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Apr 24, 2019

The Real News Video | Is the Turkish-Russian S-400 Missile Deal Sabre Rattling Among Superpowers?

SAFE Banking Act

Reviewed by Nathan Reiff Updated Apr 24, 2019



DEFINITION of SAFE Banking Act

The Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act was introduced to Congress in May of 2017 under the sponsorship of Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR). This bill would impact the ability of federal banking regulators to intervene in the actions of a depository institution dealing with a legal cannabis business. Specifically, the act would prohibit regulators from terminating or limiting either deposit or share insurance of such a financial institution for the sole reason that it does business with a cannabis company. It would also prohibit regulators from in turn barring such institutions from offering financial services to these companies, as it would stop regulators from encouraging financial institutions to not do business with those companies.

Origins of the SAFE Banking Act

The SAFE Banking Act is a direct response to issues faced by legal cannabis companies operating in the United States. Specifically, the Act is designed to bridge a gap between those companies' legal standing in particular states and the current non-legal status of marijuana sales and usage on a federal level. A company conducting legitimate operations within a state that has moved to legalize marijuana may nonetheless face problems interacting with financial institutions like banks and lenders on account of concern among those institutions about punishment on the federal level. Practically, this may make it difficult for these companies to seek loans to help grow their businesses or launch new ones, to recover from burglaries or other negative events, and so on.
The SAFE Banking Act is designed to prohibit federal regulators from punishing financial institutions for the sole reason that they choose to provide such services to cannabis companies, their owners and their employees.
This Act did not receive a full vote in either chamber of Congress after it was first introduced in May of 2017. However, the bill is slated to be re-introduced to Congress by Sen. Merkley as well as Representatives Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Denny Heck (D-WA) at the end of February, 2019. In a statement, Perlmutter indicated that "thousands of employees, businesses and communities across this country...have been put at risk because they have been forced to deal in piles of cash...the SAFE Banking Act is focused solely on taking cash off the streets and making our communities safer."
The re-introduced bill will be slightly different from the earlier bill, according to draft legislation. The National Cannabis Industry Association has indicated that the revised version "adds protections for ancillary businesses providing products or services to a cannabis-related legitimate business; specifies how businesses on tribal land could qualify; and requires the Federal Financial Institution Examination Council to develop guidance to help financial institutions lawfully serve cannabis-related legitimate businesses."
In the Spring of 2019, banking lobbyists and financial institutions have been pushing for the bill's approval, according to reports. The American Bankers Association, which is a key lobby representing the $17 trillion U.S. banking industry, has testified to Congress in support of the bill, and banks including Wells Fargo, HSBC North America, Key Bank, M&T Corporation, PayPal, Prudential and Nationwide, are also reportedly supporting its passage.
The bill's sponsors are hopeful that changes in the political landscape could prove favorable for the bill in its second round of consideration. Notably, vocal anti-marijuana advocate Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been replaced by William Barr. Barr has previously indicated his reticence to punish companies following earlier guidance that suggested they would be protected from federal scrutiny.

Source: Investopedia

Bulletin | Facebook expects multibillion-dollar FTC fine, but stock still gains after earnings

Jeremy C. Owens


Facebook Inc. shares jumped in late trading Wednesday, even as the company said it expects to pay a multibillion-dollar fine to the Federal Trade Commission.
Facebook took a $3 billion charge in the first quarter, as it “reasonably estimated” that it will be required to pay that much as the FTC looks to punish the company for violating a consent decree on user privacy. Without that charge, Facebook would have easily topped earnings estimates, so after a brief decline in shares during after-hours trading, they jumped back up to a 4% gain.
“We estimate that the range of loss in this matter is $3 billion to $5 billion,” Facebook disclosed in its news release. “The matter remains unresolved, and there can be no assurance as to the timing or the terms of any final outcome.”
Amid a constant stream of negative headlines throughout 2018, Facebook FB, -0.65%  managed to not only stay afloat but also continue to thrive, with record profit, revenue and user numbers. In the first three months of 2019, amid talk of consequences for Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg specifically and continuing foibles such as lax internal password storage, the social-media giant continued to defy expectations of a financial penalty for its misdeeds, according to Wednesday’s earnings report.
Opinion: Facebook crumbles around its lonely king
Facebook reported first-quarter profit of $2.43 billion, or 85 cents a share, on sales of $15.08 billion, after posting earnings of $1.69 a share on sales of $11.97 billion in the same quarter a year ago. Net income would have been $5.43 billion, or $1.89 a share, without the charge for the expected FTC fine. Analysts on average expected earnings of $1.62 a share on revenue of $14.98 billion, according to FactSet.
User numbers also continued to grow, with Facebook reporting monthly active users of 2.38 billion, up 8% from last year, and daily active users of 1.56 billion, also up 8%. Analysts on average projected that Facebook’s monthly active users would rise by about 54 million sequentially and 178 million year-over-year, to 2.37 billion, with growth in all geographies, according to FactSet. Daily active users were projected to rise to 1.56 billion, from 1.45 billion a year ago and 1.52 billion at the end of 2018.
“We had a good quarter and our business and community continue to grow,” Zuckerberg said in a statement. “We are focused on building out our privacy-focused vision for the future of social networking, and working collaboratively to address important issues around the internet.”TimeFacebook Inc. Cl AJun 18Aug 18Oct 18Dec 18Feb 19Apr 19

