Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is preparing potential new tariffs on Chinese-made electric vehicles (EVs) to align Canada with actions taken by the United States and the European Union, according to sources.

While no final decision has been made, it is expected that public consultations on the proposed tariffs will be announced soon.

These measures aim to counter the influx of Chinese EVs into Canada and support the domestic auto industry.

Rising pressure to match international tariffs

Trudeau has been under increasing pressure to follow the lead of US President Joe Biden, whose administration announced plans in May to nearly quadruple tariffs on Chinese-manufactured EVs, up to 102.5%.

Similarly, the European Union plans to increase tariffs on Chinese EVs, potentially reaching 48% on some vehicles.

Western democracies are concerned about China’s overproduction of key goods, viewing it as an effort to dominate supply chains and undercut local industries.

Concerns over Chinese EV imports

The number of cars arriving from China at the port of Vancouver rose significantly last year, to around 44,400, largely due to Tesla Inc. shipping Model Y vehicles made in Shanghai to Canada.

While the Canadian government’s primary concern isn’t Tesla, there is apprehension about the potential flood of inexpensive EVs from Chinese automakers.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has criticised China on social media platform X for leveraging low labour standards and less stringent environmental regulations to produce cheaper EVs, urging the federal government to implement tariffs to protect Canadian jobs.

I’m calling on the federal government to immediately match or exceed U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports, including at least a 100 per cent tariff on Chinese electric vehicles.

Taking every advantage of low labour standards and dirty energy, China is flooding the market with…

— Doug Ford (@fordnation) June 20, 2024

Economic and political implications

Publicly, Trudeau and his ministers have indicated they are monitoring international developments but have not committed to imposing new tariffs.

At the Group of Seven leaders’ summit in Italy, Trudeau discussed concerns about Chinese production with other world leaders.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s spokesperson noted that Canada is considering measures to counter Chinese oversupply, emphasising the need to protect Canadian jobs and manufacturing.

Canadian auto industry groups have called for stiff tariffs, warning that Canada cannot afford to diverge from US policy, especially with the upcoming review of the United States-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement.

The US and Canada have deeply integrated auto supply chains, with parts and vehicles frequently crossing the border.

The vast majority of Canada’s auto production is exported to the US.

Trudeau has approached the issue cautiously due to the risk of Chinese trade retaliation. Some environmental groups argue that keeping EV costs low is crucial to promoting higher consumer adoption.

Despite these challenges, both Trudeau’s administration and the Ontario government have committed substantial investments to build a domestic EV manufacturing industry, including subsidies for major factories by Volkswagen, Stellantis, and Honda.

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Social Media platform Instagram continues to recommend adult-oriented content to underage users, a report by the Wall Street Journal has found.

The report has exposed cracks in Meta Platforms’ earlier claims to provide a secure and age-appropriate digital environment for teenagers. 

The publication had tied up with an academic researcher to undertake a seven-month-long test to investigate the issue. The process involved creating new accounts for 13-year-old users. 

In its investigation, WSJ found that within twenty minutes of teenagers consuming content on Reels, their feeds were inundated with promotions from creators who offered to send explicit photos to users who engaged with their posts. 

Meta’s past promise falls through 

In January, the Mark Zuckerberg led social media giant announced that it will implement new content guidelines to ensure teenagers using the platform get a secure and age-appropriate digital environment as advised by experts. 

It had aimed to eliminate any material that was deemed unsuitable for teenagers whether it was part of content on Reels or ‘Explore’. 

The company had said, 

We’re automatically placing teens into the most restrictive content control setting on Instagram and Facebook. We already apply this setting for new teens when they join Instagram and Facebook, and are now expanding it to teens who are already using these apps.

Past investigations and accusations 

News reports in the recent past too have placed Instagram in a dock. 

A WSJ investigative-report published earlier this month claimed that the platform helped connect and promote a vast network of accounts openly devoted to the commission and purchase of underage sex content. 

In April, Meta’s new encryption technology for direct messages on Instagram and Facebook was slammed by the Virtual Global Taskforce- an alliance of 15 law enforcement agencies. 

