From Samsung's work on health technology to the 2024 Oscar nominations – Here are today's Headlines

Smartphones and watches are all about health tracking these days.

From Samsung's work on health technology to the 2024 Oscar nominations – Here are today's Headlines
TM Roh, President & Head of MX Business, unveils Samsung’s newest Galaxy S24 smartphones offering AI functions at the Galaxy Unpacked event in San Jose, California, U.S. January 17, 2024. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

To start off, we're looking into:

Samsung's health tech

The backstory: Smartphones and watches are all about health tracking these days, with companies like Samsung, Apple and Google using health features to keep customers interested. The latest focus is on continuous blood pressure tracking and glucose monitoring, which could be real game-changers. Apple has been working on a glucose reader that doesn't need skin pricking, which is good news for people dealing with diabetes. Normally, diabetics have to prick their skin several times a day to check their blood sugar levels, which can be inconvenient and even inaccurate. But making a blood sugar monitor without the skin prick is tough. Apple's been working on it for over a decade, making some progress, but it seems like the final product is still a few years away. 

The development: A Samsung exec said the company is currently working on health features that can check glucose without a skin prick and also continuously monitor blood pressure. In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Hon Pak, Samsung's mobile digital health chief, shared that it’s all part of a broader push to put comprehensive health features in its devices, including the Galaxy Ring. Click the link here for more.

More blows to Boeing

Boeing 737 Max
Boeing's new 737 MAX-9 is pictured under construction at their production facility in Renton, Washington, U.S., February 13, 2017. Picture taken February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Redmond/File Photo

The backstory: One of the world’s top airplane manufacturers, Boeing, has been in hot water for several years, particularly over its 737 Max line of jets. In October 2018, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed in Indonesia, killing 189 people. A similar crash came in March 2019 when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed into the waters northeast of Jakarta, killing 157 people. Both of the planes were Boeing 737 Max 8s, one model from the Max line. After these devastating crashes, the 737 Max was grounded around the world for around 20 months, costing Boeing more than US$20 billion and leading lawmakers to pass new laws on airplane certification.

More recently: On January 5, Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 had to do an emergency landing 20 minutes after taking off when a door plug came loose, opening a hole in the aircraft’s fuselage while it was about 16,000 feet above sea level. Luckily, no one was seriously injured. This time, it involved a Boeing 737 Max 9. Afterward, more Boeing planes were grounded for safety checks, leading to hundreds of canceled flights.

The development: More trouble for Boeing came this week as US regulators told airlines to check the door plugs on a second Boeing 737 model, where operators had also found some issues with loose bolts. Click the link here for more.

Riot Games staff cut

Riot Games Tencent
"Game for Peace", Tencent's alternative to the blockbuster video game "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" (PUBG) in China, is seen on a mobile phone in this illustration picture taken May 13, 2019. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration/File Photo

The backstory: Riot Games, founded in 2006, is a major player in the gaming industry, known for games like League of Legends and Valorant. It focuses on two main types of games: multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), where teams compete strategically, and first-person shooter (FPS), which is essentially when players watch the in-game events from their character's viewpoint. Based in Los Angeles, Riot Games is known for being insanely popular, and it also organizes competitive esports leagues and events for its games. 

More recently: In 2011, Tencent, the Chinese tech giant, acquired a majority equity stake in Riot Games, upping its equity in the company to 92.78%. Now, in the last several years, Riot Games has expanded a lot. Specifically, it's doubled over half its headcount as it bet on different things across the company. New experiences were created, the company's portfolio was expanded, and new global markets were tapped into. 

The development: Now, Riot Games is making headlines after announcing plans to cut 11% of its staff (or 530 people). CEO Dylan Jadeja says it's because the company took on too many projects, which has caused it to not be focused enough. Click the link here for more.

To end, we'll look into:

Oscar noms

Oscar nominations 2024
Oscar statues are pictured ahead of the announcement of the 96th Oscars Nominations, in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., January 23, 2024. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

We’re in the thick of awards season, with the Golden Globes kicking things off earlier this month. The Emmys, which were postponed from last September because of the actors’ and writers’ strikes in Hollywood, were finally held last week. And now, the Oscar nominations for 2024 were released on Tuesday, with some not-so-unexpected nods and some surprising snubs. 