$100$125$150$175$200$225

Despite all of its problems, Facebook shares have gained more than 14% in the past year, topping the 11% growth of the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.22%  Shares ended Wednesday with a 0.7% decline at $182.58, then topped $190 a share in after-hours trading following the report. Facebook has not traded for more than $190 a share in a regular session since last July.

Source: MarketWatch

FX | Currencies Report on Wednesday 24, April 2019 | Dollar rises broadly; euro slips on German business sentiment drop

Elliot Smith




Reusable Australian Dollar AUD c 150223
John Phillips | Digital Editor | CNBC
The euro fell against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday after a surprise drop in a leading indicator for economic activity in Germany highlighted the divergence between economic data in the United States and the euro zone.
German business morale deteriorated in April, bucking expectations for a small improvement, as trade tensions hurt the industrial engine of Europe’s largest economy.
The euro fell 0.54% to $1.1164, close to the lowest it has been since early March.
The greenback, by contrast, was supported by strong U.S. housing data, the latest signal the American economy is outperforming rivals.
“The broader importance of the German data is that market participants had been hoping that the rebound in Chinese monetary conditions, in lending in China, would help to boost demand for German exports and would lift spirits in the euro zone’s core economies,” said Karl Schamotta, director of foreign exchange strategy and structured products at Cambridge Global Payments.
“We are seeing successive prints that show that Germans are not necessarily turning more positive here,” said Schamotta.
“Trade pressure and concerns about global protectionism are weighing over Europe’s overall external position and challenging its growth trajectory. We are looking at underperformance relative to the U.S. for now,” he said..
The dollar index, which measures the U.S. currency versus a basket of six major rivals, was up 0.35% at 97.98, its highest since June 2017.
Investors will watch the release on Friday of U.S. gross domestic product data for the first three months of 2019, for signs of whether the United States remains stronger than other leading economies.
On Wednesday, the Australian dollar fell 1.23% after weaker-than-expected Australian inflation numbers heightened the prospect of an interest rate cut.
The pound held at a two-month low on Wednesday, weighed down by a broad-based rally in the dollar and fading hopes of a breakthrough in Brexit talks between the British government and the opposition.
The Canadian dollar weakened to a nearly seven-week low against its U.S. counterpart, investors awaited an interest rate decision from the Bank of Canada.

Source: CNBC

Bonds Yields Report on Wednesday April 24, 2019 | US Treasury yields fall amid softer economic data in Europe

Thomas Franck



U.S. government debt yields followed European rates lower Wednesday after new data suggested a gloomier economic outlook amid German business leaders.
Bond yields around the world dipped after the Ifo Institute reported that confidence in German c-suites unexpectedly fell in April. The Munich-based researcher’s business climate indicator fell for a seventh month in the last eight and contradicted upbeat forecasts with a 99.2 print. April’s print was the indicator’s lowest reading since 2016.
The new data could point to persistent worries surrounding the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union and slowing growth in general.
“The mood among German managers became slightly gloomier this month,” Ifo President Clemens Fuest said in a press release Wednesday. “March’s gentle optimism regarding the coming months has evaporated. The German economy continues to lose steam.”
At 10:36 a.m. ET, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to price, was lower at around 2.52%, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond was also lower at 2.949%. The German 10-year bund traded at -0.014%.

U.S. Markets Overview: Treasurys chart

In the United States, the Treasury is set to sell $41 billion in 5-year notes and $20 billion in two-year floating rate notes. The Federal Reserve is one week away from its latest monetary policy decision on May 1, when it will decide whether to adjust the overnight lending rate.
Oil prices dropped on Wednesday amid signs that supply is still adequate despite the U.S. announcing a push for tighter sanctions on Iran and a plan to halt waivers that had allowed limited Iranian oil imports.