The VGT had said the announced implementation of the encryption was an example of a “purposeful design choice” that degraded safety systems and weakened the ability to keep child users safe.

The VGT’s statement stemmed from concerns that the technology feature, while aimed at enhancing privacy, could shield online child predators and paedophiles

Meta had defended its technology feature. 

Platform Already under scanner in Europe

Last month, the EU had opened fresh investigations into Facebook and Instagram over concerns that the platforms were not able to protect child users. 

The bloc had said that the recommendation engines of the platforms could “exploit the weaknesses and inexperience’” of children and stimulate “addictive behavior”.

It said it could also reinforce the so-called “rabbit hole” effect that leads users to watch increasingly disturbing content. 

The EU is looking into Meta’s use of age verification tools to prevent children under the age of 13 years from accessing Facebook and Instagram. 

It would also find out whether the company is complying with the bloc’s Digital Service Act (DSA) to ensure a high level of privacy, safety and security for minors. 

As part of the probe, the commission will look into Meta’s use of age verification tools to prevent children under the age of 13 from accessing Facebook and Instagram. 

It will also find out whether the company is complying with the bloc’s Digital Service Act (DSA) and enforcing a high level of privacy, safety and security for minors.

More trouble for Meta?

The latest report by the WSJ could thus bolster the EU’s claims, in what could potentially spell trouble for the twin social media platforms.

As part of the EU investigation, any violation could mean fines of up to 6% of Meta’s annual worldwide revenue. 

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Standard Chartered is set to launch a spot trading desk for buying and selling bitcoin and ETH, according to a report by Bloomberg on Friday.

This new initiative will be based in London and will operate as part of the bank’s foreign exchange (FX) trading unit.

By entering the spot cryptocurrency trading market, Standard Chartered is positioning itself among the first global banks to engage in direct cryptocurrency transactions, although many institutions have been involved in trading crypto derivatives for several years.

Standard Chartered’s strategic move into spot crypto trading

The establishment of the spot trading desk marks a significant step for Standard Chartered in expanding its presence in the digital asset ecosystem.

This move aligns with the bank’s broader strategy to support institutional clients across various facets of digital assets, including access, custody, tokenization, and interoperability.

By offering spot trading services, the bank aims to meet the growing demand from institutional investors seeking to directly trade prominent cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum.

Regulatory collaboration and market impact

Standard Chartered has reportedly been working closely with regulators to ensure compliance and support for its new trading desk. This collaboration underscores the importance of regulatory adherence in the evolving landscape of cryptocurrency trading.

The bank’s proactive approach in engaging with regulators may set a precedent for other financial institutions considering similar ventures.

As one of the first major global banks to venture into spot cryptocurrency trading, Standard Chartered’s entry could have significant implications for the market.

It may encourage other banks to explore direct crypto trading services, potentially leading to increased institutional adoption and greater market liquidity.

This development also highlights the growing acceptance of cryptocurrencies within the traditional financial sector.

Standard Chartered’s established presence in digital assets

Standard Chartered’s involvement in the cryptocurrency space is not new. The bank is a key backer of Zodia Custody, a digital asset custodian, and Zodia Markets, its exchange arm.

These ventures have bolstered Standard Chartered’s capabilities in providing secure and regulated access to digital assets for institutional clients.

The addition of a spot trading desk further solidifies the bank’s commitment to expanding its digital asset offerings and supporting the evolving needs of its clients.

Standard Chartered’s decision to launch a spot trading desk for bitcoin and ethereum marks a notable expansion of its digital asset services.

By integrating spot trading into its FX trading unit, the bank is poised to enhance its support for institutional clients seeking direct access to cryptocurrencies.

This move reflects the growing institutional interest in digital assets and underscores Standard Chartered’s strategic focus on innovation and regulatory compliance within the digital asset ecosystem.

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SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, in a rare public appearance on Friday, predicted a future where artificial intelligence (AI) becomes exponentially smarter than humans.

