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World Economic Forum cancels 2021 annual meeting

"Regretfully, the tragic circumstances unfolding across geographies, an uncertain travel outlook, differing speeds of vaccination rollout and the uncertainty around new variants combine to...

Asset managers express caution on cryptocurrency after price swings

The recent volatility in bitcoin prices triggered by Tesla’s Elon Musk has raised new doubts among institutional fund managers over the future of cryptocurrencies as an asset class. UBS Wealth Management, Pimco, T Rowe Price and Glenmede Investment Management were among the firms that have expressed reservations in recent days about the potential of cryptocurrency investments.The upheaval came after Tesla said it would no longer accept payment in bitcoin for its electric vehicles due to environmental concerns, and Musk jokingly referred to dogecoin, a rival cryptocurrency, as a “hustle” during an appearance on the Saturday Night Live television show.“Our stance with clients is the 10-foot pole rule: stay away from it,” said Jason Pride, chief investment officer of private wealth at Glenmede. “I don’t think the Fed and other regulators are fans of the current market structure for cryptocurrencies.”Rob Sharps, president and head of investments at T Rowe Price, told the Financial Times: “Crypto has an impact across capital markets, and we’re capital markets experts. Ultimately, the mandates we manage for clients are not well suited for investing in cryptocurrencies, and we recognise the high level of speculation in this space.”To be sure, bitcoin has gained ground with investors in recent years and trading in futures contracts has become more liquid. US regulators are also considering whether to approve crypto exchange traded funds.But asset managers say they are troubled by signs that cryptocurrencies are failing to live up to expectations that they would become less volatile over time or offer investors hedges against equity turbulence or inflation.“The volatility of crypto is stratospherically high and we often see that, when equities sell off, so does bitcoin and that means it is not a good portfolio diversifier,” Pride said.Nicholas Johnson, portfolio manager for commodities at Pimco, took issue with bitcoin advocates who praised it as an inflation haven after cryptocurrencies rallied while gold fell in price.“This idea that crypto is an inflation asset is curious,” he said. “Inflation assets underperformed in recent years while cryptocurrencies did very well. People are looking for a reason to justify why crypto has gone up.”Cryptocurrency anxieties were further exacerbated this week when a leading US regulator warned investors that buying mutual funds with exposure to bitcoin futures “is a highly speculative investment” — and warned mutual funds that it would be subjecting their involvement with the cryptocurrency to intense scrutiny. The Division of Investment Management at the Securities and Exchange Commission said: “Investment in the bitcoin futures market should be pursued only by mutual funds with appropriate strategies that support this type of investment and full disclosure of material risks.”“We expect more stringent policy and regulatory controls ahead for crypto as it becomes more mainstream,” UBS Wealth Management said, adding that the price volatility that followed the Tesla announcement “highlights risks companies face if they take on crypto balance sheet exposure”.Tom Jessop, head of digital assets at Fidelity, which has been more receptive to cryptocurrencies, nevertheless cautioned that such investments were still in the early stage of development.“We refer to bitcoin as an aspirational store of value and it’s an adolescent in terms of its development due to the extreme volatility,” he said. “Some investors are willing to accept the volatility as they see bitcoin as a long-term venture opportunity.” Fidelity provides a brokerage service that enables more than 100 institutional investors such as hedge funds and family offices to buy cryptocurrencies and offers them custodian services. Fidelity has a small fund that invests in digital assets for clients and its has applied to the SEC to launch an ETF for bitcoin.Even if asset managers shy away from crypto, swings in its valuations are a concern for the industry because of the growing power of retail traders to cause volatility in the equity market, known as the “substitution effect”.“Watching what retail investors are doing is as important as bond flows to managers now,” said Viraj Patel, an analyst at Vanda Research. “They are asking, if millennial capital is buying bitcoin, does this mean they’re going to stop buying high-beta US stocks?”

