ETF Express: Week Ending 24 November 2023
- Cryptocurrency ETFs (CRYP, EBTC, EETH) were the top performers last week as the battle between US Department of Justice and Binance, an international crypto exchange, reached its conclusion. Binance plead guilty to ‘failure to register as a money transmitting business’, received a fine of US$4.3 billion, and lost its founding CEO, Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao.1 Despite the news, investors chose to look on the bright side as the matter resolved without any collapses reminiscent of FTX, and the exchange continued operations as usual.
- Australian property funds (MVA, SLF, VAP) were a theme across the poorest performers as RBA Governor Michele Bullock painted a hawkish picture for possible rate hikes in 2024.2 Higher interest rates will inevitably cause property debt to become harder to service, leading to a higher possibility of default and lower margins for real estate investors.
- There were $849 million in reported inflows for the week, and only $142.6 million in outflows, marking a week of strong net inflows for the Australian ETF industry.
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OpenAI Saga Ends with Altman Back on Top
Artificial Intelligence and Technology
OpenAI shocked the world two weeks ago after its superstar founder Sam Altman was fired after a disagreement between board members. But less than a week after his exit, Altman was back. To clear things up, we’ve made a timeline to help you make sense of what really happened over the weekend that shook the entire AI industry.
Friday, November 17th: Sam Altman was shockingly terminated as CEO by OpenAI’s independent board of directors due to not being “consistently candid in his communications with the board.”3 Greg Brockman, a fellow co-founder, was also demoted from the board, then quit in protest against the change. Mira Murati, the company’s Chief Technology Officer stepped up as interim CEO.4
Saturday, November 18th: Major partner and investor Microsoft Inc. released a statement re-affirming their partnership with OpenAI, however insiders reported Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was furious, having been blindsided by the decision.5
Sunday, November 19th: Microsoft makes a surprising announcement stating it has hired both Sam Altman and Greg Brockman to lead a newly created in-house AI research unit, with Altman as CEO of the division.6 Microsoft also opened its door to any OpenAI employees who wished to quit, a sign of their conviction in AI as part of their future business.
Monday, November 20th: OpenAI announces replacement interim CEO Emmett Shear, an ex-Twitch co-founder.7 More than 700 of OpenAI’s roughly 770 employees threaten to leave the company and join Microsoft in an open letter which asked for the resignation of OpenAI’s entire board of directors and the reinstatement of Sam Altman as CEO.8
Tuesday, November 21st: The saga ends as abruptly as it began. Sam Altman returns as OpenAI CEO, and the board of directors is replaced with new members now led by ex-Salesforce CEO Bret Taylor.9 Microsoft and OpenAI resume partnership as usual.
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- Copper looks to rise as China increased its efforts to boost its property market. China may allow banks to offer unsecured short-term loans to certain qualified developers which could help stabilise the industry.10
- On the supply side, a group of mines in Peru and Panama are experiencing strikes and protests. Las Bambas and Cobre Panama, two of the mines involved, combine to account for roughly 3% of global copper output.11,12
- Contango on copper futures in the London Metals Exchange is at its highest since 2009.13 Contango is a phenomenon that occurs when futures prices deviate from the true value of the underlying due to costs related to buying and holding for long periods. High contango indicates there may be excessive supply and low longer-term demand.
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- Physical uranium prices topped US$80 per pound last week, marking its highest point in 15 years. Investors are piling into uranium ETFs on renewed interest in nuclear power and a commitment towards alternative energy sources. Uranium ETF assets have grown 20x since the end of 2020.14
- The first attempted implementation of SMR technology in the US has been cancelled as NuScale Power terminated their project in accordance with the state of Utah.15
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- Crude oil gained last week on expectations OPEC+ may increase supply cuts due to weakening oil demand.16 These would sit on top of Saudi Arabia’s voluntary cuts which are set to continue into 2024. The OPEC meeting will occur this Thursday in a virtual forum.
- Goldman Sachs believes the current conflict in the Middle East will not have any impact on oil supply in the short term.17 This, combined with the temporary truce established over the weekend, may put a cap on geopolitical risk premiums.
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Forecasts are not guaranteed, and undue reliance should not be placed on them. This information is based on views held by Global X or referenced sources as at 28th November 2023.