Speaking at SoftBank’s annual general meeting of shareholders, Son described a world where artificial super intelligence (ASI) surpasses human intelligence by a factor of 10,000 within the next decade.

The rise of AGI and ASI

Son first discussed artificial general intelligence (AGI), which he expects to be one to 10 times smarter than humans within the next three to five years. AGI represents a level of AI that can perform any intellectual task that a human can, marking a significant milestone in AI development.

“But if AGI is not much smarter than humans, then we don’t need to change the way of living, we don’t need to change the structure of human lifestyle,” Son said, according to a live translation of his comments in Japanese.

Son’s vision extends beyond AGI to ASI, which he believes will bring about profound changes. ASI, he explained, will be significantly more advanced, leading to AI that is 10,000 times smarter than the smartest human.

“[With] ASI, you will see a big improvement,” Son said. He described a future where various ASI models interact like neurons in a human brain, resulting in unprecedented cognitive capabilities.

Impact on SoftBank and the tech industry

SoftBank shares dropped more than 3% in Japan following the meeting, reflecting the market’s reaction to Son’s ambitious predictions. This decline underscores the uncertainty and mixed sentiments surrounding such a transformative vision.

Son is known for his early and profitable investment in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which solidified his reputation as a tech visionary.

He further cemented this status with the 2017 launch of the Vision Fund, a massive investment vehicle focused on tech firms.

While the Vision Fund has seen notable successes, it has also experienced high-profile failures, such as the controversial investment in office-sharing company WeWork.

After record financial losses at Vision Fund in 2022, Son declared that SoftBank would adopt a more conservative “defense” mode.

However, following another record loss in 2023, Son signaled a shift back to “offense,” driven by excitement over AI investment opportunities.

Personal reflections and SoftBank’s mission

During his speech, Son also shared personal reflections, revealing a more introspective side. He recounted a moment two years ago when he felt he hadn’t achieved anything of consequence and cried. This period of self-reflection led him to a renewed sense of purpose.

SoftBank was founded for what purpose? For what purpose was Masa Son born? It may sound strange, but I think I was born to realize ASI. I am super serious about it.

He emphasized that the mission of SoftBank is now aligned with the “evolution of humanity” through the development of ASI.

The future of AI

Son’s predictions about the future of AI highlight the rapid pace of technological advancements and the transformative potential of AI.

His vision of AI that is 10,000 times smarter than humans suggests a future where AI could solve complex problems, drive innovation, and significantly alter human lifestyles.

While Son’s forecasts are ambitious, they reflect a broader trend in the tech industry where AI is increasingly seen as a cornerstone of future developments.

The potential applications of ASI are vast, ranging from healthcare and finance to education and beyond.

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On Friday, analysts at Citi increased their target price on Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT) from $495 to $520, while reiterating their ‘Buy’ rating.

This upward revision underscores Citi’s confidence in Microsoft’s growth prospects, particularly fueled by its strategic investments in artificial intelligence (AI) and its dominant position in the tech industry.

Dominance in the AI race

Microsoft’s substantial investments in AI, especially through its partnership with OpenAI, have been a significant growth driver.

OpenAI, in which Microsoft holds a substantial stake, has recently seen its annualized revenue soar to $3.4 billion, bolstered by strategic deals like the one with Oracle to expand cloud capacity.

According to Citi analyst Tyler Radke, these developments justify the increased price target, even though there may be some near-term impacts on earnings due to non-operating expenses from the AI investments.

Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives has recently likened Microsoft to a “Bugatti” in the AI race, cruising ahead at high speed compared to competitors like Amazon and Google.

This leadership is attributed to Microsoft’s extensive AI portfolio, including tools like Copilot and its strong enterprise base.

Microsoft continues to strengthen its AI capabilities through strategic partnerships and acquisitions. Recently, the company backed Mistral AI, a promising AI startup, which raised $643 million, pushing its valuation beyond $6 billion.

Gaming and digital innovation

In addition to AI, Microsoft is making significant strides in the gaming industry. Wedbush recently named Microsoft the winner of the “Summer Video Game Events,” thanks to major announcements from its Activision, Bethesda, Blizzard, and Xbox divisions.

