From a temporary truce in Gaza to LeBron the GOAT – Here are today's Headlines

Israel and Hamas have agreed on a deal for a temporary “humanitarian pause” in fighting.

From a temporary truce in Gaza to LeBron the GOAT – Here are today's Headlines
Israeli soldiers stand guard in Northern Gaza, amid the ongoing ground operation of the Israeli army against Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in the Gaza Strip, November 22, 2023. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

To start off, we're looking into:

Israel and Hamas truce deal

The backstory: During its initial attack on Israel, the Gaza-based Hamas militant group killed about 1,200 Israelis and kidnapped around 240 hostages, according to Israel. Israel responded by bombarding Gaza with airstrikes and staging a ground offensive. The fighting has continued for over six weeks. But, most of the hostages are still in captivity, even though the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have essentially taken over northern Gaza and Gaza City.

More recently: While many world leaders are calling for the hostages to be freed and Gazan civilians to have a chance to get to safer areas, not everyone is in agreement over a ceasefire. But polls show that the majority of Canadians, Americans and British populations support one. There have also been major protests worldwide calling for a ceasefire, including a London demonstration of 300,000 people.

The development: Israel and Hamas have agreed on a deal for a temporary “humanitarian pause” in fighting. Click the link here for more.

China-Saudi currency swap

China Saudi Arabia currency swap
Paramilitary police officers stand guard in front of the headquarters of the People's Bank of China, the central bank (PBOC), in Beijing, China September 30, 2022. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo

The backstory: Saudi Arabia and China have deep economic ties, with China heavily relying on Saudi crude – 18% of its oil imports, totaling US$65 billion, made up 83% of Saudi exports to China in 2022. Beyond oil, Saudi Arabia plays a key role in about 25% of China's trade with Arab nations, stretching into sectors like security and technology.

Now, what are currency swaps? These arrangements between countries let them trade in their own currencies and sidestep the need for US dollars, the standard for global trade. It simplifies transactions and also reduces currency risks. China has an extensive network of currency swap agreements with over 40 countries, including Middle Eastern power players like the UAE, Qatar and Egypt.

The development: China and Saudi Arabia have just locked in a currency swap deal. Click the link here for more.

Nvidia's financial results

The backstory: Nvidia, a tech powerhouse in the chipmaking industry, has been making headlines this year. The company's stock price skyrocketed, tripling in value. In May, it became the first semiconductor company to hit a staggering US$1 trillion market valuation, joining the ranks of tech giants like Apple and Microsoft. The reason for this big jump is the company's involvement in the world of artificial intelligence (AI).

More recently: But last month, the US Biden administration introduced expanded restrictions targeting cutting-edge chips and tools – specifically curbing their export to Chinese firms. Nvidia found itself in the crosshairs, especially concerning its A800 and H800 AI chips, which it had made exclusively for China after the first round of US export curbs on chips last year. So, Nvidia introduced three new AI chips tailored for the Chinese market – HGX H20, L20 PCIe and L2 PCIe.

The development: Nvidia has released its fiscal third quarter results and its outlook for the fourth. Click the link here for more.

To end, we'll look into:

Talking to aliens

There’s a lot of talk these days about the existence of intelligent alien life. Mexico had two different congressional hearings this year where alien enthusiasts showed the government what they said were the mummified remains of aliens from over a thousand years ago. Earlier this year, US Congress also held hearings with testimony from military officers about potential evidence of extraterrestrials.

Theoretically, if we did come in contact with intelligent lifeforms from another world, how would we even communicate with them? There’s no right answer yet, but scientists and linguists have been trying to figure out a system.

Human beings evolved to be able to communicate with each other, even if we don’t speak the same languages. Aliens haven’t evolved alongside humans, but they probably would have a language system similar to ours to create the kind of technology needed to actually contact and communicate with us in the first place. Click the link here for more.

In other news ...


📉Market snapshot and key quotes:

  • In the US: US stocks ticked up on Wednesday as yields dipped to a two-month low. Wall Street will be closed tomorrow for the Thanksgiving holiday. 
  • In Hong Kong: Hong Kong stocks were flat on Wednesday, with concerns that the Fed might stick with higher interest rates for a while, offsetting optimism for a pause in hikes.
  • While the Hang Seng was mostly flat, it stayed in the green, up 0.0040%.

📊Top gainers/losers and company news:

  • In the US: PC maker HP tumbled 2.8% after posting underwhelming results for Q4. 
  • Autodesk slipped about 7% after a disappointing Q4 earnings outlook.
  • In Hong Kong: Baidu rose 4.5% after beating Q3 revenue estimates. Alibaba and Meituan gained 1.1% and 0.9%, respectively.
  • On the flip side, Xiaomi fell over 1% and over 4%.

👀The numbers everyone is watching:

  • In the US: Jobless claims for the week ending November 18 were 209,000, down 24,000 from the previous week and 20,000 less than what Dow Jones expected.

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

More headlines ...

