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Stocks Suffer As China Cuts Interest Rates, Sending Oil Prices Tumbling.

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Despite statistics pointing to sluggish growth in the world’s second-largest economy and oil prices falling by about 2%, investors struggled to advance global markets on Monday as they processed news of an unexpected decrease in Chinese interest rates.

The outlook was also negatively impacted by weaker U.S. stock index futures and a stable currency, which hurt gold.

The MSCI all country index (.MIWD00000PUS), whose drop for the year had been reduced to approximately 13% by a month-long rebound, was scarcely firmer.
Data indicated the economy unexpectedly slowed down in July, with manufacturing and retail activity being constrained by Beijing’s zero-COVID policy and a real estate crisis. In response, China’s central bank lowered key lending rates to boost demand.
Investors have been trying to predict how far higher rates will go when the US and European central banks meet next month.

Wall Street recorded gains for a fourth consecutive week as of Friday thanks to expectations for lower rate increases and indications that American inflation may have peaked.
The Nikkei (.N225) share average in Tokyo increased to its highest level in more than seven months thanks to Wall Street advances and stable GDP data for Japan.

“China, in my opinion, has a unique circumstance compared to the rest of the globe. Because of their zero COVID policy, they have a self-imposed recession “Patrick Armstrong, chief investment officer at the Plurimi Group, said.

“If there is another leg down in the markets, I do believe the Fed will be the driving force. I believe that quantitative tightening will start in earnest in September and that it will drain market liquidity “said Armstrong.
The markets continue to suggest that there is a 50% chance the Fed will raise rates by 75 basis points in September and to a range of 3.50–3.75% by the end of the year.

The Fed will release the minutes from its most recent rate-setting meeting on Wednesday, but investor hopes that they will show the central bank starting to change its stance on rate rises may be crushed.

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Armstrong disagreed, saying “I don’t think (Fed Chair) Powell would say that, and I don’t think the minutes will show that.”

The STOXX share index of 600 elite firms in Europe increased by 0.13% to 441.43 points, but it is still down by around 10% for the year.
Following advances the previous week, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were both down about 0.5%.

Target (TGT.N) and Walmart (WMT.N) earnings will be closely examined for indications of waning customer demand.

Chinese blue chips (.CSI300) continued to decline by 0.13% despite the country’s interest rates being slashed, while the yuan and bond yields also decreased.
A delegation of American legislators visiting Taiwan for two days is nevertheless fraught with geopolitical risk.

With the yield curve still firmly inverted, the bond market seems to be skeptical that the Fed can engineer a smooth landing. With a two-year yield of 3.27%, it is significantly higher than the 10-year yield, which was 2.86% at the time.

The U.S. dollar has been supported by these yields, despite falling 0.8% last week against a basket of currencies as risk sentiment increased.

However, the dollar found its footing on Monday as the euro declined 0.2% to $1.02345 against the dollar after rising 0.8% the previous week. The dollar held steady at 133.51 yen after declining 1% the previous week.

According to Capital Economics senior economist Jonas Goltermann, “our belief remains that the dollar rally will continue sooner rather than later.”

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Gold fell 0.8% to $1,786, giving up almost all of its 1% gains from the previous week.

As concerns about the world’s fuel consumption increased as a result of China’s poor results, oil prices decreased.

Saudi Aramco’s CEO said the company was prepared to increase output once many offshore sites in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico resume production following a brief outage last week. Saudi Aramco is the top exporter in the world.

While U.S. crude slid 1.9% to $90.34 per barrel, Brent dropped 1.8% to $96.35.

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One Industry Is Earning Historic Profits As China’s Economy Slows. Testing Covid

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Covid

The Chinese government’s zero-Covid strategy of endless testing and lockdowns has been devastating to the country’s economy and has had a significant impact on company revenues, but it has been a boon for test manufacturers.
Twelve of the most successful COVID testing companies in China have lately reported enormous leaps in both their revenues and their net profits for the first six months of this year.
Andon Health, a company that distributes Covid test kits in both the domestic and international markets, announced that its net profit in the first half of 2022 surged by 27,728%, reaching a total of 15.24 billion yuan ($2.2 billion). It was the highest growth rate achieved by any publicly traded corporation operating in mainland China.

