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24 february 2017

  • Alphabet`s self-driving car unit sues Uber over stolen trade secrets. Alphabet’s self-driving car unit Waymo is suing ride-hailing services company Uber Technologies and its autonomous trucking subsidiary Otto, alleging theft of its confidential sensor technology. Waymo said one of its former executive who now works at Uber stole more than 14,000 confidential documents related to LiDAR mapping and navigation systems for use in autonomous vehicles. The filed complaint said Uber stole confidential information on Waymo`s lidar sensor technology to "avoid incurring the risk, time and expense of independently developing their own technology."  Read more on www.reuters.com
  • NZ Dollar Falls Against Majors.   The New Zealand dollar on Friday fell versus other major currencies in the Asian session. The kiwi weakened the euro, falling to 1.4664 from the 1.4631 close yesterday. It also fell against the U.S. dollar to 0.7214 from 0.7229 in the previous day. The NZ dollar declined to 81.35 against the yen. The kiwi edged down to 1.0688 against the Australian dollar, from an early 4-day high of 1.0656. If the kiwi extends its downtrend, it is likely to find support around 1.49 against the euro, 0.70 against the greenback, 79.00 against the yen and 1.07 against the aussie. Read more on www.lse.co.uk
  • Chevron suspends production at Gorgon Train Two LNG project. A Chevron spokesman said the oil company has temporarily stopped liquefied natural gas (LNG) production at its Gorgon Train Two project in Australia. The spokesman said in an email said the Train Two production will undertake minor maintenance. He did not mention when Chevron plans to resume the production line. The Gorgon project continues to load LNG cargoes as production at Train One continues, the Chevron statement said. Read more on www.reuters.com
  • Carney Eyes Inflation Expectations as Stores Plan Price Hikes. Mark Carney is eyeing on inflation expectations and if it would drive U.K. workers to demand for higher wage increases. The Bank of England governor said that it is a key part of how policy makers assess how they maintain interest rates at a record low in an economy which is expanding quicker than expected. Citigroup`s measure of consumers’ long-term inflation expectations advanced to a two-year peak in February. Barclays said that all of its inflation-expectation measures are gaining momentum. Figures from the Confederation of British Industry also supports that view. It revealed that retailers are set to hike prices by the most in six years. Carney also notes that Brexit and other concerns will keep pay growth in check. With the governor finding reasons to hold the benchmark rate at 0.25 percent, traders are paying attention. Wagers on an increase by the end of 2017 fell more than half to 18 percent this month. Read more on www.bloomberg.com
  • Saudi Arabia Oil Wealth Continue to Face Concerns. Saudi Arabia says oil heavyweight Saudi Aramco is valued over $2 trillion. However, industry executives, analysts and investors say that Aramco is worth no more than half, and might be as little as fifth of the supposed amount. This suggests that the kingdom will earn a fraction of the $100 billion implied by its valuation if it sells five percent to the public next year. A valuation gap shows the concerns Saudi Arabia might face in bracing for the post-oil era. Doubts have started to emerge within the Saudi government. According to a person familiar with the flotation, Aramco in its current form is likely valued at around $500 billion since most of its cash goes to taxes and future investors who do not have a say on investments in non-core areas. Although Saudi Arabia is relatively stable in the Middle East, it is not immune to the risks that decision on oil output imposes. Read more on www.bloomberg.com
  • China Claims Spot as Germany’s Top Trading Partner. China became Germany’s most important trading partner in the previous year according to data from the Federal Statistics Office. The post was ceded by the U.S., which became the top trading partner for Germany in 2015. Consecutively, France, who was overthrown by America in 1961 as the U.S. economy saw an upturn, came in third. Germany’s import and exports to China climbed to 170 billion euros in 2016, official data showed. The shift is seen to be accepted by the German government, which has made it a priority to protect global free trade after President Trump threatened world trade with his protectionist trade policies. The vice chancellor of Germany, Sigmar Gabriel, even proposed that the EU should shift its economic policy towards Asia if Trump’s administration pushes through with his protectionist plans. Read more on www.reuters.com
