Sunday, 20 October 2019

Japan-US trade deal expected to boost Japan’s economy by 0.8%

The Japan-US trade deal expected to boost Japan’s economy by 0.8%.

The United States and Japan signed a limited trade deal that cuts tariffs on U.S. farm goods, Japanese machine tools and other products while further staving off the threat of higher U.S. car duties.

The deal is also estimated to contribute about 4 trillion yen ($36.84 billion) to Japan’s gross domestic product based on its fiscal 2018 GDP and the pact will create about 280,000 jobs in Japan, it said.

Japan and USA have been working together in many ways. For example, there is also the event that Japan will participate in NASA’s Lunar Gateway project for the Artemis program.

The program will seek to establish an orbital research and staging station around the Moon. The Lunar Gateway is a key component of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to land the first American woman and the next American man on the surface of the Moon by 2024.

Baidu to sell almost third of Ctrip stake for $1 billion

Baidu ( 百度 ) is a large Chinese multinational technology company specializing in Internet-related services and products and artificial intelligence.

Ctrip ( 携程 ) is a Chinese provider of travel services including accommodation reservation, transportation ticketing, packaged tours and corporate travel management.

Baidu will sell nearly a third of its stake in online travel firm, expecting to raise about $1 billion as it looks to invest in new revenue streams.

Baidu, Ctrip’s biggest shareholder with a 19% stake, is offering 31.3 million American Depositary Shares (ADS), each representing 0.125 ordinary share of Ctrip. Underwriters will have a Greenshoe option of 4.7 million ADS, Ctrip said in a statement.

What is a Greenshoe Option? A greenshoe option is an over-allotment option. In the context of an IPO, it is a provision in an underwriting agreement that grants the underwriter the right to sell investors more shares than initially planned by the issuer if the demand for a security issue proves higher than expected.

Most of Baidu success so far has been at video streaming service iQiyi which competes with Alibaba-backed Youku and Tencent Holdings’ Tencent Video.

Recently Baidu invested in science forum Guoke, and Zhihu, China’s answer to Quora.

China's economic growth is lowest level since 1992

China's growth dropped last quarter to its lowest level in nearly three decades. The world's second largest economy continues to be affected from the trade war with the United States.

China's GDP grew by 6% in the three months to September 30, the weakest quarterly growth rate since 1992. This is down from 6.2% in the April-June period.

Trade issues with the US are the key factors affecting business and investment activities.

Domestic stimulus policies are being used to help the situation. Economic stimulus consists of attempts by governments or government agencies to financially stimulate an economy. An economic stimulus is the use of monetary or fiscal policy changes to kickstart growth during a recession. Governments can accomplish this by using tactics such as lowering interest rates and increasing government spending.

This is the graph of GDP per Capita of China and India. The comparison shows how amazing China's growth has been:

China GDP per capita in 2017: $8,826.99 USD
China GDP per capita in 2016: $8,117.27 USD
China GDP per capita in 2015: $8,069.21 USD
China GDP per capita in 2014: $7,683.50 USD
China GDP per capita in 2013: $7,077.77 USD
China GDP per capita in 2012: $6,337.88 USD
China GDP per capita in 2011: $5,633.80 USD
China GDP per capita in 2010: $4,560.51 USD

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Gold prices are down from last month's highs

Gold prices today moved higher in domestic markets, similar to the global trend.

On MCX, December gold future contracts were up 0.13% to 38,084 per 10 gram while silver contracts edged up by 0.44% to 45,427 per kg.

In global markets, spot gold rates were up 0.2% amid a mixed backdrop.

Britain and the European Union are in last-days talks to get a Brexit Deal ahead of a summit of the bloc's leaders this week. People have hopes of a possible good deal to avoid a disorderly British exit from the European Union.

Gold prices probably will continue to trade in a range of $1480 - $1530, unless there is more information about the US-China trade relationships and Fed's monetary policy.

Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.22% on Tuesday from Monday.

The business of selling gold continues to be profitable as many jewellers come up with promotional offers to attract buyers and gold traders want to buy low and sell high.

China Is Leasing Pacific Island of Tulagi

Tulagi is an island with a little more than 1,000 people in the Solomon Islands. The island of Tulagi served as a South Pacific headquarters for Britain. Then, Japan during World War II made the harbor into its position.

Now, China is going forward with plans to effectively take control. A Beijing-based company has secured exclusive development rights for the entire island of Tulagi and its surroundings. The lease agreement has shocked Tulagi residents.

The renewable 75-year lease was granted to the China Sam Enterprise Group.

Swine fever is hitting Chinese consumers

African Swine Fever has hit China's pig population. Some Chinese consumers are switching to other meats as pork becomes less affordable. Pork in China now costs nearly 70% more than it did a year ago.

China is home to half of all pigs on the planet. The pig herd has shrunk by about 130 million since the outbreak began about 13 months ago. Many farmers don't want to restock pigs after they are slaughtered, fearing they'll catch the disease.

Pork makes up around 70% of China's total meat consumption. Pork is also the main filling used in dumplings.

The price hikes are likely not over yet. The cost of pork will probably rise even more as the country prepares for Chinese New Year (starts off at the end of January).

Xiaomi’s Mi Mix Alpha is almost totally made of screen

This modern cell phone is pretty amazing with a screen that wraps around the entire phone. It looks more futuristic than other phones.

Xiaomi’s Mi Mix phones have always improved phone screens and forms. Curved edges are a nice design. Xiaomi takes phone designs to a new level with the Mi Mix Alpha.

This fantastic surround screen wraps completely around the device to the point where it meets the camera module on the other side. It looks visibly cool like a phone made completely out of screen.

Status icons like network signal, battery charge level and volume buttons are displayed on the side on the phone.

The Mix Alpha uses Samsung new 108 megapixel camera sensor, which was co-developed with Xiaomi.

Huawei unveils new 5G antennae

Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. is a Chinese multinational technology company that provides telecommunications equipment and sells consumer electronic, including smartphones and is headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. Huawei had over 188,000 employees as of September 2018.

Huawei Technologies on Wednesday launched a new generation of 5G mobile antennae. 5G is the fifth generation cellular network technology. The industry association 3GPP defines any system using "5G NR" software as "5G."

Huawei has pioneered the development of so-called Massive MIMO - or multiple input and multiple output - antennae that feature arrays of transmitters and receivers to run fifth-generation mobile services. These can achieve faster data speeds by directly tracking nearby smartphone users.

The antennae, unveiled at en event in Zurich, double bandwidth to 400 Megahertz and boost power output to 320 Watts. This makes it possible to expand coverage in the mid-band frequencies that many countries have earmarked for 5G services. They will weigh less and use less power than their predecessors.

Germany will work with Huawei to help build its national 5G networks.

Samsung ends mobile phone production in China

Samsung is a South Korean multinational conglomerate headquartered in Samsung Town, Seoul. Since 1990, Samsung has increasingly globalised its activities and electronics; in particular, its mobile phones and semiconductors have become its most important source of income. Samsung's revenue was equal to 17% of South Korea's $1,082 billion GDP.

In 2017, Samsung manufactured 394 million handsets around the world.

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has ended mobile telephone production in China, it said on Wednesday. The competition is intensifying from domestic rivals in the world’s biggest smartphone market.

Samsung’s last China phone factory has shutdown. Production has been cut at the plant in the southern city of Huizhou in June in June and another factory was suspended last year. Competition is tough in the country.

Some other manufacturers also ended production in China due to rising labor costs and the economic slowdown.

Sony said it was closing its Beijing smartphone plant and would only make smartphones in Thailand.

Apple still makes major products in China.

