Things in tech you need to know today

This is the tech news you need to know this Wednesday.

  1. UK chipmaker ARM told staff to suspend business with Huawei, according to an internal memo seen by the BBC. The move could devastate Huawei, which relies on ARM architecture for its phones.
  2. British carriers EE and Vodafone dropped Huawei devices from their new 5G networks over worries that customers wouldn’t get Android support. Google pulled Huawei’s Android license earlier this week.
  3. Apple sent out invites to WWDC, its annual developer conference. The company is expected to announce new software for its iPhone, iPads, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Mac products.
  4. People dressed as poop emojis and other protesters swarmed Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting in Seattle. The meeting attracted a lot of protesters, who criticized the company for its treatment of workers and environmental issues.
  5. Amazon won the battle over whether it can sell its controversial facial recognition technology to the government. Two shareholder proposals about Amazon’s facial recognition software Rekognition were voted down at the company’s shareholder meeting on Wednesday.
  6. UK fintech startup is now worth $3.5 billion after a secondary share offering that allowed its founders, employees, and investors to sell portions of their stakes. Investors and experts said the deal, still unusual in Europe, gave TransferWise greater flexibility to choose when it floats.
  7. Google’s AI booking service, Duplex, is still relying on real people in call centers to make sure things go right. The New York Times reported that about 15% of calls started by the AI service required human intervention.
  8. Huawei’s CEO Ren Zhengfei said he admires Apple and buys his family iPhones when they are not in China. Ren was addressing calls for an Apple boycott in China after Huawei was blacklisted by the US, according to The South China Morning Post.
  9. Silicon Valley chip startup CNEX is accusing a Huawei executive of involvement in the theft of trade secrets. The allegations were made as part of a lawsuit which is set to go to trial on June 3rd.
  10. Indonesia restricted access to Facebook and WhatsApp to stop the spread of fake news after riots erupted that killed 6 people and injured 200. While text and voice messages can be sent, photos and videos sent through WhatsApp and posted on Facebook are being blocked or slowed.

OECD Downgrades 2019 Global Growth Projection

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development downgraded the global growth outlook for 2019 as trade disputes hurt manufacturing and investment decisions.

In its latest Economic Outlook, published Tuesday, the agency forecast 3.2 percent growth for 2019 instead of 3.3 percent estimated in March. The global outlook for 2020 was retained at 3.4 percent.

The OECD cautioned that current growth rates are insufficient to bring about major improvements in employment or living standards.

“The fragile global economy is being destabilised by trade tensions,” OECD chief economist Laurence Boone, said.

“Growth is stabilising but the economy is weak and there are very serious risks on the horizon. Governments need to work harder together to ensure a return to stronger and more sustainable growth,” Boone added.

The OECD forecast the U.S. economy to grow 2.8 percent in 2019 before slowing to 2.3 percent in 2020. Growth in euro area is seen at 1.2 percent this year and 1.4 percent next year.

China’s growth is expected to ease to 6.2 percent in 2019 and to 6 percent next year.

Asian Markets Mixed After Huawei Wins Temporary Reprieve

Asian stock markets closed mixed on Tuesday, with some of the markets recovering from early losses after the U.S. Commerce Department temporarily eased some restrictions imposed on Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies in order to minimize disruption for its customers. The temporary reprieve will be in effect for 90 days.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index added 35.36 points or 1.23 percent to close at 2,905.97, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 149.75 points or 0.54 percent to settle at 27,637.86.

The Japanese market closed lower amid worries about escalating U.S.-China trade tensions after the U.S. blacklisting of Huawei. However, the market pared initial losses following news that the U.S. has temporarily eased trade restrictions on Huawei.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index declined 29.28 points or 0.14 percent to close at 21,272.45, after falling to a low of 21,160.43 earlier.

Shares of SoftBank Group gained 3.5 percent after U.S. wireless telecom carriers T-Mobile and Sprint received support from FCC chairman Ajit Pai for their $26 billion merger. SoftBank is the majority owner of Sprint shares.

Shares of suppliers to Huawei fell on worries about the blacklisting of the Chinese telecom giant. Tokyo Electron lost almost 2 percent, Murata Manufacturing Co. declined more than 1 percent and Taiyo Yuden dipped 0.6 percent.

The major exporters closed mixed. Sony lost more than 4 percent and Mitsubishi Electric fell almost 2 percent, while Canon rose more than 1 percent and Panasonic added almost 1 percent.

In the auto space, Honda edged up 0.1 percent, while Toyota dipped 0.5 percent.

Among the major banks, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial added 0.7 percent while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial declined 0.4 percent. In the oil sector, Inpex fell 2.7 percent, while Japan Petroleum advanced more than 1 percent.

The Australian market closed higher for a fifth straight day, setting a fresh eleven-and-a-half year high.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index added 24.00 points or 0.37 percent to close at 6,500.10. The broader All Ordinaries Index rose 19.70 points or 0.30 percent to settle at 6,584.40.

The big four banks rose after the prudential regulator APRA proposed dropping the requirements for banks to use a minimum 7 percent interest rate to assess customers’ ability to meet their mortgage repayments.

Westpac advanced almost 3 percent, while ANZ Banking and Commonwealth Bank gained slightly more than 2 percent each. National Australia Bank added more than 1 percent.

ANZ said it has appointed Ken Adams, who has been a senior partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, as its top lawyer to replace Bob Santamaria, who is retiring.

In the tech space, Afterpay Touch Group fell almost 5 percent, WiseTech Global lost more than 1 percent and Altium declined more than 2 percent.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals fell more than 2 percent, Rio Tinto lost more than 1 percent, and BHP Group declined 0.7 percent.

Oil stocks also edged lower despite an increase in crude oil prices overnight. Oil Search declined 0.1 percent and Woodside Petroleum dipped less than 0.1 percent.

James Hardie Industries reported a 57 percent surge in full-year profit on higher revenues, but cut its final dividend. The construction materials company’s shares gained almost 4 percent.

OFX Group reported a 12 percent increase in its full-year underlying profit, while net profit declined 5.8 percent. The foreign exchange provider’s shares jumped almost 17 percent.

South Korean stocks closed modestly higher. The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index or KOSPI added 5.54 points or 0.27 percent to settle at 2,061.25.

Shares of Samsung Electronics gained 2.7 percent as investors bet that the issues surrounding China’s Huawei could provide a boost to the South Korean conglomerate.

Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia and Taiwan also closed higher, while New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia closed lower.

U.S. stocks closed lower on Monday, led by tech stocks, amid ongoing concerns about the escalating U.S.-China trade dispute after Google suspended some of its business with Chinese tech giant Huawei. Google has cut Huawei off from business involving the transfer of hardware, software and technical services, complying with an order by President Donald Trump blocking the sale or transfer of U.S. technology to Huawei.

The Nasdaq plunged 113.91 points or 1.5 percent to 7,702.38, while the Dow fell 84.10 points or 0.3 percent to 25,679.90 and the S&P 500 slid 19.30 points or 0.7 percent to 2,840.23.