Mortgage rates jump again, causing headaches for homebuyers. The average rate on the popular 30-year fixed mortgage hit 3.7% Tuesday morning, according to Mortgage News Daily. Applications to refinance a home loan were down 50% from a year ago. Meanwhile, lenders are losing vast amounts of refinance business, which had been booming just a year ago when rates were much lower.
Virgin and Microsoft invest in self-driving company Wayve. Self-driving startup Wayve picked up a $200 million investment from Microsoft along with institutional investment firm Baillie Gifford and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. Investors are betting big that self-driving challenges will be solved and that cars will be doing the driving instead of humans some day.
Shopify partners with e-commerce giant JD.com to help U.S. merchants sell their goods in China. JD said it will open an “accelerated channel” for brands on Shopify to begin selling in China and will handle price conversion and logistics from the U.S. to China. The deal marks a significant step up in China expansion for Shopify and is another step in JD’s internationalization efforts. Read more here.
Oil prices hit seven-year high on rising geopolitical tensions. Futures for West Texas Intermediate, the main grade of U.S. crude, added 1.7% to $85.20 a barrel Tuesday morning. Among the factors driving the rally are concerns that tensions in the Middle East and Europe will spill into energy markets by denting supplies from major crude producers, particularly Russia and the United Arab Emirates. Any outages are likely to goose prices.
WHAT TO WATCH
Facebook patents indicate a virtual reality store in the Metaverse. And in that virtual store, advertisers might sponsor a virtual object, say a shoe. You go in and you see that shoe, you can interact with it in some way. And then either you buy that shoe and you get an actual, real physical shoe in real life delivered to you or the idea is that you have a sort of digital twin living in this world permanently. Source(2:30)
The metaverse could unlock a new growth opportunity for Synaptics, says Motley Fool's Harsh Chauhan. The AR/VR headset market is currently in a nascent stage. However, market research firm IDC predicts shipments of AR/VR headsets will jump to nearly 44 million units in 2025 compared to 9.7 million units in 2021. Synaptics is one of the companies that make chips to power these AR/VR headsets and has supplier relationships with some big names in this space.
Affirm Holdings Inc. to put its “buy now, pay later” options on millions of Verifone payment devices and online checkout systems. The agreement will allow retailers to give consumers in the U.S. access to Affirm’s offerings, including biweekly and monthly payments, the companies said Tuesday in a statement. The firms plan to eventually expand their partnership worldwide. Read more here.
Microsoft is acquiring ATVI as a “play on the Metaverse”. Microsoft Corp. plans to acquire Activision Blizzard Inc.in its largest deal yet as it looks to boost its gaming business and capture opportunities in the metaverse. The technology giant announced that it would purchase the video game publisher in an all-cash transaction at about $75 billion. Microsoft will become the third-largest gaming company in terms of revenue, behind Tencent and Sony after the transaction.
Activision's takeover signals more big buys ahead. Companies with tons of cash might be looking for ways to put that money to use in an increasingly inflationary environment. More broadly, Microsoft's move might be a signal of increased competition in the metaverse race. Elsewhere, video game stocks saw follow-on gains. Electronic Arts gained 4% as investors see the company as a potential target for any of Microsoft's and Meta's peers looking to buy their way into gaming.
Mastercard strikes NFT payments deal with Coinbase. As part of the agreement, Coinbase customers will be able to use Mastercard credit and debit cards to make purchases on the crypto exchange’s upcoming NFT marketplace. By teaming up with Mastercard, Coinbase executives said they’re looking to reduce friction in the NFT buying process. Mastercard, meanwhile, said it’s looking to help expand consumer choice on how to pay for NFTs. Read more here.