Fast-growing homegrown brands in the Chinese market are Huawei Technologies and Xiaomi Corp. In China, people can buy low-priced smartphones from domestic brands and high-end phones from Apple or Huawei. However, Samsung would continue sales in China.

Examples of Samsung Phones:

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus 128GB White with Edge 40 tab

Samsung Galaxy S10 - 128GB Memory, Prism White

Galaxy Note10+ - 12GB+256GB, Aura Black

Samsung Galaxy Note9 128GB Black

Samsung Galaxy S10e 128GB Black with Edge 40 tab

Samsung Galaxy S9 64 GB - Titanium Grey

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 44mm - Aluminum Aqua Black

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Typhoon Hagibis damages Japan

Japan is being hit hard by Typhoon Hagibis. 10,000s of troops and rescue workers on Sunday have been sent to save stranded residents and fight floods caused by the typhoon. This weather event is one of the worst to hit the country in recent history.

At least 30 people were killed in the typhoon that left different sections of towns under water. About 100,000 homes were left without power.

More than 20 rivers in central and northeastern Japan burst their banks and dozens more overflowed although their banks were still in tact. Rescue efforts were hindered by this.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

MasterCard and Visa quit Facebook's Libra Digital Currency Plan

Paypal was the first to exit Facebook's Libra currency association a week ago. Now MasterCard, Visa, Stripe, eBay, Mercado and Pago are quitting, too. This is a major disadvantage for Facebook's plans for a distributed, global cryptocurrency. The withdrawals leave Libra with no major USA payment processor.

Explanations given are that companies are supportive of projects that want to make online commerce more accessible for people around the world, but they want to focus on their own business. There are also doubts as to how well Libra can satisfy all required regulatory expectations.

The remaining Libra members are facing increasing pressure from governments and regulators, many of whom see the project as a threat to the existing financial system.

Chinese Measure Words

Measure words can be difficult in Mandarin Chinese because of the large amount of variations. Different objects could be discussed. Measure words exist in English, such as “piece of cake” or “stick of gum.” In Chinese, each noun requires a measure word. For example, you need to say “five (measure word) cats.”

Here are some common measure words in Mandarin Chinese:

个 gè

This is a generic measure word that you can use in place of measure words that you do not know. Examples for “个 gè” include: 三个人 sān gèrén (three people),  一个苹果  yīgè píngguǒ (one apple). 

间 jiān

This is a measure word that is used to describe any sort of room, from bedrooms to classrooms. For example: 一间客房 yī jiàn kèfáng (one guest room), 四间教室 sì jiān jiàoshì (four classrooms). 

棵 kē

“棵 kē” is used when when talking about plants or trees. You would say “三棵树 sān kē shù
” when talking about three trees. 

双 shuāng

When you are talking about pairs of things, the measure word “双 shuāng” is used. So four pairs of shoes would be “四双鞋 sì shuāng xié” and one pair of chopsticks is “一双筷子 yīshuāng kuàizi”. 

张 zhāng

To talk about pieces of paper, or anything flat, you will use “张”. This can be tricky because nouns such as paper, bed, and tickets all fall into this category. Examples include: 两张票 liǎng zhāng piào (two tickets), 一张床  yī zhāng chuáng (one bed), and 三张纸 sān zhāng zhǐ (three sheets of paper). 

支 zhī

This measure word is used to refer to twig-like objects or long objects such as pens and pencils. You would say “一支铅笔 yī zhī qiānbǐ” for “one pencil”.

只 zhī

Another common measure word that you will see describing animals or if you are talking about one of a pair is “只 zhī”. Note that this is pronounced “zhī” and not “zhǐ” like in other contexts. Examples include: 两只鸡 liǎng zhī jī (two chickens), 一只鞋 yī zhǐ xié (one shoe). These measuring words can begin to get extremely complicated. There are many different characters for various categories. Every Chinese noun needs a measure word. If you make a mistake, people probably could still understand what you are talking about.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Saudi Aramco is Expected to Create World’s Biggest IPO Next Week

Saudi Aramco is officially the Saudi Arabian Oil Company. It is a Saudi Arabian national petroleum and natural gas company based in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest companies in the world by revenue.

