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What Moved Global Markets
– Saudi Aramco shares surge 10% as historic IPO begins trading. The price gives Aramco a valuation of $1.88 trillion and makes it the largest listed company in the world. Aramco’s public debut, which listed 1.5% of its shares locally on the Saudi Tadawul, is the largest on record — topping the $25 billion Alibaba raised when it went public in September 2014.
– US/China trade deal update: more tariffs — 15% on about $160 billion in Chinese exports to the U.S. — are set to kick in on Sunday, as both economies remain locked in negotiations for a phase one trade deal. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that both countries are taking steps to delay those tariffs set to take place on Sunday. There will be an “eleventh hour” announcement about a deal on Saturday night, analysts say.
– European Union states have rejected a set of rules governing which financial products can be called “green” and “sustainable”, an EU official said, in a major setback for the bloc’s climate ambitions. Britain, France, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovenia opposed the deal at a meeting of EU diplomats in Brussels, fearing it would prevent investments in nuclear and coal projects from being labelled as green.
What moved Crypto Markets (i.e. digital assets)
– Shoe manufacturer Nike just received a patent to tokenize shoes on the Ethereum blockchain. In a document posted on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and dated Dec. 10, Nike stated that it intends to generate unique IDs and create ERC 721 tokens for some shoes. People can “unlock” these tokens by purchasing physical shoes and these tokens can then be linked with unique owner IDs to signify ownership. Besides representing a digital shoe, the token can also record the so-call genotype information of a digital shoe, including specific attributes, colours, styles, backgrounds.
– The Bitfury Group has made what it calls a “strategic acquisition” in decentralized credential provider Shyft Network as it prepares to build out government-facing identity products. Bitfury did not say how much it is investing in the product. The deal, as outlined in a press statement Wednesday, will see Bitfury invest in Shyft’s Financial Action Task Force (FATF) travel compliance solution.
– French asset management firm Napoleon AM has launched a new fund tied to Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s (CME) cash-settled bitcoin futures. The “Napoleon Bitcoin Fund” began trading on Dec. 6 with a minimum €100,000 ($110,000) buy-in for professional investors, who must reside in France. It can not be traded cross-border. It is the first bitcoin fund released by Napoleon AM, the asset management wing of French financial services firm Napoleon Group. Napoleon AM became a licensed “Alternative Investment Fund Manager” in May 2019, the French financial regulator’s website shows. And it’s also one of the first French funds to make novel use of CME’s cash-settled Bitcoin futures. The fund seeks exposure to bitcoin price movements without holding any actual bitcoin, according to the prospectus.
Fintech: German fintech firm SolarisBank, backed by notable investors including Visa and Spanish banking giant BBVA, has ventured into a crowded cryptocurrency custody market. Announcing the news Wednesday, SolarisBank said it has set up a new unit, Solaris Digital Assets, to provide custody services.
Healthtech: Privacy campaigners have raised concerns about a deal between the Amazon and the Department of Health and Social Care, which allows the US firm to use NHS data free of charge. The DHSC announced in July that it was working with Amazon to make verified health information available through its AI-powered voice assistant Alexa.
Privacy International used freedom of information laws to obtain a copy of the commercial contract, which states that Amazon will be able to access all “healthcare information, including without limitation symptoms, causes, and definitions, and all related copyrightable content, data, information and other materials.” In its report, the charity points out that large parts of the contract have been redacted. The DHSC and Amazon claim this is to protect commercial sensitivity, but Privacy International says this shows a lack of transparency.
Al: According to Fortune magazine, A.I. specialist is now the fastest-growing U.S. job in terms of the number of hires, at least according to LinkedIn, which published its annual emerging jobs report on Tuesday. Hirings for A.I. specialists on the career networking service have grown 74% annually over the past four years. The top metropolitan areas where A.I. specialists are in demand include the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Boston, Seattle, and Los Angeles. Computer software, Internet, information technology, higher education, and consumer electronics are the industries with the biggest appetite.
Smart cities: Ford and Microsoft partner to reduce traffic congestion with ‘quantum-inspired’ tech: to address the issue on a massive scale they will deliver “balanced routing” to thousands of drivers at a time. Rather than giving individual drivers the optimum route — which can send multiple drivers onto the same streets and create congestion — the quantum computing method simultaneously tests multiple routes and balances them among all drivers. In simulated tests based on Seattle streets, there was a 73% improvement in total congestion and an 8% reduction in the average commuting time, according to a Medium post from Ford Chief Technology Officer Ken Washington.
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