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Women in finance feel overlooked for ‘mediocre’ male co-workers: study

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LONDON — A U.K. study of women’s experiences in the financial and professional services sectors found that many felt they were held to higher performance standards versus “mediocre” male co-workers. 

The study, which gathered the views and experiences of 79 women working in finance and professional services, was carried out by Grace Lordan, the director of the Inclusion Initiative at the London School of Economics. 

It was produced by U.K. not-for-profit Women in Banking and Finance, sponsored by major financial firms including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and BlackRock, and was published Wednesday. 

Some 44 of the women in the study were interviewed, some of which said they felt that their “high performance was more regularly discounted as compared to men.” 

Other women said they felt they were treated differently when making mistakes. 

Many believed they were either labeled “competent or incompetent in their ability,” yet there was a “much bigger distribution of perceived ability among their male colleagues, with ‘mediocre’ men being mentioned explicitly by 22 women.” 

The women interviewed attributed this to a number of factors, including these men being part of a “social club where other members are gatekeepers with power.”

Of the women interviewed, 11 were Black. WIBF said in the report that Black women were “strategically over-sampled given they are the group whose progression in the sector is notably slow and cannot be explained away.” 

WIBF also said that “what was striking about the conversations was that the headwinds and tailwinds they faced were not different to the remaining 33 women.” 

“Rather the headwinds were more intense and the tailwinds fewer,” the report added. 

Some of Black women interviewed also highlighted this theme of “mediocre” male co-workers, with some saying that they felt as if they had to perform better than both men and white women “by a specific margin to get the same recognition.” 

More broadly, some of the women interviewed also felt they had to be innovative to succeed, while men were “often welcomed on traditional career pathways.” 

The women surveyed also spoke of encountering managers who talked about caring about equality but that their “walk didn’t match the talk,” indicating a lack of authenticity. 

Indeed, a separate report by Women on Boards U.K., also released on Wednesday, highlighted that 37% of the 261 small companies listed in the U.K. below the FTSE 350 had one or no female directors. 

It also found than less than half had met the U.K. target for having 33% women on boards. 

Fiona Hathorn, CEO of the network Women on Boards U.K., said that these findings showed “the job is far from done” on working toward diversity among the U.K.’s public companies. 

“To accelerate diversity and close the gender pay gap we must look beyond the FTSE 350 and ensure that every company in the FTSE All-Share is held accountable to change,” Hathorn said.

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Asia-Pacific stocks dip as investors watch China tech shares in Hong Kong

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SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were lower in Friday morning trade as investors monitor Chinese tech stocks in Hong Kong after regulatory concerns resurfaced.

South Korea’s Kospi sat below the flatline in early trade. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.18%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.07% lower.

Markets in Japan are closed on Friday for a holiday.

China tech stock watch

Investors will watch Chinese tech shares in Hong Kong after Bloomberg News reported that Beijing is considering harsh penalties on ride-hailing giant Didi. The penalties being planned range from a fine likely bigger than the record $2.8 billion Alibaba paid earlier this year to even a forced delisting after Didi’s IPO last month.

Shares of Didi stateside plunged more than 11% on Thursday. Earlier in July, the firm was forced to stop signing up new users and also had its app removed from Chinese app stores due to alleged collection and use of personal data.

That development came as Beijing continues its months-long crackdown on China’s tech behemoths, targeting issues from anti-trust to data regulation.

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Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged 25.35 points higher to 34,823.35 while the S&P 500 gained 0.2% to 4,367.48. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.36% to 14,684.60.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 92.805 — off levels above 93 seen earlier in the week.

The Japanese yen traded at 110.12 per dollar, weaker than levels below 109.6 seen against the greenback earlier this week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.738, above levels below $0.732 seen earlier in the trading week.

Oil prices were lower in the morning of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.23% to $73.62 per barrel. U.S. crude futures slipped 0.24% to $71.74 per barrel.

