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Aug 25, 2020

Market Insider | Biggest Moves Premarket: Stocks making the biggest moves in the premarket: Hormel, Medtronic, Best Buy, Exxon & more

Peter Schacknow

Take a look at some of the biggest movers in the premarket:

Hormel (HRL) – The food producer reported quarterly earnings of 37 cents per share, 3 cents a share above estimates. Revenue came in slightly above forecasts. Hormel said its retail business was strong, but that its foodservice business is still recovering.
Medtronic (MDT) – The medical device maker earned 62 cents per share for its fiscal first quarter, well above the 18 cents a share consensus estimate. Revenue also came in above forecasts. Profit was below year-ago levels, but Medtronic said it is now seeing an increase in elective procedures that had slowed due to the pandemic.
Best Buy (BBY) – Best Buy earned $1.71 per share for its second quarter, compared to the $1.08 a share consensus estimate. Revenue came in above forecasts as well. Comparable-store sales were up 5.8%, more than double the 2.3% FactSet consensus estimate. The electronics retailer said it did not expect the current pace of sales to continue, however.
J.M. Smucker (SJM) – The food producer reported quarterly earnings of $2.37 per share, beating the $1.67 a share predicted by analysts. Revenue was also above estimates and Smucker raised its full-year profit forecast, with strong demand for products like Uncrustables sandwiches and Folgers coffee.
Exxon Mobil (XOM), Pfizer (PFE), Raytheon Technologies (RTX) – These stocks will be removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average, while (CRM), Amgen (AMGN) and Honeywell (HON) will be added, effective on Aug. 31. Exxon and its predecessor companies had been in the Dow since 1928, while Honeywell makes a return to the Dow after being removed in 2008.
Palo Alto Networks (PANW) – Palo Alto reported quarterly profit of $1.48 per share, beating the consensus estimate by 9 cents a share. The cybersecurity company’s revenue also came in above Wall Street forecasts and Palo Alto issued an upbeat forecast as the pandemic and increased remote working increases demand for security products.
Apple (AAPL) – Apple was prevented by a judge’s ruling from shutting down an Epic Games tool used to run offerings from hundreds of app makers. The ruling was part of a legal dispute that has seen Apple block Epic’s popular Fortnite game for iOS users.
AstraZeneca (AZN) – AstraZeneca began a trial for an antibody-based cocktail designed to treat and prevent Covid-19. The initial study will determine if the treatment is safe and tolerable, and if it is successful, the drugmaker would then test the cocktail to both prevent infection as well as a treatment for patients already infected.
Tesla (TSLA) – Tesla CEO Elon Musk suggested in a tweet that battery capacity could leap by up to 50% over the next three to four years. The tweet comes ahead of Tesla’s “Battery Day” event scheduled for Sept. 22.
Delta Air Lines (DAL) – Delta told employees that it will furlough more than 1,900 pilots in October, due to the significant drop in air travel demand. Federal assistance to airlines runs out at the end of September.
Pioneer Natural (PXD), Parsley Energy (PE) – The shale oil producers are both planning to announce job cuts in the coming days, according to a Reuters report. That comes after both reported second-quarter losses.
Accenture (ACN) – Accenture plans to cut at least 25,000 jobs globally, according to a report in the Australian Financial Review. The report said that an initial wave of cuts for the consulting firm – targeting the bottom 5% of employees by performance, was completed earlier this month. (AMZN) – Amazon is setting up a luxury brand platform, according to a Women’s Wear Daily report. Amazon will give luxury brands full control of their virtual stores, while letting them utilize Amazon’s delivery and customer service platforms.
Zoom Video (ZM) – Zoom said service has been restored after a Monday outage that lasted several hours, preventing users from joining meetings or sign up for accounts.

News | Covid -19 Vaccine: AstraZeneca starts trial of coronavirus antibody treatment

3 minutes - Source: CNBC

Jakub Porzycki | NurPhoto | Getty Images

British drugmaker AstraZeneca has begun testing an antibody-based cocktail for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19, adding to recent signs of progress on possible medical solutions to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The London-listed firm, already among the leading players in the global race to develop a successful vaccine, said the study would evaluate if AZD7442, a combination of two monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), was safe and tolerable in up to 48 healthy participants between the ages of 18 and 55 years.
If the U.K.-based early-stage trial, which has dosed its participants, shows AZD7442 is safe, AstraZeneca said it would proceed to test it as both a preventative treatment for Covid-19 and a medicine for patients who have it, in larger, mid-to-late-stage studies.
AstraZeneca shares were up about 1% at 87 pounds ($114) in early trading.
Development of mAbs to target the virus, an approach already being tested by Regeneron, Eli Lilly, Roche and Molecular Partners, has been endorsed by leading scientists.
mAbs mimic natural antibodies generated in the body to fight off infection and can be synthesized in the laboratory to treat diseases in patients. Current uses include the treatment of some types of cancers.
U.S. infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci has called them “almost a sure bet” against Covid-19, and AstraZeneca in June received $23.7 million in funding from U.S. government agencies to advance the development of antibody-based treatments for Covid-19.
“This combination of antibodies, coupled to our proprietary half-life extension technology, has the potential to improve both the effectiveness and durability of use in addition to reducing the likelihood of viral resistance,” said Astra’s executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals R&D Mene Pangalos.
Though vaccines are at the heart of the long-term fight against the pandemic, alternative treatments are also being advanced, and the United States on Sunday authorized use of recovered Covid-19 patients’ plasma to treat those who are ill.
The Financial Times reported at the weekend that President Donald Trump’s administration was considering a fast-tracked approval of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine before November’s elections.

