Dogecoin jumps 25pc after Elon Musk tweet

Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency that started off as a joke, has soared by 25pc after Tesla founder Elon Musk tweeted about the digital token.

Musk posted a picture of the Shiba-Inu-themed tokens flag on the surface of the moon, a reference to a joke among Reddit traders determined to send the value of the currency soaring “to the moon”.

Dogecoin was up about a quarter to $0.0593 (£0.0421) as of 2.30pm today following the tweet from the enigmatic founder.

Elsewhere, Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing plans to enter the European market in a move that could shake Uber’s dominant position in the bloc.

Meanwhile, Square, the US fintech firm founded by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, said last night it had put $170m (£120m) into Bitcoin, a further investment after a $50m purchase last year. It makes Square one of the biggest corporate cryptocurrency holders alongside Tesla.

5:55PM

That’s all for today

Thanks for reading, we’ll be back with you tomorrow.

5:11PM

Tesla shares rebound on ARK investment

It’s been a difficult couple of days for Tesla shares, wiping billions of Elon Musk’s net worth, but the company is seeing a resurgence in early US trading.

Shares are trading almost 5pc up today, after the news that ARK Invest, a prominent Tesla bull, has bought more shares.

 ARK’s Cathie Wood told CNBC:

Our confidence in Tesla has grown as we’ve done research on what ride-sharing potentially could add. It could limit the risks significantly, it’s a much more profitable business than electric vehicles. Even though there is some debate at Tesla whether or not they should launch a human driven ride-hailing network, it would be a very good bridge we think to their autonomous strategy and we think they will decide to do that.

4:38PM

Uber’s flying car partner going public

Joby Aviation, a US company dedicated to building electric air taxis, has become the latest to cash in on the boom in SPACs – listed blank cheque companies that have enabled futuristic companies to go public.

It has announced today that it is listing at a $6.6bn valuation through a merger with a SPAC run by LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and Zynga’s founder Mark Pincus.

The company has also showed off its electric aircraft, which it says has completed over 1000 test flights. The vehicle is due to arrive in 2024, and is said to have a 150-mile range. It may be coming to an Uber app near you: Uber sold its flying car operations to Joby recently.

3:44PM

MicroStrategy buys more than $1bn worth of Bitcoin

Enterprise software giant MicroStrategy has bought more than $1bn worth of Bitcoin, it announced on Wednesday.

The US-based firm said it shelled out around $52,765 per coin for 19,452 tokens. The splurge brings the Virginia company’s total stock to 90,531. To date, MicroStrategy has spent $2.17bn on Bitcoin.

The investment comes after Jack Dorsey’s Square announced it had shelled out $170m on the cryptocurrency.

3:33PM

Musk tweet sends Dogecoin “to the moon” 

A tweet from Elon Musk has sent Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency that started out as a joke, “to the moon” as the value of the digital token jumped as much as 25pc.

Dogecoin rose as high as $0.0593 (£0.0421) as of 2.30pm today after the Tesla boss tweeted a picture of the Shiba Inu, the dog emblem of the currency, on the moon.

He captioned the picture “literally” as the currency hit a $7.2bn valuation.

Musk has been tweeting about the crypto for some time and previously sent it soaring off the back of a mock Vogue cover that read “Dogue”.

He has also heavily backed Bitcoin, the world’s most-valuable crypto, having used some $19bn of Tesla’s cash reserves to take up a position. Tesla’s splurge sent Bitcoin soaring more than 50pc.

Musk later tweeted that the value of Bitcoin and its smaller rival Ether “seemed high”, which sent both tumbling.

Dogecoin was started as a joke by software engineers Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer during the Bitcoin frenzy of 2017. It raised to prominence again during the rush around GameStop last month.

3:09PM

Babylon explores US listing that could value it at $4bn 

Babylon is said to be exploring a US listing that could value the health app at $4bn (£2.8bn) as its business continues to grow during the Covid-19 pandemic, writes Morgan Meaker.

The digital health company has been approached by several special purpose acquisition companies about going public via a Spac merger, according to sources speaking to Bloomberg.

Babylon is also believed to be weighing a traditional initial public offering in the US. 

The health tech group, which has its own digital doctor app and also provides the NHS GP at Hand service, has long been eyeing expansion in the US and is currently advertising for Director of SEC Reporting and Technical Accounting to be based in San Francisco. 

Read more here.

2:49PM

Apple partner Foxconn agrees EV deal with Fisker 

Apple partner Foxconn has struck a deal to develop an electric vehicle company with US firm Fisker.

Foxconn will build the car, which will be targeted at Europe, North America, China, and India, the companies said in a statement on Wednesday.

