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Apr 11, 2019

Market News | Uber finally releases filing to go public

Sara Salinas, Lauren Feiner




GS: Dara Khosrowshahi Uber sun valley
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi at Sun Valley.
Drew Angerer / Getty Images
Uber released its long-awaited IPO prospectus. The company will list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “UBER.”
The company has self-reported unaudited financials for several quarters — one of the few tech giants expected to debut this year to do so. That means the public S-1 serves less as the typical first look into financials and acts more as a contextualized official record.
Uber reported 2018 revenue of $11.27 billion. The company posted net income of $997 million in 2018, but an adjusted EBITDA loss of $1.85 billion.
Uber reported a metric it called “Monthly Active Platform Consumers” or “MAPC,” which reflects “the number of unique consumers who completed a Ridesharing or New Mobility ride or received an Uber Eats meal on our platform at least once in a given month, averaged over each month in the quarter.” In Uber’s fourth quarter 2018, the company reported 91 million MAPCs, which was up 35% from the same quarter the previous year.
Uber also broke out trips and gross bookings on its platform. Trips represent “the number of completed consumer Ridesharing or New Mobility rides and Uber Eats meal deliveries in a given period,” rather than counting individual consumers. Uber said an UberPOOL ride with three separate customers paying would represent three trips, while an UberX ride with three passengers but just one paying customer would represent a single trip. In Q4 2018, Uber reporter 1.49 billion trips compared to 1.09 billion in Q4 2017.
The company defines gross bookings as the dollar value of ridesharing and new mobility rides, Uber Eats deliveries and amounts paid by shippers on Uber Freight. Gross bookings includes tolls taxes and fees but does not adjust for consumer discounts, refunds or tips earned by drivers. Uber reported $11.48 billion in gross bookings for its ridesharing business in Q4 2018 compared to $9.19 billion in Q4 2017. For Uber Eats, it reported gross bookings of $2.56 billion in Q4 2018 compared to $1.12 billion in Q4 2017.
The filing comes about two weeks after rival Lyft debuted on the public markets.
The two ride-hailing companies had been racing toward the public markets practically in tandem, though Uber’s offering is likely to be significantly larger, and one of the largest offerings this year. The company was previously reported to be seeking a valuation of up to $120 billion.
Uber’s self-reported financials for 2018 showed narrowing losses but slowing revenue growth.

Source: CNBC

FX | Currencies Report on Thursday 11, 2019 | Dollar rises on strong data; euro, sterling tick lower

Yen Nee Lee




RT: Dollars cash 100 dollar bills 160516
The U.S. dollar rose on strong producer price and jobless-claims data on Thursday while sterling was weaker after news of a Brexit delay and the euro dinged by Wednesday’s European Central Bank statement.
The number of Americans filing initial applications for unemployment benefits dropped to a 49-1/2-year low last week, pointing to sustained labor market strength that could counter fears of a sharp slowdown in economic growth. Claims have declined for four straight weeks.
The dollar was trading higher “off the back of a very low jobless claims number and fairly robust PPI numbers. Overall what you’re seeing is a shift into dollars on fading expectations for a rate cut later this year,” said Karl Schamotta, director of foreign exchange strategy and structured products at Cambridge Global Payments.
The Fed on Wednesday released the minutes from its March 19-20 meeting, at which policymakers signaled they would not raise rates in 2019.
U.S. producer prices increased by the most in five months in March, the Labor Department reported, with its producer price index for final demand rising 0.6 percent in March, lifted by a surge in the cost of gasoline. Despite the top line increase, underlying wholesale inflation was tame.
The dollar index was last up 0.22%, at 97.16, having retraced some of its earlier gains.
The euro was modestly lower against the dollar after the European Central Bank hinted it was willing to leave interest rates alone amid trade tensions and signs of flagging growth. It was last down 0.15% at $1.1256.
ECB President Mario Draghi underscored the risks facing the euro zone economy, supporting further stimulus to prevent the region from slipping into recession.
Sterling was 0.26% lower, last at $1.3055 after EU leaders extended the deadline for Britain to leave the European Union, suggesting fears remain about where Brexit is headed.
“Concern around Brexit and the ECB’s increasingly dovish stance is weighing on euro and sterling,” said Schamotta.
The advantages for sterling, as well as UK and European equities, include the removal of a near-term, no-deal Brexit. But that is offset by the prospects of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s replacement, a general election and the threat to the UK economy of prolonged uncertainty.

