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EU to drop threat of Huawei ban

5G risks monitored

The European Commission will next week urge EU countries to share more data to tackle cybersecurity risks related to 5G networks but will ignore U.S. calls to ban Huawei Technologies, four people familiar with the matter said on Friday. European digital chief Andrus Ansip will present the recommendation on Tuesday. While the guidance does not have legal force, it will carry political weight which can eventually lead to national legislation in European Union countries.

The United States has lobbied Europe to shut out Huawei, saying its equipment could be used by the Chinese government for espionage. Huawei has strongly rejected the allegations and earlier this month sued the U.S. government over the issue. Ansip will tell EU countries to use tools set out under the EU directive on security of network and information systems, or NIS directive, adopted in 2016 and the recently approved Cybersecurity Act, the people said.

For example, member states should exchange information and coordinate on impact assessment studies on security risks and on certification for internet-connected devices and 5G equipment. The Commission will not call for a European ban on global market leader Huawei, leaving it to EU countries to decide on national security grounds.

The economic costs of air pollution

Evidence from Europe

Air pollution is a major threat to human health, with only 1 in 10 people globally living in areas where air pollution is below recommended levels. This study shows that exposure to bad air quality in turn substantially reduces economic output per worker, because it induces absenteeism at work and reduces individuals’ cognitive and physical capabilities.

Therefore, improving air quality can yield large economic benefits. Between 2000 and 2015, fine particulate concentration across the European Union declined by 20%, and the study estimates that this boosted EU GDP by 2.4%. Air quality improvements explain 15% of GDP growth in Europe over this period.

Stocks, oil prices skid

China virus fears drive investors to safe havens

Shares tumbled on Monday as investors grew increasingly anxious about the economic impact of China’s spreading virus outbreak, with demand spiking for safe-haven assets such as the Japanese yen and Treasury notes.

Japan’s Nikkei average .N225 slid 2.0%, the biggest one-day fall in five months, while a Tokyo-listed China proxy, ChinaAMC CSI 300 index ETF (1575.T), slid 2.2%. Amid the Lunar New Year holiday, many markets in Asia were closed.

U.S. S&P 500 mini futures ESc1 were last down 1.0%, having fallen 1.3% in early Asian trade.

European shares were expected to follow suit, with major European stock futures STXEc1FDXc1FFIc1 trading 1.2-1.4% lower.

Memphis Meats Raises $161 Million In Funding

Memphis Meat Wants to Bring Cell-Based Products To Consumers

Memphis Meats, one of the leading cell-based meat, poultry and seafood companies, has just announced the close of a $161 million funding round. This breakthrough round marks the largest funding moment in the history of the cell-based meat industry, and will likely enable Memphis Meats to reach the historic milestone of bringing its products to consumers. In total, the company has raised more than $180 million. There’s no question about it: The sustainable food industry is on fire right now.

The Series B round is led by SoftBank Group, Norwest and Temasek. Also joining the round are new and existing investors including Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Threshold Ventures, Cargill, Tyson Foods, Kimbal Musk, Fifty Years and CPT Capital. This round extends the Memphis Meats coalition to Asia, which is a strategically valuable market for cell-based meat and faces significant challenges in meeting growing demand for meat.

Steep losses in China stocks hit Asia, oil tumbles

Virus fears grow

Asian shares tumbled on Thursday, led by the biggest slide in Chinese stocks in more than eight months, as investors grew more anxious about the spread of a new flu-like virus in China just as millions prepared to travel for the Lunar New Year. The likely hit to airline travel from the contagion sent oil futures skidding to seven-week lows, while the International Energy Agency’s warning of an oil surplus and a larger-than-expected increase in U.S. crude inventories re-kindled fears of excess supply.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS fell 1.07%.

