Markets Morning Best Morning News Protocol Tue, 06 Feb 2018 16:39:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Markets Morning 32 32 U.S. Stocks Extend Losses: GM Beats But Suffer Loss Tue, 06 Feb 2018 16:39:03 +0000 The stock exchanges in New York opened again with declines on Tuesday, after the deep losses at the end of trading on Monday. The markets remain concerned about a tighter monetary policy.

The Dow Jones index recorded 0.3 percent lower at 24.277 points shortly after the start. The Dow experienced the biggest loss in times with a fall of 4.6 percent on Monday. The broad S & P 500 went down 0.3 percent on Tuesday to 2640 points and the Nasdaq technology index lost 0.1 percent to 6958 points.

Experts had previously warned that there was a course correction to come. The rally that the equity markets experienced last year was driven to a large extent by the stimulating policy of central banks.

With regard to companies, the eyes are focused on General Motors (GM). The car company had to write off more than $ 7 billion in the past quarter in connection with the American tax reforms. Apart from that, things went quite well and the results were better than analysts had foreseen. The parent company of Cadillac and Chevrolet mainly benefited from previously implemented cutbacks and higher car prices.

General Motors (GM) suffered a billion loss in recent quarter. It recorded a net loss of around $5.2 billion, with just over $1.8 billion a year earlier. Revenue dropped by 5.5 percent to $37.7 billion. However, the operating result did rise significantly. The adjusted earnings per share even came to a record of 1.65 dollars.

GM mainly benefited from previously implemented cutbacks and higher car prices. With that, the auto giant managed to make a decline in the number of cars sold in the home market in North America. The top of the company is very positive about the figures and for 2018 the expectations are again high.

Allergan also released its quarterly earnings. The pharmaceutical company, known for its botox, among other things, made a profit in the fourth quarter due to strong demand for its medicines. In addition, the American company was able to submit successful test results for migraine medicine ubrogepant.

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BlackBerry Record Software Sales as Shares Surge Fri, 22 Dec 2017 16:12:17 +0000 The shares of mobile and software company BlackBerry Ltd. went up after the company recorded a record-breaking software revenue, adding that the total sales for this year are expected to be at the high end of their forecast.

The Ontario-based company announced that it witnessed an 11.5% increase in their sales from enterprise software and services, with revenue hitting $97 million in the quarter that ended November 30th. The company further added that their sales were boosted by the 3,000 orders they received from clients such as NATO, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Dutch government and Deutsche Bank AG.

The Chief Executive Officer of the company John Chen during an interview with Bloomberg stated that “We really do have a lot of people that want to do business with us.” After the revenue report, their stock gained by 14%, trading at $12.36 at the NYSE, a figure that represented its biggest intraday increase since Sept. 28.

The company’s revenue has been on a steady decline over the years, but so far this year, Blackberry has begun taking the shape of a high-margin software company Chen has been crafting ever since he became CEO four years ago. At the moment, the company’s major software makes it easy for companies and governments to manage and protect their employees’ mobile devices. They, however, face stiff competition in this market from tech heavyweights International Business Machines Corp. and VMware Inc.

With the company letting go of their hardware engineers, Blackberry has now taken the shape of a software company. It currently has 1,200 salespeople in the field trying to beat its competitors to new customers. On Wednesday, the company released an optimistic statement as they are confident they would meet their forecast for full-year 2018 revenue of $920 million to $950 million.

According to the details of their revenue, the total adjusted revenue was $235 million in the third quarter, a figure that was above the average analyst estimate of $217.1 million. The company further added that their earnings per share (EPS) after some costs were excluded stood at 3 cents, which is better than the forecast made by analysts.

CEO Chen is currently working on new license deals for the large patents that the company has during its smartphone days. Chen said that the expected revenue from those deals would be around $100 million annually, though he intends to increase that much later.

