Feb 28, 2019

FX | Currencies Report | Swiss franc leads gains on weak China data, trade talk fears

Kate Rooney

Reusable dollar pound bills
Matt Cardy | Getty Images
The Swiss franc rallied by half a percent against the dollar on Thursday as weak Chinese factory data and lack of progress at U.S.-China trade talks encouraged traders to take profits.
The British pound also saw profit-taking, but it is still on track to lead gains against the dollar in February as fears about a no-deal Brexit fade.
“The weak Chinese PMI data and concerns about the progress of U.S.-China trade talks are weighing on risk appetite, and that is pushing the franc higher,” said Esther Maria Reichelt, an FX strategist at Commerzbank.
Factory activity in China reached a three-year low in February as export orders fell at the fastest pace since the global financial crisis, more evidence of an economy facing weak demand at home and abroad.
Sentiment was also hurt by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s comment that it was too early to predict an outcome in trade talks between Washington and Beijing.
The Swiss franc rallied 0.37 percent against the dollar to 0.9977 and the Japanese yen gained 0.41 percent to 111.44 yen.
Against a basket of its rivals, the dollar rose 0.04 percent to 96.18. Traders said some of its weakness was caused by month-end selling after a strong month for risky assets.
Sterling edged lower after reaching a seven-month high on Wednesday as traders bet Britain’s departure from the European Union would be delayed.
“I think we had nothing significant from last night and we’re back into another hiatus until mid-March, so there is some bit of profit taking,” said John Marley, a senior currency consultant at SmartCurrencyBusiness.

Source: CNBC

Bond Yields Report on February 28, 2019 | Treasury yields jump after fourth-quarter GDP comes in better than expected

Sam Meredith

U.S. government debt yields jumped off their session lows Thursday after the first print on fourth-quarter gross domestic product growth topped Wall Street’s expectations.
At around 2:03 p.m. ET, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to price, was higher at around 2.719 percent, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond was higher at 3.096 percent.
U.S. economic growth was better than expected as 2018 came to a close, with GDP rising 2.6 percent, according to a first estimate the government released Thursday.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expected a gain of 2.2 percent after a 3.4 percent rise in the third quarter. Worries that a global slowdown would infect the U.S intensified during the period, while investors worried that the Federal Reserve would continue to raise interest rates even as financial conditions tightened.
Even with the weaker fourth quarter, economic growth was solid for the year, after GDP gains of 2.2 percent and 4.2 percent in the first and second quarters respectively. The report also comes on the heels of mixed signs in the economy.
WATCH: Justin Wolfers: Biggest risk to strong U.S. economy is Trump in the White House
President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un were unable to reach a deal at the end of two days of meetings in Hanoi, the White House said Thursday.
Earlier Trump and Kim, seated together at a conference table, appeared confident about the prospect of improving diplomatic relations.

U.S. Markets Overview: Treasurys chart

US 3-MOU.S. 3 Month Treasury2.44-0.0110.00
US 1-YRU.S. 1 Year Treasury2.544-0.0030.00
US 2-YRU.S. 2 Year Treasury2.520.0140.00
US 5-YRU.S. 5 Year Treasury2.5210.0320.00
US 10-YRU.S. 10 Year Treasury2.7240.0310.00
US 30-YRU.S. 30 Year Treasury3.0870.0190.00
But, the pair were ultimately unable to agree after the U.S. refused North Korean demands for sanctions relief.
“They wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that,” Trump said at a news conference.
The U.S. president said no plans had been made for a third summit.
Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is scheduled to speak at the Citizens Budget Commission 87th annual awards dinner in New York on Thursday.
Market participants are also likely to closely monitor comments from Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida, Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic, Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan and Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester at various events around the country.
— CNBC’s Jeff Cox contributed reporting.

