By John Farrelly
In today’s information economy, the ability to engage and develop meaningful digital relationships is fundamental to any business.A growing number of organisations, including small to medium sized enterprises, are investing in easy-to-use analytical software and services to extract insights from data about their business. As a result, we are now experiencing the ‘democratisation of analytics’.
This movement is rapidly gaining momentum in Ireland, and if realised, could deliver a significant boost to the Irish economy. Research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr)has shown that big data analytics adoption could deliver additional revenues of €27 billion to Ireland alone over the five years to 2017. But what we’re starting to see more of is data (not necessarily big data) analytics adoption, as organisations of all sizes realise there is more they could be doing with their data – and ignoring it could put them at a competitive disadvantage.
SAS is keen to serve the needs of companies now looking to exploit their data. This week, we expanded our operations in Ireland with the opening of a new Inside Sales and Customer Contact Centre in Dublin.Through this investment, we will create 150 jobs over three years in the city, and expect to see our workforce in Ireland increase six-fold, equating to an investment of around €40 million.
The centre, while based in Dublin, will support sales of data analytics software into markets across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
Collaborating with the IDA
Dublin is a vibrant city with a thriving technology ecosystem.It’s a high growth market for business analytics, and provides an international hub for us to nurture a new breed of data scientists from local regions and abroad. As SAS is the global market leader, this centre will play an important role in maintaining and growing our leadership position in EMEA.
The opening of our Inside Sales and Customer Contact Centre is a culmination of years of hard work. We co-operated closely with Ireland’s inward investment promotion agency, the IDA, a non-commercial, semi-state body promoting Foreign Direct Investment into Ireland through a wide range of services. I want to express my thanks to the IDA and its valuable advice in making the delivery of our new centre possible over the past three years.
I also wanted to give special thanks to Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation for his support. Speaking at the launch event, he explained how a key part of the government’s Action Plan for Jobs is based on attracting new software and analytics companies into Ireland. The creation of 150 jobs in the SAS centre is a huge boost to this strategy and presents new opportunities for the city.
And I’m delighted we also had the support of Enda Kenny, the Irish Prime Minister, who spoke about how this announcement was an example of what he’s hoping to see happening across Ireland’s information economy.
Driving analytics democratisation
Businesses are increasingly aware of the value data analytics provides in helping them make better decisions, whether it is improving operational efficiency, understanding customers, identifying new opportunities or managing risks. Many of these organisations are mid-market companies that have no in-house analytics expertise or any history of using data to shape the organisation.
The new centre will focus on delivering data analytics solutions to mid-market companies across EMEA. Our new centre provides the extra capacity needed to support customers as they embark on this data analytics journey.
What’s driving this ‘democratisation of analytics’ is the fact that technology is now more accessible and more flexible. It can be provided through the cloud or via traditional on-premise solutions. Easy-to-sue data visualisation technology and as-a-service offerings (where know-how is ‘hired in’) mean there is no longer a need for in-house experts. Neither do companies have to make a significant up-front investment – they can begin by getting answers to a single business question, experiment to get proof of value and easily scale up to a full-blown analytical solution.
The information economy will increasingly rely on evidence-based decision-making. Business instinct and ‘gut feel’are not enough to drive competitive advantage, and companies that ignore data – and extracting insights from that data – will get left behind..
We look forward to being part of this drive towards more widespread adoption of analytics in the pursuit of faster and better business decisions.
To find out more about how analytics can work for small and mid-sized organisations, take a look at this short report on ‘Moving Beyond Spreadsheets’.
GameStop rally fizzles; shares still on pace for 130% weekly gain
By Aaron Saldanha and David Randall
(Reuters) – An early surge in the shares of GameStop Corp fizzled and left the video game retailer’s stock down more than 15% on Friday, throwing water on a renewed rally this week that has left analysts puzzled.
