NYSE to reopen San Francisco-based options floor next Monday; Wall Street uniform to get a new accessory – the face mask

May 1, 2020

First Read

Hits & Takes
By JLN Staff

ICE has announced the names of the organizations to which it was donating $10 million dollars to fight the COVID-19 outbreak in 35 cities around the world.

The employer of Ray McKenzie, a company called Apple, is supporting the worldwide response to COVID-19. They have now sourced over 20M masks through their supply chain.

Eurex’s Matt Scharpf is holding weekly online concerts in support of a different charity every week and has raised $20,000 to date. You can follow him on his Facebook Live shows weekly, every Thursday night at 7 pm at @matthewscharpfmusic. He said since he is a military brat and songwriter the charity this week is Songwriting with Soldiers (www.songwritingwithsoldiers.org) where returning vets team up with pro songwriters to create tunes for potential recording and album releases. This week he will be playing his original music. Also, if you have a suggestion for a charity, reach out to him.

Nasdaq is looking for a product manager digital assets & blockchain in Stockholm.

Daily trading volume for ICE 3M SONIA futures this month has been growing rapidly with Apr 3 volume of 15,774, Apr 9 volume of 24,254, Apr 17 volume of 46,729 and Apr 24 volume of 103,058, which represented a new volume record.

Patrick Thornton-Smith, the executive director at Cult Wines Ltd, has a commentary about “How to Trade Wine.” ~JJL


Among all the ICE news today, Intercontinental Exchange also approved a second quarter dividend of $0.30 per Share, up 9% from the $0.275 per share dividend paid in the second quarter of 2019. The cash dividend is payable on June 30, 2020 to stockholders of record as of June 16, 2020. The ex-dividend date is June 15, 2020.~SR

Cboe is justifiably excited about the extension of its partnership with FTSE Russell. Cboe posted about the benefits of the new partnership yesterday. For one example, measuring market sentiment between the VIX and the Cboe Russell 2000 (RVX): “By comparing the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX Index), which is based on the S&P 500 Index, with the Cboe Russell 2000 Volatility Index (RVX), we see the RVX Index on average carries a 3.30 premium over the VIX Index. The spread recently peaked at 14.61 on March 16, 2020.”~MR


Intercontinental Exchange Commits $10 Million to Support COVID-19 Response Efforts Around the World
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE:ICE), a leading operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of data and listings services, today announced the names of a number of the organizations receiving grants as part of the company’s previously announced $10 million commitment to those on the front line bringing relief to people in need amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The contributions represent much-needed financial support in each of the 35 cities around the world where ICE has offices.

*****Thirty-five cities are getting support. Incredible!~JJL


How to Fund the Search for a COVID-19 Vaccine and Boost the Recovery
Tracy Alloway and Joe Weisenthal – Bloomberg
The hunt is on for a clinical therapy to prevent or treat COVID-19. But what’s the best way to go about this? How can governments accelerate this process? And what can governments do now to help a robust economic recovery? On this week’s Odd Lots, we speak with Bill Janeway, an economist and venture capitalist, who has written extensively on how the government can accelerate innovation by the private sector. He explains how his thoughts translate into the medical space and the post-crisis economy overall.

******I suggest the innovative methodology recommended by Dr. Andrew Lo in his book “Adaptive Markets.” Lo is a winner of the Melamed-Arditti Award and a Stanford professor. His book is brilliant, and an exceptional read for anyone who trades or invests, and has a suggestion for how to invest successfully and solve problems of humanity.~JJL


Many Museums Won’t Survive the Virus. How Do You Close One Down? Institutions will face ethical and sometimes legal obligations to transfer their collections elsewhere. The process can be costly and time-consuming, experts say.
Nina Siegal – NY Times
The Charles Dickens Museum in London has fallen on hard times. For 95 years, the collection, in the home of the “Oliver Twist” and “Great Expectations” author, has been financed by ticket sales and other earned income. But with no visitors since March, its director fears that its temporary closure could become permanent.

*****Museums and many nonprofits are having a really hard time.~JJL


Private Membership Clubs Still Collect Dues, Despite Closures; As Covid-19 slogs on, the economics of such social clubs as Soho House and the Battery require member engagement—and funds—to ensure they make it to the other side of the pandemic.
Hannah Elliott – Bloomberg
If you ask multiple Soho House members how they feel about the club’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, you’ll get a panoply of opinions. “Soho House thinks they can charge people memberships during this pandemic? That is insane,” LNA Clothing Chief Executive Officer Ashley Glasson texted me the other day. “I was having a bad day, and this just really put me over the edge.”

