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U.K. Stocks Turning ‘Uninvestable’

Brexit is now such a headache that the UK is ‘uninvestable’: Bernstein

With politics dominating near-term moves, U.K. stocks have become “uninvestable,” according to Sanford C. Bernstein.That’s because the market is not quite cheap enough that extreme outcomes have been priced in, while it’s hard to make any confident bets on political events, strategists led by Inigo Fraser Jenkins wrote in a note.

Besides, there’s more upside in equities in the U.S., rest of Europe and Japan, so as the analysts say, “why take the risk of buying such a market?”

Are blockchain and bitcoin scams?

Economist Nouriel Rubini : bitcoin and blockchain represent a significant threat

The economist who predicted the 2008 financial collapse has been telling congressional leaders that bitcoin and blockchain represent a significant threat to the stability of the financial marketplace. But he’s getting pushback. Today, Roubini doubled down on his claims in a column published on CNBC.com in which he said blockchain has promised to cure the world’s ills through decentralization but is “just a ruse to separate retail investors from their hard-earned real money.”

Blockchain, which can be used to create a decentralized, permissioned electronic ledger for all kinds of business transactions, “has not even improved upon the standard electronic spreadsheet, which was invented in 1979,” Roubini wrote in the  op-ed column.

IBM to acquire Red Hat in deal valued at $34 billion

Red Hat is a major distributor of open-source software

IBM is acquiring Red Hat, a major distributor of open-source software and technology, in a deal valued around $34 billion, the companies announced on Sunday.
According to a joint statement, IBM will pay cash to buy all shares in Red Hat at $190 each. Shares in Red Hat closed at $116.68 on Friday before the deal was announced.
The open source, enterprise software maker will become a unit of IBM’s Hybrid Cloud division, with Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst joining IBM’s senior management team and reporting to CEO Ginni Rometty.

http://www.cnbc.com

Tesla shares soar on surprise third-quarter profit

Better-than expected car sales 

Tesla shares soared by more than 12 percent after the company reported a surprise profit for the third quarter as CEO Elon Musk made good on his promise to start turning regular profits in the last half of the year. The company’s earnings report, released after the markets closed Wednesday, also showed better-than expected car sales and a faster timeline on its Model 3 production.
The electric car maker said its midsize Model 3 sedan, which it hopes to produce on mass scale, was the best-selling car in the U.S. when measured by revenue and the fifth best-selling car in terms of volume. Musk told analysts on a call it was an “incredibly historic quarter” for the young car company. It was welcome news for investors following an otherwise a tumultuous few months.

http://finance.yahoo.com

Synthego wants to democratize access to the new genetic technologies

Access to therapies is the problem

Paul Dabrowski, the chief executive officer of Synthego, which provides genetically engineered cells to scientists and researchers, worries about a future where access to the genetic technologies that will reshape the world are only available to the few who can afford them.

To hear him tell it, that’s why Dabrowski began working on Synthego in the first place — to democratize access to the new technologies that will give scientists, researchers, and consumers new ways to rewrite the code that has defined human existence.

“People talk about access to the tools, but the question is access to the therapies,” Dabrowski said. “We’re talking about the basis of what does it mean to be human not right now, but in the next 100 years.”

Now, the company has a fresh $110 million in cash from new investors at Founders Fund and the company’s previous backers — 8VC and Menlo Ventures — to try and drive costs down.

Germany and France draw up no-deal Brexit plans

Angela Merkel tells German MPs they must ‘prepare for every scenario’ of UK’s exit

Germany and France are starting to step up their preparations for a no-deal Brexit even though both publicly insist an agreement with the UK over the terms of its departure from the EU can still be achieved. While there was there was still a chance for a deal, it was “only fitting as a responsible and forward-thinking government leadership that we prepare for every scenario”, the German chancellor told MPs in Berlin. “That includes the possibility of Britain leaving the EU without an agreement.”

France has published a draft bill that would allow the government to introduce new legal measures to avoid or mitigate the consequences of a hard Brexit by emergency decree, as opposed to parliamentary vote, within 12 months of the law being passed. Angela Merkel revealed for the first time on Wednesday that Germany was drawing up contingency plans, saying the government had started making “suitable preparations” for the possibility of Britain leaving with no accord.

http://www.theguardian.com

Netflix now has more than 137 million subscribers

The company’s stock surged nearly 14% after hours

Netflix added nearly 7 million new subscribers in its most recent quarter, about 2 million more than the streaming company expected. Netflix (NFLX) now has more than 137 million people tuning in around the world. The company’s stock surged nearly 14% after hours. That’s welcome news for a company that had been hammered by shareholders after July’s lackluster earnings and last week’s big tech sell-off. Beating its own subscriber expectations is a big win for the company. Last quarter the company said that it gained about 1 million fewer customers than it expected, sending its stock plunging. 

Netflix expects to add another 9.4 million subscribers in the last part of this year.
During an investor presentation Tuesday, CEO Reed Hastings attributed the discrepancy between the company’s subscriber estimates and its actual totals to a “forecasting” issue, as opposed to anything changing with the business. He said that in the future, the company will focus on paid subscribers — right now, its overall totals include people who are using free trials. Without those trials, Netflix has about 130 million people who pay for a subscription.
http://www.cnn.com

Sears files for bankruptcy

Massive debt load

Sears has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, buckling under its massive debt load and staggering losses. Sears once dominated the American retail landscape. But the big question is whether its shrunken version can be viable or will be forced to go out of business, ending the final chapter for an iconic name that originated more than a century ago.

Sears filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, N.Y. Sears says it will “close 142 unprofitable stores near the end of the year. Liquidation sales at these stores are expected to begin shortly. This is in addition to the previously announced closure of 46 unprofitable stores that is expected to be completed by November 2018.”

