What Moved Global Markets
– Global cases: More than 2.6 million
– Global deaths: At least 182,000
- U.S. coronavirus deaths topped 46,000 on Wednesday after rising by a near-record single-day number on Tuesday.
- In Paris, the unrest has erupted the past four nights, causing protests against lockdowns – but the government said it would keep enforcing lockdown.
- Mexico will increase spending on social programs and infrastructure projects by $25.6 billion.
- The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that he hoped the Trump administration would reconsider its suspension of funding, and “the U.S. will once again support WHO’s work and continue to save lives.” “Make no mistake we have a long way to go. This virus will be with us for a long time,” he said, while noting that epidemics in Western Europe appear to be stabilising or declining.
- Stocks rose for the first time in three days on Wednesday as crude prices stabilized after a record plunge while better-than-expected earnings also lifted market sentiment.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 455 points, or nearly 2%. The S&P 500 climbed 2.4% while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 2.9%.
- Oil trading has been more volatile than ever in recent days. Brent crude oil rebounded from two days of losses and U.S. futures surged on Wednesday, bolstered by tentative discussions of additional supply cuts from OPEC producers and U.S. inventory builds that were less dire than some anticipated.
What Moved Crypto Markets (i.e. digital assets)
- All of China’s state-owned banks and some of China’s most prominent tech giants plan to deploy implementations of blockchain. A white paper by one of the biggest banks in China shows that the blockchain is being used for trade settlement, supply chain management, financing, and other areas in the financial services sector. 72 financial services companies have registered with the government to provide blockchain-based services. For instance, ICBC itself has built a cross-border trade settlement platform between China and Europe that uses distributed ledger technology and smart contracts to authenticate and sync shipping information shared by companies, warehouses, customs, banks, and government agencies.
- Bitcoin has been rising so far on Wednesday as stock markets cheer the U.S. Senate’s decision to approve $484 billion in new coronavirus relief. BTC is changing hands near $6,970 at press time, representing a 1.6 percent gain on the day.
- Tim Draper’s venture studio has released a WordPress plugin it claims will democratize crypto trading. “Cryptocurrency Exchange” plugin, released Wednesday, would allow anyone to add trading features to websites “in minutes” or even create their own branded cryptocurrency exchange. The plugin was open for any website owner, whether bloggers, content creators, media companies or entrepreneurs. Tim Draper said the plugin would “make us one step closer to the dream of a truly borderless world.” Using the API from crypto swaps platform Totle, the plugin routes orders to decentralized trading platforms said to be listing the best prices. It also doesn’t have any built-in facility to store digital assets but is compatible with existing wallet plugins, like MetaMask, Brave and Coinbase Wallet.
Fintech: Facebook is set to spend $5.7 billion to buy a 9.99% stake in Reliance Industries’ digital arm, as it looks to roll out services for India’s grocers and small businesses by capitalizing on WhatsApp’s extensive reach in the country. The deal announced on Wednesday is Facebook’s biggest since its $22 billion buyout of WhatsApp in 2014 and will give the Cupertino, California-based firm a stake in Jio Platforms – the digital services entity that houses Reliance’s telecoms arm Jio Infocomm, as well as its news, movie and music apps, along with other businesses. Reliance Industries Limited is an Indian multinational conglomerate company headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Reliance owns businesses across India engaged in energy, petrochemicals, textiles, natural resources, retail, and telecommunications.
Healthtech: A startup called H1 landed $12.9 million in a Series A funding round to scale up its platform that serves as a LinkedIn for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. It contains profiles of more than 8 million healthcare professionals and 16,000 institutions in 70-plus countries, all of which are kept up-to-date weekly. It’s the largest such data platform in the industry, according to the company.
Smart cities: A charming story of ice-cream shops in the US that turn into drive-thrus and 100% touchless.
AI: Customised video conferencing backgrounds have gotten an artificially intelligent upgrade: real-time animated deepfakes that transform your face into that of a celebrity. Karim Iskakov at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Moscow, and Ali Aliev, a software developer in Moscow, have developed a program that lets you create deepfakes in real time during video calls. The program, called Avatarify, works with video conferencing applications such as Zoom or Skype. All it requires is a headshot of the person you want to appear to be. Demonstrating to New Scientist via a Zoom call, Aliev used the program to appear to be speaking as several figures including Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, Albert Einstein and the Mona Lisa.
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