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US-China trade tensions a pressing concern for Southeast Asia, says Singapore’s prime minister

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On Saturday Lee said the open and rules-based multilateral trading system, which has backed the growth of ASEAN member states, has come under pressure as the political mood in many countries has shifted against free trade.

Also on the agenda at the summit were the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar, and security tensions in the disputed South China Sea, but it was unclear how much substantive progress could be accomplished.

The situation in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine, where hundreds of thousands of minority Rohingya Muslims have fled for neighboring Bangladesh after a military crackdown, is one of the biggest challenges facing the group.

ASEAN, formed more than half a century ago, has struggled with challenges facing the region because it works by consensus and is reluctant to get involved in matters considered internal to its members.

Singapore is this year’s chair of the bloc, which includes Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam.

Lee said ASEAN members individually will find it difficult to make an impact on regional and global challenges, and called on its leaders to boost integration and cooperation to make a mark and to be effective.

The group is working on initiatives to jointly tackle the threat of extremism and cyber attacks, as well as to promote trade and cross-border e-payment systems.

ASEAN is also working to devise a model extradition treaty and negotiating a code of conduct with China to ease tensions in the disputed South China Sea, one of the world’s most volatile hotspots and one of its busiest waterways.

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Goldman Sachs (GS) Q4 2020 earnings crushes estimates

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David Solomon, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs & Co., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., on Monday, April 29, 2019.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Goldman Sachs on Tuesday beat analysts’ expectations for fourth-quarter profit and revenue on strong performance from the firm’s equities traders and investment bankers.

The bank posted earnings of $12.08 a share, crushing the $7.47 estimate of analysts surveyed by Refinitiv. Revenue of $11.74 billion exceeded expectations by about $1.75 billion.

Shares of the New York-based bank jumped 2.4% in premarket trading.

“We were able to help clients navigate a difficult environment, and, as a result, achieved strong results across the franchise, while advancing our strategic priorities,” Goldman CEO David Solomon said in the release. “We hope this year brings much needed stability and a respite from the pandemic, but we remain ready to handle a wide range of outcomes and are poised to meet the needs of our clients.”

Expectations were running high for Solomon. Last week, JPMorgan Chase posted record fourth-quarter trading and advisory results that helped the bank beat profit estimates.

At Goldman, equities traders produced a 40% bump in revenue from a year earlier to $2.39 billion, outpacing the $1.89 billion estimate by roughly half a billion dollars. Like most of its rivals, fixed income operations missed expectations for the quarter, producing $1.88 billion in revenue, below the $2.06 billion estimate.

Investment banking revenues rose 27% to $2.61 billion, exceeding the $2.15 billion estimate, on higher revenues in stock underwriting and completed mergers transactions, the firm said.

“Goldman Sachs’ earnings were shockingly good,” said Octavio Marenzi, CEO of capital markets management consultancy Opimas. “We were expecting a strong performance, but Goldman outperformed in almost every business line… Goldman’s activities are squarely focused on investment banking and trading, areas that did well everywhere, but especially well at Goldman.”

Of the six biggest U.S. banks, Goldman gets the biggest share of its revenue from Wall Street activities including trading and investment banking. For the past few years that has been a detriment to the firm as retail banking has driven the industry’s record profits. Now Goldman’s model is proving to be an advantage.

Wide-open markets, thanks to the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented actions earlier in the year, are expected to help usher in the best year for trading on Wall Street since the financial crisis. Meanwhile, investment bankers are benefiting from surging demand for IPOs and a record spate of debt issuance.

In fact, Goldman’s investment banking division produced record revenue in 2020 of $9.42 billion, thanks to elevated stock and bond underwriting. And the firm’s trading division posted its highest annual revenue last year in a decade, a 43% jump from 2019, on surging activity across markets.

Goldman shares climbed 11% in 2020, besting the 4.3% decline of the KBW Bank Index.

Here are the numbers:

Earnings: $12.08 a share, vs. $7.47 per share expected, according to Refinitiv.
Revenue: $11.74 billion, vs. $9.9 billion estimate.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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Bank of America (BAC) Q4 2020 earnings beat expectations

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The G-7 heads to Cornwall, home of the Eden Project

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This June, leaders from countries including the U.S., U.K., Germany and Japan will congregate in Cornwall, a picturesque county in the southwest of England, to take part in the G-7 summit.

The small coastal resort of Carbis Bay will be the epicenter of the talks, with larger towns including St Ives and Falmouth set to play a supporting role.

While Cornwall is rightly famed for its natural beauty, fishing communities and pristine beaches, it’s also home to one of the most interesting developments in Britain: the Eden Project.

A popular tourist attraction located near the town of St Austell — around an hour’s drive from Carbis Bay — the Eden Project was officially opened in 2001.

The site is instantly recognizable thanks to its “Biomes,” which are bubble-like structures housing vast indoor gardens packed with plants from across the world.

Below, CNBC looks at some of the other design features and technologies which have helped the Eden Project stand out from the crowd and attract millions of visitors over the years.

Monitoring tech

In a bid to cut its energy consumption, the Eden Project — which is temporarily closed to visitors because of the coronavirus pandemic — makes use of a building management system, or BMS.

Its official site describes this as resembling “a giant TV remote” which enables “very tight control of our heating and electrical systems.”

The BMS monitors usage within the Biomes, offices and other buildings at the complex and ensures the site never uses more than it needs.

Energy efficiency and insulation

In addition to the BMS, a range of on-the-ground technologies are being deployed to boost the energy efficiency of the Eden Project.

These include the installation of LED lighting and use of high-efficiency boilers.

Buildings at the site have also been designed to make the most of natural light and ventilation, while an emphasis has also been placed on the use of “super insulation.”

Hexagonal cushions on the Biomes’ steel structure are used to capture air between two layers of a material called ethylene tetrafluoroethylene, creating a “thermal blanket.”

Elsewhere, insulation comes in the form of recycled newspapers, while a green roof located on a building used by staff attracts wildlife and helps keep things cool during the summer and warm in winter months.

Renewables

While the site has placed a great deal of focus on energy efficiency, it’s also embracing renewable energy technologies.

A 30 kilowatt (kW) solar power system has been installed on the rooftop of the Eden Project’s Core building — which is used for education purposes — while a 5 kW wind turbine is located near the site’s car park.

These technologies are supplemented by a deal with Good Energy, which supplies the Eden Project with 100% renewable energy.

5G connectivity

Just last week, it was announced a consortium headed up by the Eden Project was one of nine picked to take part in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s “5G Testbeds and Trials Programme.”

Called Eden Universe, the Eden Project consortium will benefit from a grant of £1.6 million ($2.18 million), with a 5G network and 360-degree video technology set to be installed on-site.

Among other things, the tech will allow teams at the Eden Project to create and test a range of augmented and virtual reality programs and “experiences” for visitors.

Sustainable transport

In addition to the tech which has been integrated into the fabric of the Eden Project’s buildings, efforts are also being made to encourage the use of sustainable transport.

To this end, discounts are available for visitors who cycle, walk or use combined coach, bus and train tickets.

Staff at the Eden Project can also make use of an 18-strong fleet of zero-emission electric vehicles from French carmaker Renault.

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