Bitcoin, the largest digital asset, extended its decline Saturday, and has now shed more than 50% from its record high in November. Bitcoin’s decline since hitting the record has wiped out more than $600 billion in market value, and over $1 trillion has been lost from the aggregate crypto market. While there have been much larger percentage drawdowns for both Bitcoin and the aggregate market, this marks the second-largest ever decline in dollar terms for both, according to Bespoke Investment Group. With the Fed’s intentions rocking both cryptocurrencies and stocks, a dominant theme has emerged in the digital-asset space: cryptos have twisted and turned in nearly exactly the same way as equities have. Bitcoin fell as low as $34,042 Saturday, a drop of 7.2%.

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Representations of virtual cryptocurrencies are seen in this illustration taken November 28, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo Russia's central bank on Thursday proposed banning the use and mining of cryptocurrencies on Russian territory, citing threats to financial stability, citizens' wellbeing and its monetary policy sovereignty. The move is the latest in a global cryptocurrency crackdown as governments from Asia to the United States worry that privately operated highly volatile digital currencies could undermine their control of financial and monetary systems. Russia has argued for years against cryptocurrencies, saying they could be used in money laundering or to finance terrorism. It eventually gave them legal status in 2020 but banned their use as a means of payment. In December, the price of bitcoin fell after Reuters reported, citing sources, that Russia's regulator was in favour of a complete ban on cryptocurrencies. In a report published on Thursday, the central bank said speculative demand primarily determined cryptocurrencies' rapid growth and that they carried characteristics of a financial pyramid, warning that bubbles in the market could form, threatening financial stability and citizens. The bank proposed preventing financial institutions from carrying out any operations with cryptocurrencies and said mechanisms should be developed to block transactions aimed at buying or selling cryptocurrencies for fiat, or traditional currencies. The proposed ban includes crypto exchanges. Russians are active cryptocurrency users, the central bank said, with an annual transaction volume of about $5 billion. CRYPTO MINING Russia is the world's third-largest player in bitcoin mining, behind the United States and Kazakhstan, though the latter may see a miner exodus over fears of tightening regulation following unrest earlier this month. read more The central bank said crypto mining created problems for energy consumption. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are "mined" by powerful computers that compete against others hooked up to a global network to solve complex mathematical puzzles. The process guzzles electricity and is often powered by fossil fuels. "The best solution is to introduce a ban on cryptocurrency mining in Russia," the bank said. In August, Russia accounted for 11.2% of the global "hashrate" - crypto jargon for the amount of computing power being used by computers connected to the bitcoin network.In its report, the central bank pointed to steps taken in other countries, such as China, to curb cryptocurrency activity. It said it would work with regulators in countries where crypto exchanges are registered to collect information about the operations of Russian clients.In September, China intensified its crackdown on cryptocurrencies with a blanket ban on all crypto transactions and mining, hitting bitcoin and other major coins and pressuring crypto and blockchain-related stocks. Russia's regulator said crypto assets becoming widespread would limit the sovereignty of monetary policy, with higher interest rates needed to contain inflation. It said the long-term potential of cryptocurrencies being used for settlements was limited. Meanwhile, the Bank of Russia is planning to issue its own digital rouble, joining the global trend to develop digital currencies to modernise financial systems, speed up payments and counter a potential threat from other cryptocurrencies.

