TWR.F - Twitter, Inc.

Frankfurt - Frankfurt Delayed price. Currency in EUR
36.23
+0.18 (+0.50%)
As of 10:02AM CEST. Market open.
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Previous close36.05
Open35.90
Bid36.12 x 100000
Ask36.25 x 100000
Day's range35.90 - 36.40
52-week range23.91 - 41.53
Volume1,585
Avg. volume919
Market cap28.283B
Beta (3Y monthly)-0.31
PE ratio (TTM)11.97
EPS (TTM)N/A
Earnings dateN/A
Forward dividend & yieldN/A (N/A)
Ex-dividend dateN/A
1y target estN/A
  • Dems Offer Grab-Bag of Tech Crackdown Ideas During Debate
    Bloomberg

    Dems Offer Grab-Bag of Tech Crackdown Ideas During Debate

    (Bloomberg) -- One of the sharper exchanges in Tuesday’s Democratic primary debate centered on the crucial public policy question of what to do about President Donald Trump’s Twitter account.During a broader back-and-forth over the power of large technology companies, Senator Kamala Harris repeatedly demanded that Senator Elizabeth Warren support her effort to pressure Twitter to kick President Donald Trump off the platform. In response, Warren steered the conversation to her commitment not to accept big checks from tech executives. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who had been lamenting the prevalence of smartphone addiction a moment earlier, jumped in to complain that Americans weren’t getting paid for their data. “Who remembers getting your data check in the mail?” he asked. The exchange illustrated a wider dynamic of the Democrats’ approach to tech. The candidates all agree that something needs to be done about America’s technology giants. They just can’t agree on what that something is.The need for a crackdown on large U.S. technology companies has become an area of bipartisan agreement, with Republicans and Democrats alike raising concerns about market power, privacy and the influence large tech companies have over political discourse. But unlike time-worn political flash points like abortion or gun control, the tech debate has yet to be boiled down to simple left-right bromides that candidates can repeat on the stump. The result was an unfocused conversation on the debate stage.  Warren, who was treated as the frontrunner throughout the evening, has put out the clearest plans among the Democratic candidates. For months she’s been calling to break up Facebook Inc., Amazon Inc. and Google. “I'm not willing to give up and let a handful of monopolists dominate our democracy and our economy. It's time to fight back,” she said Tuesday. Yang said he agreed with her diagnosis. “Monopolies need to be dealt with,” added Tom Steyer.But the conversation quickly shifted from antitrust to privacy to election security. And candidates weren’t just thinking about breaking up Big Tech. Senator Cory Booker called for antitrust action that focused on everything from “pharma to farms” – referencing efforts to investigate consolidation in the pharmaceutical and agricultural industry. Most candidates focused their ire on Facebook and Twitter Inc. Harris’s attempt to browbeat Warren into supporting her stance on banning Trump’s Twitter account was notable for how it highlighted a parallel with Warren’s own crusade to pressure Facebook to ban misleading Trump ads on Facebook. Warren declined to comply and called out Amazon’s dominance in online shopping, saying that it held a much larger share of online sales than Walmart does of brick-and-mortar commerce. At another moment in the debate, Senator Amy Klobuchar brought up the Honest Ads Act, a bill she co-sponsored that increases disclosure requirements on who is paying for online advertisements. For his part, former Congressman Beto O’Rourke said that Facebook should be treated like a publisher, seemingly an allusion to a 1990s-era law protecting technology platforms from much legal liability for content their users post to their websites. “We would allow no publisher to do what Facebook is doing,” O’Rourke said. On the other hand, O’Rourke said that he did not see it as the role of a presidential candidate to call out particular companies that needed to be broken up. It was a subtle dig at Warren, whose explicit plan to break up the companies has clearly made her the candidate who other candidates measure their own ideas on tech against.  To contact the author of this story: Eric Newcomer in New York at enewcomer@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Brustein at jbrustein@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Hunter Biden Says Ukraine Gas Board Service Was ‘Poor Judgment’
    Bloomberg

    Hunter Biden Says Ukraine Gas Board Service Was ‘Poor Judgment’

    (Bloomberg) -- Hunter Biden, the son of former vice president and Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden, said his service on a Ukraine gas company board was proper but may have been a bad idea in hindsight.“In retrospect, I think that it was poor judgment on my part,” Hunter Biden said in an ABC News interview aired Tuesday, in his first public comment since he became the target of allegations from President Donald Trump. “Did I do anything improper? No, not in any way, not in any way whatsoever.”Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, have repeatedly made discredited claims that Joe Biden used his position as the Obama administration’s point person on Ukraine to help quash an investigation in 2016 into the owner of one of the country’s largest private gas companies where Hunter sat on the board.Trump’s efforts to get the newly elected government in Ukraine to investigate the Bidens are at the center of an impeachment inquiry now being conducted by the House.“I joined a board, I served honorably, I focused on corporate governance,” Hunter Biden told ABC. “I didn’t have any discussions with my father before or after I joined the board, as it relates to it, other than that brief exchange that we had.”Hunter Biden served a five-year term on the board of Burisma, the owner of which had been under investigation for alleged money laundering and abuse of power. The allegations predated his joining the board in April of 2014. He stepped down earlier this year.“Was it poor judgment to be in the middle of something that is a swamp in many ways?” Hunter Biden said in the interview. “Yeah. And so I take, I take full responsibility for that.”He also said that while the Biden name has probably helped professionally during his life, there has been “a lot of misinformation” about his qualifications for his role on the board of the gas company.A graduate of Yale Law School, Biden served as vice chairman of the board of Amtrak from 2006 to 2009. He’s also worked for the law firm Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP.“I think I had as much knowledge as anybody else that was on the board,” he said.In a statement released through his attorney Sunday, Hunter Biden said he would resign from the board of a BHR (Shanghai) Equity Investment Fund Management Company, a Chinese-backed private equity company, and promised to forgo all foreign work if his father’s elected president.He’s also disputed Trump’s repeated unsubstantiated allegations that he procured $1.5 billion from BHR after he flew on Air Force Two with his father in December 2013 to Beijing.Trump, in a tweet on Tuesday, disparaged Hunter Biden’s interview.Trump’s claim that Hunter walked away with $1.5 billion from China appears to be based on a fund-raising target that BHR announced in 2014. But BHR never raised a discreet pool of capital, according to the statement from his attorney Sunday, and instead raised money deal by deal. BHR now says it manages about $2.1 billion in investments.Biden denied he played a role in forming the company or having any equity in it while his father was vice president. The board position was unpaid, he said. After his father’s term ended in 2017, Biden bought 10% of the management company for about $420,000. He hasn’t made money from the venture to date, according to the statement.He announced he’ll resign from the BHR board by Oct. 31.(Adds Trump tweet in 13th paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Kathleen Miller in Washington at kmiller01@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Kasia Klimasinska at kklimasinska@bloomberg.net, Elizabeth Wasserman, Kathleen HunterFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Crypto Portfolio Will Analyze Twitter to Gauge Trader Sentiment

