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STOCKS RISE: Here's what you need to know

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

traders

US stocks closed higher for the first time in three sessions, reversing some of Friday's losses that were led by the tech sector. 

Here's the scoreboard: 

  • Dow: 21,330.85, +95.18, (0.45%)
  • S&P 500: 2,441.17, +11.78, (0.48%)
  • Nasdaq :6,222.95, +47.49, (0.77%)
  1. Sears is cutting 400 jobs at its corporate offices as it works towards reducing costs by $1.25 billion in fiscal 2017The cuts will primarily affect workers at Sears' headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, the retailer said Tuesday. Also, Sears Canada said it was running out of cash and revealed there's "significant doubt" it can stay in business.
  2. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick will take a leave of absence from the company to "work on myself" and to deal with a recent family tragedy, according to an email he sent to the company. The CEO had been weighing whether to step away from the company, which has been grappling with a series of crises.
  3. Marissa Mayer has resigned as Yahoo's CEO since Verizon's $4.48 billion acquisition of Yahoo has closed. After running the company for about five years, she'll walk away with a $23 million package.

Additionally: 

BANK OF AMERICA: There's one big difference between now and the 1999 tech bubble

A cryptocurrency for weed is soaring in value after it sponsored Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea

Traders haven't been this nervous about tech stocks in 14 years

Traders are loading up on bets against Apple

GOLDMAN SACHS: Bitcoin is looking 'heavy'

The Trump administration sure sounds like it's getting ready for a government shutdown in September

TIM COOK: There is a 'major disruption looming' for autonomous driving

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NOW WATCH: An economist explains the key issues that Trump needs to address to boost the economy

Goldman Sachs Strikes Bearish Note Amid Bitcoin's Price Highs

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Wall Street banking giant Goldman Sachs warned its clients that the bitcoin market may be headed for bearish territory.

Source

A cryptocurrency is soaring in value after it sponsored Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Potcoin

A digital currency for the legal marijuana industry is soaring after it sponsored Dennis Rodman's trip to North Korea. 

Potcoin is a digital cryptocurrency — much like bitcoin — that was specifically developed to remove the need for cash transactions between marijuana consumers and dispensaries.

If Potcoin was going for publicity, it certainly paid off: Potcoin's value soared almost 97% to over 18 US cents on Tuesday. 

Marijuana is illegal under federal law, so the majority of banks won't take cash or open lines of credit for marijuana businesses. 

Rodman was photographed wearing a Potcoin T-shirt as he arrived in North Korea. 

 

 

SEE ALSO: Dennis Rodman's trip to North Korea is sponsored by Potcoin, a digital currency for weed

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NOW WATCH: An economist explains the key issues that Trump needs to address to boost the economy

Goldman Sachs found a way to automate dealmaking tasks usually managed by investment bankers

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

goldman sachs traders

Investment banking has long been thought to be an industry where automation would have a tough time replacing human workers.

But Goldman Sachs has found a way to streamline IPOs — one of its most lucrative businesses — by automating some of the most repetitive and labor-intensive tasks.

According to a new report by Bloomberg, roughly half of the steps that Goldman Sachs investments bankers go through during an IPO have been automated, eliminating thousands of human work hours.

The program, called Deal Link, is used to deal with legal and compliance reviews, fill in forms and generate reports. It was started by George Lee, the chief information officer for Goldman Sachs's investment-banking division.

Here's how the project got started, as reported by Dakin Campbell at Bloomberg:

"In the beginning, Lee and his team took aim at the most obvious steps for disruption: the routine phone calls, emails and tasks that young bankers plow through at the beginning of every IPO. That included phoning the compliance department to look for potential conflicts, contacting legal to assign lawyers and compiling an organizational book for meetings.

Now that’s all done with the click of a mouse in the new application, which features a step-by-step guide replacing ad hoc training materials and word-of-mouth advice."

Even with all the tasks that the program has eliminated for human bankers, the firm's hiring has been unaffected. Instead, the program has freed up bankers to talk more with clients and reduced the workload for junior bankers so they can work on more satisfying tasks.

Read Bloomberg's full article on Goldman Sachs's strides in the use of automation here.

SEE ALSO: The robots are coming for our jobs but Deloitte's COO doesn't think it's that scary

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The hourly wage needed to rent a two-bedroom home in every state

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

To rent a two-bedroom home, on average, you would need to earn $21.21 per hour as a full-time worker in the US. That figure is higher in states like New York and Maryland that are hurting the most from the nation's affordable housing crisis.

A new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows what an hourly worker needs to make to afford a two-bedroom rental home — without paying more than 30% of their income — in each state, plus Washington, DC and Puerto Rico. Depending on location, the hourly wages required for housing range from $9.68 (in Puerto Rico) to $30.92 (in California) for people working 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year:

BI Graphics_Wages for 2 bedroom

The map is a stark reminder that many Americans, especially low-income workers, can't afford to rent even a modest home. 

The average wage needed to rent a two-bedroom home ($21.21) is nearly three times more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Over 2 million US workers make at or below the federal minimum, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some states are worse than others. In Maryland, for example, the average two-bedroom costs $1,470 per month, according to HUD's Fair Market Rents estimates. To sign a lease, a renter would need to earn $28.27 per hour, even though the state's hourly minimum wage is stuck at $8.75.

The report also looks at the availability of affordable housing in counties around the US. It reveals that nationwide, there are only 12 counties where minimum-wage workers can afford one-bedroom units. These counties are all in states with minimum wages above the federal standard: Washington, Arizona, and Oregon.In places with big urban housing markets, like California and DC, there are even larger deficits of affordable housing.