Saudi Aramco has the world's second largest proven crude oil reserves at more than 270 billion barrels. Saudi Aramco operates the world's largest single hydrocarbon network, the Master Gas System. Aramco has reported its net income at $111.1 billion in 2018 compared to $75.9 billion in 2017.

The Saudi Aramco board is expected to give final approvals to proceed with its large share sale next week. The company is preparing for the IPO. About 2% of Aramco may be sold. This could raise $40 billion.

ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and Canada

The ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) was founded in 1904. It is the global professional accounting body offering Chartered Certified Accountant qualification (ACCA). ACCA's headquarters are in London. The principal administrative office is in Glasgow. ACCA works in 52 countries.

A member who holds an ACCA designation, is considered to hold a Bachelors degree in Canada. ACCA and the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada (CGA-Canada) have a global mutual recognition agreement.

Interesting links:

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

USA and Mexico Border Wall May Pose Environmental Threat

The much needed wall between USA and Mexico is being built right now. Bulldozers and excavators are creating the space to build the new wall. The wall may come with great environmental costs. The wall is a $5 billion commitment by USA President Donald Trump to prevent illegal asylum seekers from getting into the USA.

Wildlife could be affected. Work on the border wall, fences and related infrastructure, such as roads, fragments habitat, erodes soil, changes fire regimes and alters hydrological processes by sometimes causing floods.

About 650 miles of the border wall already exist. Most of it has been built on federal land where the terrain provides no natural barrier. The complete wall would extend into lands that include important habitats for wildlife.

This wall would have no windows. It is made of non-combustible material such as concrete, cement block, brick, or fire rated drywall. Wall penetrations would be sealed with special materials.

The complete USA-Mexico Wall would be about 2,000 miles.

The Great Wall of China is the longest in the world. Thanks to modern measuring techniques, the total length has been finally revealed, as 21,196.18 kilometers (13,170.70 miles).

Could Stitch Fix Stock be Headed for More Growth?

Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service in the United States. Founded in 2011, Stitch Fix went public in 2017 on NASDAQ. Immediately after the IPO, Stitch Fix was valued at $1.6 billion. As of February 2018, the company was valued at $2 billion.

The company began by catering only to women, but it has expanded to men's clothing, plus sizes, maternity wear, and kids. As of May 2018, they had 5,800 employees including 3,000 stylists and 75 data scientists.

The company offers consumers access to their own personal stylists without having to go outside anywhere.

For a monthly fee, clients get curated pieces of clothing and accessories shipped to their door. They can pay for what they keep and return the rest to the company. Consumers like this type of service.

Stitch Fix ended the fiscal fourth quarter earlier this month with 3.2 million customers, up 18% compared to a year ago.

Stitch Fix has expanded in the e-commerce market into new clothing categories and recently launched a new service in which customers can purchase items on the website in addition to getting their scheduled box of clothing. The company is thinking of new ways to create shopping for customers. It is highly likely that this stock is heading for growth.

Shopify Stock Shows Excellent Growth

Shopify Stock (NYSE: SHOP) has shown excellent growth. The company launched in 2004. Shopify went public on May 21, 2015, and in its debut on the New York Stock Exchange, started trading at $28. The stock is now at $418.65 CAD on Oct 9, 2019.

E-commerce creates many online sales. Merchants need a platform for online selling such as Amazon and eBay. Now, a third player, Shopify, has become recently a fast growing company. This is a Canadian e-commerce platform that enables people to build their own online stores.

Shopify gives merchants access to many features and apps to help small businesses sell their products directly. They can also list products on marketplaces and social media sites across the internet. The company second-quarter 2019 report is impressive. It posted a 48% year-over-year increase in revenue to $362 million.

