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WEEKLY MARKET ROUND-UP – 15/10/20

Economic cycles

Cycling in all its forms has been one of the surprise winners of the coronavirus lockdown. This year, governments around Europe have already invested more than €1bn in new infrastructure spending directed at cycling and more is expected thanks to Europe’s massive green investment plans aimed at stimulating the economy.

BoE addresses hurdles to UK negative rates

The Bank of England (BoE) sent shivers through the banking system on Monday (12 Oct) when it wrote to UK banks asking them how ready their financial systems and infrastructure were for a potential move to zero or even negative interest rates.

Britain’s central bank cut UK interest rates to a record low of 0.1% in March and is now investigating the key structural challenges to moving to negative interest rates. The UK’s banks have a parlous record when it comes to technology failures and the BoE was keen to understand the technology challenges the move might present and if banks had any “short-term solutions or workarounds”.

A move to zero rates or beyond will be a costly one for banks and building societies but it’s unlikely to impact most UK consumers; fixed-rate mortgages won’t change while variable-rate contracts generally state that borrowers will never pay less than zero. Institutions and high-net-worth savers might be charged to deposit their money which would, in theory, incentivise investing or spending over saving.

Xilinx rallies 14% as AMD eyes acquisition

Shares in the US chip maker, Xilinx, rallied north of 14% on Friday (9 Oct) after the Wall Street Journal published details of an intended $30bn takeover from the leading California-based chip maker Advanced Micro Systems (AMS).

According to reports, an agreement might even be announced this week. Xilinx makes field programmable gate array (FPGA) chips, which it pioneered back in the 1980s, that are mainly used in communications, data centres, industrial and defence applications. So far, AMS has focused on becoming a leading player in chips for game consoles, PCs and servers but it now has its sights on the lucrative data centre market among others.

The deal, if completed, will help AMS to further challenge Intel for dominance of key market segments while Xilinx is also a keen competitor to NVIDIA in the AI space.

The acquisition is the latest in the chip market following the $21bn acquisition of Maxim by Analog Devices and a $40bn takeover of the UK’s Arm Holdings by NVIDIA in recent months.