Even if Americans make above minimum wage, they could still feel like they aren't making enough to scrape by on rent — let alone save for retirement.

SEE ALSO: This map shows which states are vowing to defy Trump and uphold the US' Paris Agreement goals

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People are saying Melania Trump's father looks like the president

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Viktor Knavs

When Melania Trump's father, Viktor Knavs, arrived in Washington, D.C., along with his wife Amalija, many claimed to notice a striking similarity.

The dark suit, bright red tie, and portly frame reminded some of the other important man in Melania's life: her husband.

New York Magazine's "The Cut" even called out the alleged similarities in appearance with an article unambiguously titled "Hmmm, Melania’s Dad Sure Looks Familiar."

Folks on Twitter were also quick to see something and say something.

Melania's mother, Amalija Knavs, was also wearing a very Melania-like dress, and the exact same bag as her daughter was carrying on Sunday — a tan brown Hermés Birkin bag.

SEE ALSO: The Trump family is stealing a brilliant political play out of Michelle Obama's book

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NOW WATCH: HENRY BLODGET: Bitcoin could go to $1 million (or fall to $0)

Wall Street loves the Trump administration's plan to dismantle financial crisis regulations (GS, JPM)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin testifies before the House Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee hearing on the Treasury Department's budget on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 12, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Wall Street is in love with the Trump administration's plan to cut regulations imposed after the financial crisis.  

The Department of the Treasury on Monday released a 150-page report, which suggests about 100 changes to the financial regulatory framework.

The majority of the report's proposals would not require congressional approval to be implemented, according to Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin.

"We were very focused on, what we can do by executive order and through regulators," he said. "We think about 80 percent of the substance in the report can be accomplished by regulatory changes, and about 20 percent by legislation."

Wall Street has praised the thoroughness of the report.

"We are impressed by how comprehensive the report is," Cowen & Co, a New York-based broker dealer, said in an email. Credit Suisse sang a similar tune in a note out to clients Tuesday.

"Simply put, the recommendations—and they are extensive--are consistent with, if not more constructive and more detailed than we had anticipated," the bank said. 

That said, the Street doesn't think the recommendations in the lengthy report all have an equal shot at implementation. 

"Changes requiring legislation are much less likely," said a group of analysts at Goldman Sachs in a note out Tuesday.  

Such changes include an alteration of the threshold of the Systemically Important Financial Institutions designation, the level at which a bank is deemed by the government as "too big to fail." Such firms are subject to stricter regulations. A reconstruction of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, a regulatory agency founded in the aftermath of the financial crisis, would also require congressional approval. These changes have been viewed as the crown jewel of deregulation by Wall Street firms. 

"These legislative changes remain extremely unlikely given the likelihood of a filibuster in the Senate," said FBR Capital Markets, a capital markets firm based in Virginia.

To be sure, just because a proposal doesn't require congressional approval to be implemented, does not mean it can't have a significant impact. The proposed change to the calculation of supplementary leverage ratio, for instance, could have a big impact, according to Goldman Sachs.

"While we expect that these changes will only lead to a greater level of excess capital for one of our banks, we believe that if this change were implemented, banks could start to make some structural changes to their balance sheets in order to reduce Tier 1 leverage ratios as well, which could free up some excess capital," the firm said. 

"We continue to have an Attractive coverage view on large cap banks and view the proposed changes as having potentially far reaching benefits," Goldman added. 

SEE ALSO: Lloyd Blankfein was given 2 bits of advice when he became a partner at Goldman Sachs, and they sum up the company culture

SEE ALSO: Deloitte's COO explains his view of the economy, fintech, and why we shouldn't be afraid of robots

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NOW WATCH: HENRY BLODGET: Bitcoin could go to $1 million (or fall to $0)

Bitcoin Developers Publish BIP For 'Dandelion' Privacy Project

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Researchers looking to beef up bitcoin’s privacy features have released a new proposal on GitHub.

Source

What you need to know on Wall Street today

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Tim CookWelcome to Finance Insider, Business Insider's summary of the top stories of the past 24 hours.

Retail bank branches remain stubbornly relevant, despite an onslaught of digital and tech innovations.

But bank tellers' days in those branches could be numbered.

The largest banks in the US have been investing millions in updating the capabilities and physical appearances of their thousands of ATMs — an invention that turns 50 years old this month.

Morgan Stanley is turning to text messages to keep in touch with wealthy clients.

The tech stock "fairy tale" is heading for a bad ending. Traders haven't been this nervous about tech stocks in 14 years. Traders are loading up on bets against Apple. But there's one big difference between now and the 1999 tech bubble.

Bond investor Bill Gross warned on Tuesday that investors should reduce their risk appetiteBitcoin is looking "heavy," according to Goldman Sachs. And Elizabeth Warren just threw down on a Wall Street battleground stock.

Trump's Treasury Secretary said "talking about impeaching the president is the biggest waste of time." And Janet Yellen will have a harder time than usual justifying Fed policy at this week's press conference.

Thomson Reuters is partnering with the "Slack for Wall Street." A $16 billion hedge fund CIO explained what it takes to work at a hedge fund today. There are three things that Citi’s EMEA investment banking chief will always make time for in his job.

An investment banker has been killed in the first fatality for New York City’s popular bike-share program.

Verizon has closed its $4.48 billion acquisition of Yahoo, and Marissa Mayer is stepping down with $23 million. Read her farewell letter to employees. And Apple is borrowing $1 billion to fight climate change.