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Apple to Roll out Combined iPhone, iPad & Mac Apps to Ease User Experience Fri, 22 Dec 2017 16:06:13 +0000 Tech Company Apple Inc. has introduced a unique way for their iPhone and iPad to interact with their iMac computers. The company made this revelation on Wednesday, stating that the phone and pad will connect to iMac via easy-to-use applications, though the applications can only be accessible in their App store.

Apple hasn’t had much success with their Mac App Store as it contains only a few applications and they are rarely updated. That is about to change as the company has concluded plans to give users a way to use a single set of apps that will work excellently in all their three major devices; iPhones, iPads and Macs.

Apple revealed that this latest development would kick off early next year. Their software designers will begin to design a single application that works with a touchscreen or mouse and trackpad. This implies that the application will run whether you are using it on an iPhone, an iPad or a Mac hardware. This information was revealed by sources that are close to the issue.

Apple stated that their developers would design two different applications, one that runs on iOS while the other one for macOS, the system that runs Macs. This will solve a lot of issues especially for iMac users who constantly complain about their apps getting short shrift. With that single app, users of Mac, iPad and iPhone users will get new features and updates simultaneously.

Steven Troughton-Smith, an app developer in the Apple community while commenting on the move stated that “Unifying the apps could help the iOS and macOS platforms evolve and grow as one, and not one at the expense of the other.” He further added that “This would be the biggest change to Apple’s software platform since iOS was introduced.”

The sources who prefer to stay anonymous because it is an internal matter at the moment stated that Apple is developing this strategy as part of a larger iOS and macOS updates. The sources added that the project which is codenamed “Marzipan,” will run for years with the first update set to be released early next year. They further added that the company plans to announce at their annual developers’ conference in the summer. At this time, the plans haven’t been concluded yet, the sources added, thus there could be a change in the implementation or the company might decide to cancel it altogether.

When contacted, a spokeswoman for Apple declined to comment.

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Alteryx cloud storage exposes data on 123 million US households Wed, 20 Dec 2017 15:33:23 +0000 Researchers have revealed that a massive database that houses information of over 123 million American households was discovered unsecured on the internet earlier this year. The researchers made this known earlier today.

The database was left unsecured online by marketing analytics company Alteryx, a move that exposed various personal details of millions of American households. This was according to security researchers with the UpGuard Cyber Risk Team. The research team stated that the leak had exposed consumers to a wide range of nefarious activity which includes spamming, identity theft and others.

Though the researchers didn’t expose any name, the cloud-data set comprised of 248 different data fields that contain a wide range of specific personal information, including address, age, gender, education, occupation and marital status. Some other details include mortgage and financial information, phone numbers and number of children in the household, the researchers added.

UpGuard researchers Chris Vickery and Dan O’Sullivan in their analysis of the situation wrote that “From home addresses and contact information to mortgage ownership and financial histories to very specific analysis of purchasing behavior, the exposed data constitutes a remarkably invasive glimpse into the lives of American consumers.”

This is a cause of concern after recent data breaches have left consumers anxious regarding the security of their personal information. Back in September, credit monitoring company Equifax revealed that hackers stole data from over 145 million Americans, with U.S officials now holding companies accountable to the everyday people whose data they collect for profit.

The researchers added that the database was discovered in October in a misconfigured Amazon Web Services S3 cloud storage known as a bucket. The database gave access to anyone with an account, which is also free to get.

The repository cloud storage houses massive data that belonged to Alteryx partner Experian, a firm that competes with Equifax. The report further revealed that the data was acquired by Alteryx from Experian’s ConsumerView marketing database, with Experian also selling a similar product to other companies that have publicly available information and more personal data.

When contacted, both Alteryx and Experian declined to comment.Alteryx, Experian, UpGuard

Alteryx though stated that “Specifically, this file held marketing data, including aggregated and de-identified information based on models and estimations provided by a third-party content provider, and was made available to our customers who purchased and used this data for analytic purposes. The information in the file does not pose a risk of identity theft to any consumers.”