  • Germany’s Budget Surplus Surges as Economy Forges Ahead. Germany’s higher tax returns and strong labor market gains drove up the country’s surplus to a record high of almost 24 billion euros in the previous year, according to the report published by the Federal Statistics Office. It indicated that income in all areas of the government, including the social security sector, topped spending. Revenues were greatly improved by the surge in income tax and property tax payments as well as the healthy employment conditions which resulted in considerable growth, with GDP expanding 1.9% in 2016. This is the third consecutive year that the country’s revenue surpassed its expenses. Despite the wide surplus figures, spending on providing housing and integrating immigrants and refugees also increased. Some of the surplus budget, according to the law, will be allotted to help refugees. Read more on www.bbc.com
  • South Korea’s Soft Income Growth Dents Private Spending. South Korea’s household income rose at a historically slow pace in 2016 and forced consumers to reign in spending, highlighting the struggle of policymakers to jumpstart economic growth. Average monthly income among South Korean households rose 0.6% in the previous year to 4.4m won, the smallest recorded gain since 2003. Meanwhile, consumer spending contracted 0.5%, the first recorded decline, with significant declines in transportation and clothing spending, official data showed. The weak household income figures denote the slump in growth amid a political crisis that shook the nation. The condition worsened in the peak of the scandal during the fourth quarter, when income declined at an annual rate of 0.2% and expenditures dropped 3.2%. GDP grew 0.4% during the period on a quarterly basis, its slowest expansion in over a year. Read more on www.bloomberg.com
  • Every Pound in Subsidy Payment Worth More than £7 to Economy. According to a report commissioned by the National Farmers Union, every pound in subsidy payment earned by farmers is valued over £7 to the broader economy. The money is spent on food, fuels and fertilizers, along with a range of services. In Northern Ireland, £486 million was spent on a range of goods and services by farmers in 2015. The figure is over three percent of the UK total. The agricultural output in Northern Ireland was valued at £354 million in 2015 and the industry supported 47,000 jobs, as stated in the report. UK farm ministers claim that the industry will still be supported, however, it has implied that it may take forms other than direct payments. The report was acknowledged by Ulster Farmers’ Union president Barclay Bell. According to the report, agriculture is a significant industry in all parts of the UK, specifically in Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and parts of England. Read more on www.bbc.com
  • Edmunds Expect a 1% Decline in U.S. February Auto Sales. Auto sales in the U.S. will show a one percent drop in February from the previous year, according to Edmunds, the industry consultant and car shopping website. It estimated that February U.S. sales will be 1.33 million vehicles, for a seasonally revised annualized rate of 17.6 million. The sales rate is near last year’s full-year sales of 17.55 million vehicles, as stated by Autodata Corp. Sales are seen to be 17 percent higher on a volume basis from January, that had sales of 1.14 million vehicles. Sales of General Motors Co are expected to increase 5.7 percent and Ford Motor Co is predicted to drop 3.4 percent, according to Edmunds. GM was the only carmaker among the top eight companies by sales in the U.S. market seen to report improved sales from last February, as stated by Edmunds. Read more on www.reuters.com
  • U.S. Reports Highlight Economy’s Strength. The count of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased slightly in the previous week however, the four-week average of the supposed claims has dropped to a 43-½ year low, in an indication of a robust labor market. House prices increased firmly in December. Latest reports have noted strength in economy which might allow the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates in the near-term. The economy might get a boost from a tax reform being assessed by the Trump administration. Possibilities of tax reductions have raised business and consumer confidence in recent months. The strengthening labor market has supported demand for housing. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) revealed that the house price index increased to a seasonally adjusted 6.2 percent in December from the previous year. Read more on www.reuters.com
Early reviews
  • ANA to take out $887M for a new subsidiary. ANA Holdings Inc. is deliberating on increasing their stake in Peach Aviation Ltd. to more than 50% from 39% for $887M, in a move that will provide the company a tighter grip on the popular budget travel market. The plan’s disclosure was initially reported by a business daily, and not by the company itself, but a resolution is scheduled to be discussed on Friday regarding the matter. Affordable trips are now highly preferred by many especially in Japan, which is also known for their bullet trains. Budget carriers have been sprouting in a span of six years, and ANA has other pending acquisitions as well, aiming for flexibility and more leverage. Presently, shares have already risen by 0.3% to 338.8 yen in Tokyo. Read more on www.bloomberg.com
