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What Moved Global Markets
– S&P 500 rises to record high after news that the U.S. will remove China from a list of currency manipulating countries, increasing optimism ahead of the signing of a key trade agreement.
– Asia stocks mostly rose by the close on Monday. The Chinese yuan fell below the 6.90 level.
– Tesla stock continued to rally on Monday, rising nearly 10% on the day and closing at an all-time high of $524.86 per share.
– Oil prices fell more than 1% on Monday as Middle East tensions eased and investors turned their focus to lacklustre seasonal demand following last week’s bearish U.S. report showing a large fuel stockbuild.
What moved Crypto Markets (i.e. digital assets)
– The U.S. Department of the Treasury, which manages government revenue, is testing blockchain technology for tracking federal grant payments.
– The department is about to complete a proof of concept program for a blockchain-based letter of credit for grant recipients, Craig Fischer, innovation program manager at the Treasury, said at a recent conference, as reported by Federal Computer Week (FCW) on Friday.
– The trial program tokenizes letters of credit to track the flow of grant money from federal reserves to grantees, per the report. Tokenization helps identify grant recipient, grant amount and key dates like when it was awarded, said Fischer.
– Chicago exchange CME Group has announced its highly anticipated bitcoin options are now open for trading. Options on CME’s bitcoin futures contracts launched on the CME Globex around 15:00 UTC Monday. Each contract, quoted in U.S. dollars, represents five bitcoin and is cleared centrally to avoid counterparty risk. CME relies on trade flow data from several of the large bitcoin exchanges to accurately track bitcoin’s price.
– A blockchain-secured smartphone and home security camera won Innovation Awards at the annual trade CES show in Las Vegas.
Fintech: Visa Inc is nearing an agreement to buy privately held financial technology startup Plaid Inc and a deal could be announced over the week, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. Founded in 2013, Plaid was valued at nearly $2.65 billion in a 2018 funding round, the report said. The company’s technology lets people connect their bank accounts to mobile apps like Venmo.
Healthtech: Did you know that more than 1 billion scan images from over 35 million patient exams are now exposed on the internet worldwide? Check this amusing material about why unsecured medical images can be a threat, leading to medical identity theft and insurance fraud.
Al: Interesting AI Stats News by Forbes: Only 14.6% Of Firms Have Deployed AI Capabilities In Production. 34% of businesses in US, EU and China, have deployed AI and 39% are ramping up exploratory phases with AI; 40% of respondents currently deploying AI said they are developing proof-of-concepts for specific AI-based or AI-assisted projects, and 40% are using pre-built AI applications, such as chatbots and virtual agents.
Smart cities: The three smart cities trends that dominated conversations at CES included: Consumer skepticism about advanced auto tech, AVs, EVs and new driving technology needs to be addressed; the introduction of flying taxis; and the demand for equity (experts discussed how to prevent new mobility options like hyperloops and autonomous shuttles from being available only to the wealthy.)
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