The launch of new Xbox consoles and game titles, coupled with the strategic focus on the Xbox Game Pass subscription service, positions Microsoft to capitalize on the growing demand for digital entertainment.

Robust Financial Performance

Microsoft’s financial health remains strong, underpinned by solid revenue and earnings growth. In the recent quarter, the company reported 17% year-over-year revenue growth and a 20% increase in earnings per share.

Key segments like productivity and business processes, which include Office 365, have shown consistent growth, highlighting the company’s ability to generate recurring revenue.

Azure’s 31% growth further cements its status as a leading cloud service provider. With a substantial cash reserve and a net cash position, Microsoft is well-equipped to invest in future growth opportunities.

Analysts’ bullish outlook

Analysts across the board have a favorable outlook on Microsoft. Oppenheimer recently raised its price target to $500, citing Microsoft’s premier position in AI and its comprehensive product ecosystem.

Similarly, New Street Research recently initiated coverage with a Buy rating and a $570 price target, confident in Microsoft’s growth potential even if AI doesn’t reach its anticipated profitability.

However, Microsoft is not without challenges. The company faces regulatory scrutiny over its AI collaborations and acquisitions.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice are investigating potential antitrust issues related to Microsoft’s partnerships with OpenAI and other AI startups.

Microsoft’s comprehensive strategy encompassing AI, cloud computing, gaming, and strategic investments positions it well for future growth. Now let’s see what the charts have to say about the stock’s price trajectory. The technical analysis will shed light on whether Microsoft can reach the ambitious $520 target set by Citi.

Bullish momentum across all timeframes

Microsoft’s stock has rallied significantly since the start of 2023, doubling during this period from $220 to above $440. The stock was showing fatigue from this rally a few weeks ago when it was facing short-term resistance near $430.

However, it recently broke above this resistance resuming short-term bullish momentum.

Source: TradingView

Currently, the stock is displaying bullish momentum across all time frames. Hence, it can reach higher levels from here, but investors who haven’t bought the stock yet, must not buy it at current levels.

They should wait for a retracement to around $420 before initiating fresh long positions.

If the stock provides an entry at $420, one can buy it while keeping a stop loss near the recent swing low at $388.

If it doesn’t fall below $388 and resumes its uptrend, we can see it reaching above $500 in coming months.

Traders who want to short the stock must refrain from doing so currently because of the upward momentum.

Fresh short positions should only be considered if the stock falls below its 50-day moving average or the bullish trendline.

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In 2023, total fossil fuel consumption reached a record high worldwide, the Energy Institute (EI) reported yesterday.

Published in the 73rd annual Statistical Review of World Energy report by the EI (along with co-authors KPMG and Kearney), the release presented the first full global energy data for 2023.

It stated that 2023 was a year of several historic energy consumption records – not all of them positive.

Historic emissions and energy usage

Perhaps most startlingly, the report revealed that global emissions from energy increased by 2% in 2023, exceeding 40 gigatonnes of CO2 for the first time in history.

Source: Statistical Review of World Energy report

Fossil fuel usage was up to a new all-time high, driven by a 2% increase in oil usage, and 1.6% increase in coal usage.

In addition to this, they also noted that primary energy consumption overall was at an all-time high worldwide, up 2% on the previous year to 620 Exajoules (EJ).

Of especial note was the global amount of oil consumed, which exceeded 100 million barrels for first time ever.

Renewables rise to new highs

However, renewable energy sources also experienced a record year in 2023.

Renewable generation, excluding hydro, was up 13% to a historic high of 4,748 TWh (terawatt hours – a unit of energy measurement representing one trillion watt hours).

This growth was driven almost entirely by wind and solar, and accounted for 74% of all net additional electricity generated.

As a share of primary energy use, renewables (excluding hydro) were at 8%, or 15% including hydro.

Source: Energy Institute

India and China deliver new ‘firsts’

There were a couple of countries singled out in the report as being significant contributors to the global energy footprint.