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Facebook, Microsoft played a part in stopping North Korea hackers Wed, 20 Dec 2017 15:28:03 +0000 Tom Bossert, who is the White House homeland security adviser late on Tuesday commended the effort of Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp in helping to stop the cyber-attack launched by North Korean hackers.

The White House commended the two firms on Tuesday as they helped shut down North Korean hacking operations that were in play last week. This was revealed during a press conference, with Tom Bossert accusing North Korea of being the masterminds behind the WannaCry ransomware attack earlier this year. The WannaCry ransomware attacked and locked hundreds of thousands of Windows computers across the globe. According to U.S officials, the hack was meant to create chaos rather than make them money.

The company behind Windows software, Microsoft uncovered evidence that showed the role North Korea played in the hack as they were traced back to them, Bossert added. He further stated that tech giants Microsoft and Facebook took personal actions last weeks as they continue to fight against the hacker from North Korea.

He stated that “Facebook took down accounts that stopped the operational execution of ongoing cyber-attacks. Microsoft acted to patch existing attacks, not just the WannaCry attack.”

With cybersecurity something of a forgotten issue over the years, the topic has resurfaced across the globe this year, with the main catalyst being the attacks that affected personal finances, home devices, and the political scene. For a long time, researchers have issued a global warning about the dangers of hackers, but the public didn’t pay attention until now.

North Korea has been wrapped up in several cyber-attack allegations. The U.S government also concluded that hacker from the country was responsible for the data breach of Sony Pictures’ networks in 2014, an attack that resulted in the theft of Social Security numbers for 47,000 employees, with some embarrassing internal emails and documents leaked by the hackers.

To stop these cyber-attacks, defenses are being improved in companies and government agencies across the country. Facebook, for example, has decided to ban multiple accounts used to coordinate and carry out North Korea’s attacks, Bossert further added.

A spokesman of Facebook while commenting on the latest development stated that “Last week, Facebook, Microsoft and other members of the security community took joint action to disrupt the activities of a persistent, advanced threat group commonly referred to as ZINC, or the Lazarus Group.”

Microsoft on the other commented via a blog post by Brad Smith, their chief legal officer. She stated that the company strengthened “Windows defenses to prevent reinfection” and also cleaned up infected computers hit by North Korean hackers. Today’s announcement represents an important step in government and private sector action to make the internet safer.”

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CME Group, Others Downgrade Membership on Blockchain consortium Wed, 20 Dec 2017 02:14:04 +0000 According to recent documents, blockchain consortium Hyperledger have witnessed over 15 of their members either cut their financial support for the project or quit the group over the past few months

Hyperledger held a general board meeting on Friday where it was revealed that exchange operators CME Group and Deutsche Boerse have reduced their membership role in the consortium, a move that will be effected at the end of January 2018.

With Linux Foundation at the head, Hyperledger was established two years ago with the aim of developing blockchain technology for businesses. The blockchain technology was invented with the purpose of powering cryptocurrency bitcoin but has started to gain widespread use in the financial sector of the economy.

Both CME Group and Deutsche Boerse are premier members of the consortium but will become general members after the downgrade.

According to Hyperledger’s website, premier members command a seat at the board and pay an annual fee of $250,000. General members on the other hand just pay the sum of 5,000 to $50,000 based on the size of the companies

Another premier member, R3, which is a fellow blockchain consortium has also downgraded its membership, the document further added. Spokespeople for both CME Group and R3 confirmed the move while the spokesperson for Deutsche Boerse declined to comment.

The executive of the consortium, Brian Behlendorf while making a statement said that the group has witnessed “tremendous growth in membership” in 2017. He further added that

“We have seen some members who were part of the initial December 2015 cohort shift their spending priorities but remain members of the organization. We have seen others who never really engaged decide not to renew. This is normal and expected.”

With the hopes of simplifying the banking and trading systems, banks and other big corporations have so far invested millions of dollars in developing their blockchain technology. To ensure that the development is fast-tracked, some of these companies have partnered with industry groups including the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance and R3.

