What Moved Global Markets
- Oil plunged 24% for its worst day since 1991. Tensions between Russia and Saudi Arabia escalate, sparking fears on the Street that an all-out price war is imminent. The sell-off in crude began last week when OPEC failed to strike a deal with its allies, led by Russia, about oil production cuts. That, in turn, caused Saudi Arabia to slash its oil prices as it reportedly looks to ramp up production. WTI plunged 24.59%, or $10.15, to settle at $31.13 per barrel. It was WTI’s second-worst day on record. International benchmark Brent crude slid $10.91, or 24.1%, to settle at $34.36 per barrel. Earlier in the session, each contract fell more than 30%. WTI dropped to $30 while Brent traded as low as $31.02, both of which were the lowest levels since February 2016.
- On Saturday, Saudi Arabia announced massive discounts to its official selling prices for April, and the nation is reportedly preparing to increase its production above the 10 million barrel per day mark, according to a Reuters report. The kingdom currently pumps 9.7 million barrels per day, but has the capacity to ramp up to 12.5 million barrels per day. Saudi Arabia’s price cut followed a breakdown of talks in Vienna last week. On Thursday, OPEC recommended additional production cuts of 1.5 million barrels per day starting in April and extending until the end of the year. But OPEC ally Russia rejected the additional cuts.
- Coronavirus update: Meanwhile, the coronavirus outbreak is also considered to be a factor that helped the market’s piqué. WHO admitted that “the threat of a pandemic has become very real.” While the virus is slowing in China, where it originated in December, it’s picking up pace across other parts of the world, spreading to more than 100 countries with more than 111,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
- Shares of Clorox hit a new 52-week high on Monday as investors poured into the maker of disinfecting products. Clorox’s new high of $177.77 per share, is its highest level going back to 1972.
What moved Crypto Markets (i.e. digital assets)
– The value of the entire cryptocurrency market fell over $26 billion on Monday, following a plummet in oil prices. Bitcoin, the biggest cryptocurrency by value, fell 10% in 24 hours – went below $8K. Other big digital coins ethereum, XRP and bitcoin cash, posted double-digit losses.
– The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has secured 32.35 million yuan (~$4.7 million) in special funding for further developing its blockchain trade finance platform, the Global Times reported Monday, citing Xinhua News Agency. Over 35 banks are currently part of the blockchain trade finance platform, which has helped process 87 billion yuan (~$12.4 billion) worth of transactions as of December 2019. The platform is also said to have significantly improved the efficiency of SME loan approvals. The time required to process trade financing has reduced from over ten days to about 20 minutes, while corporate financing costs have declined to below 6%, per the report. Launched in September 2018, the blockchain platform is overseen by the PBoC’s Digital Currency Research Lab, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, major Chinese universities such as Tsinghua University, and local banks.
Fintech: Visa has entered a partnership with Nigeria based startup Paga on payments and technology. Founded in Lagos, Paga scaled its fintech business in West Africa, before targeting expansion in Ethiopia and Mexico. The startup has created a multi-channel network for over 14 million customers in Nigeria to transfer money, pay-bills and buy things digitally through its mobile-app or 24,840 agents. The new arrangement allows Paga account holders to transact on Visa’s global network.
Healthtech: In the US, the Department of Health and Human Services released new rules on Monday that will make it easier for consumers to share medical information with third-party apps, hospitals and doctor’s offices. The idea is to open up and standardize access to health information. The rule will benefit technology companies, which have struggled to get into health care because of the lack of access to data.
AI: A Dutch startup has teamed up with Google Glass to create a set of AI-powered spectacles that help blind and visually-impaired people to see. The glasses extract visual information from images of people, belongings, and public transport, and then speaks about them out loud. It can read text from books, name friends by analyzing their faces, and describe surroundings such as train signs and street hazards.
Smart cities: The Colombian capital of Bogota tops the list of the cities most impacted by traffic congestion, causing drivers to lose 191 hours a year, according to the 2019 Inrix Global Traffic Scorecard. It was followed by Rio de Janeiro (190 hours), Mexico City (158 hours) and Istanbul (150 hours). The ten most congested cities are:
Bogota, Colombia (inner-city last-mile speed 9mph)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (15 mph)
Mexico City, Mexico (12mph)
Istanbul, Turkey (11mph)
Rome, Italy (11mph)
São Paulo, Brazil (13mph)
Paris, France (10mph)
London, UK (10mph)
Boston, Massachusetts (11mph)
Chicago, Illinois (11mph).
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