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Economy

Financial giants tiptoe into TikTok

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The TikTok logo is pictured outside the company’s U.S. head office in Culver City, California, U.S., September 15, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake

By Chris Taylor

NEW YORK (Reuters) – As TikTok accounts focused on money gain huge followings, stodgy financial firms are wedging themselves into youth-oriented social media platforms for a piece of the action.

Independent “FinTok” influencers like Mark Tilbury (@marktilbury, 7 million followers), Humphrey Yang (@humphreytalks, 3.3 million), Tori Dunlap (@herfirst100k, 2.1 million) and Erika Kullberg (@erikakullberg, 8.4 million) have audiences that billion-dollar asset managers can only dream of.

For staid financial companies that means learning a new language from scratch: speaking in bite-sized clips with a high-quality visual style to share lessons in a lively and engaging way.

That is quite a challenge with investing concepts that are not ‘fun,’ like retirement, diversification and compound interest.

Boston-based money manager Fidelity is among the first financial giants to dip its toes into TikTok. Since setting up its account @fidelity in June 2021, it has since amassed over 14,000 followers and almost half a million likes.

“You have a very short period of time to engage people on complex topics, and that is a challenge,” said Kelly Lannan, Fidelity’s senior vice president for emerging customers.

“But TikTok has been great, because we know that’s where the next generation of customers is. So many individuals, especially younger audiences, go there for information – even before they go to their own family members.”

Indeed, when Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) & Co asked kids where they learned to handle money, 35% said social media. That could be good or bad: It can spark their interest and curiosity, but the lessons may not be right.

When investment managers T. Rowe Price queried kids about assets they would invest in, 57% chose cryptocurrency, 38% selected traditional stocks, 22% meme stocks, and 21% NFTs.

That likely reflects the headlines they are seeing, which may present a skewed reality.

BLACKROCK ENTERS THE FRAY

Money managers can show young investors rational money behaviors and how to build long-term portfolios.

BlackRock (NYSE:BLK), the first public money manager to hit $10 trillion in assets, is working on winning their trust and @blackrock has gained around 2,300 followers so far.

“TikTok is the opposite end of spectrum from the 20-page whitepapers that we are very good at producing,” laughed Rich Latour, BlackRock’s global head of content.

“But we need to target that next generation of investors, with the production values they are used to seeing, and help them wade through all the financial misinformation out there.”

Since FinTok is like its own language, BlackRock and Fidelity have put forward a few personalities who already know the lingo – younger staffers, some of whom have personal TikTok accounts, and are familiar with what content clicks with users.

Typical BlackRock fare includes popular issues like “3 Tips For Retirement,” “High Inflation,” “Why Pay Taxes?” and “ETFs Explained.”

Fidelity uses a lot of food metaphors, since everyone seems to have an appetite for that. One of its most popular posts, with over 12.6 million views: a description of how fractional investing works, using the visual of a pie.

Since Fidelity and BlackRock are TikTok newbies, both are working on establishing partnerships with FinTok influencers with massive built-in audiences. Many other financial institutions seem less certain.

But the eyeballs are convincing: Posts with the hashtag #investing have already garnered 6.5 billion views, according to a TikTok spokesperson.

Even the platform’s youngest users will eventually become working adults with investment accounts, and the nation’s biggest money managers may have no choice but to enter the FinTok world.

“Not only do I think that more companies will start to get on board, I think we all have a responsibility to be there,” Fidelity’s Lannan said.

Economy

Brazil’s govt will maintain GDP outlook for 2022 and 2023 -sources

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Consumers shop at a weekly street market in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, September 2, 2021. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

By Marcela Ayres

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s Economy Ministry will hold its economic growth outlook at 1.5% in 2022 and 2.5% in 2023, two officials told Reuters on Wednesday, forecasting activity ahead of market projections due to labor market strength and growing private investments.

The ministry will update its forecasts for economic indicators on Thursday and inflation figures are expected to be lifted from the previous outlook, in March, when the IPCA consumer price index was seen at 6.55% this year.

Data will be used in the bi-monthly income and expenditure report calculations, scheduled for Friday.

Economists have been increasing their forecasts for this year’s GDP, bringing the numbers closer to those forecast by the government.

Analysts say demand in the country has been helped by greater fiscal stimulus, following an increase in a cash transfer program to poorer people. In addition, the job market has shown signs of strength and the Omicron coronavirus wave has not knocked social mobility as feared.

However, they say expectations for 2023 have deteriorated, with aggressive central bank monetary tightening to tame inflation set to affect activity from the second half of the year onwards.

The central bank has raised interest rates to 12.75% from a record-low 2% in March 2021, and has already signaled another likely hike in June.

Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and Credit Suisse now see Brazil’s GDP rising 1.25% and 1.4% this year, respectively, against previous 0.6% and 0.2% projections. For 2023, Goldman Sachs lowered its forecast to 0.9% from 1.2%, while Credit Suisse cut its outlook to 0.9% from 2.1%.

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) projected on Tuesday that Brazil will grow 1.5% in 2022 from 0.5% earlier. However, expansion is now seen at 0.9% in 2023, from 1.8% previously.

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Economy

Factbox-U.S. companies offering abortion travel benefits

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© Reuters. Signage is seen at an Amazon facility in Staten Island, New York City, U.S., April 24, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

(Reuters) -A small but growing number of companies, including Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Inc, are rolling out policies to offer benefits to U.S. employees who may need to access abortion services as some state legislatures impose tighter restrictions.

An unprecedented leak of a draft opinion earlier this month suggests that the U.S. Supreme Court is set to vote to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion nationwide.