Production of the new vehicle is scheduled for 2023. The Taiwanese tech firm built its first-ever EV chassis and software platform in October aimed at helping automakers bring cars to the market faster.

The tie-up with Fisker is expected to produce more than 250,000 vehicles a year, the companies claimed.

US EV maker Fisker has agreed a deal with Foxconn

US EV maker Fisker has agreed a deal with Foxconn

Credit:
Fisker

2:16PM

Tesla shares rebound after 13pc slump 

Shares in Tesla have jumped in premarket trading, arresting the four-day slide for the carmaker.

Elon Musk’s company was up 2.5pc at 11.45am this morning to $678, having rebounded somewhat from its 13pc drop on Tuesday.

The Nasdaq 100 saw a similar jump as “buy the dip” began trending on Twitter, closing just 0.2pc lower having slumped 3.5pc that morning. Other EV makers including Nikola and Lordstown also jumped in early trading.

Cathie Wood’s Ark Investment Management was among investors who bought the weakness in Tesla shares, she said in an interview on Bloomberg Radio.

1:44PM

Europe opens consultation over great rights for gig economy workers 

The European Commission has kicked off a consultation to determine if it should propose a law that would give gig economy workers greater rights.

The consultation will explore whether or not the workers would have greater rights as contractors or employees, where they could engage in collective bargaining.

It comes as the pandemic has led to a spike in demand for gig economy companies like food delivery firms, which have dramatically bloated their workforces.

Courts and regulators have already acted to boost workers’ rights in the sector, including in the UK where the Supreme Court ruled last week that Uber drivers were entitled to the minimum wage and sick and holiday pay.

The commission is seeking feedback from trade unions and employers’ groups over the course of the six-week consultation.

1:12PM

BMW the ‘ideal’ partner for Apple, analysts claim 

Germany carmaker BMW could make a strong ally for Apple in its bid to build its own autonomous electric car.

The iPhone-maker has reportedly held talks with a series of manufacturers, including Hyundai and Toyota, about building a vehicle.

Analysts from Sanford C. Bernstein has suggested that BMW’s innovation and marketing know-how could be a good fit for Apple.

“In our view, BMW would be the ideal partner for Apple,” analysts Arndt Ellinghorst and Toni Sacconaghi said in a report seen by Bloomberg.

“Both companies have a leading innovation claim, superior brand equity and design and are excellent in global manufacturing and value chain management.”

A tie-up between Apple and BMW would follow on from reports from five years ago that Tim Cook visited the carmakers Munich headquarters to get a look at how the i3 electric hatchback is made.

“Traditional carmakers will be very careful when exploring a manufacturing partnership with Apple,” Bernstein said. Any manufacturer “does not want to end up becoming a mere enabler for the one of the world’s largest and best financially equipped tech players.”

Apple chief Tim Cook is reportedly meeting carmakers about a potential tie-up

Apple chief Tim Cook is reportedly trying to gauge carmakers about a potential tie-up

Credit:
Getty

12:36PM

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing plans European debut

Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hailing giant, is planning to launch in Europe in the first half of this year, it has been reported.

The entry of the Didi, which is expected to IPO with a $60bn valuation this year, will represent a sizable threat to Uber, which has been battling the advances of other competitors like Free Now, Gett, and Bolt.

The move by Didi will likely help the company achieve further growth ahead of its long-anticipated public listing. Didi is seeking new locations for growth as momentum in China begins to slow. The company already saw off competition from Uber in 2016.

France, the UK, and Germany, are likely to be the first markets to get Didi’s services, Bloomberg reported citing two sources familiar with the plan.

The Beijing-based firm has already hired a team dedicated to the European market and is hiring locally.

SoftBank has piled hundreds of millions of dollars into Didi, with much of its capital allocated for the company’s autonomous cars plans.

Didi already operates in 13 countries beyond China, the majority of which are based in Latin America. In August, it began offering services in Russia.

The company has yet to decide if it will offer its other services beyond ride-hailing, such as food delivery and errand service. The subsequent launches of those services will be dependent on market demand, it was reported.

Didi hopes the European move will help bloat the company’s valuation ahead of an IPO, despite the fact that it is already one of the world’s largest startups.

The company had yet to respond to a request for comment from the Telegraph at the time of writing.

Didi’s proposed move into the UK comes after a monumental High Court ruling against Uber, which found its drivers were entitled to holiday and sick pay and the minimum wage.

11:37AM

Australian editorial code like ‘making car companies pay for radio stations’, says Facebook’s Clegg  

Australia’s proposed editorial code would have been like “forcing car makers to fund radio stations because people might listen to them in the car”, according to Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs.