DealBook: The Urge to Reverse Merge

12-15 minutes - Source: NYT

Credit...Justin Lane/EPA, via Shutterstock
SPACs are just getting started
The “blank check” acquisition funds known as special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, have raised more than $30 billion so far this year, versus $13 billion in all of last year. Can they keep it up? DealBook spoke with some of the most plugged-in SPAC bankers and lawyers on Wall Street, and they cited three factors driving the boom:
1️⃣ Valuations are soaring for popular SPAC targets
“The pipeline is heavily weighted to technology and growth companies,” said Niron Stabinsky, who leads SPAC deals at Credit Suisse. He said that he speaks to big venture firms “weekly” about their portfolios. Many have taken notice of recent success stories, like Virgin Galactic’s merger with a SPAC led by the former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya. SPAC offerings will be “incredibly active post Labor Day,” said Paul Tropp, the co-head of Ropes & Gray’s capital markets group. That’s part of a “significant uptick” in listings expected to hit the market before election-related uncertainty sets in: Yesterday, the tech firms Asana, JFrog, Snowflake and Unity all filed to go public.
2️⃣ SPACs aren’t just an alternative to traditional I.P.O.s
“SPACs have become a new way of doing an M.&A. deal,” said Jeff Mortara, the head of equity capital markets origination at UBS. A merger with a SPAC allows the target company’s investors to retain a stake while gaining liquidity, and deal negotiations can be done directly, secretly and quickly. SPACs typically have two years from their I.P.O. date to complete a merger.
3️⃣ The flood of money to SPACs means better terms for targets
“Everything is negotiable,” the venture capitalist Bill Gurley wrote in a detailed case for SPACs on his blog this weekend. As competition between SPACs intensifies, “sponsors are continuing to negotiate deals that look better for the companies they buy,” he said in the essay, which quickly became the talk of Wall Street and Silicon Valley.
Why? Some SPAC sponsors are open to a smaller “promote” — the stake the sponsor gets essentially free after a merger. (Traditionally, a sponsor takes 20 percent.) SPACs also award warrants to the vehicle’s investors, which give them the right to buy larger stakes in the merged company at a discount; these are becoming less dilutive as sponsors shift their terms to be more favorable to the target company. In the life-sciences industry, where SPACs have “nearly replaced late-stage financing and I.P.O.s,” warrants have come down to zero in some deals, said Christian Nagler, a partner in the capital markets practice at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis.
The standard-bearer of a new approach for SPACs is the $4 billion fund sponsored by Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square, the largest to date. The fund’s warrants are structured in a way that encourages investors to stay invested longer in the merged company, and Pershing will take its “promote” only if the company it buys meets certain performance goals. Sponsors without Mr. Ackman’s reputation may find those terms hard to imitate, but some are adopting similar elements all the same, experts say.
What’s next? Mr. Gurley predicted that SPAC fund-raising this year could be four times higher than the previous record, set in 2019, implying another $20 billion or so to come. The buoyant markets are attracting figures not known for deal making to the space, like the former Congressman Paul Ryan and the baseball executive Billy Beane, which sows doubts among some about the durability of the boom. Just SPAC mergers involving electric car companies and auto technology firms — “deals on wheels,” as one analyst put it to The Times’s Neal E. Boudette and Kate Kelly — are already worth more than $10 billion.
Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in Connecticut, Lauren Hirsch in New York, and Michael J. de la Merced and Jason Karaian in London.
Credit...Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
President Trump opened the Republican convention with a blizzard of attacks. On the first day of the event, Mr. Trump boasted about the strength of the economy, despite the coronavirus, and assailed Joe Biden. Tonight’s lineup features speeches by Melania Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Tiffany Trump and Mr. Trump himself (again). The Times will have live coverage (and fact-checking) throughout the evening.
TikTok followed through on its lawsuit against the U.S. The Chinese-owned video app sued the Trump administration yesterday over a presidential executive order that would ban it in America. (Read our analysis of TikTok’s legal prospects here.) Of note: TikTok rebuffed the president’s demand for a fee to the Treasury Department from any buyout by an American company.
Researchers found the first documented case of coronavirus reinfection. A man in Hong Kong was infected by a different strain more than four months after his first bout with Covid-19, according to a forthcoming study. He was asymptomatic the second time, but the finding raises questions about how long immunity to the disease lasts.
Delta will furlough 2,000 pilots in October. The move will affect nearly 20 percent of its pilot force, and came despite 1,800 pilots agreeing to early retirement. The airline also reportedly plans to issue new debt backed by its frequent-flier program.
Black homeowners face discrimination during house appraisals. Valuations of Black-owned homes tend to come in far lower than those of white-owned houses, even in mixed-race and predominantly white neighborhoods, The Times reports. Relatedly, here’s an examination of how redlining has made majority Black neighborhoods far hotter, temperature-wise, than other areas.
Credit...Jim Young/Reuters
The Dow Jones industrial average is getting a makeover at the end of the month: Amgen, Honeywell and Salesforce will be added to the index, replacing Exxon, Pfizer and Raytheon.
Apple’s stock split is to blame. The 124-year-old stock index is price-weighted, a quirk that means the influence of its 30 components is based on their share prices, not their market values. Apple’s four-for-one stock split will reduce its weight in the Dow from about 12 percent to 3 percent, without any change in the tech giant’s $2 trillion market cap. So the index committee made changes to weights and membership to “better reflect the American economy,” it said.
Exxon was the Dow’s longest-serving member. It joined the index in 1928, as Standard Oil of New Jersey. Its replacement by Salesforce is an apt reflection of the times, with data in the cloud gaining prominence over oil in the ground. The Dow has recently lagged the S&P 500, which is weighted by market value, as the latter is more representative of today’s tech-dominated stock market. For all the attention that the Dow gets as a proxy for the broader market, assets tracking the index were worth about $31 billion at the end of last year, a small fraction of the $11 trillion tracking the S&P 500.
Michelle Leder is the founder of the S.E.C. filing site footnoted*. Here, she looks at how companies are making it easier to earn executive bonuses during the pandemic. You can follow her on Twitter at @footnoted.
Last summer, when companies started setting executive pay targets for 2020, it’s safe to say that nobody had Covid-19 on their minds. The economy had entered its longest expansion on record, and the idea that business would come to a screeching halt seemed unfathomable.
And early in the coronavirus outbreak, many companies either reduced or stopped paying salaries for top executives. But now, as the pandemic nears the six-month mark in the U.S., a number of companies are making changes to the way bonuses and other incentive pay is granted. This typically forms a larger share of executive compensation than base salary, and is awarded based on a complicated formula of pre-established goals.
Take Wynn Resorts International, the casino and hotel operator. By the time Las Vegas reopened in early June, visitor traffic was on its way to a 50 percent decline for the first half of the year. In turn, Wynn’s compensation committee “established significantly reduced target incentive levels of each named executive officer’s annual bonus target” for the second half of 2020, it said in an S.E.C. filing.
The industrial group HD Supply disclosed last Friday that it would base its annual incentive plan on profit performance for the last six months of fiscal 2020, which typically ends the first week of February, instead of the full year. That same day, the health care management company CorVel said that it would “adjust downward” the earnings per share target for executives to receive performance-based stock options.
At the end of July, the software company ServiceNow disclosed that it was lowering its annual targets for both cash bonuses and performance-based shares. Target Hospitality, which focuses on workplace housing, recently revealed that its C.E.O., Brad Archer, would receive a part of his pay that normally consists of restricted shares in cash instead.
And the publisher John Wiley & Sons, whose fiscal year ends on April 30, disclosed in its annual proxy that it would adjust its calendar calculating performance pay by counting the 10 months to Feb. 29 — before the impact of the virus was fully felt in the U.S. — separately from the last two months of its fiscal year.
As the pandemic drags on, and drags down company performance, expect more companies to make similar moves.
Credit...Justin Lane/EPA, via Shutterstock
The state attorney general of New York, Letitia James, is leading an inquiry into whether the Trump family company committed fraud to win loans and tax benefits.
Ms. James asked a judge to compel the testimony of Eric Trump, one of President Trump’s sons and a top executive at the Trump Organization. Eric Trump had canceled an interview with her office last month, and the company said that it would not comply with seven subpoenas related to the investigation. The move reflects the company’s concerns that Ms. James’s probe could eventually shift from a civil inquiry into a criminal investigation, The Times reports.
At issue is whether the Trump Organization improperly reported its assets to lenders and tax authorities, according to Ms. James’s filing yesterday. The inquiry began last year after Michael Cohen, the president’s former lawyer, told Congress that the company had inflated the value of its holdings to get bigger loans and understated them to reduce real estate taxes. It’s the latest legal headache for the Trump family business, as the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., investigates potential bank and insurance fraud by the company and seeks to obtain the president’s tax returns.
• Ant Group, Alibaba’s financial affiliate, filed for its hotly anticipated I.P.O., revealing a profit of $3.2 billion in the first half of the year, among other details. (CNBC)
• LVMH and Tiffany have reportedly given themselves until November to close their $16.2 billion deal; the previous deadline was yesterday. (Reuters)
• Investors in a SPAC backed by Dan Loeb’s Third Point voted to complete its $2.6 billion takeover of the payments company Global Blue, months after Third Point tried to walk away. (Reuters)
Politics and policy
• American and Chinese officials met by videoconference to discuss the status of their trade deal and issued upbeat statements. (NYT)
• Why President Trump’s approval ratings on the economy have remained stable: Supporters point to recent stock-market gains and are less likely to have lost their jobs during the pandemic. (NYT)
• A federal judge said that she is inclined to let Apple ban Fortnite, Epic Games’ blockbuster title, from its App Store, but not to let it withhold key developer tools. Microsoft has backed Epic’s legal fight. And here’s a profile of Tim Sweeney, Epic’s C.E.O. (@markgurman, FT, NYT)
Best of the rest
• “What If Technology Belonged to the People?” (Motherboard)
• Lockdown orders are costly. Is there a better approach? (WSJ)

