What Moved Global Markets
- Coronavirus update: World Health Organization declares the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. The number of cases and deaths changes by the hour, topping 121,564 with at least 4,373 deaths across the world as of Wednesday morning. Cases in China and South Korea have significantly declined, 81 countries don’t have any confirmed cases and 57 countries have 10 or fewer cases.
- WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference at the organization’s headquarters in Geneva: “We’re deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” he said, just before declaring the pandemic. “We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear. We cannot say this loudly enough or clearly enough or often enough: All countries can still change the course of this pandemic. Some countries are struggling with a lack of capacity. Some countries are struggling with a lack of resources. Some countries are struggling with a lack of resolve.”
- Stocks plummeted Wednesday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 1,300 points lower, or more than 5%. The S&P 500 slid 4.6% while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 4.4%.
- Oil update: Saudi Arabia unveiled plans Wednesday to dramatically ramp up oil production, raising the stakes of an all-out price war with non-OPEC leader Russia. State-owned oil behemoth Saudi Aramco said Wednesday that it had been asked by the Saudi energy ministry to raise its production capacity to 13 million barrels per day (bpd), up from 12 million bpd at present. The oil-rich kingdom has been pumping around 9.7 million bpd in recent months, but it has plenty of spare capacity to pump more crude, with hundreds of millions of barrels also in storage. “This bold move to attempt to order production to 13 (million) barrels confirms that Saudi is trying to apply maximum pressure on both Russia and the U.S.”
What moved Crypto Markets (i.e. digital assets)
- Venture firms Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), Coinbase Ventures, Polychain Capital, and several other crypto firms have joined the “Alliance for Prosperity” to build financial apps on top of the Celo blockchain. The Celo Foundation announced the news on Wednesday, saying that 50 initial members of the alliance will work toward financial inclusion and explore several use cases such as remittances, humanitarian aid, and microlending. Celo operates an open blockchain platform, and also issues a stablecoin called Celo Dollar. Members of the alliance will build apps to incorporate the stablecoin. “The end goal is to make Celo Dollars as accessible as possible to bring open finance to the 5.6 billion smartphones around the world,” said the Celo Foundation.
- The IOTA network went back online Tuesday after an extended shutdown following an attack on users of the Trinity wallet software. When the attack happened on Feb 12, the IOTA Foundation – a non-profit group that oversees the development of the network and runs the so-called Coordinator node – took down the Coordinator to stop value transactions and protect Trinity users from further thefts of their tokens. Around $2.2 million in IOTA tokens were stolen from users as a result of vulnerability. The IOTA Foundation has transitioned users to new accounts and resumed its transaction confirmation system on Tuesday, the group said. The group revealed that IOTA cofounder David Sonstebo plans to personally reimburse all victims involved in the $2.2 million theft.
Fintech: The UK’s Department for International Trade has included a mention of the blockchain industry in its pre-negotiation agenda for a post-Brexit Free Trade Agreement with the United States – specifically highlighting maximised opportunities for digital trade across all sectors of the economy.”
Healthtech: The digital security of medical devices will face added scrutiny in forthcoming rules issued by the European Union. Set to come into force this May, the updated EU Medical Device Regulation (MDR) will see manufacturers of medical devices and healthcare equipment, from contact lenses to pacemakers, adhering to more stringent standards throughout a product’s lifecycle. The aim is to improve patient safety across one of the world’s largest markets for medical devices, which accounts for an approximate €110 billion ($125 billion) in annual sales. Particular attention has been paid to IoT medical equipment and products that have programmable electronic software. Devices destined for the European marketplace will now have to undergo approval through a risk classification system that puts onus of cybersecurity predominately on the manufacturer.
AI: Report: The Artificial Intelligence (AI) in supply chain market is expected to grow 45.3% from 2019 to 2027 to reach $21.8 billion by 2027.
Smart cities: The Linux Foundation has announced it is making new open source technology available to developers worldwide to help build mesh network nodes for global emergency communications networks. Project Owl IoT device firmware, winner of IBM’s inaugural Call for Code challenge, is a cloud-based analytics tool that aims to help facilitate organisation, whereabouts and logistics for disaster response.
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