Cryptocurrency market at risk of 'cascading contagion', warns Binance chief - live updates




  • In Business
  • 2022-11-14 15:38:49Z
  • By The Telegraph
FTX collapsed on Friday - STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images
FTX collapsed on Friday - STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images  

The boss of the world's largest cryptocurrency trading company has warned there will be "some cascading contagion effects" from the collapse of $32bn exchange FTX.

Changpeng "CZ" Zhao, the chief executive of Binance, who pulled out of last minute talks to rescue FTX last week before it imploded, said: "There will be a few other players who either have money on FTX and even a significant amount that may cause them trouble."

Mr Zhao pulled out of last minute talks to rescue FTX last week before it imploded, warning of "reports regarding mishandled customer funds and alleged US agency investigations".

FTX, a Bahamas-based cryptocurrency fund, filed for bankruptcy protection in the US after freezing withdrawals as it struggled to redeem billions of pounds in withdrawals.

Founded by 30-year-old entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried, FTX crashed with $9bn in liabilities. The exchange reportedly lent customer funds with its sister trading company, Alameda Research, to prop up its losses on high-risk crypto investments, as part of a web of more than 130 companies run from a multi-million-pound penthouse in the Bahamas.

Mr Bankman-Fried, known as "SBF, apologised last week and blamed the collapse on "poor internal labelling" of its company accounts. He later added: "I'm piecing together all of the details, but I was shocked to see things unravel the way they did earlier this week."

A number of other exchanges and trading companies used FTX's products for their own deposits or for completing trades, creating risks to other cryptocurrency outfits. The fallout from the crisis triggered a sharp sell-off in digital currencies. So far this month, Bitcoin is down around 20pc after the problems at FTX emerged. The company's own digital token, called FTT, has lost more than 90pc of its value.

Mr Zhao said he believed "the major impact is probably out... I could be very wrong here."

Read the latest updates below.

03:44 PM

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03:05 PM

Gaming tokens plunge in wake of FTX collapse

Gaming tokens across a major crypto ecosystem are proving to be yet another casualty in the fallout from FTX.com's collapse.

Some tokens on the Solana blockchain have dropped even further than Solana's main SOL coin after the network lost its biggest supporter.

FTX chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried was a major backer of the nascent ecosystem, and had pledged to invest $100m (£85m) in gaming projects on its blockchain as part of a consortium of venture capital firms a year ago.

Among the top games for Solana is Aurory, a turn-based role-playing game which saw the price of its in-game token slump more than 70pc in the last seven days, according to data from CoinGecko.

Comparatively, Solana's SOL token has lost 56pc.

02:50 PM

Plugging the budget black hole

Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt are planning a painful tax raid to solve the budget crisis - but can you do better?

Latest estimates put the black hole in the public finances in the region of £60bn, though the true size will only be clear when Mr Hunt, the Chancellor, delivers the Autumn Statement on Thursday.

Head over to our interactive story to explore the policy options to reduce the deficit and see if you could do a good job as Chancellor.

02:35 PM

Nasdaq has strong open as rest of Wall Street in the red

Wall Street opened lower after comments from a US Federal Reserve Governor over the weekend heightened expectations that interest rises will continue.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened down 0.2pc at 33,661.71 while the S&P 500 slipped 0.3pc to 3,980.10.

The tech-focused Nasdaq strongly bucked that sentiment by rising 1pc to 11,229.44.

01:55 PM

Looming recession hits Scottish businesses

Stubbornly high inflation and the looming threat of recession saw activity slump at Scottish companies last month - with a warning that worse is to come.

The Royal Bank of Scotland's Business Activity Index fell to 45.8 in October, down 2.2 points from September.

Anything above 50 shows growth, while a number below that shows business activity falling. Last month was the third in a row which saw the figure dip.

Judith Cruickshank, chairwoman of the bank's Scotland board, said: "The downturn in activity quickened on the month, as stubbornly high inflationary pressures, the ongoing cost of living and a threat of recession deterred growth."

The bank said the downturn in incoming new business north of the border outpaced the UK-wide average, but the confidence of firms was broadly in line with the national average.

The rate of job creation in Scotland has remained behind levels seen across the UK, which also slowed in October, resulting in the lowest intake of workers in 18 months.

