October 2017


Labour market conditions have played major role in the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decision this year

Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) stock is closely watched by investors when the jobs week arrives. Jobs report is expected to be released on Friday for September. Federal Reserve has been very sensitive towards its monetary policy by the labor market conditions. Bank of America remains the biggest beneficiary amongst the major US banks by the contractionary monetary policy.

Last jobs report was disappointing for the Federal Reserve and the US economy. However, the unemployment rate remains constant to its record lows below 5%. The Federal Reserve is expected to increase the interest rates as soon as December, according to majority of the analysts. However, the argument remains if the US economy has enough growth to withstand the rise in rates. The last rate hike was implemented in December 2015, which was the first rate hike since the financial crisis.

Banks have struggled under the low interest rate environment, particularly the ones with bigger loan portfolios. Bank of America has half of its net income driven from net interest margins. With low rates, the net interest margin is smaller and banks generate low profits. Therefore, Bank of America’s profits were crushed by low rates, and the bank is expected to be the biggest beneficiary with higher rates.

The stock has an upward trend as the price charts witness greater highs and greater lows. The bank recently saw a drop in its stock price due to sliding banking sector. Also, Wells Fargo scandal kept big banks under spotlight from its fake account scandal, but rate hike can make the investors forget the past and allow them to focus on potential earnings for the future.

Federal Reserve chairperson Janet Yellen gave hawkish signals in the last FOMC meeting and hinted rate hike in December assuming a decent jobs report number. Several analysts expect a major monetary decision after the US presidential elections in November.

Seems like Sony Corp (SNE) wants to lock horns with other VR manufacturers on PC

Sony Corp (NYSE: SNE) has expressed great interest in seeing its PlayStation VR headset launch on PC. The firm’s virtual reality headset is currently being primed and readied for an official worldwide launch in October for PlayStation 4. However, the company believes that there is great potential to be had with a PC-compatible PlayStation VR headset as well, despite the fact that the Windows platform is already expecting the arrival of two major hitters: Oculus Rift and HTC Vive this year.

Speaking with Nikkei, Senior Vice President at Sony Computer Entertainment, Masayasu Ito explained that there are already a lot of common hardware components between the PlayStation 4 and PC. Tweaking PlayStation VR to enable support for PC is a “possibility.” That being said, Sony is currently focused on its VR content and the launch lineup for fall; hence, is not ready to make any announcements. Ito, however, stated that consumers can expect the virtual reality device to expand into “various fields” with time.

Placing all three devices side-by-side, PlayStation VR is the weakest and cheapest of the lot. According to early reports and considering the product’s specifications, PlayStation VR is going to offer a low-end VR experience. In comparison, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are not only expensive but also demand a sizable rig (worth $1,000+) to run.

The magic with the PlayStation VR is that its base-device – PlayStation 4 – is already owned by millions out there. This essentially makes the headset a plug-n-play product, without the hassle of upgrading a system. If PlayStation VR does indeed arrive on PC, it will be a way for consumers to experience a low-end VR experience.

To be clear, PlayStation VR may be cheap, but its VR quality is not at all rubbish. When put against the likes of HTC Vive, however, it’s not that amazing as well. It falls somewhere between, and the associated games will be the final say on how good Sony’s VR offering is.



Google is going to roll out Instant Tethering along with Google Play Services v10.2

Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) plans to roll out “Instant Tethering” along with Google Play Services 10.2. Users who have already received the new addition said that this has allowed them to connect to devices using the same Google account without a connection, which is, in a way, the evolution of Wi-Fi hotspot.

Users will no longer need to turn on Wi-FI hotspot by touching the phone; things would be easier thanks to Instant Tethering. With one main Google account, users would be able to connect easily to other devices. The feature will work via Bluetooth; if users are not able to log onto Wi-Fi, a pop-up will automatically show up which will ask them if they would like to back online through their cellular Internet connection. With one tap on the connect button, they will be able to use the Internet on any other device around them.

