A Japanese homebuilder’s stock fell 10% after the boss banned staff from getting vaccinated – and said those who do would be punished

A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government office.
A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government office.

  • Japan homebuilder Tama Home’s stock fell 10% on a report its boss threatened vaccinated employees.
  • The president said those who get jabbed would die five years later, a weekly magazine reported.
  • The company denied the report, saying the decision to get vaccinated is an individual choice.
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Shares in Japanese homebuilder Tama Home fell 10% on Wednesday, marking their biggest one-day fall in over three years, after a report said the company’s president warned employees they’d be punished if they get vaccinated for coronavirus.

Company president Shinya Tamaki told managers he was against vaccination, and warned that people who took the vaccine would die five years later, according to weekly Japanese magazine Shukan Bunshun.

Tamaki added employees who choose to get vaccinated would be ordered to stay at home indefinitely, without being allowed to work. That would be treated as absenteeism, which meant they would be unpaid, the report said.

Internal e-mails also warned employees of the dangers associated with 5G phones. The report didn’t specify what risks were associated with the cellular network, but a conspiracy theory linking 5G with coronavirus had been circulating social media since January 2020.

Tama Home’s shares closed 10% lower on Wednesday, declining the most in more than three years. It was the biggest fall on Japan’s Topix index, which was overall up 0.8%.

The company denied it had pressurized workers about the vaccination, or threatened to put jobs in danger if employees decide to get immunized, the report said.

“Regarding the inoculation of the new corona vaccine, it is left to individual judgment,” a spokesperson said, according to a translation from the Japanese report.

Tokyo seems to be going through a third wave of coronavirus infections ahead of the Tokyo Olympics opening on Friday. The city reported 727 new cases on Monday, falling just below the 1,000 level it posted across five straight days. About 22% of the population is fully vaccinated so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.

Read More: Morgan Stanley’s Mike Wilson called the last 2 sell-offs. He outlines sharply deteriorating market signals that suggest the S&P 500 is vulnerable – and shares 10 stocks to buy in this turbulent environment.

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US housing starts grew less than expected in May as construction bottlenecks stifled raging demand

home construction
  • US housing starts grew 3.6% in May to an annualized rate of 1.57 million, the Census Bureau said.
  • Economists expected a 3.9% jump. The April reading was also revised lower to indicate starts dropped 12.1% that month.
  • Builders are struggling to shore up home supply as demand remains elevated and construction costs soar.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New home construction bounced back in May, but still missed economist forecasts as supply-chain issues kept contractors from servicing unprecedented demand.

Housing starts rose 3.6% to an annualized rate of 1.57 million in May, the Census Bureau said Wednesday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg held a median estimate for a 3.9% jump.

April’s rate was revised lower to 1.52 million, implying a 12.1% slide through the month.

Building permits – which serve as a more forward-looking indicator of residential construction – fell 3% to an annualized rate of 1.68 million. That’s the lowest level since October.

Separately, the number of one-family homes authorized but not yet started climbed to 142,000 last month, the highest since 2006. The gauge is often used as a measure of backlogs in the nation’s housing market.

The May report signals that, while home construction is picking up, the rebound is far from alleviating pressure in the red-hot housing market. Massive demand throughout the pandemic saw sales rates skyrocket and drag inventories to record lows. The imbalance between supply and demand has since led prices to surge and exacerbate affordability risks already lingering throughout the market.

Starts will fail to break out and instead waver near current levels for the rest of 2021, Nancy Vanden Houten, lead economist at Oxford Economics, said.

“Strong demand, a need for inventory, and homebuilder optimism will keep a floor under activity, but builders continue to face supply constraints that may hamper or at least postpone construction,” she added.

Builders have tried to shore up home supply, but their efforts have recently run up against severe bottlenecks. Lumber prices exploded higher in April and crept higher still in May before retracing only some of the rally. The surge helped boost the producer price index for construction materials another 4.6% higher last month after climbing 5.2% in April.

Even the lots where homes are built are in short supply. The New Home Lot Supply Index slid 10% to a record low in the first quarter of the year, housing analytics firm Zonda said in May.

For now, contractors are shifting the higher costs to buyers. Home prices in the US spiked 13.2% year-over-year in March, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index. The May reading exceeded the 12.5% estimate and marked the largest one-year jump since December 2005.

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The home-construction boom sputtered out in April as prices surged higher

Home construction
A red-hot real-estate market has kickstarted new home construction, but builders face a shortage of lumber.

  • US housing starts fell 9.5% in April, erasing much of the March surge that looked likely to provide much-needed supply.
  • The lack of adequate inventory has driven up home prices in recent months as demand remains red hot.
  • Soaring lumber prices and supply bottlenecks likely weighed on construction, one economist said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Potential buyers will need to wait a little while longer for the housing market to cool off.

US housing starts slid 9.5% in April to an annualized rate of 1.57 million units, the Census Bureau said Tuesday. That’s well below the median estimate of a 1.7 million pace from economists surveyed by Bloomberg. March’s huge upswing was revised slightly lower to a rate of 1.73 million.

The reading erases much of the sharp improvement seen through March and suggests contractors’ efforts to shore up supply are hitting snags. Lumber prices skyrocketed through April as shortages slammed the construction sector. While the housing market remains robust, the Tuesday report signals inventory pressures won’t be alleviated so easily.

“Strong demand, a need for inventory, and homebuilder optimism will support housing starts over the rest of 2021, while record-high lumber prices and supply chain bottlenecks may act as headwinds,” Nancy Vanden Houten, lead US economist at Oxford Economics, said in a note. The firm expects starts to average 1.6 million through the year, which would mark the fastest pace of home construction since 2006.

In more encouraging data, building permits rose 0.3% through April. Permits are more forward-looking than starts, suggesting contractors expect to ramp up construction through the year. There’s also a growing backlog of permitted homes that haven’t been started yet. The recent decline in lumber prices and easing of some supply bottlenecks could pull forward that construction, Vanden Houten said.

Housing starts will be the indicator to watch as the red-hot market charges into the summer. Sales of existing and previously owned homes, while still elevated, have dropped off in recent months as massive demand runs up against a nationwide supply shortage.

That imbalance has driven prices higher throughout the year. Home-price inflation hit a record-high 12.2% in February, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said on April 27. The lingering shortage and lack of an immediate supply boost likely kept price growth strong in March and April.

The shortage and months-long price surge led some to worry that the market is repeating the boom-and-bust cycle of the late 2000s. Experts told Insider last month that, while prices will likely climb further, the current rally has more to do with a lack of inventory than the risky lending that fueled the 2008 crash.

The Federal Reserve backed the outlook following its April policy meeting. The central bank is “carefully” monitoring the housing market but doesn’t see the “kind of financial stability concerns” that emerged in the late 2000s, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in an April 28 press conference.

“My hope would be that over time, housing builders can react to this demand and come up with more supply, and workers will come back to work in that industry,” he added.

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