  • Baidu surpasses estimates with new approach. Baidu Inc. reported a quarterly revenue that beat analyst projections as it ventures into other businesses such as news gathering, following a crackdown by the government on its web advertising sector. Revenue for Q4 was at 18.21B yuan, a tad higher than initial expectations of 18.17B yuan. The company’s president is currently restructuring the search engine and expand in the field of artificial intelligence. Although it still leads the industry, Baidu is constantly threatened by smaller companies gaining popularity, and is also struggling with slower-than-usual-progress. The internet firm is occupied with establishing their customer base for their AI services, as it gathered a large database of text, audio, and photos to upgrade the algorithm. Read more on www.bloomberg.com
  • Line hikes after proposed stake buyout. Line Corp. had its highest increase in five months after announcing its plan to boost its stake in Snow, the Snapchat-like app in Japan, from 25% to 48.6%. It will combine the purchase with their photo operations app, B612, as both were able to capture the preference of users in various countries. The team-up is expected to create a business with a ramped up global competitiveness, as the applications involved have managed to ranked among the 100 most downloaded applications in the previous months. The instant messaging service’s stock rose 5.6% to 3,790 yen, but the company said they will still be assessing the impact of their initiative on their future earnings. Read more on www.bloomberg.com
  • SoftBank dismisses partnership claims. SoftBank Group Corp. denied a released report stating they are in early discussions about a merger with Vodafone Group Plc and Idea Cellular Ltd. They clarified that what they are planning is buying a minority stake in Vodafone’s India unit that will be joined with Idea Cellular. The total share may reach around 15% to 20%, as confirmed by the firm, and it also said the news as insufficient in both basis and substance. A statement released also insisted they held no talks about the issue. SoftBank’s founder is among the most bullish investors in emerging firms, incorporating millions of dollars in its portfolio. Currently, the corporation’s focus is angled towards a $100B technology fund in Saudi. Presently its 4.625% bonds which are due in three years increased by 18 cents to 111.405 euros. Read more on www.bloomberg.com
  • Waymo sues Uber over information theft. Alphabet Inc.’s self-driving unit, Waymo, filed a lawsuit against Uber’s Otto, for allegedly stealing trade secrets to incorporate it in their own autonomous cars, further heating the rising tension among the companies. The appeal claims that several employees of the startup amassed technical data from Google’s project, which was discovered in an email from one vendor containing an attachment showing an Uber LiDAR circuit board similar to Waymo’s design. The move had given the involved staff an earning of more than $500M, and the suit insists the act was done to avoid incurring risk, time, and expenses in building their own invention. At present, the ride-hailing firm issued no comments on the complaint, and a few firms were reported to have experienced the same issue. Read more on www.bloomberg.com
  • AirAsia urges ASEAN to ease listing requirements. AirAsia pressed ASEAN to ease listing prerequisites for the airline to float the shares of a new holding entity. Chief Executive Tony Fernandes reiterated on Thursday all their airlines in Southeast Asia are on steady ground and they intend to beef up their strategies to merge its various businesses under a listed ASEAN holding firm. Also, he asked the regional bloc to loosen foreign ownership rules and consider Southeast Asians as domestic investors. AirAsia, according to Fernandes, will continue fulfilling its huge plans. Read more on asia.nikkei.com
  • Toshiba says unaware nuclear unit mulls declaring bankruptcy. Toshiba Corp. said Friday it was not informed that Westinghouse, the firm’s nuclear business in the United States, was weighing on the prospect of declaring bankruptcy. A Nikkei Asian Review report said the company was considering lodging a Chapter 11 filing as one of its options for the said division. However, it said there was disaccord among executives on the advantages of this option. This protection could help the company shoulder potential liabilities of the unit. But a Toshiba spokesperson mentioned he was not certain how any bankruptcy filing would impact that commitment. Read more on www.reuters.com
