Pound Dives After UK Election Upset

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Britain’s pound took a battering dive on Friday, staying at its two-month lows, after Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party lost its parliamentary majority in elections, plunging the country into potential political chaos days before the start of Brexit negotiations.

Sterling fell 1.6% to $1.2748 after sliding as much as 2.5% to $1.2636 in early European trade , its weakest level since April 18.

With no clear winner emerging from Thursday’s election, Prime Minister Theresa May was fighting to hold on to her job on Friday as she faced calls to quit after her election gamble to win a stronger mandate she had sought to conduct exit talks with the rest of the European Union failed, leaving no single party with a clear claim to power just 10 days before the start of negotiations on Britain’s divorce from the European Union.

Lee, Hardman, a currency strategist in London, said the market wants more clearness now as far as who will be the next Prime Minister, what kind of form will the government take and eventually how all that feeds through into upcoming Brexit negotiations are concerned.

“In the near term the increased political uncertainty and the risk of more disorderly Brexit negotiations should enforce pound weakness.”

The surprise of a result that raised questions about how Britain will go on with its plan to leave the EU, and whether any party can form a stable government, sent the pound to eight-week lows against the dollar and its lowest levels in seven months versus the euro.

After falling sharply on an exit poll released when polls closed at 21:00 GMT, which showed Britain was set for a hung parliament, the pound had steadied a little in Asian trading. However, it fell sharply again as London traders arrived at their desks, as it became clear that no party had won a majority.

Another currency strategist in London, Viraj Patel, said that the pound’s nightmare scenario would always be the failure to have a safe political stability and the result of a hung parliament.

“Hopes that political uncertainty would decrease substantially under a more stable Conservative government…(have) been all but dashed,” said Patel.

“With the two-year Article 50 clock ticking, the passage of time is sterling-negative,” he added, referring to the formal Article 50 process by which Britain is set to leave the EU. “A working government is needed as soon as possible to avoid a further drop in the pound.”

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Oil Falls To A Fresh 1-Month Low

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Oil prices fell down once again after bouncing back overnight in U.S. trading, falling to a fresh 1-month low following data showed a surprise build in U.S. crude stockpiles and the return of more Nigerian crude to an already oversupplied market.

The oil price has slipped below $50 a barrel despite a pledge by the world’s largest exporters to extend an existing output cut of 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) into next year in an effort to cut down bulging global inventories.

The U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude July contract was at $45.45 a barrel by 8:2 AM EDT, down 24 cents, or 0.55%, after hitting its lowest since May 5 at $45.34.

Meanwhile, Brent Oil for August delivery on the ICE Futures Exchange in London plummeted 25 cents, or 0.54% to 47.81 a barrel. The global benchmark dropped to as low as $47.65 earlier in session, a level not seen since May 5.

Unexpected surge in U.S. crude stockpiles

Oil prices plunged to their lowest level in about a month on Wednesday after data showed that U.S. crude stockpiles unexpectedly climbed for the first time in nine weeks.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that crude oil inventories increased by 3.3 million barrels in the week that ended on June 2, disappointing expectations for a crude-stock decline of 3.4 million barrels.

Gasoline inventories also increased by 3.3 million barrels. For distillate inventories including diesel, the EIA reported a rise of 4.4 million barrels.

Supply Gloom Caps Gains

Addition to concern about supply outstripping demand, Royal Dutch Shell on Wednesday lifted force majeure on exports of Nigeria’s Forcados crude, bringing all the country’s oil grades fully online for the first time in almost one and a half year.

The market has also come under pressure from news of rising output from Libya, which together with Nigeria is exempted from the production cut made by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its 11 partners.

“I’ve been quite bullish for the second half of this year, based on supply and demand balances and I would still not give up on that idea, that rebalancing is going to start in the second half,” said Tamas Varga, an oil strategist.

“But if Nigerian and Libyan production is picking up as well as they are now, then slowly, I am probably going to have to start changing my mind.”

Glut Concerns Weigh

Meanwhile, investors kept weighing the effect of diplomatic tensions between Qatar and other Middle Eastern nations, including Saudi Arabia, on an OPEC-led push to tighten up the market.

With oil production of about 620,000 barrels per day, Qatar’s crude production ranks as one of the smallest among OPEC producers, but tension within the cartel could deteriorate an agreement to hold back production in order to bolster prices.

Last month, OPEC and some non-OPEC producers extended a deal to cut 1.8 million barrels per day in supply until March 2018.

Concerns that the current rebound in U.S. shale production could upset efforts by other major producers to bring balance back to global oil supply and demand remained in focus.

