REPOST: What are semiconductor stocks trying to tell technology stocks?

If the SOX semiconductor index—which has been performing quite impressively since November 2016—rallies above its June highs, we may be able to see the technology sector as whole making another good run. CNBC has the full story:

Victor J. Blue | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Semiconductor stocks may be about to flash a crucial signal about the fate of technology stocks.

Unlike the XLK technology exchange-traded fund and the Nasdaq 100, the SOX semiconductor index has not moved above its June highs.

The XLK’s break above its own high, reached in early June, has just been a slight one; the fund is going to need to see some more upside follow-through if it’s going to confirm another leg higher in the tech space.

That’s where the semiconductors come in: The index could and should be a clue as to whether tech stocks can do this or not.

Why? The SOX has been a leader for the technology group since November. At its June highs, it had rallied over 41 percent since the U.S. election in November. Meanwhile, the XLK had rallied 24 percent by that time.

Therefore, we’d like to see the SOX break above those June highs in a meaningful fashion before we can declare that tech stocks are going to see another nice run higher.

Right now, the SOX is about 4 percent below those June highs, so it’s not like there is a major divergence. However, whether the semiconductors can break out to the upside — or roll over — in the next week or two could (and should) be important for the tech sector.

Expect a massive global shift to tech-driven economic models soon

Image source: which-50.com

History reminds us how technology not only changed our way of life but has also introduced new ways to increase and diversify production of goods or services. In turn, it has driven the economies of the world to new heights.

According to a recent study based on more than a million patents that we have seen in the past century, the positive impacts of technological feats to the economy have not only brought an optimistic future to this sector but also expanded it beyond recognition by fueling an increase in production for different industries. As a result, technology has contributed to the overall financial health of countries around the globe. One example is how it has boosted the annual U.S. economic output in the recent years. Analysis concluded that this growth correlated to the booming technologically innovative products that has been made available to the market in the past decade.

Image source: iacpublishinglabs.com

As a response to this massive acceleration from a technology-driven change, experts have suggested that economic models should respond to the changes of its global environment by welcoming a newer phase beyond the 20th century economic models. One of these highlighted models is termed as the ‘programmable economy’ in 2014, and it is defined as a form of ‘smart’ economic system which aims to support and manage both goods and services’ production and consumption particularly catered to technology-driven scenarios.

In addition, the heavy spending on product development is naturally helping to pace economic growth. The good news is, innovation is now becoming a commonplace among industries and since technology-based advancements are happening globally, many sectors including industrial, energy, and finance can enjoy its benefits.

Image source: planet-lean.com

Many of the world’s top investment magnets are tech stocks, particularly those that set new trends. The likes of Google, Amazon, Apple, and Oracle are favorites amongst investors and asset management firms—such as LOM Financial—because of their sustainable business models and booming market popularity. In some cases, such as that of Samsung, they are actually considered the prime movers of the national economies they are primarily involved with.

REPOST: A method to create alloys for future semiconductors

Outside major commodities such as crude oil and coffee, semiconductors are probably the most abundant in the trading world. Hence, efforts to continually develop and enhance this technology have never waned. An article on New Electronics gives us a clue on how semiconductors may be manufactured in the future:

 

A way to create new alloys could form the basis of next generation semiconductors, say a team led by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

“Maybe in the past scientists looked at two materials and said I can’t mix those two. What we’re saying is think again,” said Aaron Holder, researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder. “There is a way to do it.”

A mismatch between atomic arrangements previously thwarted the creation of certain alloys. The research team, however, managed to create an alloy of manganese oxide (MnO) and zinc oxide (ZnO), even though their atomic structures are very different.

According to the team, the new alloy absorbs a significant fraction of natural sunlight, although separately neither MnO nor ZnO can.

Using heat, blending a small percent of MnO with ZnO already is possible, but reaching a 1:1 mix would require temperatures far greater than 1000°C and the materials would separate again as they cool.

The scientists – who also created an alloy of tin sulphide and calcium sulphide – deposited these alloys as thin films using pulsed laser deposition and magnetron sputtering. Neither method required such high temperatures.

“We show that commercial thin film deposition methods can be used to fabricate heterostructural alloys, opening a path to their use in real-world semiconductor applications,” NREL researcher Andriyr Zakutayev said.

