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Aug 11, 2020

Market Insider | Biggest Moves Premarket: Stocks making the biggest moves premarket: Casper Sleep, Canada Goose, BioNTech, Uber, Lyft & more

Peter Schacknow



Check out the companies making headlines before the bell:

Casper Sleep – The mattress retailer reported a quarterly loss of 16 cents per share, 2 cents smaller than anticipated, with revenue beating forecasts as well. Casper Sleep was negatively impacted by pandemic-related store closures, but that was partly offset by increased e-commerce and retail partner sales.
Canada Goose – The outerwear maker reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss and better-than-expected revenue for its latest quarter. However, it also said that the negative effects of the pandemic have continued into the current quarter, and that it expects a significant decline in revenue from a year ago.
Macerich – The shopping center operator lost 18 cents per share for its fiscal third quarter, 2 cents wider than expected, with the mall and shopping center operator’s revenue also below Wall Street forecasts. Its results were impacted by store closures related to the pandemic, although it said the vast majority of stores were reopened by the end of the quarter.
BioNTech – The drug maker said it may present results from a phase 2b/3 clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate in October, and continues to pursue the goal of bringing the vaccine to market as quickly as possible. The company also reported a wider-than-expected loss for its latest quarter and revenue that came in below estimates.
Bed Bath & Beyond – Bed Bath & Beyond lifted its suspension of planned debt reductions, which had been implemented due to financial conditions brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. The housewares retailer also said its comparable sales for July were positive.
Uber, Lyft – Uber and Lyft were ordered by a California judge to classify drivers in that state as employees rather than independent contractors, which would entitle them to employee benefits. Both ride-hailing companies said they would appeal the decision.
Novavax – Novavax said its manufacturing capacity will be sufficient to meet demand for its Covid-19 vaccine, which it thinks could be as high as 600 million doses. The drug maker expects to begin a phase three trial as soon as late September.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals – Inovio said it expects its Covid-19 vaccine candidate to enter a mid-to-late stage study in September and receive emergency use authorization from the FDA sometime next year. Previously, Inovio had said it expected to begin mid-stage studies this summer.
Occidental Petroleum – Occidental lost $8.35 billion during the second quarter, as energy prices fell and the company wrote down the value of its oil and gas properties by $6.6 billion.
American Express – The financial services company is in talks to buy online small business lender Kabbage for as much as $850 million in cash, according to a Bloomberg report.
Tencent Music – Tencent Music saw revenue jump by a better-than-expected 18% during the second quarter, with its paid subscriber base numbers jumping by 52%. The music streaming service put more music behind its paywall after signing new partnerships with music labels.
Tilray – Tilray lost more than expected for its latest quarter, and the cannabis producer’s revenue was also below analyst estimates. Tilray said it had cut costs and increased revenue and is now focused on becoming profitable.
Simon Property Group – Simon reported quarterly earnings of 83 cents per share, below the consensus estimate of 98 cents, with the mall operator seeing revenue below forecasts as well. Simon’s results were hurt by unpaid rent from retailers forced to shut down due to the pandemic.
IAC/InterActive – IAC reported an unexpected quarterly loss, with revenue also coming in below Wall Street forecasts. One of the key issues was slower sales growth in its ANGI Homeservices unit, with IAC saying volatility was likely to continue due to the pandemic.

Analysis | The Cybersecurity 202: Zoom sued by consumer group for misrepresenting its encryption protections

Joseph Marks



with Tonya Riley
A consumer advocacy group is suing Zoom and seeking millions of dollars in damages, accusing the company of misleading its users about the strength of its encryption protections.
The nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog is also accusing the videoconferencing company of deceiving users about the extent of its links with China and the fact that some calls between people in North America were routed through servers in China. That raises the danger Beijing could steal or demand access to the contents of those calls, according to a copy of the lawsuit, which was shared exclusively with The Cybersecurity 202. 
Those phony claims “lull[ed] consumers and businesses into a false sense of securityand helped Zoom to soar in popularity during the early months of the pandemic, according the lawsuit, which was filed late yesterday in Washington D.C. Superior Court.
The consumer group fears that if Zoom isn't punished, other companies will be incentivized to make false claims about their security and privacy protections to attract users and stand out against competitors.
It’s jaw dropping how blatantly Zoom was claiming something that wasn’t the case,” Jerry Flanagan, Consumer Watchdog's litigation director, told me. “If a giant company like Zoom for years was claiming to have end-to-end encryption in place and they didn’t, one has to be very concerned that other companies are doing the same thing or that they’ll do so in the future if they don’t get called out on it.”
Zoom requested a copy of the lawsuit to review but did not respond to a request for comment on it. The company has previously acknowledged that it used misleading terminology to describe its encryption protections. It also acknowledged mistakenly routing calls through Chinese servers because of a surge of users during the early days of the pandemic.