Elsewhere On Nymex

Gasoline futures for July dropped down 0.7% to $1.491 a gallon, while July heating oil subtracted 0.2% to $1.413 a gallon. Natural gas futures for July delivery also dropped down 0.4% to $3.008 per million British thermal units, as traders anticipate the weekly storage data due later in the global day.

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Coca-Cola, Partners To Invest $1.7 Billion on Indian Agri-Ecosystem

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Coca-Cola Co., along with its bottling partners, fruit suppliers, and processors, announced on Monday, that they will invest $1.7 billion in India’s agricultural ecosystem over the next five years, with much of the investment going towards expanding the company’s juice portfolio.

“The investments announced today by Coca- Cola will further catalyze economic growth and create new opportunities for farmers and local suppliers,” said T Krishnakumar, Coca-Cola India and Southwest Asia President

Around $800 million of   the investment will go towards the procurement of processed fruit pulp and fruit concentrate for Coca-Cola juice and juice drinks, as well as the associated infrastructure.

In tandem with its bottling partners, fruit suppliers and processors in India, the U.S. beverage giant will invest the amount in the entire supply chain from grove to glass through a concept called the Fruit Circular Economy.

“If we are to realize our portfolio ambitions of being a Total Beverage Company, we must invest in the agri-ecosystem,” said T Krishnakumar, president, Coca-Cola India and Southwest Asia.

While the remaining amount would go towards creating the required infrastructure, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages, Coke, along with other independent franchise bottlers and fruit processing companies, through its bottling arm, will invest around $900 million manufacturing lines, juice bottling infrastructure and fruit processing plants and equipment and agriculture interventions.

The company also said it procures and exports raw materials and ingredients worth $280 million from India to 44 countries.

Coca-Cola Plans To Launch Frozen Desserts in India

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola also plans to introduce frozen desserts in India as the beverages giant looks to continue its portfolio beyond carbonated drinks into fruit-based or other healthier choices.

“The new product will be available in the next three months, and initially sell in institutional formats such as movie theatres, and not as retail packs,” said by two officials aware of the launch. “The company will also put fruit chunks in Maaza and Minute Maid to make the drinks healthier.”

The new product range, made with fruit chunks, will be under the Minute Maid brand and challenge the dominance of Hindustan Unilever and Amul in the Rs 10,000 crore ice-cream segments.

Earlier today, Coca-Cola opened at $45.90 with a session high of $46.06 and a session low of $45.78. The stock has a market capitalization of $196.88 billion, a P/E ratio of 32.23, and a dividend yield of 3.22%.

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Apple Introduces The New iOS 11

 

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Apple Inc. introduced the new iOS 11, taking the wraps off it as the world’s most advanced mobile operating system will power the next iPhone as well as the current and some past iPhone models with new features.

The new iOS update will be available in beta form next month and will probably be released in September. Also, updates to the software running Macs, Apple TVs, and Apple Watches such as watchOS 4 and MacOS High Sierra were also introduced, along with more integration of the company’s Siri digital assistant.

With iOS 11, stickers and iMessage apps are now more accessible with a redesigned App drawer feature, where there’s no need to tap multiple times to send a sticker, and conversations are automatically synchronized with iCloud and stay in sync across devices.

Apple Pay’s much anticipated new feature now allows users to pay one another within iMessage. The peer-to-peer payments can be made and verified via in-built fingerprint scanner and TouchID.

Siri probably has one of the substantial improvements in iOS 11, with a more natural male and female voices.  It can now make built-in real-time translations, starting out with English, French, German, Chinese, Spanish and Italian. It can also be used for task management, taking notes and scanning QR codes. Siri is used on 375 million devices every month.

The Camera has got an update as it now supports high-efficiency video coding, or HEVC, where it supports up to 2x better compression without changing the video quality. The update also supports editing of Live photos, where user can choose a different main still photo, and make live photos go back and forth or loop just like Instagram’s boomerang.

Apple also has its control center feature redesigned and refreshed in iOS 11 as it looks completely new and features a ton of buttons fitting on a single page with sliders and key functions. Using 3D touch, users can press for further details and more depth of options and information.

Apple has added a feature that when the user is driving, it activates the new “Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode. With this mode activated, it turns the user’s iPhone screen black and can send automatic message replies telling they are on the road.

More of iOS 11 updates are AirPlay 2, where the user can connect multiple speakers via Wi-FI, then a redesigned Apple Music app, which user can see recommendations from their friends, what they’re listening to, and a kit for developers to make alternative reality (AR) products for the iPhone and iPad, where users will be able to use the camera to see virtual content built on top of real-world settings for gaming, shopping or creative design.

