Chinese markets are on life support

Between the U.S. S&P 500 and China's CSI 300, which major stock index would you guess is up 20% in the past year, and which one fell by 20%?  

Answer: The CSI 300 has lost more than a third of its value since 2020 and is entering its fourth consecutive year in the red.

The hot new thing in global shipping is ice-cold

Intrepid sailors, like Henry Hudson before them, are trying to make commercial Arctic shipping a thing. 

Driving the news: Drought in the Panama Canal and Houthi rebel attacks on cargo ships trying to pass through the Suez Canal have sent cargo deliveries plummeting and shipping costs skyrocketing. All of this turmoil has led to renewed interest in Arctic shipping routes

Explain It Like I'm Five: RSS

What is RSS?

A feed of content that users customize with updates from their favourite websites. They’d do this with a few lines of code provided by websites that could be added to something called an RSS reader. If you’re over 30, you might remember an orange-and-white logo on a lot of news websites and blogs — that’s where the code would be found. This helped outlets get stories in front of readers without them having to check a bunch of individual home pages.

Big tech fails to level up its gaming ambitions

The dollar signs tech companies once saw in video games are turning into pink slips.

What happened: Microsoft laid off 1,900 staff from its gaming division. Activision Blizzard — which Microsoft acquired in October after a long review by regulators — got the brunt of it, with smaller cuts at Xbox and ZeniMax, which operates developer and publisher Bethesda.

Ad agencies are ready to put AI to work

Ad agencies are moving fast and spending big to be some of AI’s early adopters.

What happened: Publicis Groupe, one of the world’s biggest advertising and communications holding companies, announced a €300 million AI investment over the next three years. That includes building Core AI, its own platform for creating and targeting ads, as well as adjusting strategies in real-time.

Canada adds India to election interference probe

Canada’s relationship with India is getting icier than a car windshield post-snowstorm. 

What happened: For the first time, India has been publicly named as a potential foreign meddler in Canadian politics — with federal investigators now looking into the government's possible interference in the past two Canadian federal elections, according to Bloomberg.

The Trans Mountain pipeline hits the home stretch

After hitting more speed bumps than a driver in a school zone, the completion of the Trans Mountain pipeline (TMP) expansion is near. 

Driving the news: After narrowly avoiding a crushing regulatory blow, the TMP expansion will begin filling up with crude oil for the first time next month and is expected to start transporting oil in early April. By year’s end, it’ll be running at full capacity.

Car thefts are a Canadian epidemic

Thousands of Canadians have been left like a young Ashton Kutcher, dejectedly asking, “Dude, where’s my car?

Driving the news: Authorities in Italy recovered 251 stolen vehicles from Canada — ready to be shipped to the Middle East — after completing a bust at one of Europe’s busiest ports. 

Québec’s EV battery plant hits a speed bump

Here’s a brain teaser for you: Why are environmental and Indigenous groups rallying against a project that aims to be a key part of Canada’s net-zero transition? 

What happened: A Québec court is ruling on whether or not to stop the construction of Northvolt’s $7 billion EV battery plant outside of Montréal. The legal hurdle comes from an environmentalist group claiming the plant will harm important wetlands. 

BoC turns attention to rate cuts

The Bank of Canada’s path to its 2% inflation target seems to be getting a little clearer.

What happened: The BoC held the key interest rate at 5% again yesterday. According to Governor Tiff Macklem, the narrative is shifting from if the BoC will lower borrowing costs to when, with some economists predicting rate cuts by late spring. 

Can Canada Post survive a digital age?

Like a super spy who awakens from a long cryogenic slumber (sorry, we just re-watched Austin Powers), Canada Post needs help getting with the times. 

Driving the news: Canada Post is selling Innovapost, its in-house IT wing, to Deloitte for an undisclosed sum. The move comes as the national mail carrier looks to improve its digital operations and capabilities, and find some way to stop hemorrhaging cash. 

Programming mRNA to seek and destroy cancer

COVID-19 vaccines gave mRNA research a big boost, and scientists have been exploring how it might be used to prevent and treat other diseases. But that’s trickier when it comes to cancer: things that kill cancer cells are generally pretty bad for all cells, and your fatty tissues deliver RNA throughout your body, instead of targeting it.

Not enough AI chips? Make them yourself

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has said numerous times that there aren’t enough computer chips out there to match his company’s goals, and it looks like he might be taking matters into his own hands.

Privacy commissioner wants to learn more about new tech

Two people who seem eager to understand AI and how it will impact their work: Peak Tech readers, and Privacy Commissioner Philippe Dufresne.

What happened: The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) released a new strategic plan, laying out its priorities for the next five years, and a key theme is improving the OPC’s understanding of emerging technologies like AI. The intention is to not only help the OPC better respond to the concerns of Canadians, but also provide better guidance to ensure privacy is considered as tech is developed — a framework known as privacy by design.

mRNA unlocks potential cancer treatment

Taking a page out of a vaccine developer’s playbook, a Boston biotech company is making major strides towards a breakthrough cancer treatment. 

Driving the news: More than three years after the messenger RNA (mRNA) molecule gained popularity for its role in COVID-19 vaccines, Strand Therapeutics will test a cancer-fighting mRNA treatment that can more precisely treat cancerous tumours, according to WIRED.

Sweden is one step closer to NATO membership

Accepting a new pal into your friend group can sometimes be a weird process. Sweden and Turkey know this from experience.   

What happened: Turkey has voted to approve Sweden’s NATO bid after playing hardball for about 20 months over the presence of Turkish separatist groups that are operating in the country. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to sign the decision into law this week.

Netflix looks to body slam its competition

Just when you thought streaming news had quieted down, something seismic happened. To misquote legendary WWE announcer Jim Ross, “Bah gawd, that’s Netflix’s music!”

What happened: Netflix inked a 10-year deal to become the official broadcaster of Monday Night Raw, paying the WWE US$500 million a year for the rights to its flagship weekly live wrestling show. The deal starts in 2025 and will cover several countries including Canada.

The key to detecting Alzheimer’s is in our blood

A new innovation is ready to join the global fight against Alzheimer’s disease alongside experimental drugs and daily sudokus. 

What happened: A commercially available blood test shows immense promise in catching early cases of Alzheimer’s, according to a new study.

What’s going on at Gildan?

The company that supplies the T-shirts for your work off-sites is at the centre of a power struggle filled with almost as much corporate drama as a Succession episode. 

Driving the news: Canadian clothing manufacturer Gildan claimed that Browning West — a U.S. hedge fund leading the charge to bring back ousted Gildan CEO Glenn Chamandy — illegally acquired additional shares in the company by failing to follow U.S. regulatory laws. 

Feds call cap on international students

After months of pressure to crack down on colleges that have been accused of exploiting international students, Canada is capping study permits at about 360,000 students this year. 

What happened: The federal government is reducing the number of international student permits by 35% as part of a temporary two-year cap on foreign enrolment. The move also aims to ease some strain on Canada’s housing market and healthcare systems.