Source: CNBC

Wall Street Closing Report | Dow falls 70 points, posts 3-day losing streak

Fred Imbert, Thomas Franck

Stocks slipped on Thursday as stronger-than-expected economic data were offset by fruitless talks between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell just 50 points while the S&P 500 dropped about 0.15 percent. The Nasdaq Composite lost 0.1 percent as Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Netflix traded flat to lower.
The U.S. economy grew at an annualized rate of 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter 2018, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Economists polled by Dow Jones expected the economy to grow at a pace of 2.2 percent.
"This report showed the economy is slowing, but not enough to increase investor angst," said Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at TIAA Bank. GDP data would have "have given a bigger boost to equities and other risk assets if not for the negative news coming out of Vietnam," said Gaffney, referring to the Trump-Kim summit ending abruptly.This, along with the reemergence of hostilities between India and Pakistan, has increased the geopolitical risks."
A trader makes a bubble with a chewing gum ahead of the closing bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on January 29, 2019 in New York City.
Johannes Eisele | AFP | Getty Images
U.S. and North Korean officials failed to agree on steps toward North Korea taking down its nuclear armament. Earlier, Trump and Kim — seated together at a conference table — appeared confident about the prospect of improving diplomatic relations.
The iShares MSCI South Korea ETF (EWY), which tracks South Korean shares, fell 1.9 percent. Investors were closely watching the summit as it could potentially impact trade negotiations between China and the U.S.
White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told CNBC on Thursday both the U.S. and China are making "fantastic " progress in their negotiations. "I think we're headed for a remarkable, historic deal."
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a separate CNBC interview: "We have made a lot of progress, " but added that a deal "is not yet done."
Their comments come after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer testified in front of House members that China needed to do more than just buy more U.S. goods for the two countries to strike a permanent trade deal. But Lighthizer said after the testimony, according to The Wall Street Journal, that formal steps would be taken to abandon plans of raising tariffs on Chinese goods.
Stocks are off to a hot start for 2019 as worries over U.S.-China trade relations and fears of tighter monetary policy have decreased. The Dow and S&P 500 are both up more than 11 percent this year while the Nasdaq is up more than 13 percent.
Thomas Lee, founder and head of research at Fundstrat Global Advisors, said stocks should build on these gains this year.
"Investors will become increasingly bullish as we move through the year—hence, we expect "buy the dip" will support stocks," Lee said in a note to clients. "As we have moved through the year, more investors are recognizing that downward revisions in 'E' matter much less than P/E."
Shares of HP Inc. dropped 16.4 percent after the company posted quarterly revenue that missed expectations. HP Inc. also reported earnings per share that matched estimates.
WATCH: Trade deal or no deal, the U.S. and China are still fighting for global power
—CNBC's Sam Meredith contributed to this report.

Source: CNBC

Crude Oil Price Report | Oil steadies after rally as Chinese data and trade dispute create headwinds

Tom DiChristopher

Reusable Oil Texas
Oil pumpjacks in the Permian Basin oil field are getting to work as crude oil prices gain.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images
Oil prices were mixed on Thursday, following a volatile trading period that saw crude futures plunge more than 3 percent at the start of the week and rally more than 2 percent in the previous session.
Crude futures recovered on Wednesday after Saudi Arabia’s influential oil minister brushed off pressure from President Donald Trump to “take it easy” on price-boosting production cuts. Trump’s warning to Saudi Arabia and its fellow OPEC members was the catalyst for oil’s decline earlier in the week.
An unexpected plunge in U.S. crude stockpiles added fuel to Wednesday’s rally.
But on Thursday, traders said the oil market was dealing with several headwinds, as U.S.-China trade tensions persisted, the Chinese economy showed signs of slowing and record U.S. production undermined OPEC-led output curbs.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 12 cents, or nearly half a percent, at $57.06 around 2:25 p.m. ET. On Wednesday, WTI rebounded back towards last week’s three-month peak, but fell short of setting a new 2019 high.
U.S. crude week-to-date performance

Brent crude was down 40 cents, or half a percent, at $65.99 per barrel.
Factory activity in China, the world’s biggest oil importer, shrank for a third month in February as export orders fell at the fastest pace since the financial crisis a decade ago.
“Further evidence of a slowdown in China hit risk sentiment,” said Jasper Lawler, head of research at futures brokerage London Capital Group.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer also dampened expectations of a swift resolution to the trade dispute between China and the United States, after progress on key sticking points reported earlier this week had raised hopes.
Lighthizer said issues with China were “too serious” to be resolved with promises from Beijing to purchase more U.S. goods and any deal needed to include a way to ensure commitments were met.
Also weighing on oil prices, U.S. crude production rose more than 2 million barrels per day in the last year to a record 12.1 million bpd, according to preliminary weekly figures released by the Energy Information Administration on Wednesday.
EIA’s first monthly reading on U.S. production for December showed a slight drop from the previous month to about 11.85 million bpd.

