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U.S. Trade Deficit Declines as Imports Slump

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U.S. trade deficit shrank more than expected in March as imports plunge outpaced a decline in exports.

The deficit gap narrowed 13.9 percent to $40.4 billion, making it the smallest since February 2015, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

Merchandise imported declined 3.6 percent as American companies strived to get inventories in line with demand experienced in the first-quarter of the year. Exports fell for the fifth time in six months as soft global sales continue to undermine exports.

“The most troubling thing was in the consumer sector — we’re not exactly sure what’s going on there and whether it’s sort of a one-off effect,” in terms of the slump in imports, Jay Bryson, global economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC, in Charlotte, North Carolina, said before the report.

Still, “I think you’re going to see import growth outpace export growth as you go forward, and therefore trade will continue to be a modest headwind to growth in the U.S.,” he said.

In March, Imports fell to $217.1 billion from 225.1 billion recorded in February.The smallest since February 2011. The drop in imports was broad-based and includes consumer goods, industrial supplies and capital equipment.

Exports also decreased 0.9 percent from $178.2 billion to $176.6 billion.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Brands

Amazon Launches First ‘Real Life’ Clothing Store For Men And Women

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American multinational technology company, Amazon is launching its first apparel store, ‘Amazon Style’.

Investors King gathered that the clothing store, located in a Southern California mall, later this year will feature women’s and men’s apparel, shoes, and accessories from a mix of well-known and emerging brands, with prices catering to a wide range of shoppers.

According to Amazon, shoppers will get personalized recommendations pushed to their phones as they browse the new Amazon Style store. The company also noted that the clothing store will feature a mix of well-known and emerging brands, adding that every individual’s budget would be met.

The store which will be about 30,000 square feet would be digitalized as shoppers will rely heavily on their smartphones in order to browse the store.

Managing Director of Amazon Style, Simoina Vasen told CNBC that when shoppers walk into the store, they’ll see “display items,” featuring just one size and color of a particular product; the remaining inventory for each product will kept in the back of the store.

He added that after logging into the Amazon app on a smartphone, they’ll scan a QR code on the item to view additional sizes, colors, product ratings and other information, such as personalized recommendations for similar items.

“This allows us to offer more selection without requiring customers to sift through racks to find that right color, size and fit,” he said.

After scanning the QR code on an item, shoppers can click a button in the Amazon app to add the item to a fitting room or send it to a pickup counter.

According to Vasen, shoppers will be able to access their in-store purchase history in the Amazon app.

A recently released research by Wells Fargo analysts shows that Amazon has surpassed Walmart as the No. 1 apparel retailer in the U.S.. This is largely due to the e-commerce boom recorded as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wells Fargo estimates that Amazon’s apparel and footwear sales in the U.S. grew by roughly 15% in 2020 to more than $41 billion, which is 20% to 25% above rival Walmart.

This represents an 11 to 12 percent share of all clothing sold in the U.S. and 34 to 35 percent share of all clothing sold online.

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Merger and Acquisition

Sullivan, Ellis Were Top M&A Legal Advisers by Value and Volume in financial Services Sector in 2021

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Sullivan & Cromwell and Kirkland & Ellis were top M&A legal advisers by value and volume in financial services sector for 2021, finds GlobalData.

Sullivan & Cromwell and Kirkland & Ellis were the top mergers and acquisitions (M&A) legal advisers in the financial services sector for 2021 by value and volume, respectively, according to GlobalData. The leading data and analytics company notes that Sullivan & Cromwell advised on 42 deals worth $105.1 billion, which was the highest value among all advisers tracked. Meanwhile, Kirkland & Ellis led by volume, having advised on 76 deals worth $20.1 billion. A total 3,854 M&A deals were announced in the sector during 2021.

According to GlobalData’s report, ‘Global and Financial Services M&A Report Legal Adviser League Tables 2021‘, deal value for the sector increased by 21.1% from $430.6 billion during 2020 to $521.3 billion during 2021.

Aurojyoti Bose, Lead Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Kirkland & Ellis was the only advisor that managed to advise on more than 70 deals during 2021. However, it lagged behind in terms of value and did not find a place among the top 10 by value due to involvement in low-value transactions.

“The average deal size of transactions advised by Kirkland & Ellis was just $264.2 million, while it was $2.5 billion for Sullivan & Cromwell. Apart from leading by value, Sullivan & Cromwell also occupied the fourth position by volume.”

Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz occupied the second position in terms of value, with 26 deals worth $79.1 billion; followed by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, with 54 deals worth $55.9 billion; Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, with 37 deals worth $51.6 billion; and Cravath Swaine & Moore, with nine deals worth $47.6 billion.

Alston & Bird occupied the second position in terms of volume, with 55 deals worth $7.9 billion; followed by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, and Sullivan & Cromwell. Willkie Farr & Gallagher occupied the fifth position by volume, with 42 deals worth $13.8 billion.

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Business

Netflix Commits $1 Million Towards Scholarships in Africa

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Netflix, the world’s leading entertainment streaming service, has  announced a commitment of US$1 million towards the newly-established Netflix Creative Equity Scholarship Fund (CESF) for film and TV students in Sub-Saharan Africa. The scholarship fund forms part of Netflix’s global Netflix Creative Equity Fund launched in 2021 to be allocated to various initiatives over the next 5 years with the goal of developing a strong, diverse pipeline of creatives around the world.

The scholarship fund will cover the costs for tuition, accommodation, study materials and living expenses at institutions where beneficiaries have gained admission to pursue a course of study in the TV & film disciplines in the 2022 academic year.

The Netflix CESF is targeted for rollout across the region in the academic year commencing in 2022, starting with an open call for applications in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, in partnership with social investment fund management and advisory firm Tshikululu Social Investments (https://bit.ly/3qLORX2) as implementing partner/fund administrator in Southern Africa. Fund administration partners for East Africa and the West and Central Africa regions will be announced in due course.

“Netflix is excited by the potential of the next generation of storytellers and we’re committed to investing in the future of African storytelling in the long-term,” says Ben Amadasun, Netflix Director of Content in Africa. “We believe there are great stories to be told from Africa and we want to play our part by supporting students who are passionate about the film and TV industry so they too, can ultimately contribute to the creative ecosystem by bringing more unique voices and diverse perspectives to African storytelling that our global audiences find appealing.”

How it works:

The Netflix CESF is designed to provide financial assistance, through full scholarships, at partner higher educational institutions (HEI) in South Africa to support the formal qualification and training of aspiring creatives from a SADC region country that wish to study in South Africa, and are able to obtain the necessary permissions to do so. The following countries will be eligible: Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In the SADC region, the fund will be available to students who have obtained admission to study in various film & TV-focused disciplines, for the 2022 academic year, at the following partner institutions:

  • AACA Film and Acting School
  • AFDA
  • Boston Media House
  • Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT)
  • City Varsity
  • Durban University of Technology (DUT)
  • Tshwane University of Technology (TUT)
  • University of Cape Town (UCT)
  • University of Johannesburg (UJ)
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN)
  • University of Pretoria (UP)
  • University of the Witwatersrand (Wits)

Students interested in applying for scholarships for the 2022 academic year will be able to find additional information, application criteria, a list of partner higher education institutions (HEI) and will be able to apply online on our fund manager and advisory partner, Tshikululu’s website. Applications are now open until 04 February 2022 at 23h59 CAT.

The Netflix CESF will also benefit students from other parts of Africa – particularly East Africa as well as West and Central Africa. Fund administration partners for East Africa and the West and Central Africa regions will be announced, along with the calls for applications, in due course.

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