Consumer Watchdog is suing under a D.C. consumer protection law that allows nonprofits to bring lawsuits on behalf of consumers. 

In most states such cases would have to be filed by a state’s attorney general or by a group of consumers in a class action.
The group is seeking up to $1,500 for every instance in which a D.C. resident used Zoom for non-business purposes. That could be a huge amount given Zoom's recent surge in popularity.
But it also comes as Zoom's value is soaring. The company's share price has risen to about $250 per share from around $115 before the pandemic.
The suit would cover instances where people used Zoom for social reasons or possibly for distance learning, said Ari Scharg, an attorney with Edelsen PC, which is representing Consumer Watchdog in the case. It would not apply to cases in which people used the service for business reasons.
The company's misstatements are especially galling during the pandemic, when people are rushing to Zoom and other video tools as a way to keep in touch with friends and family while self-isolating, Scharg said.
Zoom is such a prevalent company in a lot of households and schools and offices and it’s surprising and frustrating to a lot of users that the company wasn’t truthful with them,” he told me. “Right now, we all need an alternative way of keeping in touch and educating our children and it’s paramount that these online platforms be truthful with customers about how their privacy is being protected and who has access to those communications.”

Zoom claimed for years that it offered the most secure version of encryption, called end-to-end. 

But the company acknowledged during a crush of security scandals during the early weeks of the pandemic that its teleconferences were actually protected with a less rigorous form of encryption called transport layer security or TLS.
The major difference: End-to-end encryption scrambles the contents of communication during a message or conversation’s full journey between the sender and the recipient, meaning it's so strong the company itself can't access them. TLS allows the company that’s hosting the communication to decrypt it in the middle. That raises the chances that hackers could spy on those communications, cybersecurity experts say.
End-to-end encryption has also sparked a high stakes battle between tech companies and the Justice Department because companies cannot turn over decrypted versions of customer messages in response to law enforcement warrants. Cybersecurity experts say that's a necessary price to ensure the cybersecurity of lawful communications.
Zoom’s chief product officer Oded Gal said in an April 1 blog post the company “has always strived to use encryption to protect content in as many scenarios as possible, and in that spirit, we used the term end-to-end encryption.” He acknowledged, however, that “while we never intended to deceive any of our customers, we recognize that there is a discrepancy between the commonly accepted definition of end-to-end encryption and how we were using it.”
The company later released plans to use true end-to-end encryption — first just for paid users then, when that plan proved unpopular, for users of both the paid and free service.
The company has also pledged to limit its ties to China, which have come under intense scrutiny amid widespread concern about the threat of digital spying by the Chinese government. A report by Citizen Lab, a University of Toronto research group, found that despite being based in California Zoom owns three companies in China with about 700 employees that assist with its research and development.

Zoom's moves didn't quell anger from lawmakers and consumers who say it played fast and loose with security. 

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) last month demanded a Justice Department investigation into Zoom’s Chinese government ties as well as those of the Chinese app TikTok.
In an email response to the lawsuit, Blumenthal told me “Zoom blatantly misled millions of consumers on the privacy and security of its app, claiming to offer end-to-end encryption when it did not” and that the company “still bears an unmet obligation to protect consumers and should be held accountable for its clear past violations of law and public trust.”

The keys



President Trump downplayed Russian election threats and accused Democrats of undermining the election. 