Sears Canada says it's running out of cash and revealed there's "significant doubt" it can stay in business.

States are starting to stand up to "the new Big Tobacco" because Washington won't. And investors are being told to go scorched earth on the company that makes EpiPen.

Tesla might soon have a "near-monopolistic" hold on the electric vehicle market. Apple has made a potentially disastrous pivot on self-driving cars, according to Business Insider's Matt DeBord. And the "Tesla of buses" raised $55 million from Al Gore's investment arm as it eyes an IPO.

Lastly, here are 28 photos of ripped Wall Streeters testing their physical limits at the most intense competition out there.

SEE ALSO: The 27 most important finance books ever written

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NOW WATCH: HENRY BLODGET: This chart explains everything that's wrong with the economy today

Bank tellers are in danger of extinction as the ATM of the future takes over (JPM, BAC)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Chase new tablet ATMs

Retail bank branches remain stubbornly relevant, despite an onslaught of digital and tech innovations.

But bank tellers' days in those branches could be numbered.

The largest banks in the US have been investing millions in updating the capabilities and physical appearances of their thousands of ATMs — an invention that turns 50 years old this month.

As those capabilities continue to grow, customers at retail branches will spend more time interacting with machines for their day-to-day needs, while branch personnel will move from behind the counter and focus more on complex transactions such as coordinating loans for homes or small businesses.

By 2018, a new wave of ATMs — with larger, digitally enabled screens akin to tablets — will start to become the norm, offering almost all of the services human tellers now provide as well as new capabilities like setting up cash withdrawals on your phone that you can seamlessly complete at a nearby ATM.

Already banks have outfitted ATMs with more flexible denominations — $1, $5, and $10 bills instead of solely the $20 bill — and debuted cardless transactions, wherein customers can log in more securely just with their phone.

JPMorgan Chase, which boasts a network of more than 16,300 ATMs and 5,300 branches across the US, saw its teller transactions decline by 25% from 2014 to 2016. Customers used ATMs for 90% of withdrawals and 60% of deposits, though they still exclusively cashed checks with tellers.

Teller transactions will continue to wane, as check cashing and most other services that require face-to-face contact will soon be available via ATM. About 60% of the transactions performed by tellers can be executed via ATM today, and that number is expected to rise to 90% by 2018, said Ryan Crowley, the head of branch systems and innovations for Chase.

As part of the evolution within their branches, the bank is moving away from the hulking, refrigerator-size machines in favor of a compact design with a digital-friendly interface that's more compatible with the website and mobile-app experience (Outside the branch, traditional ATMs will still persist, albeit with updated software). Chase now has 45 million active digital users, many of whom also use branches.

Customers "want it to be simple — they want it to be convenient," Crowley said, adding: "They want to have the same features and same consistent experience regardless of the channel they're interacting with us in."

Chase has already deployed 5,000 "eATMs," which first debuted in 2012 and feature tablet-like screens and cardless access, in branches across the country.

The company is also testing a "micro-ATM," which is similar to the eATM in functionality but is smaller yet. It hasn't been released in retail branches yet.

Bank of America XTM

At Bank of America, both teller and ATM transactions are declining as mobile banking spreads, though teller interactions are falling more rapidly, according to Charles Liu, who runs branch and ATM innovation for the firm and is leading an overhaul of its entire retail presence.

Bank of America, which has a network of 4,600 branches and 15,900 ATMs, is starting to deploy a new-wave ATM of its own that it's calling an "XTM," or "Extreme ATM."

What makes it extreme? Besides the teller-killing advancements on the software side, the most distinguishing feature is a 32-inch, portrait-style monitor — nearly double the size of traditional ATM screens — that, like Chase's, will mimic a tablet-like digital experience.

How much an extremely large monitor will benefit the customer is unclear. Only the bottom third of the screen will hold users' personal information, for security purposes. The rest will display advertisements, targeted offers (travel credit cards, for instance), video tutorials (so people can learn how to deposit their checks with the mobile app), and a live video feed in a box in the corner showing what's going on directly behind you (also for security purposes).

Bank of America will have 100 of its XTMs up and running this year, with 1,000 more set to roll out over the next couple of years, according to Liu.

Another new feature that both companies are working on is letting customers "pre-stage" ATM transactions. This would enable customers to start a cash withdrawal from their smartphone and then head to any of the bank's ATMs over the next 24 hours to collect the cash.

Bank of America has been testing the feature on employees and plans to roll it out to the public in August. Chase said it was still testing the feature and hadn't announced a release date.

The bank branch isn't going anywhere just yet. But your friendly neighborhood teller might be replaced by a sleek, digitally connected ATM in the not-too-distant future.

SEE ALSO: Americans are suddenly defaulting on their credit cards

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NOW WATCH: HENRY BLODGET: Bitcoin could go to $1 million (or fall to $0)

BIP 148 + SegWit2x? A Bitcoin Scaling Compromise Might Not Be So Easy

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Popular bitcoin scaling solutions BIP148 and SegWit2x aren't compatible, but should they be to avoid a network split?

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Here's why Ether is on the rise

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin and Ether

This story was delivered to BI Intelligence "Fintech Briefing" subscribers. To learn more and subscribe, please click here.

Bitcoin's meteoric rise continues to attract attention — its price crossed the $3,000 mark for the first time on Sunday — but other cryptocurrencies have also been seeing major gains.