Source: CNBC

Bond Yields Report on Thursday 11, 2019 | Treasury yields edge lower as investors digest Fed minutes

Matt Clinch



U.S. government debt yields were slightly lower on Thursday morning, continuing a downward move after the European Central Bank (ECB) held interest rates steady and the Federal Reserve released the minutes of its latest meeting.

U.S. Markets Overview: Treasurys chart

TICKER COMPANY YIELD CHANGE %CHANGE
US 3-MOU.S. 3 Month Treasury2.4320.0050.00
US 1-YRU.S. 1 Year Treasury2.4180.0050.00
US 2-YRU.S. 2 Year Treasury2.3560.0290.00
US 5-YRU.S. 5 Year Treasury2.3120.0330.00
US 10-YRU.S. 10 Year Treasury2.5010.0240.00
US 30-YRU.S. 30 Year Treasury2.9310.0270.00
At around 4:30 a.m. ET, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to price, was lower at around 2.4773 percent, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond was also lower at 2.8985 percent.
The Fed released the minutes of its March monetary policy meeting on Wednesday, revealing that Fed officials are leaving room for possible interest rate increases by the end of the year but adding that they currently do not expect to make any changes.
Speaking at a press conference in Frankfurt, Germany on Wednesday, ECB President Mario Draghi warned that data gathered by policymakers in recent weeks had confirmed “slower growth momentum” in the euro zone. The German 10-year government bond yield, an important benchmark for European fixed-income assets and one that is viewed as a safe haven for investors, dipped into negative territory on the back of Draghi’s comments.
On the data front Thursday, weekly jobless numbers and a producer price index are expected at 08:30 a.m. ET.
Also on Thursday, the IMF Spring Meeting kicks off in Washington, D.C., which is attended by central bank governors, finance ministers and government officials.
The U.S. Treasury will auction $50 billion in four-week bills, $35 billion in eight-week bills and $16 billion in 30-year bonds.

Source: CNBC

Wall Street Closing Report on Wednesday 11, April 2019 | Stocks close little changed as Wall Street gets set for the start of the corporate earnings season

Fred Imbert



Stocks closed along the flatline on Thursday as Wall Street looked ahead to the start of the earnings season.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 14.11 points to 26,143.05 as Apple slipped 0.8%. The S&P 500 posted a marginal gain to end the day at 2,888.32 while the Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.2% to 7,947.36.
J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo are among the companies set to kick off the latest earnings season on Friday, which Wall Street believes will be rough. FactSet estimates first-quarter earnings for the S&P 500 fell 4.2%, which would mark the worst earnings season since 2016.
“We expect Q1 results to be better-than-expected and growth to be positive in the quarter,” said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA Research, in a note. But “with the S&P 500 trading at a price-to-earnings (P/E) multiple of 17.5x, a premium to the historic average of 16.4x, investors will need earnings (driven by sales) to improve to keep the market moving higher near-term.”
Stocks initially rose Thursday as investors cheered progress on U.S.-China trade talks. The Wall Street Journal reported that China agreed to open its cloud-computing sector to foreign companies in an attempt to sweeten a deal with the U.S.
This follows Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin telling CNBC on Wednesday that Washington and Beijing have “pretty much agreed on an enforcement mechanism” for when a deal is struck.
“We are hopeful we can do this quickly, but we are not going to set an arbitrary deadline,” Mnuchin added. “If we can complete this agreement, this will be the most significant changes to the economic relationship between the U.S. and China in really the last 40 years.”
Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
Investors also weighed news that talks between EU leaders and British Prime Minister Theresa May culminated in a “flexible extension ” of the U.K.’s departure from the bloc until Oct. 31.
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said this development provides extra time for the “U.K. to find the best possible solution.”
Thursday’s moves follow the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting. The minutes showed the Fed does not expect to raise rates later in 2019. However, the central bank left the door open for tighter monetary policy if economic growth improves.
“This met current market expectations,” said Tom Essaye, founder of The Sevens Report. “But Fed officials also didn’t see any need to cut rates at this point either, and there wasn’t even much of a discussion of a future rate cut, which obviously highlights a discrepancy between Fed rate forecasts and market expectations.”
The CME Group’s FedWatch tool shows market participants expect Fed rates to be lower by January 2020.
Chipotle Mexican Grill shares fell more than 1% after Jefferies downgraded them, citing a “full” valuation and a run-up that “reflects improved visibility for powerful [same-store sales] and margin drivers.”
Tesla, meanwhile, fell nearly 3% after a report said the company and Panasonic were holding off on a Gigafactory expansion. The delay, according to the Nikkei report, is due to worries that demand for Tesla vehicles is slowing down.
—CNBC’s Spriha Srivastava contributed to this report.

