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Malaysia’s veteran leader Mahathir wins shock election victory

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Mahathir Mohamad, former Malaysian prime minister and opposition candidate for Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) reacts during a news conference after general election, in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, May 9, 2018.

Lai Seng Sin | Reuters

Mahathir Mohamad, former Malaysian prime minister and opposition candidate for Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) reacts during a news conference after general election, in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, May 9, 2018.

An alliance of opposition parties spearheaded by Mahathir Mohamad won Malaysia‘s general election on Thursday, official results showed, setting the veteran strongman on course for a return to the Prime Minister’s Office he occupied for 22 years.

Mahathir’s stunning defeat of the ruling coalition that has ruled the Southeast Asian country since independence from Britain six decades ago means that, at the age of 92, he will become the oldest elected leader in the world.

Official results at 4:08 a.m. showed that Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) had won 112 of parliament’s 222 seats, clinching the simple majority required to rule.

Najib’s ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN), had 79.

Two more seats remained to be announced.

Mahathir told a news conference he expected to be sworn in as prime minister later on Thursday.

“The time for change has come, and I hope the people in power realize this,” said Asifa Hanifah, a young woman who joined thousands of opposition supporters in central Kuala Lumpur who waved flags, cheered and honked car horns.

Few had expected Mahathir to prevail against a coalition that has long relied on the support of the country’s ethnic-Malay majority.

However, he joined hands with his one-time protege, the jailed politician Anwar Ibrahim, and together their alliance exploited public disenchantment over the cost of living and a multibillion-dollar scandal that has dogged Najib since 2015.

Mahathir has promised to seek a royal pardon for Anwar if they win the election and, once Anwar is free, to step aside and let him become prime minister.

Several key roads in the heart of the capital, where violence between races has played out in the past, were blocked off by police as evidence grew that Najib’s coalition was on the back foot. In a statement, the police appealed for calm and said that for now the situation was under control.

Najib’s United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party postponed an evening news conference and said Najib, who has ruled the country for nearly 10 years, would address the media at 9:45 a.m. on Thursday.

Malaysia’s currency weakened in offshore trading on the election result, with the ringgit one-month non-deliverable forward falling 2.4 percent to 4.07 against the dollar.

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GameStop jumps more than 100% even as hedge funds cover short bets, scrutiny of rally intensifies

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Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Shares of GameStop surged again Wednesday, continuing the streak of wild swings for the stock as several high-profile short sellers said they had backed away from their positions.

The name traded at roughly $342 per share when it was briefly halted at about 11:19 a.m. ET, up almost 131% from Tuesday’s close and giving the company a market cap of about $24 billion. The stock traded as high as $380 per share in premarket trading.

The latest move higher comes as some of the high-profile short sellers of GameStop, including Melvin Capital and Citron, announced that they covered most or all of their positions.

The stock lost some of its premarket gains after the short sellers made their announcements, but the shares rebounded to new highs shortly before the market open.

GameStop’s nearly vertical surge over the past week has come as retail traders, many of whom have documented their moves on the social media site Reddit, have piled into the stock and call options. The spiking share price has helped to create a stock squeeze, where shorts and options dealers are forced to buy shares of a rising stock to cover their positions, resulting in a feedback loop that drives the stock even higher.

The name appeared to get a boost in extended trading on Tuesday after Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted out the link to the Reddit board where much of the discussion has taken place.

The video game retailer, which had a market cap of less than $4 billion at the end of last week, was the most traded stock on the market by value Tuesday, according to Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid.

GameStop’s rapid rise has drawn comparisons to speculative trading during the tech bubble of the late 1990s and led many Wall Street veterans to warn investors about the potential for significant losses.

Hedge fund manager Michael Burry, who reported holding 1.7 million shares of the stock at the end of September, said in a now-deleted tweet that the rise was “unnatural, insane, and dangerous.” Burry also told Bloomberg News that he did not have a current long or short position in the stock.