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Tik Tok logos are seen on smartphones in front of a displayed ByteDance logo in this illustration taken November 27, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo TikTok owner ByteDance saw its  revenue grow  70% year on year to about $58 billion in 2021,  slower growth than a year earlier as China tightens its regulation of big tech companies. According to two people familiar with the matter the numbers were revealed to a small group of employees at an internal meeting of the social media giant this week . In 2020, the Beijing-based company's total revenue grew by over 100% to $34.3 billion, Reuters has reported. ByteDance did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Chinese tech companies from Tencent to Alibaba have reported slowing growth amid a sweeping crackdown by the country's regulators, who have rolled out new rules for how they operate and interact with their users.  According to a recent report by market research firm Interactive Marketing Lab Zhongguancun,  ByteDance held its second position in China's online advertising market last year with a 21% market share. The number one position was still held by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group (9988.HK), and third place went to gaming giant Tencent Holdings (0700.HK), according to the report. The overall growth of online ad sales in China declined to 9.3% in 2021 from 13.8% a year earlier, the report says. Tech news website The Information last November reported that ByteDance's 2021 revenue was on track to rise about 60% to 400 billion yuan ($63.07 billion). ByteDance is one of the world's biggest private tech companies with recent trades in the private-equity secondary market valuing it at about $300 billion, Reuters has reported. Following Beijing's antitrust efforts, ByteDance has recently been downsizing its powerful investment arm. read more In November, ByteDance reorganised itself into six business units in its biggest organizational change since ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming said in May he would step down as CEO.  Besides TikTok, ByteDance's other apps include its Chinese equivalent Douyin, news aggregator Jinri Toutiao and video-streaming platform Xigua. In 2021, users spent approximately $2.3 billion in TikTok and the iOS version of Douyin, a 77% jump year-over-year, according to app tracker Sensor Tower.  

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Microsoft logo is seen on a smartphone placed on displayed Activision Blizzard logo in this illustration taken January 18, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration Hedge funds, which make profits by speculating on precarious takeovers, got a treat this week when Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) agreed to buy "call of duty" maker Activision Blizzard (ATVI.O) for US$68.7 billion dollars in cash. The transaction requires antitrust laws. Approved in the United States and other major jurisdictions, including the European Union and China. It comes at a time when President Joe Biden's administration is taking a closer look at large mergers, blaming some of them for raising prices to consumers that are fueling inflation. Activision's shares ended trading at $82.15 on Wednesday, well below the $95 per share deal price, reflecting concerns that regulators may shoot down a combination that would create the third biggest gaming company, after Tencent and Sony Group Corp (6758.T). This infers a 57% chance of the deal closing, based on Activision's closing share price of $65.39 before the deal was announced. The wide spread gives investors willing to bet on whether the deal will be completed the opportunity to score double-digit returns. At a time when so-called merger arbitrage strategies have trailed the broader stock market's returns, it is an attractive but also risky proposition. Last year, merger arbitrage funds returned nearly 10% according to Hedge Fund Research data, beating returns posted in 2020, 2019 and 2018, but trailing the broader S&P 500 stock market's 27% gain in 2021. For some investors, Aon's (AON.N) scuttled $30 billion acquisition of Willis Towers Watson (WTY.F) as the U.S. Justice Department sued to block the deal hurt returns. Now they are looking to come back, hoping that this deal will also force competitors into making deals of their own. "The positive outlook for event-driven and merger-arbitrage oriented firms in 2022 has been accelerated with the Microsoft-Activision deal," said Hedge Fund Research Inc President Ken Heinz. Microsoft and Activision gave themselves until June 2023 to complete the transaction, giving hedge funds months to handicap how regulators will react to Microsoft bundling its Xbox platform with Activision's popular games, such as World of Warcraft and Diablo. Investors may get hints on the Biden administration's stance soon as the Federal Trade Commission is expected to weigh in on defense contractor Lockheed Martin's (LMT.N) planned $4.4 billion acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne (AJRD.N) and the Justice Department will decide on healthcare insurer UnitedHealth's (UNH.N)$13 billion bid for healthcare analytics and technology vendor Change Healthcare (CHNG.O). Coverage finds such as Millennium, Tiesemann consultant and pentwater capital spend a piece of their fusion bets, and many have occupied Microsoft and Activision for some time.Mutual funds The Merger Fund run by Westchester Capital Management and The Arbitrage Funds run by Water Island Capital offer similar strategies.