Source: CNBC

Metals | Spot Prices Table as of the Close of Trading in New York.

Spot Prices Table as of the close of trading in New York
 
Thursday, April 11, 2019
 
 
 
GOLD
 
TODAY
 
$1,292.50
CHANGE
 
-$20.10
WEEK AGO
 
$1,293.70
MONTH AGO
 
$1,289.90
YEAR AGO
 
$1,358.95
SILVER
 
TODAY
 
$14.83
CHANGE
 
-$0.39
WEEK AGO
 
$15.07
MONTH AGO
 
$15.25
YEAR AGO
 
$16.79
PLATINUM
 
TODAY
 
$888.90
CHANGE
 
-$12.50
WEEK AGO
 
$897.00
MONTH AGO
 
$816.50
YEAR AGO
 
$937.10
Source: CMI

Crude Oil Price Closing Report | Oil prices fall nearly 2%, retreating from five-month highs

Tom DiChristopher




RT: Oil Russia Bashneft company 150128
Sergei Karpukhin | Reuters
Oil prices fell on Thursday, after rising to five-month highs earlier this week on OPEC-led production cuts and free-falling Venezuelan output.
International benchmark Brent futures were down $1, or 1.4%, at $70.73 a barrel around 1:30 p.m. ET (1930 GMT). Brent hit a more than five-month high at $71.78 on Wednesday.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures fell $1.11, or 1.7%, to $63.50 per barrel. WTI whit a high of $64.79 going back to Nov. 1 earlier this week.
Selling accelerated Thursday morning as U.S. crude dropped below $63.71 a barrel, a technically-significant level at which some funds had stops in place, triggering automatic sales, said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York.
U.S. crude inventories surged by 7 million barrels to a 17-month high of 456.6 million barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday. However, U.S. gasoline stocks fell by a whopping 7.7 million barrels, sending U.S. gasoline futures higher by 3.5 percent on their close on Wednesday.
U.S. crude oil production remained at a record 12.2 million bpd, making the United States the world’s biggest oil producer ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.
The surging production and regional refinery outages have depressed prices of cash grades, putting more pressure on U.S. crude, said Yawger.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude at Midland on Thursday traded at the biggest discount to futures in almost four months after Phillips 66 closed a unit for maintenance at its Borger, Texas refinery, adding to a backlog of barrels as production climbs.
Oil markets are tightening amid the increasing effectiveness of U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, the International Energy Agency said on Thursday.
U.S. sanctions and power outages pushed OPEC member Venezuela’s crude output to a long-term low of 870,000 bpd, IEA says. On Wednesday, OPEC reported Venezuela’s March output sank to 732,000 bpd, citing independent sources, while figures provided by the country put production at 960,000 bpd.
Iranian supply could fall further after May if, as many expect, Washington tightens its sanctions against Tehran.
OPEC and its allies led by Russia are due to meet in Vienna on June 25-26 to set their policy.
Overall output from OPEC, which has agreed with allies to withhold 1.2 million bpd of crude from the market since the start of 2019, fell 550,000 bpd in March to 30.1 million bpd, the IEA said. OPEC’s official report on Wednesday put the group’s output at a four-year just over 30 million bpd.
OPEC may raise oil output from July if Venezuelan and Iranian supply drops further and prices keep rallying, because extending production cuts with Russia and other allies could overtighten the market, sources familiar with the matter said.
“Now there is a suggestion that OPEC may surprise us and raise production pre-emptively if we get a price spike,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.
IEA, which coordinates the energy policies of developed nations, saw oil stocks in industrialized countries fall in February by 21.7 million barrels, putting inventories 16 million barrels above their five-year average.
Oil markets will remain tight “as long as Saudi Arabia continues to back the production cut deal as aggressively as it has done so far”, said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank.
— CNBC’s Tom DiChristopher contributed to this report.