Source: CNBC

Wall Street Closing Report on Wednesday 24, April 2019 | S&P 500 slips from record close as Caterpillar and AT&T fall on earnings

Fred Imbert





Stocks slipped from record levels on Wednesday as Wall Street digested another batch of corporate earnings.
The Nasdaq Composite hit an intraday record before trading just below the flatline. The S&P 500 dipped 0.1% as the energy and communication sectors underperformed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 49 points lower as Goldman Sachs fell on a report saying the Justice Department was pushing for a guilty plea in the bank’s case related to the 1MDB fund.
Caterpillar shares fell nearly 3% despite the company posting better-than-expected quarterly earnings. The industrial giant’s CFO warned of a possible slowdown in its China business, overshadowing Caterpillar’s strong report.
AT&T, meanwhile, fell more than 4% after posting first-quarter revenue numbers that disappointed investors. The company’s revenue was dragged down by weak sales in its WarnerMedia division.
Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq posted record closing highs in the previous session, boosted by strong corporate earnings results from companies like United Technologies, Coca-Cola and Twitter on Tuesday.
The indexes reached records less than six months after a massive drop in December, which led to Wall Street’s worst year since the financial crisis. But a pivot by the Federal Reserve in monetary policy away from higher rates and the cooling of trade tensions between China and the U.S. helped stocks rally from those lows.
Technology led the comeback, rising more than 36% since Christmas Eve. Xerox is the best-performing stock in the sector since then, rising about 80%.
“Right now, it feels like there’s some FOMO [fear of missing out] going on,” said Christian Fromhertz, CEO of The Tribeca Trade Group. “That’s what’s pushing us up in this last leg.”
“I think we’re going to see a consolidation at some point,” he said. “It’s not to say we need a major pullback; I just think we need to consolidate the gains a little bit. That may happen with what comes out with some of the bigger tech names.”
New York, USA - May 8, 2018: Wall Street sign near New York Stock Exchange with flags of the United States. It is the world’s most significant financial center.
ymgerman | iStock Editorial | Getty Images
Facebook and Microsoft are among the companies set to report later on Wednesday, while Amazon is scheduled to release its results on Thursday.
Nearly 130 S&P 500 companies have reported calendar first-quarter earnings so far. Of those companies, 78% have reported better-than-forecast profits, according to Refinitiv.
“If there’s an earnings recession out there, it’s hard to see in the latest batch of earnings reports,” Ed Yardeni, president and chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research, wrote in a note.
Domino’s Pizza, meanwhile rose 6% on stronger-than-forecast quarterly results. Anthem and Biogen’s earnings also beat estimates.
—CNBC’s Sam Meredith contributed to this report.

Source CNBC

Crude Oil Price Report on Wednesday 24, April 2019 | Oil hovers near 6-month peak as rising US crude stockpiles offset supply fears

Tom DiChristopher




RT: india oil tankers man crossing rail cars Kolkata
A worker walks atop a tanker wagon to check the freight level at an oil terminal on the outskirts of Kolkata.
Rupak De Chowdhuri | Reuters
Oil prices steadied on Wednesday near six-month highs after data that showed U.S. stockpiles rose to their highest since October 2017, countering fears of tight supply resulting from OPEC output cuts and U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and Iran.
Brent crude futures fell 8 cents to $74.43 per barrel around 12:50 p.m. ET (1650 GMT). The international benchmark reached $74.73 a barrel on Tuesday, highest since Nov. 1.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down 48 cents at $65.82 per barrel. The contract hit $66.60 a barrel on Tuesday, highest since Oct. 31.
U.S. crude inventories rose 5.5 million barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration said, far more than analysts’ forecast of an increase of 1.3 million barrels.
U.S. crude stocks jumped last week as imports increased. The nation imported an average 7.1 million barrels per day last week, up more than 1.1 million bpd from the previous week.
However, gasoline stocks fell by 2.1 million barrels, a larger-than-anticipated drop.
“What we’re looking at is a headline number bearish on crude but supported somewhat by the gasoline number,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “Because of the sanctions that are coming down on Iran and the fact that there’s going to be no waivers, it makes this number look more bullish.”
Crude futures and prices for spot delivery rallied after the United States said on Monday it would end all exemptions for sanctions against Iran, demanding countries halt oil imports from Tehran from May or face punitive action. The move raised worries about tighter global oil supplies.
The United States must be prepared for consequences if it tries to stop Iran from selling oil and using the Strait of Hormuz, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned on Wednesday.
China, Iran’s biggest oil customer, has formally complained about the move.
The spot price surge put the Brent forward curve into steep backwardation, in which prices for later delivery are cheaper than for prompt dispatch.
The United States has said it saw Saudi Arabia as a partner to balance oil markets. But some analysts said the market remained fundamentally bullish.
“The factors that could lead to higher prices are overwhelming,” said Carsten Fritsch at Commerzbank, adding a push towards $80 a barrel was more likely than a fall below $70.
Signaling no immediate action to counteract missing Iranian barrels, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Wednesday that his country’s production in May would not vary greatly from previous months.
“Inventories are actually continuing to rise despite what is happening in Venezuela and despite the tightening of sanctions on Iran. I don’t see the need to do anything immediately,” Falih said.
He added that Saudi Arabia aimed to stick to its output quota fixed in a deal by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and others, but that June numbers would be determined depending on customers’ needs.
The International Energy Agency, a watchdog for oil-consuming countries, said on Tuesday markets are “adequately supplied” and that “global spare production capacity remains at comfortable levels.”
— CNBC’s Tom DiChristopher contributed to this report.