Some large firms are downgrading their support for Hyperledger because large corporations are now very selective with their blockchain efforts as the technology continues to grow. This year, R3 has lost JP Morgan Chase & Co. after fellow investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Banco Santander and others withdraw their partnership.


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Kaspersky Lab appeals DHS decision to ban their software Wed, 20 Dec 2017 02:08:42 +0000 The Moscow-based security software maker Kaspersky Lab late on Monday requested that a U.S. federal court reverse the decision made by the Trump administration that banned the use of the products in government offices across the country, arguing that the decision denied the company due process.

Back in September. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) gave a nationwide directive ordering government agencies across the U.S to remove all Kaspersky software from their networks within three months. This decision came after the U.S government alleged that the security company provides Intel to Russian agents.

The appeal submitted by the company on Monday as part of their plan to disproof the allegations that the company is vulnerable to Kremlin influence. Kaspersky has come out to repeatedly deny any involvement with the Russian government, stating that it wouldn’t help any government commit cyber espionage.

The company’s founder, Eugene Kaspersky in an open letter to Homeland security on Monday stated that “DHS has harmed Kaspersky Lab’s reputation and its commercial operations without any evidence of wrongdoing by the company.”

When contacted, the DHS didn’t respond to comment requests.

The appeal by the company alleges that the U.S government did rely on some uncorroborated news media reports and used them as evidence against the company and their software. The company urged the court to overturn the ban on their products and declare that Kaspersky doesn’t pose any security threat to the government.

The total value of Kaspersky’s software sales to the U.S. government is less than $54,000, which represents 0.03% of their sales in the country. The allegations about their software have affected their software business, with retailers such as Best Buy Co pulling out of using their products.

In October, the company announced that it would submit the source code of its software and their future updates to U.S officials so that they can be inspected. The U.S officials acknowledged that the move was a welcomed one though it wasn’t enough.

The ban placed on their products by the DHS applies to only civilian government agencies and not the Pentagon. The U.S intelligence announced earlier this year that the Russian based company’s products aren’t used on military networks.

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Twitter Effects New Policies with Ban of Some White Supremacists and Other Extremists Wed, 20 Dec 2017 01:57:56 +0000 Social media giants late on Monday removed some white supremacists and other extremists from its platform as it enforces its new policies after it was accused of not doing enough to combat hate speech and harassment.

Some of the accounts that were pulled down from the platform include those linked to Britain First, the group that President Donald Trump retweeted to near universal condemnation. Some of the accounts were also tied to white supremacist organizations such as the League of the South and American Renaissance.

Critics of Twitter described this latest development as a wide-ranging “purge.” It hasn’t ended though as there are some prominent extremists who still operate live accounts, with Richard Spencer, the head of the white nationalist group the National Policy Institute the most popular one. Others include Jason Kessler, the chief organizer of last summer’s “Unite the Right” rally; and David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Twitter has come under heavy criticism for their decisions on which members and contents to ban, with the move on Monday likely to help their case. Spencer tweeted after the move that “As of now, I don’t see any systematic method to the #TwitterPurge,” stating that he has lost over 100 followers even though many “pro-White” accounts remained.

With several personal and racially tinged attacks over the last few years, it was concluded that the social media platform doesn’t act seriously on its policies and terms of service. Following their crackdown on white nationalist accounts, arguments erupted that the company unfairly targets conservative speech. Due to these moves by Twitter, some alternative social media services have emerged in the last year to accommodate people with extreme political views.

As the Republicans aim to push forward with their unpopular plan to roll back net neutrality protections this month, the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai used Twitter’s content moderation policies as evidence that social media companies now pose the greatest threat to free speech online.

Twitter while responding to that stated that they wouldn’t be taking any actions against government officials, erupting arguments that Trump is in persistent violation of its rules.