The production figures were offset by a surprise 8.6-million-barrels drop in the nation’s stockpiles of crude oil, despite inventories at the closely watched storage hub at Cushing, Oklahoma rising by 1.7 million barrels.
“The data were undeniably bullish yesterday, though a second straight big build at Cushing bears watching,” Paul Sankey, oil equity analyst at Mizuho Securities, said in a research note. “But an 8.6Mbbl US crude draw is nothing to shake a stick at, we think it is the biggest February draw in history.”
The U.S. Energy Department on Thursday announced it will withdraw 6 million barrels from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve and sell them into the market for delivery between April and May. Over a 60-day delivery period, that pencils out to about 100,000 bpd of extra supply in a market that is expected to consume 100 million bpd this year.
“It doesn’t seem like very much to me in the scheme as things,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates.
Supply cuts by OPEC and its allies, such as Russia, a group known as OPEC+, have offered support since January. That reduction helped drive down U.S. commercial crude inventories last week.
“Crude imports into the U.S. fell 1.6 million bpd last week, to a two-decade low,” ANZ bank said on Thursday.
Despite Trump resuming his pressure campaign on OPEC and Congress advancing legislation to hobble the producer group, OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo on Thursday highlighted the interdependence of OPEC producers and U.S. drillers.
“The decisions that OPEC took, together with our non-OPEC partners, literally rescued this industry from total collapse,” Barkindo told CNBC in Riyadh on Wednesday.
“Without this shale revolution we’ve seen in the U.S. the world would have been in major, major energy chaos,” he said.
– CNBC’s Holly Ellyatt and Reuters contributed to this report.

Source: CNBC

Metals Price Report | Gold near 2-week lows as dollar rebounds over trade caution

Tom DiChristopher

Reusable Gold Bullion
Gold prices on Thursday held near two-week lows touched in the previous session, as the dollar recouped losses after cautious comments from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer dented investors’ hopes for a closure to the tariff war with China.
As of 1:58 p.m. ET, spot gold was down 0.39 percent at $1,314.60 per ounce. U.S. gold futures settled $5.10 lower at $1,316.10.
The safe-haven metal slipped to its lowest since Feb. 15 at $1,316.43 in the previous session and dropped for the first time in five months.
Lighthizer told a Congressional hearing it is too early to predict the outcome of ongoing trade talks with Beijing and the United States will need to maintain the threat of tariffs on Chinese goods for years even if the two sides strike a deal.
“There is some uncertainty about the trade deal and some of the safe-haven (demand) has gone to the U.S. dollar. That has taken a bit of a bid from gold,” said John Sharma, economist, National Australian Bank.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, bounced back from three-week lows.
“Overall, gold is expected to go up with some corrections and prices will move around the $1,310-$1,330 levels depending on the dollar,” Sharma said, adding, “main support comes from Federal Reserve’s dovish stance and a lot of central banks are keen on accumulating gold.”
The U.S. Central Bank will stop shrinking its $4 trillion balance sheet later this year, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said on Wednesday, ending a process that investors say works at cross-purposes with the Fed’s current pause on interest-rate hikes.
During his testimony to the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, Powell reiterated that the Fed will be patient in hiking interest rates.
“The precious metal’s recent consolidation is supported by the indecision the financial markets have in pricing in what will be the Fed’s next move,” OANDA senior market analyst Edward Moya said in a note.
“Gold may struggle climbing higher until we see further deterioration in U.S. data, that would seal the market expectation for the next move to be a rate cut.”
Investors are also monitoring the tensions between India and Pakistan, with the two countries engaged in retaliatory attacks, analysts said.
Spot palladium rose 0.82 percent higher to $1,541 on Thursday, after retreating from its all-time peak of 1,565.09 per ounce scaled earlier in the week.
The autocatalyst surged about 21 percent so far this year on widening supply tightness in the market.
Spot silver dipped 0.95 percent to $15.58 per ounce, while platinum was up 0.75 percent at $871, off its more than three-month high of $871.94 hit in the previous session.