*****You are either a member of the club and support it, or you are not.~JJL


Morning Money Virtual Interview with Adena Friedman, NASDAQ CEO & President

*****We missed this video interview yesterday.~JJL


Wednesday’s Top Three
Our top story Wednesday was Propllr founder Josh Inglis’s piece in LinkedIn, Why I withdrew Propllr’s app for $150k in PPP loans. Second was Bands, CQG offer access to Chinese markets from FOW. (Bands is the Hong Kong broker Bands Financial.) Third was the press release Cboe Global Markets and FTSE Russell Extend Licensing Agreement Through 2030


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Lead Stories

NYSE to reopen San Francisco-based options floor next Monday
John McCrank – Reuters
The New York Stock Exchange said on Tuesday its NYSE Arca Options trading floor in San Francisco would partially reopen next Monday but its New York-based trading floors would remain closed for now, having been shut since March 23 due to the coronavirus crisis.

*****BOX will also open its trading floor in Chicago on Monday, May 4.~JJL

Wall Street uniform to get a new accessory – the face mask
Scott Murdoch, Maya Nikolaeva, Matt Scuffham – Reuters
Face masks, temperature checks and packaged sandwiches could all become part of the daily routine for bankers as their employers work out how to get them safely back into the office.

CME reports record revenue on trading surge; CME Chairman and CEO Terry Duffy said the exchange performed well despite the March closure of its Chicago trading floors as a result of the pandemic.
Lynne Marek – Crain’s Chicago Business
CME Group, the biggest futures exchange operator in the world, reported record first-quarter revenue as the coronavirus pandemic upended economies worldwide, spooked financial markets and drove record trading volume. The Chicago company’s revenue for the quarter surged 29 percent to $1.52 billion over the same period last year and pushed operating income up 52 percent to a record $959.9 million, CME said in a statement. Average trading volume for the quarter was 45 percent higher.

BlackRock’s growing clout carries risks for asset manager; Group faces increased scrutiny as central banks ask it to help run stimulus packages
Richard Henderson and Robin Wigglesworth – FT
When the 1907 financial crisis threatened to plunge America into a depression, John Pierpont Morgan locked the country’s top bankers into his cavernous Manhattan study until they struck a deal to end the turmoil.

Oil Is the Wedge That Could Knock Over the World; What’s happening to oil now will affect us for decades.
Mark Gongloff – Bloomberg
It’s pretty tough for the average humanoid to get too worked up about oil prices collapsing. Oh no, gas will be cheap, and oil companies and brutal dictatorships will go broke? How do we stop it, asked no one ever. But what’s happening in the oil market today could affect the planet for generations. For one thing, those aforementioned dictatorships and other, less-brutal petro-states could turn into failed states, warns Meghan O’Sullivan, in one of three features today on energy’s future. Preventing that, and helping the rest of the world navigate the post-Covid-19 energy wasteland, could be a big opportunity for the U.S. to regain the global leadership role it recently abandoned.

Powell Voices Worry About Long-Term Economic Damage From Virus
Rich Miller – Bloomberg
Fed chairman urges Congress to do more to aid battered economy; Powell stresses the Fed is in no hurry to raise interest rates
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell voiced concern that the coronavirus crisis could leave permanent scars on the U.S. economy and said policy makers of all stripes needed to do more to limit the damage.

Volatile Times Buoys Futures Trading on the CME
Bill Alpert – Barrons
Revenue for the quarter ended in March rose 34% from the previous quarter and 29% year over year, to $1.5 billion. That produced earnings of $2.33 a share—about a dime above the consensus estimate.

Financial flexibility and market dislocations
Jamie Powell – FT
Financial resilience has become something of a buzzphrase during the economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis. Those businesses levered to the hilt, or with a long-history of negative cash flow, or both, have struggled to access the financial markets except on usurious terms. Conversely, seemingly less aggressive businesses with cash buffers and functional business models have accessed financing with relative ease.

Coronavirus leads to ‘staggering’ drop in global energy demand; Fall could be the equivalent of India’s total annual consumption, IEA says
Leslie Hook and Anjli Raval – FT
The coronavirus outbreak has caused a “staggering” drop in global energy demand, equivalent to India’s total annual consumption, according to a new analysis that identified the pandemic as the biggest shock to the energy system since the second world war.

ETFs have proved critics wrong during the crisis; Popular funds have survived a period of intense market stress
The editorial board – FT
In the decade since a 2008 crisis exacerbated by newfangled credit derivatives, exchange traded funds have often been flagged as the next area that would demonstrate the destructive power of financial innovation gone wrong. Many pointed to the potential for a liquidity mismatch in funds that offer equity-like ease of price discovery but may contain bundles of illiquid assets such as junk bonds. However, when placed under enormous strain over the past few months, ETFs have mostly managed to prove their critics wrong.

