Benzinga Before The Bell: Meta Loses Key Metaverse Official, US Government To Cancel Free At-Home COVID Tests, Singapore Mulls Rules To Regulate Cryptocurrency Trading And Other Top Financial Stories Monday, August 29


No More Free COVID-19 At-Home Tests, Federal Government Says

  • CNBC reported that the federal government is set to suspend its offer of free at-home COVID-19 tests by Friday, September 2, without congressional authorization for an extension.
  • “Ordering through this program will be suspended on Friday, September 2, because Congress hasn’t provided additional funding to replenish the nation’s stockpile of tests,” a message on the federal government’s COVID-19 website reads.
  • According to an earlier CNBC report, Senate Republicans and Democrats have reportedly reached a tentative deal on $10 billion in additional COVID-19 funding to shore up the nation’s pandemic preparedness.


Qualcomm Earns Legal Reprieve From EU Regulators Over Antitrust Ruling With An Apple Link

  • EU antitrust regulators do not look to challenge a court ruling scrapping its €997 million ($991 million) penalty against U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc QCOM.
  • The regulators found it challenging to convince Europe’s top court of the merits.
  • In its June judgment, the Luxembourg-based General Court, Europe’s second-highest, said procedural irregularities had affected Qualcomm’s rights of defense.

Sony Looks To Scoop This Mobile Games Business To Diversify Game Offerings

  • Sony Group Corp SONY looks to snap Helsinki and Berlin-based mobile games business Savage Game Studios for an undisclosed amount, Reuters reports.
  • Earlier Sony’s gaming chief Jim Ryan planned to radically broaden the games portfolio beyond the PlayStation 5 console and the group’s focus on single-player games with more releases on PC and mobile.
  • Savage Game Studios, established two years ago and working on a live-service action title for mobile, will become part of a new mobile division of PlayStation Studios.

Walmart Braced To Snap Up Remaining Stake In This Loss Making Retailer At 53% Premium

  • Massmart Holdings Ltd MMRTY bagged a takeover offer from U.S. retail giant Walmart Inc WMT.
  • Walmart proposed a 6.4 billion rand ($377.6 million) offer for the 47% of Massmart shares it does not already own.
  • The offer price represents a premium of 53% to Friday’s closing share price.

Leading Tesla Supplier Claims Landmark Battery Density: Report

  • Tesla Inc TSLA supplier Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Limited worked on new battery materials that can improve energy density by 10% - 20% compared to iron phosphate batteries, Reuters reports citing CATL Chair.
  • The new material technology, M3P, can enable an electric vehicle to run 700 km (430 miles) per charge combined with CATL’s next generation of battery pack technology, Zeng Yuqun said at Beijing’s World New Energy Vehicle Congress.
  • The new materials will also lower the costs compared to nickel and cobalt-based batteries increasing its edge over LG Energy Solution and BYD Co, Ltd BYDDY.

Meta Loses Key Metaverse Official Shortly After Criticism Over Chief Mark Zuckerberg’s Avatar

  • Meta Platforms Inc’s META virtual reality social platform Horizon chief quit for a new opportunity, Reuters reports.
  • Horizon marks the main gateway for accessing Meta’s multi-billion-dollar metaverse ambition.
  • VP Vivek Sharma departed, and his team would report directly to Vishal Shah, VP of Metaverse.
  • Platforms created by Sharma’s team include Horizon Worlds, a comprehensive VR world-building platform, and Horizon Venues, focused on virtual events.

‘Crypto Safe Haven’ Singapore Mulls New Rules That Would Make It Tougher To Trade Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin

  • Singapore is working on new regulations that would make it more difficult for retail investors to trade cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin BTC/USD, Ethereum ETH/USD and Dogecoin DOGE/USD.
  • Ravi Menon, the chief of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), said that retail investors are increasingly trading in cryptocurrencies globally, attracted by the prospect of a sharp price increase — while adding that they “seem to be irrationally oblivious about the risks of cryptocurrency trading.”
  • At an event on Monday, Menon said the Monetary Authority was working on “adding frictions” on retail access to cryptocurrencies, Reuters reported.

Wall Street Journal

Honda, LG Energy Eye US EV Battery Factory Fueled By Robust Demand

  • Honda Motor Company, Ltd HMC and LG Energy Solution Ltd look to build a $4.4 billion electric-vehicle battery factory in the U.S.
  • They aim to build the factory in Ohio, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • The parties plan to begin construction of the factory early next year and commercialize it by the end of 2025.
  • The factory looks to have an annual production capacity of about 40 gigawatt-hours and will supply its output exclusively to Honda facilities in North America.

Boeing Gets A Chance To Restore Its Space Credibility: WSJ

  • NASA’s planned test launch of a new mega-rocket on Monday provides Boeing Co. BA with the opportunity to demonstrate that it can execute significant national projects after previous failures, writes Wall Street Journal.
  • “We’re providing both the brains and muscle to make the next generation of human spaceflight possible,” Boeing stated on its website.
  • Boeing is the largest contractor on NASA’s Space Launch System, a 38-story-tall rocket that will launch the unmanned Orion spacecraft toward the moon and launch American astronauts in 2025 as part of NASA’s Artemis missions to explore space.