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A doctor vaccinates a person with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Vienna, Austria April 26, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner Austria's conservative government said  Thursday it was launching a national lottery to encourage holdouts to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, hours before parliament passed legislation that would introduce a national vaccination mandate.  About 72% of the Austrian population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, one of the lowest rates in Western Europe. "What's up for grabs in the Vaccine Fleet?" Vouchers!”  This is what Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer said at a press conference  of the social democratic opposition leader Pamela Rendi Wagner, with whom the measure was being negotiated. Nehammer said he wanted there to be a financial reward for getting vaccinated, adding: “We have learned from the past and we have seen that a vaccination lottery is the best possible way to set up such a system.” Members of the public, whether already vaccinated or not, would be entitled to one ticket for each shot they have had – three in total for those who have had their booster shot. Every 10th ticket would win a 500 euro ($568) gift voucher, Nehammer said, adding it would cost up to 1 billion euros. He later added on Twitter that the vouchers could be used in “retail, tourism, hospitality, services, culture and sport”. Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler said the aim was to support Austrian businesses and avoid online retailers as much as possible.

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An experimental COVID-19 treatment pill, called molnupiravir and being developed by Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, is seen in this undated handout photo released by Merck & Co Inc and obtained by Reuters May 17, 2021. Merck & Co Inc/Handout via REUTERS A UN-backed agency has struck a deal with nearly 30 generic drugmakers to make low-cost versions of Merck's COVID-19 pill molnupiravir for poorer countries, expanding access to a drug seen as a weapon to fight the pandemic.  The antiviral drug, which  received emergency use approval in the US in December, reduces hospitalizations and deaths  by about 30% in high-risk patients, according to clinical trials.  The agreement, negotiated by the U.N.-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) with Merck, allows 27 generic drugmakers from India, China and other countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East to manufacture ingredients and the finished drug.  The MPP said on Thursday the agreement would see the pill  distributed to 105 least developed countries. The developers of molnupiravir, which together with Merck are the US company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Emory University, will not receive royalties from the sale of cheap versions made by generic drug companies as long as COVID-19 is classified as a public health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) .  "This is a critical step in ensuring global access to a much-needed COVID-19 treatment, and we are confident that with manufacturers  working closely with regulatory authorities, pre-treatments will be rapidly available," said MPP CEO Charles Gore . Bangladesh's Beximco Pharmaceuticals, India's Natco Pharma, South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare and China's Fosun Pharma are among the generic drug companies that will manufacture the final product.

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  REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) shareholders on Tuesday asked a judge  to find that Elon Musk forced the company's board of directors into a  deal for SolarCity in 2016 and wanted the CEO convicted, the electric vehicle maker one of the largest judgments in history paid $13 billion. "This case was always  about whether the acquisition of SolarCity was a bailout from financial troubles, a bailout orchestrated by Elon Musk," said Randy Baron, a shareholders' attorney, at the Zoom hearing. The closing arguments listed the key findings of a 10-day trial in July when Musk spent two days at the stand defending the deal.Lawsuit from union pension funds and wealth managers alleges  Musk forced Tesla's board of directors to cut the deal to approve for cash -strapped SolarCity, in which Musk was the largest shareholder. Musk has countered that the deal was part of a decade-old master plan to create a vertically integrated company that would transform energy generation and consumption with SolarCity's roof panels and Tesla's cars and batteries. Evan Chesler, one of Musk's attorneys, said at the hearing that the deal was not a bailout and that SolarCity is far from insolvent and that its finances are similar to those of many high-growth companies. "They were building billions of dollars of long-term value," Chesler said of SolarCity. The all-stock deal was valued at $2.6 billion in 2016, but since that time Tesla's stock has soared. Shareholder attorney Lee Rudy urged Vice Chancellor Joseph Slights of Delaware's Court of Chancery to order Musk return the Tesla stock he received, which would be worth around $13 billion at its current price. Musk said in court papers such an award would be at least five times the largest award ever in a comparable shareholder lawsuit and called it a "windfall" for plaintiffs. Rudy said Slights should consider Musk's contempt for the deposition and trial process, in which he repeatedly clashed with and insulted shareholder attorneys. "It would be a windfall for Elon Musk if he got to keep shares he never should have gotten in the first place," Rudy said. Chesler called the request to order Musk to return the stock from the deal "preposterous" and said it ignored five years of unprecedented success at Tesla. Tesla's stock was down 1% at around $1,040in afternoon trade. Tesla acquired SolarCity as the electric vehicle maker was approaching the launch of its Model 3, a mass-market sedan that was critical to its strategy. Shareholders allege the deal was a needless distraction and burdened Tesla with SolarCity's financial woes and debt. Shareholders claim that despite owning only 22% of Tesla, Musk was a controlling shareholder due to his ties to board members and domineering style. If plaintiffs can prove this, it increases the likelihood that the court will conclude the deal was unfair to shareholders. Musk's lawyers said the celebrity entrepreneur had no authority to fire directors or control their salaries and withdrew from price negotiations in the SolarCity deal. "Without Elon Musk, Tesla couldn't exist, let alone be worth $1 trillion," said Vanessa Lavely, Musk's attorney. "That doesn't make him a controller. This makes him a highly effective CEO. Slights ended the hearing by saying he expects to rule in about three months. He said last week that he intends to retire in the next few months. And a request for related shareholders contesting Musk's record pay package was transferred from Slights to another judge. Source: Reuters