Trudeau Takes Different Tack Than Trump on Meat-Plant Closures
Kait Bolongaro and Jen Skerritt – WSJ
Canada and U.S. both contending with beef supply shortages; Prime minister vows to prioritize worker safety over supply
The Canadian government won’t force meat-processing plants to stay open as essential services if the health of workers is at risk, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, taking a different approach to supply shortages than the Trump administration.

Meat plant workers to Trump: Employees aren’t going to show up
CNN Business
Meat-processing plant workers are concerned about President Donald Trump’s executive order that compels plants to remain open during the coronavirus pandemic. Meat plant employees are among America’s most vulnerable workers, and some say they expect staff will refuse to come to work.

Not All Companies Are Abandoning Interns; Some corporations are making over-and-above investments to support student internships and cooperative programs.
WSJ – Letters
“Students’ Summer-Internship Plans Fade” (Management, April 23) struck a timely chord. Our organization, UIDP, supports university-industry research partnerships; nurturing the talent pipeline is a critical element of these relationships. Some corporations are making over-and-above investments to support student internships and cooperative programs. Companies such as Microsoft are creating entirely virtual internship programs. Many are shipping secure equipment to enable virtual internships, sharing open-innovation research platforms to fuel collaboration, and exploring the use of digital tools to bring students into the workflow in new, unprecedented ways.

Is This a Liquidity Crisis or a Solvency Crisis? It Matters to Fed; If central bank is too concerned about getting its money back, it may shun weaker companies
Greg Ip – WSJ
Is the economy facing a liquidity crisis, or a solvency crisis? The distinction will determine how important the Federal Reserve is to returning the economy to health. In a liquidity crisis, otherwise healthy firms collapse because they can’t access credit. The Fed can resolve such a crisis because it can print and lend unlimited amounts of money. In a solvency crisis, companies can’t survive no matter how much they can borrow: they need more revenue. The Fed can’t solve that.

Citi Finds Top Women Are Leaving for Different Reasons Than Men; The bank is using employee surveys to predict attrition and pursue diversity.
Jennifer Surane – Bloomberg
Citigroup Inc., which has been focused on adding women to its top ranks as it seeks to improve its company-wide pay gap, found that senior men and women leaving the bank cite very different reasons.

Intercontinental Exchange Reports Record First Quarter 2020
Intercontinental Exchange
Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE: ICE), a leading operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of data and listing services, today reported financial results for the first quarter of 2020. For the quarter ended March 31, 2020, consolidated net income attributable to ICE was $650 million on $1.6 billion of consolidated revenues, less transaction-based expenses. First quarter GAAP diluted earnings per share (EPS) were $1.17. Adjusted net income attributable to ICE was $708 million in the first quarter and adjusted diluted EPS were $1.28. Please refer to the reconciliation of non-GAAP financial measures included in this press release for more information on our adjusted operating expenses, adjusted operating income, adjusted operating margin, adjusted net income, adjusted diluted EPS and free cash flow.

SocGen slumps to loss as market turmoil wrongfoots traders; French bank ‘penalised heavily’ by volatility as equity trading arm’s revenues collapse 98.7%
David Keohane – FT
Société Générale slumped to a loss in the first quarter as the market turmoil that benefited rival lenders wrongfooted its traders. The bank, which published its results almost a week earlier than expected, said that it had been “penalised heavily by” volatile market conditions during a quarter in which the coronavirus pandemic forced major economies into lockdown.

London Stock Exchange committed to Refinitiv deal in pandemic-hit markets
Huw Jones – Reuters
The London Stock Exchange said on Tuesday it was committed to completing its $27 billion takeover of data company Refinitiv in the second half of the year, with no plans to revise its savings targets for the deal as a deep recession beckons.


Everything You Need To Know About Coronavirus Causing Blood Clots
Julia Ries – HuffPost Life
Doctors around the world are trying to make sense of the wide range of effects that COVID-19 — the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — can have on the body. Most people associate the infection with respiratory symptoms — fever, cough, fatigue. But many patients who contract the virus experience neurological symptoms such as headache and dizziness, as well as heart issues, kidney complications and, most recently, blood clotting (also called coagulation).

Strong customer authentication and coronavirus
In the exceptional circumstances of the Covid crisis, we are giving the industry an additional 6 months to implement strong customer authentication (SCA) for e-commerce. This will minimise potential disruption to consumers and merchants. The new timeline of 14 September 2021 replaces the 14 March 2021 date.

New York Dairy Farmers Feel the Squeeze From Coronavirus as Milk Sales Dry Up; Outbreak brings major reversal to businesses; ‘get back to the basics and try to squeak through to 2021’
Jimmy Vielkind – WSJ
Dairy farmers in upstate New York who faced the wrenching task of dumping their milk earlier this month as the novel coronavirus spread are now confronting a grim future: months of low prices that could squeeze them out of business.

