had contact with a known monkeypox patient, health-care workers, very close personal contacts and those in particular who might be at high risk for severe disease,” McQuiston said.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.



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