© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Visitors are pictured in front of an immersive art installation titled “Machine Hallucinations — Space: Metaverse” by media artist Refik Anadol, which will be converted into NFT and auctioned online at Sotheby’s, at the Digital Art Fair, in
By Elizabeth Culliford
(Reuters) – Facebook (NASDAQ:) changed its name last week to Meta Platforms Inc to signal its focus on the metaverse, which it thinks will be the successor to the mobile internet.
The metaverse broadly refers to the idea of a shared virtual platform that people can access through different devices and where they can move through digital environments.
Well before Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s splashy demos featuring giant robots and digital time travels to ancient Rome, dozens of companies were crafting the software and hardware that could be used for this “Ready Player One” future.
The concept, which could be more than a decade away from being fully realized, will take cooperation among tech giants. In June, investment firm Roundhill Investments created an exchange traded fund (ETF) to track and profit from the work of the metaverse enablers. Hours before Facebook announced its rebrand, another firm launched its own metaverse ETF.
Here are a few of companies playing a role:
Video game platform Roblox Corporation, which went public this year, envisions the metaverse as a place where “people can come together within millions of 3D experiences to learn, work, play, create and socialize.”
Roblox aims to give users and developers ways to create digital worlds. Its CEO has also talked about future shopping and conducting business on the platform, which has its own virtual economy powered by its Robux currency.
Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:)’s CEO Satya Nadella in an earnings call this year said the company was working to build an “enterprise metaverse” as the digital and physical worlds converge in its offerings.
Microsoft, which owns Xbox and the world-building game Minecraft, is also a key player in the gaming world. Xbox boss Phil Spencer has talked about planning for “a metaverse or mixed-reality construct.”
Facebook, which will start trading as Meta Platforms on Dec 1, has said it wants to be seen as a metaverse company rather than a social media one. The tech giant, which has about 3 billion users, has been investing heavily in augmented and virtual reality and has been building out its VR environment Horizon, accessed through its Quest headsets.
Computer chip maker Nvidia (NASDAQ:) Corp built its Omniverse platform for connecting 3D worlds into a shared virtual universe. It says Omniverse, which is used for projects like creating simulations of real-world buildings and factories, is the “plumbing” on which metaverses could be built.
Unity Software Inc, which develops software used to design video games, is another company that could sell tools or technology used to build the metaverse.
Snapchat owner Snap Inc (NYSE:) has long been building custom avatars and augmented reality filters to overlay digital features on the real world. This year it unveiled its first true augmented reality glasses, available for developers to experiment with creating experiences for the spectacles.
Cloud software firm Autodesk (NASDAQ:) makes programs used by architects and engineers to design and create buildings and products. Its software is also used to build virtual worlds for gaming and entertainment.
Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings (OTC:) Ltd is the world’s largest video gaming firm by revenue and has stakes in major game studios like Epic Games and Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:). The South China Morning Post reported this year that Tencent has registered many metaverse-related trademarks for its social site QQ.
Epic is the company behind video game phenomenon Fortnite, which has moved beyond its core shooting game to social experiences like dance parties and virtual music concerts. Users pay to dress their avatars in different costumes and can build their own islands and games. Epic also owns a large gaming engine, Unreal, used to develop games and other visual effects like TV show backdrops.
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney, a vocal critic of big platforms like Apple Inc (NASDAQ:) and Alphabet (NASDAQ:) Inc’s Google, has argued the metaverse will need to be a participatory, common space.
Ecommerce giant Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:), which is the world’s largest cloud services vendor and has multiple media offerings, is also seen as a potential player in the metaverse.
Morgan Stanley: bear market rally to continue
One of Wall Street’s best-known bears, Michael Wilson, thinks the S&P 500 will rise another 7% before turning down, so the bear market rally will continue for now, writes Market Watch.
After the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite joined their strongest weekly gains since at least May last Friday, Wilson, who is chief strategist and head of U.S. equity markets at Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), told clients that there could be another 5% to 7% before the downward trajectory of U.S. stocks resumes during the latest bear market recovery.
Wilson has held a bearish view of the stock market for about 2 years and correctly predicted a sell-off this year.
Wilson explained in a research note sent out to clients on Monday that a pullback in the 38-50% drop in the stock market this year “would not seem like something unnatural, not consistent with the previous bear market rally.”
While growth concerns have triggered a sell-off in commodities and lowered inflation expectations, the fact that the U.S. economy is already slowing and heading toward recession means that any market rally is likely to be short-lived, and U.S. stocks are likely to eventually fall.
Wilson mentioned in the note that the bear market is not over yet, although it may appear otherwise in the next few weeks as the market takes the rate cut as a sign that the Fed can still manage a “soft landing” and prevent a meaningful revision to earnings forecasts.
U.S. stocks rose last week as investors now hope the slowing economy and falling commodity prices may inspire the Fed to raise interest rates less sharply. Federal funds futures, a derivative used by investors to bet on the pace of the Fed’s monetary policy changes, estimate with a high probability that the Fed will be forced to start cutting interest rates again as soon as next summer.
They also consider the lower peak in the federal funds rate: it will peak around 3.5% at the end of 2022 instead of 3.75% just a couple of weeks ago. Wilson also pointed out the drop in Treasury yields: the 10-year Treasury bond yield went from 3.230% to a low of 3.07% on Friday before rebonding again on Monday.
Wilson expects the S&P 500 index to fall to around 3,400 points if the U.S. Federal Reserve manages to get a “soft landing” for the economy — which Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said last week would be “a very difficult thing to do.”
Wilson expects that if the U.S. economy plunges into recession, the S&P 500 index will fall to around 3,000 points. In any case, Wilson believes that U.S. stocks are still highly valued because the risk premium — that is, the measure of compensation that investors receive for the extra risk of owning stocks instead of bonds — remains about 300 basis points higher than the 10-year Treasury bond yield, which is considered a “risk-free rate.”
Easing chip shortages to help Volkswagen in H2 – CEO
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Volkswagen logo is pictured at the 2022 New York International Auto Show, in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., April 13, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo
BERLIN (Reuters) – Volkswagen (ETR:VOWG_p) sees a strong second half of 2022 and expects progress in catching up with rival Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) as easing chip shortages start to offset supply chain bottlenecks and rising costs, the carmaker’s CEO said on Tuesday.
“We are earning more than ever,” Chief Executive Herbert Diess said at a works meeting, adding Volkswagen is ramping up electric vehicle volumes in its biggest markets in Germany and China thanks to easing semiconductor shortages.
This should allow the carmaker to narrow the Volkswagen-Tesla gap this year and meet its goal of becoming market leader by 2025 if it seizes the moment while the U.S. electric car maker burns cash on large investments, the CEO said.
“Elon (Musk) has to ramp up two highly complex factories in Austin and Gruenheide at the same time – as well as expand production in Shanghai. That’s going to take strength out of him,” Diess said.
Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani steps down as director of telecom arm
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, arrives to address the company’s annual general meeting in Mumbai, India July 5, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas
BENGALURU (Reuters) – Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani has stepped down as director of Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, the conglomerate’s telecom arm said on Tuesday.
Reliance Jio said https://refini.tv/3Nrs773 it has appointed Mukesh’s son and non-executive director Akash Ambani as the chairman of its board. Akash has been involved with the telecom unit since its launch in late 2016, where he started as a director.
India’s telecoms sector had been upended after the entry of Jio, which triggered a price war that forced some rivals out of the market and turned profits into losses.
Jio, which started out offering mobile teleservices, has been aggressively investing in services like internet broadband and forging ties with handset makers to launch low-cost smartphones and providing 5G services.
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