Russia advances, LVMH shakeup, crypto spat - what's moving markets

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Russia advances, LVMH shakeup, crypto spat - what's moving markets

By Geoffrey Smith -- Russia claims its first battlefield victory in Ukraine in months, as the West plots new sanctions against it. Apple is accelerating efforts to bring more components in-house. Stocks are set to edge higher. There's a change of guard at the world's biggest luxury group, LVMH, and a massive rise in U.S. oil inventories - but crude prices are still being driven by expectations of a Chinese recovery. And the crypto spat between the owners of Gemini and Genesis continues. Here's what you need to know in financial markets on Wednesday, 11th January. 

1. Russia claims breakthrough in Ukraine; West plans more sanctions

Russia claimed its first significant battlefield victory in months against Ukraine, saying its forces had taken control of the town of Soledar, a key point in the battle for the larger town of Bakhmut. Analysts said the development suggested that the news represented a moderate success for Russia’s strategy of grinding down Ukrainian forces in a battle of attrition.

Kyiv denied losing control of the town.

The news comes amid reports that the U.S., EU, and others are planning fresh sanctions against Russia, encouraged by the success of their price cap on Russian oil exports. Some estimate this has cut the Kremlin’s revenue stream by nearly $200 million a day since being introduced in December. Russia’s budget deficit, meanwhile, rose to 2.3% of GDP last year, according to the country’s finance ministry.

2. Apple ramps up component substitution efforts

Not content with replacing Broadcom’s (NASDAQ: AVGO ) cellular modem chips in its iPhones, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) is also looking to start putting its own displays on its watches and, eventually, phones in its efforts to bring more of its assembly in house.

According to Bloomberg, Apple intends to start putting in-house displays in its watches by the end of next year. It will use a new technology known as microLED as an upgrade from the current OLED standard, and give Apple more control over the design and capabilities of new products, according to Bloomberg’s sources.

The move will reduce its dependence on suppliers such as LG Display (NYSE: LPL ), whose ADRs fell over 2% in premarket on the news. Samsung (KS: 005930 ), another core display supplier, eked out a modest gain in Seoul overnight.

3. Stocks set to edge higher, treading water ahead of CPI; LVMH hits record high after shakeup

U.S. stock markets are set to open modestly higher later, essentially treading water on a quiet day for earnings and economic data and waiting for the release of December’s consumer inflation data on Thursday.

By 06:25 ET (11:25 GMT), Dow Jones futures were up 50 points or 0.2%, while S&P 500 futures were up 0.2%, and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.1%. The three main cash indices made gains of up to 1% on Tuesday.

Stocks likely to be in focus later include Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA ), which is reportedly planning a $750M expansion of its Texas factory, and French luxury giant LVMH (EPA: LVMH ), where controlling shareholder Bernard Arnault has installed Pietro Beccari as the new group chief executive and chairman, while his daughter Delphine Arnault will take at the helm of its Dior unit. The stock rose to an all-time high in early Paris trading.

4. Silbert-Winklevoss, round 2

The clash of the cryptocurrency titans revved up again, as the Winklevoss twins renewed their campaign to shake Digital Currency Group owner Barry Silbert down for money that they say he owes their clients.

In a second open letter in two weeks, Cameron Winklevoss accused Silbert and his firms DCG and Genesis of defrauding 340,000 customers of their own Gemini Earn project, and called for his removal.

Silbert responded by tweeting a letter to his own shareholders, lamenting that it was “challenging to have my integrity and good intentions questioned after spending a decade pouring everything into this company.” He acknowledged that DCG borrowed money from Genesis (which has now paused withdrawals due to liquidity constraints) in order to buy back DCG stock, but again rejected the bulk of Winklevoss’s claims, without mentioning Gemini once.

5. Oil edges higher as Chinese rebound hopes trump U.S. inventory surge

Crude oil prices edged higher, shrugging off news of a massive rise in U.S. crude inventories last week to focus on the likelihood of a rebound in Chinese demand in the course of the year.

The American Petroleum Institute had reported crude stocks rose over 14M barrels last week which, if confirmed by government data that are due at 10:30, would be the biggest weekly rise in nearly two years. Gasoline stocks also rose by 1.8M barrels.

By 06:45 ET, U.S. crude futures were up 0.3% at $75.33 a barrel, while Brent futures were up 0.5% at $80.47 a barrel.

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