Source: CNBC

Metals | Spot prices as of The close of Trading in New York

Spot Prices as of the close of trading in New York
Thursday, February 28, 2019

European Markets Closing Report | European markets close mixed after Trump-Kim summit ends abruptly; Zalando up 23%

Chloe Taylor,Silvia Amaro, Alexandra Gibbs

European stocks closed mixed on Thursday, as investors kept abreast of geopolitical news taking place across the globe.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

FTSEFTSE 100FTSE7089.84-17.36-0.24983044425
The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the session up 0.12 percent, with sectors and major bourses in mixed territory.
Basic resources were the worst performers, down by more than 2 percent, on the back of renewed trade worries and fresh data. On Wednesday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer stated in front of the House Ways and Means committee that he foresaw long-term hurdles ahead.
On Thursday morning, Chinese factory activity numbers dropped to a three-year low in February — raising fears about economic activity in the world’s second-largest economy.
In earnings news, Adecco dropped 3 percent after reporting its fourth-quarter results. Zalando rose to the top of the index, up 23 percent, after announcing that it expects solid growth this year. The French retailer Carrefour also jumped 2.5 percent after increasing its savings goals.
Elsewhere, Rolls-Royce shares were down by almost 3 percent after the company posted a £2.9 billion loss for 2018. The engineering giant’s loss came as it increased the charge for fixing problems with its Trent 1000 engines. On Thursday Rolls-Royce also announced it would back out of the race to power Boeing’s new jet.
British Airways owner IAG said on Thursday it expected earnings for this year to be flat as it posted its 2018 results, which were in line with expectations and showed growth in operating profit. Shares were 0.2 percent lower at the closing bell.
Meanwhile, a summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam was cut short after the latter asked for an end to sanctions. The two nations have worked towards stronger relations and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
U.S. stocks edged lower on Thursday following the summit’s abrupt end, with a handful of weak corporate earnings reports also weighing on sentiment.

Source: CNBC

Analysis | The Technology 202: Critics say FTC's fine against app now known as TikTok doesn't go far enough