  • HPE stock slides as sales fail to meet estimates. Hewlett Packard Enterprise stocks lost about 6% in after-trading hours Thursday on lower than anticipated quarterly results and lowered its outlook for the year. The firm posted adjusted earnings of 45 a share on revenues of $11.41 billion. Its enterprise networking business lost 33% in the quarter. HPE mentioned it will have to invest to weather sudden headwinds for the rest of 2017. Still, Chief Executive Meg Whitman believes the company is on course to trail the right direction. She said they are implementing measures to bolster their standing and integrate their business. Read more on www.cnbc.com
  • Google self-driving unit slaps Uber with charges. Google’s Waymo lodged a lawsuit against Uber Technologies Inc. for copying their technology and trade secrets. It claims former Waymo manager Anthony Levandowski took these details with him when he resigned from the company to co-found Otto. The case stipulates Google’s ex-engineer downloaded 14,000 private data and proprietary design files during his tenure at the company. The ride-hailing firm said they took these accusations intently and would assess the issue thoroughly. In the early part of this year, Alphabet unveiled Waymo as its way of introducing self-driving technology to the market. Read more on www.bbc.com
  • NYSE to hold test of Snap IPO. The New York Stock Exchange will test the initial public offering of Snap Inc. on February 25. The bourse made this announcement through a notice disseminated to traders last week. This will enable companies to use their public offering trading logic. All firms are invited to take part by sending order flow samples they await to receive from clients. The exchange, which fought hard to win this offering along with Nasdaq, does not hold such tests for all IPOs, but gives exceptions to huge listings. Read more on www.reuters.com
  • Nomura Downgrade Sends NVIDIA Shares Tumbling. Nvidia shares fell to a three-month trough, slipping by over 9% after Nomura downgraded the graphic chips firm’s stock. In a note to clients, Nomura Instinet analyst Romit Shah slashed his guidance and imposed a multi-notch reduction for the stock from Buy to Reduce He also dropped his price target on the firm’s shares from 100 to $90 per share, around 19% below the Wednesday’s finishing price. The downgrade comes as Shah underlined a concern with the company’s core business: gaming. The analyst noted there is a consensus in failing to recognize the slowdown in gaming and cautioned that the market should recognize the market’s acceptance of the company’s emerging businesses is historically transitory. The analyst reduced his price target on NVIDIA shares from $100 to $90. BMO Capital Markets downgraded the stock’s status from perform to underperform based on the analysts that the shares were overvalued. Read more on www.cnbc.com
  • Kraft Heinz Further Trims Workforce in 2016. Another 1, 000 posts were cut from Kraft Heinz Co.’s payroll last year as it looks to boost returns for investors. In a regulatory filing, the food maker said it had a labor force with a strength of 41, 000 employees at the end of the previous year, compared with the 42, 000 workers it declared 12 months prior. The company managed by 3G Capital stated that it is in the middle of a multiyear initiative to lower costs, maximize the efficiency and productivity of their operations and supply chain network across their business markets. It also looks to eventually lay-off 5,150 positions and its latest wave of eliminations brought the figures to 3,350 as of the end of December 31, halfway to its goal. It estimates savings of $1.7 billion in annual outlays by the end of the year. Read more on www.bloomberg.com
  • Gap’s Turnaround Initiative Pays Off as Earnings Hit Estimates. Gap Inc. expects comparable sales to be unchanged or marginally higher in 2017, rebounding from two years of declines, indicating that the company`s turnaround efforts are starting to deliver results. Under CEO Art Peck, the apparel firm enhanced its products, retained a more centralized inventory and curbed costs as part of the turnaround initiative. Profit came in at 51 cents per share during the fourth quarter, according to a statement from the firm, in line with estimates. Net income climbed to $220 million or 55 cents per share, up from the $214 million or 53 cents per share logged during the year-prior period. Revenue advanced 1% to $4.43 billion during the period, marking its first net sales increase after seven quarterly declines in a row. The company’s shares marginally increased at $24.10 in late hours trading. Read more on www.bloomberg.com
Early reviews