When asked about the threat from Russia during a news conference, the president chastised reporters for not also asking about China and Iran. “The other day they said the three countries; they said China and Russia and Iran and some reporter got up and said, Russia is meddling. I said, well, didn't it mention China and Iran? Why didn't you mention them, too?" the president said.
The comments come after a Friday statement in which William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, described Russia as actively engaged in efforts reminiscent of its attempts to undermine the 2016 election. He described China’s election efforts as “largely rhetorical and aimed at shaping policy and criticizing the Trump administration for actions Beijing sees as harmful to its long-term strategic interests,” Shane Harris reports.
Trump accused Democrats of undermining the election by promoting voting by mail — a practice the president has long criticized but also promoted in select states. “I'll tell you who's meddling in our elections,” he said. “The Democrats are meddling. By wanting and insisting on sending mail-in ballots, where there's corruption all over the place.”

Belarus is blacking out the Internet after election protests.

The country appears to be blocking Twitter and other social media sites after the results of the recent presidential election sparked public protest, Jeff Stone at CyberScoop reports
The protests were spark after Alexander Lukashenko, who has been president of the country for 26 years, claimed to win 80 percent of the vote. Opposition leaders claim those results aren’t trustworthy.
Twitter confirmed it was being throttled in the country.
Access Now, an Internet freedom nonprofit, reported the blocking of dozens of sites including virtual private networks that would allow protesters to evade the bans and maintain anonymity online.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed Belarus. "We strongly condemn ... the use of internet shutdowns to hinder the ability of the Belarusian people to share information about the election and the demonstrations," he said in a statement.
Other countries including Iran have used similar tactics to silence public backlash following elections.

Tech companies are racing to acquire TikTok before the clock runs out on a ban. 

Doug Leone, Sequoia’s global managing partner and a Trump donor, has been pushing to find a way to save the company that Trump warns could be a vector for Chinese spying, Ellen Nakashima, Elizabeth Dwoskin, Jeff Stein and Jay Greene report. The venture capital's China-based affiliate invested in TikTok parent company ByteDance in 2014.
Trump gave a 45-day deadline last week for ByteDance to sell off its U.S. assets or the app would be banned. The effort underscores how the Trump administration’s national security moves against China could remake the face of U.S. social media. 
That's just one piece of the behind-the-scenes scrambling by investors and allies to convince the White House to allow for a sale of the app, rather than a ban. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also rallied Trump to allow for a sale of the app's U.S. business to a U.S. company to address the administration's security concerns. Microsoft is currently in talks to buy the app.

Hill happenings



Senate Homeland Security leaders want to expand a program to strip Huawei and ZTE from rural telecoms. 

The committee’s chairman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and top Democrat Sen. Gary Peters (Mich.) say equipment from sources like Huawei and ZTE could leave carriers vulnerable to cybersecurity risks and spying.
“As we become increasingly interconnected – especially during this pandemic – it is vital our telecommunications networks are secured against adversaries like the Chinese government,"  Peters said.  "We must have affordable and reliable telecommunications grids that can withstand national security and economic challenges."
Their new bill builds off the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act passed earlier this year. It would expand a reimbursement program that helps rural telecoms shed suspect components to include any telecom that has fewer than 10 million customers. The law previously only applied to telecoms with fewer than 2 million customers.
The legislation is supported by members of the Federal Communications Commission and several associations for small carriers, the lawmakers said.

Cyber insecurity



Nearly one-third of top-level cybersecurity executives said they have seen more attacks as a result the coronavirus pandemic.

Almost two thirds (64 percent) of top IT and cybersecurity executives believe their organizations are more likely to experience a data breach because of working from home and other shifts during the pandemic, according to a study by the cybersecurity firm HackerOne.

Daybook


  • The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) will webcast a discussion on the threat posed by Chinese espionage and how the Department of Justice has been responding Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Secure log off


Election season is here:

US Market | Futures Indicator: Dow futures jump 260 points after Russia coronavirus vaccine claim, S&P 500 nears all-time high