The bank warned things are unlikely to improve in the near future.

01:31 PM

Ukraine's grain exports hammered by war

Odessa port in Ukraine - Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Odessa port in Ukraine - Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images  

Ukraine has exported more than 30pc less grain this season so far as the global economic effects of Vladimir Putin's war in the country tally up.

Kyiv has exported almost 15.1 million tonnes of grain so far in the 2022/23 season, down from the 21.8 million tonnes exported by the same stage of the previous season, agriculture ministry data showed.

Grain exports have slumped since Russia closed off Ukraine's neighbour's Black Sea ports, driving up global food prices and prompting fears of shortages in Africa and the Middle East.

Three Black Sea ports were unblocked at the end of July under a deal between Moscow and Kyiv that was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.

Stay up top date with the war in Ukraine in our live blog.

01:10 PM

Opec predicts fall in oil demand

Opec predicts fall in oil demand - REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
Opec predicts fall in oil demand - REUTERS/Dado Ruvic  

Opec has cut its forecast for growth in global oil demand for a fifth time since April and also trimmed next year's figure blaming mounting economic challenges including high inflation and increases to interest rates.

Oil demand this year will rise by 2.55m barrels per day, or 2.6pc, the group of oil-producing nations said in a monthly report. This is down 100,000 barrels a day from the previous forecast.

This report is the last before Opec and its allies, together known as Opec+, meet on Dec 4 to set policy.

The group, which recently cut production targets, will remain cautious, Saudi Arabia's energy minister said last week.

12:59 PM

British ship brings first gas exports from Mozambique to Europe

Huge offshore deposits were found more than a decade ago in Mozambique - Anadarko Petroleum Corporation
Huge offshore deposits were found more than a decade ago in Mozambique - Anadarko Petroleum Corporation  

BP has begun shipping liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Mozambique's vast new reserves, opening up supplies that could help ease Europe's energy crunch.

My colleague Ben Farmer has more on the African country's vast northern deposits which are set to provide shiploads of energy to starved Europe:

Read the full story here.

12:42 PM

Brexit 'permanently damaged' UK economy, says ex-Bank of England

Former Bank of England policy maker Michael Saunders said Britain's exit from the European Union is one of the reasons why the UK is now entering a period of austerity.

"The UK economy as a whole has been permanently damaged by Brexit," said Saunders in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

"If we hadn't had Brexit, we probably wouldn't be talking about an austerity budget this week. The need for tax rises, spending cuts wouldn't be there."

Mr Saunders, who sat on the Bank's monetary policy committee from 2016 until August this year, said that the UK's decision to leave the EU and the customs union reduced the country's potential economic output and eroded business investment.

His comments echoed the sentiment last week by the head of the British Chambers of Commerce, Shevaun Haviland, who said that British firms haven't seen any upsides from Brexit so far.

12:36 PM

Wall Street poised for fall at the open

Wall Street looks set to open lower as a cautious tone from a Fed speaker tempered some hopes that inflation may have peaked.

Contracts on the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100, typically more sensitive to interest rates, slipped 0.5pc while those on the S&P 500 dropped 0.3pc.

Losses in New York premarket trading were concentrated on the big tech names, with Tesla and chipmakers Nvidia, Intel and Micron Technology shedding as much as 1.5pc.

The dollar turned higher after weekend comments from Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller that policymakers had "a ways to go" before ending interest-rate hikes.

12:23 PM

Bezos: 'Philanthropy is not easy'

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has pledged to give away the majority of his $124bn fortune to causes including fighting climate change and ending political division.

Senior Technology Reporter Matthew Field has more insight:

12:18 PM

Pubs and restaurants cutting trading by two days per week

Nearly 10,000 pubs and restaurants have cut trading by at least two days per week to cope with rocketing energy bills even before the start of winter.

Read the full story here.

12:12 PM

Bezos to give away most of his fortune

Jeff Bezos has said he plans to give away the bulk of his $124bn (£105bn) fortune during his lifetime.

The Amazon founder, who is the world's fourth-richest person, told CNN he would devote the bulk of his wealth to fighting climate change.

Mr Bezos, 58, had previously been criticised for not signing the Giving Pledge, a promise by many of the world's richest people to donate the majority of their wealth to charitable causes.

