What Moved Global Markets
– Global cases: More than 2,463,700
– Global deaths: At least 169,000
- France officially registered more than 20,000 deaths from coronavirus infections, becoming the fourth country to go beyond that threshold after Italy, Spain and the United States. U.S. coronavirus deaths topped 41,000, as more protesters gathered in state capitals to demand an early end to the lockdowns.
- Vladimir Putin said Russia had managed to slow the spread of the new coronavirus but warned the peak of the outbreak still lay ahead after the number of confirmed infections surged past 47,000 nationwide.
- U.S. crude prices plunged to their lowest level in history. The price of the nearest oil futures contract, which expires Tuesday, was the hardest hit. At the time of writing, the closest future contract prices for Brent and WTI have fallen was below ZERO.
- Physical demand for crude has dried up, creating a global supply glut as billions of people stay home to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Refiners are processing much less crude than normal, so hundreds of millions of barrels have gushed into storage facilities worldwide. Traders have hired vessels just to anchor them and fill them with the excess oil. A record 160 million barrels is sitting in tankers around the world.
- After that major fall, U.S. stocks headed lower on Monday following a strong two-week rally.
What Moved Crypto Markets (i.e. digital assets)
- The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the country’s central bank, has said that its digital currency could be used in the 2022 Winter Olympics event. The mention of the event hints at the launch schedule of digital currency, possibly by mid-2021. The central bank is yet to officially provide a timetable for the rollout of digital yuan.
- Arrano Capital, the blockchain arm of Hong Kong-based asset manager Venture Smart Asia Limited, has launched the country’s first regulated bitcoin fund. The fund, which tracks bitcoin’s price, provides institutional investors access to bitcoin through a traditional fund structure. The fund has some notable counterparties – BitGo as the custodian and Grant Thornton as its audit partner. The fund is reportedly eyeing $100 million in total assets under management within the first year.
- ConsenSys is laying off “just over 90” staffers, or about 14 percent of the firm’s headcount.
Fintech: Facebook Inc is preparing to apply for regulatory approval in Indonesia to launch mobile payments in partnership with three local digital fintech firms. The plan, if approved, could be among the first such services under the unified payment service Facebook Pay, which the social media platform unveiled in November. It allows users across its various platforms including WhatsApp and Instagram to make payments without exiting the app.
Healthtech: Amid the COVID-19 crisis, Israel establishes Digital Health Tech Innovation Lab. The Israel Innovation Authority is spearheading the formation of a new tech innovation lab to promote investments in the field of digital health with an emphasis on pharmatech and artificial intelligence. It is funded to the tune of approximately $9 million.
Smart cities, AI: As millions suddenly find themselves confined to their homes, the shift has strained not only internet service providers, streaming platforms, and online retailers, but the utilities supplying power to the nation’s electrical grid, as well. Some utilities are employing AI and machine learning to address the windfalls and fluctuations in energy usage resulting from COVID-19.
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