Source: CNBC

Metals Price Report on Wednesday 24, 2019 | Gold steady near 4-month low, pressured by strong dollar

Tom DiChristopher




RT: Gold in hand, stacked
Gold steadied on Wednesday, crawling up slightly from the lowest in nearly four months hit during the previous session, with bullion pressured by a robust dollar as U.S. stocks took a breather following a strong rally.
Spot gold was up 0.2 percent at $1,274.24 per ounce, a day after hitting its lowest since Dec. 26 at $1,265.90.
U.S. gold futures rose 0.3 percent to $1,276.30 an ounce.
This “insignificant move in gold is just a technical bounce from the hard sell-off yesterday,” said David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures.
U.S. stocks edged slightly higher after a record rally in the prior session, pointing to cooling demand for riskier assets, the dollar gained, holding near a 22-month high against its peers, denting bullion’s appeal.
“A good portion of gold’s weakness has come from recent highs in the dollar against major currencies, and lack of safe-heaven buying amidst equity markets continuing higher and slightly better global economic outlook.” Meger said.
Recent data from the United States and China have assuaged fears of global downturn, dampening safe-haven demand for gold, which has fallen more than 5 percent from its 2019 peak touched in February.
Spot gold could hover above support at $1,264 an ounce or bounce toward resistance at $1,284, said Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.
Investors now await release of U.S. GDP data later this week. The Atlanta Federal Reserve’s GDPNow model projects between 2.2 percent and 3.4 percent growth for the world’s largest economy, which would beat analysts’ estimates of 2.1 percent growth.
Reflecting bearish investor sentiment, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.3 percent on Tuesday to 749.63 tonnes, the lowest since Oct. 23. SPDR Gold holdings have dipped about 5 percent this year.
However, the downside for prices was likely to be limited by increased central bank buying, “as well as positive signs that the physical market is recovering,” analysts from Standard Chartered wrote in a note on Tuesday.
In other metals, silver was up 0.7 percent at $14.92 an ounce after touching its lowest since Dec. 26 at $14.71 in the previous session.
Platinum fell 0.1 percent to $883.97 per ounce, while palladium rose 1.3 percent to $1,408.96.

Source: CNBC

Metals Table | Spot Prices as of the close of trading in New York on Wednesday 24, April, 2019

Spot Prices as of the close of trading in New York
 
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
 
 
 
GOLD
 
TODAY
 
$1,278.40
CHANGE
 
+$6.10
WEEK AGO
 
$1,275.70
MONTH AGO
 
$1,321.50
YEAR AGO
 
$1,331.65
SILVER
 
TODAY
 
$14.90
CHANGE
 
+$0.13
WEEK AGO
 
$14.92
MONTH AGO
 
$15.55
YEAR AGO
 
$16.73
PLATINUM
 
TODAY
 
$890.47
CHANGE
 
-$4.03
WEEK AGO
 
$886.50
MONTH AGO
 
$858.10
YEAR AGO
 
$937.00
PALLADIUM
 
TODAY
 
$1,420.00
CHANGE
 
+$27.96
WEEK AGO
 
$1,408.00
MONTH AGO
 
$1,580.75
YEAR AGO
 
$971.30
GOLD/SILVER RATIO
 
85.80
 

Kitco News Video I Investors Forget That “There Might Be A Storm Coming” – Expert

Europe Markets Closing Report I European markets close lower amid corporate earnings; Wirecard shares jump 9%