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 (Mike Blake, Reuters) Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) is buying "Call of Duty" maker Activision Blizzard (ATVI.O) for $68.7 billion in the biggest gaming industry deal in history as global technology giants stake their claims to a virtual future. The deal announced by Microsoft on Tuesday, its biggest-ever and set to be the largest all-cash acquisition on record, will bolster its firepower in the booming videogaming market where it takes on leaders Tencent (0700.HK) and Sony (6758.T). It also represents the American multinational's bet on the "metaverse," virtual online worlds where people can work, play and socialize, as many of its biggest competitors are already doing. "Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms," Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella said. Microsoft, one of the biggest companies in the world largely thanks to corporate software such as its Azure cloud computing platform and Outlook franchise, is offering $95 per share - a 45% premium to Activision's Friday close. Activision's shares were last up 26% at $82.10, still a steep discount to the offer price, reflecting concerns the deal could get stuck in regulators' crosshairs. Microsoft has so far avoided the type of scrutiny faced by Google and Facebook but this deal, which would make it the world's third largest gaming company, will put the Xbox maker on lawmakers' radars, said Andre Barlow of the law firm Doyle, Barlow & Mazard PLLC. "Microsoft is already big in gaming," he said. However, a source familiar with the matter said Microsoft would pay a $3 billion break-fee if the deal falls through, suggesting it is confident of winning antitrust approval. The tech major's shares were last down 1.9%. The deal comes at a time of weakness for Activision, maker of games such as "Overwatch" and "Candy Crush". Before the deal was announced, its shares had slumped more than 37% since reaching a record high last year, hit by allegations of sexual harassment of employees and misconduct by several top managers. The company is still addressing those allegations and said on Monday it had fired or pushed out more than three dozen employees and disciplined another 40 since July. CEO Bobby Kotick, who said Microsoft approached him about a possible buyout, would continue as CEO of Activision following the deal, although he is expected to leave after it closes, a source familiar with the plans said. In a conference call with analysts, Microsoft boss Nadella did not directly refer to the scandal but talked about the importance of culture in the company. "It's critical for Activision Blizzard to drive forward on its renewed cultural commitments," he said, adding "the success of this acquisition will depend on it." 'METAVERSE ARMS RACE' Data analytics firm Newzoo estimates the global gaming market generated $180.3 billion of revenues in 2021, and expects that to grow to $218.8 billion by 2024. Microsoft already has a significant beachhead in the sector as one of the big three console makers. It has been making investments including buying "Minecraft" maker Mojang Studios and Zenimax in multibillion-dollar deals in recent years. It has also launched a popular cloud gaming service, which has more than 25 million subscribers. According to Newzoo, Microsoft's gaming market share was 6.5% in 2020 and adding Activision would have taken it to 10.7%. Executives talked up Activision's 400 million monthly active users as one major attraction to the deal and how vital these communities could play in Microsoft's various metaverse plays. Activision's library of games could give Microsoft's Xbox gaming platform an edge over Sony's Playstation, which has for years enjoyed a more steady stream of exclusive games. "The likes of Netflix have already said they'd like to foray into gaming themselves, but Microsoft has come out swinging with today’s rather generous offer," said Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. Microsoft's offer equates to 18 times Activision's 2021 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA). That compares with the 16 times EBITDA valuation of "Grand Theft Auto" maker Take-Two Interactive's (TTWO.O) cash-and-shares deal for Zynga last week. According to Refinitiv data, the Microsoft-Activision deal would be the largest all-cash acquisition on record, trumping Bayer's $63.9 billion offer for Monsanto in 2016 and the $60.4 billion that InBev bid for Anheuser-Busch in 2008. Tech companies from Microsoft to Nvidia have placed big bets on the so-called metaverse, with the buzz around it intensifying late last year after Facebook renamed itself as Meta Platforms to reflect its focus on its virtual reality business. "This is a significant deal for the consumer side of the business and more importantly, Microsoft acquiring Activision really starts the metaverse arms race," David Wagner, equity analyst and portfolio manager at Aptus Capital Advisors said. "We believe the deal will get done," he said, but cautioned: "This will get a lot of looks from a regulatory standpoint." This article is copy paste from Reuters Check the original article here Source: Reuters

