From a breakthrough in the Boeing investigation to the Golden Globes – Here are today's Headlines

The Boeing 737 Max, initially announced over a decade ago, is one of the most successful generations of aircraft in history.

From a breakthrough in the Boeing investigation to the Golden Globes – Here are today's Headlines
The fuselage plug area of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 Boeing 737-9 MAX, which was forced to make an emergency landing with a gap in the fuselage, is seen during its investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in Portland, Oregon, U.S. January 7, 2024. NTSB/Handout via REUTERS

To start off, we're looking into:

Boeing investigation breakthrough

The backstory: The Boeing 737 Max, initially announced over a decade ago, is one of the most successful generations of aircraft in history – and the most delivered to date. It quickly became popular among airlines, but the generation of the aircraft has been steeped in controversy for years after two fatal crashes in late 2018 and early 2019, resulting in hundreds of deaths. From there, 737 Max fleets were grounded for over 18 months around the world, and although the Boeing 737 Max is in operation today, some airlines still haven’t welcomed it back, with the aircraft still facing challenges.

More recently: The latest Max incident over the weekend involved a newly-delivered Boeing 737 Max 9. A piece of the plane’s fuselage blew out at around 16,000 feet as the Alaska Airlines flight was still climbing from Portland International Airport.

The development: Now, with authorities trying to piece together the investigation, a key piece of evidence has been found in the backyard of a Portland-based school teacher. Click the link here for more.

India reaches orbit

India solar observatory
Source: ISRO

The backstory: For decades, space agencies worldwide have teamed up to explore the solar system. One focus is studying the sun so that we can predict space weather and shield Earth from disruptions. These disruptions – things like magnetic waves – can affect satellites, communication systems and power grids.

More recently: Last August, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) landed Chandrayaan-3 on the moon, making India the fourth globally and second in the 21st century to achieve a moon landing. Then, in September, India launched Aditya-L1, its first sun-studying spacecraft. Positioned strategically at Lagrange Point L1 between the sun and Earth, Aditya-L1 would be able to observe solar activities, delving into the sun's upper atmosphere and studying phenomena like coronal mass ejections.

The development: India's Aditya-L1 has now successfully reached its intended orbit after a four-month journey. The spacecraft is orbiting L1, positioned around 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, offering clear views of the sun. This milestone improves the scientific community's ability to study the Sun-Earth System. Click the link here for more.

Bubble tea IPOs in Hong Kong

Mixue Guming bubble tea IPO Hong Kong
Bull statues are placed in font of screens showing the Hang Seng stock index and stock prices outside Exchange Square, in Hong Kong, China, August 18, 2023. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

The backstory: In China's bustling consumer market, bubble tea has gained popularity, especially among the younger crowd who like trendy drinks. Well-known brands like HeyTea, Nayuki, Coco and Gong Cha have expanded rapidly, introducing new flavors like cheese-topped teas and different toppings such as boba pearls and fruit jellies. The competition is fierce for both local and international brands.

More recently: Last year, China introduced rules preventing certain companies, such as liquor and tutoring businesses, from entering the local stock market. Some of the regulations also made things more difficult for food and beverage companies to list domestically. In July, reports surfaced that at least six bubble tea companies, including China's largest, Mixue, and smaller ones like XSQ Tea, were considering going public overseas through initial public offerings (IPOs).

The development: Now, some key players in the bubble tea industry, Mixue and Guming, have applied for an IPO in Hong Kong. Click the link here for more.

To end, we'll look into:

Hong Kong’s shift toward WFH

Compared to Western countries where working from home has become the norm, many Asian companies, even during the pandemic, weren’t quick to adopt this trend, with many companies pushing back. In 2022, for example, CBRE research showed that more employees in the Asia-Pacific region were returning to the office than in other places.

Despite the slower adoption in some Asian regions, Hong Kong has experienced a gradual transition towards flexible and hybrid work, with flexible office space providers keen on expansion in the city to cater to the demand. "Businesses are increasingly moving away from long-term, fixed leases and instead opting for shorter-term agreements and coworking space," said Paul MacAndrew, the market manager for IWG in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area. 