    (Bloomberg) -- The crypto market, known as one of the most rabid topics for discussion on Twitter, is getting a new tool to help gauge investor sentiment -- using tweets.On Tuesday, the trading platform eToro launched a sentiment-based portfolio that uses AI tools to analyze Twitter for the latest positive or negative perceptions of digital assets.eToro’s retail investors now have access to TheTIE-LongOnly CopyPortfolio, through a collaboration with The TIE, a cryptocurrency data analytics platform that says it has access to 850 million daily tweets through a partnership with Social Market Analytics.“We found that crypto is an asset class that is void of valuation metrics,” said Josh Frank, chief exeucitve officer of The TIE. “With crypto, the only thing that really moves it is supply and demand, so we set out to develop sophisticated solutions for hedge funds to help value and trade the asset class.”The portfolio uses machine learning and natural language processing technology to scan tweets and assess relevance, then assigning it a sentiment score. The strategy allocates to cryptocurrencies with conversations that are becoming increasingly positive on Twitter, rebalancing algorithmically once per month.The tool is part of eToro’s goal to help retail investors compete with mutual funds and professional institutions, democratizing the crypto market, the firm said. Other than spreads on the assets traded, there are no additional fees for using the CopyPortfolio.“The end result is that retail investors will have the chance to invest using a strategy that was previously only available to hedge funds,” said Guy Hirsch, U.S. Managing Director of eToro.Utpal Dholakia, the chair of marketing at Rice University who specializes in pricing strategies, noted that analyzing tweets about crypto to invest in crypto could contribute to a cycle, making it easy for traders to drive up prices.“Crypto are niche markets, they are made up of a specialized group of investors and participants,” he said. “There tends to be a lot of social influence in the buying behaviors. Potential investors often tend to look for other investors’ behaviors to decide if they should buy a particular cryptocurrency.”He also questioned whether the tool will access enough tweets to accurately assess the market.According to The TIE, about 50,000 tweets on cryptocurrency are posted on Twitter each day by non-bot accounts. About 50% of those are about Bitcoin.“I would use social influence tech as part of a range of different signals,” Dholakia said.The new feature comes amid a tough few weeks for digital assets that saw Bitcoin drop below $10,000 and quickly lose another $2,000 in value.Still, eToro is hoping more information in general will help retail investors enter the cypto market.“A lot of people are crypto-curious,” Hirsch says. “We believe with a tool like this, they will be much more comfortable.”To contact the reporter on this story: Claire Ballentine in New York at cballentine@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeremy Herron at jherron8@bloomberg.net, Dave Liedtka, Rita NazarethFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Spain Runs Electoral Math With Barcelona Clogged by Separatists
    Bloomberg

    Spain Runs Electoral Math With Barcelona Clogged by Separatists

    (Bloomberg) -- Protesters continued to disupt rail and road travel as unrest flickered across Catalonia a day after a Madrid court handed down jail sentences totaling 100 years to separatist leaders who tried to split the region from Spain in 2017.Demonstrators blocked several highways while the high-speed rail service north of Barcelona to Girona was disrupted by damage to the track. Vueling, a unit of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, said 20 more flights from Barcelona airport would be canceled on Tuesday after 100 cancellations on Monday, a spokesman for the company said by phone.Meanwhile, the government is investigating who has been marshaling the disruption, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said. “We have an efficient intelligence service and we’ll end up knowing who is behind this,” he told state broadcaster TVE.The Supreme Court’s decision to imprison a group of separatist leaders for their attempt to break away from Spain in 2017 sparked protests across the region as the movement sought to focus international attention on the issue. With the country heading for a general election next month, the bigger question is how voters in the rest of Spain will react.Spanish politics has been dominated by Catalan separatists’ demand for independence since the illegal referendum two years ago. But Monday’s Supreme Court verdict -- nine separatist leaders were sentenced to up to 13 years for their part in the drama -- may prove a watershed.Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has to hope efforts to reignite the chaos of two years ago will fail, allowing him to turn the page on a period of bitterness. His opponents -- whether that’s the separatists in Catalonia or the Spanish nationalists aiming to prevent him taking power again -- are betting on the protests to rile up their support all over again.“It’s a situation that provides some good ammunition for parties more on the political extremes,” said Alex Quiroga, a lecturer on Spanish political history at Newcastle University in England. “For Sanchez, it’s not so easy because he’s in a more defensive position.”Monday’s flash protest at the airport was announced unexpectedly at 1 p.m. and saw demonstrators quickly fill up large parts of the main hall, leading to a confrontations with riot police. Some protesters walked more than 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the city center to join the throng after activists shut down the main metro connection. About 10% of flights were cancelled.Pep Guardiola, current manager of English Premier League powerhouse Manchester City, issued a video statement condemning the high court’s ruling as a “direct affront to human rights.”Read More: How Catalonia Remains a Thorn in Spanish Politics - QuickTake“This is unacceptable in 21st century Europe -- Spain is experiencing a drift toward authoritarianism,” he said. Neither Sanchez nor any of his predecessors has been “brave enough to deal with this crisis with dialogue and respect.” Guardiola, a pro-independence Catalan, demanded that the Spanish government sit down for talks and called on the international community to intervene to find a solution.Spain has to respect the decision of the court reached after a transparent and irreproachable legal process, acting Foreign Minister Josep Borrell told reporters on Tuesday.“The judges are not there to solve political problems -- they are there to implement the law,” said Borrell. “We live in the a democratic country and conflicts have to be solved by dialogue.”The political fragmentation left behind by the financial crisis and the Catalan independence push has meant Sanchez has been unable to muster a majority despite winning April’s election, forcing him to try again Nov. 10.In his first public reaction, the premier pledged to ensure the sentence was enforced and urged the country to move on.“A new era is opening up,” he said. “Over the next few days, the government of Spain will remain vigilant in its commitment to safeguarding co-existence, security, and respect for democratic legality.”Opinion polls before the verdict showed backing for the Socialists is broadly stable while the conservative People’s Party and the Spanish nationalists of Vox have added support. As polls stand, the most likely outcome from new elections is still a parliament in deadlock.PP leader Pablo Casado reacted to the verdicts by pledging tougher laws and tougher sentences in the future while calling on Sanchez to rule out pardons for those convicted.But Sanchez has also hardened his message in recent weeks, defending his decision to avoid a coalition with the anti-austerity Podemos party, which is softer on separatism.“Sanchez has re-positioned himself with a tougher stance to put a lid on critics from the right-wing parties and force them to accept his institutional role,” Pablo Simon, a Madrid-based professor of Political Science at Carlos III University, said by phone.(Adds details on new protests, Interior Ministry remarks)\--With assistance from Thomas Gualtieri and Jeannette Neumann.To contact the reporters on this story: Charles Penty in Madrid at cpenty@bloomberg.net;Rodrigo Orihuela in Madrid at rorihuela@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net, Ben Sills, Robert JamesonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Australia Bans Vietnam Traveler Over Suitcase Stuffed With Food
    Bloomberg

    Australia Bans Vietnam Traveler Over Suitcase Stuffed With Food

    (Bloomberg) -- Australia banned a traveler from visiting for three years after she failed to declare her suitcase was packed with food, including products that risk introducing a pig-killing virus.The 44-year-old woman, who arrived at Sydney airport Saturday, was sent back to Vietnam, Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie said. She had 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of food in her suitcase, almost half of which comprised cooked and uncooked pig-meat. All 63 provinces and cities in Vietnam, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, have reported outbreaks of deadly African swine fever, leading to the culling of more than 5.4 million pigs.The travel ban reflects growing concern that the virus, which has spread to a new country in Asia virtually every month this year, could spread in Australia if it’s brought into the country in smuggled food that’s consumed by farmed or feral pigs. Customs officials report a three-fold increase in the incidence of the virus in clandestine pork products from international arrivals.The 22.5 million passengers arriving in the nation each year, along with mailed parcels, are causing “an increasing risk of incursion, and that’s why we’ve had to step up our detections,” McKenzie told reporters in Canberra Tuesday.Fragments of African swine fever virus were detected in 48% of tested seized products in September from about 15% of seized products in February, the Department of Agriculture said in an email Tuesday. Capacity to target and seize high-risk products at international airports and mail processing centers has been strengthened, and the testing of feral pigs for the virus in northern Australia began in late 2018, it said. ‘Threat Is Real’“The biosecurity threat is real and could be devastating for our national pig herd if African swine fever were to become established in Australia,” the department said.The global pig industry has been roiled by the hemorrhagic virus, which isn’t known to harm humans. Since arriving in the former Soviet republic of Georgia in 2007, it spread through Europe and then to China, where it touched off the largest animal disease outbreak on record in August last year.South Korea is sending military snipers and civilian hunters to its northern border to eliminate wayward, contagion-carrying pigs from Kim Jong Un’s reclusive neighboring state, where unofficial reports indicate the disease is spreading out of control.Australia exports about 360,000 tons of pig-meat a year from about 2,700 hog farms, with less than 10% exported to markets including Singapore and Hong Kong, according to industry data.(Adds comment from agriculture department in fifth and sixth paragraphs.)To contact the reporter on this story: Jason Scott in Canberra at jscott14@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at rpollard2@bloomberg.net, Jason Gale, Tony JordanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • ‘Nothing But Questions’ on U.S.-China Crop Trade
    Bloomberg

