From Intel's new Foundry biz to online "pig butchering" scams – Here are today's Headlines

At an event in San Jose, California, on Wednesday, Intel announced its launch of the "first systems foundry for the AI era."

From Intel's new Foundry biz to online "pig butchering" scams – Here are today's Headlines
Dancers perform at an Intel Foundry semiconductor manufacturing event in San Jose, California, U.S. February 21, 2024. REUTERS/Max Cherney

To start off, we're looking into:

Intel-Microsoft chip deal

The backstory: In 2022, the US government passed the CHIPS and Science Act, which set aside around US$52 billion to boost the country's domestic semiconductor industry. The aim was to encourage chipmakers to build their factories in the US instead of outsourcing overseas.

Intel, a heavyweight in the chip industry, once dominated the market by manufacturing its own chips. But it has fallen behind Asian competitors like TSMC and Samsung, who have been setting up shop in the US. Losing that edge caused some turbulence for Intel, and the company saw a streak of declining revenue. To bounce back, Intel has been making new investments, including putting more than US$20 billion toward factories in Ohio, a US$20 billion expansion in Arizona and a US$3.5 billion investment in New Mexico.

More recently: With artificial intelligence (AI) booming, there's a huge demand for special chips that AI tech uses called accelerators. Nvidia is riding at the top of this wave with its dominance in the AI chip scene. But Intel and other big names like Microsoft and AMD are racing to make their own high-performance chips. AMD, for instance, released its MI300 lineup last June, saying it can run AI software faster than the competition.

The development: At an event in San Jose, California, on Wednesday, Intel announced its launch of the "first systems foundry for the AI era" and said that Microsoft plans to use its services to cook up a new chip of its own design Intel wants to beat out its main rival, TSMC, and set 2025 as its internal deadline to do it. Click the link here for more.

Walmart’s Vizio purchase

Walmart Vizio
Screens display logos and trading information for Walmart and Vizio as a trader works on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., February 20, 2024. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The backstory: Walmart is a global retail giant founded in 1962 that operates thousands of stores worldwide where you can pretty much buy anything, from groceries to electronics. But it doesn’t want to be just a store where you can buy lettuce, a garden hose and Minions pajamas all in one place. It’s also been pumping billions into its online presence to keep up with the digital age. Not only is this important to tap into the booming online shopping scene, but the company is following in the footsteps of retail giants that are big into media and advertising, like Amazon. 

More recently: Last year, Walmart's ad business was just a tiny slice of the pie, bringing in around US$3.4 billion, less than 1% of its total sales. So, it’s on a mission to change that. Walmart is also thinking it can leverage its massive amount of consumer data to deliver personalized ads online. Over the last two years, it has teamed up with companies like Innovid for personalized TV ads, Roku for piloting "shoppable ads" that let you buy things straight from your TV and networks like Snapchat and TikTok to branch out into the social media scene.

The development: Walmart announced this week that it’s buying Vizio for US$2.3 billion. If you're not familiar, Vizio is known for its smart TVs and has over 18 million active accounts on its network SmartCast. So Walmart’s acquisition would give it access to that extensive base of customers to offer advertising as well as create unique entertainment opportunities for Vizio TV owners. Click the link here for more.

China’s plug-in hybrids

China plug-in hybrids electric vehicles
A worker looks on at a BYD assembly line in Shenzhen, China May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo/File Photo

The background: Many nations are focusing on increasing the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road in the fight against climate change. EVs are more efficient in energy consumption, but there are some challenges to replacing gasoline cars entirely. Charging networks are still being built out, so there are often long lines for chargers. Drivers can also have something called “range anxiety,” which is essentially when they’re nervous about how far they can go without needing to charge up again. The high upfront cost of EVs is another reason many have been discouraged from making the change. 

While China still holds its place as the world’s second-largest economy, it’s been facing a real estate crisis, a drop in manufacturing and a slow economic recovery since the pandemic. But, Chinese EV production has been dominating the market compared to its Western competitors, selling 27 million cars in 2022 – 15% more than the US and EU combined. China also holds 75% of the world’s battery cell production capacity, according to BloombergNEF, which lowers costs for domestic car manufacturers.

The development: To solve the problem of range anxiety, car manufacturers mainly in China, like BYD and Li Auto, have been producing plug-in hybrids. Last year, sales of plug-in hybrids increased 83%, compared with 21% growth for battery-only EVs. Click the link here for more.