Africa’s Covid-19 response is a glimpse of how things could be different; Leaders acted swiftly as they watched richer countries’ health systems crumple
David Pilling – FT
The Veronica Bucket is a dustbin-sized plastic receptacle with a tap attached and a bowl to collect waste water. As during the Ebola outbreak, the bucket, invented by Veronica Bekoe, a Ghanaian public health official, is appearing outside offices and malls, and in villages and slums all over west Africa. An effective means of enabling people to wash their hands in the absence of running water, it typifies the ingenuity and seriousness of Africa’s efforts against Covid-19.

Academics probe links between coronavirus and toxic air pollution; Studies suggest correlation between dangerous levels of particulate matter and Covid-19 mortality rates
Anna Gross and Leslie Hook -FT
Air pollution has blighted the Italian city of Milan for years. Now the problem has taken on a more sombre significance, as studies suggest links between high levels of air pollution and coronavirus mortality rates.

How coronavirus broke America’s healthcare system; The US spends $3.6tn a year on health. Why does the pandemic threaten so many of its hospitals?
Leslie Hook and Hannah Kuchler – FT
When coronavirus hit the east coast of the United States at the start of March, Interfaith Medical Center unexpectedly found itself on the front line. The hospital’s modest brick buildings serve a low-income community in Brooklyn. As New York became the national epicentre of the disease and the city went into lockdown, Covid-19 patients started flooding in.

Remdesivir: Five things to know about the antiviral drug; Gilead’s potential coronavirus treatment stirs investor hopes but evidence on effectiveness is mixed
Hannah Kuchler and Donato Paolo Mancini – FT
Scientists are examining dozens of drugs as possible treatments for coronavirus. But the fortunes of one — Gilead Science’s remdesivir — has moved global financial markets.

Children Don’t Pass Covid-19 to Adults, Report Indicates
Andrew Davis – Bloomberg
High numbers of infected children remain asymptomatic; Few newborns have been infected with virus and tend to recover
Sign up here for our daily coronavirus newsletter on what you need to know, and subscribe to our Covid-19 podcast for the latest news and analysis. Children contract the coronavirus less often and with less severity than the general population, and there doesn’t appear to be cases of a child passing Covid-19 to an adult, according to a new report.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

NYSE quietly opened its coronavirus-shut doors to facilitate IPO
Thornton McEnery – NY Post
The New York Stock Exchange quietly used its trading floor to take a company public late last month — days after it had shuttered the famous pit because of a coronavirus outbreak, The Post has learned.

Japan Exchange Group, Inc. and Consolidated Subsidiaries; Consolidated financial results for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020 (Based on IFRS), unaudited

Notice of Partial Amendment to the Articles of Incorporation
Japan Exchange Group, Inc. (hereinafter “JPX”) resolved to propose a “Partial Amendment to the Articles of Incorporation” for resolution at the 19th Annual General Shareholders Meeting planned for June 20, 2020. Details are as follows.

“ETFs, faster and cheaper”: TSE Begins Development of ETF RFQ Trading Platform “CONNEQTOR” for Market Use
With the aim of improving ETF liquidity, Tokyo Stock Exchange begins develop of ETF RFQ Trading Platform “CONNEQTOR” for Market Use and publishes press release today.

JPX response to spread of novel coronavirus
In regard to the spread of the novel coronavirus, Japan Exchange Group (JPX) understands the need to fulfil its duty as public infrastructure by ensuring continued smooth operation of the market. For this reason, JPX has responded by establishing a BCP (Business Continuity Plan) Emergency Headquarters headed by Group CEO Kiyota Akira and implementing the following measures.

Candidates for Directors, etc.
We hereby announce that Japan Exchange Group, Inc. (JPX) and its subsidiaries have nominated candidates for directors, etc. JPX and its subsidiaries will put forth the following candidates for approval at their respective annual general shareholders meetings and ordinary general meeting of members, etc. to be held on June 17, 2020. The new candidates are as follows.

Accountability Levels and Large Trader Reporting Requirements in Connection with the Initial Listing of the Options on One-Month SOFR Futures Contract
CME Group
In connection with the listing of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. (“CME”) Options on One-Month SOFR Futures contract (the “Options”) on trade date Monday, May 4, 2020 (see SER-8581 published April 7, 2020), please note below and in Appendix C of CME Submission No. 20-144 the corresponding accountability levels (Rule 560), aggregation allocations (Rule 559.D) and reportable level (Rule 561) for the Options.

Performance Bond Requirements: Interest Rate Margins – Effective April 30, 2020
To Clearing Member Firms; Chief Financial Officers; Back Office Managers; Margin Managers
CME Group
As per the normal review of market volatility to ensure adequate collateral coverage, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc., Clearing House Risk Management staff approved the performance bond requirements for the following products listed in the advisory at the link below.