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News | Business | The Economy | US: 30 states have been approved to offer an extra $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits

Greg Iacurci

Workers in Philadelphia took to the streets to demand Congress return and come to a deal on unemployment and other financial relief.
Workers in Philadelphia took to the streets to demand Congress return and come to a deal on unemployment and other financial relief.
Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Unemployed workers may soon get a bump of $300 or more in their weekly jobless benefits.
What’s more, it seems they won’t have to apply for that extra pay — it will come automatically.
More than half the states have received federal approval to offer “lost wages assistance,” created by an executive measure that President Donald Trump signed Aug. 8.
The program directs federal disaster-relief funds to unemployed workers, following the lapse of a $600-a-week federal supplement to unemployment benefits at the end of July. That prior subsidy had been enacted by the CARES Act in March.
More from Personal Finance:Is your state offering the $300 weekly unemployment boost?
What you need to know about claiming Social Security
You have a week to reverse this retirement withdrawal
Workers eligible for the aid will get an extra $300 a week on top of their current benefits. Some states, like Kentucky and Montana, are kicking in an extra $100 a week from a federal coronavirus relief fund, for a total $400.
Eligible workers will get the payments automatically and don’t need to apply for them separately, according to the latest information from state authorities.
“It seems the intention of the executive order was to make it function similarly to the CARES Act, so people would just get the money,” said Eliza Forsythe, a labor economist and assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Additional step

