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Asian shares perk up as investors look beyond Apple virus warning – Aljazeera.com

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Asian shares and United States stock futures edged up cautiously on Wednesday, as investors tried to shake off worries about the coronavirus epidemic and look beyond the short-term hit to corporate earnings.

Chinese blue chip shares erased early declines to trade 0.52 percent higher. Australian shares were up 0.29 percent, while Japan‘s Nikkei stock index rose 0.81 percent.

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MSCI’s broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan spent much of the morning session bouncing between gains and losses, losing 1.08 percent by midday.

China, the world’s second-largest economy, is still struggling to get its manufacturing sector back online after imposing severe travel restrictions to contain a virus that emerged in the central Chinese province of Hubei late last year.

On Tuesday, Apple Inc announced that it was unlikely to meet its sales guidance because of the virus outbreak, spooking investors and denting stock prices.

But investors are optimistic that officials will roll out more stimulus to support the world’s second-largest economy.

“Apple’s announcement was a bit of a shock, but … what’s more important is that central banks are going to provide quite a bit of stimulus,” Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific market strategist at AxiTrader told Al Jazeera.

“We know there’s going to be a slide in earnings, we know those ramifications,” he said, adding that these were expected short-term outcomes, but earnings could recover in the medium to long term. “Central banks will buttress short-term downside with a lot of liquidity.”

The People’s Bank of China cut the interest rate on its medium-term lending facility on Monday, which is expected to pave the way for a reduction in the country’s benchmark loan prime rate on Thursday, as policymakers try to ease the financial strains caused by the virus.

“Part of the thinking that is supporting markets is the actions that China takes to support its economy,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney told Reuters. “Any investor concern around impact on demand globally from the virus will be offset by expectations that global central banks will ride to the rescue.”

US stock futures rose 0.18 percent in Asia on Wednesday but the Treasury curve remained inverted as yields on three-month bills traded above those on 10-year notes, in a sign that some investors remain cautious about the outlook.

A yield curve inverts when short-term yields trade above long-term yields, and is often considered a sign of recession in the next year or two.

In the currency market, the euro languished at a three-year low versus the US dollar as disappointing data from Germany, Europe‘s largest economy, has stoked fears that the eurozone is more vulnerable to external shocks than previously thought.

The euro was quoted at $1.0804, still close to its lowest since April 2017.

Mainland China had 1,749 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on Tuesday, the country’s National Health Commission said on Wednesday, down from 1,886 cases a day earlier and the lowest since January 29.

The death toll in China has topped more than 2,000 from the flu-like illness which has already spread to 24 other countries.

In China’s onshore market, the yuan briefly fell to a two-week low of 7.0136 per US dollar as traders continued to ponder the economic impact of the virus and the chance for more monetary easing.

The price of US crude oil rose 0.21 percent to $52.16 a barrel, while Brent crude rose 0.12 percent to $57.87 per barrel as a reduction in supply from Libya offset concerns about weaker Chinese demand for commodities.

Expectations that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allied producers including Russia will cut output further should lend support to prices.

The group, known as OPEC+, will meet in Vienna on March 6.

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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Instagram Unveils New Features to Show Everyone It Really Cares About Teens’ Mental Health – Gizmodo

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Image for article titled Instagram Unveils New Features to Show Everyone It Really Cares About Teens’ Mental Health
Illustration: Olivier Douliery / AFP (Getty Images)

Instagram wants you to know it really cares about teens’ mental health and safety, despite everything you may have heard. In fact, it’s rolling out a slew of new tools and features it says will protect teens that use its app.

Company head Adam Mosseri unveiled the new features for teens and parents in a blog post on Tuesday, one day before he’s set to testify before Congress, and also included measures the app will take to promote safety. Instagram’s announcement around teens comes amidst a public reckoning over its failure to protect its youngest users, even though it knew the app affected their mental health.

For teens, Mosseri said Instagram will be launching tools to help them “better manage” their experience on the app. This includes rolling out the previously announced “Take a Break” feature, which encourages young users to close Instagram if they’ve spent too much time on it, to the U.S., UK, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. The feature was available to users in these countries on Tuesday.

Teens will also be able to delete content they’ve posted in bulk, including photos, videos, likes, and comments. Mosseri said this tool, which will roll out in January for all users, will allow teens to “manage their digital footprint” and help them understand what information others can see about them. I will give Instagram credit on this one. Everyone says and does stupid things when they’re young (or not so young), and they should be able to take quick action to rectify and learn from those mistakes.

In addition to features for teens, Instagram will unveil its first features and tools for parents and guardians in March that will let them “guide and support their teens” on the app. This mainly seems to consist of reports on how much time individual teens spend on Instagram and the option to limit their time on the app, according to the blog post. Teens will also have the option to have the app notify their parents when they report someone.