MTS launches new unsecured money market trading platform, MTS Depo
London Stock Exchange Group
MTS launches new unsecured money market trading platform, MTS Depo; Electronic unsecured money market trading now available for dealers across Europe on the same platform as MTS Repo; First trade executed and settled between two Italian banks
Launch reflects growing demand for electronic trading in unsecured money markets across Europe
MTS, part of London Stock Exchange Group, has launched MTS Depo, a new electronic multilateral exchange system for European unsecured money market trading denominated in Euros. Trading has already begun with an overnight transaction executed between two Italian banks.

Intercontinental Exchange Launches ICE Select for Consolidated Access to ICE Bonds Liquidity and Protocols
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc.
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE:ICE), a leading operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of data and listings services, today announced the launch of ICE Select, an application which provides connectivity to the entire ICE Fixed Income ecosystem, including the ICE Bonds execution platforms and ICE Data Services evaluated pricing and analytics. ICE Select has also been integrated with leading order management systems, enabling further integration into important trade desk workflow. Customers will also have access to liquidity and execution protocols from ICE Bonds via the ICE ETF Hub later this year.

Deutsche Börse Group with a strong start to the year in an extraordinary environment
Deutsche Börse Group
Overview of quarterly results
Net sales in Q1 / 2020 increased significantly due to the significantly higher market volatility by 27 percent to EUR 914.8 million; Adjusted operating costs were EUR 291.1 million, which corresponds to an increase of 17 percent due to consolidation and investment.

Eurex Exchange Readiness Newsflash | Eurex Exchange’s T7 Release 8.1 – Publication of documentation
With this Newsflash we would like to highlight the system documentation for T7 Release 8.1 available on the Eurex website www.eurexchange.com.

Fixed income futures: Adjustment of the obligations for performance for the delivery of Euro-Fixed Income futures contracts on debt securities of the Federal Republic of Germany
The Management Board of Eurex Deutschland took the following decision with effect from 9 June 2020:

Turquoise chief says industry profile has changed as block trading soars; Robert Barnes, CEO of LSEG’s Turquoise, tells The TRADE that there has been an underlying change in how business is getting done.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
The volatility sparked by the global coronavirus pandemic has led to a shift in how traders are interacting with larger-sized trades, the chief executive of the London Stock Exchange Group’s (LSEG) Turquoise has said.


Eventus Systems names four professionals to key positions, including CFO and VP of Engineering
Press Release
Eventus Systems, Inc., a multi-award winning global trade surveillance and risk management software platform provider, announced today the appointment of four seasoned finance, market and technology professionals who collectively bring 80 years of experience to key positions. The firm has appointed Perry Barth as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Dan Burton as Vice President of Engineering, Nolan Schiff as Director of Relationship Management and Sharad Kumar as Sales Engineer.

TransFICC adds ING and HSBC as investors amid plans to launch buy-side service; Recent funding round was led by Albion VC, with HSBC and ING Ventures, as TransFICC eyes launch of buy-side platform.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Fixed income and derivatives venue connectivity specialist TransFICC has secured £5.75 million in a recent funding round which included HSBC and ING, as it confirms plans to roll out a buy-side version of its flagship API platform.

BMLL to deliverer metrics through Derived Data desktop application on OpenFin; OpenFin and BMLL have teamed up to build a Derived Data desktop application through the OpenFin’s operating system.
Kiays Khalil – The Trade
BMLL Technologies has said it will build a Derived Data desktop application on the OpenFin’s operating system under a new partnership.

BMLL builds Derived Data desktop application on OpenFin; Buyside to benefit from derived data and analytics visualisation to review portfolio performance
BMLL Technologies
BMLL Technologies, the data engineering and analytics firm, today announced a collaboration with OpenFin, the operating system (OS) for finance, to build their Derived Data desktop application on OpenFin’s OS. The Derived Data application will provide buy-side users with access to market metrics created from the most granular Level 3 order book data, to analyse and visualise their portfolio over time. Specifically, the tool will enable traders, portfolio managers, risk and compliance officers to gain a deeper understanding of the liquidity profile and risk of their portfolio and associated trades. They are now able to screen for, highlight, view and compare market quality metrics in order to measure and improve their execution performance and assist with best execution oversight.

Payments and financial tech giant FIS just launched a fintech venture arm — here’s where it’s looking to invest $150 million over the next 3 years
Dan DeFrancesco – Business Insider
One of the world’s largest financial-technology companies is launching a venture-capital arm to make investments in newcomers in the space.


Binance, Brock Pierce Donate $1M to Puerto Rico’s Covid-19 Fight
Danny Nelson – Coindesk
Brock Pierce’s Puerto Rican nonprofit has teamed up with Binance to buy $1 million in personal protective equipment to help fight coronavirus in Puerto Rico.

