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What Moved Global Markets
– US-China trade deal update: seems that despite the almost closed deal there is still some uncertainty that remains on Wall Street. Being supposedly a game-changer for the global economy and making the stock market’s rise to a record after the announcement, the deal has left many analysts and investors puzzled about what was specifically agreed to by both sides.
– Scepticism is brewing in the markets as much of the details have not been confirmed by both sides. China, in particular, has been reluctant to commit to the amount of agriculture products it’s willing to buy, while big numbers are floating from Washington. Beijing has also been quiet about tariffs on U.S. goods as well as an enforcement mechanism.
– Impeachment update: Ahead of a historic House vote that’s expected to impeach President Trump, forty-five percent of Americans disapprove of the impeachment and 44% approve, according to the CNBC All-America Economic Survey. The survey shows 49% of Americans approving of the president’s handling of the economy, up from 42% in September and the highest level in a year.
– Despite IPO flameouts, 2019 sets record for U.S. unicorn births. So far this year 66 venture capital-backed unicorns were minted in the United States versus 58 in 2018, according to market data firm CB Insights. While unicorn creation in the United States continued to rise, China saw a big dip, according to market data firm Crunchbase. It said 21 unicorns have been christened in China so far in 2019, down from 58 last year.
What moved Crypto Markets (i.e. digital assets)
– Bitcoin drops below major price support for the first time since May. The breakdown may attract stronger selling pressure, yielding a slide below the November low of $6,500.
– SEC proposes wider definition of ‘accredited investor’ to expand market access. The current criteria for the accredited investor status only takes into account a person’s income and net worth. Only those with over $1 million in net worth, $200,000 in annual income, or $300,000 in joint annual income can gain access to private securities offerings, hedge funds, and private-equity funds. Institutions also need more than $5 million in assets to meet the legal requirement for accredited investors. The newly proposed amendment would expand the test to include those with professional knowledge, experience, or certifications that could prove their qualification to participate in private capital markets.
– “Modernization of this approach is long overdue,” SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said in a press release. “The proposal would add additional means for individuals to qualify to participate in our private capital markets based on established, clear measures of financial sophistication.”
– Blockchain venture firm Fenbushi has entered into staking business. The firm has partnered with staking infrastructure provider Staked for the initiative. Peter Yang, investment director at Fenbushi, said that the firm aims to be “a staking services gateway for the Asian communities”.
Fintech: A European Commission (EC) Expert Group has called on regulators to respond to the changing nature of fintech by adapting the rule book and legal frameworks to encourage innovation and dampen emerging risks. The EC’s Expert Group on Regulatory Obstacles to Financial Innovation comprises representatives from BBVA, Axa, Barclays, ING, the University of Ireland and the London School of Economics among its 14-strong membership. The formation of the group caused a bit of a stir when it was first announced, with fintech firms accusing the EC of failing to give startups a voice, instead packing the body with traditional financial institutions. Big banks concerns have been addressed in the report, which urges the creation of a regulatory framework built on the principle that activities that create the same risks should be governed by the same rules, with a view to ensuring adequate regulation and supervision and maintaining a level playing field.
Healthtech: Ro, a direct-to-consumer virtual health company, is diving into the weight management space with the launch of a new product offering aimed at helping patients shed the pounds. Ro, best-known for its online platform that specializes in men’s health, is now going to be offering Plenity, a new weight management product. Plenity landed FDA clearance last April and is classified as a Class II Medical Device. The new offering was born out of a partnership between Ro and biotech company Gelesis, which makes the medication. According to the pair, Plenity helps users lose on average 22 pounds and about 10% of their body weight.
Al: Last year, Finland launched a free online crash course in artificial intelligence with the aim of educating its citizens about the new technology. Now, as a Christmas present to the world, the European nation is making the six-week program available for anyone to take. Strictly speaking, it’s a present for the European Union. Finland is relinquishing the EU’s rotating presidency at the end of the year, and decided to translate its course into every EU language as a gift to citizens. But there aren’t any geographical restrictions as to who can take the course, so really it’s to the world’s benefit.
Smart cities: Amazon, Apple and Google are partnering to lay the groundwork for better compatibility among their smart home products, the companies said on Wednesday. The rare partnership comes against the backdrop of an intensified competition among global technology companies to dominate the market for voice assistants and other smart devices. The group aims to make it easier for device manufacturers to build products that are compatible with smart home and voice services such as Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant.
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