What Moved Global Markets
– Coronavirus update: death toll rises to 563, with more than 28,000 confirmed infections. The virus spread among passengers of a Japanese cruise liner on Thursday. The ship has 20 virus cases and faces testing and quarantine for at least two weeks.
– Wall Street’s main indexes were set to hit record highs at the open on Thursday as China’s plan to chop additional tariffs on some American goods by 50% helped ease fears over the financial fallout of the coronavirus epidemic. Beijing said it would lower extra levies imposed last year against 1,717 U.S. products, weeks after the signing of a Phase 1 trade deal. The tariff cut follows hefty monetary stimulus by China’s central bank earlier this week to support an economy hit by shutdowns and travel restrictions due to the virus outbreak.
– China’s President Xi Jinping is enlisting the state-dominated financial sector in a war against a virus outbreak, mobilizing lenders, brokerages and fund managers to pump resources into stricken parts of the economy. Answering Beijing’s call, banks are rushing to offer virus-fighting loans at ultra-low rates, investment banks are helping companies issue antivirus bonds faster, and managers of mutual funds are refraining from selling stocks, to damp market panic.
– British financial services firms will get no access to European Union markets after Brexit unless they agree to respect EU rules, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday.
– US President Donald Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives in December for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but was acquitted on Wednesday after a two-week trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, which did not include any witnesses.
What moved Crypto Markets (i.e. digital assets)
– Japan lawmakers will issue digital currency proposals on Friday. Norihiro Nakayama, a member of the party and vice-minister for foreign affairs, told Bloomberg on Thursday that Japan needs support from the U.S. Federal Reserve to check the potential influence of China’s planned digital yuan. “We sense the digital yuan is a challenge to the existing global reserve currency system and currency hegemony. Without the U.S., we cannot counter China’s efforts to challenge the existing reserve currency and international settlement system,” Norihiro Nakayama, a member of the party and vice-minister for foreign affairs, told Bloomberg on Thursday.
– It happened: Tron founder Justin Sun dined with Warren Buffett. Tron founder and CEO Justin Sun’s hotly-anticipated meal date with billionaire investor Warren Buffett has been served. Sun paid a record $4.57 million in May 2019 to have lunch with Warren Buffett. But the event was postponed as Sun fell ill with kidney stones, the foundation said in July.
Sun, along with his four guests, dined with Buffett on January 23 at 6:00 PM Central Time at Happy Hollow Club in Omaha, Nebraska, according to a statement shared with The Block on Thursday. The four guests included Charlie Lee, founder of the Litecoin Foundation; Chris Lee, CFO of Huobi; Helen Hai, head of Binance Charity Foundation and Yoni Assia, CEO of eToro.
A spokesperson for the Tron Foundation told The Block that the dinner conversation was about business and life in general, as well as crypto and blockchain. Buffett said that “blockchain has its value.”
Fintech: The Irish fintech sector gets a boost as fintech unicorn Revolut moves to Dublin. Earlier this week, Revolut announced plans to double its Irish headcount as it looks to shift responsibility for its European payments from London to Dublin and Lithuania. A few days earlier, Coinbase, a digital currency exchange whose backers include Spanish bank BBVA and the New York Stock Exchange, said it was establishing a second Irish entity to target institutions across Europe.
Healthtech: FORTUNE reports: Insilico Medicine, a startup based in Rockville, Md., says it has used artificial intelligence to rapidly identify molecules that could form the basis of an effective treatment against the coronavirus at the heart of the current outbreak. It took Insilico’s A.I.-based system four days to identify thousands of new molecules that could be turned into potential medicines against the virus. Insilico says it will synthesize and test 100 of the most promising candidates while publishing the full library of new molecular structures it has generated for other researchers to possibly use.
AI: A team from Facebook AI Research has developed a way to track exactly which images in a data set were used to train a machine-learning model. By making imperceptible tweaks to images, creating a kind of watermark, they were able to make tiny corresponding changes to the way an image classifier trained on those images works, without impairing its overall accuracy. This let them later match models up with the images that were used to train them.
Why it matters: Facebook calls the technique “radioactive data” because it is analogous to the use of radioactive markers in medicine, which show up in the body under x-ray. Highlighting what data has been used to train an AI makes models more transparent, flagging potential sources of bias—such as a model trained on an unrepresentative set of images—or revealing when a data set was used without permission or for inappropriate purposes.
Smart cities: A leading electric vehicle charging network and a trade group that represents America’s travel plazas and truck stops said on Thursday they plan to leverage $1 billion through public and private funding sources over the next decade to encourage the broader adoption of EVs. Automakers Volkswagen AG, General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co have announced plans to spend billions of dollars over the next several years launching EVs in a bid to directly challenge electric carmaker Tesla Inc, which has its own network of charging stations. Investor enthusiasm for electric vehicles has sent shares in Tesla and big battery makers soaring in recent days.
NexChangeNOW Pick of the Day
Fed’s Brainard: Central Bank Is ‘Conducting Research’ on the ‘Potential for a CBDC’