What Moved Global Markets
– Global cases: More than 7 million
– Global deaths: At least 402,700
- Global deaths from the novel coronavirus topped 400,000 on Sunday, as case numbers surge in Brazil and India. The United States is responsible for about one-quarter of all fatalities but deaths in South America are rapidly rising.
- Demonstrations were planned across the United States on Sunday to demand racial justice after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody. The U.S. marches also inspired anti-racism protests around the globe, as demonstrators from Brisbane and Sydney in Australia to London, Paris and other European cities embraced the Black Lives Matter message.
- OPEC, Russia and allies agreed on Saturday to extend record oil production cuts until the end of July, prolonging a deal that has helped crude prices double in the past two months by withdrawing almost 10% of global supplies from the market.
- The heavyweight technology and growth stocks that drove Wall Street higher in recent years are again fueling a surge that has taken the Nasdaq from a brutal selloff to an intraday record high in just 11 weeks, as investors look beyond the economic upheaval caused by the coronavirus.
- The U.S. economy unexpectedly added jobs in May after suffering record losses in the prior month, offering the clearest signal yet that the downturn triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic was probably over, though the road to recovery could be long.
What Moved Crypto Markets (i.e. digital assets)
- Blockchain firms are increasingly dominating Hong Kong’s financial technology sector, with 39% of new firms launching in the fintech industry last year operating with distributed ledger technology. According to Hong Kong’s Financial Services and Treasury Bureau, DLT represents an increasingly dominant share of the country’s new fintech firms year-over-year, up from 27% as of 2018. A June 1 report published by Hong Kong’s treasury department has provided a detailed snapshot of blockchain’s accelerating growth within the territory. Blockchain comprises the fastest-growing segment of the territory’s fintech industry, with 22 of the 57 fintech firms that have launched in Hong Kong over the past year operating with DLT. WealthTech comprised the second-fastest-growing sector with 20% of new fintech firms, followed by Payments with 17%, and InsurTech with 9%. Since April 2019, the report notes that the number of fintech businesses operating in Hong Kong has exceeded 600, including the issuance of eight virtual bank licenses and four virtual insurers.
- Malta-based cryptocurrency exchange OKEx rolled out option contracts on Ethereum’s ether (ETH) token on Thursday, ending the Panama-based Deribit’s virtual monopoly in the space. “OKEx ETH Options Contracts will be settled in ETH. Each contract’s face value of ETH/USD options is 1 ETH,” Jay Hao, CEO of OKEx, told CoinDesk.
- Digital currencies could supersede bank accounts as low-interest rates make them increasingly obsolete. That’s the view of Massimo Buonomo, the UN’s global blockchain expert, who added that digital currencies, particularly central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), could soon “eliminate the need for a bank account” altogether.
Fintech: Indian oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Reliance Industries said on Sunday that the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) will buy 1.16% of its digital unit Jio Platforms for 56.83 billion rupees ($752 million). ADIA’s investment in Jio Platforms, which comprises Reliance’s telecoms arm Jio Infocomm and its music and video streaming apps, gives the unit an enterprise value of 5.16 trillion rupees, Reliance said in a regulatory filing. Reliance, controlled by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, has now sold just over 21% of Jio Platforms to investors including Facebook Inc, securing nearly $13 billion in less than seven weeks.
Healthtech: The U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) has selected Metabolon, a health technology company in Morrisville, for a five-year contract to analyze the metabolic profiles of military personnel. Findings from the research program, which is being conducted by USARIEM’s Military Nutrition Division, will be used to help develop new rations, menus, policies and programs to enable soldiers’ health readiness for combat.
Smart Cities: Baltimore health service officials have revealed plans to recruit more than 300 jobless residents to serve as contact tracers and care coordinators during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Baltimore Health Corps is a pilot programme intended to equitably address the city’s economic and public health crises caused by Covid-19. Baltimore has made a $4.5m commitment to support the public-private partnership initiative while the Rockefeller Foundation committed an initial $2m. Additional private funders have contributed more than $2.3m. The total cost of the initiative is $12.4m, and the city will continue to raise the remaining $3.5 million as the pilot gets underway.
AI: Amazon’s new AI technique lets users virtually try on outfits. In a series of papers scheduled to be presented at the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), Amazon researchers propose complementary AI algorithms that could form the foundation of an assistant that helps customers shop for clothes. One lets people fine-tune search queries by describing variations on a product image, while another suggests products that go with items a customer has already selected. Meanwhile, a third synthesizes an image of a model wearing clothes from different product pages to demonstrate how items work together as an outfit. Amazon already leverages AI to power Style by Alexa, a feature of the Amazon Shopping app that suggests, compares, and rates apparel using algorithms and human curation.