Morning Brief: Top Stories Dominating Financial Media on Thursday, March 31


One In Five Adults Has Invested In, Traded Or Used Cryptocurrency

  • As per a new NBC News poll, one in five Americans has invested in, traded, or used cryptocurrency. Another sign that digital assets continue to get more popular even as lawmakers warn of market risks and work to regulate the industry.
  • According to the poll, half of the men between 18 and 49 said they have dabbled in crypto, the highest share of all demographic groups.
  • 21% of the 1,000 Americans polled had at least once used or invested in crypto; this indicates how much the relatively young industry has taken off in recent years.


Biden Administration Mulls Releasing 180M Barrels Of Oil From Strategic Petroleum Reserve

  • As the White House tries to lower fuel prices, the Biden administration considers releasing up to 180 million barrels of oil over several months from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), Reuters reported citing four U.S. sources.
  • If done, it would be the largest release in the nearly 50-year history of the SPR. The news slammed oil markets, pushing prices down more than $6 a barrel.



Biden Administration Looks To Revoke Trump-era Pandemic Border Policy

  • The Biden administration looked to revoke Title 42 that immediately turned away illegal immigrants and those seeking asylum at a border checkpoint.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention no longer saw danger from the revoking.
  • However, border officials and Republicans feared that the move would cause dangerous overcrowding in border facilities and the U.S.

Airlines, Restaurant Chains Jump On Subscription Bandwagon: WSJ

  • Yum! Brands, Inc YUM Taco Bell, Sweetgreen Inc. SG, and Alaska Air Group Inc. ALK introduced or tested subscription programs in recent months, betting that customers will be intrigued by the chance to pay upfront for a taco a day, discounted salads and frequent flights.
  • Subscriptions, once primarily evoked as a way to get magazines, newspapers, or milk delivered, have expanded in the internet era to offer everything from videogames to pet food.
  • One attraction for brands is the chance to strengthen their direct relationships with consumers and lock in recurring revenue.

Automakers Come In Support Of EPA’s Stricter Tailpipe Standards

  • Automakers, stating in court papers, will back environmental regulators in defending the higher standards, thus backing the Biden administration’s stricter air pollution standards for passenger cars, writes Wall Street Journal.
  • The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a lobbying group for automakers and suppliers, petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to join the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in defending the tougher standards against a legal challenge.



Read How Apple Plans To Beat Chip Crisis and Continue To Score In China

  • Apple Inc AAPL weighed new sources of the memory chips that go into iPhones after its Japanese partner halted production due to contamination.
  • Apple tested a NAND flash memory chips sample made by Tsinghua Unigroup Co’s Yangtze Memory Technologies Co.
  • Apple could use Yangtze Memory’s product in lower-end iPhone devices serving as a good backup choice after the leading flash memory makers.

Formula One To Zip Past Las Vegas Strip

  • Formula One is all set to stage a night race on the famous Las Vegas strip, Bloomberg reported.
  • The race is expected to be conducted in the latter half of November 2023.
  • “This is an incredible moment for Formula One that demonstrates the huge appeal and growth of our sport with a third race in the U.S.,” the report cited F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.

Sky Mavis’ Ronin Bridge Attack Has VC’s Rethinking On Crypto Investment Path

  • A security breach that allowed hackers to swindle 173,600 Ether and 25.5 million USDC tokens in a $600 million hack of play-to-earn game Axie Infinity is making investors cautious about cryptocurrency, Bloomberg reported, citing Animoca Brands co-founder Yat Siu.
  • The incident could alter the attitude and responsibilities of venture capitalists investing in crypto.

Omicron More Severe For Unvaccinated Children Than Other Strains, Hong Kong Study Finds

  • According to a Hong Kong-based study, the omicron variant of COVID-19 has been linked to more hospitalizations, severe complications, and deaths of young children than in previous waves.
  • 1,147 children aged 0-11 were hospitalized in Hong Kong due to Covid-19 from February 5 to 28, more than 80% of whom were 0-5 years old.
  • The need for intensive care treatment for those hospitalized was higher for omicron, with 21 children (1.83%) admitted to pediatric ICU, compared with only one in all the previous Covid outbreaks in Hong Kong and a 0.79% rate for those with influenza.