Source: CNBC

Metals Price Closing Report | Gold edges lower but holds near 2-week peak on growth concerns

Tom DiChristopher




RT: Gold bars with hand 170512
Gold eased on Thursday as investors booked some profit from the metal’s strong run this week, but bullion held near a two-week peak supported by concerns over an economic slowdown, as major central banks retained a dovish policy stance.
Spot gold was down 1.30 percent at $1,290.855 per ounce. It touched its highest since March 28 at $1,310.50 on Wednesday.
U.S. gold futures were about 1.50 percent lower at $1,294.2 an ounce. Spot prices have rebounded from a near 10-week low touched last week at $1,280.59.
Gold is being pressured by some profit-taking following the past week’s gains, especially with the climb above $1,300, OANDA senior market analyst Craig Erlam said.
“One of the reasons we are trading around $1,300 levels is the dovish stance of central banks,” he said.
The dollar was little changed against rival currencies, hovering near a two-week low after the U.S. Federal Reserve’s minutes cemented the central bank’s dovish policy stance amid risks of a global economic slowdown.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi raised the prospect of more support for the struggling euro zone economy on Wednesday if its slowdown persisted, and kept its ultra-easy monetary policy unchanged.
Low interest rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, widely viewed as a safe investment during times of political and economic uncertainty.
World stock markets moved away from six-month highs as investors weighed warning signs over growth from major central banks.
“The yellow metal should see support toward $1,300-$1,305, while a consolidated break through $1,310 should see further interest,” MKS traders said in a note.
Traders are also closely following developments in Brexit after European Union leaders gave Britain six more months to leave the bloc.
Also on investors’ radar is U.S.-China trade, with Washington and Beijing having largely agreed on a mechanism to police any agreement they reach, including establishing “enforcement offices,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. Talks resume on Thursday.
Spot platinum was flat at $890.13 per ounce.
Palladium was down 1.99 percent at $1,359.505 per ounce, while silver slipped 1.98 percent to $14.90.

Source: CNBC

Europe Markets Closing Report | European markets close higher as airline stocks rally on Brexit extension

Chloe Taylor,Sam Meredith, Ryan Browne



European stocks were slightly higher Thursday, with shares of major airlines rallying in afternoon trade, after EU leaders granted the U.K. a further extension to the date of Brexit.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

TICKER COMPANY NAME PRICE CHANGE %CHANGE VOLUME
FTSEFTSE 100FTSE7416.78-5.13-0.07419504486
DAXDAXDAX11944.7638.850.3352104926
CACCACCAC5486.7936.910.6846346888
The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed provisionally up around 0.1%, with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory.
Travel and leisure stocks were among the outperformers, rising more than 1% following the EU’s offer to push back the U.K.’s departure from the bloc until Oct. 31. EasyJet, Tui and IAG were the top performers in the sector, while easyJet also led the Stoxx 600, rising almost 9%.
Looking at individual stocks, luxury brand LVMH surged after the company posted robust first-quarter sales Wednesday evening, with revenues up more than 16%. Shares of the Paris-listed firm advanced more than 4% on the news.
At the other end of the scale, shares of Italian manufacturer Prysmian tumbled 8%. It comes after Reuters reported the company would review its 2018 earnings amid long-term technical difficulties and damage claims.
Slowdown worries
Still, gains were capped by lingering worries about slowing global economic growth and trade protectionism. On Wall Street, stocks were marginally higher in morning trade.
The European Central Bank (ECB) kept its loose monetary policy stance and warned that threats to world economic growth remained. The central bank has already delayed its first post-crisis interest rate hike and President Mario Draghi raised the prospect of further supportive policy measures if a slowdown in the euro zone economy persisted.
Meanwhile, minutes from the latest meeting of policymakers at the Federal Reserve showed they had agreed to be patient about any changes to interest rate policy.

Source: CNBC

Analysis | The Technology 202 | This is Ted Cruz's playbook to crack down on Big Tech for alleged anti-conservative bias

By Cat Zakrzewski Cat Zakrzewski Technology policy reporter.



