/FirstFT: Today’s top stories | Financial Times (via Qpute.com)
FirstFT: Today’s top stories | Financial Times

FirstFT: Today’s top stories | Financial Times (via Qpute.com)

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Chinese officials have called in 13 tech companies to ask them to “rectify prominent problems” on their platforms, in a sign that the regulatory pressure on the fintech sector extends beyond Jack Ma’s Ant Group.

Tencent, ByteDance and the fintech affiliates of Baidu, JD.com, Meituan and Didi were among the 13 summoned to a meeting with officials from the People’s Bank of China and other Chinese banking, securities and foreign exchange regulators, according to the state news agency Xinhua.

Ant Group, which was asked this month by the same group of regulators to restructure itself, was not called in again.

While praising the “overall positive” development of the fintech sector in recent years, the regulators complained of anti-competitive practices and harm done to consumers by the sector. For the latest on the digital disruption of the finance industry sign up for our #fintechFT newsletter, delivered every Monday.

Coronavirus digest

  • Amazon has reported its second straight quarter of $100bn-plus sales as it continues to reap the rewards of pandemic conditions.

  • The chief executive of Modern said the company would increase its global supply of Covid-19 vaccines to up to 3bn next year.

  • Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index recorded another all-time high and commodities rallied on Thursday after the US government reported the strongest rate of growth during the first three months of the year since 1984.

  • The head of Heathrow airport has warned of the risk of a crisis from a thinly staffed border force struggling to cope with Covid-related passenger checks if overseas holidays restart next month.

Follow the latest on our live blog and sign up for our Coronavirus Business Update newsletter.

In the news

Biden declares US is ‘ready for take-off’ in speech to Congress In his first speech to a joint session of Congress, Joe Biden pointed to a nascent revival under way in the US following a devastating pandemic and economic crisis. Here are our five takeaways from the address. Among them: China and Russia will be his biggest foreign policy priorities.

Line chart showing total number of executive actions (executive orders, memos, substantive proclamations) taken during each president's first 100 days in office, by day. Biden’s presidential actions exceed every president except for FDR

Samsung reports global chip shortage’s spread Samsung Electronics said manufacturing of smartphones, televisions and home appliances has been disrupted by the deepening global chip crunch, and that it was “rebalancing” production in hopes of minimising the impact. The chip drought has also hit Apple, BMW and Ford. (FT, Bloomberg)

Credit Suisse board considers removal of risk chief The board is weighing the removal of Andreas Gottschling ahead of the Swiss bank’s annual meeting on Friday, according to people familiar with the situation. Several of the lender’s biggest investors have said publicly they will vote against Gottschling’s re-election after the twin Greensill and Archegos crises.

China launches first part of space station into orbit The 54-metre Long March 5B rocket lifted off from the Wenchang launch site in China’s Hainan province on Thursday. It flew south-east through the upper atmosphere before depositing the core module of the station in orbit, as Beijing forges ahead in its quest to become a leader in exploring the cosmos.

Crowds cheer as the Long March 5B rocket lifts off from the Wenchang launch site in China’s Hainan province © AFP via Getty Images

Crowds cheer as the Long March 5B rocket lifts off from the Wenchang launch site in China’s Hainan province © AFP via Getty Images

Thai protesters on hunger strike ‘getting weaker’ The health of Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul has worsened, their lawyers and relatives said, as the students continue to refuse food in a Bangkok prison to protest against judicial authorities’ decision to deny them bail as they await trial for lèse majesté and other charges.

Gig economy group shares dive on US labour official’s comments More than $15bn was wiped off the value of America’s largest gig economy companies on Thursday morning after the US labour secretary suggested some workers should be classified as employees.

The use of quantum computing in markets nears Quantum computing could be brought to bear on some of the most complex calculations in financial markets within five years, considerably earlier than expected, according to research jointly conducted by Goldman Sachs.

The day ahead

China PMI China’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index for April, out on Friday, will be closely watched for signs of further expansion as the country’s economic recovery continues.

Japan jobless rate data Japan will release March unemployment figures today. In February, the country’s jobless rate held steady from the prior month at 2.9 per cent, while availability of jobs declined. (Reuters)

Eurozone growth data Preliminary growth figures for the eurozone are expected to show that the region’s gross domestic product contracted 0.8 per cent in the first quarter compared with the previous one, according to a Reuters survey. Sign up for our Europe Express newsletter for your essential guide to what matters in Europe today, every weekday morning.

What else we’re reading

‘Scenes from Dante’s inferno’: a doctor on India’s Covid wards The virus has exposed the roots of the country’s problem are systemic and lie even deeper — in the chronic under-investment and neglect of India’s public health, writes a consultant physician and researcher in Mumbai.

Patients suffering from Covid-19 are treated at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash hospital in New Delhi © Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

Patients suffering from Covid-19 are treated at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash hospital in New Delhi © Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

Big Four auditors squeezed between US and China A fight over access to the accounts of Chinese companies has left Deloitte, PwC, KPMG and EY, which have spent three decades building large operations in the country, trapped between antagonising Beijing or incurring penalties elsewhere.

Tesla’s solar stumbles Five years ago, Tesla founder Elon Musk unveiled the company’s latest innovation: aesthetically pleasing solar panels, in the form of roof shingles. The product is finally rolling out in a significant way — but customers aren’t necessarily getting the products they were once promised for the price they were quoted. (NYT)

How do we fix post-pandemic fallout for women and minorities? The post-pandemic workplace is going to be different, and managers will have to navigate new and difficult situations. In the third instalment of Leaders’ Lessons, we asked: how do we fix the fallout for women and minorities after the pandemic? Share your reflections with other readers in the comments section of the article.

Where to find Singapore’s best street food The city’s Unesco-status “hawker” culture offers a fascinating taste of a rich social history. Singapore correspondent Stefania Palma explored the city’s best food stalls. From the most scenic bike routes to the coolest cultural experiences, don’t miss Globetrotter’s guide to Singapore.

Maxwell Food Centre is one of Singapore’s myriad street-food courts

Maxwell Food Centre is one of Singapore’s myriad street-food courts

Podcast of the day

India’s wake-up call to the world Gideon Rachman talks to Abraar Karan, a physician at Harvard Medical School and a specialist in global health, about the current surge in coronavirus cases in India and hears why nationalistic approaches to curbing the pandemic will not help solve a worldwide health crisis.

Thank you for reading. Send your recommendations and feedback to [email protected]

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