Chloe Taylor, Sam Meredith



European stocks moved lower on Wednesday, as market participants monitored the latest flurry of corporate results.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was around 0.2% lower during afternoon deals, with sectors and major bourses pointing in opposite directions.
Europe's auto stocks were among the worst performers, down more than 1% after Nissan slashed its full-year profit forecast to a near-decade low. The Japanese automaker said Wednesday it now expects operating profit for the year ended March to drop 45% versus a year earlier to 318 billion yen ($2.84 billion) — that's down from a previous forecast of 450 billion yen. Fiat Chrysler and Valeo slipped more than 1% on the news, while Renault was down more than 4%.
Meanwhile, technology stocks gained more than 3% after Japan's Softbank Group said it would buy a 5.6% stake in payments firm Wirecard for around 900 million euros ($1 billion). Shares of the Munich-based firm jumped 13%.
The sector was also lifted by the news that the U.K. would allow Chinese telecoms firm Huawei to participate in its 5G network despite warnings from the U.S. that doing so could enable Chinese espionage.
Elsewhere, Credit Suisse reported an increase in first-quarter net profit on Wednesday, beating analyst expectations. Switzerland's second-biggest bank reported a net income of 749 million Swiss francs ($733.93 million) for the first quarter of this year, an 8% increase year-on-year. However, shares of the lender edged into negative territory toward the end of the session.
France's Biomerieux tumbled toward the bottom of the European index Wednesday morning. It comes after the Paris-listed stock reported a moderate growth rate over the first three months of the year and confirmed its annual objectives. Shares of the company were down more than 7%.
Energy shares
Equity markets also received support from rising energy shares on Tuesday, after international benchmark Brent crude jumped to its highest level since Nov. 1.
Oil prices soared after the U.S. announced the end of six months of waivers that allowed Iran's eight biggest buyers to continue importing limited volumes of Iranian oil.

Source: CNBC

Politics I Breaking News I Trump: 'We're fighting all the subpoenas' from House Democrats

Kevin Breuninger,Christina Wilkie




GP: Donald Trump Departs White House South Lawn 181126
President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images
President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that his administration will fight back against every subpoena lodged by House Democrats.
“We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” Trump told reporters outside the White House, multiple outlets reported.
Trump and first lady Melania Trump are scheduled to headline an event on the opioids crisis in Atlanta, Ga., Wednesday afternoon.
On Tuesday, Trump told the Washington Post he did not see any reason to “go any further” in allowing his aides to testify before congressional committees.
“There is no reason to go any further, and especially in Congress where it’s very partisan — obviously very partisan,” Trump said. “I don’t want people testifying to a party, because that is what they’re doing if they do this.”
Yet Trump insisted that no “final, final decision” had been made on whether to assert executive privilege to legally block current and former White House staff from answering questions.

Source: CNBC

BBC Newsnight Video I Donald Trump and his UK state visit

Market Insider I Stocks making the biggest moves premarket: Boeing, Anadarko Petroleum, Caterpillar, AT&T & more

Peter Schacknow



Check out the companies making headlines before the bell:

Anadarko PetroleumOccidental Petroleum is offering $76 per share for Anadarko, topping the deal that Chevron has in place to buy Anadarko. Occidental CEO Vicki Hollub told CNBC that Occidental is the best acquirer for Anadarko given its experience in shale and in the Permian Basin.
Boeing — Boeing earned an adjusted $3.16 per share for the first quarter, matching estimates, with revenue slightly below forecast. Boeing is pulling its 2019 guidance and suspending its share repurchase program due to uncertainty surrounding the grounding of its 737 MAX aircraft.
Caterpillar — Caterpillar reported adjusted quarterly profit of $2.94 per share, beating estimates by 9 cents a share, with the heavy equipment maker’s revenue also topping forecasts.
Stanley Black & Decker — The tool maker earned an adjusted $1.42 per share for the first quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.42 a share. Revenue also beat forecasts and the company raised its full-year adjusted profit forecast to $8.50 to $8.70 per share, compared to an $8.52 consensus estimate.
AT&T — AT&T reported earnings of 86 cents per share for the first quarter, matching forecasts, but revenue came in below estimates. AT&T reported a surprise increase in wireless customers, and also said it would pay off 75% of the debt incurred in its Time Warner deal by the end of the year.
Anthem — The health insurer beat estimates by 22 cents a share, with adjusted quarterly profit of $6.03 per share. Revenue also topped forecasts, helped by strong membership growth, and Anthem also raised its full-year forecast.
Kraft Heinz — Kraft Heinz is weighing the sale of its Ore-Ida frozen potato brand, maker of Tater Tots, according to people familiar with the situation who spoke to CNBC. Kraft Heinz has hired Evercore Partners to assist in the possible sale.
Snap — Snap lost 10 cents per share for its latest quarter, smaller than the 12 cents a share loss expected by Wall Street. The Snapchat parent’s revenue came in above estimates, and Snap said its advertisements are reaching more 13- to 24-year-olds than ones on Facebook’s Instagram service.
CBSCBS suspended its search for a new chief executive officer, instead extending the term of acting CEO Joe Ianniello through the end of the year. The move has reignited speculation that CBS and Viacom may once again explore a potential merger.
Texas Instruments  — Texas Instruments reported quarterly profit of $1.26 per share, 13 cents a share above estimates. The chipmaker’s revenue also came in above Wall Street forecasts, however the company warned that a slowdown in microchip demand may last for a few more quarters.
STMicroelectronics — The European chipmaker cut its full-year spending target, as demand for smartphone and other semiconductors shrinks.
EBay — EBay came in 4 cents a share above estimates with adjusted quarterly profit of 67 cents per share. The online marketplace’s revenue was also above forecasts and EBay raised its profit and revenue outlook for the full-year, amid a rise in active buyers.
SAP — SAP posted on operating loss for its latest quarter, largely from a restructuring charge. The German business software provider did set a goal of expanding operating margins by five percentage points by 2023.
Tesla — Tesla will bring back lower priced versions of its Model S and Model X cars, reversing plans to phase them out.
Rite Aid — The drugstore chain plans to increase its minimum age for buying tobacco products to 21 from 18, matching a move made by rival Walgreens.
PG&E — PG&E received court approval to pay workers up to $350 million in bonuses as incentives to help the California utility meet its safety goals. Separately, Berkshire Hathaway is not buying PG&E, Warren Buffett told CNBC’s Becky Quick. This knocks down a report earlier Wednesday that had caused shares of the troubled utility to surge.
Lululemon — Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald told The Wall Street Journal that the apparel maker has no plans to cut prices, despite the proliferation of copycat products hitting the marketplace.
Best Buy — Best Buy was upgraded to “buy” from “hold” at Jefferies, which points to optimism regarding the electronics retailer’s expansion of services.
iRobot — iRobot posted first quarter profit of 78 cents, beating the 60 cents a share consensus estimate. The maker of the Roomba vacuum cleaner saw revenue fall short of forecasts, however, posting sales of $237.7 million compared to a consensus forecast of $251.4 million. iRobot did raise its full year earnings forecast.

Source.- CNBC

Aerospace and Defense I Boeing pulls 2019 guidance, pauses share buybacks due to 737 Max uncertainty

Michael Sheetz



Boeing Co. 737 Max planes are seen at the company's manufacturing facility in Renton, Washington, U.S., on Tuesday, Mar. 12, 2019.
David Ryder | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Boeing announced Wednesday it will pause share buybacks and is withdrawing its full year 2019 financial forecast while it works through issues surrounding its 737 Max aircraft, whose software is suspected in two deadly crashes.
Boeing said the previous guidance "does not reflect 737 MAX impacts."
The company also delivered first-quarter earnings that were in line with Wall Street expectations while revenue was lighter than expected.
Shares of Boeing initially fell in premarket trading after the release but bounced back, trading up more than 1% from Tuesday's close of $374.02 a share.
Expectations vs. results
  • EPS: $3.16 a share vs. $3.16 a share expected in a Refinitiv survey of analysts.
  • Revenue: $22.92 billion vs. $22.98 billion expected in the survey.
"Across the company, we are focused on safety, returning the 737 MAX to service, and earning and re-earning the trust and confidence of customers, regulators and the flying public," Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in a statement, adding that this is "a challenging time for our customers, stakeholders and the company."
Boeing said it has completed more than 135 test and production flights of updated software for the 737 Max. The Federal Aviation Administration, as well as regulators around the world, grounded the airplane in mid-March after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane. That crash came five months after a Lion Air 7737 Max crashed in Indonesia. A total of 346 people died in the crashes.
The company is expected to submit its plan to fix the Max to the FAA shortly, people familiar with the matter told CNBC.
Boeing reported a total order backlog for its commercial airplane business of $399 billion, citing more than 5,600 orders. That is down from the previous quarter, which had an order backlog of $412 billion with more than 5,900 orders.