    ‘Nothing But Questions’ on U.S.-China Crop Trade

    (Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump told farmers to “start thinking about getting bigger tractors” because of his China trade deal, but crop markets are unimpressed with traders seeking more detail on the purchases.“There are nothing but questions out there” on the accord outlined on Oct. 11, Charlie Sernatinger, global head of grain futures at ED&F Man Capital Markets Inc. in Chicago, said in an email.The broad strokes of the first phase of a trade deal showed China may import as much as $50 billion worth of U.S. agriculture goods with sales of soybeans, cotton and pork surging past previous highs. Still, on Tuesday crop futures sagged with corn and wheat losing about 0.5% and soybeans, long the top U.S. farm export to the Asian nation, down 0.3%. Cotton pared Monday’s 2.6% loss.On Oct. 11, before the truce was announced, corn for December closed up 4.6%, a contract record. China wants assurances the U.S. will scrap tariffs set for December before agreeing formally to the deal, according to people familiar with the matter. The cautious tone was at odds with Trump’s statements that farmers would have to “work a lot of overtime” to produce and ship goods.“This is a trade truce, but this is not an end to the trade war,” Karl Setzer, an analyst at AgriVisor LLC in West Bend, Iowa, said in a telephone interview.Exactly how much China would buy and over what time period remain crucial questions. Shares of Deere & Co., the world’s biggest tractor maker, fell as much as 1.4% on Monday after reaching a record $173.26 on Oct. 11.Soybean meal for January in Dalian +0.2% to 2,975 yuan a tonCorn for January in Dalian +0.4% to 1,844 yuan/tonSoybeans for January -0.6% to 3,412 yuan/ton\--With assistance from Anatoly Medetsky and James Poole.To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Hirtzer in Chicago at mhirtzer@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: James Attwood at jattwood3@bloomberg.net, Patrick McKiernan, James PooleFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    WeWork to Remove Phone Booths From Offices Due to Formaldehyde

    (Bloomberg) -- WeWork has had a very bad month, but even its most pessimistic observers probably didn’t expect formaldehyde to show up in the phone booths.The beleaguered co-working company is removing 2,300 phone booths from some of its offices in the U.S. and Canada, “due to potentially elevated levels of formaldehyde caused by the manufacturer,” according to an email sent Monday to WeWork customers. The booths are small, enclosed spaces where members can talk on their cell phones or work in privacy.A WeWork member told staff about a smell in the booths and eye irritation, which prompted the company to hire an outside consultant and test a sampling of phone booths, the email said. After getting the results back, WeWork started shutting down 1,600 booths that may have high levels of the carcinogen. It’s shuttering 700 more “out of an abundance of caution.” A spokeswoman said in a statement the company is “working to remedy this situation as quickly as possible.”WeWork’s effort to go public went from hotly anticipated in August to widely mocked a month later. The saga led to the ousting of its chief executive officer, Adam Neumann, and a withdrawal of the stock offering prospectus. Since then, the parent company, We Co., has been scrambling for cash: It has put several of its side businesses and private jet up for sale, shuttered its private elementary school WeGrow and is planning potentially thousands of staff cuts starting this month.The phone booths add a bizarre twist to WeWork’s many troubles. WeWork customers often work in small, shared, glass-walled offices or in open areas, so phone booths are frequently used for privacy or to avoid annoying their neighbors. At WeWork offices on Monday, staff had taped signs reading, “CAUTION: DO NOT USE” to some booths, explaining the padded box “doesn’t meet our safety standards.” For some WeWork customers, which range from small startups and entrepreneurs to large companies, the announcement explained an odor in the booths they had initially brushed off.Brian Wisti, a programmer at dating site Coffee Meets Bagel, said he uses the phone booths at a WeWork in Seattle about once a week. He said the potential health issue doesn’t instill confidence in WeWork at a time when the company desperately needs it. “My only concern is how many more times WeWork can hit itself in the face, reputationally speaking,” Wisti said. “It’s not great when you worry about your landlord’s future.”A WeWork member at a Minneapolis location that opened in July used the phone booths three or four times a week for calls and sometimes to eat lunch in or to have a quiet moment away from the shared office space. “They had a chemical smell, like when you get something new in the mail,” said the person, who asked not to be identified to avoid potential eviction from the office. “Because the office was recently built, we thought it was the smell of something new, but it hasn’t changed over time.”To contact the author of this story: Ellen Huet in San Francisco at ehuet4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Milian at mmilian@bloomberg.net, Jillian WardFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Assad Sends Syrian Troops North as Turkish Offensive Escalates
    Bloomberg