Did This Norwegian Multimillionaire Invent a Cryptocurrency Ransom to Cover Up the Murder of His Wife?
Dan Adler – Vanity Fair
Tom Hagen’s wife Anne-Elisabeth disappeared in Norway in October 2018. Hagen cofounded the electric company Elkraft in 1992, and the case drew attention for his wealth—his net worth is reportedly about $200 million—as well as its mysterious circumstances. As the original story went, Anne-Elisabeth was kidnapped on October 31 that year; a ransom note demanding 9 million euros in the cryptocurrency Monero was left at the scene.

Chinese tech giant Tencent launches blockchain accelerator program
Yilun Cheng – The Block
Chinese tech giant Tencent has launched a blockchain accelerator, and it plans to mentor 30 companies developing blockchain-based technologies and services. Called Tencent Industrial Accelerator, the program has now begun taking applications, according to the company’s website. Interested projects have until June 6 to apply.

Telegram Caves to US Regulators: Delays Blockchain Launch, Offers to Return $1.2B to Investors
Anna Baydakova – Coindesk
Messaging app Telegram postponed the launch of its TON blockchain for a second time on Wednesday, pushing the new go-live date to April 2021 and triggering a costly clawback clause in its agreement with token-sale investors.

Blockstack’s revenue declined 37% last year, due to lower Stacks token sales
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Blockchain project Blockstack has reported a 37% fall in its 2019 revenue as compared to the previous year. The firm’s 2019 revenue stood at $23.3 million as compared to $36.7 million in 2018, according to an annual report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday. Blockstack makes its revenue “primarily from token sales,” and hence, the drop is due to lower sales of its Stacks (STX) token last year.

Crypto lender Celsius sees massive growth in Bitcoin deposits
Alexander Behrens – Decrypt
Celsius Network has continued to see impressive growth in 2020, seemingly unaffected by COVID-19. The platform provides loans and interest to users at some of the best rates in the industry. Celsius has paid out nearly $11 million in interest payment to crypto loan issuers.

Ousted Bitmain Co-Founder Wins Partial Victory in Latest Legal Battle
David Pan – Coindesk
Micree Ketuan Zhan, the ousted co-founder and former chairman of leading bitcoin mining equipment manufacturer Bitmain, has scored a partial legal victory over his former employer.

Telegram now delays launch of its blockchain by one more year, ready to return investor money
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Messaging app giant Telegram has further postponed the launch of its TON blockchain network — this time by one more year. The company was scheduled to launch Telegram Open Network (TON) today, but it has now been delayed to April 30, 2021, according to Telegram’s letter to investors on Wednesday (the letter was posted by a Russian forum). Telegram cites “recent U.S. district court decision” as the reason for the delay.

Coinbase Suffers Temporary Outage as Bitcoin Soars as High as $8,900
Zack Voell – Coindesk
Coinbase experienced a brief outage Wednesday as the price of bitcoin rallied to just below $9,000.

Bitcoin Options Trading Volumes Surge as Price Moves Above $9.4K
Omkar Godbole – Coindesk
Bitcoin jumped to two-month highs early on Thursday and now looks set to register its biggest monthly gain in nearly a year. The top cryptocurrency by market value rose to $9,469 at 06:05 UTC, the highest level since Feb. 25, having rallied from $7,700 to $8,900 on Wednesday, according to CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price Index.

Major Crypto Exchanges Suffer Outage During Bitcoin Surge
Aziz Abdel-Qader – Finance Magnates
Two of the major crypto exchanges suffered partial service outages on Wednesday, injecting further turmoil into the market where prices have already seen wild swings in recent days. Coinbase said via Twitter and on its website that it was experiencing slower than normal response times and that its application programming interface was down. The exchange’s website and retail mobile app also experienced connectivity issues.

Older Mining Machines Turn Profitable Again as Bitcoin Rises Ahead of Halving
Wolfie Zhao – Coindesk
With bitcoin’s price jumping to a two-month high above $9,000, even mining equipment thought obsolete is becoming profitable again, at least for a short time.


Trump’s Political Fate May Hang on Virus Bet
Kathleen Hunter – Bloomberg
Want to receive this post in your inbox every day? Sign up for the Balance of Power newsletter, and follow Bloomberg Politics on Twitter and Facebook for more. U.S. President Donald Trump’s re-election bid is at a crossroads and may be about to turn on events that are now largely out of his control.

Wealthy Shielded Billions With Trump Tax Break Before Pandemic
Noah Buhayar – Bloomberg
‘Opportunity zone’ funds have now raised more than $10 billion; Inflows mostly stopped after mid-March when economy shut down
Just before the coronavirus roiled the economy, wealthy investors piled into funds that take advantage of a popular, two-year-old tax break meant to help poor communities. More than $10 billion in total has flowed into “opportunity zone” funds, a survey released Thursday by tax adviser Novogradac shows. That’s up from the $6.7 billion the group tallied in January. Nearly all of the money was raised before mid-March, when President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to combat the virus.