GameStop shares hovered around $94 after hitting $105 in late-morning trading. Despite Friday’s losses, the company’s stock is up about 135% for the week in the face of a broader market selloff that has sent the benchmark S&P 500 down about 2% over the same time.
Analysts have struggled to find an clear explanation for the rally, leaving some skeptical that it will continue.
“You might be able to make some quick trading money and it could be a lot of money, but in the end, it’s the greater fool theory,” said Eric Diton, president and managing director at The Wealth Alliance in New York. The theory refers to buying stocks that are over-valued in anticipation that someone else will come along to buy them at a higher price.
One catalyst that sparked GameStop’s rally in January – a high concentration of investors that had bet against the stock being forced to unwind their positions – does not appear to be as much of a factor this time.
Short interest accounted for 28.4% of the float on Thursday, compared with a peak of 142% in early January, according to S3 Partners.
Options market activity in the stock, which has returned to the top of the list in a social media-driven retail trading frenzy, suggested investors were betting on higher prices or higher volatility, or both.
Refinitiv data on options showed retail investors have been buying deep out-of-the-money call options, which are options with contract prices to buy far higher than the current stock price.
Many of those option contracts are set to expire on Friday, and would mean handsome gains for those betting on a further rise in GameStop’s stock price.
Call options, which would be profitable for holders if GameStop shares reach $200 and $800 this week, have been particularly heavily traded, the data showed.
“The actors are looking to take advantage of everything they can to maximize their impact and the timing is important,” said David Trainer, chief executive officer of investment research firm New Constructs. “The options expiration will contribute to their strategy on how to push the stock as much as they can and maximize their profits.”
Bots on major social media websites have been hyping GameStop and other “meme stocks,” although the extent to which they influenced market prices is unclear, according to analysis by Massachusetts-based cyber security company PiiQ Media.
GameStop’s stock is still far from the $483 intraday trading high it hit in January, when individual investors using Robinhood and other trading apps drove a rally, forcing many hedge funds that had bet against the video game retailer to cover short positions.
Other Reddit favorites were also lower, with cinema operator AMC Entertainment down around 5.5%, headphone maker Koss off about 25% and marijuana company Sundial Growers down less than 1% in Friday trading.
(Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Devik Jain and Sruthi Shankar; Writing by David Randall; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli, Anil D’Silva and Dan Grebler)
Stocks try to recover from bond whiplash, dollar gains
By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Global equity markets swooned on Friday, even as the Nasdaq and S&P 500 tried to recover and the bond rout eased a bit, but fears of rising inflation still weighed on sentiment as data showed a strong rebound in U.S. consumer spending.
Shares of Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp and Alphabet Inc edged up after bearing the brunt of this week’s downdraft, while financial and energy shares fell.
The S&P 500 gained 0.80% and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.87%. But the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3%.
U.S. consumer spending rose by the most in seven months in January as low-income households got more pandemic relief money and new COVID-19 infections dropped, setting the U.S. economy up for faster growth ahead.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury note on Thursday touched 1.614%, the highest in a year, rocking world markets. The note’s yield is up more than 50 basis points year to date and is now close to the dividend return of S&P 500 stocks.
The 10-year note fell 1.7 basis points to 1.4977%.
The amount of money swirling through markets and U.S. stocks at close to all-time highs has caused investor angst, said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade in Chicago.
“Many people are taking some profits and not necessarily reinvesting that money quite yet,” Kinahan said, but the tug of war isn’t over year.
“The U.S. equity market is still the best game in terms of safety versus opportunity. But there is a shift going on.”
The scale of the recent Treasury sell-off prompted Australia’s central bank to launch a surprise bond buying operation to try to staunch the bleeding.
MSCI’s benchmark for global equity markets slid 0.83% to 661.49.
In Europe, the broad FTSEurofirst 300 index closed down 1.64% at 1,559.48. Technology stocks lost the most as they continued to retreat from 20-year highs.
The dollar rose against most major currencies as U.S. government bond yields held near one-year highs and riskier currencies such as the Aussie dollar weakened.