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The Android app will get new pencil and drawing  tools in a future update, while WhatsApp Desktop will get new chat bubble colors. The desktop app  also gets a new dark blue color that is only visible in dark theme mode. The instant messaging app is also testing a new emoji message reaction info tab and new  message reaction notification settings.  WhatsApp feature tracker WABetaInfo said that WhatsApp is introducing new drawing tools to its Android app. You get two pens, including one thinner and one thicker than your existing pen. The app is also working on a blur  tool that may be added  in the future.  The new features appeared in the WhatsApp Beta for Android 2.22.5 update, but they are disabled by default. These features are still under development and may be made available to WhatsApp beta testers soon. The WABetaInfo report said the app is also introducing new colour to its Windows and macOS apps with WhatsApp beta for Desktop 2.2201.2.0 update. The new colour scheme will be visible in the dark theme and the chat bubbles seem to be greener compared to the existing colour. Other elements of the app will also see colour changes with chat bar and background colour now reportedly have a blue tinge.

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Photo Credit: Fabrice Coffrini | Reuters At present, there is no evidence  that healthy children and adolescents need booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine,  World Health Organization chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Tuesday.  Speaking at a news briefing, she said that while there seems to be some waning of vaccine immunity over time against the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus, more research is needed to determine who needs a booster shot. "There is currently no evidence  that healthy children or heavy adolescents need boosters. No evidence at all," he said.  Israel began offering boosters to children as young as 12, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this month authorized the use of a third dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12 and 15.  Last week, Germany became the latest country to recommend that all children between the ages of 12 and 17 receive a COVID-19 booster shot. Hungary did it too. Swaminathan said the WHO’s top group of experts would meet later this week to consider the specific question of how countries should consider giving boosters to their populations. “The aim is to protect the most vulnerable, to protect those at highest risk of severe disease and dying. Those are our elderly populations, immuno-compromised people with underlying conditions, but also healthcare workers,” she said.  

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Photo credit: Gadgets Now  Apple has confirmed that  iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro do not cancel noise  during phone calls, including  iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 Pro Max. Apple included the feature in the iPhone 12 series and earlier models to improve call quality in noise environment.  No reason was given to remove this feature from the iPhone 13 series noise cancellation during phone calls. By reference, by  iPhone 13 series, we mean  iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro and  iPhone 13 Pro Max. On previous iPhones, the feature was available in Settings under  Audio/Visual, which is found in Accessibility. According to Apple, the setting reduces ambient noise when making calls, but only when you hold the iPhone to your ear. By default, Apple has the feature enabled, although it's hidden in Accessibility.Theoretically, the feature made it easier for people to be heard when making calls from busy areas, such as in the  near heavy traffic.  Apple has now confirmed to 9to5Mac that the lack of noise cancellation on the iPhone 13 series is not a bug in iOS 15. Instead, Apple ruled out the feature but didn't explain why. However, older iPhone models still support "phone noise cancellation" in iOS 15. Currently, the only workaround is to enable the voice isolation feature in Control Center, although this doesn't work with all apps.

