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To start off, we're looking into:
BYD's road ahead
The backstory: BYD, the Chinese electric vehicle (EV) company backed by famous investor Warren Buffet, is a heavyweight in the EV world. It’s Tesla’s biggest competitor and has been expected to beat out Tesla as the world’s biggest EV maker this year. In the first quarter of 2023, it outpaced Volkswagen to become China's top-selling car brand.
But it's facing some challenges. Last year, Tesla started a price war in the Chinese market, leading to a US$18 billion drop in BYD's value in February, as the company also had to slash prices to keep up. On top of that, now Huawei has joined the EV scene.
More recently: In October, the EU launched investigations into subsidies for Chinese EV makers, which could affect their efforts to expand overseas. Later that month, Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway sold over 820,000 shares of BYD, lowering the firm’s investment in the company to less than 10%. But the carmaker still posted record earnings in the quarter ending in October, with its net income growing 82% from the same time last year.
The development: BYD is facing some headwinds ahead. Even though it did great in October, November brought a 12% dip in its shares because investors aren’t so sure about the company meeting its sales goals. Many wonder if BYD can keep up with the competition when it comes to advanced software and smart features. Click the link here for more.
China's new vertical farm
The backstory: China, home to over 1.4 billion people, has dealt with food production challenges since the late 1950s. Fast forward to today, and the nation relies heavily on soybean imports, with over 80% of its supply imported. While it’s self-sufficient in staples like wheat and rice, things like climate change, geopolitical issues and supply chain kinks are challenges to food supply. To tackle this head-on, China has zoomed in on enhancing food security. President Xi Jinping has said that China’s food security is also a matter of national security.
More recently: Vertical farming, a new way of growing crops year-round in multi-story buildings, is changing how we get our food, as seen in places like Japan, Singapore and the US. China is also trying some creative farming techniques, like high-rise pig farms in Hubei and growing rice in Xinjiang's salty deserts, all using cutting-edge tech.
The development: Chinese scientists have launched the world's tallest unmanned vertical farm in Chengdu, Sichuan, under the umbrella of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. As reported by state broadcaster CCTV, this 20-story urban farm is packed with advanced technology, featuring self-bred crops, a 3D cultivation system, automatic nutrient supply, energy-efficient lighting and artificial intelligence (AI) control. Click the link here for more.
Meta and IBM launch an AI Alliance
The backstory: For over a year now, the world has been able to see the capabilities of generative artificial intelligence (AI). It can be really beneficial to society – like by tracking deforestation at NASA or helping find cancerous tumors in medical imaging – but there are also some risks involved with this kind of technology. For example, it can spread misinformation and create deep fakes.
There’s also the issue of AI tech firms keeping their models under lock and key, so not all models are open source or used to the extent that they could be. For example, OpenAI, Google and Anthropic have closed their models. To make a model open source would mean allowing researchers to fully access and download it, accessing the algorithms and technology that make the model’s functioning unique.
More recently: The problem is that tech companies seem split on whether or not AI technology needs more guardrails and what government regulation of the industry would look like. And lawmakers often don’t know enough about AI tech to understand where the problem areas are and how to deal with them.
The development: On Tuesday, IBM and Meta announced that they are teaming up with over 50 other firms to build a group called the AI Alliance dedicated to open-source AI that will aim to make this technology more accessible and focus on safety. The AI Alliance plans to develop safety and security tools for AI. At the same time, it’ll be releasing more open-source AI models, making this technology more freely available. Click the link here for more.
To end, we'll look into:
Brain implant helps recovery from traumatic head injuries
When someone suffers a traumatic brain injury, they can sometimes get damage in their frontal cortex. When that part of the brain isn’t working right, a person can experience limitations when it comes to planning, focus and self-control – which makes it hard to do things like go to school, keep a job or even go on dates.
“One of the major problems is that there really are no effective therapies for traumatic brain injury,” explains Dr. Jaimie Henderson, a neurosurgeon at Stanford University.
Stanford Medicine has been conducting research for years with people who have suffered this kind of brain damage. Dr. Nicholas Schiff got an idea for how to treat this condition after being part of a project that used deep brain stimulation to help someone in a “minimally conscious state” become more aware and responsive back in 2007. In 2018, Schiff started working with Stanford and Dr. Jaimie Henderson on a study to see if this kind of treatment might help people suffering from frontal cortex issues after experiencing brain injuries. Click the link here for more.
In other news ...
📉Market snapshot and key quotes:
- In the US: US stocks continued to slide for a second day on Tuesday, indicating a slowdown in the recent Wall Street rally.
- In Hong Kong: Following Wall Street's recent decline, Hong Kong stocks dropped again on Tuesday.