Among these is Ether, which has seen growth of 3,000% over the past month — higher than any other major digital asset — and was trading at $337 at the time of this writing. Ether is a token issued by the Ethereum network, and the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

Here are a couple of possible reasons why Ether prices have boomed recently:

  • Endorsement from mainstream players. Major financial services and tech players including Accenture, Banco Santander, BNY Mellon, Intel, JPMorgan, and Microsoft launched the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) in March with a mandate to optimize Ethereum's technology — which can only be accessed by buying Ether tokens — for enterprise use. Endorsement from such trusted and high-profile corporations may have gained Ether valuable exposure and boosted prices.
  • Structural flexibility. Unlike Bitcoin, Ether tokens do not have a maximum fixed blocksize, meaning that each token can store more information. As such, the cryptocurrency as a whole can be scaled more easily, boosting its processing power. Recently, concerns have emerged that Bitcoin may reach its scaling limit, leading to a "fork." Ether's unlimited blocksize, which makes it free from such drawbacks, may be strengthening investor confidence, and thus Ether prices.

Ether's rise could have consequences for the cryptocurrency asset class as a whole. Ether's impressive growth rate is just one of many indicators that digital assets beyond Bitcoin are becoming increasingly popular with investors. This general and spreading demand for what is still an alternative asset class could soon push it into the mainstream, providing a much-needed catalyst for regulators to follow their Swiss and Japanese counterparts in issuing a legal framework dedicated to cryptocurrencies.

Most fintechs, even the unicorns, aren't profitable.

Despite having innovative ideas and live products that are successfully disrupting the financial services industry, these fintechs' business models are increasingly proving to be fundamentally flawed.

Sarah Kocianski, senior research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on fintech profitability that explores the reasons why fintechs are struggling to turn a profit by providing examples of the unique problems each segment of fintech faces. It also outlines what some firms are doing to overcome these challenges, and highlights the key factors to be considered by fintechs and their investors if they want to reach profitability.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • Even the largest fintechs have failed to achieve meaningful profits. For example, British unicorns Transferwise and Funding Circle have seen ever-increasing losses since launch — in the latter's case to the tune of £37 million ($48 million) in its most recent filing. 
  • The profitability question is becoming increasingly important. That's due to a combination of factors including declining VC investment in the sector and increasing pressure from existing investors to see returns. 
  • Not all fintechs want to turn a profit, but those that do are facing significant challenges. Obstacles to profitability affect all fintech segments including neobanking, robo-advising, money transfer, and marketplace lending.
  • Forced to adapt their models, fintechs are employing multiple tactics to reach profitability. These include partnerships, diversification of funding sources, acting as third-party suppliers to other firms, adding new products, and seeking global expansion.
  • There a number of considerations that fintechs and their investors must make, and several actions they must take, to get on the path to profitability. These include deciding whether to focus on scale, establishing a stable business plan, and assessing the benefits of varied funding sources.

 In full, the report:

  • Explains why the profitability question is increasingly being raised.
  • Outlines why fintechs in different segments are failing to turn a profit.
  • Gives examples of just how large some fintechs' losses are. 
  • Explores how fintechs are striving to solve the profitability problem.
  • Outlines vital considerations for fintechs and their investors.

Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

  1. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now
  2. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now

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Morgan Stanley is turning to text messages to keep in touch with wealthy clients (MS, TWLO)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

wealthy friends fun

  • Morgan Stanley is partnering with the tech firm Twilio to help the firm's army of financial advisers send text messages to clients about their portfolios and current events.
  • The partnership is part of a broader strategy at Morgan Stanley to use technology to increase engagement with existing financial adviser clients, target new clients, and digitize time-intensive processes.
  • The bank is also planning to roll out a goals-based robo-adviser option for the children of wealthy clients and younger corporate executives.

You're a wealthy individual, and you have a day of back-to-back meetings. Then, something happens to roil the markets. It could be a surprise election result, a geopolitical event somewhere on the other side of the world, or a bombshell news report. You want to know what it means for you and, in particular, for your investments.

Morgan Stanley is planning to answer that question in a text message.

The US bank's wealth-management business is partnering with Twilio to enable financial advisers to text their clients, in a compliant manner, in a bid to increase engagement with existing clients. The plan is for a machine-learning engine to eventually suggest text messages to financial advisers, allowing them to tailor, approve, or reject the suggested communication. There will be enhanced social-media support and video-chat in the coming months, too.

"Interactions between financial advisers and clients should be easy and reflect how people communicate in other aspects of their lives," Naureen Hassan, the chief digital officer at Morgan Stanley, said.

The partnership is part of a digital strategy rollout at Morgan Stanley's wealth-management unit. In addition to increasing interactions with existing clients, the bank is focused on targeting new clients and digitizing processes.

The bank is planning to roll out a goals-based robo-adviser option for the children of existing wealthy clients and for Morgan Stanley stock-plan participants. The bank is one of the largest administrators of company stock plans, but the bank's wealth-management business is largely focused on those already in the C-suite, not those in the early stages of making their way there. That's about to change.

Then there is using tech to speed up time-consuming administrative work. The bank is planning to make more than 25 processes, such as updating an address or authorizing a wire transfer, available online or through the app.

The partnership is also a part of Morgan Stanley's broader tech strategy. The bank last week hosted its annual CTO Innovation Summit in Silicon Valley with about 65 existing vendors, and 85 startups including Twilio were invited to attend.

"There is no one technology or trend that's going to disrupt the industry," Shawn Melamed, who leads Morgan Stanley's strategic technology partnerships, said. "It's the combination and collaboration of a host of technologies and services."