The Academy Awards, aka the Oscars (referencing that little golden knight statuette handed out to winners), are considered by many to be one of the biggest entertainment awards, where the best of the best in the film industry are celebrated for their technical and artistic awesomeness. 

Christopher Nolan’s three-hour biopic “Oppenheimer” was considered a major awards contender this year, and it picked up a bunch of Oscars nods, including for best picture, best director and acting nominations for Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr. and Emily Blunt. But the “Barbenheimer” contest (referring to the film’s release at the same time as the blockbuster “Barbie”) is still on, with Greta Gerwig’s pink opus picking up eight nominations, including for best picture, best supporting actor for Ryan Gosling (even though he’s just Ken) and some nods for the film’s unforgettable songs, “I’m Just Ken” and “What Was I Made For?” Click the link here for a roundup of this year's nominations.

In other news ...


📉Market snapshot and key quotes:

  • In the US: US stocks fell Tuesday from record-breaking highs as traders were digesting the latest batch of corporate earnings.
  • In Hong Kong: Hong Kong stocks closed higher on Tuesday after Premier Li Qiang's call for market-boosting measures at a Monday meeting of the State Council.

📊Top gainers/losers and company news:

  • In the US: D.R. Horton faced an over 9% drop after missing Wall Street's earnings forecast.
  • United Airlines jumped over 5% following a strong Q4 performance. 
  • In Hong Kong: rallied 4.7%, while Tencent and Alibaba rose over 3%. 
  • EV makers BYD and Li Auto saw positive moves, up 3.2% and 6.5%, respectively.

👀The numbers everyone is watching:

  • In Hong Kong: No major events are anticipated in China this week. 
  • In the US: Key data, including US GDP, initial jobless claims, durable goods, wholesale inventories and new home sales, will be out this week. 

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

More headlines ...

📰Middle East update: On the deadliest day for Israeli troops inside Gaza, 24 soldiers were killed on Monday during fighting in the Strip, according to Israel's military. Hundreds of people around the hospitals in Khan Younis were trying to flee on Monday as fighting ramps up in the area, and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) say the city's surrounded. Sources speaking to CNN said Israel proposed letting some Hamas senior leaders leave Gaza as part of broader negotiations on a ceasefire. Axios also reported on Monday that Israel offered an up to two-month ceasefire for the release of all the remaining hostages in Gaza. On Monday, the US and UK continued striking Houthi targets in Yemen, with the support of Canada, the Netherlands, Bahrain and Australia. A Houthi army spokesperson said the attacks would not go unanswered. On Tuesday, the US carried out strikes on targets in Iraq that were affiliated with Iran, according to the Pentagon, increasing worries about a broader regional conflict breaking out.

🌏China earthquake: On Tuesday, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake in China's Xinjiang region killed at least three people and caused extensive damage to buildings and houses in the freezing weather. Officials suggested that the death toll was fortunately not higher because the area is sparsely populated. Xinhua reported that emergency supplies, like coats and tents, were on their way or had arrived, and rescue crews were in the area. 

📦Amazon fined in France: Amazon France Logistique manages Amazon's warehouses in France. On Tuesday, the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL) said it had fined the company €32 million (US$34.7 million) for excessively monitoring its employees. Workers allegedly had to record tasks down to removing items from shelves and packing, which the regulator said could require them to justify every interruption or break. It also found the company kept stats and data on workers for 31 days, which it said was "excessive." Amazon told CNBC it disagreed with the decision and reserved the right to appeal.

🚗Apple EV update: Apple has been working on building an electric vehicle (EV) since around 2014 that it hoped would be truly driverless. But now, people familiar with the project have told Bloomberg that the company is dialing back its ambitions in order to hopefully bring an EV to market in 2028. The sources say Apple is reconsidering the car's features to be more along the lines of basic driver assistance, similar to what Tesla offers, and has been talking with potential manufacturing partners in Europe on the new plans. 