During this time, the company’s revenue increased by 3,989%.

The company not only benefits from China’s aggressive testing campaign at home, but also from the huge demand in the United States, as its iHealth Lab had recently won US government contracts for supplying antigen rapid tests. China’s aggressive testing campaign at home has helped the company tremendously.
Because of the robust demand in the global Covid testing market, the net income of Assure Tech, a diagnostic company based in Hangzhou, increased by 1,324%.
Other manufacturers of tests reported gains in net profit for the first half of the year that ranged from 55% to 376% higher than the previous year.

The Chinese economy has been severely harmed as a result of the never-ending Covid testings, the back-and-forth government-enforced lockdowns, and the border restrictions. The increase in GDP during the second quarter was only 0.4%, making it the worst pace in almost two years. The majority of the world’s largest investment banks have reduced their full-year growth projections for China to 3% or less, which is far less than the stated target of 5.5% that the government established earlier this year.
In addition to this, Chinese businesses have experienced one of the worst earnings recessions in their history. More than half of the 4,800 firms that are listed in Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Beijing reported a decrease in their net profit for the first half of the year. This is almost as bad as the beginning of 2020, when the majority of companies reported their worst earnings season ever.

But diagnostic companies are one of the biggest moneymakers during the pandemic. They are benefiting from the enormous demand for testing as Beijing maintains its zero-Covid policy, which involves forced quarantines, mass mandatory testings, and snap lockdowns. This policy has resulted in an enormous demand for testing.
According to the government, 11.5 billion tests have been carried out in China as of April 2022, commencing when the epidemic first appeared and continuing until that month.
It is possible that this number has greatly increased since then, as analysts working for Soochow Securities recently calculated that 10.8 billion tests had been carried out during the three months spanning April, May, and June.
The costs could end up being a significant burden on the finances of the Chinese government, which have already taken a beating due to the decline in property sales. In the month of May, officials in Beijing made it quite apparent that the costs for routine Covid testing were to be borne by the provincial and city governments.

According to a prediction made by Goldman Sachs earlier this year, the direct cost of conducting Covid tests could reach a total of 200 billion yuan ($30.1 billion) from May until the end of the year if it is assumed that large cities in China, which are home to thirty percent of the country’s population, will perform the tests twice a week.
According to Goldman Sachs, the figure may increase even further if the remaining 70 percent of the population is tested as well as if the costs of putting up testing facilities and quarantine centers are taken into account.

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Asia’s Video Game Giants Are Developing New Formats And Markets

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Video Game

Sony, NetEase, and Tencent, Asia’s largest video game developers, continue their purchase and investment sprees as they push into new forms and, in the case of the Chinese giants, expand internationally to alleviate harsher regulation at home.

Each company’s strategy differs.

NetEase bought French game developer Quantic Dream last week, establishing its first European studio. NetEase has Japanese and U.S. gaming studios.

Tencent, which has invested in smaller gaming studios worldwide, bought a share in FromSoftware. Sony invested alongside Tencent.

Sony bought Helsinki and Berlin’s Savage Game Studios last week.

Recent mergers and acquisitions in gaming starting off 2022. In January, Microsoft offered $68.7 billion for Activision Blizzard. Soon later, Sony announced plans to buy Bungie for $3.6 billion.

Three Asian gaming companies have diverse M&A objectives.
Sony’s PlayStation has reigned for years.
Console gaming’s business model has altered. It’s not enough to sell games and hardware. It’s about milking income from games through continuous updates and subscriptions.

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Sony’s acquisition of Bungie demonstrates this approach.

“Their goal is to have enough content to motivate users to buy their proprietary hardware, pay a monthly charge for PS Plus, and buy the occasional digital game through the PlayStation Store,” said Tom Wijman, market head for games at research company Newzoo.

“Buying studios is the best way to assure exclusive content for their ecosystem, especially in response to Microsoft’s acquisition spree.”
Sony is expanding beyond consoles. Last week, the Japanese behemoth stated it is putting up a specialized section to handle mobile game production, a relatively new initiative for the corporation.

The mobile video game developer Savage Game Studios was also acquired.

Wijman: Sony is leaving its comfort zone to stay competitive.