However, to be eligible for the assistance, many workers must take an additional step and self-certify in their online portals that they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by Covid-19.
“This will require a new step for claimants currently receiving regular unemployment benefits, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits,” according to a memo published by Washington state’s Employment Security Division. “Those who are receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance will likely not need to certify because they already have.”
Workers must have also received at least $100 in unemployment benefits during the weeks covered by the lost-wages program.
Thirty states were approved for the assistance as of Monday afternoon.
(They are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Washington state.)
States are getting an initial tranche of lost-wages funding covering three weeks, going back to the week ended Aug. 1.
States may pay additional weeks depending on how quickly the earmarked federal funds (up to $44 billion) are depleted.
Officials from the Labor Department and Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is overseeing the program, estimate states will get about five total weeks of funding.
But workers may not see the money show up in their accounts for several weeks, as states build out the infrastructure to administer the payments.
Arizona is the only state so far to have begun paying the $300 subsidy. Others have indicated they won’t start until September and beyond.
“It started out very slow,” said Gary Burtless, an economist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “We’re into the third full week of the month, and one state is making benefit payments so far.
“I presume others will start this week.” he added. “In some, it’ll take longer.”
Workers may wish to consult their state labor department website for additional information about the lost-wages program, since each state administers unemployment benefits differently.
“Each state has to make decisions about how to implement it,” Forsythe said. “It’s hard to give blanket advice to people, because it really depends on each state.”

Analysis | The Cybersecurity 202: Trump makes the fight against mail voting a key focus of convention speech

Joseph Marks

with Tonya Riley
President Trump came out swinging against mail voting on Day 1 of the Republican National Convention, claiming repeatedly without evidence that Democrats will abuse the process to “rig” November’s election.
What they’re doing is using covid to steal an election,” he declared. “They’re using covid to defraud the American people, all of our people, of a fair and free election.” 
The president began criticizing mail voting less than a minute after arriving onstage at the Republican convention in Charlotte on Monday and riffed on the topic for more than five minutes during a roughly 50-minute rambling speech. That’s far longer than he spent talking about most other topics during the afternoon speech, including the coronavirus pandemic itself.
The intensity of the focus was exceptional — even by the standards of Trump, who has spent months lobbing a litany of assaults at the process that millions of Americans will use to cast ballots safely in November.
And the portrait he painted of mail voting was riddled with false claims and misleading allegations, including that states will forego verifying that ballots are cast by actual voters and that Democratic officials won’t send ballots to Republican households. He also claimed repeatedly that Democrats will con people who didn't plan to vote into casting ballots for Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
The unmistakable message: Trump is making attacking the legitimacy of the election a central element of his argument to voters.  
“This is the greatest scam in the history of politics, I think, and I’m talking beyond our nation,” he said.

The president's preoccupation with mail voting contrasted with the rest of the convention where the topic went largely unmentioned. 

None of the night's major prime time speeches broached the topic. Instead, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and the president's son Donald Trump Jr. focused largely on economic prosperity, Trump's efforts to combat coronavirus and criticizing recent protests over police brutality.
One of few other significant comments on the topic yesterday came from former Arizona Republican senator Jeff Flake, who slammed Trump during a speech endorsing Biden.
“He has said, and I quote, ‘The only way we're going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.’ What kind of president talks like that?” asked the longtime Trump critic who declined to run for reelection in 2018. “What kind of American leader undermines confidence in the elections in his own country?”
Trump, however, continued his assault on Twitter:

Trump’s speech was effectively a mirror image of last week’s Democratic convention when it came to voting. 

Over four nights of speeches, Democratic officials urged voters to send in their ballots early if they vote by mail and warned against disinformation about voting. They also warned that Trump would undermine mail voting by falsely claiming that it's insecure.
“Folks who know they cannot win fair and square at the ballot box are doing everything they can to stop us from voting” including “lying about the security of our ballots,” former first lady Michelle Obama warned during the convention’s first night.
In Trump’s telling, however, it’s Democrats who are undermining the election by expanding mail voting. “This is stealing millions of votes,” he said. “The only way they can take this election from us is if this is a rigged election.”

In fact, both Republican and Democratic-leaning states have expanded mail voting during the pandemic. 

The four states that have shifted during the pandemic to send mail ballots directly to all registered voters — and which have faced extra criticism from Trump — do tend to vote Democratic in presidential elections. Those are New Jersey, Nevada Vermont and California. The District of Columbia will also send ballots to all registered voters for the first time. Five other states, including Republican-leaning Utah, already send ballots to all registered voters.

The fight over mail voting also was playing out in Washington. 

During a nearly six-hour combative hearing yesterday, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy defended his decision to impose cost-cutting measures that officials fear could slow mail ballots.
He has pledged to halt some of those changes until after the election but told lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee that he would not back off others, including banning postal workers from taking extra trips to ensure all mail is delivered and the removal of close to 700 high-speed sorting machines, Jacob Bogage, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Erica Werner and Christopher Ingraham report.
House Democrats returned early from a recess for the hearing and to pass a $25 billion Postal Service rescue bill that would aid mail ballot delivery. That bill is unlikely to make any headway in the Republican-controlled Senate.
DeJoy acknowledged during the hearing that he has spoken to people close to Trump’s reelection campaign to ask the president to stop talking about mail delivery. “I have put word around to different people that this is not helpful to the Postal Service,” DeJoy said.
Trump, however, wasn’t taking the hint. During his RNC address, he accused TV networks of running the Postal Service hearings rather than his roll call nomination to help Democrats.
“They’re trying to show the Post Office so that when their whole mail-in thing fizzles, they’ll try blaming it on the Post Office, okay,” he said. “So, they’re showing  these hearings that are very boring actually and they’re not showing this.”

The keys

TikTok’s lawsuit says Trump’s ban was for “political” reasons, not national security. 