Instant tethering will not need additional information from users to set up. Unluckily, this handy feature is not available for all Android users at the moment. In some cases, it might not even appear if users do not have the updated version of Google Play Services. Owners of the tech giant’s Pixel and Nexus phones can enjoy this feature, which are running the latest version of Android Nougat 7.1.1. as it will first come to those devices.

Keep your fingers crossed as this feature might just come to other Android-powered devices and the company does not keep it exclusive to its house products. Andreas Proschofsky, Editor at German publication made a post on Google+ which read: “Google Play Services 10.2 has started to roll out and it’s introducing a pretty nifty new feature: Instant tethering. Basically it works like that: If-say-your tablet has no data connection and you also have a phone connected to the same Google account, it can automatically offer to use the data conn3ction of the p[hone- zero setup necessary, just a confirmation.”

The redesigned app comes with 3D touch support and a new Explore feed

Wikipedia finally updated its iOS app, and there is no denying the fact that it offers a breath of fresh air with all the new features it has to offer. The redesigned app gives users the ability to find content that they would otherwise miss quite easily. Additionally, it puts all of iOS 9’s features to good use, including Spotlight Search and 3D Touch.

It is quite evident that Wikipedia wished to take full advantage of the recent mobile revolution. The company already gave users the ability to edit articles and benefit from online access, and even integrated social elements; but it did not want to stop just there.

While developing the app, Wikipedia was keen on making personalization its first priority. The app comes equipped with an all new Explore Feed which gives users the ability to read some of the most popular articles and offers picture of the day along with featured articles.  

On the other hand, it makes effective use of Apple’s 3D Touch technology, allowing users to gain access to quick features like reading random articles and open search.

As amazing as the new Wikipedia app for iOS seems, only time will tell whether it will affect the apps’ popularity. But one thing is for certain, it will gain a lot of attention; and that is a fact.

Tesla hosts an event in which it delivers first six Model X SUVs to the reservation holders in China

Last week, The Country Caller reported that Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) held Model X launch event in Beijing, inviting 400 guests while making China the first Asian market to receive the vehicle. However, deliveries of the premium SUV for the Chinese reservation holders do not start until yesterday.

Electrek reported Friday that Tesla’s stores and service locations, known as “experience centers” in the Chinese market, are receiving the falcon-wing door vehicles. The electric vehicle (EV) maker hosted a ‘delivery ceremony’ for first six Model X reservation holders in the country at the Beijing Golden Port gallery.

Tesla VP for Asia Pacific, Ren Yuxiang, and Tesla China General Manager, Zhu Xiaotong, were present during the event and personally gave the keys of the Model X to six customers in front of other guests and local media. Mr. Yuxiang stated during the event that the all-electric SUV is the next Tesla car to “accelerate the transition to sustainable energy world.” The automaker’s corporate vision for technologies represent the essence of breakthroughs, bold innovations and the pursuit for Tesla customers to have a luxurious, futuristic auto experience, he added.

Interestingly, five of the first six owners opted for Model X in white color, which is popular in the country as it symbolizes brightness, fulfillment, and purity in the Chinese culture. The company also shed lights on its progress in the world’s largest auto market in the past two years. It has 18 stores and galleries, 7 service centers, 92 Supercharger stations and about 500 Destination Charging locations across China.

In its early days in the region, Tesla faced problem in selling its vehicles partly due to a misconception that it is difficult to charge an EV. Thus, it started ‘Tesla Charging Partners Program’ in the market in April to promote the new Chinese EV charging standard.

According to a Tesla Motors Club (TMC) thread, there were 2,632 Model X reservation holders from China and 738 customers from Hong Kong before the vehicle’s launch last September. All of these pre-orders were production versions of the Model X.

China faces key air pollution issue and in its mission to make the country green, the SUV’s HEPA air filtration system, which includes the Bioweapon Defense Mode, should drive sales for Tesla.