    Assad Sends Syrian Troops North as Turkish Offensive Escalates

    (Bloomberg) -- Syrian government forces pushed closer to the Turkish border after striking a deal with Kurdish fighters, as Washington’s decision to abandon its allies reverberated on the battlefield.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his offensive into Syria is necessary to push back Kurdish militants and resettle refugees, but the rapid advance has drawn international condemnation, accusations of war crimes and a threat of U.S. and European sanctions.Kurdish forces that previously fought alongside the U.S. have warned they may no longer be able to secure camps and prisons holding Islamic State jihadists, including Europeans whose home countries don’t want them back.Donald Trump reiterated on Monday that “big sanctions on Turkey” are coming, but defended his decision in Twitter posts reiterating that the U.S. was “not going into another war with people who have been fighting with each other for 200 years.” He also suggested the Kurds may be releasing prisoners “to get us involved.”Turkey’s benchmark index fell 5.1% on Monday, following Trump’s comment.The Syrian advance into the northeast has raised concerns that the eight-year Syrian war, which grew out of the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, is entering a new and unpredictable phase. Russia, whose aerial support helped turn the tide of the conflict in favor of President Bashar al-Assad, has emerged as the key power broker in the latest battle.Erdogan launched the Turkish offensive on Wednesday, after receiving assurances from Trump that U.S. troops, which supported the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia during five years of grinding war to defeat Islamic State, would stand aside. Turkey accuses the YPG of links to a separatist group it has been battling for decades and wants to prevent the rise of a Kurdish proto-state on its border.On Monday, Syrian army units entered the border town of Manbij in the northern suburbs of Aleppo, state-run SANA reported. Assad’s march to the border comes after the Kurdish command for the northeast said it had been forced to strike a deal with Damascus in the face of the rapid Turkish advance.Russia helped to broker Sunday’s agreement that could eventually see Assad reestablish control over an area equivalent to roughly one-third of Syrian territory where, with American protection, Kurdish groups had been able to operate an autonomous administration called Rojava.Syria’s army deployed in Al Tabqa airbase and Ain Issa and was now stationed six kilometers away from the border with Turkey, according to Syria’s Al Ekhbariyah TV, which showed footage of soldiers carrying Syrian flags being welcomed by local residents.For now, the Assad deployment will be limited to stopping the Turkish advance on the border, Aldar Xelil, a spokesman for the Kudish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said. The autonomous administration remains in place responsible for political leadership and internal security, he said.“As far as the Syrian forces’ advance, Russia has always wanted the government to recover control of as much territory as possible,” said Elena Suponina, a Moscow-based Middle East expert. “Now that this opportunity has presented itself the Syrian army’s actions are absolutely justified.”Russia is also mediating between Assad and the advancing Turks to avert a conflict over two key border towns -- Manbij and Kobani -- that Erdogan wants to remove from Kurdish control.Who Are the Syrian Kurds the U.S. Is Abandoning?: QuickTakeGiving credit to Russia’s mediation, Erdogan played down the threat of an escalation between his army and Assad but indicated that he was pushing ahead with a plan to carve out a buffer zone inside northeastern Syria in which to resettle some 2 million of the 3.7 million Syrian refugees currently residing in Turkey.The cross-border operation is taking place between the Syrian towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn and appears to be in line with a previous deal between Turkey and the U.S. to set up a joint safe zone that could run about 120 kilometers along the frontier.“Even though they have done a deal with Syria, (the Kurds) have a very weak hand and the U.S. withdrawal means we’re probably witnessing the end of the ambition of an autonomous Kurdish region for the foreseeable future,” said Bob Bowker, who served as Australia’s Ambassador to Syria for three years from 2005. “It also means that Russia and Syria are probably unlikely to have either the military ability or intelligence resources to prevent a resurgence of Islamic State.”Trump Has Ordered Troop Withdrawal From N. Syria, Esper Says (2)Kurdish-led forces have tens of thousands of Islamic State fighters, their families, sympathizers and others in their custody in prisons and camps in the northeast. Xelil said that would not change, despite the deployment of Assad’s troops to the border, though Kurdish-led forces have previously warned that they may not be able to secure those areas while fending off an offensive by Turkey. Even Trump allies have warned that chaos in the area could lead to an Islamic State resurgence.Turkey echoed Trump’s suggestion that the Kurds had allowed jihadists to escape, saying that detainees at the one Islamic State jail in the border area were gone when Turkish forces arrived.Facing a backlash at home and abroad, Trump has defended his decision to withdraw from the line of fire, saying he did not support the Turkish offensive. The U.S. is poised to impose sanctions on Turkey as soon as Monday, according to people familiar with the matter. The initial round of penalties would most likely be aimed at a wide range of individuals and was prepared for Trump’s approval, according to one of the people.European Union foreign ministers pledged to restrict arms sales to Turkey over its military operation in Syria, seeking to bolster calls for an immediate halt to the offensive. Germany and France said Saturday they stopped shipments of military equipment to their NATO ally.EU Curbs Arm Sales to Turkey, Threatens Sanctions Over DrillingThe International Committee of the Red Cross on Monday warned that the flareup in hostilities could result in the displacement of 300,000 people in cities in Hassakeh and Raqqa governorates. The group is working with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to prevent water shortages in Hassakeh city, population 400,000. (Updates to add Syrian forces entering Manbij and Red Cross statement from eighth paragraph)\--With assistance from Nikos Chrysoloras, Jason Scott, Onur Ant, Helene Fouquet, Jonathan Stearns and Zaid Sabah.To contact the reporters on this story: Dana Khraiche in Beirut at dkhraiche@bloomberg.net;Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at shacaoglu@bloomberg.net;Samer Khalil Al-Atrush in Cairo at skhalilalatr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lin Noueihed at lnoueihed@bloomberg.net, Bill FariesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Catalan Protests Clog Barcelona After Separatist Leaders Jailed
    Bloomberg

    Catalan Protests Clog Barcelona After Separatist Leaders Jailed

    (Bloomberg) -- Catalan separatists took to the streets of Barcelona Monday after many of their leaders were jailed by Spain’s Supreme Court over an attempt to break away from Spain in 2017.Demonstrators blocked some of the city’s main avenues, as well as highways outside the regional capital, collapsed access to the city’s airport and cut off one high-speed train line. The metro from the city center to the airport was disrupted.The unrest will inject an extra dose of rancor into Spain’s political system as the country prepares for its fourth general election in as many years on Nov. 10. Despite winning the last vote in April, acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez failed to piece together a majority as he struggled to manage the divisions left behind by the Catalan crisis.Earlier in the day, Spain’s top court sentenced former Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras to 13 years in jail in a ruling that marks a watershed in relations with the troubled region. Eight other activists were given lesser terms of between nine and 12 years. Carles Puigdemont, the regional leader who was the figurehead of the movement, remains in exile in Brussels after fleeing Spain two years ago.The court ruled that Junqueras was guilty of sedition -- which involves preventing the application of the law -- and aggravated misuse of public funds. He helped to organize an illegal referendum and a month of protests that climaxed in an abortive declaration of independence in the regional parliament. He was cleared of the more serious charge of rebellion.“The measures ostensibly designed to bring about independence as promised were manifestly not up to the task,” the court said. “The state at all times retained its control of military, police, judicial and even social forces. And, by doing so, it made any bid for independence a mere pipe-dream.”Following the decision, the Supreme Court reactivated a European warrant for Puigdemont’s arrest.In a televised statement in Spanish and English, Sanchez pledged to ensure the court’s sentences will be carried out and said the verdicts showed Spain’s democracy functions in a fully transparent way and all citizens are equal under the law.Joaquim Torra, the pro-independence president of Catalonia, said he would seek a meeting with Sanchez and King Felipe VI to discuss the “unjust and anti-democratic” sentences.International SupportThe separatists have the right to appeal to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg and are likely to consider that option -- throughout the saga they have tried to enlist international public opinion to increase pressure on the government in Madrid. Potential allies have offered only qualified support, wary of the separatists’ willingness to break the law.“These politicians have been jailed for seeking to allow the people of Catalonia to peacefully choose their own future,” Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Twitter. “Any political system that leads to such a dreadful outcome needs urgent change. My thoughts and solidarity are with all of them and their families.”The four-month trial was the most politically charged hearing that Spain has seen since another Catalan leader, Lluis Companys, was tried in 1940 after he too had declared independence. A military court under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco convicted Companys and sentenced him to death after hearing evidence for a single day.Junqueras has a portrait of Companys on the wall above his desk in his party headquarters in downtown Barcelona.Catalonia’s push for independence added a Spanish dimension to a populist surge that roiled politics across the western world following the financial crisis, bringing Donald Trump to power in the U.S. and setting the U.K. on course to leave the European Union.In Spain, it helped topple one prime minister -- the conservative Mariano Rajoy -- and left the parliament so divided that the country has been unable to pass a budget since. In Catalonia, the regional government is controlled by separatist parties, but hamstrung by the ideological rifts between them, while hundreds of companies including CaixaBank SA and Naturgy Energy Group SA have moved their legal domicile out of the region as a result of the crisis.(Updates with details on protests, Puigdemont comments.)To contact the reporters on this story: Rodrigo Orihuela in Madrid at rorihuela@bloomberg.net;Thomas Gualtieri in Madrid at tgualtieri@bloomberg.net;Charlie Devereux in Madrid at cdevereux3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Charles PentyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Nobel Economics Prize Won by Trio Fighting Global Poverty

