Your Saturday US Briefing: Working From Home and the Northern Lights

Something for the weekend

(Bloomberg) — We could all do with a break from bank blowups, so fingers-crossed we can all relax a bit this weekend. And who knows, maybe even catch a glimpse of those funky Northern Lights if the weather is clear.

Despite the recent tumult, the S&P 500 Index clicked up for the second straight week. Elsewhere in financial markets, bond traders largely abandoned wagers that the Fed will raise interest rates in May and added to bets that the central bank’s next shift will be a rate cut as early as June. Gold briefly traded above $2,000 as investors seek out safe harbors to weather any oncoming storm.

Bloomberg reported earlier this week that JPMorgan Chase owned the London Metal Exchange nickel contracts that turned out to be backed by bags of rocks rather than metal. The discovery has set off a wider scramble across the metals world, and warehouse staff from South Korea to Italy have rushed to check tens of thousands of two-ton bags of nickel—in some cases, by literally kicking them. Ouch! If you’re confused how that could happen, the folks on our QuickTake desk do a great job of explaining it here.

How’s that work-from-home thing going for you? The pandemic created new opportunities for employees to enjoy more flexible arrangements, and new data show the number of job postings for remote-friendly roles is hitting record levels — and trending up. Still, the bounty hasn’t been shared equally across the economy — or across the nation. The worst part of the US to be an aspiring remote worker is in the South. 

Vice President Kamala Harris is heading to Africa. Harris, the first woman and the first Black person to hold the No. 2 position, is tasked with strengthening diplomatic ties with Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia. The US has also been looking to stymie Russian and China efforts to develop alliances on the mineral-rich continent.

March Madness is still delivering upsets, with no top seeds reaching the Elite Eight for the first time since the ranking system started in 1979. In today’s games, No. 9 Florida Atlantic plays Kansas State and Connecticut takes on Gonzaga.

If you want off that comfortable couch, try a game of pickle ball. Hopefully when you do succumb to its hodgepodge charm of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, you’ll find a reasonably priced or even free place to play. New York’s Central Park courts will charge a  hefty $120/hour during peak times when they open next month. Here in San Francisco, if it ever stops raining, a fancy court at Golden Gate Park is a relative bargain at no more than $9/hour.

Enjoy the rest of your Saturday. We’ll be back tomorrow with a look-ahead to the coming week.

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