The dollar index rose 0.578%, with the euro down 0.78% to $1.2081. The Japanese yen weakened 0.42% versus the greenback at 106.66 per dollar.
Gold fell more than 2% to an eight-month low, the stronger dollar and rising Treasury yields hammered bullion and put it on track for its worst month since November 2016.
Benchmark German government bond yields fell for the first time in three sessions but were still headed for their biggest monthly jump in three years after rising inflation expectations triggered a sell-off.
The 10-year German bund note fell less than 1 basis points to -0.263%.
European Central Bank executive board member Isabel Schnabel reiterated on Friday that changes in nominal interest rates had to be monitored closely.
Copper recoiled after touching successive multi-year peaks in six consecutive sessions, falling more than 3% as risk-off sentiment hit wider financial markets after a spike in bond yields.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) slumped to $9,112 a tonne.
MSCI’s Emerging Markets equity index suffered its biggest daily drop since the markets swooned in March. MSCI’s emerging markets index fell 3.06%.
The surge in Treasury yields caused ructions in emerging markets, which feared the better returns on offer in the United States might attract funds away.
Currencies favoured for leveraged carry trades all suffered, including the Brazil real and Turkish lira, which slid for a fifth straight day, erasing all the year’s gains.
Asia earlier saw the heaviest selling, with MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan sliding more than 3% to a one-month low, its steepest one-day percentage loss since the market rout in late March.
Oil fell. Brent crude futures fell $0.78 to $66.1 a barrel. U.S. crude futures slid $1.24 to $62.29 a barrel.
(Reporting by Herbert Lash, additional reporting by Tom Arnold in London, Wayne Cole and Swati Pandey in Sydney; editing by Larry King and Nick Zieminski)
European shares drop as high yields spark profit taking in tech, resources
By Shashank Nayar and Ambar Warrick
(Reuters) – European stocks closed lower on Friday, ending three weeks of gains as investors booked profits in technology and commodity-linked shares due to concerns over rising inflation and interest rates on the back of a jump in bond yields.
The benchmark European stock index fell 1.6%, and shed 2.4% for the week – its first weekly loss this month – with technology stocks losing the most as they continued to retreat from 20-year highs.
On the day, resource stocks were the softest-performing European sectors, tumbling 4.2% from a near 10-year high in their worst session in five months.
“Equity markets across the U.S. and Europe are quite expensive now and with bond yields constantly rising, the fixed income market is proving to be more attractive than the riskier equity market,” said Roland Kaloyan, a strategist at SocGen.
“Investors are actually looking at the pace at which yields drop and the current speed is quite concerning for equity markets.”
U.S. and euro zone bond yields retreated slightly on Friday, but stayed close to highs hit this week as investors positioned for higher inflation this year. Yields were also set for large monthly gains. [GVD/EUR] [US/]
Sectors such as utilities, healthcare and other staples – usually seen as proxies for government debt due to their similar yields – lagged their European peers for the month as investors sought better returns from actual debt.
Still, the benchmark STOXX 600 gained in February, helped by a rotation into energy, banking and mining stocks on expectations of a pickup in business activity following vaccine rollouts.
Travel and leisure was the strongest sector in February as investors bet on an economic reopening boom. Banks also outperformed their peers thanks to higher bond yields.
Better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings have also reinforced optimism about a quicker corporate rebound this year. Of the 194 companies in the STOXX 600 that have reported quarterly earnings so far, 68% have beaten analysts’ estimates, according to Refinitiv.
“As recovery hopes gain ground with the economy re-opening and vaccines coming up, coupled with earnings being relatively positive, the near-to-mid-term outlook for equities seems positive with yield movements still a part of the equation,” said Keith Temperton, an equity sales trader at Forte Securities.
Among individual movers, Belgian telecom operator Proximus was the worst performer on the STOXX 600 for the day, after it flagged a lower core profit in 2021.
(Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Hugh Lawson)
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