12:05 PM

Investors scramble to withdraw $3.7bn of Bitcoin

Crypto investors pulled $3.7bn (£3.1bn) worth of Bitcoin from exchanges in a week amid the spectacular collapse of FTX and a crisis of confidence in the digital asset sector.

The fall of industry darling Sam Bankman-Fried's empire fueled a spike in withdrawals that also saw $2.5bn (£2.1bn) of Ether tokens taken out in the week to Sunday.

Investors also pulled $2bn (£1.7bn) of the largest stablecoins - which are pegged to the value of external traditional assets like the dollar - according to CryptoQuant, which tracks data from most major exchanges.

The past week has "undoubtedly" been one of the darkest in the history of cryptocurrency," said Sasha Ivanov, the founder of blockchain platform Waves.

It comes as Binance chief executive and founder Changpeng "CZ" Zhao is poised to answer questions from concerned investors on Twitter this afternoon.

The price of Bitcoin rallied today after Mr Zhao said his company would launch an industry recovery fund to act effectively as a lender of last resort.

11:31 AM

F1 boss in 'disbelief' after collapse of Mercedes' former crypto partner

Mercedes GP executive director Toto Wolff - Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Mercedes GP executive director Toto Wolff - Dan Mullan/Getty Images  

The collapse of crypto exchange FTX has left Formula One partners Mercedes in "utter disbelief", team principal Toto Wolff said.

Mercedes suspended the partnership last week, removing FTX branding from their cars and other assets ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix.

FTX filed for bankruptcy on Friday after a week of seeing customers pull assets and market leader Binance abandoning a rescue offer.

Speaking to reporters on a video call after Mercedes finished one-two in the race at Interlagos, Wolff said he remained convinced of crypto's relevance and believed in blockchain.

However, he said the sector needs regulation.

He said: "This situation is very unfortunate. We considered FTX because they were one of the most credible and solid, financially sound partners that were out there.

"And out of nowhere we can see that a crypto company can basically be on its knees and gone (in) one week. That shows how vulnerable the sector still is."

11:07 AM

Ministers race to outline plan for power to overrule City regulators

The Government is rushing to outline plans that would allow it to overrule the City of London's financial regulators, as it tries to avoid accusations that the move is an attack on their independence.

The proposed power is due to be added to the government's financial services and markets bill, but the Treasury has so far not revealed any details.

Andrew Griffith, the City minister, last week said it would take longer than expected.

The government could water down the proposed power, which has become a controversial topic in the past few months.

Critics believe the power threatens the independence of the Bank of England and other institutions.

The effort to resolve questions around the plans come as Jeremy Hunt is due to lay out in his Autumn Statement on Thursday how to boost the City of London.

However, the Chancellor will be trying to do this alongside tax rises and spending cuts required to fill the hole in the UK's public finances.

10:39 AM

Oil producers hit amid rising windfall tax fears

Shares in British oil and gas explorer Pantheon Resources plunged by as much as 24pc after the suggestion that Jeremy Hunt is considering an increase in windfall taxes.

North Sea Oil producers Harbour Energy and EnQuest also suffered share price falls of 6.9pc and 8.5pc respectively are a reports that the Chancellor will increase the levy from 25pc to 35pc.

The windfall tax would also apply to electricity generators and run until 2028 rather than 2025 as currently scheduled.

Meanwhile, the price of Brent crude oil has fallen 1pc to just over $95 a barrel.

10:16 AM

Home sellers slashing asking prices

Houses for sale - Yui Mok/PA Wire
Houses for sale - Yui Mok/PA Wire  

Home sellers slashed their asking prices at the quickest pace since August this month after a surge in mortgage costs and looming recession put a chill on the property market.

The property-search website Rightmove said asking prices fell 1.1pc this month after a 0.9pc gain in October.

However, it added that cuts are the norm in the autumn when sellers want to wrap up transactions before Christmas.

The figures add to evidence that the UK property market is weakening after double-digit increases following the pandemic stretched affordability.

With the Bank of England lifting interest rates rapidly to quell inflation, Rightmove said that property if not crashing is moving back to more normal levels of growth.