By Cat Zakrzewski Cat Zakrzewski Technology 

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The logo of the application TikTok in Paris on Dec. 14, 2018. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)
Some Federal Trade Commission officials are calling the agency's fine against Musical.ly (now known as TikTok) for children’s privacy violations a “big win.” But critics say it highlights how Washington regulators aren’t doing enough to keep kids safe online. 
The fine against the app — which lets people create lip-syncing music videos — is the largest the agency has issued in a children’s privacy case. That might sound like a steep punishment, but at $5.7 million, critics say it’s actually a relatively paltry sum for a Silicon Valley darling that was acquired by the Bytedance (the Chinese maker of TikTok) for close to $1 billion. 
That penalty for illegally collecting data -- such as location information -- from children under 13 must be higher to properly enforce the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, according to Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass). 
“While this fine may be a historic high for a COPPA violation, it is not high enough for the harm that is done to children and to deter violations of the law in the future by other companies,” Markey said in a statement. “I urge the FTC to make COPPA enforcement a top priority and protect the privacy of a uniquely vulnerable class of Americans — our children. That means making companies pay higher monetary penalties that will actually incentive COPPA compliance.”   
COPPA was written in 1998, when dial-up ruled and apps that would allow children to upload videos from their phones were still about a decade away. But the FTC fine against Musical.ly and the ensuing criticism could bring greater attention to the need to update children’s privacy laws in Washington -- and ratchet up pressure on regulators to scrutinize if there are other companies that may be in violation of federal law.
Privacy advocates say Musical.ly isn’t the only company taking advantage of children online and that tougher enforcement and protections are needed. 
“TikTok and others have been failing to comply with COPPA for years, and the FTC has been reluctant to challenge the privacy invasive practices of the companies that target children,” Jeffrey Chester, the executive director of the nonprofit Center for Digital Democracy, told my colleagues Craig Timberg and Tony Romm. “This is too little, too late.”
The Musical.ly case is a particularly glaring example of how children’s privacy can be exploited online. Musical.ly, the music video app TikTok merged with in 2018, has a long, well-documented history of attracting users under 13. In 2016, the New York Times reported that the app had many users in grade school, and it was using their location data to suggest people nearby follow them.
Yesterday's fine was a rare instance where the FTC has been able to enforce COPPA on a general-interest app. COPPA provides broad privacy protections to children under the age of 13, prohibiting online services from collecting data about kids without their parents permission. But as Craig and Tony pointed out, the law only applies to services that have “actual knowledge” that the users are underage or services that are specifically directed at children.
In the Musical.ly case, the FTC was able to show that many of the children using the app had their true ages written in their profiles, and Musical.ly still did nothing to limit their access to the app.
“The operators of Musical.ly — now known as TikTok — knew many children were using the app but they still failed to seek parental consent before collecting names, email addresses, and other personal information from users under the age of 13,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons said in a news release. “This record penalty should be a reminder to all online services and websites that target children.”
The TikTok case could give the agency the precedent to probe other general-interest apps causing concern among children’s privacy advocates, such as Google's YouTube or the video game Fortnite.  
The agency has already received a complaint about Google’s YouTube. Over 20 advocacy groups filed a complaint last year that said YouTube is violating the law because it is collecting data about children watching videos on the service without getting permission from parents. They say YouTube knows of this because of the high-number of child-directed channels on the service. The FTC wouldn’t tell my colleagues yesterday whether it was actively investigating YouTube.
Common Sense Media, one of the groups that filed the complaint against YouTube, weighed in: “It is no secret that tech companies are illegally and knowingly collecting personal information from children,” Jim Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, said in a statement to my colleagues. “Musical.ly wasn’t the first company and they won’t be the last, which is why we need the FTC to continue to regularly enforce the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and hold companies accountable in a big way.”
TikTok promised to require new users to verify their age. It also launched a separate app for people under the age of 13 that complies with U.S. privacy laws and will delete all data about children it previously collected.
“We care deeply about the safety and privacy of our users,” TikTok said in a blog post. “This is an ongoing commitment, and we are continuing to expand and evolve our protective measures in support of this.”
You are reading The Technology 202, our guide to the intersection of technology and politics.
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A passenger enters an Uber car at LaGuardia Airport in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
BITS: Uber and Lyft are planning to give some of the most active or longest serving drivers money to buy stocks in their upcoming initial public offerings, the Wall Street Journal's Maureen Farrell reports. The companies are planning to give drivers a cash reward that can be applied toward stock.
“It is typically hard for an ordinary investor to buy a company’s stock at its IPO price before it begins trading on an exchange, so this move would give drivers access they likely wouldn’t have had otherwise,” Farrell writes.
Uber, which has 3 million drivers globally, plans to give a “significant portion” of its drivers around the world a cash bonus or stock, based on a sliding scale determined by length of service or number of trips. Uber has long tried to provide drivers with company shares, but “had encountered a roadblock because of securities laws that make it challenging to give private shares to independent contractors,” Farrell wrote.
Lyft will give drivers that have given at least 10,000 rides $1,000 in cash that can be applied to IPO shares.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 5. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
NIBBLES: Republicans and Democrats debated during a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee whether a federal privacy law should override state legislation, the Hill's Emily Birnbaum reported. Almost all Republicans on the panel supported the idea that federal privacy legislation should replace state laws to prevent differing rules between states. Democrats wondered whether Republicans' position aimed to circumvent a new state law in California that seeks to restrict tech giants' data-collection practices and is scheduled to go into effect next year.
“Are we here just because we don’t like the California law and we just want a federal preemption law to shut it down?” said Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), the committee's ranking Democrat, according to the Hill. “I find this effort somewhat disturbing . . . This is the first thing that people want to organize here in D.C. is a preemption effort.”
But senators from both parties did agree when it came to chiding representatives of the tech industry at the hearing. “We now realize this data-sharing is not a bug,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), according to Birnbaum. “It is a business, it is a business model, and big tech has made a whole lot of money by exploiting the use of this data.”

Workers prepare to move products at an Amazon fulfillment center in Baltimore.  (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
BYTES: Amazon is rolling out a new program that will allow brands to delete listings for imitation products on its platform, the Wall Street Journal's Laura Stevens reports. The anticounterfeiting program, called Project Zero, has been in testing with about 15 companies, and Amazon is now inviting other brand owners to join.
In addition to giving brands more power to monitor fake products on the platform, the company is rolling out a tool that will allow Amazon to verify a product's authenticity when it enters a warehouse via a unique code that companies can print or stick on to their packaging. Amazon engineers are also refining algorithms that can detect counterfeit goods on the service.
“In shifting some monitoring duties and authority to brands themselves, Amazon is taking an unusual step,” Stevens wrote. “Other tech companies use outside contractors to help monitor their platforms but don’t generally let users remove content.”