Uses of petroleum you probably didn’t know

It was in 1859 when the first U.S. oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania. Unlike other sources of energy, this fossil fuel derived from rock produced what is now known to the world as “petroleum” – from the Latin words, petra (rock) and odeum, meaning oil

 

In 2015, the U.S. relied on 36 percent of its energy form petroleum. In fact, this “black gold” is a primary source of energy not only in the U.S. but also around the world. It is a major resource and many companies (and even entire countries) rely on it for their economic activities. As a result, it is one of the world’s most traded commodities and a major component (usually in the form of stocks) of many investment portfolios.

 

Image source: americancowboychronicles.com

 

In contrary to what most people believe, this type of oil is not only useful for fueling powerful transport vehicles and industrial machines, but it is also essential in numerous day to day applications. That is why volumes of petroleum being traded on a daily basis are often huge. Below are some of the several uses of petroleum you probably didn’t know:

 

Industrial and domestic heating/lighting

Central heating plants for homes, offices, and shops utilize heavier types of oils. In addition, the electricity produced from oil can be used for industrial purposes. The bulk of the world’s electricity supply is powered by thermal power plants, which mainly use hydrocarbons. Lighter oil grades like ‘kerosene’ is most suitable for domestic use.

 

Lubricating agent

Petroleum in the form of lubricants are useful for any type of transport and industrial machines. All greases and other lubricating agents are in fact produced from petroleum and help a wide range of complex machineries used in big factories and even small offices.

 

Petroleum by-products

Several oil refining process often produce other useful petroleum by-products that are used in a variety of applications for a wide range of users and consumers. For instance, the combination of petro-chemical products can give us plastic, grease, Vaseline, wax, detergents, aviation gasoline, asphalt, and many more.

 

Transport System

It’s a fact that the world’s entire transport system depends primarily on petroleum. Road, water, air, and rail transport has been modernized by the discovery of fossil fuels like petroleum. Diesel and petrol are the number one sources of energy for any type of modern transport machines and vehicles.

REPOST: 200,000 infected computers, and that counts as lucky

The recent series of “ransomware” cyberattacks are putting the world in turmoil, and thousands of businesses and government agencies in over 150 countries have been greatly affected. More on this issue from this article on the Boston Globe:

People looked at an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo on Monday. Shares were higher in early trading in Asia, despite worries of disruptions from the “WannaCry” ransomware cyberattack over the weekend. | KOJI SASAHARA/ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

Since Friday, more than 200,000 computers worldwide have been rendered inoperable by the aptly named “WannaCry” cyberattack. And it could have been a lot worse.

The malware attacked corporations and government agencies across Europe and Asia, affecting patient care in Britain’s National Health Service, Chinese ATMs, Russian government computers, and several car manufacturing plants.

But had it not been for a fast-acting researcher — and a critical flaw in the malware itself — companies everywhere might have opened their doors Monday morning to discover rooms full of unusable computers, all flashing the same terrible message “Oops your files have been encrypted! . . . send $300 worth of bitcoin.”

It could still happen tomorrow, or in the days after. Already, more pernicious versions of WannaCry have been released into the wild. Meanwhile, blame has been aimed in multiple directions: at users, for not applying a patch Microsoft has made available that could have thwarted the attack; at Microsoft itself, for failing to create timely patches for older but still-common operating systems like Windows XP; and most pointedly at the US National Security Agency, which has known about this particular vulnerability for some time — but kept it secret so that agents could use it for their own surveillance needs.

Continue reading HERE.

Five straight-out-of-Sci-Fi reasons why Japan is leading the robotics industry

Imagine a world where man and robots work together to achieve simple to monumental goals with great accuracy and efficiency. What will life be like?

Many people believe that the advancements in robotics will introduce a totally different world in the future. However, for Japan, with their innovations in technology, the future is here and now. Here are the amazing reasons why Japan is leading the robotics industry:

  1. The mechanical tour guide.

The country is a popular travel destination not only for its food but also for the rich culture that every region has to offer. However, language barriers remain a problem especially when going to places where not everyone speaks English – until RoBoHon, came into the picture.

RoBoHon is the world’s first robotic mobile phone and can serve as a virtual tour guide aside from having the typical functions that you can find in a smartphone.

