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Saudi Arabian Growth

In August, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) released its annual report for 2022, announcing that its assets under management surpassed US$594.4 billion.

As the sovereign wealth fund, PIF is used to drive the economic agenda of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, which is aimed at cutting the country’s reliance on oil.

In 2022, it generated a return of eight percent for shareholders, establishing 25 companies and deploying US$32 billion throughout the year in strategic sectors.

To support the fund’s continued growth, it is expanding its subsidiary offices in London, New York and Hong Kong with the aim of becoming a preferred partner for global investors.

A Loss for ESG

S&P Global, the world’s largest rater of corporate debt, has announced it will cease scoring publicly rated entities on its ESG factors.

The score, launched in 2021, was created to monitor the efforts of companies regarding ESG and grade them on a scale of one-to-five as part of their credit rating. The announcement to drop the rating followed increasing criticism by some about the scores potential to politicize what should be a purely financial decision.

Rather than a numerical score, the company will continue to assess companies based on their ESG practices using a written narrative.

“We have determined that the dedicated analytical narrative paragraphs in our credit rating reports are most effective at providing detail and transparency on ESG credit factors material to our rating analysis, and these will remain integral to our reports,” S&P Global said in a statement.

Weathering the Storm

With growing market uncertainty, here is a list of five stocks chosen by some of Wall Street’s top analysts, which are predicted to offer long-term potential growth, according to TipTanks.

Crypto Shutdowns

Following weak performance and industry-wide difficulties accessing banking services, 13 percent of crypto funds have closed up shop so far this year, according to Switzerland-based investment adviser 21e6 Capital.

Despite generating an average positive return of 15.2 percent in the first half of 2023, the funds still underperformed Bitcoin, which achieved 83.3 percent in the same period.

Crypto funds with market-neutral strategies were hit the hardest, generating an average return of just 6.8 percent, but funds that make direction bets were slightly better off with an average of 21.9 percent.

“In previous bull runs, crypto hedge funds were frequently able to significantly outperform the Bitcoin benchmark,” 21e6 Capital Due Diligence Manager Jan Spörer and Head of Marketing and Sales Maximilian Bruckner wrote in the report.

“How can underperformance among professionally managed crypto funds be such a widespread phenomenon?”

Possible reasons include the recent closures of multiple crypto-friendly institutions, including Silvergate Capital Corp and Signature Bank, as well as the underperformance of altcoins – alternative cryptocurrencies to Bitcoin. Hedge funds entering the year with larger than normal cash positions following industry turmoil in 2022 has also been cited as a possible cause.

Meditation Boom

In September last year, four-in-10 adults in the United States reported their stress piling up, with the same number reporting that their stress level negatively impact their mental health.

It is no surprise, then, that the global market for meditation and mental wellness apps was estimated to have reached over US$533 million in 2022. By 2028, it is predicted that meditation apps alone will surpass US$2.6 billion in revenue from users worldwide.

It is also predicted that global average spending per user of meditation apps will rise from US$46 in 2022 to US$60 by the end of 2027.

In May 2023, Calm, the highest-grossing mediation app worldwide, reported over US$6 million in revenue for the month, with the second-highest, Headspace App, reporting a revenue of approximately US$3.7 million.

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