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Samsung  today unveiled the Exynos 2200, its latest flagship chipset that will power  Galaxy S22 smartphones in certain regions. The new platform is based on  4nm EUV process technology and comes with a custom GPU called Xclipse.  It is based on the AMD RDNA2 architecture and as such is a "single hybrid graphics processor" that offers advanced features such as ray tracing and variable rate shading on mobile devices, the first smartphone chip to do so. Ray tracing is a technology that simulates how light behaves in real life, calculating the motion and color of objects as light rays bounce off surfaces.  The hardware-accelerated feature offers realistic effects and immersive graphics, making playing games that support these features as great as it looks. Variable rate shading is another technology implemented in PC and console games. Developers apply lesser shading to areas where quality is not compromised, improving frame rate and smooth gameplay. Exynos 2200 is also one of the first chips to integrate ARMv9 CPU cores. The octa-core processor features a single powerful CortexX2 core, three CortexA710 cores that balance performance and efficiency, and four small CortexA510  cores for power efficiency.  Traditionally, Samsung does not disclose the frequency of its chips are cloaked at. The new GPU and upgraded CPU also have a more powerful NPU to keep them company. Compared to the Exynos 2100, the performance has been doubled and allows more calculations in parallel, improving the overall performance of the AI.  The chipset is powered by the latest LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 storage. The 5G modem works on both sub-6GHz and mmWave frequencies, while the global navigation system is compatible with all major standards and satellites. Samsung said the Exynos 2200 is "currently in mass production". We'll see the Galaxy S22 lineup with the chip, but rumors point to February 8th as a possible launch date.

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Photo credit: Marvel Studios Marvel's Eternals is a very different beast to many other MCU movies; directed by autheor Chloe Zhao,  is a slow-paced, meditative story that explores the emotional toll of immortality on a group of extraterrestrials who have lived on the fringes of human society for millennia. This departure from the familiar house style has led many fans to dislike Eternals, but there's one thing  it does  as well as other Marvel films: hide Easter eggs in plain sight. And now that the film is streaming on Disney+, a new video on the Heavy Spoilers channel just picked up all the niche references and clues. The first Easter egg appears  seconds into the film: The "six singularities" mentioned in the opening text are a nod to the Infinity Stones, those brightly colored McGuffins who have directed the action for much of the past decade. Following the introductory exhibition montage, as we move to Sersi in present-day London, we see an announcement from the Global Repatriation Council, the organization set up to deal with the aftermath of the Avengers undoing the Snap featured in The Falcon and the Winter  Soldier. A number of different versions of Captain America's shield also show up in the movie, first in Kingo's Bollywood number, and then later on his private plane, where the earliest design is on display. But it's not just Marvel properties that the movie is alluding to: Eternals includes a couple of nods to DC, with Phastos' son calling Ikaris "Superman," and Kingo's valet Karun being compared to Batman's butler Alfred. The Celestial whose "emergence" functions as the movie's climactic crisis is named Tiamut, which is a reference to an apocalyptic figure from Babylonian mythology. This is especially apt given that ancient Babylon is one of the historical locations where we see the Eternals influencing humanity in the movie. If You want To download Eternal For Free Then Click Here

