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AGORA Images Closes 2 Million Euro Financing Round

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AGORA Images Closes 2 Million Euro Financing Round

– The Spanish start-up closed its second financing round with more than 2 Million euros, exceeding its original 1.5M target
– The appis disrupting the world of photography with a growing international community of two million users

AGORA Images, the app where people win money with their best photos closed its second financing round over the 2 Million euro mark. AGORA closed its first round exactly one year ago, and plans to open a third round in the fall of 2018.

Amongst its partners are known investors such as Gerard Piqué, Mnext Venture Capital (Javier Faus), WildInvest AG, Soller Invest S.L, Kabche Real Estate and Apium Hub. Two leading European business schools support AGORA: members of the IESE investment group are included in this second round, and ESADE BAN once again strongly backed the start-up (after being its principal source of financing in the first round).

The capital from this round will go towards platform’s improvements and drive engagement to sponsored contests. To support this growth AGORA will hire new developers and invest in marketing to expand its global community, increase acquisition and evolve as a brand. According to Octavi Royo, CEO and Co-founder, “this new capital will allow us to support our international expansion. In just under two years, we achieved two million users – a number that we are confident will rapidly increase in the upcoming months.” 6 million photos have already been uploaded on the app from over 190 countries; every 4 seconds a user uploads a photo.

AGORA Images allows everyone with a camera or a smartphone to participate in photo contests, share, and sell their pictures. Users make their photos visible to others, which are also purchasable by businesses, making AGORA the first photo marketplace that operates with no middlemen, and no commissions.

The start-up’s business model is based on this very photo platform: the app is an important channel where businesses can impact their audience in a massive way by sponsoring photo contests. These contests allow thousands of users to express their unique point of view while generating original and authentic content for the brand.

Through contests users can also vote for the best images they believe should win the sponsor brand’s prize. AGORA therefore becomes a place where the best photographic content is found, voted and valued by users and companies around the world. “This ecosystem will allow us to attract more users and bigger brands to monetize the platform,” adds the CEO, “the evolution we are seeing in our metrics leads us to believe we are going in the right direction.”

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Oil set for steady gains as economies shake off pandemic blues – Reuters poll

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Oil set for steady gains as economies shake off pandemic blues - Reuters poll 1

By Sumita Layek and Bharat Gautam

(Reuters) – Oil prices will stage a steady recovery this year as vaccines reach more people and speed an economic revival, with further impetus coming from stimulus and output discipline by top crude producers, a Reuters poll showed on Friday.

The survey of 55 participants forecast Brent crude would average $59.07 per barrel in 2021, up from last month’s $54.47 forecast.

Brent has averaged around $58.80 so far this year.

“Travel and leisure activity look set to catch up to buoyant manufacturing activity due to the mix of stimulus, confidence, vaccines, and more targeted pandemic measures,” said Norbert Ruecker of Julius Baer.

“Against these demand dynamics, the supply side is unlikely to catch up on time, leaving the oil market in tightening mode for months to come.”

Of the 41 respondents who participated in both the February and January polls, 32 raised their forecasts.

Most analysts said the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+) may ease current output curbs when they meet on March 4, but would still agree to maintain supply discipline.

“With OPEC+ endeavouring to keep global oil production below demand, inventories should continue falling this year and allow prices to rise further,” said UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo.

Oil demand was seen growing by 5-7 million barrels per day in 2021, as per the poll.

However, experts said any deterioration in the COVID-19 situation and the possible lifting of U.S. sanctions on Iran could hold back oil’s recovery.

The poll forecast U.S. crude to average $55.93 per barrel in 2021 versus January’s $51.42 consensus.

Analysts expect U.S. production to rise moderately this year, although new measures from U.S. President Joe Biden to tame the oil sector could curb output in the long run.

“A structural shift away from fossil fuels” may prevent oil from returning to the highs of previous decades, said Economist Intelligence Unit analyst Cailin Birch.

(Reporting by Sumita Layek and Bharat Govind Gautam in Bengaluru; Editing by Arpan Varghese, Noah Browning and Barbara Lewis)

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Japan’s jobless rate seen up in January due to COVID-19 emergency measures – Reuters poll

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Japan's jobless rate seen up in January due to COVID-19 emergency measures - Reuters poll 2

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s jobless rate is expected to have edged up in January as service industry businesses suffered renewed restrictions on movement to fight spread of the coronavirus in some areas, including Tokyo, a Reuters poll of economists showed on Friday.

While industrial production activity picked up in Japan, emergency curbs rolled out last month such as asking restaurants to close early and suspending the national travel campaign hurt the jobs market, analysts said.

The nation’s unemployment rate likely rose 3.0% in January, up from 2.9% in December, the poll of 15 economists found.

The jobs-to-applicants ratio, a gauge of the availability of jobs, was seen at 1.06 in January, unchanged from December, but stayed near September’s seven-year low of 1.03, the poll showed.

“As the impact from the coronavirus pandemic prolongs, it is hard for firms, especially the service sector, to expect their business profits to improve,” said Yusuke Shimoda, senior economist at Japan Research Institute.

“So, their willingness to hire employees appear to be subdued and it is difficult to see the jobs market recovering soon.”

Some analysts also said the government’s steps to support employment and existing labour shortages will likely prevent the jobless rate from worsening sharply.

The government will announce the labour market data at 8:30 a.m. Japan time on Tuesday (2330 GMT Monday).

Analysts expect the economy to contract in the current quarter due to the emergency measures to counter the spread of the disease.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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China’s economy could grow 8-9% this year from low base in 2020 – central bank adviser

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China's economy could grow 8-9% this year from low base in 2020 - central bank adviser 3

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s gross domestic product (GDP) could expand 8-9% in 2021 as it continues to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, Liu Shijin, a policy adviser to the People’s Bank of China, said on Friday.

This speed of recovery would not mean China has returned to a “high-growth” period, said Liu, as it would be from a low base in 2020, when China’s economy grew 2.3%.

Analysts from HSBC this week forecast that China would grow 8.5% this year, leading the global economic recovery from the pandemic.

If 2020 and 2021’s average GDP growth is around 5%, this would be a “not bad” outcome, said Liu, speaking at an online conference.

China is set to release a government work report on March 5 which typically includes a GDP growth target for the year.

Last year’s report did not include one due to uncertainties caused by the coronavirus. Reuters previously reported that 2021’s report will also not set a target.

(Reporting by Gabriel Crossley and Muyu Xu; Editing by Sam Holmes and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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