Yun Li



Futures tied to major U.S. equity averages advanced in early morning trading Tuesday after days of gains on Wall Street pushed the S&P 500 within striking distance of a record high.
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 260 points, or 1%. The move pointed to a gain of about 240 points at the market open. S&P 500 futures added 0.6%. Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.25%. The S&P 500 closed Monday just 0.97% from its record set in February.
The move higher comes shortly after local news agencies reported Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed the country had given regulatory approval for the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine.
While there was skepticism about whether Russia had developed a safe vaccine so quickly, the news triggered optimism from investors about the race for an inoculation and perhaps that the market isn’t pricing in how quickly a valid one could be ready.
Shares of stocks that would benefit most from a vaccine jumped in premarket trading. American Airlines gained 6%. Norwegian Cruise Lines climbed 6% as well. Casino shares rose. Mall-owner Simon Property Group was higher. Goldman Sachs over the weekend raised its economic growth outlook, predicting at least one vaccine approved by the end of this year and widespread distribution of the drug by the second quarter of next year.
The 30-stock Dow gained about 350 points in regular trading on Monday, posting its seventh positive session in a row — its longest winning streak since September 2019. The S&P 500 gained 0.2%, sitting just below its record high set in February. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq underperformed with a 0.4% loss as investors rotated out of some of the high-fliers.
“Markets are looking forward to better days ahead,” Jeff Buchbinder, equity strategist at LPL Financial, said in a note. “Although the timing is uncertain, the stock market is expressing confidence that the pandemic will end eventually with a vaccine—or multiple vaccines—and with help from better treatments in the interim.”
Investors still grappled with the uncertain fate of further coronavirus stimulus aimed at supporting Americans struggling during the pandemic.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday the White House is open to resuming coronavirus aid talks with Democrats and putting more relief money on the table to reach a compromise.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday in a tweet that he hoped lawmakers will be finalizing the bill this week and that he’s glad President Donald Trump “stepped in to soften the blow of their hostage tactics.”
Over the weekend, Trump signed four executive orders to extend some coronavirus aid, including unemployment benefits, a payroll tax holiday, defer student loan payments through 2020 and extend the federal protections from evictions.
“Given the limited scope of the deal and the positive market reaction, equity investors continue to embed a likelihood that a larger agreement is reached,” Mark Hackett Nationwide’s chief of investment research, said in a note on Monday.

News | Business | Insurance | Prudential: Prudential to split off US business in latest step of break-up plan

Oliver Ralph 



Prudential is to split off its US business, completing the break-up of the UK’s biggest insurance company.
The company said on Tuesday that it planned either to float Jackson, the US operation, in the first half of next year or demerge it if market conditions did not allow for an initial public offering.
Last year Prudential demerged M&G, its UK business, and since then it has been under pressure from activist investor Third Point to spin off the US as well. In June the company sold an 11 per cent stake in Jackson to Athene Holdings for $500m in a deal that valued the unit at $4.5bn.
The split will leave Prudential as a London-headquartered, UK-listed company with operations in Asia and Africa.
“Our differentiated product and geographic portfolio is well positioned to meet the health, protection and savings needs in these regions, where insurance penetration is low and demand for savings solutions is rapidly developing,” said chief executive Mike Wells.
Prudential has also changed its dividend policy to free up funds to invest in Africa and Asia. It intends to pay 16.1 cents in dividends this year. Analysts had previously expected a payout of around 40 cents per share.