The former deputy prime minister addressed Facebook’s recent decision to stop the sharing of Australian news on the social media platform in a blog post on Wednesday.

The tech giant has since reversed the media blackout after Canberra agreed to make amendments to its proposed law.

Canberra has initially said it would not be making changes to the law, but said on Tuesday it had agreed to include amendments, such as giving Google and Facebook more time to agree private deals with publishers.

“At the heart of it, in Facebook’s view, is a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between Facebook and news publishers,” Mr Clegg said.

“It’s the publishers themselves who choose to share their stories on social media, or make them available to be shared by others, because they get value from doing so.”

Mr Clegg also said the assertions that Facebook “steals or takes original journalism always were and remain false”.

The Facebook VP said the company would have been “forced to pay potentially unlimited amounts of money” to media companies if the Australian code had stayed as it was.

“It’s like forcing car makers to fund radio stations because people might listen to them in the car — and letting the stations set the price,” he said.

“It is ironic that some of the biggest publishers that have long advocated for free markets and voluntary commercial undertakings now appear to be in favor of state sponsored price setting. The events in Australia show the danger of camouflaging a bid for cash subsidies behind distortions about how the internet works.”

Facebook VP Nick Clegg has hit out at the proposed Australian law

Facebook VP Nick Clegg has hit out at the proposed Australian law

Credit:
Bloomberg

11:09AM

Rural users of Elon Musk’s Starlink broadband praise jump in speeds  

Rural users of Elon Musk’s satellite broadband service in the UK have reported huge jumps in speed since switching.

Early Starlink testers claim to have hit download speeds of up to 215 megabits per second (Mbps), making activities like high-quality streaming from multiple devices possible at the same time.

Previous estimates put rural speeds at between 0.5 and 1Mbps, making basic tasks a struggle.

Kent-based Aaron Wilkes, who lives in the village of Bredgar, told PA that his household fixed line should hit around 20Mpbs but has since averaged 175Mbps since swapping to Starlink.

Mr Musk’s SpaceX company has already launched more than 1,000 satellites into Earth’s orbit as part of its Starlink programme, which aims to beam high-speed internet to those left behind by traditional cable-based providers.

But this is just the beginning of the project – Mr Musk reportedly wants to have tens of thousands of his satellites in space eventually, enabling a seamless connection for all users.

Testing of Starlink was recently opened up to UK residents desperate for a better connection in certain parts of the country, while other areas have been told to expect coverage arriving sometime in mid to late 2021.

While Mr Musk’s satellite solution appears to solve many problems for rural dwellers, it does come at a high cost. The hardware involved costs £439 while the monthly cost is £89.

10:38AM

Biden to step in to address chip shortage 

President Joe Biden is set to sign an executive order that aims to tackle the global shortage of semiconductor chips.

The order, due to be signed later today, will launch a 100-day review of US supply chains for critical products that also includes large-capacity batteries for electric vehicles, rare earth minerals, and pharmaceuticals, Reuters reported, citing officials from the Biden administration.

Chips are one of a host of supply chain shortages that have besieged the US since the onset of the pandemic.

American semiconductor companies make up 47pc of global chip sales but just 12pc of production due to the vast majority of their production being outsourced overseas.

US president Joe Biden will sign an executive order on the chip shortage later today

US president Joe Biden will sign an executive order on the chip shortage later today

Credit:
AP

10:08AM

Antibody tests could help ‘overburdened’ health organisations

Abingdon Health, a British biotech firm, has said vaccination programmes could benefit from using antibody tests to determine whether people had previously had Covid-19, helping to ease the load on ‘overburdened’ health organisations.

A study out today suggested that patients who had been previously infected with Covid-19 showed a stronger immune response to the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine than those who weren’t.

Abingdon, which develops antibody tests, said this was a sign that they could potentially assist in helping to decide which cohorts to vaccinate next.

The company completed an initial order of one million tests to the Government last month and, as it stands, has no further orders with the Department for Health.

Chris Yates, chief executive of Abingdon, told the Telegraph last month that: “Whilst there is more and more evidence in terms of how long antibody response lasts, this is something that can be measured using our antibody tests.”

9:32AM

Google’s new tracking tool could help stop next Covid wave

Researchers have today launched a new Covid-19 tracking database that will help governments monitor how the easing of lockdown measures is affecting case rates and spot the next wave before it spreads.

Google has worked with researchers to develop Global.health, a databse which will pool anonymised data on Covid-19 cases, allowing researchers to chart things such as whether people had been to Covid-19 hotspots and when exactly their symptoms started.

This will allow epidemiologists to perform much more detailed and faster analysis on what is leading the virus to spread.

