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Will Amazon’s $2bn drone dream take off?

Top stories of the day include Amazon’s struggle with its drone delivery programme and the first US space tourists that launched on a SpaceX rocket. Elon Musk decided to decline the offer to join Twitter’s board. An expected baby boom in China could mean big business for some companies while NIO was forced to increase prices because of rising input costs.

Amazon’s tryst with drones

After spends of over $2bn on a team 1,000 people Amazon’s [AMZN] drone delivery service launch still remains elusive, reports Bloomberg. The programme is suffering from “technical challenges, high turnover and safety concerns”. Not only did a drone accident cause a brush fire in June last year, people involved in the project said that employee safety was being compromised due to pressure to bring the programme back online. Amazon spokesperson Av Zammit said in an emailed statement: “No one has ever been injured or harmed as a result of these flights, and each test is done in compliance with all applicable regulations.”

Musk not joining Twitter

Tesla’s [TSLA] chief Elon Musk, who picked up a sizeable stake in Twitter [TWTR] after stating plans to launch a social media platform, has decided not to join Twitter’s board of directors due to a paucity of time. Twitter’s new CEO Parag Agrawal, who took over from founder Jack Dorsey, tweeted on Sunday that Musk had declined the offer to join the board after “many discussions”. Rise in the Twitter stock slowed as it ended at $47.01 on Monday up 1.7% from its previous close indicating a tapering of gains it has recorded since Musk’s interest in Twitter became known.

Space tourists

Amid new beginnings for US space tourism, Elon Musk-owned SpaceX flew three businessmen, at a $55m price tag per person to the International Space Station on Friday. The company has been flying astronauts to the destination for the last two years. While this was the first time that Nasa has hosted visitors at the station, Russia has been doing so for some time. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is planning to start flying tourists to the edge of space, while Virgin Galactic also has similar plans later in the year.

Baby boom for China?

As the effect of Covid fades and government sops kick in, a higher baby birth rate is expected in China to boost business for some companies according to investment bank Jefferies, reports CNBC. Stocks that could gain from the trend include: Kimberly-Clark [KMB], the maker of Huggies diapers and Kleenex tissues; Procter and Gamble [PG], which controls a number of baby brands such as Luvs and Pampers; and Health and Happiness Group, which sells nutrition products for babies, adults and pets.

NIO’s price hike

Electric vehicle maker NIO [NIO] said it raised prices for three models and its battery rental service on account of mounting input costs, reports CNBC. Model ES8, ES6 and EC6 will now cost RMB10,000 or around $1,500 more from 10 May onwards. The starting price of its ET7 and ET5 sedans remains unchanged. Despite an earlier resolve to steer clear of a price hike, the company elected to up its charges because there appears to be no visibility of battery material costs falling, said William Li, founder, chairman and CEO of NIO.

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