  1. Japan’s mecha-built warrior.

A great news for all testosterone-pumping mecha-tech fans came in just last year when Japan promised the most awesome battle that the world will ever see: a Giant Robot Duel between Suidobashi Heavy Industries and MegaBots, an American robotics company.

 

  1. Robotic teammates.

This robotic volley player helps out the Japanese volleyball national team in their training drills, simulating blockers of an opposing team. The robots’ structure consists of pair of hands and a movable torso.

  1. Robot-run hotel.

A hotel in Tokyo offers a sci-fi like experience with its robot-run accommodation, giving guests a glimpse of an automated future. Imagine being greeted by a robotic dinosaur receptionist and asking assistance from a robotic hotel staff.

  1. Robots for the elderly.

As a response to Japan’s graying population, a company is planning to mass produce robots developed as a walk assist system that will help elderly people to stay mobile through a pair of “robotic legs”.

Experts predict that the robotics industry could boom into a $135-billion dollar business (in terms of spending) before the end of the decade. This is probably one of the reasons why tech-driven exchange-traded funds have been gaining momentum in recent years. The industry can significantly transform economic structures, disrupt existing business models, and nurture current and future growth opportunities for those well-positioned to participate.

Irreparable damage: How piracy is jeopardizing the film and TV industries

With the advent of the Internet, it has now become easier more than ever to share documents and files to people across the globe. They can send heaps upon piles of documents across oceans without spending a single cent. Not only has it given people a lot of flexibility but also some much needed convenience. However, such set-up also made it easier for people to illegally distribute intellectual properties. Individuals are now videotaping movies inside theaters. Once they have their own copy, they distribute it to no ends.

 

Image source: thesun.ie

 

Take the Expendables 3 for example. A DVD-rip was released online weeks ahead of its schedule. At best, it was estimated that the movie was downloaded 2.1 million times. Looking at the numbers, the production team could have significantly upped their revenues if those individuals paid a visit to the movie houses. The same dilemma is faced by popular TV shows, including Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Orange is the New Black. Simply put, the industry is losing money.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) also cried foul due to piracy back in 2005. In order to investigate their claim, De Vany and Walls developed a methodology wherein they could accurately measure if there was a positive correlation between online releases and theater visits. It included measuring online piracy activity with that of box office profits for a total of 14 weeks. They were able to find out that a movie which raked in $61 million lost $40 million to pirates. That is a 40 percent setback which cannot be ignored.

 

Image source: allafrica.com

 

If the $10 billion movie industry is losing 40 percent annually due to piracy, it roughly translates to $3-4 billion down the drain, and that is a very big problem. TV networks also lose a sizable slice of their audience due to piracy, which consequently jeopardizes their potential for higher revenues from advertisers. For subscription-based providers like HBO and Netflix, the loss of exclusivity of original programming (due to piracy) could potentially impact the growth their subscriber base.

REPOST: Seeing the future: Exploring exponential technology

Tremendous achievements in technology is making it even more possible for certain resources to be used without limits and at increasingly lower prices. Here’s an article on Live Mint for a better look at this matter:

The pace at which technology is advancing is resulting in doubling of capabilities, often at the same or reduced cost, paving the way for digitization, democratization and disruption.

Exponential improvements in our ability to capture, store, distribute and utilize solar energy could make energy so abundant that it is non-limiting and ‘free’. | Photo: Bloomberg

 

In the world we live in, some technologies are advancing at a breakneck pace, or exponentially. This means that capabilities are doubling or more with every step, often at the same or reduced cost, leading to digitization, democratization and disruption.

This has been most evident with Moore’s law in semiconductors (with the transistor density on silicon doubling every 18 months) over two decades, which led to miniaturization and cost efficiencies for electronics. But, it is not limited to this.

We have seen similar trends in wireless spectral efficiency and bandwidth doubling every 30 months (Cooper’s law) and an exponential trend in the scale and cost of data storage media like hard drives (Kryder’s law).

Swanson’s law talks about a 20% drop in price of solar photovoltaic modules for every doubling of cumulative shipped volume.

These examples are all around us.

However, the impact and speed of change is probably most visible in what we carry around daily in our pockets and purses—our smartphones. They enable us to routinely do things that even just a few years ago required a completely different approach.

Think of how many more pictures you take and how quickly you share them with others.