If you’re old school and still rent or buy DVDs, then Netflix application is for you

Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:NFLX) has launched an iOS application for customers that is a subsitute for renting or buying Blu-ray movies and DVDs. The company launched its rental service 20 years ago and has made numerous changes to its service since then. However, it seems to stick to its roots. The company announced worldwide access to streaming at the CES in 2016 but for this year, it has focused on DVD rental consumers.

Most of the users do not prefer to buy DVDs these days but ironically enough, the service still works and is even profitable. Thus, there is someone out there who’d like to stay old school or simply enjoy a collection. Netflix has an exclusive application for the users with various handy tools and features. The application does not just allow users to see and make order, but even keep track of whether their discs have been returned or being shipped to them. Recommendation tool is also available along with search and browse.

For now, this application is sadly only available for Apple users as it is only for iOS. Ironically enough, the number of users that buy DVD keeps going low but the addition of Blu-ray might help in that department. The application is for the streaming services, platform. The management of DVD queue should not be new to many users as it was available in the company’s mobile application but was removed in 2011. The removal was made so that the company could solely focus on online streaming.

Almost four million users still use the DVD shipment service of Netflix, thus an exclusive platform is necessary. This service is also ideal for movies and TV shows that are not available on the online platform anymore, which is mainly because the company has trouble attainin the licenses for the particular content. iOS users interested in the DVD service can download the application on their phones now and order away.

A single-player intervention by the developer just might dignify the $60 price tag

Star Wars Battlefront is a game that launched with positive reactions regarding its gameplay and its authenticity to the Star Wars franchise, but there was one core problem that fans couldn’t stop talking about. The game lacked a single-player mode, and in a rich universe like Star Wars, it was an opportunity missed to tell a great story. 

Moreover, many felt that its $60 price tag was unjustified given its accessible multiplayer that was intentionally tailored to attract casual players. The game and its price tag just didn’t stick with the hardcore players. Next year, EA will be releasing a sequel to the game and to everyone’s delight, there is now a single-player element. Talking about the reception of the first game, EA’s Justin McCully spoke about the team’s efforts towards building a single-player mode. 

“We heard the fans loud and clear that the multiplayer was great, but it wasn’t enough and they wanted that complete package. So the team has been very focused on delivering that single-player element.” 

EA hasn’t detailed Battlefront 2 except confirm that it will launch sometime in the last quarter of 2017. Given that next year will also play host to the release of Star Wars: Episode VIII movie, we can expect to see some tie-ins with the movie. Star Wars: Rogue One that released in theaters this week has a DLC inspired by the movie’s event for Star Wars Battlefront.

Google aims to apply its machine learning engine ‘TensorFlow’ to determine whether or not artificial Intelligence systems can be programmed and trained to create music and videos on their own.

During the Moogfest musical and technology festival held in North Carolina, Alphabet Inc.’s (NADAQ:GOOGL) artificial intelligence researcher, Douglas Eck, stated that the company would collaborate with a new group to figure out if artificial intelligence can truly be creative and produce on its own. The audience at the Moogfest was given a brief about what can be expected from the highly promising collaboration.

The collaboration involves Magenta utilizing Google’s machine learning engine ‘TensorFlow’, enabling artificial intelligence systems to cope with the task of independently creating on their own. The main aim of the collaboration is to design working software that can train artificial intelligence systems to create musical compositions and artistic videos. This will be a major coup if the collaboration successfully accomplishes this task due to the technicalities involved.

Google is well aware that even the most advanced artificial intelligence systems cannot completely imitate the styles and techniques of existing artists and musicians. So, it’s a huge task to work on system that enables artificial intelligence software to produce entirely original ideas on its own.

The goal of the collaboration is to develop an artificial intelligence system that can independently create “musical chills” by implementing new musical pieces on a regular basis while the users sit back and relax in the comfort of their homes. The software is still in its early development stages, so might require some sort of human involvement to function. The task of programming a machine to be completely independent is extremely difficult, so the program will need some time to achieve the collaboration’s goal and evolve accordingly.