Chinese shares .CSI300 suffered a steep 3.04% loss, on course for their biggest daily decline since May 6, 2019, when U.S. President Donald Trump’s threats of additional tariffs on Chinese goods roiled financial markets. Shares in Hong Kong .HSI also took a beating, down 1.91%, while Japan’s Nikkei stock index .N225 slid 0.99%. Euro Stoxx 50 futures STXEc1 were down 0.4%, suggesting European shares are also heading into a rough trading session.

The Chinese yuan fell to a two-week low, while safe-havens such as the Japanese yen, gold, and U.S. Treasuries rose as a travel blockade of the Chinese city Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, started earlier on Thursday.

Boeing warns of new 737 MAX delay

Mid-year return to service

Boeing Co said on Tuesday it does not expect to win approval for the return of the 737 MAX to service until mid-year due to further potential developments in the certification process and regulatory scrutiny on its flight control system.

Boeing has informed airlines and suppliers of the new estimate, which is longer than previous forecasts and also takes into account new anticipated pilot training requirements.

Reuters reported last week that regulators had been pushing back the time needed to approve the plane, which was most recently expected to happen in February or March, a year after the jetliner was grounded worldwide.

Germany confirms Trump made trade threat to Europe over Iran policy

Defence minister says Trump threatened to impose 25% tariff on European cars

The US threatened to impose 25% tariffs on cars to push Europeans to initiate proceedings against Iran for violating the nuclear deal, the German defence minister has confirmed.

“This threat exists,” said the German defence minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, at a press conference in London.

She was asked about an article in the Washington Post that claimed Trump had secretly warned France, Germany and the UK that the US would impose a “25% tariffs on European cars” if they did not activate the mechanism for the settlement of disputes (MRD) of the Iranian international nuclear agreement reached in Vienna in 2015.

Kramp-Karrenbauer told reporters on Thursday: “This expression or threat, as you will, does exist.” She is in the UK to meet her counterpart, Ben Wallace, to discuss Anglo-European defence cooperation post-Brexit.

TikTok overtakes Facebook

Tik Tok  becomes world’s second most downloaded app

TikTok and its Chinese equivalent, Douyin, ranked as the world’s second most downloaded app last year, but the short-video platform operated by Bytedance is facing challenges from both upstart rivals and established players that are starting to embrace short-form content.

TikTok and Douyin amassed a combined 740 million downloads last year, overtaking Facebook and Messenger to become the world’s second most downloaded app behind WhatsApp, according to market analyst Sensor Tower.

$170 Billion and Counting: The Cost of Brexit for the U.K.

Government still has to negotiate post-Brexit deal with the EU

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to “unleash Britain’s potential.” First the economy has to catch back up with the rest of the world. Research by Bloomberg Economics estimates that the economic cost of Brexit has already hit 130 billion pounds ($170 billion), with a further 70 billion pounds set to be added by the end of this year. That’s based on the damage caused by the U.K. untethering from its Group of Seven peers over the past three years.

While growth globally has also cooled in recent years, the analysis by Bloomberg Economics shows the U.K. has still lagged. There is a strong historic correlation between the U.K. and G-7 countries. But they have been diverging since the vote to leave the EU, with the British economy now 3% smaller than it could have been had the relationship been maintained.

Grindr, Tinder and OkCupid are sharing user’s personal data with thousands of advertising partners

Selling informations about their sexuality and location

Grindr, Tinder and OkCupid are all sharing user’s personal data with thousands of advertising partners, including information about their sexuality and location, according to a new study. The popular dating apps are said to be handing over the sensitive details to around 100 other businesses, a Norwegian consumer group said Tuesday.

Grindr, which markets itself as the ‘world’s largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans and queer people,’ shares the GPS data, IP addresses, ages and genders of its users, a report by The Norwegian Consumer Council found.

According to the government-funded non-profit organisation, the sharing of this data implicitly discloses users’ sexual orientations and in some cases drug use. Tinder is also accused of sharing user data with at least 45 companies owned by the Match Group, which operates a dating website of the same name.