Jessica Castro and her baby Zoe during a protest against mandatory vaccinations in Olympia, Wash., on Feb. 20. (Lindsey Wasson/Reuters)
-- Most of the anti-vaccination content that is broadly circulated on Facebook is produced by a relatively small group of pages on the social network, according to the Atlantic's Alexis C. Madrigal. Therefore, the reach of anti-vaccination messaging could decrease if Facebook moved to shut down only a few of such pages on the platform. Madrigal reported that an analysis with the social-monitoring tool CrowdTangle showed that seven anti-vaccination pages were behind almost 20 percent of the top 10,000 posts about vaccination since 2016.

Greg Wyler, founder of OneWeb, in Tysons, Va., on Feb. 13. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
-- The company OneWeb wants to send a constellation of satellites to space that could bring Internet access to remote parts of the world, The Washington Post's Christian Davenport reported. The company's satellites would be about the size of a refrigerator and would connect to stations on Earth. OneWeb, which was founded by Greg Wyler, has received investments from SoftBank, Qualcomm, Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, Coca-Cola and others. “The ultimate goal is to connect every school in the world, and bridge the digital divide,” Wyler told my colleague. “We’re bringing connectivity and enabling it for people around the world, and in rural populations.”
— Amazon is backing out of a skyscraper under construction in its hometown of Seattle, GeekWire's Monica Nickelsburg reported. The company doesn't plan to occupy offices that it had leased in the tower but will instead sublease them. Just as Amazon faced opposition from local politicians and activists in New York over its now-scrapped plan to open headquarters there, the company has also faced criticism in Seattle. “It’s not hard to draw a line between the battles; two Seattle City Council members traveled to New York to warn Amazon opponents about what it’s like to have the company in your backyard,” Nickelsburg wrote. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
— More technology news from the private sector:

The company unveiled an early model of an autonomous delivery robot on Tuesday.
Hamza Shaban

Online marketplace eBay and activist investors Elliott Management and Starboard Value are nearing a settlement deal that would give the activists board seats and could open the door to the company breaking itself up.
The Wall Street Journal

China’s Huawei Technologies and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics have agreed to settle a two-year old patent dispute in the United States, court documents show.

The Federal Trade Commission in Washington on Jan. 28, 2015. (Alex Brandon/AP)
— The Federal Trade Commission brought its first case against the use by a company of fake paid reviews on Amazon, the Verge's Nick Statt reported. The case resulted in a settlement. “The company in question, named Cure Encapsulations, Inc. and owned by Naftula Jacobowitz, paid a third-party website to write five-star Amazon reviews for a weight-loss supplement called garcinia cambogia,” according to the Verge. “The plant, native to Indonesia, is widely mischaracterized as contributing to weight loss, but is in fact known to cause acute liver failure.”
— More technology news from the public sector:

The database includes detailed, but "de-identified," information about people's lives culled from conversations between police, social services, health workers, and more.

The Iranian foreign minister’s on-again, off-again resignation played out across two tense days on the very social media platforms that are either banned in his country or possibly headed that way.
Bloomberg News
— News about tech workforce and culture:

The federal Department of Labor said software maker Revel Systems has paid $791,935 in back wages to several hundred employees after an investigation found it didn’t pay them overtime.
The San Francisco Chronicle

Amazon's Nader Kabbani, who's been at the company since 2005, is running its new pharmacy initiative.
— Tech news generating buzz around the Web:

The search for intelligent life in the universe now includes queso.
Fast Company

Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk changed his Twitter display name to “Elon Tusk” and promised news from his electric carmaker later this week in another late-night flurry of tweets between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning.
— News about tech incidents and blunders:

A watchlist of risky individuals and corporate entities owned by Dow Jones has been exposed, after a company with access to the database left it on a server without a password.

Austrian video game company THQ Nordic is apologizing after it agreed to an ask-me-anything session on 8chan, the freewheeling Internet messaging board that was briefly delisted in 2015 by Google after being accused of hosting child pornography.
Brian Fung and Abby Ohlheiser
— Today in funding news:

The rapid rise of Slack has ushered in a new wave of apps, all aiming to solve one challenge: creating a user-friendly platform where coworkers can have productive conversations.

Cequence Security, a startup that helps companies protect applications against business logic attacks, announced a $17 million Series B investment today.
Coming soon:
Michael Cohen details his work as Donald Trump’s “fixer”:
Tornado touches down during snow showers in New Mexico:
Heinz's Ketchup Caviar is just as bizarre as it sounds:

Source: The Washington Post

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