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Breakfast Briefing: Bitcoin, iPhone Suppliers & Tencent’s Rise

Royal Mint Launches Cryptocurrency

The UK’s Royal Mint has created its own gold-backed cryptocurrency.  

Editor’s Remarks: The token, called Royal Mint Gold (RMG), has been developed by the Royal Mint, the institution that has produced the UK’s physical currency for the last 1000 years. The new coins will be a digital representation of the gold that is currently stored in the Royal Mint’s vaults at a rate of one coin per each gram of the precious metal. RMG’s Commercial Lead said that although bitcoin has produced spectacular returns since its arrival, gold has 6,000 years of history behind it and is unlikely to go anywhere. He stressed that, unlike most cryptocurrencies, RMG actually has tangible value.

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UK Stocks Remain Low

UK blue-chip stocks have not shared in the global equities rally.

Editor’s Remarks: The FTSE 100 fell 1.5% last month, while the MSCI All World index gained an impressive 5.3%. On one hand, the weaker dollar will have weighed negatively on many FTSE constituents that have heavy dollar exposure. However, the FTSE 250, which is made up of largely domestic companies, has also performed poorly. The FTSE 250 was dragged down yesterday by Capita, which fell nearly 50% on the news of a rights issue and profit warning. There is, however, a widespread feeling that the UK lacks the tech-focused stocks that are currently propping up the US and Asian stock markets.

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Bitcoin’s Wobbly January

Bitcoin has shed around $44bn of value this January alone.

Editor’s Remarks: For most of 2018, bitcoin has been trading sideways and hovering between the $10,000 and $12,000 mark – a far cry from the high of $20,000 that it achieved towards the tail end of 2017. However, while the mainstream media slams the cryptocurrency as “collapsing” or “doomed”, the crypto world is, for the most part, calm. This certainly isn’t the first time that bitcoin has fell dramatically. Furthermore, other cryptocurrencies have performed well, despite not being at all-time highs. NEO is sitting at around $150, up from $25 back in November. Similarly, Ethereum is approaching $1,200, which is down from a high of $1,400 but still 30% up from December.

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iPhone Suppliers Have Bad News

Qualcomm and Broadcom reported that orders related to the iPhone have been weak.

Editor’s Remarks: Qualcomm, which supplies some of the iPhone’s modems, said that orders from a large “thin modem” customer tailed off more than expected in Q4 2017. In addition, Broadcom, another major Apple supplier, said that there was a “greater-than-seasonal decline” in sales of its own chips. Similarly, Quorvo, which makes radio-frequency chips and generates 40% of its sales from Apple, said that its current quarter sales are $100m short of analysts expectations. Although none of these companies have expressly named weaker sales to Apple, there is speculation that that might be the case. All eyes are currently on Apple as it prepares to release its most recent results.

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Alibaba Loses Ground to Tencent

Recently, investor appetite has turned away from Alibaba and towards Tencent.

Editor’s Remarks: Both companies are the darlings of the Chinese technology boom and dominate the nation’s internet offerings. However, while the pair had enjoyed more or less similar market capitalisations for the majority of 2017, Tencent has shifted gear and surged ahead lately on the back of a string of new games, leaving Alibaba trailing by 30%. All in all, Tencent piled on as much as $261bn last year, while Alibaba laid down some hefty investments in physical retail stores in a number of industries. For now, Tencent’s extraordinarily diverse business model has won over investors, but it remains to be seen whether both companies will justify their high valuations.

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