09:57 AM

Klarna boss fears push for more regulation after FTX collapse

Sebastian Siemiatkowski,
Sebastian Siemiatkowski,  

The chief executive of buy-now, pay-later company Klarna has said he fears the collapse of FTX may result in regulatory overreach of fintech businesses.

Sebastian Siemiatkowski, who has previously criticised the crypto industry, said the news about of FTX's bankruptcy proceedings was "fairly scary".

However, he warned that he is more worried that "the traditional bank industry will take this opportunity to again regulate this industry to the disadvantage of consumers".

He added: "We need more competition in banking industry, we need good consumer protection laws but that don't stifle competition."

The comments show how the bankruptcy of Sam Bankman Fried's cryptocurrency exchange is reverberating through the wider financial world.

09:35 AM

Sorrell's S4 Capital sets sights on 'whoppers'

Martin Sorrell - Hollie Adams/Bloomberg
Martin Sorrell - Hollie Adams/Bloomberg  

Sir Martin Sorrell's digital advertising firm S4 Capital has enjoyed boosted profits, as the boss said its clients' focus on performance amid forthcoming global recessions will "play to our strengths".

The company reported its gross profit and net revenue reached £250m in the three months to the end of September, up 73pc on the £144m posted this time last year.

Revenues also surged by more than two thirds, from £178m last year to £300m in the latest quarter.

Sir Martin said that the firm has kept up momentum despite political and economic "gloom" and a slowdown in growth across the technology sector.

The boss said that S4 has 10 "whoppers" in sight, which refers to big clients worth more than $20m in revenue per year, and is well on its way to reaching its long-term goal of 20.

The firm's existing clients include BrewDog, TikTok, Diageo and Booking.com, and "whoppers" like Facebook and Google.

09:18 AM

Pound slips as Fed hints at continuing US interest rates rises

Sterling pulled back from its two and a half month high against the dollar after the US Federal Reserve signalled that interest rates still have further to rise.

Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller said "we've still got a ways to go" before the US central bank stops raising rates.

His comments come after data last week showed inflation in America may be slowing, which raised hopes that the Fed's aggressive programme of 0.75pc rate rises may be coming to an end.

The pound was down 0.4pc against the dollar to just shy of $1.18, having reached nearly $1.19 in Asian trading, its highest level since late August.

09:08 AM

Musk poised to cut free meals at Twitter canteen

Twitter staff will soon have to start paying for lunch at the company's San Francisco headquarters after Elon Musk claimed the cost per meal in the cafeteria was more than $400 over the last year.

The new owner of the social network claimed the astronomical sum was because of the numbers of staff who actually worked in the office.

The Tesla and SpaceX chief executive said Twitter spends $13m (£11m) a year on food services while peak occupancy was only 25pc.

He was responding to a former member of staff who disputed his claim about the cost per meal, which had been free to employees.

He tweeted: "There are more people preparing breakfast than eating breakfast."

Read more here.

08:43 AM

Crypto.com founder insists exchange has 'very strong balance sheet'

The chief executive of Crypto.com has said withdrawals from the platform are working and will continue to work as he tried to reassure markets unnerved by the sudden collapse of rival FTX.

Kris Marszalek held a livestreamed Q&A session on YouTube this morning where he repeated that the company has less than $10 million of exposure to FTX and a "very strong balance sheet".

After FTX filed for bankruptcy late last week, markets have turned their attention to the health of other crypto exchanges like Crypto.com.

The company's native CRO token has slumped 45% in the past week, data from CoinGecko show.

Crypto.com never uses CRO as collateral for loans, Marszalek said.

The company, which has some 70 million users and sponsors the stadium that his home to the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers, has one-to-one reserves coverage for all assets and liabilities, he added.

Mr Marszalek also said the company will remain an official sponsor for the Fifa World Cup this month.

08:38 AM

Informa leads FTSE 100

The FTSE 100 edged higher in early trading as a weaker pound helped the export-oriented index.

Shares in events organiser Informa led the way with a rise of 8.5pc after it gave shareholders an upbeat outlook on earnings.

Other strong performers were tobacco company Imperial Brands, up 2.2pc, and drugs-maker AstraZeneca, up 2.1pc.

The FTSE 100 has gained 0.4pc to reach 7,348.25.