📰Israel/Palestine updates: With everything that's unfolded over more than six weeks in Israel and Palestine, the International Criminal Court's prosecutor Karim Khan says his office has gotten a referral from five countries to investigate if crimes have been committed in the Palestinian territories when it comes to Israel's response to the Hamas attacks. South Africa, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros and Djibouti made the referral. Meanwhile, the Israeli military is saying that it's destroyed over 400 tunnels created and used by Hamas, some of which it claims were found underneath hospitals, schools and homes. On Wednesday, Palestinians who met with Pope Francis said that he used the word "genocide" to describe the violence in Gaza, while the Vatican denies that he did, leading to controversy and confusion. In some positive news, 31 babies were evacuated from Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City earlier this week; one of those babies has already been reunited with his birth mother and family in southern Gaza after being separated for 45 days.

💣US-Iraq clashing: On Monday night, a US-linked airbase in Iraq was targeted by ballistic missiles. A US gunship responded to the attack, even though the attacker was unknown at the time. Later, the US also launched airstrikes on two facilities used by the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah group in Iraq. The US is saying Iran and Iran-backed groups planned the attack on its forces.

💣Israel strikes in Lebanon: As the Israel and Palestine conflict continues, Israel has also been dealing with heightened tensions and violence along its border with Lebanon, where the Iran-backed and Hamas-allied Hezbollah militant group operates. Since these clashes started, more than 80 people have died, mostly Hezbollah fighters. On Tuesday, two Israeli strikes in southern Lebanon killed eight people, including two journalists working for Lebanese broadcaster Al Mayadeen and a senior Hamas official. Al Mayadeen accused Israel of targeting its TV crew on purpose because of its pro-Palestinian views and because it's pro-Iran's regional military alliance.

🚓Suspected telecom fraudsters turned over to China: In September, Myanmar and China began cracking down on telecom fraud, with many of the fraudsters based in Myanmar scamming Chinese people. Now, the numbers show that Myanmar has turned over 31,000 suspected fraudsters to Chinese law enforcement.

💰Pakistan under fire for refugee exit fee: Pakistan recently told undocumented refugees (mostly from Afghanistan) there to leave or face deportation and then started deporting them at the beginning of this month. This move was already controversial, but now it's under fire for charging refugees resettling in Western countries about US$830 (HK$6,500) per person. This exit permit fee is reportedly "unprecedented internationally."

💥Niagara car explosion: On Wednesday, a car exploded on the Rainbow Bridge between Canada and the US at Niagara Falls, so authorities had to close the border crossing and the three others between western New York and southern Ontario. The US FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force is investigating the incident. Two people in the car were killed, and a border patrol official was injured.

🤑Binance outflows: Yesterday, we reported that the CEO of crypto exchange Binance, Changpeng Zhao, pleaded guilty to charges in the US and agreed to a hefty fine. In the 24 hours following that, Binance saw outflows of about US$956 million (HK $7,454 million) as investors pulled out of the company. 

💼Sam Altman to return as OpenAI CEO: It's been less than a week since Sam Altman was booted from his role as CEO of OpenAI by its board of directors. He left the company, and so did his co-founder, and they were both immediately hired by Microsoft. But now, Altman is returning to his CEO position, even as it's still unclear why he was fired in the first place.

📺Generative AI video: Artificial intelligence (AI) firm Stability AI just announced that it's created a tool for animated generative images – so, generative AI videos, basically. Users can create a video from a single image. Currently, "Stable Video Diffusion" is only available for research purposes.


Source: X/@StabilityAI

🎤BLACKPINK honored in the UK:  UK King Charles III and Queen Camilla hosted South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife, First Lady Kim Keon Hee, for a state visit banquet at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday. The banquet also honored the K-pop girl group BLACKPINK, with all four members attending along with 170 other guests. "I applaud Jennie, Jisoo, Lisa and Rose, better known collectively as Blackpink, for their role in bringing the message of environmental sustainability to a global audience," Charles said. "I can only admire how they can prioritize these vital issues, as well as being global superstars."

Lisa (Lalisa Manoban), Rose (Roseanne Park), Jisoo Kim and Jennie Kim, from the K-Pop band Blackpink pose with their Honorary MBEs (Members of the Order of the British Empire), awarded to them in recognition of the band's role as COP26 advocates for the COP26 Summit in Glasgow 2021, on the day of a special Investiture ceremony conducted by Britain's King Charles in the presence of the President of South Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol, and his wife, Kim Keon Hee, at Buckingham Palace, London, Britain November 22, 2023. Victoria Jones/Pool via REUTERS

🐍Green mamba goes loose in the Netherlands: The Netherlands isn't known for its venomous snake population. On Monday night, though, a local green mamba owner alerted the cops that his "extremely venomous" 2-meter snake had escaped. Now, people in and around the city of Tilburg have been warned to stay indoors and not try to catch the snake. 

🎮Eminem is coming to Fortnite: A leak has revealed that rapper Eminem will make an appearance in the wildly popular game Fortnite. Fortnite's maker, Epic Games, has confirmed he will appear during the live Chapter 4 finale, and players can purchase different skins modeled after the rapper.

🏀LeBron scores again: Last season, famous US basketballer LeBron James passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA's all-time leading scorer. Well, on Tuesday, he broke records again when he became the first player to break the 39,000-point barrier as the LA Lakers beat the Utah Jazz.

Source: X/@NBA

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