Now with the precedent set, a recent Bloomberg Intelligence survey of 350 workers in Hong Kong revealed that 27% would need a salary increase of 6% or more to give up hybrid work if their employers mandate a return to the office five days a week. Click the link here for more.

In other news ...


📉Market snapshot and key quotes:

  • In the US: US stocks closed Monday in the green, mainly boosted by tech shares.
  • In Hong Kong: Hong Kong stocks took a hit, mainly due to a sell-off in Chinese tech giants. This was coupled with strong US jobs data, dimming hopes for a quick interest rate cut by the Fed. 

📊Top gainers/losers and company news:

  • In the US: Boeing fell over 8% as the company faced trouble with the temporary grounding of a bunch of Boeing 737 Max 9 planes for inspections after an incident over the weekend.
  • Medical tech stock Axonics jumped over 20% after Boston Scientific decided to buy it for US$71 per share, totaling an equity value of about US$3.7 billion.
  • In Hong Kong: dipped by almost 4%, NetEase lost 3.6%, Alibaba slipped by 1.8%, and Tencent faced a 1.4% loss. 
  • Chinese EV maker BYD went down by 1.6%, and its rival Li Auto dropped by over 2%.

👀The numbers everyone is watching:

  • In the US: This week featured key data releases, such as US CPI, wholesale inventories and PPI.
  • In Hong Kong: China is set to release important economic indicators, including China CPI, PPI and trade data on Friday.

More headlines ...

📰Israel-Hamas update: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Tel Aviv for key meetings with Israeli officials, marking his fifth visit since the October 7 Hamas attack. He's expected to emphasize the need for Israel to do more to protect civilians in Gaza as the humanitarian toll continues to grow. His regional tour includes stops in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Israel, the West Bank and Egypt. Meanwhile, Hezbollah, an Iran-backed group, confirmed the death of one of its high-ranking commanders, Wissam Tawil, in a strike in southern Lebanon believed to be carried out by Israel. The clashes between Hezbollah and Israel have raised concerns about a wider regional conflict. While Israel did not comment on the strike, it acknowledged hitting Hezbollah targets in response to cross-border attacks. 

👮‍♂️The release of Gypsy Rose: Gypsy Rose Blanchard is a figure in one of the decade's most prominent true crime stories after she and her then-boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, murdered her mother Dee Dee Blanchard. In court, it was revealed that Blanchard's mom made her pretend to be sick for years, suffering from illnesses like leukemia. From there, Blanchard orchestrated her mother's murder with her then-boyfriend. She explained her motive was to escape the abuse and manipulation. After eight and half years in prison, Blanchard was released late last month. Her return to the public eye includes sharing her first selfie on Instagram, where she expressed excitement about a supportive family dynamic, and engaging with followers on TikTok, celebrating her freedom. She's also been spotted interacting with fans at locations like Burger King. As of now, she has 7.9 million followers on Instagram and nine million on TikTok.  

📱iPhone lands safely after Boeing blowout: Amazingly, after the decompression incident on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, an Apple iPhone was discovered fully functional and intact after being sucked out of the plane's cabin and falling nearly 5,000 meters. The phone was found on the side of the road in Portland, undamaged and showing an email from Alaska Airlines with a receipt for the passenger's checked baggage. The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed the discovery and said that it would be returned to the passenger.

🤝Sony-Zee merger on the rocks: Sony Group and Zee Entertainment – one of the largest players in India's media scene – have had a deal for a while now to merge Zee with Sony's India unit, creating a US$10 billion media giant. But now, the deal is reportedly close to falling through because they can't agree on who will lead the merged entity. In 2021, they agreed that Zee's CEO, Punit Goenka, the founder's son, would lead the new company. But because of a regulatory probe on Goenka, Sony no longer wants him at the helm. Insiders say Sony plans to file a termination notice before the January 20 extended deadline for closing the deal, citing unmet conditions for the merger. But a resolution before the deadline is still possible, and discussions are ongoing. 

✈️Cathay Pacific flight cuts: Cathay Pacific had to cancel some flights during the Christmas and year-end peak travel period due to operational strain, according to a company statement, with SCMP saying the airline called off almost 70 flights during the holidays because of "higher-than-expected pilot absences caused by seasonal illness." Now, the airline has revealed plans to cut around a dozen flights daily until the end of February, aiming to prevent cancellations amid the upcoming Chinese New Year travel peak. 