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NOW WATCH: HENRY BLODGET: Bitcoin could go to $1 million (or fall to $0)

GOLDMAN SACHS: Bitcoin is looking 'heavy'

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin has had a blistering start to 2017. It's up about 180% so far this year. However, its near-term outlook isn't looking so hot, according to a note released on Monday by Goldman Sachs head of technical strategy Sheba Jafari. 

"The market has come close (enough?) to reaching its extended (2.618) target for a 3rd of V-waves from the inception low at 3,134," Jafari wrote. "It’s on track to forming a bearish key day reversal if today’s close settles below 2,749."

Bitcoin hit a lifetime high of nearly $3,000 a coin on Monday, but was unable to hold onto those gains. The cryptocurrency finished the day at $2,599, well below they key technical threshold of $2749 that was singled out by Jafari.  

Now, traders should be paying close attention to $2,475 on a weekly basis, as a close below there would cause even more damage to the technical picture, according to Jafari. "Both daily/weekly oscillators are diverging negatively. All of this to say that the balance of signals are looking broadly heavy."

Bitcoin

Jafari isn't alone in calling for at least a near-term top in the cryptocurrency. "I think it's in a bubble," tech billionaire Mark Cuban tweeted last Tuesday. "I just don't know when or how much it corrects. When everyone is bragging about how easy they are making $=bubble." Cuban did not say how far he thought bitcoin would fall. 

 

So where will bitcoin go from here? "Wary of a near-term top ahead of 3,134, Jafari concludes. "Consider re-establishing bullish exposure between 2,330 and no lower than 1,915."

SEE ALSO: The first investor in Snapchat thinks bitcoin could hit $500,000 by 2030

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NOW WATCH: These are the key issues Trump needs to address to boost the economy

The pound is rallying as it recovers from a post-election dip

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

LONDON — The pound is up against the dollar and euro at lunchtime on Tuesday as it continues to recover following a post-election dip.

Sterling dropped sharply last week after the general election resulted in a hung parliament, but it has stabilised since May moved towards a formal minority government propped up by the Irish party DUP.

As of 12.45 p.m. BST (7.45 a.m. ET) the pound is up 0.55% against the greenback. Here is the chart:

Screen Shot 2017 06 13 at 12.44.45

And here's how it looks against the euro:

Screen Shot 2017 06 13 at 12.45.58

It remained in positive territory after government figures showed that the UK inflation rate jumped more than expected in May.

Lukman Otunuga, an analyst at FXTM, writes in a midday note:

"The sterling nudged higher during Tuesday’s trading session as investors made an effort to accept the reality of last week’s shock UK election outcome which resulted in a nightmare "hung parliament."

"Regardless of the current upside gains, the British pound remains vulnerable to heavy losses with the outlook tilted to the downside as political instability in the UK weighs heavily on the currency. This period of uncertainty is likely to leave investors on edge as questions are raised over the impact the general election results will have on Brexit negotiations.

"Although a hung parliament has heavily restricted May’s ability to deliver the hard Brexit that some had feared, and has even sparked optimism for a softer exit from the European Union, sterling continues to be overshadowed by the current instability in Westminster."

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NOW WATCH: HENRY BLODGET: Bitcoin could go to $1 million (or fall to $0)

Rampant inflation provides another reason why the Conservatives are desperate to avoid a second election

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

UK Cabinet ministers (L-R) David Davis, Boris Johnson, Theresa May, Philip Hammond, Amber Rudd

  • Inflation jumps to 2.9%, its highest since the middle of 2013.
  • Rising inflation means incomes continue to be squeezed.
  • The Conservatives are unlikely to want an election against a background of falling real wages.
  • Downing Street Chief of Staff says austerity was the driver of big swings from Tories to Labour.

LONDON — The latest inflation data from the Office for National Statistics released on Tuesday provides a perfect example of why the Conservative Party is so keen to avoid a previously mooted second general election in 2017.

Having called an election to increase her majority and her personal mandate heading into Brexit talks, May's plan backfired spectacularly last week when the party failed to win a majority at all, finishing the vote with 318 seats — 8 short of a majority.

There are several reasons for the Conservatives' election disappointment, chief among them a surge from Labour under Jeremy Corbyn and a muddled, underwhelming campaign from the Tories, labeled by former Chancellor George Osborne as a "total disaster" and "one of the worst manifestos in history by a governing party."

That failure to win a majority sparked speculation that the UK could be forced into a second general election. That's because — as my colleague Adam Payne explained earlier on Tuesday — the government formed by the Conservative Party in the coming weeks will be a minority, likely backed by a confidence and supply deal with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party.

May talked during her campaign about creating a "strong and stable" platform for negotiating Brexit. A minority government propped up by the DUP would be neither of those things.

As Payne notes: "British history tells us that this sort of government is unstable and could collapse within months."

However, senior figures in the Conservative Party are incredibly reticent to enter into a new election campaign, essentially because they think if another vote were to be held soon the party would probably lose, and Corbyn would sweep into Number 10. The first opinion poll after the election, released by Survation on Sunday, showed Labour with a five-point lead over the Tories.

There are numerous reasons for the Conservatives' slide in popularity, including Theresa May's low approval rating after her frankly wooden campaign. However, one of the biggest drivers of the Tory reticence is the fact that Brits are undergoing the start of a huge squeeze on their living standards, for which the incumbent government will understandably shoulder much of the blame from the general public.

That squeeze is typified by Tuesday's inflation numbers. Headline inflation hit 2.9% in May, its highest level since 2013, and close to six times higher than the month before Britain voted to leave the EU. Inflation may be surging, but at the same time, wages are not rising at any great speed. Wage growth, at the most recent reading, was just 2.4% in the three months to the end of March.