Chairman and CEO Edeard Lampert is giving up his CEO role but will remain as chairman. Three executives will take over the CEO functions for now. The filing came just before Sears would have had to repay $134 million in loans later on Monday.

http://www.cbsnews.com

Two-thirds of the S&P 500 is in a correction

Sell-off worsens

Two-thirds of the stocks in the S&P 500 ended the trading session in correction territory or worse on Wednesday, as a sell-off led by technology names deepened a steep drop for the index in October.

When the dust settled on Wednesday, 332 of the S&P’s 505 components — or 66 percent of the index — had fallen by 10 percent or more from their 52-week highs. The S&P 500 fell 3.3 percent at 2,785 amid fears of rising interest rates and the flight from tech stocks.

There were 190 components in correction territory, meaning they have fallen by 10 to 20 percent from their 52-week highs. The stocks in correction included retail names like Michael Kors, financials such as Citigroup, and tech giants Amazon and Google’s parent Alphabet.

http://www.cnbc.com

Trump criticizes the rise of interest rates

The Federal Reserve has ‘gone crazy’

President Donald Trump knocked the Federal Reserve for continuing to raise interest rates despite some recent market turbulence. “I think the Fed is making a mistake. They are so tight. I think the Fed has gone crazy,” the president said after walking off Air Force One in Erie, Pennsylvania for a rally. Fears about rapidly rising rates helped cause the Dow Jones Industrial Average to drop more than 800 points Wednesday. The S&P 500 posted its worst day since February and clinched its first five-day losing streak since 2016.

“Actually, it’s a correction that we’ve been waiting for for a long time, but I really disagree with what the Fed is doing,” the President added. The Fed has raised interest rates three times this year and is largely expected to hike once more before year-end.

http://www.cnbc.com

SoftBank wants a majority stake in WeWork

Softbank ready to pay up to $20 billion

Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T) is in discussions to take a majority stake in shared office space provider WeWork Cos, a source familiar with the matter said, a deal that would increase one of its biggest bets on a late-stage U.S. startup. Pricing and other details have yet to be firmed up, the source said, adding that it was not a done deal. A second source also said SoftBank is in talks about a major new investment in WeWork. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity as the details of the talks were private.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that SoftBank’s investment could be between $15 billion and $20 billion and would likely come from SoftBank’s Vision Fund.

http://www.reuters.com

Pivot Bio Secures $70M Investment

The company focuses on nitrogen-producing microbes

Pivot Bio, a synthetic biology company working on nitrogen-producing microbes, announced yesterday that it has completed a Series B round of financing totaling $70 million led by Bill Gates’ innovation investment fund, Breakthrough Ventures.

Breakthrough Ventures is a $1 billion fund with famous investors like Gates and other high-profile billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson. The fund focuses on innovation aimed at addressing different areas of environmental concern, with recent investments in a company working to decrease carbon in the concrete industry, a group working on a nuclear-fusion reactor that could produce net-positive energy and, in the agriculture space, the investment in Pivot.

Pivot plans to invest the funding in bringing its first microbial product to market in 2019, but the company also has future plans—exploring new markets like Canada and Brazil, as well as funding research into a seed treatment application and moving beyond just corn to add microbial products for crops like wheat and rice.

http://www.forbes.com

China will never use its currency as a weapon in the trade war

The trade war between China and the United States is intensifying

Premier Li Keqiang told an audience of global executives and policymakers that China would not weaken the yuan to boost trade with the rest of the world. “China will never go down the path of stimulating exports by devaluing its currency,” Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Wednesday.

His comments came a day after the United States and China announced that they would impose their biggestrounds of tariffs yet on each other’s exports, starting next week. That brings the value of goods hit by tariffs in the escalating conflict to more than $360 billion. President Donald Trump has threatened to hit another $267 billion of Chinese goods with tariffs.

http://www.cnn.com

Deutsche Bank mulls merger scenario with UBS

Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) has looked at a theoretical scenario of merging with UBS (UBSG.S), the German business daily Handelsblatt reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter. The scenario, along with a potential merger with Commerzbank (CBKG.DE), was discussed at the bank’s strategy meeting with the supervisory board earlier this month, Handelsblatt said.

On paper, a potential merger with UBS fares better than a deal with Commerzbank as Deutsche Bank and the Swiss lender would complement each other well in the areas of investment banking and wealth management, the report said. A merger with Commerzbank, in contrast, might lead to high restructuring costs due to large overlap, the paper said.

http://www.reuters.com

European Union rejects Theresa May BREXIT plan

The EU tells Theresa May  Chequers Brexit plan ‘will not work’

Theresa May was left fighting to save her Chequers Brexit plan and with it her authority as prime minister after she was ambushed at the end of the Salzburg summit when EU leaders unexpectedly declared that her proposals would not work.

On Thursday night the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, hit back for the government, declaring there were no changes to the Chequers plan on the table and the EU’s demands on Northern Ireland were “impossible” for the UK to accept. “The PM has set out red lines that this country is not going to stay in the single market, we’re not going to stay in the customs union – I agree with her on those, that’s the government’s position,” Grayling said.

The prime minister was thrown on to the defensive – just over a week before the Conservative party conference – when EU leaders led by Donald Tusk and Emmanuel Macron rejected her Chequers plan as it stood, prompting hard Brexit Conservatives to demand it be abandoned.

http://www.theguardian.com

‘Economy looks like 1937’ says Hedge Fund legend Ray Dalio

A downturn is coming in about two years

Ray Dalio is the founder and co-chief investment officer of Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world. Dalio is sharing his template for understanding debt crises which he says helped him and his fund foresee and navigate the financial crisis. He sat down with Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget to discuss this new book and his outlook for the economy. Follwoing is a transcript of the video.