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Futures edge higher after stocks notch 3-day win streak

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A Specialist trader works inside a booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., July 13, 2021.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

Stock futures edged slightly higher in overnight trading after a rise in technology stocks boosted the Nasdaq Composite to its third-straight positive day on Thursday.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 52 points, or 0.15%. S&P 500 futures added 0.24% and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.33%.

Tech strength continued after hours as shares of social media companies Twitter and Snap each jumped following better-than-expected second-quarter earnings reports.

The major U.S. indexes closed Thursday’s regular trading session higher to notch a three-day win streak. The Dow rose 25.35 points, or 0.07%. The S&P 500 climbed 0.2% higher. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite led the markets with a 0.36% gain.

All three U.S. stock averages are on pace to close the week in the green for a fourth positive week in five, rebounding from last week’s losses and Monday’s sharp sell-off.

Microsoft had the most positive impact on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq on Thursday; the stock closed 1.7% higher. Salesforce had the greatest positive impact on the Dow as the software stock gained 2.6% on Thursday.

The strength in tech shares comes as the continued spread of the highly contagious delta Covid variant raises concerns about economic growth.

“We saw during the depths of the pandemic that tech stocks and their earnings held up the best, so I think a lot of investors are going back to the well, given we have a Covid resurgence,” Yung-Yu Ma, chief investment strategist at BMO Wealth Management, said. “Long term interest rates coming down as much as they have also makes those stocks more attractive.”

Major technology companies including Microsoft, Google-parent Alphabet, Apple, Facebook and Amazon are set to report second-quarter earnings next week.

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It’s possible to make ‘extremely safe’ nuclear plants

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Elon Musk is “pro nuclear.”

So said Musk on Wednesday while talking about making bitcoin mining sustainable at The B-Word conference hosted by the Crypto Council for Innovation.

Nuclear energy is considered “clean energy” because generating nuclear energy does not release greenhouse gasses. But due to some high-profile accidents, legacy nuclear power plants can have a bad reputation.

“I think modern nuclear power plants are safe contrary to what people may think,” the Tesla and SpaceX CEO said.

“I really think it’s possible to make very, extremely safe nuclear.”

And “I’m talking about fission. You don’t need fusion,” Musk said.

Nuclear fission is the process used in conventional nuclear reactors. With a fission reaction, larger atoms slam into each other and split into smaller atoms, which releases energy.

Fusion is the opposite reaction to fission. With fusion, smaller atoms slam together and join into a heavier atom, thereby releasing energy. Fusion is the process by which the sun generates energy.

“You’ve got that big fusion reactor in the sky called the sun. It comes up every day,” Musk said.

Some herald fusion as a safer way to generate nuclear energy, because fission generates radioactive waste that can remain dangerous for a very long time, while fusion does not generate long-lived radioactive waste (among other reasons).

The problem is, with present technology, fusion usurps all the energy it creates to sustain its reaction, leaving no “net energy” to power other things. Several companies are working to commercialize fusion energy, but so far, they have not been successful.

On Wednesday, Musk did not elaborate on how nuclear power plants could be made “extremely safe.” But Musk has publicly supported the use of nuclear energy for years.

“We should build more nuclear power plants,” Musk said in 2007 interview with PBS. “I think that’s a better way to generate energy than certainly a coal power plant or a natural gas power plant.”

Currently, about 20% of the energy generated in the United States is from nuclear, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Conventional nuclear energy technology using fission has evolved and improved over the years. For example, Bill Gates founded an advanced nuclear company, TerraPower, which is innovating on legacy power plant technology.

Still, there is strong opposition to the use of nuclear power.

Opponents to nuclear power say there are still risks associated with nuclear power, despite technological innovations, and the better solution is to focus on ramping up renewable energy sources, like wind and solar.

— CNBC’s Lora Kolodny contributed to this report.

This story has been updated to clarify that Musk did not elaborate how nuclear could be made “extremely safe.”

See also:

China, Elon Musk raise alarm about bitcoin energy use: Here’s how it could be made more ‘green’

Miami’s first-ever chief heat officer: These are the climate issues that scare me the most

Google CEO Sundar Pichai: Climate is ‘bar none’ the No. 1 concern for young people

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