The wildly popular discounted shopping app TEMU by Pinduoduo (PDD) has come under fire after independent research from Grizzly Research claims the app is "more dangerous than TikTok." The team claimed the TEMU app has software enabling extensive data exfiltration unbeknownst to users, granting bad actors full access to customers' mobile data. TEMU was built using the same malware-laden codebase as PDD's app, which was recently suspended from the Google Play Store, and aggressively collects invasive personal data on Western users that likely gets sold to Chinese authorities, raising national security concerns. Beyond the malware, PDD displays an attitude of impunity in their shady business practices and declining financials, according to the report. The report urges regulators to investigate TEMU as it poses more of a danger than TikTok, which is already under scrutiny.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq fell Thursday on concerns that high rates and weak China data would persist, while Apple kept dropping on its iPhone ban. Defensive sectors outperformed as investors sought safety, though jobless claims hit a 7-month low, implying ongoing labour strength and higher rates. Across the sea, Hong Kong delayed trading after it was hit with its heaviest rainfall since 1884.
Gold prices have been under pressure this week due to a stronger U.S. dollar and easing Treasury yields, which suggest the Fed may maintain higher interest rates for longer. However, gold continues to see support around $1915 as investors scurry to safety in the face of market uncertainty and equity sell-offs. If gold breaks out of its short-term highs, it could turn into an uptrend if the rebound is prompt.
Crude oil eased from recent 10-month highs as concerns emerged over slowing demand, despite tightening supplies due to extended OPEC+ production cuts. China's crude imports surged in August, but its overall trade fell as exports declined and domestic consumption stayed below par. Though US crude stockpiles drew down for a fourth straight week while the dollar strengthened, doubts arose whether this demand would persist after the summer driving season.
The Chinese yuan sank to a 16-year low against the dollar this week, while the rupee continues to hover near record lows despite RBI intervention to curb volatility. In Japan, the yen hit fresh multi-year lows, prompting warnings from officials, though the BOJ remains committed to monetary stimulus even as it coordinates with the government to monitor exchange rates. Currencies like the euro and sterling slid to 3-month troughs against the dollar, which hit a 6-month high in its continued dominance.