News | Business | Markets: Global shares rally as investors bet on new stimulus

Harry Dempsey & Hudson Lockett  



Shares across Europe and the Asia-Pacific region rose as investors pinned their hopes on Washington pushing through more support measures to limit the economic damage from the coronavirus crisis.
The continental benchmark Stoxx 600 gained 1.7 per cent on Tuesday morning. London’s FTSE 100 mirrored those gains, even after data showed that the UK has shed 730,000 jobs since the start of the outbreak.
Japan’s benchmark Topix index added 2.5 per cent on Tuesday as traders in Tokyo returned from a long weekend. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index climbed 1.7 per cent while China’s CSI 300 of Shanghai- and Shenzhen-listed shares reversed gains to fall 0.4 per cent.
Wall Street’s S&P 500 was set to notch up a 0.5 per cent gain when trading begins later in the day, after the US index came within 1 per cent of its intraday all-time high on Monday.
Investors are hopeful that US lawmakers would overcome gridlock in Congress to pass a support package that could cushion the economic blow from Covid-19.
“Faith in the recovery and further fiscal stimulus is already being tested in the United States,” said strategists at DWS, the asset management arm of Deutsche Bank. “Given that these are also voters and that elections are looming, we would expect an agreement to be reached eventually.”
President Donald Trump said on Monday that his administration was “seriously” considering a capital gains tax cut, after negotiations to extend fiscal stimulus hit a roadblock.
Dave Ramsden, deputy governor at the Bank of England, reassured in an interview with the Times that the central bank would step up quantitative easing if the economy showed signs of slowing down.
Klaus Baader, global chief economist at Société Générale, said that a strong economic recovery, hopes of further stimulus and the renewed reduction in interest rates are powering equities higher in August.
“The contraction in GDP has been quite a bit smaller than many had expected or feared,” he said, as the OECD revised on Tuesday forecasts for South Korea’s economic contraction in 2020 to be a less worse than expected 0.8 per cent. He added that the global economic recovery was on course to record a “truncated V-shaped”.
Chinese technology shares steadied after two days of sharp losses. The Trump administration last week unveiled executive orders targeting social media apps TikTok and WeChat. The Hong Kong-listed shares of Tencent, the owner of WeChat, rose 1.8 per cent while ecommerce group Alibaba was almost flat.
Shares in Next Digital, the Hong Kong media group controlled by Jimmy Lai, rose 300 per cent on Tuesday, to HK$1.02, taking total gains this week to more than 1,000 per cent.
The company, which owns the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, has rocketed higher amid calls by activists to buy shares in a show of solidarity following Mr Lai's arrest on Monday for allegedly breaching the city's controversial national security law.
However, rising US-China tensions have reined in gains in global markets this week, as Beijing sanctioned 11 US citizens on Monday.
Oil prices were higher, with the International Energy Agency set to make its forecasts on US oil production later on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose 0.7 per cent to $45.32 a barrel. US marker West Texas Intermediate climbed 1 per cent to $42.35 a barrel.
The US dollar shed 0.2 per cent, while gold slipped 1.9 per cent to below $2,000 per troy ounce. The precious metal is down about 3 per cent since hitting an all-time high on August 7.
            

News | Business | Banking: SoftBank rebounds from historic loss with $12bn quarterly profit

Kana Inagaki 



SoftBank bounced back from a historic loss to post a $12bn quarterly profit as a global tech rally lifted high-profile Vision Fund investments including Uber and Slack.
The recovery caps one of the most tumultuous periods for the Japanese technology conglomerate founded by Masayoshi Son. Three consecutive quarters of operating losses forced SoftBank to earlier this year embark on a $41bn asset sale programme to fund share buybacks and reduce debt against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.
For the April to June quarter, SoftBank reported a net profit of ¥1.25tn ($12bn) compared with a net loss of ¥1.4tn in the previous quarter. That was above analysts’ forecasts for a net profit of ¥750bn, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. Profits were also boosted by the partial sale of its stake in the newly combined mobile company consisting of its US unit Sprint and larger rival T-Mobile.
The $100bn Vision Fund, which suffered an $18bn blow in the previous quarter, eked out an investment gain of $2.8bn. That was thanks to a buoyant US stock market with shares in ride-sharing group Uber and workplace messaging app Slack rising 11 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively, during the three months.
The Vision Fund’s fortunes have also benefited from strong initial public offerings in the US market. SoftBank’s $300m investment in home insurance start-up Lemonade is now worth more than $1bn.
Since announcing a disposal programme in mid-March that was triggered by a collapse in SoftBank’s shares, the company has raised 95 per cent of the promised amount and spent ¥1tn buying back its own shares. That has helped lift its stock price by 137 per cent.
After selling down its stakes in Chinese ecommerce group Alibaba and its Japanese telecoms business, the company is now also in talks with US chip company Nvidia for a sale of UK chip designer Arm. A deal would value the unit at more than $32bn, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.
Still, Kirk Boodry, a tech analyst at Redex Holdings, said it was too early to be bullish about the SoftBank’s recovery especially in light of uncertainty created by rising US-China frictions.
Tensions between the world’s two largest economies has cast a cloud over the Vision Fund’s investment in ByteDance, the Chinese owner of popular social media platform Tik Tok. ByteDance is in talks with Microsoft over a potential sale of its US arm in order to comply with demands from the Trump administration.
“You had a record amount of quantitative easing and access to liquidity pushing the market over the last four months,” said Mr Boodry, who publishes on research platform Smartkarma, of SoftBank’s quarterly performance. “It’s a good quarter that takes a lot of pressure off but this doesn’t prove anything yet.”

