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Average UK house price falls 1.1% in February

In today’s top stories, the UK has seen a sharp drop-off in house prices, prompted by headwinds including the cost of living crisis. Elsewhere, Tata’s attempts to buy bottled water company Bisleri have stalled, while its automotive division is seeking subsidies to build an EV battery plant in the UK. In Japan, the arcade game pachinko has seen astronomical growth since gambling rules were relaxed in 2021. Bernstein analysts believe the ChatGPT frenzy has presented chipmakers with a revenue opportunity worth tens of billions. Lastly, shares in Novavax were down after the vaccine maker expressed “substantial doubt” about its ability to continue.

Sharp fall in UK house prices 

The average UK house price dropped 1.1% in February, marking the largest fall in a decade, Nationwide figures show. “It will be hard for the market to regain much momentum in the near term since economic headwinds look set to remain relatively strong,” said Robert Gardner, the mortgage provider’s chief economist, in a press release. Shares in housebuilders Barratt Developments [BDEV.L] and Persimmon [PSN.L] were in the red Tuesday morning. 

Tata’s stalled water takeover talks 

Indian conglomerate Tata’s talks to buy bottled water company Bisleri International have stalled after the two parties failed to agree on a valuation. Tata Consumer Products [TATACONSUM.NS] chief financial officer Lakshmanan Krishnakumar told ETCFO last week that its “ambition is to capture and get a larger share of the fast-moving consumer goods opportunity”. Meanwhile, Tata Motors [TATAMOTORS.NS] is seeking £500m from the UK government to build an EV battery factory in Somerset, but is considering Spain as an alternative. 

Interest in pachinko makers rises  

While gambling for cash is illegal in Japan, arcade game pachinko is the exception to the rule. Interest in pachinko has been rising ever since Tokyo relaxed advertising rules back in 2021, boosting pachinko machine makers. The Tsuburaya Fields [2767.T] share price was up 60% year-to-date through Wednesday and over 520% in the prior 12 months. “Special demand in this area will continue for at least the medium term,” SBI Securities senior analyst Satoshi Kurihara told Bloomberg. 

Startup to rival Nvidia for AI chips

The frenzy around ChatGPT and applications of large language models is sparking demand for AI chips. Bernstein analysts believe it has presented chipmakers with a revenue opportunity worth “tens of billions”, according to a note seen by CNBC. While Nvidia [NVDA] is expected to be the market leader, it could be rivalled by SAPEON, a South Korean start-up backed by chipmaker SK Hynix [000660.KS]. The company is aiming to raise $400m in a private funding round. 

Covid-19 vaccine maker slumps

Shares in Novavax [NVAX] were down 26% pre-market Wednesday after the Covid-19 vaccine maker warned that “substantial doubt exists regarding our ability to continue”. CEO John Jacobs said in an interview with Reuters that, while the company would be slashing costs, he believes demand could pick up this autumn if the US Food and Drug Administration offers its protein-based vaccine as an alternative to the mRNA options produced by Pfizer [PFE] and Moderna [MRNA]. 

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