  • Pakistani minister says gas leakage caused Lahore blast. Pakistan’s government minister Rana Sanaullah reported experts have discovered that a gas leak from a cooking cylinder, not explosives, caused the deadly explosion in Lahore the previous day. He said investigators did not find any bombs at the scene of the blast. Sanaullah added it was obviously an accident and has nothing to do with a series of militant assaults which have killed over 125 people over the last two weeks throughout the country. On Thursday, the Counter-Terrorism Department said a bomb caused the deadly incident which killed around seven people. Read more on www.nytimes.com
  • Russia holds funeral for UN envoy. Russia is holding a funeral ceremony for Vitaly Churkin, the country’s envoy to the United Nations, who passed away Monday in New York. He was 64. Mourners brought flowers to the late diplomat’s casket on the outskirts of Moscow. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov described Churkin as the people’s ambassador and a remarkable professional. He will be laid to rest later on the day. Read more on abcnews.go.com
  • Suicide Car Bomb Attack in Syria Leaves 45 Dead. At least 45 people died after a suicide bomber targeted a checkpoint manned by Syrian rebels fighting ISIL and the Islamic State in a village close to al-Bab. A large number of civilians crowded the checkpoint when suddenly the suicide car bomber plowed in and detonated his explosives. Free Syrian Army members, who manned the checkpoint, are seen to be included in the casualty figures. According to a war monitor, the explosion happened outside a security office where people have been seeking permission to go back to Al-Bab. During the previous day, the key city was captured by Turkey-backed rebels after ISIL retreated. Read more on www.aljazeera.com
  • North Korea Hits Lashes out at China for Import Ban. North Korea hit back at China and accused its only international ally of giving in and following U.S. demands after it announced a ban on coal imports in 2017. The blockage of trade activity was China’s stern response to North Korea’s ballistic missile tests, which have continued despite receiving disapproval from its ally. According to a state-run news agency, China had taken cruel steps such as blocking foreign trade which would aid its adversaries to collapse the social system in North Korea which is depended on coal trade for its income. While China is considered as North Korea’s lone friend in the international community, it has voiced its criticism of the North’s nuclear initiative and has supported U.N. sanctions against it. Read more on www.bbc.com
  • U.S. Officials Receive Mexico’s Backlash over Trump Policies. Mexico’s foreign minister expressed the country’s vexation to President Donald Trump’s U.S. top officials regarding the recent policies signed which affected its southern neighboring country. Trump administration’s proposal revealed last week to expel all undocumented immigrants, even non-Mexicans to Mexico pushed Mexicans to their boiling point. During a meeting between American and Mexican officials, Videgaray told U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson than Mexicans, in general, are feeling concern and irritation over what has been seen as policies that might violate Mexico’s rights and hurt their way of living. He also noted that rebuilding the relations between the neighbors would take a long time and would be a tedious process. Speaking after his counterpart, Tillerson said that the ‘differences’ between the two countries is only natural. Homeland Security John Kelly reassured that no mass deportations and no use of force for the enforcement of the policies. Read more on www.bbc.com
  • Former Aussie PM slams Netanyahu. Kevin Rudd has criticized Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, claiming that he is hindering the dual state resolution in the Mideast region with his rapid change of goals. He emphasized that although he is in support of the nation, it does not necessarily equate to agreeing with every policy drafted by the leader, adding that all the proposed truce’s aspects which had been detailed by the Palestinian community was blocked. Netanyahu has yet to comment on these statements, as he is in a four-way trip to Australia hosted by it’s current PM, Turnbull. However, he recently slammed Rudd as well over his suggestion to recognize the opposing Palestine society, which he labeled as a destruction for their side. Read more on www.bbc.com
  • Former IMF chief guilty of fraud. Rodrigo Rato, an ex-head of the International Monetary Fund, has been sentenced to four and a half years in prison over embezzlement during his term as the boss of two Spanish banks, in the midst of the country’s economic decline. The case sparked anger among the public, as financial struggles were burdened following a 22B euro cash injection in one of the involved lenders. The official remains at large pending a potential appeal, and was on trial with 64 other executives who were involved with the misuse of funds. They were accused of appropriating around 12M euros during a crisis to pay for their personal expenses such as grocery shopping and expensive holidays with credit cards put at their disposal. Rato, however, insisted that the was no wrongdoing and said the cards were used to spend for the executive’s pay deal. Read more on www.aljazeera.com