Source.- CNBC


Analysis | The Cybersecurity 202 I DHS is pushing cybersecurity support to presidential campaigns

By Joseph Marks



THE KEY

Christopher Krebs, director of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. (Evan Vucci/AP)
The Department of Homeland Security is offering to help test and improve the cybersecurity of Democratic presidential campaigns — and this time, these services are getting a lot of interest.
“We haven’t had anyone decline to have a call with us or not be excited about the resources we’re offering or the support or services,” DHS senior adviser on election security Matt Masterson said of offers to the crowded field of 2020 candidates, during a panel discussion at the Atlantic Council’s International Conference on Cyber Engagement.
That’s a far better reception than ahead of the 2018 midterms, when state election officials broadly rejected DHS’s offer to help with their cybersecurity early in the Trump administration. Despite the Russian hacking and influence operation that upended the presidential election, state officials were concerned DHS aid could lead to a federal takeover of election administration and were angered by the department's slow pace sharing information about Russia's 2016 hacking attempts.
It was well into 2017 before some states changed their tune and began working with DHS on girding their election systems against hacking from Russia and elsewhere in the midterm elections.
Now, the acceptance of free help from DHS is a sign the campaigns and states are getting on the same page as the federal government about the need for security to protect both voter information and the integrity of the vote.
“They, I think, realize the risk and vulnerability that are out there and the need to secure their systems,” Masterson said. “We haven’t had any conversations that suggest people aren’t taking this seriously and don’t see the real risks out there.”
DHS is offering campaigns all the services it offered to state election officials in advance of the 2018 midterm elections, including scanning their computer networks for bugs and doing more complex penetration testing, according to Chris Krebs, director of DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
Campaigns are especially vulnerable to hacking because they form quickly with a mix of professional and volunteer staff — many of whom many not be especially digitally savvy. They’re also typically hyper-focused on winning votes, donations and news cycles to stay in the race, rather than on tedious administrative tasks such as ensuring everyone is following proper protocols before accessing sensitive databases or guarding against phishing emails.
Krebs, on the sidelines of the Atlantic Council conference, declined to say which campaigns his division spoke with and which accepted CISA services. But said he hopes to work with all the presidential campaigns — Democratic and Republican — once the field of candidates is settled.
“If there are two high priorities on election security, it’s state and local [election offices] and its campaigns,” Krebs said. “We will provide whatever services they request.”
There could be trouble, however, if campaigns are wary of letting the federal government nose around computer systems that hold sensitive data such as donor information, opposition research on other candidates or campaign strategies.
That’s the sort of information Russia or another adversary might be most interested in stealing — either for blackmail or embarrassing leaks -- and in the greatest need of protection. But Democratic campaigns might also be wary of giving access to databases containing sensitive strategy documents to a federal agency that's part of the government of the opposition party -- and ultimately reports to a president who's running for reelection.
As the 2020 campaign progresses, Krebs said he’d consider creating an external organization that provides the same cybersecurity services CISA offers but doesn’t report directly to DHS.
A model for that organization could be the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Centers, he said — a nonprofit organization that receives federal government funding and shares cybersecurity threat information among federal, state and local governments.
Liisa Past, a former Estonian cybersecurity official, described during the Atlantic Council conference the model that government uses to secure campaigns: Estonian government cybersecurity pros test every campaign website that touches the public Internet for vulnerabilities but don’t touch any internal databases.
“We knock on the doors and windows, and that’s worked very well,” she said.
Or, DHS could offer some cybersecurity aid with the assistance of organizations that have their own cybersecurity operations and strong relationships with campaigns, including Harvard’s Defending Digital Democracy project or the Democratic and Republican National Committees, Krebs said.
“We’ll be working through any option our stakeholders want,” Krebs said. “I’m based on demand signals, so if campaigns come and say, ‘This is the capability we need,’ we’ll look at the feasibility of pulling it together.”
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PINGED, PATCHED, PWNED

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen talks outside her home in Alexandria, Va., on Monday, April 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
PINGED: Former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was barred from discussing possible Russian interference in the 2018 and 2020 elections in front of President Trump, the New York Times’ Eric Schmitt, David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman reported Thursday.
Nielsen, who the Times reported “had become increasingly concerned about Russia’s continued activity in the United States during and after the 2018 midterm elections — ranging from its search for new techniques to divide Americans using social media, to experiments by hackers, to rerouting internet traffic and infiltrating power grids” resigned under pressure earlier this month.
Here are more details from the Times: “In a meeting this year, Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, made it clear that Mr. Trump still equated any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory. According to one senior administration official, Mr. Mulvaney said it ‘wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level.’”
“Even though the Department of Homeland Security has primary responsibility for civilian cyberdefense, Ms. Nielsen eventually gave up on her effort to organize a White House meeting of cabinet secretaries to coordinate a strategy to protect next year’s elections.”
“As a result, the issue did not gain the urgency or widespread attention that a president can command. And it meant that many Americans remain unaware of the latest versions of Russian interference.”