Lastly, for the first time in its nine-year history Apple has redesigned its App store. The new-look download shop includes sections for featured apps and games, with articles and videos exploring more detail of their development, story and design.

Apple has become the world’s most valuable public company by designing phones and other devices that work seamlessly with software. It puts on a Worldwide Developers Conference each year to show outside developers the latest software so they can create new apps and services that make the company’s gadgets more useful.

Currently, Apple shares are at $154.68. Earlier today, Apple opened at $154.34 with a session high of $154.45 and a session low of $153.46. The stock has a market capitalization of $814.46 billion, a P/E ratio of 18, and a dividend yield of 1.64%.

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Toyota Sells Tesla Stakes, Hopes to Light 2020 Olympic Games

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Toyota Motors Corp. sold all the last of its remaining shares in Tesla Inc. by the end of 2016., concluding the two companies’ more than half-decade relationship and cancelling its tie-up with the U.S. luxury automaker to jointly develop electric vehicles.

Toyota spokesman Ryo Sakai said the company had sold all of its shares in Tesla as of the end of 2016, part of a regular, periodic review of its investments, after it had initially sold down a portion in 2014.

“Our development partnership with Tesla ended a while ago, and since there has not been any new developments on that front, we decided it was time to sell the remaining stake,” he said.

The two automakers had started their cooperation in 2010, when Toyota purchased 3.15% shares of the California company for $50 million, and in 2012, the collaboration also led to the production of an electric-powered sports utility vehicle, particularly, the RAV4 sport utility vehicle, that sold 2,500 units.

However, after some false starts in their collaboration with Tesla to create an electric RAV4, the heritage Japanese firm has apparently chosen to go it alone in the race to fill U.S. driveways with affordable electric vehicles.

Toyota, which has till recently focused on developing the fuel-cell technology for green vehicles, has set up a team, drawing members from its various group companies to work on electric cars instead. Its fuel-cell powered car Mirai (meaning “future” in Japanese), powered by a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, produces only water from its exhaust pipe. However, hydrogen refuelling stations haven’t appeared around the world, making it difficult to make the technology mainstream.

Toyota’s Flying Cars Hope To Light 2020 Olympic Flame

Toyota recently turned heads as well by announcing its involvement with a very special kind of auto startup, and on Saturday, Toyota supported engineers demonstrated their car which they will be able to light up the Olympic flame for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games.

Last month, Toyota agreed to invest 42.5 million yen ($385,000) in “Cartivator”, a start-up group of about 30 engineers, including some young Toyota employees, who started to develop a flying car “SkyDrive” in 2014 with the help of crowdfunding.

Head of Cartivator, Tsubasa Nakamura, said that while the car was still at an early stage of development, the group expects to conduct the first manned-flight by the end of 2018.

During their demonstration, the current test model was able to get off and float to the ground for a few seconds. Nakamura said the design needed more steadiness so the prototype would be able to fly long and high enough to reach the Olympic flame.

Engineers of Cartivator are aiming to make their flying car the world’s smallest electric vehicle, which can be used in small urban areas, and hopes to commercialize the car in 2025, and have a world of flying cars by 2050.

“By 2050 we aim to create a world where anyone can fly in the sky anytime and anywhere,” the team writes. “To realize our vision, a compact flying car is necessary with [vertical] takeoff and landing technology, which do not need roads and runways to lift off.”

Currently, Toyota’s shares steady at ¥5968, down 2.04%. Earlier today, it opened at ¥6,001 with a session high of ¥6,005 and a session low of ¥5,964. The stock has a market capitalization of ¥19.47 trillion, a P/E ratio of 9.96, and a dividend yield of 3.52%.

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IBM Teams Up With Cisco To Fight Off Cybercrime

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International Business Machines Corp., or IBM and Cisco Systems Inc. announced on Wednesday they are working together to address and fight off the rising global threat of cybercrime as the two legacy tech giants will work closely together to improve security effectiveness for customers through technology integration, services and threat intelligence collaboration.

As part of a new deal, Cisco® security solutions will integrate with IBM’s QRadar to protect organizations across networks, endpoints and cloud. The apps will be available on IBM’s Security App Exchange, which had 92 third-party apps as of April, and work with Cisco’s security appliances and malware-prevention software and services to probe and respond to threats. Customers will also benefit from the scale of IBM Global Services support of Cisco products in their Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) offerings.