The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in California, alleges that the White House did not conduct a fair process in deciding that the app needed to be banned, Rachel Lerman reports.
The White House decision was “principally based on outdated news articles, failed to address the voluminous documentation that Plaintiffs had provided demonstrating the security of TikTok user data, and was flawed in numerous other respects,” TikTok wrote in its lawsuit, according to a company blog post.
TikTok stores American users’ information in the United States and Singapore and has taken “extraordinary measures” to protect user privacy, the company said.
The lawsuit is the latest escalation between the Trump administration and the Chinese-owned app, which has been swept up in a White House push against Chinese technologies over alleged security concerns. If the ban goes through it would mark the first time a major consumer app was banned by a president using international emergency economic powers, Rachel reports. TikTok's legal challenge could also help it drive up its price tag as it seeks a U.S. buyer. Microsoft is the leading contender to buy the app.  

A new DHS 5G strategy aims to get ahead of security threats in the next-generation telecom system. 

The new strategy comes after several years during which the United States has largely fought rear-guard actions trying to limit the power of Huawei and other Chinese firms in 5G networks. 
The 24-page document  from the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency does not include the words “China” or “Huawei” but is clearly aimed at regaining lost ground. It lists five main pillars including improving vetting for 5G components to ensure they’re not aiding spying and promoting trusted 5G vendors in the United States and Europe. 
“It’s vital that we manage these risks adequately and promote a trusted ecosystem of 5G componentry,” CISA Director Christopher Krebs said in a statement.
As part of the initiative, CISA will release profiles addressing potential security risks in specific industry sectors such as health care, finance and manufacturing.
The initiative echoes a 5G security strategy released by the White House in March. 

India will begin to phase out Huawei and other Chinese equipment from its telecom networks. 

The government has not formally banned Huawei, but industry executives say government officials have urged telecom service providers to avoid using Chinese equipment in future investments over spying concerns, Amy Kazmin and Stephanie Findlay at the Financial Times report.
India's telecoms department has already disallowed 5G testing using Chinese equipment, one executive told the FT.
The informal boycott comes amid a roiling border dispute between the two nations that has resulted in India banning TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps. It also comes amid rising scrutiny of Huawei and other Chinese tech firms by the United States and some allies including the United Kingdom. 
India may avoid formally banning Huawei or other Chinese technologies in an attempt to not further escalate conflicts with China.

Cyber insecurity

Cheap Chinese smartphones are stealing money from users.  

Tecno W2 phones in South Africa, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia and Myanmar were infected with preinstalled malware signed their owners up for subscriptions without permission, cybersecurity firm Secure-D told BuzzFeed News. Transsion, the company that made the phones, blamed an unidentified vendor in the supply-chain process for the malware.
More cybersecurity news:

Chat room

Turn's out even conspiracy theorists could use better password management.


  • The Republican National Convention will take place until Thursday.
  • The Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab will hold an event on foreign interference, disinformation and the 2020 election with leaders from the private and public section today at 1 p.m.

Secure log off

How do you do, fellow humans?

US Market | Futures Indicator: Stock futures rise after the S&P 500's first close above 3,400, Dow set to gain 180 points

Fred Imbert

U.S. stock futures rose early Tuesday morning after another record-setting session on Wall Street.
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures traded up 200 points, or 0.7%. The move implied a positive open of around 180 points. Traders were also evaluating a major shake-up to the 124-year-old blue chip benchmark.
S&P 500 futures added 0.4%. Nasdaq 100 futures were flat.
During regular trading, the S&P 500 climbed 1% and closed above 3,400 for the first time. Apple also hit an all-time high, leading other tech names higher, while airline and cruise operator stocks jumped amid enthusiasm on the coronavirus front.
“Equity investors continue to express cautious optimism on the direction of the economy and progress with the virus,” said Mark Hackett, chief of investment research at Nationwide. “Investor sentiment has shifted, with substantial optimism now embedded into the equity markets, driving valuations to the highest level since the technology bubble.”
That optimism comes as the number of newly confirmed coronavirus infections in the U.S. has dropped. Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University showed new cases fell to under 37,000 and have been below 50,000 since mid-August.
Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of convalescent plasma as a treatment for coronavirus patients. The Trump administration is also reportedly considering fast-tracking an experimental vaccine from the U.K.
Aneta Markowska, chief economist at Jefferies, said high-frequency data on the coronavirus shows economic activity in the U.S. is picking up towards the end of August.
“The reopening of schools is proving to be a positive catalyst, with back-to-school shopping on track to exceed last years’ levels. We also show early/tentative evidence of improving labor market trends in states where schools reopened in early August,” Markowska said in a note.

Dow changes

After the bell, S&P Dow Jones Indices said will replace Exxon Mobil, Amgen will replace Pfizer and Honeywell International will replace Raytheon Technologies in the Dow average. The changes are driven by Apple’s coming stock split, which will reduce the technology weighting in the price-weighted average.
Salesforce, Amgen and Honeywell gained in premarket trading while Exxon Mobil, Pfizer and Raytheon declined. Exxon has been a part of the average for nearly 100 years.
Traders also looked ahead to key data releases, including the latest figures on consumer confidence and new home sales, which were both set for release on Tuesday.
Later this week, the Federal Reserve will hold its annual symposium on monetary policy. Wall Street will look for clues on further stimulus and where the economy is headed out of the event.