Ctrl + N


U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. (Reuters/Gary Cameron)
Sen. Ted Cruz's proposals to crack down Big Tech are the stuff of Silicon Valley nightmares.  
Accusing Twitter and Facebook of suppressing conservative voices, the Texas Republican yesterday floated an overhaul to a key law that protects Internet platforms from legal liability for content posts on their sites, breaking up the companies, or even charging them with fraud. 
These are the kinds of proposals that could keep Silicon Valley companies up at night — as they would fundamentally alter how the companies operate today. 
The companies, which testified in a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing, deny their systems are biased against conservatives — and there is no evidence that proves they systematically favor one political ideology over another. And Internet lobbyists and digital rights advocates already pushing back hard: They say the ideas Cruz, who chairs the subcommittee, is putting on the table betray a misunderstanding of how Internet law works and say that could have dangerous implications for the economy. They also warn that such steps amount to government overreach and could endanger free speech online.
Let's break down Cruz's three-part playbook — and the backlash from techies. 
1. Overhaul Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — a law that grants online platforms legal immunity for content posted on their sites. 
“That provides a special immunity from liability that Big Tech enjoys that nobody else gets,” Cruz said. “Big Tech made effectively a bargain with Congress and a bargain with Congress and a bargain with the American people,” he added, which he termed as: “We'll be neutral, we'll be fair, and in exchange for that we'll receive what is effectively a federal subsidy for immunity from liability.” 
The technology industry has fiercely defended Section 230 against any changes — and they even say that law is what allows them to moderate harmful content. That's critical, they say, as they come under greater pressure to police hate speech and violence on their platforms following incidents such as the New Zealand shootings. 
“CDA 230 is the law that allows companies to do moderation,” Internet Association President and chief executive Michael Beckerman told me in a statement following the hearing. “Tweaking 230 would only make it harder — not easier — for online platforms to moderate legal content that no reasonable person wants online — like hate speech.”
Digital rights advocates also pushed back on Cruz's characterization of what Section 230 does. India McKinney, a legislative analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told me the provision doesn't just protect tech giants. It applies to any person or company online that hosts third-party content — like blogs or a newspaper's comment section. 
“Given the lack of evidence of intentional partisan bias, it seems likely that this hearing is intended to serve a different purpose: to build a case for making existing platform liability exemptions dependent on 'politically neutral' content moderation practices,” McKinney wrote in a blog post yesterday. 
But Cruz isn't alone. Republicans are increasingly saying it's time to take a closer look at the legal shield. "I think this is a discussion we ought to have," Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said in an interview with my colleague Tony Romm following the hearing. "The American public now says they get the bulk of their news off of their online services. So with that in mind maybe we should have a deep dive into this."
2. Take antitrust action against the tech giants. 
“By almost any measure, the giant tech companies today are larger and more powerful than Standard Oil when it was broken up,” Cruz said. “They're larger and more powerful than AT&T was when it was broken up. If we have tech companies using the powers of monopoly to censor political speech, I think that raises real antitrust issues.” 
This isn't the first time Republicans have floated the idea of breaking up Big Tech. President Trump has said his administration is looking at Amazon, Facebook and Google for potential antitrust violations. (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also owns The Post.) And antitrust action is also an idea that has support on the left, with progressive 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren laying out her own proposal to this effect. 
However, some pro-business conservatives disagree with this plan. Americans for Prosperity, a right-wing political advocacy group, has been running a campaign warning lawmakers not to politicize antitrust issues. “Antitrust enforcement should be made based on what’s good for consumers and not based on a senator’s preferred content moderation policies,” said Jesse Blumenthal, who leads technology and innovation across the Koch network. 
3. Charge the companies with fraud. 
“Most users on Facebook, Twitter, Google, when they use those services they don't envision that they're participating in a bias forum,” Cruz said. “They believe when they chose to speak, people who follow them will hear what they say. There are distressing pieces of evidence that suggest that's not the case.” 
Observers were scratching their heads at the proposal to charge them with fraud over this. In the hearing, neither Facebook nor Twitter's representatives would give a yes or no answer about whether they were neutral platforms when repeatedly pressed by Cruz.
Blumenthal says the tech companies aren't neutral — and that's okay because as private companies, they can do what they want under the First Amendment. “They’re not [neutral], and they should own that,” he said. 
These proposals will likely stay in the spotlight as Cruz promises to host a hearing with just Google on anti-conservative bias in the coming weeks. Google was expected to testify yesterday, but Cruz rejected the witness the company offered, saying he was not senior enough. 
While Democrats have their own grievances with the technology industry, they slammed the GOP hearing as a farce. Sen. Mazie Hirono said the Senate should instead be focused on how Russians used disinformation to influence the 2016 presidential election, how misinformation is proliferating about vaccines on YouTube or the spread of the New Zealand mosque shootings across the platforms. 
“There are many areas where the Senate should be conducting oversight of the tech industry,” the Hawaii Democrat said. “Baseless allegations of anti-conservative bias is not one of them.”
Republicans are largely defending their decision to host the hearing. “I think a hearing like today is helpful because it does send the message that we are watching, and everyone is fully aware... that conservative groups and individuals seem to be shadow banned and censored,” Blackburn told Tony.
With all the various spats, this week provided a timely look at the state of tech policy, as Tony put it:
in the U.S. this week we had:
- a white nationalism hearing where one witness claimed it was a 2020 ploy, and no signal either way what lawmakers will do about online hate
- a bias hearing without evidence
- a net neutrality vote with no future
this is tech policy in the U.S.
— Tony Romm (@TonyRomm) April 10, 2019
You are reading The Technology 202, our guide to the intersection of technology and politics.
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BITS, NIBBLES AND BYTES

