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Meditation use rises as apps such as Headspace, Calm become popular

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If it feels like more people are meditating, you’re not wrong.

Within the past five years, the number of U.S. adults and children practicing the mindfulness exercise has increased significantly, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. The study did not pinpoint reasons driving the trend, but people are searching for ways to de-stress, and brands such as meditation apps Headspace and Calm are helping to bring meditation mainstream.

The researchers studied how many people said they used meditation, practiced yoga or visited a chiropractor within the past year in the National Health Interview Survey. Yoga was the most common of the three, with 14.3 percent of adults in 2017 saying they had done it, up from 9.5 percent in 2012.

Meditation jumped to a close second, with 14.2 percent of American adults saying they meditated within the past year, a threefold increase from 4.1 percent in 2012, according to a report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. Last year, 10.3 percent of adults said they visited a chiropractor, up from 9.1 percent in 2012.

More adults are practicing yoga and meditation

Source: CDC

The authors did not collect any information on what drove the increases. However, two of the authors, Tainya Clark and Lindsey Black, told CNBC it’s possibly related to meditation and yoga cellphone apps, as well as companies and schools offering programs for employees and students.

“Something really special is happening with our culture at a time when we need it most,” said Mary Jones Bell, Headspace’s chief science officer. “At a time when mental health problems are on the rise, something that improves focus and compassion is certainly something the world needs more of.”

Adults between the ages of 18 and 44 were more likely to practice yoga than those who were older, while use of meditation was most common among adults between the ages of 45 and 64, Black and Clark told CNBC.

More children are practicing yoga and meditation

Source: CDC

Among children, practicing yoga increased to 8.4 percent in 2017 from 3.1 percent in 2012. Researchers were surprised to find little variation between kids and teens, Black and Clark said. Use of meditation among adolescents increased to 5.4 percent in 2017 from 0.6 percent in 2012.

Some teachers are incorporating meditation and yoga into their lesson plans. Popular meditation apps Headspace and Calm both offer a kid-friendly curriculum. The two companies are also courting employers to give employees subscriptions as a benefit.



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Goldman says U.S.-China not likely to reach trade deal by March and more tariffs are coming

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President Donald Trump (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping walk together at the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, April 7, 2017.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

President Donald Trump (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping walk together at the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, April 7, 2017.

Goldman Sachs economists said it’s more likely than not that U.S.-China trade negotiators will not reach a deal in time to head off higher tariffs on March 1, and importers could rush to order their goods in January and February ahead of the deadline.

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to hold off on further tariffs until March 1 so the two sides could negotiate a trade agreement. China also agreed to remove new auto tariffs on U.S. imports, and Washington reported that Beijing is fulfilling another promise to purchase American soybeans, with its first significant order in six months, amounting to 1.13 million tons.

But they have to show some progress by the March 1 deadline in order to delay further action. “While we think it is a close call, we believe it is slightly more likely that negotiations will fall short of what is necessary for a further delay,” wrote the Goldman economists.

Goldman said international trade data reflect the front-loading of goods ahead of the last round of tariffs, and also the fact that soybean purchases had fallen off dramatically.

The October trade data were the first look at what happened after tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods and on $60 billion of U.S. goods went into effect in September. Goldman said imports and exports were both pulled forward before the $200 billion tariff round went into effect Sept. 24, and they both fell after tariffs were implemented, just as they had done after the first round.

Over the summer months, the U.S. had also implemented 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports, and China responded in kind.

The effect was a widening in the U.S. trade deficit. “Declining exports along side modestly increasing imports pushed the trade deficit with China to an all-time high in October,” the economists wrote.

U.S. imports from China are about $5 billion lower on an annualized basis and exports are about $15 billion lower, due to seasonal factors surrounding soybean exports to China. The economists said there have been sizable shifts in a few large categories, which includes the impact from soybeans. About 60 percent of annual exports of soybeans to China are in the fourth quarter, about 25 percent in October alone.

“Excluding soybeans, exports to China are only modestly lower on a seasonably adjusted basis,” they wrote. As for imports, U.S. imports of electronic circuits and memory components rose ahead of the second round of tariffs and fell sharply after they were put in place

If there is no agreement by March 1, tariffs are scheduled to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion in Chinese goods.

WATCH:How big Harley-Davidson is and why it’s a trade-war target



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‘We are tired of people asking us about target prices’  

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In November, Lee cut his price target from $25,000 to $15,000. A key driver for the revision was bitcoin’s “break-even” point, the level at which mining costs match the trading price.

Bitcoin is closing out a miserable trading year. The cryptocurrency is down 75 percent since January, trading near $3,324 on Thursday, according to data from CoinDesk. From its high near $20,000 in December, the cryptocurrency has lost more than 82 percent of its value.

For bitcoin to stage a price rebound, Lee said user adoption needs to increase, and it needs to be embraced as a real asset class.

But looking out longer term, if the amount of bitcoin users approached even 7 percent of Visa’s total 4.5 billion currently, Lee’s regression model would place fair value at $150,000 per bitcoin.

“Hence, the risk/reward is still strong,” Lee said. “Given the steep discounts of [bitcoin] to our fair value models, the excessive bearish sentiment about fundamentals does not seem warranted.”

Still, Lee said technicals remain important in cryptocurrency trading and as long as bitcoin remains below its 200-day moving average, investors will likely still stay bearish.



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Slower IT spending could reveal Cisco’s ‘imperfections,’ analyst says

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While stronger technology spending across Wall Street and a spell of innovation at Cisco have boosted the stock to post-recession highs, shares now look a little expensive, according to Normura Instinet.

The brokerage downgraded Cisco’s stock to neutral from buy on Friday, arguing that the strong stream of IT purchases that has buoyed shares may reverse in 2019 to “reveal imperfections in Cisco’s story.”

“Through 2018, IT spending growth accelerated materially, Cisco’s new Catalyst 9000 series more than tripled its customer count, and Cisco’s software mix hit about 25 percent of sales. These drivers helped Cisco exceed consensus estimates through 2018,” analyst Jeffrey Kvaal wrote in a note to clients.

“However, spending may be wobbling; comments from Dell, HPE, and Broadcom suggest incremental caution in chief investment officer thinking,” Kvaal added. “Cisco’s ongoing product refresh leaves it insulated, though not immune, from a slowdown.”

The analyst reiterated his 12-month price target of $50, which implies just 5.3 percent upside over the next year from Thursday’s close of $47.47. That price target yields a multiple of about 15 times Nomura’s calendar year 2019 earnings per share expectation of $3.33.

Shares of Cisco fell more than 2 percent in premarket trading following the downgrade; shares are up 23.9 percent this year.



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