‘News | Business | iPhone Maker: Fortnite’ maker bruises Apple in battle over payments

Patrick McGee 

Apple has suffered a setback in its payments dispute with Epic Games, a developer, after a US court issued a temporary restraining order preventing it from blocking Epic’s access to its gaming platform.
Epic had introduced its own payment mechanism for players making in-app purchases in its hit title, Fortnite, in order to get round giving Apple a 30 per cent cut — a violation of App Store guidelines. Apple responded by giving Epic two weeks’ notice to comply with store rules or risk being blocked from Unreal Engine, a toolkit to create software for Apple platforms.
In a ruling on Monday evening, US district judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers sided with Apple in allowing the iPhone maker to ban Fortnite from the App Store. But she did not allow Apple to take action that would have affected third parties including Microsoft, which backed Epic on Sunday.
In a hearing held over Zoom earlier on Monday, the court heard Apple’s threat to revoke all of Epic’s access to Apple tools looked like acts of “retaliation” and “over-reach”.
In the order Judge Rogers said: “Apple has chosen to act severely, and by doing so, has impacted non-parties, and a third-party developer ecosystem. In this regard, the equities do weigh against Apple.”
She added: “Epic Games and Apple are at liberty to litigate against each other, but their dispute should not create havoc to bystanders.”
Epic had argued that when it filed a lawsuit against Apple on August 13, Apple had “retaliated ferociously” with a threat that would be “existential” for its gaming engine, causing harm to millions of developers.
The lawsuit was Epic’s reaction to having Fortnite kicked off the App Store for giving customers a payment option that skirted around Apple’s system. Fortnite is among the top grossing apps of all time, free to download but earning revenues estimated at $34m a month from in-app purchases of items such as tools and outfits.
Each company has said the stakes are high. Epic is arguing that Apple is a monopolist guilty of antitrust violations, because it “ties” App Store distribution with a payment system that demands a 30 per cent fee on all in-app purchases.
Apple argues these are not two products, but one — the payment mechanism is merely a digital checkout counter — and that it is “nothing approaching a monopolist”. Apple has said that if Epic were allowed to bypass its payment mechanism than the “entire App Store” business model would be at risk.
Judge Rogers set a court hearing for September 28. She said neither company had a “slam dunk” case.

News | Business | Markets | Europe: European stocks lifted by signs of recovery in Germany’s economy

Naomi Rovnick and Thomas Hale 

European equities climbed and Wall Street was set to build on its record highs after data showed Germany’s historic economic collapse was less severe than feared and business sentiment has continued to brighten.
The rise across Europe’s stock bourses echoed gains in New York on Monday, with the benchmark S&P 500 index rising to a new record.
German GDP contracted 9.7 per cent in the second quarter, which was the height of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, as private consumption, investments and exports collapsed. An earlier reading had shown the economy shrinking by 10.1 per cent between April and June, however.
Meanwhile, a survey by Germany’s highly regarded Ifo Institute showed sentiment among business leaders in Europe’s biggest economy improved to its highest level since February. The research group’s business climate index rose to 92.6 for August, up from 90.4 in July.
The data boosted the euro, which rose 0.4 per cent against the dollar to purchase $1.1830. The Europe Stoxx 600 index rose 0.6 per cent, Germany’s DAX was 0.8 per cent higher, while France’s CAC 40 gained 1 per cent.
Equities in peripheral European economies followed the trend, with Spain’s Ibex gaining 1.1 per cent and Italy’s MIB adding 0.7 per cent.
S&P 500 futures advanced 0.5 per cent, suggesting the index will add to its 4.9 per cent rise so far in August. Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital, said that while shares were “vulnerable” in the “seasonally weak months” leading up to the US election in November, various positive factors could push them higher.
He pointed to “good progress in developing vaccines, the downtrend in the US dollar [and] signs of recovery and low interest rates”.
The German GDP data were a “final glance in the rear view mirror,” Carsten Brzeski of ING wrote, predicting a recovery in the July to September quarter because of a reduction in VAT and summer domestic tourism. “The economy will have one of its best quarterly performances ever in the third quarter,” he said.
Shamik Dhar, chief economist at BNY Mellon, added that while coronavirus cases were once again rising across Europe, hospitalisation and death rates did not appear to be heading back towards the levels seen in March and April. “The course of the disease remains hugely uncertain and this latest spike may lead to more regional lockdowns,” he said. “But my essential view is that Germany will bounce back,” he added, in part because of pent-up consumer demand.
In London the FTSE 100, which has lost almost a fifth of its value during 2020 as fears over the economic impact of Covid-19 and Brexit mount, rose 0.6 per cent. In Asia-Pacific, shares across the region rose for a second day, with MSCI’s benchmark up 0.4 per cent.
Asian markets were buoyed by positive signs from the US and China regarding the countries’ trade deal after a meeting between China’s vice-premier Liu He, US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and Steven Mnuchin, secretary of the treasury.
“Both sides see progress and are committed to taking the steps necessary to ensure the success of the agreement,” said the office of the US Trade Representative in a statement.
Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, added 0.2 per cent to $45.24 a barrel. Gold added 0.4 per cent to $1,932 per troy ounce.

News | Business | Markets: Assets in ESG exchange traded funds and products top $100bn