Mobile gaming accounts for more than 50% of the gaming market, while consoles account for 27%. Sony wants more market share.

Sony’s acquisitions will boost its IP and game catalog as it expands into mobile gaming.
Tencent/NetEase

Tencent and NetEase face a tougher local market, increasing the importance of their international investments and acquisitions.

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Last year, Chinese censors limited the time under-18s could play online video games and froze new releases. In China, regulators must approve games for release and monetization. In April, approvals resumed.

Covid-19’s reappearance in China and subsequent lockdowns have hampered economic progress. Some of China’s internet heavyweights, including Tencent, had their worst quarter of revenue growth.

Tencent and NetEase have sought development abroad through acquisitions and investments.

Tencent and NetEase built their gaming businesses in China. Wijman said these two companies will speed their global expansion as their home market becomes more controlled.

Tencent owns or invests in Riot Games, developer of League of Legends.

NetEase focuses on purchasing high-profile IP. The Hangzhou-based firm can publish a Star Wars game after acquiring Quantic Dream. NetEase has Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings mobile games.

For the two giants, owning studios behind international major hits in gaming is a critical strategy.

NetEase has been less aggressive than Tencent in deals, although it’s stepped up in the last year.

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Both firms’ investment strategies include console ambitions. NetEase and Tencent grew by focusing on PC and mobile gaming, not consoles, which were outlawed in China until 2014.

Both companies are focusing on console gaming.

This year, NetEase hired a console veteran to oversee its Japanese gaming studio. TiMi Studio, a Tencent-owned developer, opened offices in Montreal and Seattle.

Both firms can gain console IP by acquiring and investing in other gaming studios.

Tighter regulation in China and the search for expansion could drive NetEase and Tencent’s investment and acquisition strategies.

If Chinese government regulation continues to squeeze NetEase and Tencent in their native markets, they may be interested in M&A, Wijman added. “Their global expansion plans just began.”

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Royal Caribbean is Installing SpaceX’s Starlink.

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Starlink

Royal Caribbean, which is a subsidiary of Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises, recently made the announcement that it plans to equip its whole fleet of ships with the satellite internet service provided by SpaceX under the brand name Starlink (via TechCrunch). According to the corporation, the service will make the user’s experience of the internet when they are at sea both quicker and more reliable.

It appears like Royal Caribbean is making rapid progress in deploying Starlink; the company conducted a trial run of the service on one of its ships throughout the course of the summer, and on September 5th, it will formally debut the service, beginning with a ship dubbed the Celebrity Beyond. The business anticipates having the service completely implemented throughout its whole fleet by the beginning of the first quarter of 2023.

The announcement made by Royal Caribbean does not provide any technical details, such as the number of Starlink dishes that its ships would employ or the amount of bandwidth that will be shared among several thousand guests. Nevertheless, the business assures customers that they will have access to streaming services and will be able to engage in video chats.
Starlink Maritime, the internet service provided by SpaceX that is geared specifically at usage on boats, was just released earlier this summer. At the moment, it only covers coastal seas in some sections of North and South America (including the Caribbean), Europe, and the region around Australia and New Zealand; however, SpaceX has stated that it intends to cover the majority of the world’s oceans by the first quarter of 2023.

At the present, SpaceX has a lot of things going on with the Starlink project. Its collaboration with T-Mobile to transmit text messages and phone calls to mobile devices via second-generation satellites, which are scheduled for launch the following year, is perhaps the arrangement that is most readily apparent. Additionally, the company is collaborating with Hawaiian Airlines and the charter carrier JSX to provide in-flight Wi-Fi, which is an amenity that Delta (and most likely other airlines) are also investigating. A version of Starlink designed for recreational vehicles (RVs) was just released by the business, which is good news for those of us who live on land.

According to a more recent report, the cruise sector has been having a difficult time recuperating from the pandemic since it began. Cruise lines, like many other types of businesses, have struggled with staffing shortages, which has forced some of them to cancel voyages entirely. As financial authorities such as the Chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, warn that efforts to combat inflation will “bring some pain to households and businesses,” another question that arises is whether or not people will continue to spend money on luxuries such as cruises in the face of these warnings.

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