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., joined by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., left, announces the "Save The Internet Act," congressional Democrats' plan to reinstate "net neutrality" rules that President Donald Trump repealed in 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
BITS: The Democrat-led House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday that would restore Obama-era net neutrality rules, my colleagues Tony Romm and Brian Fung reportBut the bill is likely dead on arrival because it faces opposition in both the Senate and the White House, where the president's aides recommended he veto the legislation if it ever reaches his desk. 
The bill, which passed on clear party lines by a vote of 232-190, would require Internet service providers like AT&T and Verizon to treat all web traffic equally. The maneuver highlights Democrats' efforts to combat the Trump administration's deregulation policy following the Federal Communications Commission's 2017 decision to appeal the Obama-era rules.
“With net neutrality, some Democrats sounded an optimistic note that the House’s vote — coupled with sustained public pressure from net neutrality supporters — could shift their fortunes,” Tony and Brian wrote. “During the FCC’s repeal effort, millions of Americans wrote the agency in staunch support of the government’s rules, spurred on by Web activists and the likes of HBO’s John Oliver.”
Despite GOP-led opposition, Democrats think anything could happen heading into the 2020 election. “I think the president, as he heads into 2020, when he sees a groundswell, a juggernaut coming at him, I think he’s going to change,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said ahead of the House vote.

Facebook says it is rolling out a wide range of updates aimed at combatting the spread of false and harmful information on the social media site. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
NIBBLES: Facebook is launching new updates to combat misinformation and harmful content across its empire — including on its Messenger and Instagram services, my colleague Elizabeth Dwoskin reports. The changes underscore how the social network is increasingly fighting the very algorithms it built to maximize engagement. 
The new features and incremental product updates illustrate that Facebook is increasingly patrolling “borderline” content on its platform — while still not outright removing it. "For example, the company will update its scrolling news feed algorithm by reviewing little-known websites whose articles get sudden surges of traffic on Facebook — a pattern that Facebook says internal tests showed were a red flag for misinformation and clickbait," Elizabeth wrote. "The new metric does not mean the problematic articles will be taken down, but their traffic will be reduced in news feed, the primary screen Facebook users seen when they open the app."
But it remains to be seen whether these changes will prove to be fundamental fixes for the embattled tech giant. "The newsfeed algorithm alone takes in hundreds of thousands of behavioral signals when it evaluates which posts get promotion — and it’s tough to assess the impact any single fix might have on such a complex system,” Elizabeth writes. The company also will expand fact-checking for images and privacy features for Messenger.

(AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)
BYTES: Trump called on U.S. companies to "step up" and compete to provide the next generation of high-speed wireless networks known as 5G, Brian reports. But as the U.S. urges allies to pass on networking gear from Huawei, there's a glaring gap: Barely any U.S. companies make 5G's most critical components. 
"The absence of a major U.S. alternative to foreign suppliers of 5G networking equipment underscores the growing dominance of Huawei, which has evolved into the world’s biggest supplier of telecom equipment, sparking fears within the Trump administration that a 5G network powered by Huawei’s wireless parts could endanger national security," Brian writes. "And it throws into sharp relief the years-long retreat by U.S. firms from that market."
As Sprint and Verizon race to launch 5G, they're relying on foreign suppliers. Sweden’s Ericsson, Finland’s Nokia and China’s Huawei and ZTE, account for two-thirds of the global market for telecom equipment, according to analyst estimates.
“There is no U.S.-based wireless access equipment provider today that builds those solutions,” Sandra Rivera, a senior vice president at Intel who helps guide the chipmaker’s 5G strategy, told Brian.
PRIVATE CLOUD
— Technology news from the private sector:

The company said 21 of its suppliers recently vowed to obtain all their electricity from renewable sources.
Dino Grandoni and Steven Mufson

They say Amazon should stop offering custom cloud computing services that help the oil and gas industry explore for and extract more fossil fuels.
New York Times

