Morning Brief: Top Stories Dominating Financial Media on Wednesday, March 23

CNBC

US Approves $2.9B In Grant For Infra Projects

  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has offered $2.9 billion in grants for state and local bridge, road, and other infrastructure projects.
  • The grant, part of the bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill approved by President Joe Biden, aimed to fund public works projects.
  • State, regional and local governments will be able to compete for the grant funding through three separate programs.

Reuters

ING Groep Becomes Biggest Bank To Phase Down Funding Of New Oil & Gas Projects

  • ING Groep NV's ING energy chief said that the bank will no longer finance new oil and gas projects, becoming the biggest bank yet to commit to such a step in the fight against climate change.
  • The move raises pressure on peers to heed a call by the International Energy Agency (IEA) to halt funding for new fossil fuel projects to help cap global warming.

Stellantis Fires Up EV Rivalry With Tesla

  • Stellantis NV STLA, Mercedes-Benz Group AG DMLRY, and TotalEnergies SE TTE joint venture Automotive Cells Company looked to build an EV battery plant in Italy.
  • The plant would involve an investment of over €7 billion, Reuters reports
  • The partners aimed to increase its industrial capacity to at least 120-gigawatt hours (GWh) by 2030. ACC looked to produce batteries for over 2.5 million vehicles per year by 2030. Tesla Inc's Berlin plant aimed for an eventual capacity of 50 GWh.

WSJ

US, U.K Announce Trade Accord To Remove Tariffs On British Steel, American Whiskey

  • The U.S. and U.K. have announced a trade deal to remove tariffs on British steel & aluminum and American whiskey, motorcycles, and tobacco.
  • Biden administration officials said the agreement would allow the U.K to ship "historically-based sustainable volumes" of steel and aluminum products to the U.S. without levies imposed under the former Trump administration.

Bloomberg

Microsoft Confirms System Hack By The Infamous Lapsus$

  • Microsoft Corp MSFT confirmed "limited access" by the hacker group Lapsus$ to its systems and shared its findings regarding the group, Bloomberg reports.
  • Lapsus$ recently claimed of having stolen the source code for the Bing search engine and Cortana voice assistant.
  • Microsoft found that Lapsus$ had compromised a single account, granting limited access.

Nickel Rises On LME As Buyers Return After Squeeze

  • Nickel volumes surged as prices traded within the London Metal Exchange's daily limits for the first time since reopening last week.
  • Prices climbed to a high of $29,700 a ton and remained within a 15% intraday limit set by the bourse.

China-Europe Rail Lines, The Latest Supply-Chain Issue

  • Million-plus containers set to ride railway linking Western Europe to Eastern China via Russia now have to find new routes by sea, adding to costs and threatening to worsen the global supply chain chaos.
  • Amid Russia-Ukraine chaos, exporters and logistics firms transporting auto parts, cars, laptops, and smartphones are trying to avoid land routes passing through Russia or the combat zone.

Biden Administration and Members Of Congress are Making Progress on Stablecoin

  • A top U.S. Treasury official said the Biden administration and members of Congress are making progress toward crafting guardrails for fast-growing stablecoins, which U.S. officials have warned could pose systemic dangers.
  • There's "broad agreement" that risks posed by stablecoins need to be addressed — especially given the market's growth, the report quoted Nellie Liang, the department's undersecretary for domestic finance.

'A Deal Is A Deal:' Elon Musk's Tweets Can't Skirt Investigation Under 2018 Agreement, Says SEC

  • Tesla Inc TSLA CEO Elon Musk's tweets related to the electric vehicle maker will continue to remain a subject of a government investigation, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday, citing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • Musk is looking to end the SEC supervision of his Twitter posts and has, through his lawyers, claimed a 2018 agreement was being used to "trample" his free speech rights.