This means that the amount people have to spend on everyday things like groceries and clothing is growing quicker than the amount people are earning, squeezing real incomes.

As Bank of England Governor Mark Carney succinctly put it in May: "The wages people are getting are not going to be sufficient to compensate for the rises in consumer prices, prices in the shop.

"So this is going to be a more challenging time for British households over the course of this year, real income growth — to use our terminology — will be negative. To use theirs [layman’s] wages won’t keep up with prices for the goods and services they consume."

philip hammond

Understandably, the average Brit is not likely to be happy about their income dwindling, especially in the aftermath of an overall economic boom in the country.

For several years under the government of David Cameron, Britain was, in GDP terms at least, the fastest growing major economy in the world, but that prosperity didn't necessarily filter through to the pocket of the average person in the UK.

There is some anecdotal evidence that this lack of prosperity growth was one of the big drivers of voters moving from the Tories to Labour last week.

In an interview with the BBC released on Monday, Theresa May's new chief of staff Gavin Barwell, who lost his seat to Labour on Thursday, nailed the problem in one story.

"There's a conversation I particularly remember with a teacher who had voted for me in 2010 and 2015 and said 'you know I understand the need for a pay freeze for a few years to deal with the deficit but you're now asking for that to go on potentially for 10 or 11 years and that's too much'.

"You have to have something to say to people, who understand the need for tough decisions but nonetheless need to feel that: 'If I vote for you, my quality of life going to improve over the next five or 10 years'."

With inflation set to rise even further as 2017 continues, and wages not forecast to increase substantially, the incomes squeeze could get even worse, spreading further anger among the populace and decreasing the Tories' electability even further.

All considered, don't expect a general election any time soon.

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4 of the worst airports in the world are British

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

People queue with their luggage for the British Airways check-in desk at Gatwick Airport in southern England, Britain, May 28, 2017.

The latest airport ranking from AirHelp, a flight delays compensation company, was published on Tuesday and it's safe to say that Britain did not perform well.

AirHelp ranked the 76 most popular airports in the world, based on on-time performance, quality of service, and passenger sentiment.

Singapore Changi Airport took the top spot, with an overall AirHelp Score of 9.07. The mega hub has long been praised by travellers for its beautiful architecture, efficient operation, and luxurious amenities.

But the performance of Britain's biggest airports left a lot to be desired in AirHelp's ranking. Four featured in the bottom 10, the most of any country. 

Edinburgh, Gatwick, Manchester and Stansted were the offenders. Gatwick even received a passenger sentiment score of 0, which was based on over 130,000 tweets over three months this year.

edinburgh airport

The title of worst airport in the world went to Kuwait, which received a poor on-time performance score of 4.7.

Marius Fermi, UK Country Manager at AirHelp, said:

"It’s important – now more so than ever – that passenger service is a top priority of both airlines and airports, ensuring they receive the experience they deserve.

"This research should hopefully give airlines and airports across the world, particularly in the UK, a nudge to improve their quality and punctuality urgently before the travel rush starts this summer."

Here are the 10 worst airports in the world:

10. Delhi Airport, India — 6.31.

9. Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand — 6.3.

8. Dubai International Airport, UAE — 6.24.

7. Mumbai Airport, India — 6.1.

6. Edinburgh Airport, UK — 6.1.

5. London Stansted Airport, UK — 6.07.

4. Newark Liberty International Airport, USA — 5.92.

3. Manchester Airport, UK — 5.43.

2. London Gatwick Airport, UK — 5.38.

1. Kuwait Airport, Kuwait — 5.02. 

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Dennis Rodman Travels to North Korea While Promoting PotCoin, the Bitcoin of Weed

Gizmodo, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Dennis Rodman landed in Pyongyang, North Korea this morning to visit his old friend, dictator Kim Jong-un. And while Rodman has visited the country a few times before, this trip is even weirder.

Read more...

Qatar's currency has touched a 19-year low in the wake of the Gulf diplomatic crisis

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

qataruae1

Qatar's currency, the riyal, touched a new low against the dollar on Tuesday as the country's diplomatic crisis continued.

The riyal hit 3.67 to the dollar, which is the weakest since 1998, the Financial Times reported.

Qatar's central bank has pegged the currency to 3.64 to the dollar so even small movements are likely to produce new lows.

Qatar's finances have come under pressure in the wake of a diplomatic row with its Gulf neighbours.

Last week credit rating agency S&P cut its long-term rating of Qatar one notch from AA to AA- late and implied that further downgrades were likely.

Qatar's neighbours, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, cut diplomatic and trade ties with the country, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups such as the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda. Qatar has denied the allegations.

The Qatari stock market has tumbled around 9% since the announcement and its currency, the riyal, has fallen to an 11-year low. 

Here is how the chart looks, showing that it now takes more riyals to buy a dollar:

qatar1

The currency has come under attack despite attempts by  Qatari Finance Minister Ali Shareef Al Emadi to calm the situation. 

"We have the assets and the security that we need. Our foreign assets and our foreign investment is more than 250% of our GDP. So we are very much comfortable. We know we can defend the currency or we can defend the economy," he said in an interview with CNBC on Monday. "But I don't think there's anything that we need to worry about in the local economy." 