Finally, Mosseri laid out what Instagram would do on its end to create a safer experience for teens on the app. He said it will prevent people from tagging or mentioning teens on the platform if the teens don’t follow them and “be stricter” about what it recommends to teens in various parts of the app, such as Explore, Hashtags, and Suggested Accounts.

Instagram is also looking into expanding its “Limit Even More” content control feature for teens, Mosseri said, which allows users to reduce the amount of sensitive content they see in the Explore part of the app. The company is considering expanding this limitation to beyond Explore. In addition, it’s building a feature that will “nudge” users to different topics if they’ve been dwelling on one for too long.

“I’m proud that our platform is a place where teens can spend time with the people they care about, explore their interests, and explore who they are,” Mosseri wrote. “I want to make sure that it stays that way, which means above all keeping them safe on Instagram.”

The Instagram head added that the company would continue doing research, consulting with experts, and testing out new concepts “to better serve teens.”

Well, to clarify, the company was basically forced into better serving teens due to public pressure. And it’s still got a long way to go. On Tuesday, new research by the Tech Transparency Project found that Instagram is encouraging teens to buy drugs and connecting them with dealers.

Mosseri is scheduled to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection on Wednesday about Instagram’s impact on teens’ mental health and wellbeing. You can watch the livestream here beginning at 2:30 ET.

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Thinking of Buying Equipment for Your Business? Here’s What You Need to Know

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Many business owners in Canada rely on professional-grade equipment to keep the operations of their business running, but there are plenty of variables to consider before making a commitment this significant.

No matter the size of your business, if you’re tasked with acquiring equipment for your operations, there are certain factors to keep in mind as you begin the process. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering purchasing equipment for your business:

Assessing Your Financing Options

Unless you’re a wildly successful, multi-million dollar corporation, there is a higher chance that you don’t have enough free-floating capital to purchase expensive equipment without any outside assistance. The upside is that there are plenty of financing options available for business owners across every major industry, from heavy equipment financing in Canada to agriculture, manufacturing, start-ups and more.

Before you commit to any major purchases, research the financing options available to your business so you can make the smartest purchases going forward without compromising your current equity and capital.

Make a List

Now that you have your financing options in order, it’s important to make a list of your needs and wants. This list will act as a way to organize your thoughts, so you’re spending your newly earned capital wisely. It may be helpful to divide your list into two categories, your needs and your wants.

Your needs will include essential pieces of inventory that contribute to the basic operations of your company. Once you’ve purchased the essentials, you can assess which items under the wants category will be best for your company, with your remaining capital.

Choosing Quality over Flash

It may be easy to become tempted over the latest, flashiest pieces of equipment on the market, but have you done the research to assess its quality? No matter what you purchase in business or in your personal life, quality will always serve you better than aesthetics.

This is especially important when it comes to purchasing expensive equipment for your company. The more you prioritize quality, the more money you’ll save in the long run since you won’t have to worry about replacements.

Maintenance Requirements

Maintaining your equipment is a crucial component of its longevity and durability. Without proper maintenance, you’ll likely end up spending significant costs to repair or replace your inventory. Once you’ve begun to shop around for professional equipment, ensure you’ve taken the time to research the type of maintenance each piece requires. This will help you decide if you have the time and resources to handle the task.

If the equipment you’ve had your eye on requires too much manpower or capital to maintain, you may need to consider a lower price point with more attainable maintenance.

Safety & Certifications

Like anything connected to your business, safety is key. When it comes to purchasing expensive and often heavy equipment, ensure each item has the safety certifications you need — otherwise, your business could become liable if the equipment malfunctions. Prioritizing safely ensures your company, employees, and customers are out of harm’s way.

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P.E.I. announces 6 new COVID-19 cases, 17 exposure sites – CBC.ca

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P.E.I. announced six new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Two of the cases are in their 40s, one is in their 30s, one is in their 20s and two are children under 12.

Three of the announced cases are related to travel outside the province, and three are contacts of previously reported cases.

The two children are students at Westwood Primary School. The school will be closed on Thursday and Friday to allow for close contacts to get tested, and so the province can determine if there’s been any transmission within the school.

Classmates and other children who travelled on the same bus with the students will be contacted by public health and advised on testing and isolation requirements.

The province said other Westwood students and staff should monitor for symptoms and get tested and isolate if any develop.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Public Schools Branch said four schools in eastern P.E.I. will remain closed for another day to allow for mass testing amid worries of community transmission in the eastern Kings region.

The situation at Westwood is not considered an outbreak at this time.

17 exposure sites announced

Seventeen new public exposure site notifications were issued, including two on the Northumberland Ferry. Most of the exposures are in Charlottetown.

The province is also advising anyone who was at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., between last Friday and Monday to get tested and isolate while they await results.

There are currently 27 active cases in P.E.I. and there have been 403 total cases.

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