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Bitcoin breaks above $28,000 for first time since June 2022

In today’s top stories, the banking crisis is rolling on, with $17bn worth of Credit Suisse bonds set to see their value wiped out under the terms of the UBS takeover. Partly thanks to the crisis, investors have been returning to bitcoin, the price of which surpassed $28,000 for the first time since June 2022. Elsewhere, Microsoft unveiled plans for a mobile gaming store, while Rolls-Royce is shuttering its artificial intelligence start-up, the R2 Factory, after a year. Lastly, concerns that a new strain of bird flu could lead to human-to-human transmission has pharma firms standing by, ready to churn out vaccines.

Banking crisis rolls on

Investors holding a combined $17bn worth of Credit Suisse bonds are to see their value wiped out as the beleaguered bank’s riskiest debt is written down to zero under the terms of the UBS takeover. Saudi National Bank is nursing losses of more than $1bn on its Credit Suisse investment, while Norway’s sovereign wealth fund has said it reduced its stake earlier this year. First Republic [FRC] shares nosedived 37% after S&P cut its credit rating to junk.

Bitcoin breaks above $28,000

The bank bail-out has helped the price of bitcoin to break above $28,000 for the first time since June 2022. Cryptocurrency prices are likely rallying in the hope that recent bank failures will force the Fed to end its tightening. “Bitcoin is correlated with liquidity conditions and real rates. Real rates have declined, liquidity conditions have expanded, and it looks as if we’re entering a new regime,” Ilan Solot, co-head of digital assets at financial services platform Marex, told Bloomberg.

Microsoft’s plans for mobile gaming store

As Microsoft [MSFT] waits for regulators to approve its $75bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard [ATVI], the big tech giant is planning to launch a mobile gaming store on both Apple’s [AAPL] iPhones and Google’s [GOOGL] Android. Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, spoke to the Financial Times about the plans ahead of this week’s annual Games Developers Conference. The EU’s Digital Markets Act will require Apple and Google to make third-party app stores available on their devices.

Rolls-Royce closes AI venture

Engineering group Rolls-Royce [RR.L] is shuttering its artificial intelligence (AI) start-up, the R2 Factory. Launched in April last year, the venture was described by the company as “a digital transformation members' community that will help other organisations tackle their toughest industrial challenges”. The closure of R2 comes as new CEO Tufan Erginbilgic moves to make Rolls-Royce leaner and more agile under his leadership. 

Rush to make bird flu vaccines

Concerns that a new strain of bird flu could lead to human-to-human transmission has got pharmaceutical companies preparing vaccine candidates. Executives at GSK [GSK.L], Moderna [MRNA] and CSL Seqirus [CSL.AX] told Reuters that they’re working on shots, while Sanofi [SAN.PA] said it would “stand ready”. Precautionary vaccine development would ensure speedy roll-out and reduce the chance of another pandemic occurring but richer nations could hoard vaccine supplies, health experts warn.

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