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Happy birthday bitcoin: The cryptocurrency is turning ten

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Ten years ago the bitcoin white paper was released, marking the beginning of a cryptocurrency that would soon dominate the market.

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Fintech as big as Facebook Twitter

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India’s prime minister has shown that inspiration can come from all directions: Narendra Modi says he looks to the likes of Facebook and Twitter as an inspiration for his own goals.

Modi said the success of such platforms have set the bar for the speed and extent to which technology can change people’s lives. He now wants to replicate that success in his plans for India.

“We have to believe that development and empowerment can spread with this same speed at which Facebook, Twitter or mobile phones have spread across the world,” Modi said at the Singapore FinTech Festival Wednesday.

The Indian leader has long been a vocal advocate of technology, employing it in unique and innovative ways at various stages of his political career. During campaigning, he used holograms to galvanize support across the vast country, and he’s frequently pushed for greater technological connectivity for Indian cities.

But it was only when Modi came to power in 2014 that he was able to start rolling out his primary vision for India: Using financial technology — or fintech — to give citizens greater access to bank accounts, credit and other financial freedoms.

“That vision is rapidly changing into a reality,” said the 68-year-old.

Just four years ago, less than 15 percent of India’s 1.35 billion citizens had bank accounts. Today, the country has more than 1 billion bank accounts. That’s due in part to the near-universal roll out of a digital biometric identification scheme in India.

“With the power of fintech, and the reach of digital connectivity, we have started a revolution of historic speed and scale,” said Modi.

Modi said that revolution was largely thanks to the millions of young entrepreneurs in his country whose work to increase financial inclusion had, he said, created an “explosion” of innovation and turned India into a “leading start-up nation.”

But he also urged more to get involved and find new ways to use financial technology to change the fortunes of billions of people’s lives, both in India and beyond.

“What we dream for India is what we also wish for the world,” said Modi. “This is a common journey for all.”

“Each era is defined by its opportunities and challenges, each generation has the responsibility to shape the future,” he continued. “At no time in history were we faced with so many possibilities to make opportunity and prosperity a reality in the lifetime of billions.”

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S&P 500 snaps 5-day losing streak as shares of Apple, JP Morgan gain

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Equities also appeared to rally in afternoon trading following a report said that the U.S. and China have doubled down on efforts to reach an agreementin the growing trade war, at the Group of 20 meeting later this month.

Representatives for President Donald Trump and China President Xi Jinping have intensified efforts to strike a deal following a phone call between the two leaders earlier this month, according to a Financial Times report. China reportedly responded to Washington’s requests to deal with a range of American grievances, and the possibility of concessions was reviewed.

One person familiar with the situation told the FT that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has already informed some industry executives the next wave of tariffs was already on hold.

Stocks fell from their highs, however, after a spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative told CNBC “the plan for the tariffs as covered in the Federal Register Notice dated Sept. 21, 2018 has not changed at all. Any reports to the contrary are incorrect.”

Sentiment across the globe has improved on reports that China has delivered a written response to U.S. trade demands. U.S. government sources told Reuters on Wednesday that China had sent a response to U.S. demands on the ongoing trade negotiation, giving hopes to investors that the two sides might bring an end to the spat.

Financials were up on the day as J. P. Morgan buoyed the big banks higher after famed investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway disclosed a new $4 billion stake in the company. Bank of America, also part of the Berkshire portfolio, rallied 2.5 percent. The SPDR S&P Bank ETF rose 1.7 percent.

Walmart missed on revenue estimates in the third quarter, contributing to a 1.9 percent drop in shares. Though the company reported strong e-commerce sales and raised full-year guidance, the sales miss and news that Buffett dissolved his stake in the company weighed on the stock.

“The hard part for most investors is not so much that earnings are disappointing or not … the real issue is what’s going to happen next year,” said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank. “There’s a sense that it can’t get too much better. Looking forward, with the market turmoil overseas and the recognition that the effect of the tax cuts will begin to wane, it’s hard to think it’ll get better.”

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Asia markets higher; pound struggles following fresh Brexit uncertainties

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The U.K. was thrust into political turmoil on Thursday following a spate of resignations from Prime Minister Theresa May's government, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab. 

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