From Saudi Arabia's vision in Hong Kong to new pics of Saturn – Here are today's Headlines

In 2016, Saudi Arabia launched an ambitious plan called Vision 2030, aiming to diversify its economy and revenues and reduce its reliance on oil.

From Saudi Arabia's vision in Hong Kong to new pics of Saturn – Here are today's Headlines
A rendering of The Line, a smart city in NEOM, a high-tech business zone on the Red Sea in northwest Saudi Arabia. Picture courtesy: NEOM Tech & Digital Holding Co/Thomson Reuters Foundation

To start off, we're looking into:

Saudi Arabia's vision in Hong Kong

The backstory: In 2016, Saudi Arabia launched an ambitious plan called Vision 2030, aiming to diversify its economy and revenues and reduce its reliance on oil. And Hong Kong is actively seeking fresh investment opportunities and strengthening its relationships with regions like the Middle East.

The development: In a recent interview with the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Abdullah Al-Swaha, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Communications and Information Technology, talked about the country’s plans to team up with Hong Kong and eventually mainland China to give its Vision 2030 reform agenda a major boost. The kingdom is eyeing key sectors like fintech, tech entrepreneurship, venture capital funding, health sciences, biotech, the environment, cloud computing, AI (including generative AI) and smart cities for this partnership.

Click the link here for more on this strategic approach.

China's growing LNG market

China liquified natural gas
A general view of a coal mine, during a Huawei-organised media tour, in Yulin city, Shaanxi province, China April 24, 2023. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo

The backstory: Liquefied natural gas (LNG) has become a game changer in the energy sector. It's a compact and easy-to-transport form of natural gas, achieved by cooling it to extremely low temperatures. This shrinks its volume and makes it easier to handle. It also emits fewer greenhouse gases and pollutants compared to other fossil fuels, making it a more sustainable energy option. China, in particular, has recognized the potential of LNG and has made moves to secure long-term contracts for its supply. LNG also has a steadier price than gas, which skyrocketed in price after the Ukraine war.

The development: According to Bloomberg, China is on track to become the world's top importer of LNG by 2023. The world's second-largest economy has been consistently outperforming other nations, securing those long-term LNG deals for three years in a row. Click the link here for more on these moves.

Global shipping emissions in the spotlight

Shipping carbon emissions
Containers are unloaded from the Hapag-Lloyd container ship Chacabuco at the HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder on the River Elbe in Hamburg, Germany March 31, 2023. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo

The backstory: The global shipping industry is responsible for some big greenhouse gas emission numbers. Those massive ships crossing our oceans to move stock spew out as much carbon in a year as the country of Germany (which is a lot). The shipping industry is necessary, though, as it’s responsible for moving 90% of our goods around the world. And while other industries have started to make net-zero goals, the shipping industry doesn’t seem to have any targets like that.

The development: This week, the UN group that regulates maritime shipping, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), is meeting to talk about this problem. Delegates from 175 governments will be debating how to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions from this sector. They might decide to make more extreme climate targets for the industry. Click the link here to learn more about what's on the table at these talks.

To end, we'll look into:

If someone experiences a mental illness, they might end up dealing with the symptoms of more than one condition. When it comes to anxiety and depression, these two often end up co-occurring, so, in other words, people experience both at the same time.

What do anxiety and depression have to do with one another, though?

“It’s a cycle,” explains Sally R. Connolly, LCSW and therapist. “When you get anxious, you tend to have this pervasive thinking about some worry or some problem. You feel bad about it. Then you feel like you’ve failed. You move to depression.”

A new study set out to find the neurological link between the two conditions. Click the link here for more.

In other news ...


📉Market snapshot and key quotes:

  • In the US: US stocks kicked off the week with a modest rise during Monday’s shortened session as investors carefully analyzed a mix of economic data while keeping a close watch on central bank policies.
  • In Hong Kong: Hong Kong stocks ended the day on a high note ahead of US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s Beijing visit this week, with expectations it may ease US-China tensions. During the trip, they’ll dive into critical financial discussions between the two economic powerhouses.

📊Top gainers/losers and company news:

  • In the US: Tesla jumped 6.9% thanks to second-quarter delivery and production numbers that exceeded expectations. Meanwhile, Rivian skyrocketed 17.4%, while Fisker climbed 1.4%, and Lucid saw a 7.3% gain.
  • XPeng, the Chinese electric vehicle maker, gained 4.2% as it ramped up car deliveries in the second quarter, with a 27% increase compared to the previous quarter.
  • In Hong Kong: Tech stocks were having a field day. Alibaba gained 2.9%, while saw a 4.5% increase. Baidu joined the rally with a 4.6% jump, and Tencent followed, rising by 1.9%.

👀The numbers everyone is watching:

  • In the US: The June manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) stayed below the crucial 50 mark, signaling a bit of a slowdown in economic activity. It took a tumble to 46 last month, hitting its lowest reading since May 2020. In May, the index sat at 46.9.
  • In Hong Kong: China's Caixin manufacturing PMI for June came in at 50.5, slightly lower than May's reading of 50.9 but still beating economists' expectations of 50.2, according to a Reuters poll.