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FCC finalizes plan to fine Sinclair $13.3 million due to undisclosed commercials Mon, 18 Dec 2017 16:13:57 +0000 The Federal Communications Commission FCC is making plans t to fine Sinclair Broadcasting Corp $13.3 million after the company’s failure to state the fact that programming that aired on local TV stations had the financial backing of a cancer institute.

According to the people who briefed Reuters, the planned fine covers around 1,700 spots including commercials which took the form of news and were aired during newscasts for the Utah-based Huntsman Cancer Institute for six months back in 2016. This fine could very well affect even though slightly Sinclair’s proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media Co.

The spokesmen of both Sinclair Broadcasting and the FCC declined to comment on the issues. Sinclair Broadcasting had previously told reporters that the violations weren’t intentional, stating that they were being investigated in their financial filings.

Sinclair, a broadcasting firm that has over 170 U.S. television stations and is also the largest U.S. operator back in May announced that they are going to purchase Tribune’s 42 TV stations in 33 markets and also cable network WGN America and digital multicast network Antenna TV, a move that would see them reach 72% of American households. At the moment, both the FCC and the DOJ are reviewing the company’s planned acquisition of Tribune.

The fine which had the nod of a five-member FCC earlier this week hasn’t been made public yet, but it is very significant, according to the officials. The penalty for their negligence is an average fine of about $7,700 for each of the improperly aired spots, though this is low compared to what the company will pay under the law.

The company will be given the opportunity to respond to the fine before it is finalized. This has caused some political tension as some Democrats have questioned if FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is biased in favor of Sinclair.

Last month, Democratic Representatives Frank Pallone and Elijah Cummings requested the FCC’s inspector general to look into the commission’s decisions that favored Sinclair. With a media report surfacing last year that the election campaign of President Donald Trump struck a deal with Sinclair for favorable coverage.

Head of FCC Pai has since denied those allegations.

According to Advocacy group Free Press in their FCC filing back in August, they stated that Sinclair makes it compulsory for its stations to “air pro-Trump propaganda and then seeks favors from the Trump administration.”

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China’s Antitrust Officials Concerned Hynix Will Take Larger Stake in Toshiba Chip Sale Mon, 18 Dec 2017 16:07:44 +0000 According to sources that are close to the issue, antitrust officials in China’s Ministry of Commerce are currently investigating the role that South Korea’s Hynix Inc. will play in the sale of Toshiba Corp.’s memory chip business. The antitrust officials are concerned as they are currently reviewing the deal.

Chinese officials are currently investigating the fact that the South Korean company will do away with a large stake in the business if Toshiba’s memory chip unit sell goes ahead. This was revealed by the sources who preferred not to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the matter. They further added that Toshiba would have to reassure the regulatory officials that the sale will not hurt their competition. To see that things are done right, the ministry could impose conditions on a deal, they added.

Currently, China is the largest market for semiconductors globally, with the country investing billions as they look to build their domestic industry. Hynix is the second-biggest maker of memory chips in the country and is a part of the group led by Bain Capital that will purchase the memory chip business from Toshiba in a deal worth 2 trillion yen ($18 billion). Hynix is financing its part of the deal via its convertible bonds that will see it control 15% of the voting right in the business.

When contacted, China’s ministry of commerce didn’t respond to comment request, while Hynix declined to make any comment both Toshiba and Bain wasn’t immediately able to comment.

Toshiba is forced to sell its chip unit to balance its sheet after it lost billions of dollars from its nuclear energy operations in the U.S. The purchasing consortium Bain’s group of investors also includes Apple Inc., Dell Inc. and Japan’s Hoya Corp. According to the deal, Toshiba will still hold a stake in the business, while Hoya Corp. will control a majority of voting stock. Thus the control of the business will still be left with Toshiba.

The deal faced some challenges initially though Toshiba and Western Digital Corp., a current partner in the chips business last week settled their dispute regarding the sale of the memory chip unit. The U.S Company decided to let the deal go through after they reached an agreement with Toshiba to invest in two new chip plants in Japan while their memory chip supplies wouldn’t be affected.

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