Following is a list of companies who have offered their U.S. employees reproductive healthcare benefits including abortion coverage or travel benefits for out-of-state abortions.

Company Benefit(s) Offered

Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) The bank has started covering travel expenses for employees

who go out of state for abortions because of newly enacted

restrictions in Texas and other places, becoming the first

major U.S. bank to make that commitment.

Yelp (NYSE:YELP) Inc The crowd-sourced review platform will extend its abortion

coverage to cover expenses for its employees and their

dependents who need to travel to another state for abortion

services.

Amazon.com The second-largest U.S. private employer told employees it

will pay up to $4,000 in travel expenses yearly for

non-life threatening medical treatments, among them

elective abortions.

Levi Strauss (NYSE:LEVI) & CO The apparel company will reimburse travel expenses for its

full- and part-time employees who need to travel to another

state for healthcare services, including abortions.

United Talent Agency The private Hollywood talent agency said it would reimburse

travel expenses related to women’s reproductive health

services that are not accessible in an employee’s state of

residence.

Tesla Inc Tesla’s Safety Net program and health insurance includes

travel and lodging support for its employees who may need

to seek healthcare services that are unavailable in their

home state, according to the company’s 2021 impact report.

[https://www.tesla.com/ns_videos/2021-tesla-impact-report.pdf

]

Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT) Microsoft Corp said that it would extend its abortion and

gender affirming care services for employees in the United

States to include travel expense assistance.

Starbucks Corp (NASDAQ:SBUX) Starbucks Corp said it will reimburse U.S. employees and

their dependents if they must travel more than 100 miles

from their homes to obtain an abortion.

Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA) Mastercard Inc said it will fund travel and lodging for

employees seeking abortions outside their home states from

June, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.

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Economy

Stocks pummeled by growth worries, U.S. dollar climbs

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2/2

© Reuters. A passerby wearing a protective face mask walks past an electric screen displaying a graph showing Japan’s Nikkei share average, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Tokyo, Japan February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Files

2/2

By Herbert Lash and Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Global stocks plunged and the dollar strengthened for the first time in four sessions on Wednesday as concerns about rising inflation on economic growth soured sentiment.

The mood was underscored by a 9% surge in British consumer prices and a faster-than-expected acceleration in inflation in Canada.

British inflation surged to its highest annual rate since 1982 as energy bills soared, while Canadian inflation rose to 6.8% last month, largely driven by rising food and shelter prices, Statistics Canada data showed.

British inflation is now the highest among major economies in Europe, but prices are rapidly rising worldwide, forcing central banks around the globe to hike interest rates and tamp down growth as suggested by a modest decline in U.S. homebuilding in April.

Soaring prices and material shortages have already hit homebuilding, the sector of the economy most sensitive to rates. But the U.S. Commerce Department report also showed a record backlog of houses to be built, indicating a decline in homebuilding potentially might be marginal.

Adding to the gloom caused by inflation were earnings results from Target Corp (NYSE:TGT), whose quarterly profit halved as it warned of a bigger margin hit this year due to rising fuel and freight costs.

Target shares plummeted 24.88%, its biggest one-day percentage drop since the “Black Monday” stock market crash on Oct. 19, 1987, a day after Walmart (NYSE:WMT) Inc warned of similar margin squeezes and saw its stock drop 11.4% for its biggest one-day percentage fall since Oct. 16, 1987.

“It was Walmart yesterday and everybody thought it was a one-off,” said Dennis Dick, head of markets structure and a proprietary trader at Bright Trading LLC in Las Vegas. “Now that Target misses earning a lot more than Walmart even did, they’re scared that consumer is not as strong as everybody think it is.”

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 2.74%, while in Europe, the pan-regional STOXX 600 index closed down 1.14%.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 3.56%, the S&P 500 lost 4.03% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 4.73%.

The declines for the S&P 500 and Dow marked their biggest one-day percentage declines since June 11, 2020.

Few analysts are willing to predict the end to selling after a bruising first five months of the year for risk assets given the magnitude of macroeconomic uncertainty, with many anticipating market volatility will be the norm for some time.

The U.S. dollar gained ground as the sell-off in risk assets boosted the safe-haven appeal of the greenback, which was on pace to snap a three-session losing streak, a day after Fed Chair Jerome Powell pledged the U.S. central bank would ratchet up rates as high as needed to combat rising inflation.

The dollar index rose 0.581%, with the euro down 0.8% to $1.0463. The Japanese yen strengthened 0.92% to 128.23 per dollar.

Treasury yields fell, although a steep path for rates remained the prevailing market consensus as the benchmark 10-year note yield hit a one-week high of 3.015% after Powell’s hawkish comments.

The yield fell 8.1 basis points to 2.890% on Wednesday after a soft U.S. housing starts number.

The German two-year government bond yield shot to 0.444%, its highest since November 2011 after more hawkish central banker comments, and last was up 1.6 basis points at 0.386%. The European Central Bank’s Klaas Knot said on Tuesday that a 50-basis-point rate hike in July was possible if inflation broadens.

Gold prices were little changed despite the risk-off environment as looming U.S. interest rate hikes and a resurgent dollar dimmed the metal’s shine.

Spot gold was up 0.1% at $1,816.06 an ounce.

Oil prices dipped in volatile trade, reversing early gains as traders grew less worried about a supply crunch after government data showed U.S. refiners ramped up output.

U.S. crude settled down 2.5% at $109.59 per barrel and Brent settled at $109.11, down 2.52% on the day.

GRAPHIC: MSCI World equity index (https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/movanzkkopa/world%20stocks.PNG)

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