More US retailers drop mask rule for fully vaccinated customers

Starbucks and Target are the latest large US companies to re-examine their mask policies after the country’s health agency said last week that fully vaccinated individuals no longer have to wear them indoors.The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday that fully vaccinated people could stop wearing face coverings in most indoor and outdoor settings, unless required to by individual states or businesses. The loosening of restrictions has left businesses scrambling to reconsider their own policies on wearing masks. Some large retail chains such as Walmart, Costco and Trader Joe’s removed the mask requirement for vaccinated shoppers over the weekend, while others such as department store Macy’s are keeping their mask mandates for now.Target said on Monday fully vaccinated customers and staff would no longer need to wear masks, but that “face coverings continue to be strongly recommended for guests and team members who are not fully vaccinated”.Starting Monday, Starbucks customers who are fully vaccinated have the option to go without masks, as long as local law permits, the company said. At CVS, fully vaccinated customers will not be required to wear masks, although the pharmacy chain’s employees will continue to do so. The decision to drop the need for face coverings for fully vaccinated people came as Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations continue to fall in the US. Nearly 40 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated. But the CDC announcement means businesses and shoppers must rely on trust, resulting in suspicion and anger. Given the legal and ethical conundrum posed by the prospect of vaccine passports, companies are not seeking proof of vaccination from customers, meaning unvaccinated shoppers could enter without a mask.National Nurses United, the largest trade union of nurses in the US, condemned the CDC decision, which Bonnie Castillo, executive director, said “does not protect public health, and threatens the lives of patients, nurses, and other frontline workers across the country.“Now is not the time to relax protective measures, and we are outraged that the CDC has done just that while we are still in the midst of the deadliest pandemic in a century,” she added.Some US states have also moved to relax their mask guidance to bring it in line with the CDC update, including Colorado and Pennsylvania. A few, such as Texas, had already abandoned mask requirements. New York will also adopt the updated guidance from May 19, governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday, although he said masks would still be required in some places such as hospitals and public transport.The CDC considers people fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the second dose of Moderna or BioNTech/Pfizer. The new guidance was based on data showing that fully vaccinated individuals are less likely to have coronavirus or transmit the virus to others, the agency said. Some vaccinated people will continue to wear masks, believing that the number of fully immunised people across the country should be far higher before they feel comfortable enough to remove their masks altogether.“I don’t think enough people are vaccinated yet. I just think [the CDC] rushed it,” said Cathie English, a reiki instructor from California. “We need to get to a higher vaccination rate. Both my husband and I are fully vaccinated but I will definitely wear a mask when I’m indoors.”Additional reporting by Peter Wells in New York

Technology

AT&T and rival Discovery to create global streaming giant

AT&T has agreed to spin off and combine WarnerMedia with its rival Discovery in a multibillion dollar deal to create a media empire that has the programming heft to compete with Disney and Netflix in a global streaming race. The deal comes just three years after AT&T paid $85.4bn for the owner of CNN, HBO and Warner Bros and reflects the break-neck pace of change for traditional US media groups attempting to reinvent themselves as streaming services.Under the proposed tie-up, one of Hollywood’s most prized portfolios — including Warner Bros film and television studios, the HBO network and a portfolio of cable channels including CNN — will be brought together with the “real life” output of Discovery, whose brands range from sport and wildlife to home renovation. David Zaslav, Discovery’s long-serving chief executive, will lead the combined group, which will be 71 per cent owned by AT&T. Jason Kilar, the executive brought in last year to accelerate WarnerMedia’s shift to streaming with HBO Max, was not mentioned in the merger filing. The transaction represents a humbling retreat for AT&T, which ran up one of corporate America’s biggest debt piles in a gamble to become the world’s biggest vertically integrated content and distribution company. “This should put an end to the debate about synergies between content and distribution,” said Jonathan Chaplin, analyst at New Street Research, who called the deal “complete capitulation”. The spin-off is the latest in a series of unsentimental deals by John Stankey, who took over as chief executive last year, to unwind the expansionist legacy of his predecessor and refocus the company on its core business. This included selling a 30 per cent stake in DirecTV to private equity group TPG this year. The deal valued the ailing television business at $16.25bn, roughly a third of what Stankey’s predecessor paid for it six years ago. The impetus for the deal is the accelerating race between the world’s biggest tech and media companies to catch up with Netflix and own a piece of the future of entertainment. Within the past 18 months alone, Disney, Apple, WarnerMedia, Comcast, Discovery and others have launched streaming platforms with global ambitions. Writing before the announcement of the deal, Jason Bazinet, analyst at Citi, said he could imagine “several other potential suitors entering the fray” for Discovery or to propose a competing merger with WarnerMedia. “We would not rule out Comcast, Disney or ViacomCBS getting involved,” he wrote. AT&T and Discovery included significant termination fees under the deal, agreeing to pay $720m or $1.8bn respectively if the deal fell through.Discovery and WarnerMedia generated combined revenues of $41bn in 2020, which compares with the $65bn turnover of Disney, the world’s biggest media group.

BP's lobbying for gas shows rifts over path to net-zero emissions

LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Oil major BP (NYSE:BP) has lobbied for the EU to support natural gas, a move that exposes divergent views among investors...

