In supporting Ukraine, the US totally condemns Russia’s invasion and has imposed heavy sanctions to get Putin to back off. Since the invasion started, Ukraine’s (and some US senators’) call for the US to officially designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism has been on the rise. And a bipartisan bill supporting the notion has already been brewing in Congress.
On Monday night, Biden denied that he’d give Russia this label. His press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said that doing so would affect efforts to provide Ukraine with aid. Pretty much aligned with Biden, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will probably stick with this stance, and he’s the only one who could brand Russia with the label. Still, the Senate already passed a unanimous resolution to make this designation.
China’s green energy push
China’s President Xi Jinping has a history of supporting climate initiatives and engaging with the science behind climate change. By his estimations, Xi has announced that China will reach peak carbon emissions by 2030. At a US-led summit last year, he also explained that developed countries should up their dedication to solving climate issues and also help less-developed countries shift to low-carbon growth. Already, China is the key supplier of equipment for alternative energy production.
On Tuesday, Xi made a speech on energy reform at a meeting he chaired. In his remarks, he called on China to conserve resources and develop a recycling economy, which involves sharing, reusing, repairing, renovating and recycling things for a long time to avoid waste. And now, Xi plans on sticking to energy reforms, especially as China continues to deal with the ongoing global energy crisis. So what better way to deal with oil shortages than to move away from it altogether?
Snap is looking for growth
Snapchat isn’t doing so hot right now. Its stock has been on a downward slide for about a year now, making the company worth US$130 billion last year, now only worth an estimated US$20 billion this year. Snap also just laid about 1,200 employees off, and its CEO described 2022 as “getting punched in the face hard.” (Honestly, though, is he wrong?)
The other major thing said in the memo is that the company will lean into features like the Map and Spotlight sections, which, according to him, are the harder pieces of the app to copy and, therefore, less competitive. This is in contrast to, say, investing in something like Reels, which is in competition with pretty much every other social media platform.
Starting with the AirPods, the new generation of Pro earbuds aren’t exactly sexier or more exciting than the previous versions, but hey, they’re an upgrade. The new AirPods Pro has six hours of battery life (compared to four and a half hours on the first-gen model), or 30 hours total with the battery case (compared to 24 hours with the case).
There were three new Apple Watches announced at the event. The first is the Apple Watch Ultra, designed for rugged use (think rock climbing or scuba diving). The second is the Series 8, which has crash detection for if you get in an accident and need to call for help, along with temperature sensors to help with fertility tracking. And the third is a new SE model, the budget model with some, but not all, of the features of the others.
The big release, though, was Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro. The device looks a little different from its predecessors, mainly because of the pill-shaped cutout at the top of the screen rather than a notch, which houses the camera and Face ID system. But what makes this so different is that Apple is using the empty space for some fun animations. Apple calls this the “Dynamic Island,” and notifications will pop out and around this space.
It will also have an always-on display, which means that even when you set your phone down, the screen will stay on (but dimmer) to display the time, notifications and any widgets you choose without draining your battery too quickly. Android devices have had this for a while, and Apple has finally decided to join the club.
There’s also a new camera, an eSIM instead of a physical SIM card reader and a new safety feature that lets iPhones send emergency signals over satellite.
Preorders are set to start for phones on September 9, and supposedly people will start getting phones in hand by September 16.
In other news …
📈Stocks: MSCI’s global gauge of stocks is up 1.13% to 2,614.10.
S&P 500 increased 1.83% to 3,979.87.
Nasdaq Composite jumped up by 2.14% to 11,791.90.
Dow Jones is up 1.40% to 31,581.28.
Hang Seng Index slipped 0.83% to 19,044.30.
🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:
After a three week slide for US stocks, stocks rose on Wednesday, being helped by the lowering oil prices and some commentary from the Fed’s vice chair.
The comments essentially reinforced the central bank’s fight against inflation but also noted that there were dangers of taking it too far. This acknowledgement was welcomed by investors.
The Fed also published their Beige Book, which is essentially a report published eight times a year on the nation’s economic situation. This one essentially outlined what everyone has been saying for quite some time: growth outlook remains weak, and inflation is too high.
The Fed’s meeting is September 20-21, and markets are pricing in at an 86% chance of a 75-basis-point hike.
Hong Kong’s stocks continued to fall for a fifth day, with China’s exports slowing more than expected in August. The month saw a 7.1 % increase compared to the market’s expected 13 % gain. July saw an 18% boost.
👄Some comments and chatter:
“At some point in the tightening cycle, the risks will become more two-sided. The rapidity of the tightening cycle and its global nature, as well as the uncertainty around the pace at which the effects of tighter financial conditions are working their way through aggregate demand, create risks associated with overtightening,” explained Fed Vice Chair Lael Brainard
“Activity is relatively weak due to the continuous lockdown measures, and the losing streak has also impacted the market sentiment,” said Louis Tse Ming-kwong, managing director at Wealthy Securities.
🛢Oil: Oil prices have eased up a bit, with Brent crude settling down 3.4% to US$88.92 a barrel. This is the first time it’s fallen below US$90 since early February. US West Texas Intermediate crude decreased 5.7% to US$81.94. This is the lowest rate since January this year.
👛Bitcoin: Bitcoin went up 2.83% to US$19,377.10 at the time of writing.
💣Al-Qaeda attacks Yemenese separatists: In an attack on the Abyan province of Yemen, separatist forces were targeted by terrorist group Al-Qaeda. This assault was carried out in an attempt to cut off a route to a city of 2 million people. At least 20 separatist fighters were killed and more were injured.
📜Chile makes changes after constitution failure: Last weekend, Chile’s new, progressive constitution was rejected, losing the public vote by 62%. Now, President Gabriel Boric is working on changing up his cabinet to deal with this period of political uncertainty.
❓Disruptions to Chinese investment in Hong Kong: As foreign investment into the Chinese economy grows, there’s something a little strange going on. Apparently, some of that investment is actually coming from Hong Kong, where mainland companies based there route funds through the city in what’s known as “round-tripping,” making these investments not exactly … foreign.
💸El Salvador’s Bitcoin woes: A year ago, EL Salvador began recognizing Bitcoin as legal tender and promised to build an entire cryptocurrency city. That “city” is still a jungle, and this year has not been great for Bitcoin either, tbh. The crypto winter has totally alienated investors and elevated El Salvador’s financial risk.
😷Chinese COVID-testing industry sees record profits: China’s economy is experiencing a slowdown as its zero-COVID policy introduces new domestic lockdowns and restrictions. At the same time, China’s top COVID testing firms showed massive increases in revenues and net profits for the first half of 2022. These companies benefit from China’s widespread testing campaign and foreign demand for tests.
🥱Where do we apply?: A Japanese man has found a paying job in “doing nothing,” making enough money to support his wife and child. This guy, Shoji Morimoto, gets paid to simply be there for people who request his company. He’s been contracted to wave goodbye to one lonesome traveler, ride a seesaw with a client in a park and simply sit with a woman at a restaurant. Sounds like a dream gig.
🙉Monkeying around: A brighter piece of news from Ukraine today. In Kharkiv, chimpanzee zoo resident Chichi escaped to a park on Monday but returned in style. A zoo employee gave Chichi a rain jacket to protect her from the drizzle and then lent her a bike to wheel her back to the zoo.
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