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Inflation jumped more than expected in May as Brexit continues to bite

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A shopper carries a basket in a supermarket in London, Britain April 11, 2017. British inflation shot past the Bank of England's 2 percent target last month, potentially adding to uneasiness among some officials at the central bank about keeping interest rates near zero. Consumer prices rose by a stronger-than-expected 2.3 percent, the biggest annual increase in nearly three-and-a-half years, pushed up by an increase in global oil prices and the impact of the Brexit vote on sterling.

LONDON — UK inflation climbed even higher in May as a weak pound continued to push up the prices of everyday goods and services.

The Office for National Statistics said in its latest release that the UK's Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation rate — the key measure of inflation — rose to 2.9% in May, up from 2.7% in April.

CPI measures the weighted average of prices of a basket of goods and services, such as food, transportation, and medical care.

CPIH, a measure which includes costs associated with maintaining a home — and which the ONS cites as a more useful indicator of living costs than CPI — climbed to 2.7% in May. That figure was up from 2.6% in April, and its highest level since April 2012.

The ONS said that rising prices for recreational and cultural goods and services (particularly games, toys and hobbies) was the main contributor to the increase in the rate. It also recorded a big rise in food inflation, from 1.5% in April to 2.1% in May. 

The chart below illustrates the sharp rise in inflation following last year's Brexit vote. OOH represents ower occupiers' housing costs, which measures the cost of owning, maintaining, and living in one's own home.

CPIH, OOH component and CPI 12-month rates for the last 10 years: May 2007 to May 2017

Screen Shot 2017 06 13 at 09.49.14

The sharp fall in the value of the pound following the UK's vote to leave the EU last year has raised the cost of imports and pushed up the rate of inflation.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney has warned of a "challenging time" for British households as wage growth stagnates and fails to keep up with the increase in the price of goods and services.

The bank's Monetary Policy Committee forecast a 2.7% peak in inflation this year at its last meeting before the release, but today's number will not change the central bank's attitude to interest rates in the near term.

"Ordinarily this move would ramp up the pressure on the MPC to consider a near term interest rate rise. Nevertheless,  given other pressures, including domestic political uncertainty, interest rates still seem set to remain on hold for now," Rhys Herbert, Senior Economist at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking said in an emailed statement.

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Easy access to credit prompts a trebling in complaints against payday loans

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A view of the home website page the payday lender Wonga, which has reported a slump in profits as it counts the cost of a drive to clean up the image of the business.

The easiness of getting payday loans — short term loans that carry high interest rates — is the reason behind complaints about this product tripling over the last year.

The Financial Ombudsman Service is an independent body which provides dispute resolution for the UK's largest sectors. 

In its annual report, FOS or more commonly known as the Ombudsman, said complaints against payday loans trebled between March 2016 and 2017, as higher numbers of consumers had access to credit and fell into debt — from 3,216 to 10,529.

Meanwhile general complaints about credit rose by 90%.

Payday loans charge high-interest repayments, usually made in just one instalment, for people borrowing money in the short term. The Ombudsman’s report says the rise in the number of consumers struggling with credit is the most "striking" change over the year, and points to easier access to credit as well as growing consumer awareness about their rights for the rise in complaints. 

  • 59% of complaints about payday loans were ruled in the consumer’s favour.
  • That compares to a general success rate of 43% across all complaints.

Bank of England figures from January 2017 show that unsecured debt — or debt that is not protected by a guarantor — is at its highest level since the 2008 financial crisis. The Ombudsman pointed to this as an indication that higher numbers of consumers are in potentially vulnerable positions. 

In total the watchdog received more than one million complaints over the year, the majority of which were against banks.

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The 3 things that Citi’s EMEA investment banking chief will always make time for in his job

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Falco 3LONDON — Manolo Falco, head of EMEA corporate and investment banking at Citi, says there are three things he will always make time for in his job.

First is deal making and doing transactions for clients.

Second is building teams to battle Citi's competitors in the M&A and deals league tables.

And third is spending four days a year to lead Citi's volunteer programme in Africa, in which young bankers mentor local entrepreneurs for six weeks.

"I went the first year and my mind exploded in a positive sense," Falco said, appearing relaxed in a t-shirt and jeans in an interview in London. "I have to say since then, I’ve thought, 'whatever is happening, I’m going, I really enjoy being there."

"You know, four days of my life there are a lot of things that happen, but I’m very much of the mind that this is a wonderful opportunity to create something," he said.

The programme is in its second year and saw 24 young volunteers from Citi's four global regions spend a month and a half in Jinja and Mbale in Uganda. The bankers are split into groups of three, and each group is assigned two entrepreneurs.

We’re using this in the universities now, as one of the selling points of working for Citi.

They aim to spend five weeks analysing the business and identifying growth opportunities, after which time Falco and his senior managers fly out to hear pitches for investment, Dragon's Den style.

While the investment amounts — between about $1,000 and $2,000 — are about a million times smaller than the deals Falco is used to, they are an important boost the local businesses. 

The bank benefits as well by boosting by giving its junior bankers some practical training for their finance skills, while at the same time bonding them to the bank and each other.  

"Jinja is where the Nile begins and so it’s a pretty unique place. In the weekends the volunteers have free time and so they did rafting in the Nile, safaris, saw the gorillas," he said. "They’ve had a fantastic time and they've done something very powerful."

Falco 5

The final point is an important one for the bank.

Gone are the days when investment banks could turn up to universities and simply cream off the best talent and retain them with ever-growing bonuses. Since the 2008 financial crisis, and the tech boom, banks have found it harder to compete with other industries for the top people.

"You know, banking used to be the obvious first pick of students leaving university and now we have a lot of competition from new technology companies so this is undoubtedly something that helps us retain and bring in the best talent," Falco said.