Giuliani lawyers criticize prosecutors' conduct in Ukraine probe

In a letter made public on Monday, Giuliani's lawyers objected to the "broad and sweeping nature" of searches conducted on April 28 at Giuliani's...
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Helius Medical Technologies, Inc. Reports First Quarter 2021 Financial Results

NEWTOWN, Pa., May 17, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Helius Medical Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq:HSDT) (TSX:HSM) (“Helius” or the “Company”), a neurotech company focused on neurological wellness, today reported financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2021. First Quarter Business Updates Its wholly owned subsidiary, Helius Medical, Inc., received marketing authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug […]

Quisitive Announces Acceleration of Warrant Expiry Date

THIS NEWS RELEASE IS INTENDED FOR DISTRIBUTION IN CANADA ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED FOR DISTRIBUTION TO UNITED STATES NEWSWIRE SERVICES OR DISSEMINATION IN THE UNITED STATES. TORONTO, May 17, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Quisitive Technology Solutions, Inc. (“Quisitive” or the “Company”) (TSXV: QUIS), a premier Microsoft Cloud Services and Payments Solutions Provider, announced that […]

Clever Leaves Reports First Quarter 2021 Results

– Q1 2021 Revenue Increased 19% Year-Over-Year – – Growth in Commercial Partnerships, Certifications, and Successful Initial Shipments Establish a Solid Foundation for Continued Success – – Reaffirming Previously Stated 2021 Guidance – NEW YORK, May 17, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Clever Leaves Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: CLVR) (“Clever Leaves” or the “Company”), a multinational operator, or […]

CohBar Reports First Quarter 2021 Financial Results and Provides Business Update Company to host conference call at 5:00 p.m. ET

MENLO PARK, Calif., May 17, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — CohBar, Inc. (NASDAQ: CWBR), a clinical stage biotechnology company developing mitochondria based therapeutics to treat chronic diseases and extend healthy lifespan, today reported its financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2021. “I am excited about the potential of CohBar’s mitochondria based therapeutic programs […]

Silver Mountain Mines Inc. Receives Conditional For Reverse Takeover Transaction With Nevgold Corp.

CALGARY, Alberta, May 17, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Silver Mountain Mines Inc. (TSXV: “SMM”) (“Silver Mountain” or the “Company”) announces that further to its news releases dated January 19, 2021 and February 23, 2021, the Company has received conditional approval from the TSX Venture Exchange (the “Exchange”) with respect to a proposed business combination (the […]

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Helius Medical Technologies, Inc. Reports First Quarter 2021 Financial Results

NEWTOWN, Pa., May 17, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Helius Medical Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq:HSDT) (TSX:HSM) (“Helius” or the “Company”), a neurotech company focused on neurological wellness, today reported financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2021. First Quarter Business Updates Its wholly owned subsidiary, Helius Medical, Inc., received marketing authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug […]

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Helius Medical Technologies, Inc. Reports First Quarter 2021 Financial Results

NEWTOWN, Pa., May 17, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Helius Medical Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq:HSDT) (TSX:HSM) (“Helius” or the “Company”), a neurotech company focused on neurological wellness, today reported financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2021. First Quarter Business Updates Its wholly owned subsidiary, Helius Medical, Inc., received marketing authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug […]

Quisitive Announces Acceleration of Warrant Expiry Date

THIS NEWS RELEASE IS INTENDED FOR DISTRIBUTION IN CANADA ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED FOR DISTRIBUTION TO UNITED STATES NEWSWIRE SERVICES OR DISSEMINATION IN THE UNITED STATES. TORONTO, May 17, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Quisitive Technology Solutions, Inc. (“Quisitive” or the “Company”) (TSXV: QUIS), a premier Microsoft Cloud Services and Payments Solutions Provider, announced that […]

Clever Leaves Reports First Quarter 2021 Results

– Q1 2021 Revenue Increased 19% Year-Over-Year – – Growth in Commercial Partnerships, Certifications, and Successful Initial Shipments Establish a Solid Foundation for Continued Success – – Reaffirming Previously Stated 2021 Guidance – NEW YORK, May 17, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Clever Leaves Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: CLVR) (“Clever Leaves” or the “Company”), a multinational operator, or […]

CohBar Reports First Quarter 2021 Financial Results and Provides Business Update Company to host conference call at 5:00 p.m. ET

MENLO PARK, Calif., May 17, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — CohBar, Inc. (NASDAQ: CWBR), a clinical stage biotechnology company developing mitochondria based therapeutics to treat chronic diseases and extend healthy lifespan, today reported its financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2021. “I am excited about the potential of CohBar’s mitochondria based therapeutic programs […]

Silver Mountain Mines Inc. Receives Conditional For Reverse Takeover Transaction With Nevgold Corp.

CALGARY, Alberta, May 17, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Silver Mountain Mines Inc. (TSXV: “SMM”) (“Silver Mountain” or the “Company”) announces that further to its news releases dated January 19, 2021 and February 23, 2021, the Company has received conditional approval from the TSX Venture Exchange (the “Exchange”) with respect to a proposed business combination (the […]

TOMI Environmental Solutions, Inc. Reports First Quarter 2021 Financial Results

FREDERICK, Md., May 17, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — TOMI Environmental Solutions, Inc.® (“TOMI”) (NASDAQ:TOMZ), a global company specializing in disinfection and decontamination utilizing its premier Binary Ionization Technology (BIT) platform through its SteraMist brand of products, today announced its financial results for the first quarter 2021. TOMI Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Halden Shane stated, “Our […]

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