To end, we'll look into:

What are “pig butchering” scams?

pig butchering scams
 The dating app Tinder is shown on a mobile phone in this picture illustration taken September 1, 2020. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro/Illustration/File Photo

Scammers have taken “catfishing” to a whole new level. The most recent victims of scammers are being found through online dating platforms like Bumble, Hinge and Tinder or simply through social media. Satnam Narang, a senior staff engineer at the cyber firm Tenable, shared his findings after conducting research into a new scam known as “pig butchering.”

In this scheme, victims are the “pig” and the “butchering” refers to the scammer, who usually starts with a fake profile and plays the long game (or in this case, the long con) with a victim to eventually financially “slaughter” them by persuading them to hand over large sums of money or cryptocurrency. Click the link here for more.

In other news ...


📉Market snapshot and key quotes:

  • In the US: US stocks closed higher on Thursday, with the S&P 500 reaching record highs, led by Nvidia's strong quarterly results, particularly in the tech sector.
  • In Hong Kong: Hong Kong stocks also saw gains due to better-than-expected US tech earnings. 

📊Top gainers/losers and company news:

  • In the US: Nvidia surged over 16% to an all-time high after reporting a 265% increase in revenue, mainly from its AI business.
  • Lucid dropped by more than 16% after missing revenue estimates in the last quarter of 2023.
  • Moderna rose by more than 15% following a better-than-expected revenue report for Q4. 
  • In Hong Kong: Meituan gained over 3%, Alibaba rose 2.7%, and climbed 1.2% 

👀The numbers everyone is watching:

  • In the US: No specific events later this week. 
  • In Hong Kong: No specific events later this week. 

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

More headlines ...

📰Middle East update: On Thursday, Israel bombed Gaza's southernmost city, Rafah, where around 1.4 million Palestinians are estimated to be sheltering. Residents are saying it was one of the worst nights yet, with Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry confirming that 97 people were killed and 130 injured over the last day of attacks, with more yet to be found under the rubble. The attack happened while the Hamas chief was in Cairo to talk about a truce to avoid a full invasion of Rafah by Israel. PM Benjamin Netanyahu has also told Bloomberg that Israel will move forward with its plans to relocate civilians in Rafah before launching a ground offensive, although he said they aren't exactly sure how to go about it yet.

Since November, the Yemen-based Houthis have been attacking ships in the Red Sea in support of Palestinians in the Israel-Hamas war. It's caused major disruptions in this global shipping route. They have now said that they'll be escalating their attacks using submarine weapons. 

🌉Five dead in Guangzhou: A cargo ship has collided with the Pearl River bridge in Guangzhou, which caused part of the bridge to break off, killing five people and injuring three others. Authorities have blamed the ship's crew for the accident, saying it had been caused by an "operational mishandling," and the ship's captain has been detained.

💬Biden insults Putin: During a speech at a public fundraiser in San Francisco, US President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a "crazy SOB." In response, the Kremlin has accused Biden of attempting to appear like a "Hollywood cowboy," and Putin called the comment "rude." Biden has also described Putin before as a "butcher" and a "war criminal." Biden also met with the widow of Alexei Navalny, Yulia Navalnaya, and their daughter, Dasha, in California on Thursday, saying Putin was responsible for Navalny's death and that the US would soon be announcing sanctions on him.

🚜European farmer tensions rise: Farmers across Europe have been protesting over low prices and high costs, a flood of cheap imports and issues with the EU's Green Deal policies. Now, the Czech Republic is seeing blockades across its borders from Czech farmers as well as others from neighboring countries like Poland and Slovakia. The Czech farmer protests are displaying signs saying "stop bureaucracy" and "stop Ukrainian grain."

👩‍⚖️Alves sentenced for rape: Brazilian football legend Dani Alves was found guilty on Thursday of raping a woman at a Barcelona nightclub in December 2022 and sentenced to four and a half years in prison. He'll also have to pay €150,000 (US$162,000) to the victim, who testified at his trial that he violently forced her to have sex in the club's bathroom. Alves initially denied having sex with the woman, later saying instead that the sex was consensual, which the Barcelona court said was proved false.

🥼South Korean doctors strike: This week, South Korea is dealing with protests and strikes from nearly two-thirds of its young doctors over the government's plan to increase medical school admissions. But the doctors are saying another issue is pay and working conditions. They argue that there are enough doctors in the country, and the government needs to increase pay and reduce workloads instead. The walkout has led to some of the country's biggest hospitals being on red alert, with hospitals having to turn away patients and cancel procedures. 

