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China cuts tax rates for chipmakers

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The skyline of the city of Beijing, China on March 25, 2016.

Tianhan Chen | Cpressphoto | Getty Images

The skyline of the city of Beijing, China on March 25, 2016.

China’s finance ministry said on Friday it has introduced new tax breaks and exemptions for firms making semiconductors, seeking to limit dependence on foreign chips amid trade tensions with the United States over technology transfers.

The move comes as the United States is considering imposing tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese exports, citing discriminatory trade practices in high-tech sectors, including semiconductors.

Chipmakers will be exempt from corporate taxes for two to five years followed by partial deductions, the ministry said in a notice posted on its website on Friday.

The exemptions cover a range of products, from very basic to cutting-edge chips.

The new rules are effective from Jan. 1, 2018.

China relies heavily on foreign semiconductors, which make up one of its largest import categories by value. It is seeking to overtake foreign rivals and become a top semiconductor producer by 2030, according to its own roadmap.

China’s ambitions have riled overseas regulators however, who have blocked several acquisition attempts by Chinese firms looking to speed up development through technology transfers.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is requesting China purchase more semiconductors from the United States as part of a plan to avoid proposed tariffs and a potential trade war, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

According to Friday’s notice, companies producing high-end chips using 65 nanometre technology or smaller with an investment of over 15 billion yuan ($2.39 billion) will be exempt from corporate taxes for five years. Companies producing chips using 130 nanometre technology or smaller will be tax exempt for two years.

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NASA is launching a 4G mobile network on the moon

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Night time photograph of a waxing gibbous Moon, taken on November 14, 2013.

Chris Rutter | Digital Camera Magazine | Getty Images

LONDON — Just as 5G arrives on planet Earth, its predecessor is heading to the moon.

NASA has selected Nokia to build the first-ever 4G mobile network on Earth’s natural satellite, the Finnish telecommunications firm announced Monday.

The company’s U.S. industrial research arm, Bell Labs, is offering up its equipment to NASA to help build out the lunar network, with the aim of launching it in late 2022.

Under its Artemis program, NASA plans to send astronauts to the moon by 2024 — for the first time in five decades — followed by a “sustainable” human presence by 2028.

The U.S. space agency has chosen Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Dynetics, a lesser-known company, to develop the human landers that will land astronauts on the moon.

Nokia said its 4G network will allow astronauts to carry out a number of activities including making voice and video calls, sending important data and deploying payloads. It plans to eventually launch 5G on the moon as well.

NASA said in a blog post that it granted Nokia $14.1 million for the project, one of the agency’s various so-called “tipping point” investments focused on lunar exploration.

“The system could support lunar surface communications at greater distances, increased speeds, and provide more reliability than current standards,” NASA said of the proposed cellular network.

The deal is a win for Nokia, which has been competing with China’s Huawei and Sweden’s Ericsson for lucrative 5G contracts. It also comes as major carriers try to convince people to switch to 5G, which promises much faster download speeds and lower latency. Apple recently revealed the iPhone 12, its first phone range to support 5G.

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Active funds are not being muscled out by ETFs, Refinitiv expert says

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ETFs are traded on exchanges, so they can be bought and sold like stocks through a brokerage.

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Although exchange-traded funds are growing in popularity, they are not yet making meaningful incursions into the territory of actively-managed funds, according to Refinitive’s Head of Lipper EMEA Research, Detlef Glow.

Money market funds — which usually invest in low-risk, liquid assets like short-term bonds — were the best-sellers over the year to date, with inflows of 211.3 billion euros ($248.4 billion), according to Refinitiv’s European Fund Industry Review. Meanwhile, funds focused on global equities were the most popular among long-term investors, with the sector seeing inflows of 62.8 billion euros.

ETFs have enjoyed inflows of 48.5 billion euros so far in 2020, and Glow highlighted that their popularity has been growing across all types of investors. ETFs are collections of securities that track an underlying index, while mutual funds are actively managed and buy or sell assets strategically in a bid to beat the market and deliver profit to investors.

However, Glow told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Monday that despite popular belief, ETFs were not materially affecting demand for active investment funds.

“If you look at the general assets under management number, we have got 11.1 trillion (euros) invested in mutual funds, this is 92.7% of the market, and we have got only 0.87 trillion invested in ETFs, which is 7.3% of the market,” Glow said.

He noted that in terms of flows, things looked a bit better for ETFs, with 45.8 billion euros of total inflows, or 15%, going into ETFs and the remaining 85% going into mutual funds.

“This 15% is roughly the average we saw over the last few years, so from my point of view, there is no reason to be majorly concerned about ETFs when it comes to net sales,” Glow said.

Total assets under management slipped

The report noted that the fund industry had been hit hard at the beginning of the pandemic, posting net outflows of 125.9 billion euros in the first quarter of 2020.

The strong fiscal and monetary policy response from governments and central banks around the world, and subsequent normalization of markets, led investors back into ETFs and mutual funds in the second and third quarters and brought total net inflows to 297.1 billion euros by the end of September.

“We see that European investors put their money on the sideline by buying into money-market Europe, money-market U.S. dollars, as well as money-market pound sterling,” Glow told CNBC on Monday.

“But we also see that they are buying into diversified products, i.e. Equity Global as well as in specific themes like information technology and healthcare.”

However, Refinitiv found that total assets under management across the region’s fund industry slipped from 12.3 trillion euros in Dec. 2019 to 12 trillion euros in Sept. 2020, which it attributed in large part to the performance of underlying markets, which saw a 531 billion euro decline.

The report identified BlackRock as the best-selling fund promotor over the period, with net sales of 68.3 billion euros, followed by JPMorgan at 56.9 billion euros and Goldman Sachs at 23.3 billion euros.

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Why tech IPOs are flourishing in the U.S. and China — but not Europe

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