William Galvin, Massachusetts’ top securities regulator, told Barron’s that the trading in GameStop could be “systemically wrong.”

Bank of America raised its price target on the stock to just $10 per share on Wednesday, saying in a note to clients that the increased share price could help GameStop’s turnaround plans but presented a risk for investors.

“While it is difficult to know how much very high short interest and retail ownership … could continue to put upward pressure on shares, we think fundamentals will again factor into valuation,” the note said.

The Securities and Exchange Commission declined to comment to CNBC.

— CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this story.

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PepsiCo CEO, top UN officials discuss future of food systems

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More than 1 billion tons of food is wasted every year. And agriculture is still a major driving force of climate change.

With world leaders looking to ensure the post-coronavirus recovery is one that’s sustainable and inclusive, the need to improve farming and food systems has never been more urgent.

To discuss the key issues at stake, CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick speaks with a panel of experts at the virtual Davos Agenda, including:

  • Dongyu Qu, director-general of the the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization
  • Wiebe Draijer, chairman of the managing board at Rabobank
  • Ramon Laguarta, CEO of PepsiCo
  • Carlos Alvarado Quesada, president of Costa Rica
  • Agnes Kalibata, special envoy for the United Nations’ Food Systems Summit
  • Amina Mohammed, deputy secretary-general of the United Nations

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Chipmakers will take quarters to catch up with auto sector demand: Credit Suisse

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SINGAPORE — It will take months for chipmakers to catch up with a shortfall in supply for the auto sector, predicts Credit Suisse’s Randy Abrams.

“You could say it is a global chip tightness or shortage,” Abrams, head of Taiwan research at the firm’s equity research department, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Tuesday.

Abrams’ comments came as automakers globally are shutting assembly lines due to problems in the delivery of semiconductors, according to Reuters.

The current shortage comes as chipmakers scaled down production around the middle of last year as customers cut back orders, Abrams explained. He added that the shortfall in chips for the auto sector has created a bottleneck whereby vehicles cannot be built due to the lack of certain components.

“I do think by middle of the year, we should be starting to catch up,” he said, but warned it’ll be “a tough couple of quarters catching up to those orders.”

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s leading foundry, is among the companies still trying to catch up with the increased demand.

Reuters reported Monday that TSMC will prioritize production of auto chips if the firm is able to further increase capacity. The report cited Taiwan’s Economics Ministry.

For the first time in a long time, semiconductors are limiting auto production.

Randy Abrams

Head of Taiwan Research, Credit Suisse

The Covid-19 pandemic upended nearly every industry in the world as businesses and economies were forced to shut down due to the lockdowns, triggering supply chain problems and widespread job losses.

The auto industry was not spared, with Boston Consulting Group predicting in a December report that sales in Europe and the U.S. “will not rebound to pre-COVID levels until 2023 at the earliest.”

Lack of advanced chipmakers

The shortage highlights the “strategic importance” of chips, Abrams said.

“For the first time in a long time, semiconductors are limiting auto production,” he added.

Beyond the automotive industry, those challenges are also seen in other sectors such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence, he said.

There are now less manufacturers capable of making more advanced chips compared to previous upturns in the sector, the Credit Suisse analyst said, citing Samsung Electronics and Intel as the other two “advanced manufacturers” with such capabilities.

“It’s a reality the industry is having to deal with — it’s becoming more complicated to make advanced chips,” Abrams said.

Competition among the top chipmakers is also heating up.

Intel, which has lost market share to competitors including AMD, Samsung and TSMC, recently announced the appointment of industry veteran Pat Gelsinger as CEO.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported Friday that Samsung Electronics is considering building its most advanced logic chipmaking plant in the U.S. That came after TSMC said in May that it will build a semiconductor facility in Arizona, with total spending on the project coming it at $12 billion.

— CNBC’s Lauren Feiner and Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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