📅To check out our economic calendar for this week, click here.

📢French riots ease: After five days of protests, riots and clashes with police, it looks like the unrest in France is starting to calm. Still, President Emmanuel Macron wants the interior ministry to keep up with a big police presence on the streets. And, on Monday, mayors called for rallies to be held in protest of all the violence and looting.

💔Violence in India’s Manipur state continues: India’s northeastern state of Manipur has been seeing ethnic violence between two communities – minority Kuki and majority Meitei – for months now after the Indian government granted tribal status to the Meitei people. The government has sent in thousands of armed forces to the area to try to ease the conflict, but violence has been reported in the region every day since early May. Rahul Gandhi, the main opposition leader, went to Manipur on a two-day visit last week and said he was pained to see people suffering.

🚓Israel launches raid on Jenin in West Bank: This year, tensions have been rising between Israel and Palestine, with June seeing increased violence between the two. About two weeks ago, Israel launched raids in the West Bank, leading to a firefight that left at least five Palestinians dead and eight Israel Defense Forces troops injured. On Monday, Israel launched its largest military operation in the West Bank city of Jenin since 2002, killing at least eight people and injuring around 80 others, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

💣Ukraine makes progress in counteroffensive: Ukraine’s counteroffensive is still facing challenges in trying to get back Russian-occupied land, according to top NATO officials. Trying to break Russia’s lines, Zelesnkiy says that Ukraine’s forces have been able to make some progress.

📄Beijing’s new export controls: Gallium and germanium are two niche metals that are used a lot in semiconductors, communications, EVs and defense equipment. China is the top global producer of these two metals, and although they’re not necessarily hard to find since they’re a byproduct of producing other commodities like coal, China supplies it to the market at a relatively cheap rate. Now, starting August 1, China will put in place export restrictions on gallium and germanium as well as its chemical compound, saying it’s to protect national security. This comes after the Dutch government announced on Friday that it was stopping ASML Holding from exporting advanced semiconductor machines to China.

💼Iran delays ambassador appointment to Sweden: After Sweden gave a man permission to burn the Quran outside of a mosque in Stockholm on the first day of Eid al-Adha, Muslim-majority countries have been condemning the action. Now, the Iranian government paused plans to send a new ambassador to Sweden. Even though Stockholm police charged the man with agitation against an ethnic or national group, Iran says the Swedish government is to blame for granting this guy a protest permit in the first place.

🤝US treasury secretary to visit China: Even as tensions are high between the US and China, it seems like the two governments are starting to have more talks to see where they can cooperate. Last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a state visit to China and spoke with President Xi. This Thursday, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will make her own visit, where she’s expected to meet with Chinese officials and Chinese companies that do business in the US to deepen communication between the two countries.

🐘Thailand takes back elephant from Sri Lanka: Born in Thailand, 29-year-old elephant Muthu Raja, also known as Sak Surin, spent 22 years abroad in Sri Lanka. He was staying at a Buddhist temple there, where claims were made that he was tortured and neglected. Sak Surin was rescued from the situation after a successful campaign by the Rally for Animal Rights and Environment (RARE) group. He returned back to Thailand on Sunday, and Sri Lankan Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena personally apologized to Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn for the elephant’s condition.

Thailand elephant
A mahout walks with the 29-year-old elephant named Sak Surin, an ailing male Thai elephant, which was gifted to Sri Lanka by the Thai government in 2001, after a bath, as he receives medical help, before his departure back to Thailand for treatment and rehabilitation, at Dehiwala Zoological Garden in Colombo, Sri Lanka June 20, 2023. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

🚫Vietnam bans “Barbie”: Everyone is eagerly awaiting this month’s release of the “Barbie” movie starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. But, there’s a part in the movie briefly showing a map featuring the South China Sea with China’s nine-dash line, which designates China’s claims in the disputed territory that Vietnam perceives as part of its own territory. Now, Vietnam is banning the movie for domestic distribution over this scene.

🛢New oil production cuts: After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, oil prices hit a 14-year high before falling again by 40% since March 2021. To keep oil prices from continuing to fall, OPEC+ has cut oil production a couple of times – reducing production by a million barrels last month. On Monday, Saudi Arabia and Russia announced their countries would be making additional cuts in response to a predicted global economic slowdown in energy demand.

🕶Apple cuts Vision Pro production plans: Apple recently announced its own AR/VR headset, the Vision Pro. Apparently, it’s really complicated to manufacture. So, Apple is lowering production targets for the headset and is now preparing to make fewer than 400,000 in 2024. Insiders told Fortune that the company’s only requested components for around 130,000 to 150,000 units.

🔭Saturn like you’ve never seen it: We know Saturn for its rings, but we’ve never seen the planet like this. The James Webb Space Telescope just took its first photos of the planet, and they’re out of this world!

Image of Saturn and several of its moons, captured by the James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRCam instrument on June 25, 2023. (Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, M. Tiscareno (SETI Institute), M. Hedman (University of Idaho), M. El Moutamid (Cornell University), M. Showalter (SETI Institute), L. Fletcher (University of Leicester), H. Hammel (AURA); image processing by J. DePasquale (STScI))

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