From a hedge fund's confidence in Meta to the future of the Great Barrier Reef – Here's your November 30 news briefing

To start off, we're looking into: One hedge fund is betting on Meta –Tech stocks have had a ruthless year so far as layoffs, inflation and higher and higher interest rates roil the tech industry.

From a hedge fund's confidence in Meta to the future of the Great Barrier Reef – Here's your November 30 news briefing
Commute traffic streams past the Meta sign outside the headquarters of Facebook parent company Meta Platforms Inc in Mountain View, California, U.S. November 9, 2022. REUTERS/Peter DaSilva

To start off, we're looking into:

One hedge fund is betting on Meta

Tech stocks have had a ruthless year so far as layoffs, inflation and higher and higher interest rates roil the tech industry. Now, things are entirely different for Big Tech compared to last year. Brutally, none of the 15 most valuable US tech companies delivered positive returns in 2021.

As for Meta (formerly known as Facebook), its shares have shed over 70% this year. Meta just sank to new lows below US$90 earlier this month.

But, some people still believe Big Tech will make a comeback. One London-based hedge fund – Liontrust GF Tortoise Fund– is putting its money on Meta. The fund’s manager describes it as a "value-focus hedge fund,' and you could say Meta shares are pretty cheap at the moment. So, Tortoise went against the tide when it took a long position last month on Meta.

Double volcanoes

The Kilauea volcano is one of five volcanoes that make up Hawaii's Big Island, and it's been erupting for more than a year now. It's neighbor, the Mauna Loa volcano, is the world's biggest active volcano, although it hasn't erupted since 1984.

Well, on Monday, Mauna Loa erupted for the first time in 38 years, with lava flowing and ashes shooting into the air. The eruption didn't pose any immediate danger, but Hawaiian officials asked people to be ready for the "worst-case scenario" of lava flows heading toward residential areas. They also cautioned people with respiratory sensitivity to limit time outdoors since the eruptions can affect the air quality. The national park expects the rare double eruption to attract visitors, but it reminded tourists to be aware of the cultural significance the sites have for Native Hawaiians.

China’s elderly are getting vaxxed

A person walks past a poster encouraging elderly people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), near a residential compound in Beijing, China March 30, 2022. Picture taken March 30, 2022. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

Mainland China is one of the last places in the world pursuing a zero-COVID goal, and lately, cases have been increasing. This has led to more lockdowns and stricter curbs, causing economic headwinds and a pessimistic outlook that the country will reopen to the world anytime soon. Making things more challenging, only 68.7% of people over age 60 have had three doses of a COVID vaccine, according to official figures.

On Tuesday, Beijing announced a new campaign to increase these numbers. The country wants to boost vaccination rates among the elderly (especially for citizens over 80 years old) and reduce severe illnesses and deaths from the growing COVID outbreak. During a press conference, health officials confirmed the new plan without explicitly mentioning protests against COVID curbs happening in some places in the country.

To end, we'll look into:

The future of the Great Barrier Reef


Australia's Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure in the world. Made up of 3,000 individual coral reefs, the GBR protects Australia's coastlines and hosts thousands of sea species. Plus, it's a major carbon sink, meaning it absorbs and stores carbon from the Earth's atmosphere. On top of that, the GBR is an important part of Australia's economy, attracting more than two million tourists every year, pushing AU$6.4 billion (US$4.3 billion) into the economy and supporting about 64,000 jobs.

Unfortunately, the climate crisis has affected the reef, with warmer waters causing coral bleaching. Last year, scientists found that the amount of all living coral on Earth has declined by half since 1950 due to climate change, overfishing and pollution. Now, some scientists think that we should label the GBR "in danger." In a UN-backed report, scientists said, "The mission team concludes that the property is faced with major threats that could have deleterious effects on its inherent characteristics, and therefore meets the criteria for inscription on the list of World Heritage in danger."

But Australia is actually opposed to this label. Australia's environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, plans to lobby against UNESCO adding the GBR to the endangered World Heritage site list. She said, "The reason that UNESCO in the past has singled out a place as at risk is because they wanted to see greater government investment or greater government action and, since the change of government, both of those things have happened." Australia's current government is committed to reducing the country's greenhouse gas emissions to 43% below the 2005 level as soon as 2030.

The government has also started reef restoration projects. There, scientists are figuring out how to speed up coral reproduction and shift their genetics so they can survive higher temperatures. Some scientists have also been developing "coral-planting" technologies, including something kind of like an underwater drone.

In other news ...

📉Stocks: MSCI’s global gauge of stocks is down 0.19% to 2663.25 at the time of writing.