They Didn’t Drink the Bleach, but They’re Still Drinking the Kool-Aid; Is the Republican indulgence of the president bottomless?
Frank Bruni – NY Times
One of the most widely read articles in The Times last weekend was a report by Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman that Republican leaders are dreading the potential consequences of President Trump’s “erratic handling” of the coronavirus crisis.

Lawmakers made hundreds of stock transactions during pandemic, watchdog finds; The nonprofit is calling for laws that would ban lawmakers from making individual stock trades.
Alice Miranda Ollstein – Politico
Republican and Democratic lawmakers have bought and sold stocks hundreds of times throughout the coronavirus pandemic — some of them lucrative moves to invest in industries buoyed by the crisis and divest from sectors like restaurants and hotels that have tanked, according to a new analysis by the Campaign Legal Center.


Proposed Rule Change to Add FINRA Rule 6800 Series (Consolidated Audit Trail Compliance Rule) to FINRA’s Minor Rule Violation Plan (“MRVP”)
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) is filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “Commission”) a proposed rule change to add industry member compliance rules relating to the Consolidated Audit Trail (“CAT”) to FINRA’s Minor Rule Violation Plan (“MRVP”).

ASIC bans financial advisers
ASIC has adopted a practice of issuing combined media releases about administrative action. There is no relationship between the matters or the subjects in this media release, except that ASIC has taken administrative action.

U.K. Regulators to Probe Widespread Refused Refunds
Carla Canivete – Bloomberg
The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority is looking into complaints that some businesses are not respecting cancelation rights for events that have to be withdrawn in view of the coronavirus pandemic. Four in five complaints the CMA receives are now related to businesses refusing refunds or pressuring clients to accept vouchers for holiday accommodation, which can only be used during a more expensive period.

Investing and Trading

How to IPO During Coronavirus: This Executive Helps From His Kitchen Counter; Nasdaq’s Jay Heller works on getting companies to go public, a process gone remote during the pandemic without in-person roadshows or bell-ringing ceremonies; ‘my commute is a lot better’
Corrie Driebusch – WSJ
Jay Heller, the Nasdaq Inc. NDAQ 0.35% executive who helps companies go public, is usually surrounded by hundreds of celebrating bankers, employees and their family members in the middle of Times Square when a firm starts trading.

Investors: never let a crisis go to waste; Covid-19 underlines the folly of investing in equities for income
Terry Smith – FT
We now have a fully-fledged economic crisis caused by the reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic. What should you do about it in terms of investment?

World’s Worst Stocks Have More to Worry About Than Coronavirus
Vinicius Andrade – Bloomberg
Brazil’s Ibovespa index is down 47% this year in U.S. dollars; Political turbulence adds to economic hit from the pandemic
For Brazilian stocks, the world’s worst-performing this year, you can’t blame all the bad returns on the Covid-19 pandemic. Down 47% in U.S. dollar terms, the Ibovespa index is trailing some 90 other major equity benchmarks tracked by Bloomberg. With about 1.5 trillion reais ($280 billion) wiped out in market value since its January peak, the lost wealth is equivalent to about 20% of the country’s gross domestic product.

The U.S Needs Way More Than a Bailout to Recover From Covid-19; Shore up the markets, sure, but don’t stop there. It’s time for Congress and the White House to do things that have been unthinkable since JFK’s moonshot. It’s time to go big.
Barry Ritholz – Bloomberg
The economic crisis created by Covid-19 is unlike any other in modern American history. Thousands are dead, and the economic fallout has been devastating. More people lost their jobs over four weeks in March and April than did so during the entire 2008-09 financial crisis. In fact, since mid-March, all of the employment gains since the last crisis ended have been lost. Of the 156 million people the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics measured as working full time then, more than 26 million—about 16.7%—were no longer receiving a paycheck as of April 23. If you add in gig workers and those who were unable to file unemployment claims because state offices were too overwhelmed, the tally was more than 20%. At this pace, we will eclipse the peak of unemployment during the Great Depression, 25%, in a matter of weeks.

When the Stock Market Goes Mad, Look for Real Value; This earnings season is completely unreliable, so investors should focus long term, not just on quarterly reports.
Peter Coy – Bloomberg
This may be the least informative earnings season in history. Companies’ first-quarter financial results are scarcely relevant because they cover a period that mostly predated the pandemic. About a fifth of S&P 500 companies have stopped guiding Wall Street analysts about how much they expect to earn this year. Wild swings in the market give the impression that stock prices have become unanchored from reality.