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Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla speaks during a ceremony in Thessaloniki, Greece, on October 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos, File) Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Monday that while the "most likely scenario" is that the coronavirus will circulate for many years, he believes the current wave of infections will be the last to require restrictions. Bourla gave an interview to the French medium BFM. TV to commemorate the announcement of an investment package by the pharmaceutical company in France. Bourla also touted the vaccines' effectiveness and safety, saying  he believed people would still need booster shots. "It's important that people get Pfizer's three-dose regimen. coronavirus vaccine and will likely  require yearly booster shots, although the immunocompromised may need them every four months," Bourla said. “Children need to be vaccinated  to protect them. Its effectiveness in children is very, very, very good. Bourla also said  the company's anti-COVID pill, Paxlovid, is "changing everything" as a new way to fight serious illnesses. Pfizer said in December that its Paxlovid pill had reduced hospitalizations and deaths by nearly 90 percent in vulnerable people. In the interview, Bourla said the company was working on a plan that would invest 520 million euros ($593.7 million)  in France over the next five years, including a partnership with French company Novasep to develop an anti-inflammatory treatment -COVID pills. France, like many other countries, is facing a record number of infections caused by the highly contagious Omicron variant. France's parliament passed legislation on Sunday barring unvaccinated people from all restaurants, sports stadiums and other venues, the centerpiece of the government's effort to protect hospitals. in the middle of the wave. The government of French President Emmanuel Macron is hoping the step will be enough to limit the number of patients filling up strained hospitals nationwide without resorting to a new lockdown. More than 76% of French ICU beds are occupied by virus patients, most of them unvaccinated, and some 200 people with the virus are dying every day. Like many countries, France is in the grip of the Omicron variant, recording more than 2,800 positive cases per 100,000 people over the past week.

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Warren Buffett says these are the best businesses to own — 3 examples from Berkshire's portfolio While we're constantly bombarded with confusing investment mumbo jumbo, we must never forget that, for the most part, companies  exist for one primary reason: to take capital from investors and make a return on it. For this reason, it makes sense for investors to look for companies with enduring competitive advantages that are capable of consistently delivering high returns on investments. As Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, once said, "The best company to own is one that  can deploy large amounts of incremental capital at very high prices at very high rates of return. With that in mind, here are three Berkshire holdings with double-digit returns on invested capital. Moody's (MCO) With returns on invested capital consistently in the mid-20% range, credit rating leader Moody’s leads off our list. Moody’s shares held up incredibly well during the height of the pandemic and are up nearly 220% over the past five years, suggesting that it’s a recession-resistant business worth betting on. Specifically, the company’s well-entrenched leadership position in credit ratings, which leads to outsized returns on capital, should continue to limit Moody’s long-term downside Moreover, Moody’s has generated about $2.4 billion in trailing twelve-month free cash flow. And over the first three quarters of 2021, the company has returned $975 million to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends. As of Q3 2021, Berkshire holds more than 24.6 million shares of Moody’s worth just under $8.8 billion. Moody’s has a dividend yield of 0.7%. Apple (AAPL) Next up, we have consumer technology gorilla Apple, which boasts a five-year return on invested capital of 28%, much higher than that of rivals like Nokia (-3%) and Sony (12%). Even in the cutthroat world of consumer hardware, the iPhone maker has been able to generate outsized returns due to its loyalty-commanding brand and high switching costs (the iOS experience can only be had through Apple products). And with the company continuing to penetrate emerging markets like India and Mexico, Apple’s long-term growth trajectory remains healthy. In the most recent quarter, Apple’s revenue jumped 29% to $83.4 billion. The company also returned over $24 billion to shareholders. The stock currently sports a dividend yield of just 0.5%, but with a buyback yield of 3%, Apple is doling out more cash to shareholders than you might think. It's no wonder that Apple is Berkshire's largest public holding, owning more than 887 million shares in the tech giant worth roughly $125.5 billion. Procter & Gamble (PG) Rounding out the list is consumer staples giant Procter & Gamble, with a solid five-year average return on invested capital of 13.5%. Berkshire held 315,400 shares at the end of Q3, worth around $44 million at today’s price. While that’s not a big position by Berkshire standards, something does make P&G stand out: the ability to deliver rising cash returns to investors through thick and thin. The company offers a portfolio of trusted brands like Bounty paper towels, Crest toothpaste, Gillette razor blades and Tide detergent. These are products households buy on a regular basis, regardless of what the economy is doing. In April, P&G’s board of directors announced a 10% increase to the quarterly payout, marking the company’s 65th consecutive annual dividend hike. P&G share currently offer a dividend yield of 2.2%. Source: Yahoo News

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