What Moved Global Markets
– Global cases: More than 2,403,200
– Global deaths: At least 165,700
- Italy’s daily coronavirus death toll hit one-week low, and in Spain the same indicator was the lowest daily increase in about a month, while Russia on Sunday reported a record rise of 6,060 new coronavirus cases over the previous 24 hours, bringing its nationwide tally to 42,853.
- Canada and the United States have agreed to extend border restrictions for another 30 days to help control the spread.
- South Korea extended its social distancing policy for another 16 days on Sunday but offered some relief for churches and sporting fixtures, as it reported just eight new coronavirus infections, the lowest in two months.
- African leaders, the IMF and the World Bank appealed for rapid international action to help African countries respond to the coronavirus pandemic that will cause the continent’s economy to shrink by 1.25% in 2020, the worst reading on record.
- Neiman Marcus Group is reportedly preparing to seek bankruptcy protection as soon as this week, becoming the first major U.S. department store operator to succumb to the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.
- U.S. stocks rose on Friday and also posted gains for the week, boosted by a surge in Boeing shares, President Donald Trump’s plan to reopen the coronavirus-battered economy and hopes of a potential drug by Gilead to treat COVID-19. Gilead Sciences Inc (GILD.O) surged almost 10% following a report that patients with severe symptoms of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, had responded positively to its experimental drug remdesivir. With no treatments or vaccines currently approved for the coronavirus, the news helped lift global equity markets. But Gilead said the totality of the data from the trial needed to be analyzed, and it expected to report results from a study testing the drug in severe COVID-19 patients at the end of April.
What Moved Crypto Markets (i.e. digital assets)
- Binance is launching a new Ethereum-compatible blockchain, with BNB as a native token. Dubbed “Binance Smart Chain” (BSC), the new blockchain would have smart contracts functionalities like Ethereum, and will be compatible with the existing Ethereum mainnet. BSC would run in parallel to BC – Binance Chain, a native blockchain that powers the decentralised exchange, and will be interoperable.
- Binance has just completed the 11th quarterly burn of its BNB tokens. Binance has burned $52.5 million worth of BNB in Q1 of 2020, a 35.2% increase from $38.8 million in Q4 of 2019. The Q1 BNB burn is the largest burn Binance has ever made – both in terms of BNB and USD. Binance has so far burned a total of 20.12 million BNB (an equivalent of $298 million) in 11 burn events, which represent about 10.1% of the total supply of 200 million.
- While searches for “bitcoin halving” on Google Trends recently reached record highs, MicroBT, a Chinese bitcoin miner manufacturer which is in a neck-and-neck competition with Bitmain, has launched three new bitcoin mining machines.
- New research by the Bank for International Settlements notes that cryptocurrency markets actually react positively to news of clear regulations. Per a working paper released by the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank’s Globalization Institute on April 18, crypto prices are more responsive to regulation than their reputation suggests. While news reports of government bans on cryptocurrencies resulted in price dips, markets jumped when the regulation was clear.
Fintech: Revolut, StashAway and PolicyPal have announced that they have joined forces to launch ‘Medical Energizer’ and support medical heroes who are fighting on the front lines. The program offers local heroes financial, insurance and rides benefits, to support their wellbeing during this crisis, according to a press release. For example, Revolut, a Visa partner, offers medical personnel 3% cashback for every transaction made on their Revolut Visa cards without any caps and weekly rides rebates for any ride-sharing services and taxi rides. Meanwhile, PolicyPal offers Personal Accident COVID-19 insurance with a diagnosis benefit.
Healthtech: Google searches for terms related to COVID-19 will now display information for COVID-19 testing centres – however, so far it only shows those across 43 states in the US.
AI: MIT recently trained a machine learning model to accurately predict the spread of COVID-19. According to the AI, we should be seeing a plateau where the amount of new cases begins to level off in the US and Italy in the next week. The MIT team trained the AI to extrapolate publicly-available data for insights into the disease’s spread, taking into account how different governments handled social distancing and quarantine orders as well as other standard epidemiology parameters. So the good news, however, came with a warning: relaxing quarantine measures too soon will be catastrophic. The engineers behind the AI explain the results as being very similar to the situation that happened in Singapore where quarantine and social distancing efforts managed to almost completely flatten the curve before an ill-advised return to business as usual caused a massive resurgence in COVID-19 cases.
Smart cities: Colombian startup Rappi is piloting deliveries by robots as a safe way of getting food to people forced to stay at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. The pilot started this week in Medellin, Colombia’s second-largest city. The boxy robots, which travel on four wheels and are decked with orange flags on their antennae, carry deliveries of up to 35 square centimetres (5 square inches) and are used to transport restaurant orders paid for digitally. The robots complete the last mile of the deliveries and are disinfected before and after each use.
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