The San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco and Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM will also add product integrations to connect their portfolios over the course of 2018.The collaboration also establishes a new relationship between the IBM X-Force and Cisco Talos security research teams, who will start working together on threat intelligence research and coordinating on major cybersecurity incidents.

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While partnerships like this are common with smaller players in the cybersecurity space, the news is significant given that the two companies’ collective security businesses amounts to more than $4 billion. As Cybersecurity Ventures expects cybercrime to cost the world some $6 trillion by 2021, the companies stress the need for improved security for cloud-based services.

“Cybercrime is expected to cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021. This is why IBM has been a proponent of open collaboration and threat sharing in cybersecurity to change the economics for criminals,” said Marc van Zadelhoff, general manager, IBM Security.

“With Cisco joining our immune system of defense, joint customers will greatly expand their ability to enhance their use of cognitive technologies like IBM Watson for Cyber Security. Also, having our IBM X-Force and Cisco Talos teams collaborating is a tremendous advantage for the good guys in the fight against cybercrime.”

He also noted both companies have security businesses producing about $2 billion in annual revenue. Two weeks ago, Cisco reported its security revenue rose 9% annually in the April quarter to $529 million, and that its security deferred revenue balance, boosted by rising subscription software and services revenue,  grew 39%. And CEO Chuck Robbins suggested on the earnings call that Cisco is open to more security M&A. IBM reported its security revenue grew 9% in the first quarter, but didn’t provide a sales number.

Earlier this month, Cisco disappointed with weaker-than-expected current-quarter guidance, cutting 1,110 jobs, and promising to push ahead with its transformation through buyouts, partnerships and other strategic initiatives. As for IBM, the firm has also carried out numerous acquisitions in order to diversify and leverage its unique software and services assets as it faces cloud disruption and heightened competition from players such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co., and Microsoft Corp.

The latest deal demonstrates the power of the multinational tech company’s specialized teams, as they seek to partner up with other global leaders across industries and to tap into high-growth markets.

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Uber Axes Self-Driving Car Executive Amid Lawsuit

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Uber Technologies Inc. fired the self-driving car executive it had hired Anthony Levandowski, yielding to rising pressure in its court fight with rival Waymo to part ways with the engineer after he failed to comply with a court order to hand over documents as a judge concluded he took thousands of confidential files from the Alphabet Inc. unit.

Levandowski joined the ride-hailing startup in 2016 after spending several years at Google’s autonomous driving project, which is now called Waymo. In February, Waymo sued Uber alleging that Levandowski stole trade secrets and patents from Waymo by downloading more than 14,000 documents for the development of self-driving technology and brought them to Uber.

Uber said in a letter to Levandowski filed in federal court on Tuesday that it was firing him because he had not complied with a court order to hand over the documents.

He has declined to cooperate as he has invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify in the case, deterring Uber’s ability to defend itself against Waymo’s claims.

Levandowski, one the most respected self-driving engineers in Silicon Valley, was supposed to help the ride services company catch up to rivals including Waymo, in the race for self-driving technology. Unfortunately, the hiring led to a court fight and the threat of criminal charges instead. In April, Uber replaced him as the head of its self-driving car unit before finally making the decision to fire him.

The firing indicates a split between Uber and Levandowski, who for months had presented an allied front in the fight against Waymo’s claims. After U.S. District Judge William Alsup told Uber its actions didn’t suffice to compel Levandowski to cooperate, the company threatened to fire him if he didn’t change his stance. The engineer had countered that it was an unfair burden to make him choose between his constitutional rights against self-incrimination and his job.

Uber and Alphabet are battling over technology expected to revolutionize the way people use cars. Waymo claims its trade secrets made their way into Uber’s Lidar technology, which bounces light pulses off objects so self-driving cars can “see” the road. Uber denies these claims.

In a termination letter dated May 26, Uber gave Levandowski 20 days to comply with the requests to help in the investigation. He isn’t a defendant in Waymo’s lawsuit, though Alsup had asked federal prosecutors to investigate claims made in the case.

In a May 11 order, U.S. District Judge William Alsup gave Uber until May 31 to turn over all Waymo materials downloaded by Levandowski before he left the company. While Uber hasn’t denied that Levandowski took the proprietary files, the company has repeatedly insisted that they can’t be found on its computer servers.

Shortly after Uber announced Levandowski’s ouster on Tuesday, his lawyer filed arguments in court urging the judge to pull back the May 11 order, which led to Uber’s initial threat to fire Levandowski.

“The government — no matter the branch — may not force a person to choose between her continued employment and her Fifth Amendment rights,” Levandowski’s lawyer wrote in the filing.

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