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Big Tech to the rescue

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Week in Review

Stocks trended downwards early in the week despite positive earnings reports as rising COVID-19 cases, inflation and economic growth all weighed on investor sentiment.

China

Panic selling gripped Chinese stocks early in the week as fears over a regulatory crackdown by the Chinese Government continued to mount.

Although the sell-off centred around a new set of restrictions on Chinese for-profit tutoring companies, it's the latest example of the communist party's unwavering ability to destroying shareholder value with an unexpected decision.

China's largest tech names have all recorded significant losses in recent months. Alibaba, China's largest e-commerce company, has now seen its market cap fall by over 300 billion dollars since its market highs set back in October.

Big tech

The mega-cap tech companies continued to produce mind-boggling revenue numbers this week. Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft all reported record quarters after the closing bell on Tuesday, with a combined profit of $57 billion in Q2, which equates to $626 million a day.

Google's parent company, Alphabet, was particularly noteworthy, with advertising revenue up 69% year over year. YouTube alone generated $7 billion in revenue for the quarter.

While it's easy to look at record high numbers in the stock market and assume a bubble, record earnings figures and improving fundamentals from the biggest hitters in the index will continue to act as a support, justifying further gains.

Bitcoin Bounce

The major crypto names experienced a late-night surge on Sunday, with bitcoin now sitting at a six-week high just below $40,000.

Bullish comments last week from the tech trio of Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, and Cathie Wood spurred the recent positive sentiment.

The outlook has been boosted further by the news that Amazon may accept cryptocurrency payments - by the end of the year. While early reports are vague and yet to be confirmed by Amazon, inclusion across the Amazon infrastructure would be a significant steppingstone in the cryptocurrency space.

Stock Watch:

Snap Inc jumped a colossal 24% last Thursday after reporting its biggest growth quarter in four years.

Snap's next significant growth opportunity appears to be in the AR space. The company has invested heavily in Augmented reality and is looking to change the e-commerce experience by allowing those shopping online to "try on" clothing using its AR technology. I’m listening.

While revenue more than doubled to $982 million in Q2 2021 and the AR tech offers significant growth opportunities, valuations appear stretched, to say the least.

For me, Snap Inc will need to show an ability to turn its lower-income younger users into paying customers and turn big revenue gains into realised profits before the current market cap is justified.

Robinhood

De facto Guardian of the retail investor in the fight against the Wall Street elite, Robinhood has fast become the poster child of retail investor revolution.

As such, its IPO this week was always guaranteed to generate a lot of interest.

With almost 18 million active users, $80 billion in AUM and revenue close to $1 billion last year's Robinhood makes for a compelling investment opportunity, but with a predicted valuation of $35 billion, much of the juice may have already been squeezed by the private market before it becomes available to the public.

While I'm skeptical in the long run, especially with the majority of earnings coming from the sale of order flows, this IPO will undoubtedly generate a lot of interest over the near term.

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Kerry house prices accelerate – IPAV’s residential property price barometer

The Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV) latest Residential Property Price Barometer shows an acceleration in house price increases over the previous six months including in Kerry. Overall IPAV’s study has found double digit growth for 3-bedroom homes in Waterford and Limerick. And close behind are Tipperary, Meath, Louth and Cavan with nine plus […]

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The Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV) latest Residential Property Price Barometer shows an acceleration in house price increases over the previous six months including in Kerry.

Overall IPAV’s study has found double digit growth for 3-bedroom homes in Waterford and Limerick. And close behind are Tipperary, Meath, Louth and Cavan with nine plus percent growth, followed in the eight plus percent range by County Dublin, Carlow, Dublin 15, Dublin 7 and Kildare.

In Kerry three-bedroom homes increased by 4.55pc; 4-bedrooms by 9.80pc and two-bedroom apartments by 3.70pc.

Some of the area specific increases are accounted for by new blended working opportunities where people don’t have to operate from formal office settings on a full-time basis, according to IPAV’s Chief Executive Pat Davitt.

“While that is an influential factor, the main driver of increasing prices is the lack of supply of homes to meet current and pent-up demand. And that is why predictions by economists and others of house price drops during the pandemic have not materialised, forecasts IPAV called into question at the time,” he said.

Mr Davitt said his organisation welcomes the Government’s new ‘Housing for All’ plan with a commitment to invest €4 billion per year to build 300,000 homes over the next nine years.

“While the nuts and bolts of how precisely the plan is going to achieve that target remains to be seen, it is in the interest of society as a whole that the plan works because continuing house price increases at the level we are currently seeing would not be sustainable over the longer term but will not abate either until more stock comes on stream to meet supply.

He said the extension of the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan scheme from Local Authorities was welcome but it needs to be extended further to enable all purchasers to take advantage of the 4.5 times income under that scheme, not just first-time buyers.

The IPAV Residential Property Price Barometer charts house prices achieved by auctioneers, as opposed to asking prices. Mr Davitt said while that difference is always relevant it is particularly so now given the intensity of activity where, it would appear, asking and achieved prices are diverging, often to a considerable degree.

He thanked members of IPAV for their contribution to the study which he said provides “real market evidence as opposed to speculation on prices”.

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Property & Finance

Work at height regulations

Work at heights is work in any place, including a place at, above or below ground level, where a person could be injured if they fell. Access and egress to a place of work can also be work at height. The work at height regulations under the h Health and Safety acts place an onus […]

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Work at heights is work in any place, including a place at, above or below ground level, where a person could be injured if they fell.

Access and egress to a place of work can also be work at height. The work at height regulations under the h
Health and Safety acts place an onus on employers to ensure that the work is properly planned and organised.

In advance of starting work, each situation should be assessed to determine the best method for obtaining access to the elevated position where the work needs to done.

These are the main factors you should take into consideration during this assessment:

* How long do you estimate the activity will take?
* How complex is the task?
* How many component parts need to be handled?
* How big and heavy are they?
* How high above ground level is the work be done?
* How much moving around horizontally will be necessary at an elevated position?
* What kind of access equipment is available?
* Is any additional equipment required for safe and economic working?
* Is it necessary to use a hydraulic platform?
* Are suitably trained and experienced personnel available?
* How much supervision will be required?

The work method must be discussed with all personnel and documented in a method statement.

The equipment to be considered could include:

* Trestles
* Ladders
* Hydraulic working platforms
* Mobile tower scaffolds
* Safety harnesses

All equipment should be inspected prior to use and used only in accordance with the standard operating procedures. Items such as hydraulic working platforms should only be used by trained personnel. All equipment should be included in the risk assessment documents and signed off by all users in the method statement.

The risk assessment should include a careful examination of what harm could be caused from working at height with a view to taking the effective steps to reduce the likelihood of this harm occurring, either through avoiding the activity or, where this is not reasonably practicable, by carrying it out in a safe manner using work equipment that is appropriate to the task and the level of risk.

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