Google will start developing software tools to help their own team and other researchers to determine the creative potential of artificial intelligence systems. The first step for Google is to develop and launch a new program that assists researchers to transfer data from music files into TensorFlow, allowing the system to learn more about the musical styles and harness knowledge.  

The inspiration for the new project comes from Google’s brain project ‘Google DeepDream’, where artificial intelligence systems were trained to fill the missing gaps in pictures and complete image databases. From there, Google wanted to know if it could stretch its capabilities and collaborate to create an artificial intelligence system that can make exciting music. While the idea of machines replacing chart topping musical artists is exciting and stretches the imagination of a developer, this is highly unlikely to be achieved anytime soon. Google believes in this project and aims to break the boundaries set for artificial intelligence.

Michael Kors Q1 earnings result were quite ahead of consensus but concerns regarding the long term have the stock trading lower than yesterday’s levels

Michael Kors Holdings Ltd (NYSE:KORS) Q1 earnings result were quite ahead of consensus but concerns regarding the long term have the stock trading lower than yesterday’s levels. KORS announced its first quarterly earnings reports for fiscal year 2017. The report was quite comfortable ahead of consensus estimates across the board and has beaten revenue and EPS estimates by quite a margin, however, it did not keep Piper Jaffray analyst, Erinn Murphy from cutting the price target down. Ms. Murphy sees the beat as a positive but remains concerned regarding the long term prospects.

The company’s Q1 earnings print had an EPS of $0.88 which was very comfortably ahead of the consensus. The Street estimate for EPS was $0.74 and was beaten by 14 cents. Revenue, on the other hand was reported at $987.9 million which was very comfortable ahead of the street estimate of $953.04 million.

In her report, analyst Murphy explains that KORS currently trades at a very lucrative price and makes for a great investment opportunity. The company’s balance sheet shows improved discipline and operational improvements along with significant cost cuts in key areas which can be very important in the long run. The capital expenditure has also declined significantly and during the recent meetings the possibility of cutting down discount offers has been of central importance. KORS, however, still has quite a long way to go and it wouldn’t be easy to sustain such dramatic measures over a longer period of time. Macro headwinds are also likely to hinder progress. Given the current situation, the analyst has cut the price target down to $64 from $64 but has maintained her overweight rating.

The analyst opinion for the stock has two Buy, five Outperform and 18 Hold ratings with an average rating of 2.64. The stock now trades at a price of $49.29 after gaining 1.19% in the premarket.

Money could be collected from posts for monetizing purpose of any charitable cost

Reported initially by The Verge, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is exploring possible options to allow users to earn from the posts that they make on Facebook, by a bunch of means to make profit indicated by a user survey.

Some of the methods for users to make money on Facebook included a collecting tin for posts, taking a cut of the ads that Facebook displays for every user, along with branded content as well. The user survey, that was recently distributed, comes right after Facebook announced new ways to monetize its Instant Articles platforms.

Latest developments have led to experts believing that Facebook might be on to more methods of monetizing its platform more effectively and efficiently. However, users also earning profits were not earlier thought to be part of the platform. Profits are not only for the sake of profits either, as even supporting charitable causes by means of collections on posts is also thought to be on the table.

The survey also featured queries about a “Call to Action” button, which could also be used to make donations. Moreover, users could be able to not only organize gatherings for new initiatives, but also strengthen or revitalize older ones. It is not yet clear whether the options would be available for users around the world, as the surveys have only been targeted at a small bunch of verified users.

Facebook recently opened its Instant Articles platform to all publishers around the world, and the company also changed its policy regarding the sponsored content on the pages of celebrities and brands. The competition for real-time updates posted by users has really gathered pace lately. Facebook’s live video streaming was just the first step in the company’s vision to hog all the current and just-in news posted by users on all platforms. Allowing them to make money might not be in line with the conventional idea of making money that Facebook has employed so far, but it might allow them to create a greater space for their product in users’ lives; which would then pay off big time in the long run as well.