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Bank of England Governor Mark Carney

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Bank of England Governor Mark Carney raised concern over extreme volatility in the world’s best known digital currency.

“It has pretty much failed thus far on … the traditional aspects of money. It is not a store of value because it is all over the map. Nobody uses it as a medium of exchange,” Carney said, according to Reuters.

The central banker made the comments at a talk at Regent’s University, London, on Monday evening.

Bitcoin is the largest cryptocurrency by market value. It is underpinned by a blockchain network, which maintains a continuously growing record of transactions across a decentralized network.

In bitcoin’s white paper, penned by its mysterious inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, the cryptocurrency was envisioned as a “purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash,” devoid of intermediaries like banks and governments.

Bitcoin has soared substantially over the last 12 months, rising more than 900 percent since February 20 last year, despite huge bouts of price volatility. It is still more than $8,000 off an all-time high it reached in December.

Authorities have been weary of virtual currencies because of their volatile nature and illicit activities involving their use, although some countries are considering the launch of their own virtual alternatives to money.

On Tuesday, Venezuela will launch a pre-sale of its own cryptocurrency, the petro, which the country’s government claims will be backed by oil and other commodities. Skeptics are concerned that the petro could be manipulated by Caracas.

Elsewhere, Sweden is looking into the possibility of a digital version of the Swedish crown, called the “ekrona,” as cash use in the Scandinavian country has steeply declined in recent years.

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Stock futures flat after markets hit records in previous session, Biden takes office

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U.S. stock futures were flat in overnight trading on Wednesday after the major averages hit record highs on inauguration day.

Dow futures fell 14 points. S&P 500 futures ticked 0.04% lower and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.04%.

Major U.S. airline United dipped more than 2% in extended trading on Wednesday after missing on the top and bottom lines of its quarterly earnings. The airline warned warned sales would continue to suffer in the early part of 2021 as the coronavirus pandemic drags on.

U.S. equities rose to record highs on Wednesday as the latest batch of strong corporate earnings rolled in, as Joe Biden was sworn in as commander in chief.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose more than 250 points to close at a record. Microsoft had the most positive impact on the Dow, adding 52 points to the index. 

The S&P 500 climbed 1.4%, notching an all-time high.

The Nasdaq Composite surged nearly 2%, closing at a record. The technology heavy index was helped by a 16% jump in Netflix‘s stock on the back of the streaming giants strong earnings and subscriber results.

The small cap benchmark Russell 2000 popped 0.44%.

Biden was sworn in as the 46th U.S. president on Wednesday, succeeding former President Donald Trump. During an inaugural address in which he called on Americans to reject efforts to sow division and pledged to work for the voters who did not support him, Biden declared, “Democracy has prevailed.” Biden is expected to work on his proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

Wednesday “might have less to do with the inauguration than it does with the start of a new earnings season and with investors taking advantage of recent performance to lighten up on winners in favor of adding some out of favor new era stocks which may be leading a good earnings quarter,” said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group.

“Perhaps, it simply reflects a globally synchronized economic recovery boosted by unprecedented stimulus and the nearing of vaccinations.  With a backdrop like that, it can go up regardless of who’s President,” Paulsen added.

Earnings season continues on Thursday with Baker Hughes, Union Pacific and Citrix reporting before the bell. Intel, IBM and CSX report after the closing bell on Thursday.

The Labor Department will release last week’s jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday. Economists polled by Dow Jones expect 925,000 Americans filed for unemployment last week, down from the previous week’s 965,000.

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U.S. rejoins Paris climate accord

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President Joe Biden signs executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, after his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States, U.S., January 20, 2021.

Tom Brenner | Reuters

President Joe Biden signed an executive order to rejoin the U.S. into the Paris climate agreement on Wednesday, his first major action to tackle global warming as he brings the largest team of climate change experts ever into the White House.

The Biden administration also intends to cancel the permit for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the U.S. and sign additional orders in the coming days to reverse several of former President Donald Trump’s actions weakening environmental protections.

Biden vows to move quickly on climate change action, and his inclusion of scientists throughout the government marks the beginning of a major policy reversal following four years of the Trump administration’s weakening of climate rules in favor of fossil fuel producers.

Nearly every country in the world is part of the Paris Agreement, the landmark nonbinding accord among nations to reduce their carbon emissions. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement in 2017.

Mitchell Bernard, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said Biden’s order to rejoin the accord makes the U.S. part of the global solution for climate change rather than part of the problem.

“This is swift and decisive action,” Bernard said in a statement. “It sets the stage for the comprehensive action we need to confront the climate crisis now, while there’s still time to act.”

With a slim Democratic majority in the Senate, Biden could potentially achieve large parts of his ambitious climate agenda, including a $2 trillion economic plan to push forward a clean-energy transition, cut carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2035 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

During his first few months in office, Biden is expected to sign a wave of executive orders to address climate change, including conserving 30% of America’s land and waters by 2030, protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from drilling, and restoring and elevating the role of science in government decisions.

Some legal actions on climate will take longer, including the administration’s plan to reverse a slew of Trump’s environmental rollbacks on rules governing clean air and water and planet-warming emissions. The Trump administration reversed more than 100 environmental rules in four years, according to research from Columbia Law School.

More from CNBC Environment:
UN warns nations of major economic damage without more action on climate change
2020 was one of the hottest years on record, tied with 2016
Control of Senate allows Democrats to act on Biden’s climate change agenda

“From Paris to Keystone to protecting gray wolves, these huge first moves from President Biden show he’s serious about stopping the climate and extinction crises,” Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “These strong steps must be the start of a furious race to avert catastrophe.”

The next major U.N. climate summit will take place in Glasgow, Scotland, in November. Countries in the agreement will give updated emissions targets for the next decade.

A goal of the agreement is to keep the global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, compared with preindustrial levels. The Earth is set to warm up by 1.5 C, or 2.7 F, over the next two decades.

Robert Schuwerk, executive director for North America at Carbon Tracker, said rejoining the accord signals to global markets that the U.S. will make tackling climate change a priority, but added that it’s only a part of what the administration must do to lower its emissions.

The U.S. is the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China. It’s expected to have an updated climate target and a concrete plan to reduce emissions from the power and energy sector.

“Rejoining is just table stakes,” said John Morton, who was President Barack Obama’s energy and climate director at the National Security Council. “The hard work of putting the country on a course to becoming net zero emissions by mid-century begins now.”

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New mandates, a close White House tie and big challenges ahead

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