News | Politics | Kong Kong: HK newspaper Apple Daily defiant after crackdown

6-7 minutes - Source: BBC





A man buys a pile of Apple Daily newspapers in Hong Kong Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Supporters of the paper bought copies in bulk in the early hours
Hong Kong's Apple Daily newspaper has vowed to "fight on" after the arrest of owner Jimmy Lai under a controversial security law imposed by Beijing.
In extraordinary scenes streamed by the paper on Monday a handcuffed Mr Lai was led through his newsroom as nearly 200 police officers raided the building.
The pro-democracy activist was among 10 people arrested on charges including colluding with foreign forces.
The move sparked global condemnation of the escalating crackdown on dissent.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said China had "eviscerated Hong Kong’s freedoms".
On Tuesday, Apple Daily's front page showed an image of Mr Lai in handcuffs with the headline: "Apple Daily must fight on."
In some parts of the city Hong Kongers were seen queuing for a copy as early as 02:30 as vendors reported selling out of the popular tabloid founded by Mr Lai.


The paper, which offers a rare and unvarnished take on Hong Kong and China's leadership, said more than 500,000 copies were printed, up from the usual 100,000.
Mr Lai, who is viewed as a hero by many in Hong Kong for his direct criticism of Beijing’s top leadership, is the highest-profile detainee under use of the new legislation so far.
But on the mainland, he has long been labelled a traitor.
Hours after his arrest prominent youth activist Agnes Chow and Wilson Li, a freelance journalist, were also arrested under the same law.

Global outcry

The arrests renewed criticism from Washington, London and the United Nations about heightened attacks on the city’s freedoms.


"I’m deeply troubled by reports of the arrest of @JimmyLaiApple under Hong Kong’s draconian National Security Law," tweeted US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“Further proof that the CCP has eviscerated Hong Kong’s freedoms and eroded the rights of its people,” he wrote.
Similar sentiments were expressed in Britain, which has already said it will suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and offer a pathway to citizenship for many of the city's residents, in the light of the new law.



Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionHong Kong arrests media tycoon Jimmy Lai
"This is further evidence that the national security law is being used as a pretext to silence opposition," a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Reuters. "The Hong Kong authorities must uphold the rights and freedoms of its people."
The controversial security law introduced to Hong Kong in June had already prompted some of the city’s highest-profile activists to flee overseas in anticipation of a broader clampdown on the city’s freedoms.
Speaking from London, pro-democracy activist Nathan Law told the BBC the arrests were "definitely a retaliation towards the sanctioning from the US on Hong Kong officials".
The US had earlier sanctioned 11 Chinese officials and allies in Hong Kong - including Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam - for curtailing political freedoms.
Days later Beijing responded with sanctions against 11 US citizens.
Mr Law also described it as the latest step "to quash the freedom of Hong Kong", silence Hong Kongers and create a larger "politics of fear".

Warning to press club

In another sign of the growing curbs on Hong Kong's media, Chinese officials issued a stark warning to the city's Foreign Correspondents' Club over its statement condemning Monday's raids and arrests.
The Office of the Commissioners of the Chinese foreign ministry in Hong Kong told the FCC to "stop defaming the implementation" of the new law "under the pretext of the freedom of the press", state media Xinhua reported.
"The FCC hastily jumped out to exonerate Lai, which is to help and collaborate with anti-China forces to mess up Hong Kong", it said, citing a spokesman for the office.
The UN also expressed renewed concern.
The office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on the authorities to monitor the operation of the law and "amend it if necessary to ensure there is no scope for its misuse to restrict human rights guaranteed by international law and the Basic Law of Hong Kong".
Human Rights Watch said the attack on Apple Daily may also be an attempt to limit the paper's circulation.
"Under Xi Jinping, the Communist Party has long shown itself afraid of public opinion on the mainland, and is using the new national security law to try to smash Hong Kong's independent voices and settle scores with longtime critics," said HRW Asia director Brad Adams.
Pro-democracy protest flared in Hong Kong last year over plans to allow extradition from the territory to mainland China. While this proposal was eventually withdrawn, the demonstrations carried on, to reflect widespread demands for democratic reforms.