Dr Moritz Kraemer from the University of Oxford said the system would be key going forward as the UK charts a course out of lockdown: “This database can be incredibly powerful in providing information back to the policymakers. If we have vaccine passports and have more people traveling between, say, the UK and Greece in the spring, it will show if we see clusters of transmission occurring and let us start thinking about, okay, why is that a case?

“It will give us the ingredients for doing informed analysis going forward, something which is going to be necessary for a more tailored approach to reopening”.

8:53AM

Former LSE chief says London should seize Spac revolution

Xavier Rolet

Xavier Rolet

Credit:
 Teri Pengilley

The former chief of the London Stock Exchange has said the UK should be striving to be a hub of Spac activity, saying London was currently “out of the race”.

Spacs are “special purpose acquisition companies” – blank cheque vehicles which list and then acquire a company, taking that business public in the process. It has become popular over the past year, touted as a faster way for privately-held companies to join the public markets. 

Xavier Rolet, alongside Vote Leave co-founder Matthew Elliott and Shore Capital analyst Clive Black, were writing in a response to the UK’s Future Regulatory Framework review. 

“New York has taken the bulk of Spac issuance and Amsterdam has just started listing a few. London’s out of the race at the moment,” Rolet said. 

8:12AM

Australia claims victory in Facebook news row

Australia’s decision to make changes to its planned media law, in order to agree a deal with Facebook, made some uneasy yesterday.

The entire idea behind the code was that Facebook and Google would be forced to pay for news. But critics said one of the concessions granted to the companies earlier this week could, ultimately, provide the internet companies a get-out clause, stipulating that they would not be subject to the code if they made a “significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry.”

Today, the architect of Australian media reforms shrugged off those concerns. 

Rod Sims, the chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, told Reuters that the changes were “things that either don’t matter much or are just to clarify things that, at least in Facebook’s mind, were unclear”. 

“Whatever they say, they need news. It keeps people on their platform longer – they make more money.”

7:35AM

‘Urgent need’ to deal with Facebook’s economic power, UK competition chief says

The head of the UK’s competition watchdog Andrea Coscelli has been speaking on BBC Radio 4 this morning on the row in Australia which saw Facebook last week impose a news blackout in the country.

Yesterday, Facebook agreed to reverse its decision to block news content from the site after receiving concessions from the Australian government. 

“You need monopoly-like power to feel confident you can take such an approach,” Coscelli said. “It feels to me the bar for a company to go against a democratically-elected government is high and I would be worried if this happened in the UK.

“Secondly, I think you need to feel pretty confident that your customers have nowhere else to go. There was a backlash in Australia, you can assume a number of people feel very strongly about it. But the reality is there are ecosystems today on Facebook or Instagram that are such that it’s very difficult for people to switch away. 

“For me, it’s a signal that it is even more urgent that we need to deal with this economic power, because this is indicative of a degree of political power that comes with economic power.”

7:31AM

Bitcoin reverses losses after Dorsey doubles down

Jack Dorsey

Jack Dorsey

Credit:
GREG NASH

Bitcoin rebounded on Wednesday after a tough start to the week, receiving a boost from the news that Jack Dorsey’s Square had made another $170m (£120m) investment in the cryptocurrency.

The price of Bitcoin jumped as much as 7.2pc, nudging back above $50,000, having dropped to $45,000 yesterday amid swirling concerns over how long its rally could continue.

Last night, US fintech firm Square revealed it had become one of the biggest corporate cryptocurrency holders alongside Tesla. Analysts have suggested corporate buyers of Bitcoin could unleash a new wave of interest in the cryptocurrency, which has seen its value jump by almost 400pc over the past year. 

Bitcoin was also buoyed by comments from Ark Investment Management’s Cathie Wood overnight. Wood told Bloomberg she was “very positive on Bitcoin, very happy to see a healthy correction here”. 

7:22AM

Five things to start your day

1) Facebook’s retreat in Australia strengthens Britain’s hand There is growing pressure for the UK to follow Australia’s lead in making Facebook pay for news

2) Jack Dorsey’s Square buys $170m in Bitcoin The fintech company is now one of the biggest corporate cryptocurrency holders alongside Tesla 

3) Nato spy drones used to monitor borders pose crash risk, warn experts The crash record of large drones raises concerns as Nato prepares to fly 14 metre remote-control aircraft along members’ borders  

4) Elon Musk loses $15bn in one day after Bitcoin tweet Shares in the carmaker have fallen this week 

5) Is the electric vehicle bubble starting to burst? Electric car companies have been valued in the billions despite having no profits or even revenues 

Coming up today

9pm: Nvidia results

More Stories
48 hours in . . . Rio de Janeiro, an insider guide to South America’s tropical party city