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The monthly review: September's top stories

23 days ago

QUICK LOOK
THE MARKETS

-3.9%

S&P 500

-2.4%

EURO STOXX 50

-5.2%

NASDAQ

-7.5%

SET 50

-2.6%

STI

-7.0%

JCI

-6.8%

HSI

-0.3%

PSEI

0.5%

TOPIX
    
Source: Bloomberg 30.09.2020

        
Amazon's headcount tops 1 million

A glance at share prices since March would reveal that e-commerce giants have been a major beneficiary of lockdowns. As people stayed at home, spending moved online, boosting a trend which had already seemed unstoppable. To meet this surge in demand, Amazon has just recruited another 100,000 permanent staff in North America. That pushes total numbers up to 1 million. By comparison, bricks and mortar competitor Walmart employs 2.2 million people worldwide. But with the risk of further lockdowns as winter approaches, the switch to digital buying looks set to continue apace.

Calling time on Brexit

As the clock ticked loudly on the Brexit trade negotiations, UK prime minister Boris Johnson imposed a deadline of 15th October. After this date he threatened to halt discussions and accept No Deal as the outcome. The sticking point for both sides centred on finding a level playing field for trade. What’s more, the UK seemed prepared to break international law and go back on parts of the withdrawal agreement. The EU gave its own ultimatum, threatening to withdraw from talks if the UK did not stop ‘playing games’.

Snowflake - meet the zombies!

Queues of companies looking to raise money in the financial markets have been met with huge appetite from investors awash with cash. Cloud storage specialist Snowflake took the prize for the biggest US software IPO ever, hitting a total valuation of $90 billion in early trading. But at the bottom of the quality spectrum, struggling companies are clutching at ultra-low interest rates to issue corporate bonds. These companies are known as ‘zombies’, as their business may be scarcely viable. But with credit so cheap, they are able to limp on, long after they should have been laid to rest.

 

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