From China's COVID policy pivot to beds at Twitter's HQ – Here's your December 8 news briefing

From China's COVID policy shift to confirmed beds at Twitter's HQ – Here's your December 8 news briefing. In a major pivot, China's National Health Commission announced a wide range of new rollbacks in curbs on Wednesday.

From China's COVID policy pivot to beds at Twitter's HQ – Here's your December 8 news briefing
People wearing face masks wait at a traffic light to cross a street, as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreaks continue in Shanghai, China, December 7, 2022. REUTERS/Aly Song

To start off, we're looking into

China’s new COVID plan

Over the past week, we've seen local governments in major Chinese cities begin rolling back some of their COVID rules.

For example, people who have caught COVID can self-isolate at home instead of at a government facility.

In a major pivot, China's National Health Commission announced a wide range of new rollbacks in curbs on Wednesday.

They include:

  • Lateral flow tests replacing PCR testing in most situations places
  • Lockdowns are now a bit more targeted, for example, only being placed on specific locations (buildings, floors or units instead of entire neighborhoods),
  • Lockdowns are only five days if no new cases are found, and schools can stay open as long as there isn't a major COVID outbreak.
  • Travel within China doesn't require negative test results anymore, either.

Apple’s made-in-US chips

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers his remarks during a visit to TSMC AZ's first Fab (Semiconductor Fabrication Plant) in P1A (Phase 1A), in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. December 6, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

On Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook officially confirmed that the company would buy US-made chips in a new Arizona factory that belongs to chip giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC).

The plant is still under construction and is expected to open in 2024. TSMC also said it’d open a second factory and increase its investments in the two Arizona plants to US$40 billion.

This is the first time in nearly 10 years that Apple will make chips in the US, reducing the conglomerate’s reliance on Asia manufacturers. “Thanks to the hard work of so many people, these chips can be proudly stamped ‘Made in America,’” Cook said.

Saudi crown prince given sovereign immunity

Saudi Arabia Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud arrives to attend the APEC Leader's Informal Dialogue with Guests during the APEC 2022 in Bangkok, Thailand, 18 November 2022. Pool via REUTERS

In 2018, a US-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote critically of Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman and the kingdom’s policies, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Declassified US intelligence said that the crown prince ordered the kill, which led US President Biden to promise that he would hold the prince accountable if he became president.

The crown prince has denied involvement in the killing. He has also said that the people involved have been held accountable.

Fast forward, and the Biden administration has said to a US court that the prince should be immune in a civil case over his alleged role in Khashoggi’s death because of his newly-appointed role as Saudi Arabia’s prime minister in September.

To end, we'll look into:

What's going on with Ronaldo?

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Group H - South Korea v Portugal - Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar - December 2, 2022 Portugal coach Fernando Santos and Cristiano Ronaldo look on REUTERS/Pedro Nunes

Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is a pretty legendary name in the world of sports. More specifically, though, he’s known for his goal-scoring ability. He began his senior career with Sporting CP before signing with Manchester United, but then he left that team after publicly criticizing its hierarchy.

Now, at 37 years old, Ronaldo plays for Portugal and captains the team. And, as the 2022 World Cup enters its quarter-finals, Portugal is still very much in the game. In their last game against Switzerland, Portugal won 6-1.

This game was interesting because, for the first time since 2008, Ronaldo wasn’t on the starting lineup. Instead, a young striker Gonçalo Ramos took his place and was able to perform the first hat trick of the tournament while on the field. And while this was a risky decision by Portugal coach Fernando Sanchez, it paid off.

Explaining why, Sanchez said: “We wanted a team that played with a lot of fluidity. Cristiano is more fixed, he stays in a more determined role towards the box. Gonçalo has different characteristics: he is very dynamic and that’s what he ended up showing us.”

The entire stadium was chanting his name while cameras remained fixated on him, waiting for him to finally play. With 16 minutes left on the clock (and with four goals already made by Portugal), Sanchez sent Ronaldo out to play off the bench.

Another young player, Rafael Leao, stole his spotlight on the field, though. At the end of the match, Ronaldo joined his team in celebrating the win on the field.

But some are saying that this could mark the end of Ronaldo’s starring role on the pitch. In their next game, Portugal is playing Morocco. And many are wondering whether Ronaldo will be on the bench or the field.

In other news ...

📉Stocks: MSCI’s global gauge of stocks is down 0.29% at 2654.34 at the time of writing.

📰Some specifics:

  • Dow Jones remained flat at 33,597.92.
  • Nasdaq Composite fell 0.51% to 10,958.55.
  • S&P 500 lost 0.19% to 3,933.92.
  • Hang Seng Index is down 3.22% to 18,814.82.

🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:

  • In the US, stocks closed mostly lower in choppy trading on Wednesday as the market again battled with fears over more hikes and a 2023 recession.
  • The Fed is widely expected to deliver a 50 basis point rate hike next week.
  • Investors are awaiting the US jobless claims data due out Thursday for more clues on what's coming from the Fed.
  • Chinese stocks fell on Wednesday after the country's November trade data showed that the country's external trade was lower-than-expected. China's dollar-denominated exports fell 8.7% for the month, weaker than the estimated 3.5% drop. This overshadowed the widely expected further easing of its COVID curbs.
  • Meanwhile, Hong Kong's home prices fell to the lowest level since November 2017 amid rising interest rates and as expats have continued to drift away.

👄Some comments and chatter:

  • "Slower rate hikes have been the trend globally of late, but the Fed remains a wild card. Overall, it's a fickle, anxious market ahead of next week's Fed meeting," said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Convera.
  • "The weak economic environment both in Hong Kong and globally, and rapidly rising borrowing costs are the most important contributors to the decline in property prices," said Nelson Wong, executive director of research at real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle when talking about the plunge in property prices in Hong Kong.
  • "The message of this year is that the economy has proven far more resilient than many people expect and I don't think next quarter is going to be the end of that," said Andrew Slimmon, Morgan Stanley Investment Management's senior portfolio manager.

🛢Oil: Oil prices slipped to their lowest since the start of the year on Wednesday after US government data showed an unexpected build in oil stocks. U.S. crude fell to US$72.01 a barrel, and Brent settled down at US$77.17.

💸Bitcoin: At the time of writing, Bitcoin is down 1.35% at US$16,857.20.

🇵🇪Peru impeaches president: On Wednesday, Peru’s President Pedro Castillo was just detained by police in the capital of Lima after the government voted to impeach him – 101 members of the 130-person congress approved this move. Now, the country has welcomed its first female president, Dina Boluarte.

🇷🇺Ukraine strikes Russia: Ukraine carried out drone attacks on Russia, hitting three Russian airfields. Ukraine hasn’t commented, but the US said that it "neither encouraged nor enabled" Ukraine to strike within Russia. NATO has refused to give Ukraine long-range weapons.

🇩🇪Germany arrests suspected terrorists: On Wednesday, German officials arrested 25 people involved with a national far-right terrorist organization called the Reich Citizens movement who are suspected of plotting to overthrow the government.

🇲🇿Mozambique fishing scandal: Ndambi Guebuza, the son of Mozambique's former president, has been sentenced to jail for 12 years over a US$2.2 billion fishing project scandal that led to a national economic crisis. He was among 11 people found guilty of embezzlement and money laundering in total related to this scam.

🇰🇷South Korea gives weapons to Poland: Polish President Andrzej Duda and the country’s defense minister welcomed the first shipment of tanks and howitzers from South Korea. Over the summer, the two countries made a US$5.8 billion weapons deal as Poland anxiously looks at the neighboring war in Ukraine.

🇭🇺Hungary blocks EU funding for Ukraine: On Tuesday, Hungary vetoed a US$18 billion financial aid package to Ukraine from the EU. Even though Ukraine is not a member of the bloc, it is an ally. Hungary’s leader Viktor Orban said that it had nothing to do with vetoing aid for Ukraine but much more about how the bloc should be run.

🇪🇸Migrants flee after emergency plane landing: A commercial flight from Morocco to Turkey had to make an emergency landing in Spain on Wednesday after it seemed like a pregnant woman on board was about to give birth. According to officials, 27 passengers exited the aircraft and “tried to flee.” Thirteen have been stopped, and 14 are still at large.

🇺🇸Is Biden running for prez again? At his State Dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron, Biden joined a toast to his “2024 presidential run.” This is the strongest sign so far that he will be running for office again.

🇲🇦Morocco waves Palestinian flag: Morocco won its World Cup game against Spain, becoming the first Arab country in history to make it to the quarterfinals-finals. Instead of waving its own flag after claiming victory, the team waved the Palestinian flag. This is the second time Moroccan players have raised the Palestinian flag after winning a match

👨‍⚖️Apple sued over AirTag: Apple is facing a lawsuit from two women who say that the company’s AirTag devices made it easier for stalkers to track their victims, even though the company says the devices are “stalker proof.”

🛏Beds at Twitter HQ: On Tuesday, Twitter owner and CEO Elon Musk confirmed a Forbes report that beds have been brought into the office building. This is after city officials said they would investigate a complaint saying that Twitter illegally converted part of its headquarters into bedrooms. Musk says it’s just for tired employees and that the mayor should just focus on the city’s drug situation.

🧬Oldest DNA: In the northern tip of Greenland, scientists have discovered DNA that’s 2 million years old from both plants and animals. This genetic material gives researchers a glimpse into what life looked like there before it became so barren and icy with permafrost.

🇺🇦Time’s Person of the Year: Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2022 was just named. Taking the title is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and “the spirit of Ukraine.”

Source: Time Magazine

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

Editor's correction: This piece previously inaccurately stated that Ronaldo's first team was Manchester United. It was, in fact, Sporting CP.