ECB Intensifies Crisis Response With New Loans After GDP Crash
Carolynn Look – Bloomberg
Most economists expected no change to central bank stimulus; President Lagarde to hold conference at 2:30 p.m. in Frankfurt
The European Central Bank intensified its response to the coronavirus crisis, cheapening the cost of its emergency loan program for banks and unveiling a further facility to inject liquidity in the economy.

Renewables Are the Only Winners in Historic Decline in Energy Demand
Akshat Rathi – Bloomberg
The coronavirus lockdown will cause the biggest drop in energy demand in history, with only renewables managing to increase output through the crisis.


MUFG Profit at Decade Low on $937 Million Virus-Linked Costs
Taiga Uranaka and Yuki Hagiwara – Bloomberg
Japan’s biggest bank booked more writedowns on stock holdings; Economic strain is putting pressure on asset quality, S&P says
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc.’s profit slid to the lowest in a decade after Japan’s biggest bank added 100 billion yen ($937 million) in coronavirus-related charges for expected loan losses and on stock holdings hurt by volatile markets.

SocGen Posts Loss as Equities Trading Wiped Out in Rout
Christian Baumgaertel and Donal Griffin – Bloomberg
Equities trading sees 99% revenue decline as derivatives hit; French bank sets aside 820 million euros for bad loans
Societe Generale SA posted a surprise first-quarter loss after income from stock-trading was wiped out in the market volatility caused by the coronavirus and the bank set aside 820 million euros ($890 million) to cover bad loans.

Lloyds Books 1.4 Billion-Pound Charge and Scraps Targets
Stefania Spezzati – Bloomberg
Profits in the quarter fell 95% as pandemic hinders economy; Lloyds says guidance no longer appropriate until outlook clear
Lloyds Banking Group Plc has begun to count the cost of the coronavirus pandemic to the British economy — and warned that the turmoil had made its old targets obsolete.

Goldman Sachs puts premium on sustainable investing with new global markets council
Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) on Wednesday said it had created a council of traders, sales staff and others to share expertise on sustainable finance and investing, as clients search for ways to achieve climate-change investment commitments despite the twin shocks of the coronavirus and the sliding price of oil.


Norway to cut oil production by 13%; Move in response to drop in prices and demand and honours unofficial pact with Opec
David Sheppard – FT
Norway will cut its oil production for the first time in 18 years, as Western Europe’s largest crude producer moves to respond to the coronavirus-linked crash in fuel demand.

Australia’s biggest pension fund says investors will withdraw billions; Executive points to ‘heaps of liquidity’ as members get access to cash due to coronavirus
Jamie Smyth and Robin Wigglesworth – FT
Australia’s largest pension fund expects A$4bn ($2.6bn) in emergency cash withdrawals from members to help them through the coronavirus crisis, but its deputy chief executive argues that neither it nor the wider sector will face problems meeting those redemptions.

Turkey digs in for currency battle; ‘Cat-and-mouse game’ pitches central bank against market forces
Laura Pitel in Ankara, Eva Szalay and Adam Samson – FT
The Turkish lira looks like it has been fairly steady in recent days, but behind the scenes a battle is raging to hold it up against the US dollar. Like many emerging-market currencies, the lira has crumbled under the strain of coronavirus and the large interest-rate cuts that policymakers have launched to support the economy.

Norway Wealth Fund Chief Cleared of Ethics Breach
Mikael Holter – Bloomberg
The chief executive of Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund has been absolved of wrongdoing following a probe into his decision to accept a lavish trip from the man who would ultimately succeed him.

Czechs Fear Historic Drought Threatening Harvest, Water Supplies
Lenka Ponikelska – Bloomberg
Environment minister sees water shortage as major future risk; Government plans to boost funding for water-related projects
The Czech Republic is facing the worst drought in its modern history that’s threatening to seriously damage harvest and limit the availability of drinking water, a cabinet minister said.


Brexit: Committee to hold first NI deal meeting
John Campbell – BBC
The specialised committee is made up of government officials rather than politicians.
The UK delegation includes senior Stormont official, Andrew McCormick.
The Brexit deal, which was agreed in October, treats Northern Ireland differently from other parts of the UK.

EU ramps up planning for a no-deal Brexit as talks fail to make breakthrough
Jonathon Read – The New European
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has been told to restart no-deal Brexit planning after both sides failed to make a breakthrough in talks.Barnier has claimed that there are “vast differences” remain between the two sides, with reports that the European Commission is now resuming its contingency planning for Britain leaving the bloc without an agreement by the end of the year.

U.K. Warns EU Is Risking Brexit Deal by Ignoring Its Red Lines
Joe Mayes – Bloomberg
The European Union needs to understand the U.K. is serious about its red lines in negotiations over their future relationship, a person familiar with the British position said.

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