Many of YouTube’s most popular children’s channels generate millions of dollars in ad revenue from such video fare as kids opening presents or reviewing toys—but the content creators are elusive.
Wall Street Journal

The steady growth in adoption that social platforms have experienced in the U.S. over the past decade also appears to be slowing.
Pew Research

A global team reviews audio clips in an effort to help the voice-activated assistant respond to commands.
Bloomberg
PUBLIC CLOUD
— Technology news from the public sector:

Congress is starting to show interest in prying open the “black box” of tech companies’ artificial intelligence much the same way the federal government checks under car hoods and audits banks
Matt O'Brien | AP

The cloud computing project, known as JEDI, is one of the largest federal information technology contracts in history.
New York Times
#TRENDING
— Technology news generating buzz around the Web:

It’s based on The Dropout podcast


Source: The Washington Post

News Release | PPI for final demand advances 0.6% in March; goods increase 1.0%, services rise 0.3%

The Producer Price Index for final demand rose 0.6 percent in March, as prices for final demand goods advanced 1.0 percent, and the index for final demand services moved up 0.3 percent. The final demand index increased 2.2 percent for the 12 months ended in March.
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Africa Politics | Sudan’s military overthrows president following months of popular protests

By Muhammed Osman 




Demonstrators take part in a protest demanding the departure of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir as they wait for an announcement outside the Sudanese army headquarters in the capital, Khartoum, on April 11. (EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
KHARTOUM, Sudan — Sudan’s defense minister said that President Omar al-Bashir was taken into military custody on Thursday, effectively announcing a coup to end Bashir’s 30-year rule. A two-year transition government administered by the military would take over, he said.
Sudan’s state media also reported that all political prisoners, including leaders of the protests that precipitated Bashir’s fall, were in the process of being released from jails around the country.
The announcement by Awad Ibn Auf, who is also Sudan’s vice president, came after four months of nationwide street protests sparked by price hikes on basic goods but also reflecting a deep-rooted desire for the replacement of his decades-old regime.
The details of the apparent coup were unclear as was the future of a massive sit-in protest in the capital Khartoum as of Thursday morning. In anticipation of the army’s announcement, crowds assembled outside their headquarters in Khartoum chanted, “it has fallen, we have won.”
Last month, Bashir, 75, announced a state of emergency in response to the protests, giving the country’s powerful security apparatus nearly unlimited powers to disperse the hundreds of thousands of people who had gathered in the streets of Khartoum and other cities.
But after the sit-in began on April 6, divisions within the armed forces became increasingly visible as low-ranking officers began to join the protests. High-ranking officers followed by declaring their intention not to disperse the protesters.
Fighting between different factions of the security forces led to street battles, resulting in at least 11 deaths, including six members of the armed forces, the information minister said citing a police report. Dozens more were killed since protests began in mid-December, according to human rights groups.
Over the past few days, Bashir has become increasingly isolated, as coalition partners of his ruling National Congress Party declined to join counter-protests in his support. 
Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese reveled in Khartoum’s streets this week, singing, dancing, and waving banners imprinted with hopeful slogans calling for the rebuilding of their country. The protests were initially organized by the Sudanese Professionals Association, a group that drew many doctors, lawyers and students. By this week, a significant chunk of Khartoum’s population of around 2 million had joined.
“Revolutionaries: The sit-ins for all our groups of people continues until the objectives of the revolution are achieved,” was the message posted to Twitter from the Sudanese Professionals Association account Thursday morning.
Through the waning years of his rule, Bashir diverted large quantities of the national budget to military spending, while inflation drove prices of flour and other basics up. The average Sudanese citizen is only 19 years old, and has lived their life entirely under Bashir. 
Sudan has experienced numerous coups in the past, including the one in 1989 that brought Bashir to power. The military’s use of state television and radio to announce their takeover reminded many older Sudanese of past transitions.
“This is potentially new dawn for Sudan,” said Rashid Abdi, a regional analyst for the International Crisis Group. “It shows that even most entrenched dictatorships are vulnerable. The future is uncertain, but there is now a better chance to engineer a viable, inclusive transition.”
Bashir’s departure capped a season of protest and political churn in North Africa that recalled the 2011 “Arab Spring” uprisings that removed autocratic leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. In Algeria, protests that started in February aimed at preventing its ailing president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, from seeking another term in office ended up removing North Africa’s longest serving leader.
But amid the euphoria in Algeria and Sudan, demonstrators have appeared more keenly aware of the looming dangers than their counterparts eight years earlier, vowing to remain in the streets until their broad array of demands were met. The example of Egypt had provided a particularly dire warning. After the fall of Hosni Mubarak, a rocky, two-year transition resulted in a military coup led by the country’s current president, Abdelfattah el-Sissi, and a government more repressive than any in the country’s recent history.
Bashir was indicted in 2009 by the International Criminal Court for five counts of crimes against humanity, two counts of war crimes and three counts of genocide for directing the fighting in the western Sudanese region of Darfur more than a decade ago. He will likely remain in Sudan under house arrest or seek refuge in one of the countries, such as Saudi Arabia or Egypt, that has allowed him to enter in the past without extraditing him.
Bearak reported from Nairobi.
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Market News | 8 Stocks to Own in 2Q as the Market Enters Rough Waters