📰Some specifics:

  • Dow Jones stayed steady at 33,852.53,
  • Nasdaq Composite dipped 0.59% to 10,983.78.
  • S&P 500 fell 0.16% to 3,957.43.
  • Hang Seng Index boosted 5.24% to 18,204.68.

🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:

  • In the US, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite closed lower for a third straight session on Tuesday as investors looked ahead to Powell's speech Wednesday for any signs of hawkishness, and some critical jobs data for November is due this week.
  • Data on Tuesday showed that US consumer confidence fell to a four-month low in November, with households less willing to spend on big purchases over the next six months because of high inflation and rising borrowing costs.
  • In China, Chinese property developers' shares soared on Tuesday after regulators relaxed the regulations on developer fundraising.
  • China's blue-chip index CSI300 gained 3% in its best session for the month. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 2.3% to hit a two-month high.
  • Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng soared by 5%, and Hang Seng Mainland Properties Index closed 8.1% higher. Tech shares also jumped up almost 8%.

👄Some comments and chatter:

  • “The market has shifted focus from the conclusion of the third quarter earnings reporting season to now additional factors that are likely to influence the Federal Reserve in their December deliberations. Investors are clearly focused on the path ahead rather than looking in the rear-view mirror,” said Bill Northey, senior investment director at U.S. Bank.
  • “The Fed has hiked enough – and quickly enough – to make recession a base-case scenario in our book. Volatility and risk premia are likely to remain elevated as long as the Fed is fighting inflation in a growth slowdown,” said Lauren Goodwin, economist and portfolio strategist at New York Life Investments.

🛢Oil: US crude settled higher as investors hope China will loosen its strict COVID curbs, boosting the global economy. US crude was up 1.24% to US$78.20, and Brent fell 0.2% to US$83.03 per barrel.

👛Bitcoin: At the time of writing, Bitcoin is up 1.55% at US$16,457.40.

⚡Ukraine energy help: As Ukraine's energy infrastructure is still compromised in different parts of the country, it needs foreign aid. Today, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced US$53 million in aid to help restore the country's power grid ahead of the upcoming harsh winter.

🗺Clashes in the West Bank: Five Palestinian men have been killed by Israeli soldiers in four separate incidents in the occupied West Bank, according to officials. The UN has said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is "again reaching a boiling point."

💣South Korea's response to missile tests: South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has warned of a joint response with allies if North Korea does a nuclear test. He also called on China to work with North Korea to keep it from developing nuclear weapons and missiles.

💼Hong Kong's foreign lawyer debacle: Hong Kong is trying to figure out whether or not foreign lawyers should be allowed to work in local courts. On Monday, the highest court in the city rejected the government's proposal to ban foreign lawyers from domestic cases. Now, leader John Lee has asked Beijing to make a final ruling on the issue.

💥CAR bombed: The government of the Central African Republic says a plane bombed one of its military camps in the town of Bossangoa. In the same area, there have been clashes with a rebel group, the Coalition of Patriots for Change. The government says planes also dropped explosives on a base belonging to allies – a term mostly used for Russian mercenaries. No casualties were mentioned.

🚢South China Sea encounter: US and Chinese militaries argued on Tuesday after a US Navy warship performed the first freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the South China Sea since the countries' leaders met earlier this month to form a better relationship. The Chinese military said a US guided-missile cruiser illegally entered China's waters without approval. China also said the "US is a true producer of security risks in the South China Sea," which the US Navy called "false."

👩‍⚖️Ex-Comoros president gets life sentence: A court in Comoros sentenced former President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi to life in prison for treason. Sambi, who's a political rival of current President Azali Assoumani, was sentenced by a court after being convicted of selling passports to stateless people. The sentence can't be appealed.

🐤Apple and Twitter at odds: On Monday, Elon Musk said that Apple is threatening to pull Twitter from its app store, which would be a huge blow to the platform. Musk also said that Apple has pretty much put a hold on advertising through Twitter.

📔"Gaslighting": "Gaslighting" has been chosen as Merriam-Webster's word of the year for 2022. It's defined as "the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one's own advantage," and has become a really popular term on social media.

🚤Stowaways survive an 11-day trip: The Spanish coast guard rescued three people who had stowed away on top of the rudder of a ship coming in from Nigeria. These migrants survived 11 days on an oil and chemical tanker. They were taken in and aided by health services.

🌈Singapore repeals gay sex ban: Singapore's Parliament has decriminalized gay sex, or more specifically, a law on the books banning sex between men. But, it also amended the constitution to prevent legal moves toward legalizing same-sex marriage.

🚀Chinese rocket blasts off: A Chinese rocket carrying three astronauts launched Tuesday night to finish building China's space station. The crew includes one man from a 2005 space mission and two first-time astronauts.


Written and put together by Joey Fung, Vanessa Wolosz and Christine Dulion