Visa to pay $5.3 billion to buy fintech startup Plaid

Digital and cashless economy is rising

Visa Inc (V.N) said on Monday it agreed to buy privately held software startup Plaid Inc in a $5.3 billion deal that will boost the payments giant’s access to the booming financial technology space.

The transaction highlights how traditional financial firms are willing to pay top dollar to acquire businesses which have established strong positions servicing the digital and cashless economy.

Plaid’s technology lets people link their bank accounts to mobile apps such as Venmo, Acorns and Chime, with the San Francisco-based firm saying its systems have been used by one in four people with a U.S. bank account.

The $5.3 billion price given in Monday’s statement is double what Plaid was reportedly valued at during its last fundraising, when it took a $250 million Series C round that was announced in December 2018.

Fashion industry’s ageism could cost it $14bn in next 20 years

Potential of older consumers has been ‘shamefully sidelined’

The fashion and beauty industry’s “shameful sidelining” of older consumers could cost it £11bn ($14bn) over the next 20 years, according to research by the International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK).

Older people increased their spending on clothes and shoes by 21% – or £2.9bn – between 2011 and 2018, according to the analysis. By 2040, people aged 50 and over are expected to be this sector’s key consumer base.

But despite their spending power, the industry’s institutional ageism makes this powerful demographic feel like “frumps”, the research found. Women older than 75 stop spending on fashion altogether, even though they have significant savings and say they are still interested in looking stylish, according to the findings.

Trade risks easing may mean bluer sky for 2020

FED thinks risks begin to ease

The global trade wars may not be over, but U.S. Federal Reserve officials on Thursday said the economy may have weathered the worst of it as risks begin to ease and businesses adjust to a new trade environment.

In separate speeches and interviews, Fed policymakers, including Vice Chair Richard Clarida, were uniform in saying that developments like expected ratification of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement and next week’s intended signing of an initial U.S.-China trade deal have made them more confident about the economy in the year ahead.

“There are some indications that headwinds to global growth may be beginning to abate,” Clarida said in remarks at a forum in New York. The Fed’s three “well-timed” rate cuts last year have been “providing support to the economy and helping to keep the U.S. outlook on track,” he said.

Walmart Tests Grocery-Picking Robots

Fast-growing online grocery pickup (OGP) service

There could be a future where robots will do most of your grocery shopping for you. And for some Walmart shoppers, that future is getting even closer.

Walmart (WMT), the world’s largest seller of groceries, will begin piloting a robotics system for its fast-growing online grocery pickup (OGP) service in one of its stores. The retailer has teamed up with Massachusetts-based Alert Innovation to deploy its Alphabot, a first-of-its-kind technology, in its supercenter store in Salem, New Hampshire just off of Interstate 93.

“This is about the evolution of retail,” Alert Innovation CEO John Lert told Yahoo Finance. “So, we believe that this really marks the dawn of a new era and in which robots are going to increasingly pick orders for customers and relieve them of that burden.”

Alphabot is supposed to make the job of the customer and the associate easier. Its aim is to allow associates to complete more orders faster than they would by simply walking up and down the aisles in search of goods. It also frees up time for associates to carefully select fresh produce and meat while the robots do the other work behind the scenes. For the customer, it saves time and keeps prices low.

Iran attacks bases housing US troops

Uunequivocal warning to Iran not to attack Israel

Iraq received “an official verbal message” from Iran shortly after midnight and prior to the missile attacks, according to a statement from Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi.

Benjamin Netanyahu issued an unequivocal warning to Iran not to attack Israel.

He said he spoke for many of Israel’s neighbors in reiterating his strong support for the US killing of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani, a man the Israeli Prime Minister described as Iran’s “terrorist-in-chief.”

Addressing a conference in Jerusalem Wednesday morning, just hours after Iran launched a missile attack on military bases in Iraq housing US troops — and amid renewed Iranian threats to hit Israeli cities — the Israeli Prime Minister said, “Anyone who tries to attack us will suffer the most devastating blow.”