    (Bloomberg) -- Explore what’s moving the global economy in the new season of the Stephanomics podcast. Subscribe via Pocket Cast or iTunes.Three economists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University were awarded this year’s Nobel prize for their research into how to move people out of poverty.MIT professors Abhijit Banerjee, a 58-year-old who was born in India, and his wife Esther Duflo, who was born in France in 1972, shared the prize with Harvard’s Michael Kremer “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.”“The research conducted by this year’s laureates has considerably improved our ability to fight global poverty,” The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said on Monday. “In just two decades, their new experiment-based approach has transformed development economics, which is now a flourishing field of research.”The academy’s decision to honor work dedicated to fighting poverty, which it said is among today’s most “urgent issues,” comes as inequality grows into one of the most widely debated topics in the field of economics amid a rapid rise in income disparity over the past decades. Last year, the academy rewarded research that incorporated climate issues and technological advancement into economics.Duflo is the second woman and the youngest person ever to win the economics prize, which has existed for half a century. In 2010, she won the John Bates Clark medal, after being identified as the economist under the age of 40 who contributed most to the profession.Science vs Caricatures“Our goal is to make sure the fight against poverty is based on scientific evidence,” Duflo said in a webcast phone call with journalists. “It starts from the idea that often the poor are reduced to caricatures, and often even people who try to help them don’t actually understand the deep roots of the problems they are addressing.”The academy said the three laureates helped shape a new approach to fighting poverty by splitting the issue into smaller and more manageable questions, bringing field experiments into the mix and studying productivity levels within developing countries.Incorporating contract theory and behavioral economics, their research has included how to improve school results in Kenya and India, studies on micro financing, price sensitivity to health-care costs and lifting vaccination rates, helping hundreds of millions of people.Kremer has a PhD from Harvard and is the Gates Professor of Developing Societies at the university. He has helped develop the advance market commitment for vaccines, a program to stimulate private investment and distribution in the developing world. In 2010, he was the founding Scientific Director of Development Innovation Ventures at USAID.Banerjee, who also got his PhD from Harvard, is now the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at MIT. In 2003, he founded the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, along with Duflo and Sendhil Mullainathan. He’s the author of four books, including Poor Economics, which he wrote with Duflo.Duflo said receiving the prize was “humbling,” in part because of her age. The award is a reflection of “incredible collective work” and the three winners represent “hundreds of researchers who are part of a network that work on global poverty,” she said.The theories that winners develop often take on a different status after a Nobel is handed out, which can result in greater influence on areas such as government policy and investment strategies. Last year’s prize went to William D. Nordhaus of Yale University and Paul M. Romer of the Stern School of Business in New York for bringing long-term thinking on climate issues and technological innovation into the field of economics.Previous laureates have included Milton Friedman, Paul Krugman, Eugene F. Fama and Friedrich August von Hayek. In 2009, three years before her death, Elinor Ostrom made history when she became the first woman to receive a Nobel in economics, which she shared with Oliver Williamson for their research into the limits of markets and how organizations work.Annual prizes for achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, peace and literature were established in the will of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite who died in 1896. The prize in economic sciences was added by Sweden’s central bank in 1968.Each award carries with it a cash prize of 9 million kronor ($917,000). Due to the depreciation in the Swedish krona, the dollar value of the prize has fallen by about 30% over the past decade. The economics prize completes this year’s cycle of Nobels.(Updates with comment from Duflo.)\--With assistance from Nick Rigillo, Hanna Hoikkala, Niklas Magnusson and Veronica Ek.To contact the reporters on this story: Veronica Ek in Stockholm at vek@bloomberg.net;Jonas Bergman in Oslo at jbergman@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Tasneem Hanfi Brögger at tbrogger@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Trump’s China Handshake Fails to Lift Economic Gloom
    Bloomberg

    Trump’s China Handshake Fails to Lift Economic Gloom

    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. The pledges China and the U.S. made to keep prospects alive for a comprehensive trade deal did little to alter the deteriorating growth outlooks for both countries because they were sealed with something economists don’t trust: a handshake.China agreed Friday to more than double its annual purchases of American agricultural products to as much as $50 billion, according to the U.S. That’s more of a political shot in the arm to a rural constituency that’s key to President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election bid than it is a meaningful lift to a nation with gross domestic product of about $21 trillion.Trump tweeted Sunday evening that China has begun making agricultural purchases, echoing comments he made Friday in the Oval office.In return, Beijing convinced the U.S. to holster another tariff increase set for this week as White House officials worry about slower growth at home.Left on the table, though, was Trump’s biggest economic threat yet and the darkest cloud in the outlook: import taxes on all remaining Chinese shipments due to start Dec. 15 that would make a range of popular consumer products more expensive.“We have a lot of work to do, but I am confident that both sides are going to work very hard and anticipate we will be closing this,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday on the ABC News program “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”Investors are more wary. Though U.S. equities rose last week as trade tensions eased, they trimmed gains Friday afternoon when reality set in. The deal Trump called the biggest “in the history of our Country” had a significant shortcoming: it wasn’t a signed document yet, even though it has, in effect, been on the table for more than a year.So economists reacted with a range of skepticism and doubt about what it means for growth projections that are coming down as the 18-month trade war drags on.“There is not yet a viable path to existing tariffs declining, and tariff escalation remains a meaningful risk,” Morgan Stanley strategists Michael Zezas and Meredith Pickett wrote on Friday. “Thus, we do not yet expect a meaningful rebound in corporate behavior that would drive global growth expectations higher.”Raymond Yeung, chief Greater China economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., said that despite the latest progress, tensions are unlikely to ease soon and the economic risks will linger as talks move through various stages.‘High Hurdles’“The Phase I agreement mainly covers agricultural purchases, tariff suspension, and market access,” Yeung wrote in a research note Saturday with ANZ colleagues Betty Rui Wang and Zhaopeng Xing. “But core issues of technology transfer and national security still face high hurdles before a resolution in our view.”What Our Economists Say“Past experience is that U.S.–China trade agreements aren’t worth the paper they are written on, and this one hasn’t even been written down. For now, though, indications on trade are a little more positive. If that persists, it could help put a floor under sliding global growth.”Tom Orlik and Yelena Shulyatyeva, Bloomberg EconomicsClick here for the full noteThis week will bring more fresh reads on the global economy.On Tuesday the International Monetary Fund, kicking off its annual meeting in Washington, is likely to cut its growth forecast for 2019 and 2020 in its World Economic Outlook. In July, the fund lowered its projection to 3.2% this year and 3.5% next year, its fourth downgrade since last October.Chinese GDP data for the third quarter, slated for release Friday, is expected to show that output growth in the three months to September eased to 6.1%, the slowest in almost three decades. That pace would be barely enough to allow the Communist Party to claim it’s hitting its long-term growth targets.For economists to get more optimistic about the outlook, Washington and Beijing between now and the November leaders’ meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum will have to make more progress on thornier trade issues such as enforcement and intellectual-property protections.“Until such evidence is available, we must conclude that this pause is more ‘uncertain’ than ‘durable,’” the Morgan Stanley strategists wrote.(Updates with Trump tweet in third paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Brendan Murray in London at brmurray@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Murray at brmurray@bloomberg.net, Tony CzuczkaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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    EU Says Johnson’s Plan Not Yet Good Enough: Brexit Update