News | Business | Economy | UK | Retail Sales: Retail sales rise despite fewer High Street visits

6-7 minutes - Source: BBC




Woman walks past high-end fashion stores Image copyright Getty Images
Retail sales rose again in July, but shops are still trying to make up lost ground, industry body figures suggest.
They show the number of visits to High Streets is still down significantly as people shop online instead.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said some retailers continue to struggle due to the coronavirus crisis, and it made a fresh call for government help with rents.
The housing ministry said landlords and tenants should "find solutions that work for both parties".
Retail sales rose for the second consecutive month in July, the BRC said, up 3.2% compared with the same month last year. But the picture for retailers was mixed.
Food sales continued to be strong, while furniture and homeware sales also did well as people "increasingly invest in their time at home", the BRC-KPMG retail sales report found.
Online shopping remained "prominent" in July, accounting for 40% of sales, said Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG. Computer sales also continued to soar as people who could worked from home, he said.
Food and alcohol sales slowed but drink sales still made a significant contribution to supermarket growth, Susan Barratt, the chief executive of grocery research organisation IGD said.
And while local coronavirus lockdowns in the north of England had taken a toll on consumer confidence in the region, morale was higher in Scotland, she said.

Confidence question

But many British shops, particularly in fashion, jewellery and beauty, are "still struggling to survive," BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.
"While the rise in retail sales is a step in the right direction, the industry is still trying to catch up lost ground, with most shops having suffered months of closures.
"The fragile economic situation continues to bear down on consumer confidence, with some retailers hanging by only a thread in the face of rising costs and lower sales," she added.

KPMG's Mr Martin said that while the return to school in September traditionally drove higher sales volumes, the unwinding of the government's furlough scheme could make consumers less willing to spend.
And new data from credit card company Visa suggests that consumer confidence has been further knocked by difficulties getting a refund.
It shows that more than one in 10 people who have requested a return for items and services bought during the coronavirus lockdown are yet to get their money back.
Meanwhile, more than a third say they are avoiding making a big purchase over fears their money would not be returned if they needed a refund.

Footfall fall

One major concern for many shops was footfall continuing to be down, "with many people still reluctant to go out, and fewer impulse purchases", Ms Dickinson said.
Separate figures from market intelligence firm Springboard suggested a 40% drop in footfall in the month, which was still an improvement from June, and the best month since February.
Online spending is unlikely to decline, while a lack of tourism, more people working from home, and rising unemployment were all factors keeping people away from shops, it said.
But there was one bright spot for High Streets. Springboard figures for the beginning of August suggest footfall rising during the government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which lets restaurant diners get up to 50% off their food and soft drink bills Monday to Wednesday.
However, according to the Centre for Retail Research, more than 22,000 UK restaurant jobs have been cut so far in 2020 and nearly 1,500 restaurants and outlets closed.

Rent cut call

On Tuesday the BRC repeated a call for a government grant to help pay rents, saying retailers were "struggling".
"Next quarter rent day could see many otherwise viable businesses fall into insolvency, costing stores, jobs and economic growth," Ms Dickinson said.
On Monday the BRC and a number of industry bodies, including UKHospitality, which represents restaurants and pubs, called for a so-called "Property Bounceback Grant".
The groups, including landlords, called for the government to pay 50% of retail, hospitality and leisure rents for six months, at a cost of £1.75bn to the Exchequer.
The industry bodies claimed that this would generate tax revenue from economic activity of almost £7bn, and save 375,000 jobs.
In a joint statement, they said landlords have been "walking a tightrope to support their customers and protect the pensions and savings of millions of people invested in commercial property across the country".
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government said that government support was already available for landlords, and that there was a moratorium on landlords being able to evict commercial tenants for non-payment of rent until 30 September.
There were also temporary measures to protect businesses from "aggressive" rent recovery, it added.
"We recognise the huge challenges being faced by commercial tenants and landlords during this period, which is why we're working closely with them to ensure they are supported and would urge both landlords and tenants to follow the example of others and find solutions that work for both parties," the housing ministry said.
"The government has taken unprecedented action to protect jobs and livelihoods, with a package of around £160bn of support, including loans, rates relief and grants for businesses to support them through the pandemic."