Think of WhatsApp, Facebook, Ola/Uber, Amazon/Flipkart, Paytm or BookMyShow. These technologies not only digitize and democratize services and products, but also (sometimes in a matter of months) disrupt established industries that have stood for decades.

 

Continue reading HERE.

Local vs Cloud Based Bookkeeping Solutions

Bookkeeping and accounting services are essential for established businesses as well as new start-ups who want to hit the ground running and not run into problems with their books or finances. Whether you’re a small home based business or a technology firm hiring tons of people upfront there are regulations and financial rules you need to be aware of that can both save you money and keep you out of hot water with the relevant authorities.

Hiring a local accountant to deal with your bookkeeping needs on a monthly basis is not only an affordable, but also flexible solution that can keep you focused on expanding your business, serving your customers and getting the needed revenue through the door. What type of services would a local Ottawa bookkeeper provide? Quarterly HST filings, accounts payable, accounts receivable and even monthly payroll deductions can all be accomplished in a totally hands off manner each month, reducing your paperwork obligations and keeping your financials in order so you don’t fall behind.

Hiring a Local Ottawa Bookkeeper – What To Know

Having a bookkeeper or Ottawa accounting service retained for monthly service also has the benefit of ongoing support. Often times you’ll be thinking of expanding your business and have questions regarding the financial implications – tax write offs, HST deductions etc. Having an accountant on hand can be really helpful since they can answer these questions and help you make the most educated decision possible. Additionally, if your bookkeeper has been handling your monthly needs and keeping all relevant statements organized it will expedite your annual corporate tax return which they may be able to complete for you as well.

Choosing the right bookkeeping service here in Ottawa is important and you should know exactly what you need done on a monthly basis before getting a quote. There are tons of online options like FreshBooks and Bench offer comprehensive online platforms with phone support, however many business owners prefer the benefits of having a local source for Ontario specific tax knowledge. Prices are also very competitive for industry specific bookkeeping packages and depending on your needs, features can be added or removed to make it more customized.

Whether you are considering an online option, or you want a dedicated bookkeeper here in Ottawa getting your books handled early on in the life of your business is essential to its survival.

Major Advantages of Offshore Investing

If you are an individual or a company looking forward to setup or expand your business for making more profits and saving on taxes, then doing it offshore is a great option for you. Listed below are the advantages of offshore investing.

Reducing taxes

This is the most important or the greatest advantage of getting a business registered in a new country. There are several places or countries where tax obligations are very low for non-residents. In some countries, non-resident companies are even tax-exempt. Thus, you can easily establish your business at such locations by taking proper advice from an offshore business services provider or taxation expert. An experienced professional can guide you about the complicated corporate tax matters and ensures that no legal conflicts occur while setting up your business offshore.

 

Offshore Investing 

Protecting assets color

Your future liabilities are highly protected when the assets are placed in offshore legal structures. There is effective screening of your finances when you put your money in establishing an offshore company. There is a good protection of your intellectual property, as well as investments in real estate. Many companies actually help you manage your assets, like this one- https://www.lom.com/offshore-bank-accounts

Having ease of setup, reduced administration

Setting up an offshore company is usually a simpler and faster task than establishing an onshore one. The legal obligation for the presence of officers and directors is also not there at times. Thus, it is convenient to go for reduced administration. You can also cut down the time taken for staffing the operations if you wish to go without an office, as that is also a possibility.

Decreasing costs, investment

There would be a minimal investment required to setup a business offshore as compared to starting your work onshore. In fact, some countries have no minimal requirements for capital investments. Additionally, you may find that it is not only easy to get your business registered at these places but also cost-effective. Your business operations would also be quite cheaper as compared to your own country. There can be significant savings made by cutting down on office operations. Many of the offshore companies opt to go for virtual offices in order to receive huge cost savings. You would also have low maintenance fee for an offshore company as compared to an onshore setup.

Gaining confidentiality

In certain countries, you do not have to disclose information. It does not mean that there are no regulations of money laundering. These countries have anti-money laundering legislations that non-residents have to respect.

Summary

With proper planning, an offshore investment can become a tax-efficient alternative for business persons who are willing to operate internationally. With many countries attracting foreign investors, there are wide-ranging offshore investing opportunities for entrepreneurs.

For more information on the topics discussed in this post, visit these pages:

investopedia Pros and cons of offshore investing

LOM offshore brokerage

LOM money market accounts