Financial Times

JPMorgan's CEO Attracts Investor Criticism Over Technology Associated Spending Plans

  • JPMorgan Chase & Co's JPM CEO Jamie Dimon is facing investor criticism over a multibillion-dollar plan to modernize the group's technology and the decision to enter the U.K.'s highly competitive retail-banking market.
  • According to three people attending the Florida meeting in February, shareholders had concerns that the bank provided insufficient detail about its technology spending plans.
  • The bank plans to increase spending on new projects by 30% to almost $15 billion this year, with the most significant proportion dedicated to tech.

More Trouble Looms For Evergrande As Angry Debtors Prepare To Take Legal Action

  • A group of distressed debt investors in the U.S. and U.K. are prepared to take action against Evergrande Group EVGPY.
  • The investors included Saba Capital, Redwood Capital Management, and Ashmore.
  • The action came after the indebted property developer admitted that undisclosed lenders took $2.1 billion in cash from its Evergrande Property Services Group subsidiary pledged as security for "third party guarantees.

Benzinga

Jim Cramer Takes Dig at Ryan Cohen After His GameStop Share Purchase

  • CNBC host Jim Cramer has taken a dig at Ryan Cohen after the GameStop Corp. GME chairman raised his stake in the videogame retailer on Tuesday.
  • Cramer took to Twitter, asking Cohen to take GameStop as well as Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. BBBY private and "create joy."

Why You Won't Be Able To Pay With Bitcoin Or Dogecoin In Thailand From Next Month

  • Thailand will not allow the use of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin BTC, Ethereum ETH and Dogecoin DOGE for payments of goods and services beginning April 1.
  • Thailand's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the country's central bank — the Bank of Thailand — were earlier discussing a need to regulate such activity, according to a statement from the Thai SEC, first noted on Reuters.
  • The move to restrict the use of cryptocurrencies is reportedly in line with the discussions between the regulators.

Bored Ape Yacht Club Parent Yuga Labs Valued At $4B: Check Out The Companies (Google, Samsung) And Celebrities (Shaq, Snoop Dogg) Buying In

  • Leading NFT powerhouse Yuga Labs announced a new funding round Tuesday that includes some of the largest technology companies and investment funds. The funding round also included the participation of several notable athletes and celebrities.
  • Yuga Labs raised $450 million in a seed funding round, valuing the company at $4 billion.
  • A16z Crypto led the funding round along with large participants Animoca Brands, The Sandbox SAND, LionTree, Sound Ventures, Thrive Capital, FTX, and MoonPay.

Elon Musk Sees Battery Production Snags Next Year: Here's How He Thinks Tesla's Scaling-Up Plans Will Be Hit

  • Tesla Inc TSLA CEO Elon Musk said on Tuesday he sees challenges with battery production next year that can hold back scaling up plans for the electric vehicle maker over the next two to three years.
  • Musk told workers at Tesla's Giga Berlin, after handing over the first Model Y deliveries to customers, that the EV maker is being held back by numerous challenges and is facing a "high class" problem of orders outpacing production.

Robinhood's New Cash Card Will Invest Your 'Spare Change' In Bitcoin, Ethereum And Dogecoin

  • A new debit card from Robinhood Markets Inc HOOD will round up the "spare change" from daily purchases and invest it in cryptocurrency.
  • In a blog post on Tuesday, Robinhood announced the launch of the new card dubbed "the Robinhood cash card."
  • The card's main feature will be an option to automatically invest spare change in stocks or cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin BTC, Ethereum ETH, and Dogecoin DOGE.

Okta's Latest Revelations: The Lapsus$ Hack Affected 366 Customers

  • Digital authentication firm Okta Inc OKTA Chief Security Officer David Bradbury admitted maximum potential impact to 366 customers by the Lapsus$ breach.
  • An outside contractor, Sitel Group, accessed the data.
  • Okta first became aware of the breach in January. However, Sitel received a forensic report about the incident on March 10 and shared a summary of the findings with Okta a week later, to Bradbury's disappointment.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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