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his Cabinet on Sunday that a Brexit deal is achievable, but European Union negotiators warned that his plans are not yet good enough to be the basis for an agreement.The British premier said that while a pathway to an agreement could be seen, there is still a significant amount of work required and the U.K. must be prepared to leave on Oct. 31, according to a spokesperson.In Brussels, EU officials were briefed that talks had not made enough progress and that the U.K. proposals were falling short of what is required for a deal. Negotiations are due to continue into Monday.Key Developments:Michel Barnier briefed envoys from EU governments on the negotiations, and warned not enough progress has been made yet.Officials from the group have said Boris Johnson indicated a possible path to detailed talks on a deal to exit the bloc as a potential compromise over the Irish border starts to emerge.U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn stood firm on the need for Johnson to request an extension if negotiations falter and on his right to lead any alternative government.Deal By Summit ‘Difficult, But Not Impossible’ (5:10 p.m)The envoys were briefed that a deal by this week’s summit will be difficult, but not impossible, one official said.Even though it’s hard to predict how that summit will unfold, the leaders themselves will not negotiate on the legal text when they meet on Thursday. That means that an agreement on the wording must be reached by Wednesday and cleared by the envoys of the 27 remaining EU governments before the summit opens.Johnson’s Plan Not Good Enough Yet: EU (4:40 p.m.)EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier briefed the bloc’s government envoys in Brussels on the U.K proposals, and why they aren’t yet acceptable, mainly in the customs area, two officials familiar with the matter said. No decisions are expected today, as the European Commission does not think a breakthrough or a breakdown in talks will be likely. Negotiations will continue through Monday, the officials said.A third official present in the meeting with Barnier and the Secretary General of the Council of the EU Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen said that EU27 ambassadors were briefed that reaching a deal will now be “very difficult” before this week’s EU Summit without a political push from London.A fourth official added that not enough progress has been achieved over the weekend as the EU would like to see. Speaking ahead of the briefing, a separate EU diplomat said time was running out and the hope was the British negotiators showed enough flexibility to continue and swiftly conclude the talks.Johnson Tells Cabinet That a Deal Is Possible (14:45)The prime minister updated his Cabinet on negotiations, saying that there is a way forward for a deal that “could secure all our interests, respect the Good Friday Agreement, get rid of the backstop and get Brexit done by Oct. 31,” a U.K. government spokesman said.EU Should Approve Extension If Requested, Juncker Says (13:00)As negotiators from both sides continue intensive talks for a second day, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is turning his attention to whether Brexit should be delayed.“It’s up to the Brits to decide if they will ask for an extension,” Juncker was quoted as saying by his spokeswoman Mina Andreeva, on Twitter. “But if Boris Johnson were to ask for extra time -- which probably he won’t -- I would consider it unhistoric to refuse such a request.”Andreeva clarified that his use of the German word “unhistorisch” in the original comments, given to Austrian newspaper Kurier, means it would not do justice to history for the EU to say no.Johnson’s Plan is ‘Race to Bottom’ Says Sturgeon (10:00)Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that she won’t vote for the type of deal Johnson is negotiating.“The proposals that are on the table from Boris Johnson and any likely amendment of them would not be acceptable to the SNP because they would take Scotland out of the EU, out of the single market, out of the customs union with all the damage that would cause,” the Scottish National Party leader said.Patel Says Government Faces Key Week for Negotiations (09:30)Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a BBC interview that negotiations have “moved on quite substantially” in recent weeks, ahead of a summit of EU leaders that begins Thursday. Speculation that Britain will avoid dropping out of the EU without a divorce accord lifted the pound last week to its biggest two-day gain in a decade.“Obviously this is the week in the run-up to the European council where there are a range of negotiations taking place even as we speak,” she said. “The government’s number one priority is to secure a deal and obviously then bring forward the legislation in parliament through votes and a legislative framework through a potential Withdrawal Agreement bill so we can get Brexit done.”She dismissed Labour’s stance, describing Corbyn’s rejection of the deal without knowing its contents as “clearly playing politics.”Rees-Mogg Says Brexit Talks ‘Take’ More Serious Turn (08:10)Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg said the Cabinet will be briefed at 12:45 p.m. London time after a more positive week in negotiations. Johnson will not undermine the integrity of the U.K. in his pursuit of a deal, he told Sky News.Parliament can legislate quickly if required and “endless extensions” won’t solve matters, he said.Separately, Rees-Mogg sought to reassure hard line supporters of Brexit concerned about the content of his plans and who could prevent a Oct. 31 exit by refusing to support it. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, he said that “as a Leaver, Boris can be trusted.”Johnson, Corbyn Unfit to Lead Country, Swinson Says (07:55)Swinson reiterated the Liberal Democrats’ desire to revoke Article 50 and said they would support amendments that bring the country closer to a second referendum on the issue. She told Sky that it was entirely possible that her party could win a majority at the next election.The Democratic Unionist Party deputy leader Nigel Dodds has also rejected any Brexit solution that would weaken Northern Ireland’s custom ties to the U.K., La Repubblica reported Saturday, citing an interview during a NATO conference in London.Corbyn to Look at Deal Before Triggering Election (07:40)Corbyn said he was unlikely to support any deal agreed by Johnson and would caution other lawmakers against doing so, but said his party would look at it before triggering a general election. If the Prime Minister fails to request an extension to talks in the absence of an agreement, Labour will take parliamentary action, he said in an interview on Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday.In the event of a government of national unity having to be formed, Corbyn said he is “of course” the figure to head it. He refused to discuss backing any other candidate, a path favored by some other parties. He also ruled out a coalition with the Scottish National Party.Powers of Speaker Could be Curbed: Telegraph (07:00)Parliamentary rules that allow so-called backbenchers to introduce their own legislation could be changed, the Sunday Telegraph reported, citing unnamed Conservative lawmakers. Speaker John Bercow has been criticized by some observers for a series of decisions this year, which allowed backbenchers to force the hand of the prime minister. They also expect Johnson to scrap laws that bar him from triggering an election, if he is able to secure a majority for it, the newspaper said.Earlier:Brexit Deal in Sight as Negotiators Wrestle With the DetailsJohnson’s Brexit More Costly Than May’s, Think Tank SaysDUP’s Dodds Says Proposed Brexit Deal Unrealistic: RepubblicaTo contact the reporters on this story: Nikos Chrysoloras in Brussels at nchrysoloras@bloomberg.net;Ian Wishart in Brussels at iwishart@bloomberg.net;Lucy Meakin in London at lmeakin1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Gordon at pgordon6@bloomberg.net, Tim Ross, James AmottFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Xi, Modi Agree on New Trade Mechanism at Seaside Talks in India

    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed to set up a new mechanism to discuss trade during two days of informal talks in southern India that were aimed at re-calibrating strained ties between the nations.India raised its concerns about the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale told reporters Saturday in the seaside town of Mamallapuram. The contentious issues of China’s Huawei 5G network and India’s decision to revoke the special autonomous status of Kashmir were not discussed, Gokhale said.The talks between the leaders of the world’s two most populous countries came amid border disputes and trade tensions. China is India’s second-largest trading partner with current two-way trade of $87 billion, and the two sides have targeted $100 billion in trade by 2020.Modi told Xi that “it is important that RCEP is balanced -- that a balance is maintained in trade in goods, trade in services and investments,” Gokhale said. Xi said China “is ready to take sincere action” on trade and “to discuss in a very concrete way how to reduce the trade deficit,” Gokhale said.Chinese vice premier Hu Chunhua and Indian finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman will lead the new mechanism which seeks to smooth concerns in the trade relationship that’s currently skewed in China’s favor. The countries agreed on a partnership to create more jobs in manufacturing and will deepen defense communication, Gokhale said.India is under increasing pressure to decide whether it will be a part of the RCEP -- which aims to create the world’s largest trading bloc -- as China seeks to conclude the negotiations by November. India’s primary concern is the pact may lead to an influx of cheap Chinese goods, which could further widen New Delhi’s nearly $55 billion trade deficit with Beijing.Both RCEP and India need each other, said Amitendu Palit, senior research fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, noting New Delhi was expected to table a final series of offers and requests on market access at the last ministerial meeting on the trade deal.“These are likely to cover its concerns on opening up sensitive sectors like dairy and steel, through appropriate import safeguards and long phase-out of tariffs,” Palit said in an email Saturday. “Much of India’s concerns at RCEP have been driven by fears of Chinese imports. It is therefore not accidental that the Modi-Xi summit is taking place at a time when the RCEP is heading for a finish.”This is the second straight “informal” meeting between the leaders, after their interaction in Wuhan, China in April last year.It comes as China navigates a trade war with the U.S. and months-long protests in Hong Kong, while India is trying to revive an economy that’s seeing the slowest expansion in six years. New Delhi had also previously expressed annoyance over China’s support of neighbor and rival Pakistan regarding India’s actions in Kashmir, a region both Islamabad and New Delhi claim.(Updates with analyst comment in seventh, eighth paragraphs.)To contact the reporters on this story: Bibhudatta Pradhan in Chennai at bpradhan@bloomberg.net;Archana Chaudhary in New Delhi at achaudhary2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at rpollard2@bloomberg.net, Atul PrakashFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Warren Buys Facebook Ads That Claim Zuckerberg Backs Trump
    Bloomberg