A staff member uses a laptop at a display for 5G wireless technology from Chinese technology firm Huawei. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)
PATCHED: The United Kingdom will allow Huawei to build part of its next-generation 5G telecommunications network despite U.S. pressure, the Wall Street Journal’s Max Colchester and Dan Strumpf reported.
But the controversial Chinese telecom will only be allowed to build peripheral sections that perform less vital functions, the Journal reported.
More from the Journal: “The decision is a victory for Huawei in its fight against a U.S. campaign to block the use of its 5G equipment in the networks of U.S. allies. The U.S. has long held that Huawei equipment is a security threat, which the telecoms company forcefully denies....The decision came at a meeting of Britain’s National Security Council on Tuesday attended by Prime Minister Theresa May and several British government ministers.”
They agreed that Huawei should be allowed to participate in the construction of the network, but would be barred from involvement in its critical core, the official said. The decision wouldn’t be final until announced before lawmakers in the House of Commons.”
Meanwhile, Ciaran Martin, the head of GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Center, downplayed the rift between the U.S. and its five main intelligence sharing partners over Huawei in a BBC Radio interview. “It’s objectively the case that in the past decade there have been different approaches across the Five Eyes and across the allied wider Western alliance towards Huawei and towards other issues as well,” Reuters reported from the interview.

PWNED: Krebs also revealed during the Atlantic Council conference that as soon as next week CISA will publish its list of “critical functions” that government and industry should prioritize protecting against cyberattacks.
The general idea of the list is that the “critical infrastructure” that DHS helps protect against physical and cyberattacks encompasses too much for the department to protect everything equally — so it has to identify the most critical of the critical infrastructure.
The list, which Krebs said will include about 57 critical functions, is the first major output from CISA’s National Risk Management Center, which the department launched last year to focus on long-range cybersecurity problems.
Krebs didn’t provide specific examples of critical functions, but said the benchmark is services “that if interrupted … would literally crater the economy.” An example that Krebs and other officials have cited in the past is Global Positioning System data, which is vital to everything from trucking to financial transactions.
PUBLIC KEY
-- Democrat and Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are demanding answers from Google amid privacy concerns about a database the company maintains of users’ precise location information, according to a letter to CEO Sundar Pichai.
The New York Times’s Jennifer Valentino-DeVries profiled the database, which Google calls “Sensorvault” and which law enforcement frequently seeks information from during criminal investigations, earlier this month.
Here are details from that report: “For years, police detectives have given Google warrants seeking location data tied to specific users’ accounts.”
“But the new warrants, often called 'geofence' requests, instead specify an area near a crime. Google looks in Sensorvault for any devices that were there at the right time and provides that information to the police.... Google first labels the devices with anonymous ID numbers, and detectives look at locations and movement patterns to see if any appear relevant to the crime. Once they narrow the field to a few devices, Google reveals information such as names and email addresses.”
The House committee’s Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and ranking Republican Greg Walden (Ore.) want to know how Google uses the database, what privacy protections it applies and whether it’s storing other databases of location information.
More cybersecurity news from the public sector:

As social media platforms continue to prepare for the 2020 election, efforts to spread disinformation and sow discord remain an ongoing issue.
NBC News

The Justice Department’s indictment links the alleged theft to China’s global commercial ambitions.
Ellen Nakashima

Creating a unified international response around online attacks will help “establish the legitimacy” of norms for cyberspace, says Rob Strayer.
Nextgov
PRIVATE KEY
-- Apple CEO Tim Cook lashed out during a Time magazine conference Tuesday at the FBI’s 2016 attempt to force the company to help crack its own encryption during an investigation into San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, saying it “was a very rigged case” and “was not the government’s finest hour,” CNBC’s Kif Leswing reported.
An inspector generals’ investigation later revealed the FBI didn’t explore all possible avenues before asking a federal judge to force Apple’s cooperation, and several people inside the bureau believed the goal was to force a court precedent rather than to solve the specific case. The bureau eventually withdrew its case when a third party offered it a way to hack into the phone without Apple’s assistance.
“I have personally never seen the government apparatus move against a company like it did here in a very dishonest manner,” Cook said.
More cybersecurity news from the private sector:

Tech companies are deciding between user convenience and potential damage to their brands.
Reed Albergotti

An aggressive group of supply chain hackers strikes again, this time further upstream.
Wired
THE NEW WILD WEST
Cybersecurity news from abroad:

Czech President Milos Zeman will meet Huawei Chief Executive Ren Zhengfei when h...
Reuters

Source - The Washington Post