Financials, tech stocks drive Australian market higher


(Reuters) – Australian shares settled higher on Tuesday for the seventh straight session, as financials jumped on some economic optimism and dividend hopes, and technology stocks tracked Wall Street higher.

FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians are reflected in a window displaying stock prices at the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in Sydney, Australia, February 13, 2018. REUTERS/David Gray

The S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO rose 1% to 6,195.70, adding about 7% during the seven sessions of gains through Tuesday.

Financials .AXFJ closed 1.7% higher, after having hit their highest level since Aug. 12 earlier in the session, with the “Big Four” banks adding between 1.7% and 3.3%.

“There are some signs that there is a bit of optimism for the economy moving forward, and that’s helping banks have a pretty good run,” said James Tao, a market analyst at CommSec.

Last week, the Australian government pledged billions in tax cuts and measures to boost jobs, which was quite accommodative for the economy.

Additionally, eased lending standards for banks have also brightened growth prospects for the economy, which slid into recession for the first time in nearly 30 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Banks are still tempting for punters who believe dividends will come back,” said Brad Smoling, managing director at Smoling Stockbroking.

Technology stocks .AXIJ tracked a rally in their U.S. peers, particularly in Apple Inc AAPL.O and AMZN.O, and rose 1.6% to a record.

The communication services sector .AXTJ closed 2.4% higher, boosted by Telstra Corp’s TLS.AX more than 4% gain after the telecom company retained its annual dividend.

Limiting gains, the mining sector .AXMM slipped 0.3%, mostly dragged by coal companies following reports that China has stopped taking Australian coal shipments.

West African Resources Ltd WAF.AX was the top loser with a drop of 10.74%, while Ioneer Ltd INR.AX

Apple and Amazon drive rally on Wall Street


(Reuters) – Wall Street ended sharply higher on Monday, fueled by expectations of a coronavirus relief package and by a rally in Amazon, Apple and other technology stocks ahead quarterly earnings season.

Apple Inc jumped 6.4%, adding $128 billion to its stock market value, ahead of an event on Tuesday, when it is expected to unveil its newest iPhones.

Amazon rallied 4.8% ahead of its annual Prime Day shopping event on Oct. 13 and 14. Microsoft jumped 2.6%, helping lift the S&P 500 information technology index 2.7%.

The S&P 500 was about 1% below its record closing high from Sept. 2, nearly recovering from most of a 9% pullback last month.

“Apple is crushing it. There’s some euphoria around the name,” said Phil Blancato, chief executive of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management in New York. “The market leaders are once again the tech names, supported by the fact that the economy continues to expand.”

Optimistic sentiment dominated after the Trump administration on Sunday called on Congress to pass a stripped-down coronavirus relief bill as negotiations on a broader package ran into resistance.

“It looks like the administration wants a deal done before the election,” said Brian Battle, director of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago. “Now it’s up to the Republican Senate to figure out how big the number is going to be.”

Many investors view Democratic candidate Joe Biden as more likely to raise taxes, and for months have seen a second term for Trump, who favors deregulation, as better for the overall stock market.

However, with growing expectations of a Democratic win in next month’s presidential election, investors are increasingly pointing to potential benefits of a Biden presidency, such as greater infrastructure spending and less global trade uncertainty.

FILE PHOTO: A Wall Street sign is pictured outside

Gaming will be a frontline in China’s censorship drive | Opinion


Rob Fahey

Contributing Editor

Friday 9th October 2020

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On the scale of grand industry scandals, a few short phrases being censored in the in-game chat client of a free-to-play RPG seems like it ought to be in real “storm in a teacup” territory.

Indeed, it’s deeply unlikely that very many of the millions of players of Genshin Impact — a Breath of the Wild inspired RPG for PC, PS4 and mobile, which is quickly shaping up to be one of the most internationally successful titles to have been developed in mainland China thus far — will ever really notice that the game does the text equivalent of bleeping them out should they choose to mention places like Taiwan or Hong Kong, or a number of other phrases, some of them surprisingly innocuous. Even among those who do notice, the vast majority will shrug it off; it’s not a major imposition for most, and it’s not like developer miHoYo seemingly had a choice in the matter given China’s censorship rules.

For the specifics of those rules and why this has happened at all, Niko Partners’ Daniel Ahmad wrote a succinct thread on Twitter (cited in this previous story) that’s worth reading. Taken in isolation, this is explanation enough — and will certainly be more than enough to sate the curiosity of almost any gamer who wonders enough about the censored terms to try googling about the whole affair.

What we’re seeing here is the thin end of a wedge that’s going to become a very serious headache for a lot of games companies in the coming years

However, it’s worth stepping back from this single instance of China’s censorship creeping into the media and communications of people beyond its borders, and considering the broader context — because

When Technology And Storytelling Drive Empathy


This week Lenovo, championed by Girl Up, the gender equality initiative of the United Nations Foundation (UNF), and filmmaker Ava DuVernay, launched New Realities – a project celebrating women through women and technology to showcase and solve global social issues and drive empathy. 

“I was honestly blown away by the stories of these ten young women. I was not sure what to expect, going into this project. Still, I was truly amazed by the power to drive change these women have shown,” said Dilip Bhatia, Lenovo’s Chief Experience Officer during our conversation about New Realities. 

Captured over the last four months using 360-degree storytelling, New Realities records the experience of 10 women in 10 different countries (Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the UK and the US) who are using technology to support a social cause, create thought-provoking art and music or help their community with the services they need the most. 

In addition to providing a platform to these young women, Lenovo – in partnership with Girl Up – funded $100,000 in grants to help them pursue fields of study that align with their goals. The participants also had access to technology from Lenovo, and other resources from ARRAY and Girl Up. The young women received mentorship through a newly created Global Ambassadors Program – featuring mentors hand-selected by Ava DuVernay’s team at ARRAY. “The mentorship was created as part of a vital effort to empower the next generation of women leaders. I applaud each of these young women for sharing their stories with the world through Lenovo’s New Realities. At such a pivotal time in our world’s history, it is imperative

Brazilian Conversational Commerce Firm Take Raises US$100m To Drive International Expansion


Brazilian technology company Take has raised a US$ 100 million round from private equity fund Warburg Pincus to support its international expansion plans. The deal, announced on Wednesday (7) sees the investor acquiring a relevant minority stake in the company in what is one of the largest Series A rounds that have taken place in Brazil.

Headquartered in Belo Horizonte, capital of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, Take develops a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering that enables companies to communicate with their customers via apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. The model evolves the traditional customer relationship management framework into what it defines as “conversational commerce”, whereby firms maintain an ongoing dialog with their customer base.

Take’s technology uses tools such as artificial intelligence and data analytics to allow companies to not only service their customers and seamlessly move between bots and human agents, but drive sales, while building engagement and knowledge about clients as interactions happen.

With the new capital, the company plans to invest in expanding its footprint into the United States, Europe and Mexico. The startup is planning to acquire other companies to bolster its operations and will create a function dedicated to that objective. Additionally, it will hire market specialists as well as senior executives to support its growth plans.

Since its foundation by Roberto Oliveira, Daniel Costa and Marcelo Oliveira in 1999, the company has built a client portfolio that includes Coca-Cola and Fiat, as well as Itaú, one of Brazil’s largest private banks. Companies pay a monthly fee depending on the number of customer interactions that have taken place over the period. Take expects revenues to reach US$ 40 million in 2020.

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