News | Business | Economy | UK: UK employment falls by biggest amount in a decade

7-8 minutes - Source: BBC



Restaurant worker Image copyright Getty Images
Employment in the UK fell by the largest amount in over a decade between April and June, official figures show.
Employment decreased by 220,000 on the quarter, said the Office for National Statistics.
This was the largest quarterly decrease since May to July 2009, the depths of the financial crisis.
The youngest workers, oldest workers and those in manual occupations were the worst hit during the pandemic, the ONS added.
The UK unemployment rate was estimated at 3.9%, largely unchanged on the year and the previous quarter, as millions remained on the government-backed furlough scheme.
Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician at the ONS, said: "The groups of people most affected are younger workers, 24 and under, or older workers and those in more routine or less skilled jobs.
"This is concerning, as it's harder for these groups to find a new job or get into a job as easily as other workers."

Looming job cuts

The UK economy has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic, but unemployment has not surged as much as feared because large numbers of firms have put employees on furlough.
However, analysts warned that unemployment was set to worsen in coming months as the scheme winds down, with some speaking of a looming "cliff-edge" and a "lull before the storm".
Many businesses across the UK are already planning job cuts, with 140,000 redundancies announced in June alone.
According to the ONS, the number of average hours worked continued to fall in April-June, reaching record lows both on the year and on the quarter.

'It's an uphill struggle'

Theatre technician Charlotte Baker, 29, is out of work as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
She started a new job at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon in September last year and was furloughed in March.
In June, she was made redundant, even though she could have been kept on furlough.
Now management at the Fairfield Halls has said the venue will not reopen until April next year, forcing her to contemplate a possible career change.
"It's definitely an uphill struggle and it's proving harder then previous ones," she told the BBC. "It's hard to have a positive outlook."
Charlotte has been looking into doing a carpentry course, but to obtain the necessary City and Guilds qualification would require her to spend £5,000 on training.
"It's a mountain to climb. I wouldn't mind climbing that mountain if it's something that I'm passionate about, but I'm not sure," she says.
"I'm hoping to make a decision by the end of August."
However, there were falls in pay for those still working, with regular pay levels down 0.2% compared with a year earlier - the first negative pay growth since records began in 2001.
The number of people on zero-hours contracts also increased to more than one million.
"Early indicators for July 2020 suggest that the number of employees in the UK on payrolls is down around 730,000 compared with March 2020," said the ONS.
It added that a large number of people were estimated to be temporarily away from work, including furloughed workers - approximately 7.5 million in June 2020, with more than three million of these being away for three months or more.
The number of workers covered by the furlough scheme has since risen to almost 10 million.
If you're a glass-half-full sort of person, there is some less than awful news in the latest labour market figures.
The number of vacancies, for example, rose from its record low by 10% in May to July as lockdown restrictions were eased. The number of hours worked saw a record drop in the second quarter from April to June, but in July it was down by only 3%, less than half the fall in May and June.
However, there are some less jolly signs. The number on employer payrolls had only dropped marginally in the previous two months, but saw a much bigger drop in July, down 114,000, in spite of the reopening of many shops, restaurants and pubs. And employers are increasingly making employees bear the risk that there isn't enough work for them to do, with the number of zero-hours contracts rising above one million for the first time.
And then there's the record drop in self-employment. And all this in spite of the government spending more than £40bn trying to protect employment through furlough and self-employed income support.
Unemployment tends to peak well after economic shocks have been and gone: this time will be no different.
The ONS said there had also been a sharp fall in the number of self-employed people between April and June.
It said there were 4.76 million self-employed people, 14.5% of all people in employment, a record 238,000 fewer than the previous quarter.

Cliff-edge fears

Ruth Gregory, senior UK economist at Capital Economics, said the latest employment figures were "the lull before the storm".
She added: "The cracks evident in the latest batch of labour market data are likely to soon turn into a chasm, with the unemployment rate rising from 3.9% to around 7% by mid-2021."
She said further rises in unemployment in the coming months were "all but inevitable as the furlough scheme unwinds".
Capital Economics forecasts that the unemployment rate will peak at 7% in mid-2021 and remain above its pre-pandemic level of 4% until the end of 2022.
Ms Gregory said this suggested that the economic recovery would be "slow going".
Jeremy Thomson-Cook, chief economist at Equals Money, said the figures showed the true level of those out of work had been "very effectively lowered by the government's furlough scheme" and that the worst lay ahead.
"Unfortunately, the end of the furlough scheme will present a cliff-edge, statistically and economically, for those currently relying on government support to make up their wages."