They have breakfast, lunch and dinner together. Part of it is to live a project with your generation all together.

"I think this project, if we did it 20 years ago it would create the same buzz. Africa is a very special place, it’s so beautiful and also the last frontier in many ways," Falco said.

"But also this generation, the millennials, are more concerned about their social obligations and want to give back to society. We definitely see it as something that would help us recruit good people. We’re using this in the universities now, as one of the selling points of working for Citi," he said.

The programme has "many times" more applicants than places available, Falco said, and the bank tries to get a balance between men and women and volunteers from different parts of the bank.

"There is a committee of very impartial people and candidates have to present why they want to go and the reasons why they feel this is important," said Falco. "It's open to everyone to apply, not just the top performers, we want a good mix of people."Falco 2

Then they are thrown together, living in the same hostels. "They have breakfast, lunch and dinner together. Part of it is to live a project with your generation all together," Falco said.

Once the business plans are finalised, and the investment amounts decided, the volunteers stay an extra week to make sure the funds are put to good use.

After which they return home, but are still able to stay in contact with their entrepreneurs. Falco also makes follow up analyses of the businesses, some of which he says are doing "very well."

"It’s a phenomenal combination of three things. Giving back, having an adventure and also creating a bond between the volunteers and Citi," he said. "The whole thing is pretty powerful, I have to say."

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Thomson Reuters is partnering with the 'Slack for Wall Street'

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

trader

Thomson Reuters, one of the largest providers of financial data, announced on Tuesday a partnership with a Silicon Valley messaging startup.

Users of Eikon, Thomson Reuters' software platform of financial data, news, and analysis, will now have the option to send messages via Symphony, a message application for financial services professionals, akin to Slack, a cloud-based message app.

The service is set to launch later this year, according to a news release.

Deb Walton, global managing director of customer propositions at Thomson Reuters, told Business Insider that the partnership reflects the firm's desire to break down barriers to communication for their clients. She said many of Thomson Reuters clients use Symphony. In total, the startup has seen its customer base grow to 200,000 from about 110,000 as of October 2016.

"Thomson Reuters' messaging service is well utilized," Walton said."However, we are not in the business of providing messaging for messaging's sake."

"We provide holistic workflow solutions for customers, and if their choice is to use Symphony to communicate we want them to have that choice," she added.

Eikon and Symphony will sit side-by-side on Eikon users' desktops, according to a spokesperson for Thomson Reuters.

If an Eikon user needs to send data, analysis, or charts, they will be able to send them via Symphony's messaging platform or through Eikon messenger. If the person who they are sending the message to is also subscribed to Eikon and Symphony, then that data will be live, rather than just a time-stamped screen shot.

Symphony's messaging services are now used by over 200,000 users across 170 companies. It was backed by Google as well as some of the biggest Wall Street banks. Some even went as far as to refer to it as a potential "Bloomberg killer," referring to Bloomberg LCC, another provider of financial data and software.

SEE ALSO: High-net-worth wealth managers can't survive the digital age on just 'their name and wood paneling'

SEE ALSO: Deloitte's COO explains his view of the economy, fintech, and why we shouldn't be afraid of robots

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EU's chief negotiator warns Britain risks losing out on a Brexit deal with time wasting

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Michel barnier

  • Brexit talks have been delayed while Prime Minister Theresa May forms a new minority government.
  • EU's chief negotiator says Britain risks not getting a deal as the clock ticks down.
  • Delaying talks does not delay a Brexit. It only means that the time left to negotiate a deal is shorter.
  • Britain has to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019.

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warned Britain that it risks crashing out of the EU without a Brexit deal if it continues to "waste" time by delaying talks.

Barnier told the Financial Times that the UK government needs to start talks "very quickly" and that it needs to appoint a team of negotiators that are "stable, accountable, and with a mandate."

"Next week, it will be three months after the sending of the Article 50 letter. We haven’t negotiated, we haven’t progressed. Thus we must begin this negotiation. We are ready as soon as the UK itself is ready," asid Barnier.

"My preoccupation is that time is passing, it is passing quicker than anyone believes because the subjects we have to deal with are extraordinarily complex. I can’t negotiate with myself."

Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 in March, which kickstarted the official two year period where Britain has to negotiate its deal to leave the EU. Britain will leave the EU on March 29, 2019.

Delaying talks does not delay Brexit. It only means that the time left to negotiate a deal is shorter.

May called for a snap election in April to gain a bigger majority than the seats her Conservative party had at the time. The greater the majority, the easier it is to push through legislation. 

But the Conservatives failed to win 326 seats in the general election — the number needed to have an outright majority. The party still won the largest number of seats and votes — with 318 seats and 12,667,213 votes (42.8% of the overall vote).

Since then, the Tories have had to put Brexit talks on the backburner while it tries to form a minority government with Northern Ireland party  DUP leader Arlene Foster. There were statements from Downing Street that the DUP had agreed to the terms of a so-called confidence and supply deal. But the following day, the government backtracked on the statement.

Meanwhile, reports say that May's cabinet reshuffle is hinting at a "soft Brexit" — access to the Single Market but also adhering to the principles of the EU, like the Freedom of Movement act. It's pretty much the same Britain has now as an EU member but with a financial cost and the loss of negotiating power over EU legislation once it leaves the bloc.

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The #Flippening: Will Ether 'Pass' Bitcoin And What Will It Mean?

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Will ether's market capitalization surpass bitcoin's? Market analysts weigh in on a market trend that could mark a historic shift in the sector.

Source

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