🏆BYD is China's No. 1: Last year, we reported that BYD had outpaced Volkswagen in the first quarter to become China's top-selling car brand. But the latest data shows that the swap is more permanent, with BYD overtaking Volkswagen's title on a full-year basis. BYD's worldwide sales also passed 3 million, meaning it could soon enter the top 10 for global auto sales for the first time, according to GlobalData.

💰India's market overtakes Hong Kong: China's stock market and economy have been in a slump lately, but, on the other hand, India's growth prospects and policy reforms have made it increasingly attractive to investors. As of Monday's close, India's stock market cap beat Hong Kong's for the first time, with shares reaching US$4.33 trillion vs. Hong Kong's US$4.29 trillion. That means India is now the world's fourth-biggest equity market.

💻MrBeast's China debut: MrBeast, aka Jimmy Donaldson, is one of YouTube's biggest stars, with over 230 million subscribers. On Tuesday, he broke into a new market, making a surprise debut on Chinese video service Bilibili. He got over 3 million views and more than 270,000 likes for a 90-second mashup of some of his most-liked clips. Eyal Baumel, who is managing MrBeast's endeavor in China, also said he plans to launch accounts on other sites, including Douyin, Kuaishou, Weibo and Xiaohongshu in the coming months.

⚽Ronaldo China matches postponed: Football star Cristiano Ronaldo was all set to play friendly matches in a "China Tour" starting this week, and fans were super pumped about it, with tickets selling out in hours. But on Tuesday, his club Al Nassr postponed both matches (one which was supposed to happen in just 24 hours) for a "health reason" affecting Ronaldo. On China's Weibo, a hashtag about Ronaldo's apology for the postponement was the top trending topic, with over 19 million views in just an hour. Now, fans are speculating whether Ronaldo will play in an upcoming friendly against Lionel Messi's Inter Miami in Riyadh on February 1.

😱Doomsday Clock: The Doomsday Clock isn't a real ticking time bomb but a representation of existential threats to humankind. So basically, it's a reflection of just how close we are to destroying the world. Scientists and security experts left the clock at 90 seconds to midnight on Tuesday – the same as last year but still the closest to midnight in more than 75 years. Reasons for our proximity to ultimate doom include the war in Ukraine, the war in Gaza, the climate crisis and even recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI).

🥶Coldest day in Hong Kong: On Tuesday, Hong Kong saw its coldest day so far this winter, with temps dropping to 6 C (42.8 F) and frost forming on Tai Mo Shan, the city's highest peak. Despite the bone-chilling weather, some people still took a dip in the waters off Hung Hom. Yeah – no thanks. **grabs warm coffee mug with both hands**

🗡️Oldest writing in Denmark: Runic letters, called runes, are the oldest alphabet known in Scandinavia, and Denmark is known for having found lots of evidence of this ancient language. They were used from the first or second century AD in northern Europe until Latin came around. But the country's Museum Odense said on Tuesday that Danish archaeologists have found a small knife inscribed with runes going back almost 2,000 years, which is the oldest trace of writing found in the country. The runes spell out the word "hirila," which translates to "small sword" in the Proto-Norse language spoken at the time.

🦒Benito the giraffe: A giraffe named Benito has been living at Central Park in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, since last May. But wild temperatures in the city's desert climate aren't ideal for this guy, so on Monday, Benito was on the way to a new home at Africam Safari, a park in the center of the country. Activists who had been pushing for Benito's relocation will be happy to hear that not only will he be living in better weather, but he'll hopefully make some new friends, as seven other giraffes live in the park.

Ciudad Juarez's mascot 'Benito' giraffe stands at the Parque Central in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico January 13, 2024. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

Quiz Time!

What Chinese business giant owns a majority of Riot Games?

  1. Tencent
  2. Alibaba
  3. ByteDance
  4. Meituan

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Written and put together by Joey Fung, Alisha Khan and Christine Dulion

**The answer to the quiz is [1]