🤝Xia Baolong visits Hong Kong: The director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Xia Baolong, has arrived in Hong Kong for a week-long inspection trip to learn more about the city's economic developments and district governance. Xia is expected to meet with several officials over the week to discuss developments in the city. 

💰Reddit files IPO: Over two years after confidentially filing for an initial public offering (IPO) with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Reddit has publicly submitted its plans to list in the US. Bloomberg previously reported the social forum should consider a valuation of at least US$5 billion and could begin marketing the shares as soon as March.

🖥️Nvidia's Chinese chips: With US export curbs on semiconductor tech to China, Nvidia has had to find ways around the regulations to keep a hold on its market share in the country. On Wednesday, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said the company had given samples of new artificial intelligence (AI) chips specifically for the Chinese market and was awaiting feedback. 

📈Japan stock market rally: The Nikkei 225, a benchmark Japanese stock index, rose to a record high on Thursday, breaking its previous high record from 1989. Foreign investors have been bullish on Japanese stocks so far this year, pumping a net US$14 billion into the market in January, according to data from Japan Exchange Group. 

🧑‍⚖️IVF ruling in the US: In 2022, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, removing women's right to abortion access nationwide. It opened the doors for individual states to make their own laws on abortion. This week, the Supreme Court in Alabama ruled that frozen embryos are considered children and a person could be held liable for accidentally destroying them. This came about from a wrongful death lawsuit brought by three couples whose embryos were lost at a fertility clinic in 2020. This ruling could affect how the state moves forward with in-vitro fertilization (IVF), which is used by people struggling to conceive a child naturally. Many places in Alabama have already suspended their IVF services.

🤑Buzzfeed sells Complex: After going public in 2021, Buzzfeed's digital media empire has been on a downward slope, with its share price falling around 98%. It's been downsizing since then, including shutting down its news division. On Wednesday, Buzzfeed sold Complex to NTWRK, an e-commerce company that sells things like sneakers, collectibles and streetwear, for US$108.6 million. It also announced it would lay off 16% of its staff as part of a restructuring to reduce costs and boost profit.  

💸Hong Kong's talent scheme: Hong Kong's Labor and Welfare Bureau has reported that its Top Talent Pass Scheme has given employees who've arrived in Hong Kong a median monthly salary of HK$50,000, which is HK$30,000 more than a local Hong Konger makes on average. The scheme is meant to attract highly skilled talents to boost the city's labor force and population.

🌕Moon landing: A lander from Houston-based startup Intuitive Machines, nicknamed Odysseus, landed on the moon on Thursday, making it the first private spacecraft to land intact on the lunar surface. It's the first time a US-made spacecraft has been to the moon in one piece since NASA's Apollo program in 1972.

🐶Biden's dog troubles: New documents have shown that Commander, US President Joe Biden's German shepherd, bit Secret Service agents on at least 24 occasions between 2022 and 2023, with some of the agents requiring medical treatment and stitches. A statement to CNN from Elizabeth Alexander, communications director for First Lady Jill Biden, said that Commander had been sent to live with relatives due to the number of incidents. The First Family's other dogs, Major and Champ, were sent to live in Delaware in 2021 after a "biting incident" involving Major (Champ passed away later that year).

🐼Giant pandas in the US and Hong Kong: The China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) has agreed with the San Diego Zoo in the US and the Madrid Zoo in Spain to incorporate them in preserving giant pandas, which are an endangered species. The deal is a sign of China's efforts to improve relations with the West. Hong Kong's Ocean Park is already home to two giant pandas, and it's also ready to welcome new ones amid ongoing government talks, but the decision hasn't been finalized yet.

🐕Bobi loses his title: After investigations last month, Bobi, the Portuguese Rafeiro do Alentejo who died last October, has officially been stripped of his Guinness World Record title as the world's oldest dog. Guinness officials said they don't have enough proof of his age, which was said to be over 31 when he was initially awarded the title. We still love you, Bobi.

Quiz Time!

What TV maker did Walmart just agree to buy out for US$2.3 billion?

  1. Panasonic
  2. Vizio
  3. Hisense
  4. Philips

Enjoying our TMS Headlines?

Forward it to a friend! After all, sharing is caring.

Anything else? Hit reply to send us feedback or say hello. We don't bite!

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

**The answer to the quiz is [2]