Apple, Meta Doled Out Customer Data To Hackers Masquerading As Law Enforcement: Report

  • Apple Inc AAPL and Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc META shared customer data with hackers who pretended to be law enforcement.
  • What Happened: The two companies handed over data such as customer’s address, phone number, and IP address in mid-2021 after receiving fabricated “emergency data requests,” according to the report.
  • Snapchat parent Snap Inc SNAP also received fabricated legal requests from the same hackers, but it was not clear if the company had complied with them.


Financial Times

IMF Warns Russia Sanctions Could Hurt US Dollar Dominance, Cause Fragmentation In Global Financial System:

  • IMF’s first deputy MD Gita Gopinath saw the Western sanctions on Russia as creating small currency blocs based on trade between separate groups of countries.
  • The development could dilute the U.S. dollar dominance by fragmenting the international monetary system.
  • The war would also spur the adoption of digital finance thanks to crypto and further diversify the reserve assets held by national central banks.

SEC Proposes For Greater Disclosures From Blank-Cheque Company Sponsors

  • Wall Street’s watchdog on Wednesday unveiled a draft new rule to enhance blank-check or special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) investor disclosures and to strip them of legal protection critics argue has allowed the shell companies to issue overly optimistic earnings projections.
  • The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) move is part of a broader crackdown on SPACs after a frenzy of deals in 2020 and early 2021 sparked concerns that some investors are getting a raw deal.



iPhone Unlikely To Feature Under-Screen Touch ID Until 2025, Says Apple Analyst

  • Apple Inc. AAPL is unlikely to release a new iPhone model with under-screen Touch ID in 2023 and 2024, prominent analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said, citing a survey of supply chain information.
  • Kuo predicted last year the under-display fingerprint sensing technology would come to the iPhone by 2023 at the earliest.
  • However, he noted that Face ID with a mask on iPhone is “already a great biometrics solution.”

GameStop Chairman Ryan Cohen Asks If Short Sellers Or ‘Overpriced’ Consultants Are More ‘Reprehensible’

  • GameStop Corp. GME chairman and Chewy Inc. CHWY co-founder Ryan Cohen expressed his dislike for short sellers as well as “overpriced” consultants on Wednesday.
  • Cohen took to Twitter to ask whether hedge fund short sellers or overpriced consultants are “more reprehensible.”
  • Cohen tweeted last week that the “overpriced consultants” at Boston Consulting Group were picking a fight with the wrong company.

Tesla Said To Be Opening Up Supercharging Network To All EV Owners In UK Soon

  • Tesla Inc’s TSLA supercharging network will be available for other electric drivers in the United Kingdom within weeks and months, automotive news website reported on Wednesday, citing Transport Minister Trudy Harrison.
  • Elon Musk-led Tesla has been gradually opening up its supercharger network globally to all electric vehicles since November last year.
  • Harrison said Tesla recognizes it is part of the solution, adding that the move could be a disadvantage for Tesla drivers seeking the “exclusivity and relative ease” of being able to charge quickly on the go.

Why Coinbase’s ‘Premium Valuation’ Is Unjustified In The Eyes Of This Analyst

  • Coinbase Global Inc COIN, the second-largest spot cryptocurrency trading platform, faces intensifying competition and has a premium valuation unjustified by its current revenue structure, according to U.S. Tiger Research analyst Bo Pei.
  • The Coinbase Analyst: Pei initiated coverage on Coinbase with a “Sell” rating and a $135 price target.
  • The analyst said Coinbase’s revenue is primarily a function of cryptocurrency market performance and transaction fees. Pei said he sees competition intensifying almost in all aspects.

Why Alibaba And Tesla Rivals Li Auto, Xpeng Are Sliding In Hong Kong Today

  • Shares of U.S.-listed Chinese tech companies traded notably lower in Hong Kong on Thursday, dragging the benchmark Hang Seng Index into negative territory after three straight days of gains.
  • The Macro Factors: The benchmark Hang Seng Index was down 0.8% at the time of writing.
  • The index drifted lower after data showed that China’s manufacturing activity contracted in March for the first time in five months. China is grappling with a surge in COVID-19 cases that have impacted production across industries.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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