In India, fossil fuel consumption was up 8% in 2023, as part of the country’s growing industrialisation and clout as a growing world power.

In fact, more coal was used in India during 2023 than in Europe and North America combined – for the first time in history.

Meanwhile, fellow Asian powerhouse China also received a mention. Fossil fuel usage in the country climbed to a new post-pandemic high by increasing 6%.

China also overtook Europe on an energy-per-capita basis for the first time.

However, the nation also added 55% of all renewable generation additions in 2023 – more than the rest of the world combined. According to the report, fossil fuels as a proportion of the country’s total energy use have been in decline for more than a decade, since 2011.

A world of change

Some of the most interesting insights from the report delved into how the planet, and its nations, have changed in the space of the past year.

EI President Juliet Davenport commented that:

With global temperature increases averaging close to 1.5°C, 2023 was the warmest year since records began, and the increasingly severe impacts of climate change were felt across all continents.”

The balance of power – quite literally – has been shifting too.

“In Europe fossil fuels fell to below 70% of primary energy for the first time since the Industrial Revolution,” the report noted. This was partially driven by demand reduction, thanks to fallout from the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, and also renewable energy growth.

US consumption of fossil fuels also fell, down to 80% of total primary energy consumed.

Fossil fuel usage ‘virtually unchanged’

Still, much remains to be done. Simon Virley CB FEI, Vice Chair and Head of Energy and Natural Resources, KPMG in the UK said:

In a year where we have seen the contribution of renewables reaching a new record high, ever-increasing global energy demand means the share coming from fossil fuels has remained virtually unchanged at just over 80% for yet another year.”

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Zealand Pharma (CPH: ZEAL) rallied more than 20% this morning after reporting positive results from an early stage trial of its new weight loss treatment. 

The biotech firm is now trading at an all-time high. 

Why is it significant for Zealand Pharma stock?

Petrelintide – a long-acting amylin analog of Zealand Pharma showed significant efficacy in a 16-week trial, as per its press release on Friday.

Participants receiving high doses successfully lowered their body weight by 8.6% versus only 1.7% observed in the placebo group. Only one participant out of a total of 48 had to withdraw from the study due to adverse effects. 

Zealand Pharma also confirmed that petrelintide was observed to be “safe and well tolerated at all dose levels” which makes it suitable as an alternative to GLP-1 receptor agonist treatments for weight loss. 

Zealand Pharma stock has now more than doubled since the start of 2024. 

Is ZEAL in competition with Novo Nordisk?

Results reported today indicate potential for Zealand Pharma to eventually be in competition with more notable names like Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly & Co – both of which have launched a widely popular GLP-1 drug for weight loss.

On Friday, David Kendall – the chief medical officer of ZEAL expressed confidence that petrelintide will “deliver weight loss comparable to GLP-1 receptor agonists with a better patient experience”. 

The Danish firm now plans on moving forward with a phase 2 clinical trial for petrelintide. 

Note that the biotech company is working on another weight loss treatment called survodutide as well in collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim. Zealand Pharma stock does not currently pay a dividend. 

Watch here:

Is it too late to invest in Zealand Pharma shares?

Analysts at Jefferies agreed in a research note today that petrelintide could be promising and, in fact, a more tolerable alternative treatment to GLP-1s while potentially matching their weight loss efficacy. 

Zealand’s survodutide also showed positive results in a Phase 2 trial in February. 

The news arrives more than a month after the biotech firm reported DKK 15 million ($2.15 million) in revenue for its first financial quarter. Adam Steensberg – the chief executive of Zealand Pharma said at the time:

With our pipeline of wholly owned and differentiated obesity candidates, I am truly excited about the upcoming data read-outs for petrelintide and dapiglutide.

He also confirmed that his company has a solid cash runway until 2027.

Wall Street currently has a consensus “buy” rating on Zealand Pharma stock. Their average price target of DKK 829 suggests another 10% upside from here which indicates that it may still not be too late to invest in ZEAL.

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