    Warren Buys Facebook Ads That Claim Zuckerberg Backs Trump

    (Bloomberg) -- Elizabeth Warren is buying ads on Facebook that falsely claim Mark Zuckerberg has endorsed President Donald Trump -- a ploy used to showcase that ads posted by politicians need to be fact-checked.The Democratic presidential candidate’s campaign sponsored the posts that were blasted into the feeds of U.S. users of the social network, pushing back against Facebook’s policy to exempt politicians’ ads from its third-party fact-checking program.The ad begins with a lie: Facebook’s chief executive officer “just endorsed” Trump for re-election. It quickly backtracks to the truth.“You’re probably shocked. And you might be thinking, ‘how could this possibly be true?” the ad said. “Well, it’s not.”Facebook’s fact-checking policy allowed Trump’s team to share ads on the social network that allege former Vice President Joe Biden promised Ukraine $1 billion for firing a prosecutor. Biden’s campaign has dismissed Trump’s allegations as a smear.“What Zuckerberg ‘has’ done is given Donald Trump free rein to lie on his platform -- and then to pay Facebook gobs of money to push out their lies to American voters,” Warren said in the ad.Biden’s campaign has written to both Twitter and Facebook asking for the ads to be taken down, but the platforms refused, according to technology site The Verge. It quoted a Twitter spokesman as saying, “The ad you cited is not currently in violation of our policies.”Facebook’s decision to allow Trump’s ad contrasts with CNN, which rejected a request by the president’s campaign to run what the network called two “demonstrably false” claims.“If Senator Warren wants to say things she knows to be untrue, we believe Facebook should not be in the position of censoring that speech,” Andy Stone, a spokesman for Facebook, said in a statement to CNN on the ads.(Updates with details throughout)To contact the reporter on this story: Siraj Datoo in Singapore at sdatoo@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net, Atul PrakashFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Activision Blizzard Softens Player’s Punishment After Backlash
    Bloomberg

    Activision Blizzard Softens Player’s Punishment After Backlash

    (Bloomberg) -- Activision Blizzard Inc., facing the threat of a boycott, reduced the punishment it meted out to a tournament player who voiced support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrators.The company’s Blizzard Entertainment division originally barred the player from events for a year and stripped him of some $10,000 in prize money. But it said at the end of the week that it would cut the ban to six months and pay his winnings.The reversal followed an uproar from customers and even U.S. lawmakers, who felt Blizzard was kowtowing to China by punishing the player. Some analysts worried the boycott might take a toll on a company that’s already suffered recent upheaval.“This represents a new risk,” Cowen & Co. analyst Doug Creutz said in a note earlier this week. “though at present one that is very hard to evaluate.”It all started when Chung Ng Wai, a gamer who goes by the name Blitzchung, wore a gas mask and chanted a pro-Hong Kong slogan in an interview after a tournament. Blitzchung plays Hearthstone, an online card game from Blizzard.China considers support for the demonstrators an affront to the nation and its people, and Blizzard treated it as a grave offense. Blizzard said he violated its rules against an act that “brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image.”But customers and even some Blizzard workers felt the reaction was too extreme. In the furor that ensued, several employees staged a protest at its offices in Orange County, California. They covered up a plaque that read “Every Voice Matters” and held up umbrellas -- a symbol of the Hong Kong protesters.“In hindsight, our process wasn’t adequate, and we reacted too quickly,” J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment, said in the statement. Still, he added that “if this had been the opposing viewpoint delivered in the same divisive and deliberate way, we would have felt and acted the same.”Fans calling for a boycott also complained that they had trouble canceling their subscriptions to the company’s games, which include the hit Overwatch. Among the gripes: that they had to show government identification to cancel and that other roadblocks were put in place.Server Overload?Some of the cancellation complaints may have been overblown. The video-game site Polygon said the roadblocks probably stemmed from Blizzard’s servers being overloaded, not a deliberate attempt to keep users from deleting their accounts.Video-game companies have had to grapple more with free-speech issues in recent years, now that esports -- gaming competitions that are broadcast to millions of fans -- are such a big part of the industry. The maker of League of Legends, a division of Tencent Holdings, said this week that it won’t let broadcasters discuss “sensitive” topics, including political or religious issues.For Activision Blizzard, the boycott threat came at a particularly difficult time. The Santa Monica, California-based company has struggled to come up with fresh hits, and executive turnover is high. The heads of Activision Blizzard’s three major divisions have been replaced over the past year, as was its chief financial officer, who quit.And the company is counting on customers embracing a mobile version of its hit shooting game Call of Duty, done in partnership with Tencent, which has also invested in Activision Blizzard.The company also is preparing for Blizzcon, its big fan convention held in Anaheim, California, in early November. Attendees have threatened to come dressed as Winnie the Pooh, which has become a symbol of resistance against the Chinese government.“We suspect that the decision to punish Blitzchung, which almost certainly had input from senior Activision management, was met with dismay by a meaningful portion of Blizzard’s staff,” Creutz said. “Investors are counting on a turnaround at Blizzard to reinvigorate growth, but if the internal culture is in turmoil, there is a lot of risk to that thesis.”Blitzchung’s punishment stood in stark contrast to how the NBA handled its China controversy this week. In that case, the Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for the Hong Kong protests, right before the league was due to play a couple of preseason games in China. But the league didn’t punish Morey and has instead endured a backlash from Chinese authorities and sponsors there.Activision’s reaction also contrasted with that of Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney, the creator of Fortnite. Sweeney, whose company also has Tencent as a significant shareholder, said on Twitter this week that he supports free speech.“Epic supports the rights of Fortnite players and creators to speak about politics and human rights,” he said.To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at cpalmeri1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net, Rob GolumFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Trump Points to ‘China Deal,’ Sees ‘Good Things’: Trade Update