Shopify is making efforts to expand. It recently announced a $450 million deal to acquire 6 River Systems, a warehouse fulfillment company specializing in warehouse robotics and cloud software. This acquisition helps to support its new business, Shopify Fulfillment Network. This new business was introduced in June. The company makes efforts to give merchants lower shipping costs and enhanced delivery services.

Shopify Inc. is a Canadian multinational e-commerce company headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario. The company reported that it had more than 800,000 businesses in about 175 countries using its platform as of December 31, 2018. The total gross merchandise volume exceeded $41.1 billion for 2018.

Analysts are expecting this stock to climb higher.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Tidewater Shares Fall After Announcement About Buying Oil Refinery

Husky Energy Inc. has agreed to sell its light oil refinery in Prince George, B.C., for $215 million cash plus adjustments to Tidewater Midstream and Infrastructure Ltd.

Shares in Tidewater Midstream and Infrastructure Ltd. fell sharply Friday after it announced it would buy this small light oil refinery in Prince George, B.C., from Husky Energy Inc.

Husky shares rose slightly. Tidewater shares fell by almost 11 per cent to as low as $1.00 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Tidewater Midstream is a Canadian integrated midstream and infrastructure company headquartered in Calgary, Alberta. They are in the business of:
  • Natural Gas Processing
  • Liquids Upgrading and Marketing
  • Fractionation at Tidewater's BRC Fractionation Facility
  • Storage and Transportation
  • Rail Logistics
  • Retail Propane
  • Storage Inlcuding Tidewater's Pipestone Gas Storage Facility
Tidewater main operations and core processing plants are located in the Deep Basin, Edmonton and Montney regions of Alberta & British Columbia. Tidewater's strategically positioned assets transport and market hydro-carbons to local and global markets. The company’s core business is processing natural gas and upgrading, transporting and storing petroleum products produced in northern Alberta and B.C.

This kind of market reaction is because of it being an unexpected acquisition in a somewhat new business line. Investors also have concerns about the plan to fund the purchase entirely with debt. However, the deal offers synergistic opportunities to expand petrochemical liquids value chain in northern B.C.

Analysts say the sale price is near the upper end of the estimate of $180 million to $225 million.

Sea Level Could Rise 20 Meters in Future Centuries

We know the planet is slowly getting warmer, but how warm can it get.  One of the main concerns is the rise in the sea level. If warming continues and exceeds 2ºC, Antarctica’s melting ice sheets could raise seas 20 meters in the coming centuries. In the past, 3 million years ago during the Pliocene epoch up to one-third of Antarctica’s ice sheets melted, causing the sea level to rise as much as 25m above present levels. According to the Paris Agreement signed in 2015, the world should avoid a temperature increase of more than 2ºC. One third of Antarctica’s ice sheet, equivalent to up to 20 m sea level rise, sits below sea level and is vulnerable to collapse from ocean heating. It melted sometimes in the past.

The Paris Agreement target about not exceeding 2ºC is important. The Paris Agreement (French: Accord de Paris) is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This deals with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance. It was signed in 2016. As of March 2019, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, and 186 have become party to it. The Paris Agreement's long-term temperature goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels; and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 °C, recognizing that this would substantially reduce the risks and impacts of climate change. This should be done by peaking emissions as soon as possible, in order to "achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases" in the second half of the 21st century. It also aims to increase the ability of parties to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, and make "finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development."

Under the Paris Agreement, each country must determine, plan, and regularly report on the contribution that it undertakes to mitigate global warming. No mechanism forces a country to set a specific target by a specific date, but each target should go beyond previously set targets. In June 2017, the U.S. President announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the agreement. Under the agreement, the earliest effective date of withdrawal for the U.S. is November 2020.

Friday, 4 October 2019

Toronto: Places that use Uber Eats

Here are some places in Toronto that use Uber Eats for food delivery.