Paramount Sues Company Citing ‘Coming To America’ Infringement

  • A pop-up restaurant, JMC Pop Ups LLC, that paid homage to the 1980s classic comedy “Coming to America” by creating a temporary version of McDowell’s, the fictional fast-food burger place in the 1988 film, now faces a lawsuit from Paramount Pictures over copyright infringement, reported Wall Street Journal.
  • JMC Pop Ups LLC created a temporary version of McDowell’s, the fictional fast-food burger place in the 1988 film starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall.
  • Paramount Global’s PARA Paramount Pictures is suing JMC in the Copyright Claims Board, a newly created tribunal that stems from a 2020 law and caps infringement claims at $30,000.


Blackstone Plans To List Its $2.5B Indian Shopping Mall Portfolio Next Year

  • According to Bloomberg, Blackstone Inc BX plans to go public with its $2.5 billion Indian shopping mall portfolio. The IPO may raise $500 million, and the REIT could be listed in early 2023.
  • Blackstone is planning to file for the IPO as soon as next month, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter.
  • The private equity firm has been interviewing advisers for the Mumbai listing of a real estate investment trust.

Porsche IPO Commands Valuation Of Up To $85B Amid Global Headwinds

  • Porsche drew investor interest for its initial public offering at a valuation of up to $85 billion, despite market headwinds, Bloomberg reports.
  • Volkswagen AG’s VWAGY luxury brand has won pre-orders exceeding the shares on offer at a valuation between 60 billion and 85 billion euros ($85 billion) despite the Russia-Ukraine crisis, soaring energy prices, and galloping inflation.
  • Porsche looks to share its Frankfurt IPO plans in the first week of September.

Apple Said To Be Zeroing In On This Word For AR/VR Products

  • Apple, Inc. AAPL has long been rumored to be working on its Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality headset.
  • The tech giant may want to have the right to use the term “Reality” for its mixed reality headset, Bloomberg reported, citing the company’s trademark filings.
  • Applications have been filed in locations such as the U.S., European Union, U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Cost Rica, and Uruguay for using the name “Reality One,” “Reality Pro” and “Reality Processor,” the report said.


US Futures Paint Gloomy Outlook For Fresh Trading Week As Data-Dependence Introduces Caution Ahead Of Key Main Street Readings, Fed Speeches

  • The major U.S. index futures are notably lower on Monday, signaling that stocks may be carrying over the downward momentum from Friday.
  • U.S. stocks closed out the week ended August 26 with steep losses, dragged by the hawkish stance of the Federal Reserve. After a lackluster start to the week, the major averages picked up buying momentum on Wednesday and Thursday before Fed Chair Jerome Powell brought them all sharply lower on Friday.
  • The S&P 500 index, a broader gauge of U.S. stocks, ended the week down 4.04% at 4,057.66, pulling back toward its lowest level since the 4.023.61 hit on July 27. This marked the second straight week of losses for the average. The Dow Industrials blue chip average declined 4.2% for the week, ending at a one-month low of 32,283.40.

Dogecoin (DOGE) Core Contributors To Get 10% Of Tip Jar As Rewards

  • Dogecoin DOGE/USD Core contributors will earn 10% of the total amount in the tip jar at payout time, said DOGE Core developer Patrick Lodder.
  • In a Github post on Sunday, Lodder and former Dogecoin Core developer Ross Nicoll discussed the weighted payout calculation to the network’s maintainers from Lodder’s estimations.
  • “I’m paying out all tips I received. My recommendation for the original tipjar would be to allocate 10% of whatever is in it at payout time for bigger releases from now on - that way, there is a future,” said Lodder.

United Arab Emirates Takes Steps To Regulate Crypto After Being Placed On Watchlist

  • Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and the second-largest city in the seven emirates.
  • As of late August, the Abu Dhabi Blockchain and Virtual Assets Committee (ADBVAC) held its first meeting under Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) and chairman of the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA).
  • The committee discussed the importance of regulating blockchains as well as virtual assets to comply with Anti Money Laundering (AML) and Combating Financing of Terrorism (CFT).

Google Set To Launch Tool For Developers For Android Apps To Play Across All Devices

  • Alphabet Inc’s GOOGL GOOG Google has now opened doors for developers to create various Android-based apps that will be able to connect with a range of devices.
  • In a recent announcement, Google said it would launch a new cross-device software development kit (SDK) to help developers make their apps play across Android devices.
  • Google’s Cross-device SDK will work on apps for Android phones, tablets, TV, Auto, Wear OS, ChromeOS, iOS, and Windows, and all other platforms.

Alibaba, Nio, XPeng Fall Over 1%: Hang Seng Shows Some Resilience After Wall Street Plunge

  • Hong Kong shares showed a bit of resilience at the open on Monday, with the benchmark Hang Seng Index falling just 1%, despite a significant plunge in all major U.S. indices on Friday driven by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s comments on the economic outlook.
  • Profits at Chinese industrial firms fell 1.1% in the January-to-July period from a year earlier, dragged by a sluggish economy and a weak property sector, Bloomberg reported, citing the National Bureau of Statistics. The figure stood at 0.8% in June, it said.

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