Alf Wilkinson

Global assets held in exchange traded funds and products invested according to good environmental, social and governance principles surpassed $100bn last month, according to research by ETFGI, a consultancy.
The milestone was breached after $6.76bn of net inflows in July, which brought assets in globally listed ESG ETFs and ETPs to a total of $101bn, up from $88bn at the end of June.
ESG vehicles domiciled in Europe accounted for 51.6 per cent of those assets, while US-based ETFs and ETPs held just over 40 per cent of the market.
By the end of July, global ETFs and ETPs had garnered $38.8bn of net new money, far more than the $12.4bn such vehicles gathered in the same period of 2019 and the $26.7bn of net inflows recorded over the entire year.
This article was previously published by Ignites Europe, a title owned by the FT Group.
ETFGI research found that the 20 best-selling ETFs gathered $4bn of net inflows in July.
Amundi’s MSCI Emerging ESG Leaders Ucits ETF was the most popular fund in the space and collected $588.8m.
ETFGI said that since the first ESG ETF launch in 2002 — the iShares MSCI USA ESG Select ETF offered by BlackRock’s ETF arm — the number and diversity of products had “increased steadily”.
51.6% The proportion of ESG ETFs domiciled in Europe
The global ESG ETF and ETP industry comprises 393 products with 1,077 listings, from 92 providers on 31 exchanges in 25 countries, according to the consultancy.
ETFGI organises ETFs and ETPs into categories, including core ESG products and theme-based groups, such as clean energies and gender diversity.
The consultancy reported earlier this month that ETFs and ETPs listed in Europe garnered $17.5bn of net new money across all categories in July, taking inflows in 2020 to just over $50bn, below the $62.7bn the industry had gathered in the same period in 2019.
At the end of July, overall assets in the European ETF/ETP industry stood at $1.08tn.
*Ignites Europe is a news service published by FT Specialist for professionals working in the asset management industry. It covers everything from new product launches to regulations and industry trends. Trials and subscriptions are available at

News | Business | Companies | KFC: KFC drops Finger Lickin' Good tag amid coronavirus.

2 minutes - Source: BBC

KFC Image copyright KFC
Global fast food giant KFC says it is halting its "Finger Lickin' Good" slogan given the current hygiene advice amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"We find ourselves in a unique situation - having an iconic slogan that doesn't quite fit in the current environment," the company said.
It has altered its packaging with the phrase obscured. KFC said the phrase would return when the time was right.
KFC outlets closed temporarily in March, but most have now reopened.
The company promoted its new look through a YouTube video, showing the slogan pixelated on posters and its food "buckets", saying: "That thing we always say? Ignore it. For now."
Some people commented on social media the slogan was not a health hazard as you were already eating with your own fingers.
But the finger-lickin' message has caused concern since the pandemic began. In March, the Advertising Standards Authority received 163 complaints about a KFC TV advert which featured people licking their fingers.
The complainants considered the advert was irresponsible because they thought it encouraged behaviour that might increase the chances of Covid-19 spreading. The advert was withdrawn by KFC.
KFC, which was founded in the 1930s by Harland Saunders, opened its first franchise in the 1950s and has used the Finger Lickin' Good slogan since then.
It dropped the slogan in the late 1990s but brought it back in 2008.
KFC has 22,500 outlets around the world - 900 in the UK and Ireland. It is owned by Yum! brands, which also owns Pizza Hut.

Video | BBC: Young People Saving Money Without a Bank.

News | Commerce | Trade Talks: US and China hold 'constructive' trade talks

4-5 minutes - Source: BBC

Containers are seen stacked at a port in Qingdao in China's eastern Shandong province. Image copyright Getty Images
The US and China have held talks over their so-called "phase-one" trade deal after the discussion was delayed earlier this month.
Both sides saw progress and are committed to the agreement, the US Trade Representative said.
Negotiations had been expected to take place on 15 August but were postponed by President Donald Trump.
In an election campaign speech earlier this month, Mr Trump said: "I don’t want to talk to China right now."
The statement from the US Trade Representative also said the two parties had discussed intellectual property rights and other issues that have proved sticking points in negotiations over a phase-two deal.
"The parties addressed steps that China has taken to effectuate structural changes called for by the Agreement that will ensure greater protection for intellectual property rights, remove impediments to American companies in the areas of financial services and agriculture, and eliminate forced technology transfer."

The timing couldn't be more opportune.
Just 10 days ago the US and China abruptly called off scheduled negotiations, designed to implement the "phase-one" trade deal.
No official reason was given for the postponement, although it had been reported it was to give Beijing more time to live up to its side of the bargain and to make more purchases of American grains and other commodities.
So now as President Trump heads into a week of the Republican National Convention, striking a deal with China on long-standing issues makes for good headlines, allowing him to say that only the Trump administration can get Beijing to the table.
The pressure on Chinese companies from Washington has also come at a time when President Trump wants to show that he is tough on China - in contrast to 'Beijing Biden', as he and his supporters have called Joe Biden, who they say if elected would be softer on China than Mr Trump.
Beijing is watching all of this political theatre, in which it has become the central character, carefully - keeping cards close to its chest.
In a short statement from the Chinese, all that was said was the "two sides agreed to create conditions and atmosphere to continue pushing forward toward the implementation of the trade deal".
That strategy makes sense: Beijing is under no illusion that Washington's anti-China rhetoric will fade away any time soon.
Privately, Chinese companies have also told me whether it is a Trump or Biden administration, one thing's for sure: the pressure won't stop. It's the one thing both sides agree on.

The announcements came after US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke to Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on Monday evening Washington time.
It marks a rare sign of co-operation between the world’s two largest economies, as their relationship has become increasingly strained this year over a wide range of issues including data security, the coronavirus pandemic and Hong Kong.
In recent weeks Mr Trump has increased the pressure on Chinese technology firms with executive orders to ban the short video-sharing app TikTok and social media platform WeChat.
This week TikTok's owner ByteDance launched a legal challenge against the US president's decision, arguing that the move was motivated by politics, not national security.

Media captionWhy is TikTok so popular among teens?
Monday's talks had been expected to take place 10 day ago, but after they were delayed Mr Trump said - during an election campaign event in Arizona last Tuesday - that he had cancelled the meeting.
Not everything went completely smoothly with the latest negotiations. The US had to correct its statement as it misspelled Mr Liu's first name as Hu rather than He, something that was quickly picked up by Chinese social media.