By Mark Kolakowski Updated Apr 11, 2019



Stocks are up sharply from their December 2018 lows, and many investors wonder if the best opportunities for gains in equities are now behind us. Meanwhile, David Kostin, the chief U.S. equity strategist at Goldman Sachs, has applied multiple screens to produce a basket of 30 stocks with strong prospects in 2Q 2019, including these eight: Amgen Inc. (AMGN), Facebook Inc. (FB), PayPal Holdings Inc. (PYPL), Foot Locker Inc. (FL), AT&T Inc. (T), Texas Instruments Inc. (TXN), VeriSign Inc. (VRSN) and The Western Union Co. (WU).
8 Stocks to Buy as Market Waters Get Choppy
(YTD Gains Through April 2, 2019)
  • Facebook, 34%
  • VeriSign, 26%
  • PayPal, 24%
  • Foot Locker, 22%
  • Texas Instruments, 21%
  • AT&T, 14%
  • Western Union, 13%
  • Amgen, 0%
  • Median S&P 500 stock, 17%
Source: Goldman Sachs, "Where to Invest Now: Strategies for 2Q," April 2019

Significance for Investors

Kostin's team looked for stocks in the S&P 500 Index (SPX) that already are included in at least two of four thematic baskets that Goldman believes are especially timely right now: low operating leverage, low labor cost, dividend growth, and high revenue growth. Each of these baskets has outperformed the S&P 500 in 2019, as detailed below.
Goldman Chose From These 4 Baskets
(YTD Gains Through April 4, 2019)
  • High Revenue Growth Basket, 20%
  • Low Operating Leverage Basket, 18%
  • Low Labor Cost Basket, 17%
  • Dividend Growth Basket, 16%
  • S&P 500, 15%
Source: Goldman Sachs
"The drag on sales from a slowing economy will be less for low operating leverage stocks given they have more stable margins due to higher variable costs as a percentage of revenue," Goldman advised in a previous report. Meanwhile, wages are rising rapidly, the result of general inflation, brisk job growth, and an unemployment rate at a 50-year low, leading Goldman to recommend stocks with low labor costs. The sections immediately below indicate which baskets include the eight stocks listed above.
Low Operating Leverage: Facebook, Texas Instruments, VeriSign, Amgen.
Low Labor Cost: Facebook, Texas Instruments, VeriSign, AT&T, Western Union, Foot Locker, PayPal.
Dividend Growth: Texas Instruments, Amgen, AT&T, Western Union, Foot Locker.
High Revenue Growth: Facebook, PayPal.
Amgen is representative of the fact that recent subpar performance does not exclude a stock from Goldman's forward-looking basket of 30. In fact, 16 of the 30 have generated YTD 2019 returns below that of the median S&P stock, and four of those are down YTD.
As noted above, this biotech company is in Goldman's low operating leverage (2.0% vs. 2.6% for the median S&P 500 stock) and dividend growth baskets (10% projected annual growth rate from 2018 to 2020, vs. 6% for the S&P 500 median stock). Amgen's dividend yield of 3.0% beats the 2.0% median for the S&P 500.
Although Amgen did not make the cut for the low labor cost basket, its implied labor costs as a percentage of sales are still below the S&P 500 median, 12% vs. 14%. The big weak point for the stock is that consensus estimates point to declines of 4% in sales and 5% in EPS in 2019. However, the company has a potential blockbuster in a drug for migraine headaches, which may generate annual sales of up to $3.5 billion, per research by RBC Capital Markets cited by MarketWatch.

Looking Ahead

If the recent surge in the S&P 500 represents a dangerous speculative bubble, as some observers warn, even the strongest stocks are bound to swoon when it bursts.

Source: Investopedia