  • Police discloses substance used on Kim Jong-nam. Malaysian authorities have concluded based on a report from the country’s chemistry department that the chemical used to kill Kim Jong-Un’s half brother was VX nerve agent. This was an internationally banned and can cause a death in a span of minutes which was what happened with Jong-nam while in the airport after two women swiped his face with some sort of liquid as instructed by two North Koreans. VX was among the most deadly substances listed in the Chemical Weapons Convention and experts speculate that NorKor have been selling these domestically since they did not sign the CWC. Meanwhile, tensions are getting worse on the claiming of the victim’s body, while 11 suspects are being assessed regarding their role in the incident as generated by initial investigations. Read more on www.edition.cnn.com
  • Russian army discloses cyberwar push. Russia’s forces have admitted the range of their information warfare efforts, as the defense minister voiced out having effective propaganda at hand, although he declined to reveal anything about their targets. However, there are reports that state they are aiming in particular at Nato, and possess data with a wider scope than that of Western side, which currently focuses on combating hackers. A pioneer in military said the Kremlin’s main aim is to weaken the notion of objective truth, as it is deemed more important than a triumph in an encounter because although it is bloodless, yet able to paralyse a whole state`s fundamentals. Meanwhile, these initiatives are under scrutiny by opposing countries, especially since recent allegations that Putin`s side attempted to interfere in their latest electoral process. Read more on www.bbc.com
  • Tillerson bears talk with Mexican officials after new policy. The US chief’s crackdown on deportation have further soured its already-damaged relations with Mexico, complicating, his state secretary`s trip to the county for a meeting with counterparts The officials’ gathering recognized the nations` differing views and addressed certain issues, such as protecting the border from drug cartels and terrorism. It was supposed to be a visit to soothe worries initiated by the harsh immigration rhetoric of Trump, but the GOP bet’s recently drafted rules on undocumented migrants drew an angry response from the Mexico’s administration, which almost cancelled the plan altogether. The foreign chief, being a close ally of Pena Nieto, said they will be defending its locals based in the US and rejected the proposal of sending all deportees to the Latin American country, branding the idea as one-sided. Read more on www.theguardian.com
  • Israel refuses to welcome Human Rights Watch inspector. Israel stressed a US agent from Human Rights Watch, Omar Shakir, cannot enter the country, saying the institution is against Israel and serves as an instrument for pro-Palestinian propaganda. But Human Rights officials refuted the Israeli government’s latest move. In a correspondence dated Monday, the nation’s immigration office noted it rejected Shakir’s visa application following the foreign ministry recommended that it is supporting Palestinian propaganda while deceivingly bringing the message of human rights. But it did not specify any details. Read more on www.washingtonpost.com
  • Syria peace negotiations falter in Geneva. The first day of Syrian peace dialogues stumbled in Geneva. UN envoy Staffan de Mistura met the two parties separately. However, delegates from the government and opposition parties did not speak with each other. The convention closed with a welcoming ceremony in the United Nation’s grand assembly hall. De Mistura asked representatives to try to cooperate although it is difficult. He warned them if discussions fail it would result in more abominations and more deaths. There were reported violence in Syria as negotiations commenced, which the UN said could hamper talks. Read more on www.bbc.com
  • Trudeau urged to deal with illegal immigrants entering country. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was facing intense pressure to work on undocumented asylum seekers who get into Canada from the United States to evade a clampdown by the Trump administration. As of late, the total number of immigrants entering the country at unguarded borders has escalated. Photos of smiling police welcoming them have gone viral as well. So far, the Canadian leader has averted political conflict with the US president. The two leaders discussed the issue in a phone conversation, but none of them divulged any information. Read more on www.reuters.com
Early reviews