News | | Politics | US Politics: Trump seeks to cast doubt on election integrity

9-11 minutes - Source: BBC

Supporters cheer for Mr Trump during his visit to North Carolina Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Supporters cheer for Mr Trump during his visit to North Carolina
US President Donald Trump has warned his fellow Republicans their opponents may "steal" November's election, as his party anointed him as their candidate.
"They're using Covid to defraud the American people," Mr Trump told delegates on the first day of the party convention in North Carolina.
Mr Trump repeated his much-disputed claims that mail-in ballots could lead to voter fraud.
Opinion polls suggest he currently trails Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
Addressing delegates in person at a party conference that has been dramatically scaled back by Covid-19, Mr Trump accused Democrats of "using Covid to steal an election".
"The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election," he said. "We're going to win."
Mr Trump also warned of a "rigged" election in 2016, as he trailed Hillary Clinton in the polls.

Media caption'My father's entire worldview is that we can always do even better'
On Monday, Mr Trump was officially nominated as a formality to be the Republican nominee at his party's convention in the city of Charlotte.
Supporters cheered him, chanting: "Four more years!"
The president is due to give a formal acceptance speech to the party jamboree on Thursday. It is unusual for candidates to address the convention before that point as Mr Trump has done.

Are mail-in ballots safe?

Mr Trump has repeatedly asserted that expanded mail-in voting - which is expected to happen at an unprecedented level due the coronavirus pandemic - will lead to "the most corrupt election" in US history.
But there is scant evidence of widespread voter fraud, and very few examples of any related criminal prosecutions.
Ellen Weintraub, commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, has said: "There's simply no basis for the conspiracy theory that voting by mail causes fraud. None."
Mail-in voting is used by the US military, and even Mr Trump himself and members of his family.
But a recent slowdown in mail deliveries due to cost-saving measures in the US postal system has fuelled concerns that ballots might not be returned by election day.
Several states have sought to change their election laws to allow ballots to be counted days after the forthcoming presidential vote, which some analysts fear could lead to delays in declaring the presidential victor.
A primary election in New York City this June took weeks to determine a winner after poll officials were deluged with 10 times the normal number of mail-in ballots. There was no allegation of fraud, but the debacle raised fears of a protracted vote count this November.
Earlier this month, a New Jersey judge ordered a new vote after finding evidence of fraud in a May election that was conducted entirely by mail in Paterson. Four people were arrested, including a local city councilman and councilman-elect. The case has been frequently touted by the Trump campaign.

Republicans make case for Trump

The first night of the Republican National Convention was a two-and-a-half hour rebuttal to the accusations Democrats levelled at Donald Trump during the four nights of their convention last week.
Did the president mishandle the coronavirus pandemic? The Republicans offered slick videos and first-hand accounts of the steps the president took to speed medical research, provide protective supplies and implement economic relief.
Is the president inflaming racial divisions in the US? Former football star Herschel Walker spoke of his 37-year friendship with Mr Trump. Tim Scott, the first black Republican senator since the late 19th Century, touted the president's work on sentencing reform and tax breaks for economically distressed communities.
Does the president lack empathy? Congressman Jim Jordan spoke of how Mr Trump offered sympathies when a relative died, and the president himself held a pre-taped White House forum where he offered words of support for coronavirus survivors and healthcare workers.
Polls suggest American voters have serious doubts about the president on all these issues - doubts that predated the Democratic convention attacks. Republicans have four days to assuage these concerns, chip away at Democratic opponent Joe Biden's lead and remind supporters what they like about Mr Trump's presidency.
It's an imposing task, but the Republicans have identified what work has to be done.

What else happened on the convention's opening night?

Republicans said Monday night's theme was "Land of Promise" and pledged their convention would be less "negative" than the Democrats' conference last week.
But many of the Republican speakers warned in doom-laden tones what would happen if Americans voted in a President Biden.
Mr Trump's eldest son Donald Trump Jr said the Democratic presidential candidate was "basically the Loch Ness monster of the swamp".
Florida congressman Matt Gaetz warned of a "horror movie" if Democrats won the White House.
"They'll disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home, and invite MS-13 to live next door," he said referring to a Central American immigrant street gang.
Charlie Kirk, who runs conservative student group Turning Point USA, told viewers: "Trump was elected to protect our families - our loved ones - from the vengeful mob that wishes to destroy our way of life, our neighbourhoods, schools, church and values."

Media captionThe St Louis couple arrested after pointing guns at protesters address the Republican convention
Former UN Ambassador and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley described facing discrimination as an Indian-American growing up in the South.
"I was a brown girl in a black and white world," she said.
But she described the "fashionable" idea that America is a racist country as a "lie".

Media captionJoe Biden: Will it be third time lucky in 2020?

How else was race addressed?

After Mr Biden implied in last week's speech to his party convention that Mr Trump was a racist, the Republican conference sought to deflect that charge back on Democrats.
In a bid to woo a constituency that is crucial to Democratic electoral hopes, African-American speakers lavished praise on the president on Monday night.
The headline speaker was South Carolina Senator Tim Scott - the only black Republican senator. He said his grandfather had been forced out of school so he could pick cotton, but lived long enough to see his grandson elected.
"Our family went from cotton to Congress in one lifetime," he told delegates. He said America had made "tremendous progress" towards racial equality during the Trump presidency.

Media caption'Trump's actions speak louder than stickers or slogans'
Former NFL star Herschel Walker, who is black, said: "It hurt my soul to hear the terrible names that people call Donald. The worst one is 'racist'.
"I take it as a personal insult that people would think I've had a 37-year friendship with a racist."
Georgia state representative Vernon Jones, a Democrat, accused his party of taking the black vote for granted.
"The Democratic Party does not want black people to leave the mental plantation they've had us on for decades," he said, evoking the legacy of slavery.
Kim Klacik, a black Republican candidate for Maryland's Baltimore district, accused Mr Biden of believing that black people "can't think for ourselves - that the colour of someone's skin dictates their political views".