08:26 AM

London loses largest European stock market crown

London is no longer home to the largest stock markets in Europe as the value of UK assets were hit by concerns about economic growth.

Paris has taken the crown after the combined market capitalisation of its major share exchanges overtook those in the capital, according to an index compiled by Bloomberg.

Domestic UK shares have had a tough year while shares in the likes of French luxury-goods maker LVMH and Gucci owner Kering SA have performed well of late, most recently thanks of optimism about the potential easing of China's zero-Covid policy.

Currency movements have also helped Paris, with the pound down 13pc against the dollar this year, while the euro has only lost 9pc.

08:15 AM

Gas prices increase

European natural gas prices rebounded from a slump last week as temperatures are set to turn colder in parts of the continent after a period of abnormal warmth.

Benchmark Dutch futures advanced as much as 5.8pc after losing 15pc last week.

People may be forced to start using their heaters soon as forecaster Maxar Technologies LLC predicts conditions  should get cooler in some parts of the continent by the coming weekend and into early next week.

In addition, outages in Norway are keeping supplies from the Nordic country curbed, with two more fields having process issues on Monday, according to network operator Gassco.

08:03 AM

FTSE 100 opens lower

The FTSE 100 opened marginally lower at the start of a big week when the Chancellor will deliver his Autumn Statement.

The blue-chip index fell 0.5pc to 7,335.53 points.

07:53 AM

Binance could set up crypto recovery fund

Major cryptocurrencies erased losses and turned higher this morning after the founder of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange signalled the prospect of his company becoming a lender of last resort.

Binance chief executive Changpeng Zhao said the world's largest digital-asset exchange plans to set up an industry recovery fund.

Zhao said Monday the goal was to "reduce further cascading negative effects" of the bankruptcy of rival exchange FTX.

Bitcoin spiked higher after Zhao's tweet and was pushing toward $17,000.

07:39 AM

Joules to appoint administrators

Joules is preparing to appoint administrators - Mike Egerton/PA Wire
Joules is preparing to appoint administrators - Mike Egerton/PA Wire  

Around 1,600 jobs are under threat after fashion retailer Joules revealed it is set to appoint administrators following a failure to secure a vital cash injection.

The brand - famous for its posh wellies - said talks over an emergency cash-call with investors including its founder Tom Joule were unsuccessful and have ended.

It said it would file a notice of intention to appoint Interpath Advisory as administrators to the firm and its subsidiaries "as soon as reasonably practicable".

Joules said: "The board is taking this action to protect the interests of its creditors."

Read more here.

07:29 AM

Good morning

The Singapore-based crypto exchange Crypto.com said its chief executive would go live on YouTube today to answer questions around some transactions on the platform that had sparked speculation and fund withdrawals.

Chief executive Kris Marszalek said on Twitter on Sunday that the exchange had mistakenly sent 320,000 of the Ethereum token ether to another exchange called Gate.io on Oct 21, worth about $400m.

5 things to start your day

1) Bank of England is 'dragging its feet' on cutting EU red tape - Jacob Rees-Mogg says Threadneedle Street is 'consistent obstacle' to post-Brexit reforms

2) How Jeremy Hunt could consign Britain to higher tax for a generation - Osborne-era austerity could return as another Chancellor tries to fix country's finances

3) Rising cost of living forcing retirees back to work, says Britain's biggest recruiter - Work from home fizzles out as recession hands power back to bosses

4) FTX rebuked by Bahamas regulator after users were able to rescue cash from failing firm - Exchange faces fresh controversy over withdrawals as company teetered on the brink

5) Asking prices fall by £4,000 in a month - Sellers face a 20pc decline in demand from buyers

What happened overnight

November's stellar rebound in Chinese stocks continued as plans for a sweeping rescue package to bail out developers sent property stocks rallying.

Along with Friday's easing of some Covid controls, the property support gave traders confidence that Beijing is finally taking concrete steps to tackle the two biggest sore points for the market - Covid Zero and the property crisis.

Pessimism has soon given way to optimism as Chinese stocks seek to emerge from a rout that slashed their weightings in global portfolios and made them the world's worst performers.

Frenzied buying amid a fear of missing out on the rally has sent one measure of volatility in the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index to the highest globally.

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