This is an amalgamation of the “best bits” of the daily weekday newsletter/blog woven together to form a concise and coherent view on the things that matter in the commercial and economic news of the week.
THE DAY IN BRACKETS REFERS TO THE EDITION WHERE THE STORY APPEARED IN WATSON’S DAILY. Clicking on the day will take you to the appropriate edition of Watson’s Daily.
THE RCEP GOT SIGNED AND BITCOIN HIT NEW HIGHS...
- 15 Asian countries signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (Monday) putting China in the driving seat in the region in terms of influence. The deal means that 90% of tariffs between members will be cut and will potentially give smaller Asian countries better bargaining power against the Europeans and Americans, for instance. Remember, they were all ready to sign up to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) a few years back and when Trump got to power he pulled America out. It’ll be interesting to see what Biden’s take will be on all this
- Japan’s economy rebounded by 5% in Q3 (Monday), bringing its rebound roughly in line with other developed economies. A stimulus package is widely expected
- UK inflation rose in the UK according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (Thursday) but it is still way short of the Bank of England’s 2% target, so no need to get particularly excited. It was up mainly due to higher clothing and secondhand car prices. Having said that, consumer confidence was at its weakest level for six months (Friday), although the data didn’t take into account the feelgood brought by all the vaccine news
- Bitcoin hit new highs (Wednesday) this week. It could be a result of increasing belief among investors that it is edging closer to the mainstream, but there are opinions out there that suggest it could also be because of a bitcoin shortage as PayPal buys up available supply and Chinese authorities crack down on cryptocurrency exchange, putting Bitcoin miners under pressure
THERE WAS SOME GREAT VACCINE CHAT THIS WEEK...
- Johnson & Johnson launched a UK trial of their Covid-19 vaccine (Monday)
- Moderna’s jab is looking pretty good (Tuesday) and it will be submitted for approval to the FDA and European Medicines Agency “in the coming weeks”
- Pfizer/BioNTech have now submitted their Covid-19 shot for emergency authorisation in the US on Friday and the company said that doses of the vaccine would be ready to ship within hours of authorisation, which could happen by the middle of next month 👍
CONSUMER/RETAIL CONTINUES TO BE MIXED...
- IN THE US – Retail sales rose in October (Wednesday) but by a slower rate than previously. Walmart reflected a similar trend (Wednesday) but rival Target still seems to be going strong (Thursday). On a separate note, Walmart sold down its interest in Japan (Tuesday) as part of its international strategy of ditching presence in mature markets and upping focus on growth markets
- IN THE UK – UK shoppers are spending (Wednesday) as people seem to be stocking up early. Asda reported strong sales of frozen turkeys, Christmas trees, puddings and mince pies while Halfords reported continued strength in bike sales (Thursday). However, it’s not all great as Arcadia is seeking a loan (Monday) and All Bar One owner Mitchells & Butlers is cutting venues (Monday) while 20% of companies have frozen wages. Frasers Group has built up a sizeable stake in Mulberry (Friday) as Mike Ashley continues his efforts to build more luxury into his brand
ELECTRIC VEHICLES SAW SOME INTERESTING DEVELOPMENTS...
- Tesla found that it got approval to enter the S&P 500 (Tuesday) which Tesla fans will no doubt see as a vindication of Musk’s strategy and drive
- Chinese EV manufacturer Nio saw its sales rise by a whopping 146% in the latest quarter (Wednesday) as investors are increasingly hopeful that it will be able to meet its aggressive sales targets
- Panasonic is looking at expanding battery manufacturing in Europe (Thursday)
- British electric van and bus maker Arrival will be listing in New York (Thursday) thanks to a SPAC deal
...AND THERE WERE A COUPLE OF OTHER POTENTIALLY GROUND-BREAKING MOMENTS AS WELL...
- Apple relented on its 30% App Store fees (Thursday) for developers who get less than $1m annual revenues from their apps. Some of the bigger developers will probably say this is cynical attempt to fragment pressure against them – and I think they are probably right! The saga continues…
- Cinemark signed a major deal with Universal Pictures (Tuesday) to allow movies to stream way earlier in the cycle than they are now. I think that if this catches on it will change the way we watch movies forever
AND IN UPDATES FOR WATSON'S YEARLY...
- Watson’s Yearly updates: watch this space!
My favourite “alternative” story of the week by far was this one: ‘Genius’ dog figures out how to steal treats without its owner ever knowing (The Mirror, Luke Matthews). What a clever dog!