🏌️‍♂️Woods and Nike end their partnership: Back in 1996, renowned golf icon Tiger Woods and Nike signed a US$40 million five-year contract, one of the most lucrative deals in sports history. From there, the deal grew, including a reported US$200 million 10-year deal in 2013. Typically, in January, new contracts between golfers and their sponsors are agreed on, but that didn't happen for Woods and Nike. They've officially ended their partnership after nearly 30 years together, where the sports brand stuck with Woods through the highs and lows of his career. Woods maintains he can still win on the PGA tour, even though he's dealt with a leg injury from a car crash three years ago. 

😎Apple Vision set arriving soon: The Apple Vision Pro was introduced around mid-last year and is a "spatial computing" device designed for augmented reality experiences. With the Vision Pro, users can engage with diverse environments and augment their physical space. Now, Apple has confirmed that the Apple Vision Pro Apple will be released in the US on February 2. Priced at US$3,499, pre-orders for the device begin on January 19.

🚗Nvidia expands in China's EV scene: With US export controls of advanced chips to China, semiconductor makers, including Nvidia, are struggling to meet the rising demand for powerful chips in China while following the rules. This is especially true regarding the growing Chinese electric vehicle (EV) market, a big focus for Nvidia's automotive technology business. But now, four Chinese EV brands – Li Auto, Great Wall Motor, Zeekr and Xiaomi's EV unit – have agreed to use Nvidia's DRIVE technology for their automated driving systems, which just underscores Nvidia's determination to expand its footprint in China.

⛄China's "ice city": Harbin, known as the "ice city" of China, experienced a record number of visitors during the New Year holiday, with 3.05 million people drawn to its annual Ice and Snow Festival featuring grand ice sculptures. The festival helped rake in 5.91 billion yuan (US$826 million) in tourism revenue, surpassing pre-COVID visit numbers from 2019. The city's popularity has been largely tied to its presence on social media.

Harbin China
Artists participate in a snow sculpture contest at the Sun Island Park, during the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, China January 8, 2024. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

👕Fast fashion will just get faster: According to a recent report, fast fashion will only get faster. The State of Fashion 2024, an annual publication by The Business of Fashion and McKinsey and Company, has labeled the likes of Shein and Temu as the "third generation" of fast fashion retailers, surpassing predecessors like Zara and H&M. The report highlights Shein's remarkable ability to introduce an extensive range of new styles daily, ranging from 2,000 to 10,000 items, showcasing an unparalleled pace in the industry. This is compared to Zara, which, on average, introduced almost 20 new styles a day, and Boohoo, which churns out closer to 50.

📺The Golden Globes highlights: And it's back! The Golden Globes are the first big event to kick off film awards season, leading up to the Oscars scheduled for March 10. "Oppenheimer" emerged as a major winner, securing five awards, including the top prize. Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey Jr. were honored for their outstanding acting performances, and Christopher Nolan received the best director accolade. In the TV categories, "Succession" dominated with the most wins, especially after its highly praised fourth and final season. Additionally, "Barbie" received the inaugural box office achievement award, acknowledging its global gross of US$1.4 billion.

The Golden Globes
Kieran Culkin accepts the award for Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Series – Drama for "Succession" at the 81st Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., on January 7, 2024. Rich Polk/Golden Globes 2024/Handout via REUTERS

🐶The dog ate it: It's one thing to have your dog eat your homework, but American couple Clayton and Carrie Law saw a much more expensive mishap with their dog, Cecil, eating up US$4,000 in cash. They eventually got it out of their dog as Cecil expelled the funds … naturally. The couple spent some time piecing together half-eaten notes and scraps to try and recoup some of the money. They needed to have more than 50% of the note in order to get their money back from the bank. In the end, the two were able to recover US$3,550.

Quiz Time!

Which airline was flying the Boeing plane that lost a piece of its fuselage mid-air over the weekend?

  1. easyJet
  2. Air Canada
  3. Alaska Airlines
  4. Cathay Pacific

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Written and put together by Joey Fung, Krystal Lai and Christine Dulion

**The answer to the quiz is [3]