📊Top gainers/losers and company news:
- In the US: GitLab surged over 11% after surpassing quarterly financial expectations and providing strong guidance for the current quarter.
- Nio jumped 1.5% following a reduction in losses during the Q3.
- In Hong Kong: WuXi Biologics fell more than 8% as big banks, including BoCom, CLSA and Citigroup, adjusted their plans, changing earnings forecasts or downgrading recommendations.
👀The numbers everyone is watching:
- In the US: Job openings hit their lowest since March 2021, with October's ob Openings and Labor Turnover Survey revealing 8.7 million roles, below the expected 9.4 million.
- In Hong Kong: China's official non-manufacturing PMI services sub-index for November dropped to 50.2, the weakest data since December 2022. Moody’s Investors Service also cut its outlook for Chinese sovereign bonds from stable to negative over concerns about the country’s level of debt.
📅To check out our economic calendar for this week, click here.
More headlines ...
📰Israel/Palestine update: On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the situation in Gaza is "deteriorating by the hour" as Israeli bombing hits all over the strip. The head of the WHO also said that Israel ordered the agency to empty its medical warehouses in southern Gaza – but Israel is denying this. Meanwhile, Israeli police are investigating possible sex crimes committed by Hamas during the October 7 attacks. And it's being reported that the Israeli military is planning to force Hamas militants out of their underground tunnel system by flooding those tunnels using seawater pumps.
🌍COP28 update: The discussion at COP28 has turned toward cutting fossil fuels as the countries present try to design an agreement that can be approved by next Tuesday. This Tuesday was called "energy transition day" at the summit, with the session headed by two oil company officials.
💣Nigerian drone strike kills civilians: This weekend, Nigeria's military launched a drone attack at a public event that killed at least 85 people and injured many others. An army spokesman described the attack as an accident, with the military mislabeling the group of civilians as militants after misinterpreting their activity. On Tuesday, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu described the attack as "disturbing and painful" and promised a full investigation of how it happened.
🎄EU warns about Xmas terror attacks: Over the weekend, there was a terror attack in Paris involving a deadly stabbing. As European society becomes more divided over the situation in Israel and Palestine, European Home Affairs Commission Ylva Johansson is warning the public that there's an increased risk of violence. She also said that there's a "huge risk of terrorist attacks in the European Union" as the holiday season approaches.
🌋Indonesia volcano developments: Yesterday, we reported on Indonesia's Mount Marapi volcano eruption, which killed 11 hikers in the area. Unfortunately, rescuers just found more dead, bringing the total death toll to 22, and another hiker is still missing. Rescue efforts have been challenging because of the difficult conditions around the volcano.
🏫Global education decline: With the COVID pandemic affecting schools all over the world, children have suffered educational gaps since 2020. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has released a study showing that teen math and reading skills are dropping in dozens of countries. But, the OECD says that it's not just COVID to blame; instead, "there are underlying structural factors, and they are much more likely to be permanent features of our education systems."
🤑Musk's xAI funding round: Earlier this year, Elon Musk founded an artificial intelligence (AI) company called xAI to compete with other generative AI companies, including OpenAI, which he co-founded. According to a filing, xAI is looking to raise US$1 billion in equity funding. The filing says that the company has already raised nearly US$135 million, although the names of those investors weren't listed.
🚗Uber added to S&P 500: Over the weekend, it was announced that Uber would join the S&P 500 index starting December 18. Since then, Uber's shares have been rallying like crazy, with investors hoping that this move means Uber will try to grow faster.
💻DNA hack: A company having access to all of your DNA and family history info is risky business, especially when it experiences a data breach. Popular US-based DNA research company 23andMe has confirmed that around half of its customer base's info was compromised in a digital data breach, affecting 6.9 million people. While no direct DNA info was accessed, the hackers were able to get their hands on some family trees, birth years and geographic locations, as well as some health data.
🍥Is wasabi the answer? Do you like eating wasabi with your sushi? You might want to start adding it to your meals because a new study shows that wasabi is great for your brain. Researchers at Tohoku University found that wasabi helps boost both short- and long-term memory.
🎮GTA VI trailer breaks record: We recently reported that Rockstar Games would release the much-anticipated Grand Theft Auto VI trailer on December 5. Well, it got leaked before that, so they went ahead and posted it early on YouTube, where it broke the record for the most views of a non-music video on the platform. MrBeast held the previous record at 59.4 million views. The GTA VI trailer has already racked up over 80 million views in the first 24 hours.
Why did Rockstar Games decide to release the trailer for Grand Theft Auto VI earlier than originally announced?
- Because they just couldn’t stand the anticipation.
- Because it got leaked online.
- Because fans signed a petition asking them to release it early.
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