    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. President Donald Trump is sending positive vibes about getting a trade deal with China as meetings between senior officials wrapped and eyes turn toward a discussion between the president and Vice Premier Liu He.Liu and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer left the USTR office around 11:45 a.m. Friday after a second day of talks in Washington. Next up, Liu is scheduled to meet with Trump at the White House at 2:45 p.m.Trump tweeted earlier Friday that “good things” were happening in the meetings -- and that if the countries did reach an agreement, he would be able to sign it without a lengthy congressional approval process.Trump’s bullish tweets on the talked lifted stocks. The S&P 500 Index climbed to within 2% of a record. Equities in Asia and Europe rose on expectations for a tariff ceasefire.Trade AuthoritySenator Ronald Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee that has jurisdiction over trade policy, pushed back on Trump’s tweet in a statement Friday to Bloomberg News: “Donald Trump should know that any meaningful trade deal is only legitimate because of the authority granted to him by Congress, and that authority can be taken away,” he said.Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress holds power over international trade. For decades, it has legally delegated trade negotiating authority to the executive branch. Lawmakers in recent months have grown increasingly wary of what they see as Trump’s abuse of that authority and discussed ways to claw it back, citing the president’s many unilateral tariff measures and a lack of transparency in negotiations.Schumer Sounds Off And Chinese Delegation Arrives (Earlier)As day two of U.S.-China trade talks got under way, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer criticized any deal that would include breaks for Huawei Technologies Co., the Chinese telecom giant that’s raised national-security concerns in Washington.“A China mini deal? It must not include concessions on Huawei,” he tweeted just before the Chinese delegation arrived at the U.S. Trade Representative’s offices. “That’s what China wants most, and it would show tremendous weakness.”Liu and his team arrived around 9 a.m. and was greeted by Lighthizer, who’s celebrating his 72nd birthday on Friday, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.The talks led by Liu and Lighthizer are the first senior-level in-person talks since late July to try and end an 18-month trade war that is taking a toll on the global economy and U.S. manufacturing.Other key developments:Foreign firms have a clear road map for full ownership of financial services companies in China. Overseas institutions can apply for total control of onshore ventures starting in 2020, the China Securities Regulatory Commission said Friday.Markets cheered positive trade developments for China, the U.S. and Europe.Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon told CNBC he “wouldn’t be surprised if they saw some interim deal.”China plans to ask the U.S. to lift sanctions on its biggest shipping company at this week’s talks.Soybean prices are higher this week partly on expectations China will purchase more from the U.S.Trump Says Day One of Talks Went Well (Thursday)Trump on Thursday said the first day of high-level trade negotiations between the U.S. and China on Thursday went “very well” and that he plans to meet with the top Chinese negotiator Friday.“We just completed a negotiation with China, we’re doing very well, we’re having another one tomorrow. I’m meeting with the vice premier over at the White House, and I think it’s going really well,” Trump said Thursday. “We’re going to see them tomorrow, right here, and it’s going very, very well.”The U.S. and China have both appeared willing to work toward a partial deal, and leave the more controversial issues for later discussions. However, Trump repeated on Wednesday that he would prefer a complete agreement. The core U.S. demands would commit China to cracking down on the alleged theft of intellectual property and stop forcing U.S. companies to hand over their commercial secrets as a condition of doing business in China.Without progress, the U.S. is due to increase tariffs on about $250 billion of Chinese imports to 30% from 25% on Oct. 15. More duties on $160 billion of Chinese imports are due Dec. 15.\--With assistance from Josh Wingrove, Shawn Donnan and Alister Bull.To contact the reporters on this story: Ye Xie in Washington at yxie6@bloomberg.net;William Edwards in Washington at wedwards29@bloomberg.net;Jenny Leonard in Washington at jleonard67@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Murray at brmurray@bloomberg.net, Margaret CollinsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Iranian Oil Tanker Attacked as Middle East Tensions Remain High
    Bloomberg

    Iranian Oil Tanker Attacked as Middle East Tensions Remain High

    (Bloomberg) -- Iran said missiles struck one of its tankers in the Red Sea, the latest in a series of attacks on oil infrastructure in the region that have roiled energy markets.The Islamic Republic’s tanker company initially said the attacks probably came from Saudi Arabia, but later withdrew the claim. The incident, which caused a spill and a jump of as much as 2.6% in crude prices, comes weeks after a devastating attack on major Saudi oil facilities that Riyadh blamed on Tehran.Tensions have been rising steadily in the region since U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from an international nuclear deal with Iran and imposed harsh sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Although so far all sides have said they want to avoid war, there’s a growing risk to supplies from the world’s most important oil-producing region.“The market has been entirely too complacent given that we are one security incident away from a war,” said Helima Croft, chief commodities strategist at RBC Capital Markets.The Sabiti, a tanker capable of carrying 1 million barrels a of crude, was damaged on Friday near the Saudi port of Jeddah after being hit by suspected missiles, Iranian state media said. The explosions on the tanker occurred between 5:00 and 5:20 a.m. local time damaging two of its main oil tanks, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.A spokesman for the National Iranian Tanker Company, initially said in a call with Iran’s Press TV that the missiles probably came from the direction of Saudi Arabia. NITC later withdrew that claim in a statement.The ship was hit twice within a 30-minute interval from the east of the Red Sea near its crossing route, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Telegram. The Iranian authorities presented no further evidence of the nature or origin of the attack.The Saudi Ports Authority confirmed that an incident involving a tanker had occurred near the port of Jeddah overnight, but was unable to verify if the vessel was Iranian, according to a press officer.After initially saying the spill from the tanker had been halted and the damage minimized, the Iranian oil ministry’s Shana news service said crude was again flowing into the Red Sea. No one has provided any assistance to the damaged ship, Al-Alam news channel reported, citing Nasrollah Sardashti, head of NITC.Oil AttacksThe Sabiti was fully laden with crude and heading toward the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea, according to Florian Thaler, chief executive of data analytics firm OilX. On its previous voyages it has carried Iranian crude to the East Mediterranean he said.According to tanker-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg, the vessel was under way using its engine and heading south at a speed of 9.6 knots as of 8:45 a.m. London time. Its destination was listed as Larak, an Iranian island in the Strait of Hormuz.Oil prices jumped above $60 a barrel in London after the attack. Despite the growing risk to Middle Eastern supplies, crude prices have been depressed by fears of an economic slowdown due to the U.S.-China trade dispute. Brent is still lower than it was before the Sept. 14 drone and missile strikes on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities last month that briefly cut global supplies by 5%, the worst sudden disruption in history.In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” last month, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman warned that conflict between his country and Iran would lead to a “total collapse of the global economy” and should be avoided. The Foreign Ministry of China, which gets a significant proportion of its oil imports from the Persian Gulf, urged restraint on Friday in order to safeguard peace and stability in the area.The attack on the Sabiti came a day before Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to visit Tehran for talks on how to reduce tensions with Saudi Arabia, Iranian lawmaker and member of the parliamentary commission for national security, Heshmattolah Falahatpisheh, said in an interview with the semi-official Iranian Labour News Agency. Khan was one of several leaders who unsuccessfully tried to broker dialogue between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations General Assembly last month.The Pentagon said on Friday that it’s sending more U.S. forces to the Middle East to “assure and enhance the defense of Saudi Arabia” against Iran. Overall about 3,000 personnel are being deployed or having their missions extended in the region, including a previously promised delivery of additional Patriot and Thaad missile defense systems.(A previous version of this story corrected the job title and company name of Florian Thaler.)\--With assistance from Dan Murtaugh, Dandan Li, Golnar Motevalli, Verity Ratcliffe, Dana Khraiche, Julian Lee, Chloe Whiteaker and Adrian Leung.To contact the reporters on this story: Golnar Motevalli in Tehran at gmotevalli@bloomberg.net;Arsalan Shahla in Dubai at ashahla@bloomberg.net;Yasna Haghdoost in Beirut at yhaghdoost@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ramsey Al-Rikabi at ralrikabi@bloomberg.net, James Herron, Christopher SellFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Tencent Gets ‘Wakeup Call’ From China’s Assertions of Patriotism
    Bloomberg

    Tencent Gets ‘Wakeup Call’ From China’s Assertions of Patriotism

    (Bloomberg) -- Tencent Holdings Ltd. can’t get a break.The National Basketball Association, Activision Blizzard Inc. and now one of its most important portfolio companies, Fortnite proprietor Epic Games Inc., have all sparked political controversy at a time of increasingly assertive Chinese nationalism online.A tweet by an NBA executive expressing support for Hong Kong protesters drew the ire of Beijing, throwing into question the billions Tencent has invested in the U.S. sports league. Then Blizzard, partly owned by Tencent, banned a gamer for endorsing Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, triggering a boycott of the company’s games for its apparent kowtowing to China. Most recently, Epic Chief Executive Officer Tim Sweeney tweeted his disagreement with the Blizzard action, eliciting calls for a boycott of its Fortnite game among Chinese players incensed by the perceived slight.At stake for Tencent are billions of dollars in ad and subscription revenue, along with its entire strategy of becoming a go-to destination for NBA broadcasts. Tencent had almost half a billion basketball aficionados tune in last season. That audience is now in jeopardy after Tencent halted game broadcasts in the wake of the Hong Kong controversy.“It’s a big wakeup call for Chinese tech companies,” said Mark Tanner, founder of Shanghai-based research and marketing company China Skinny.Tencent had just inked a $1.5 billion, five-year deal to stream NBA games online in China. Its suspension of broadcasts followed a similar move by state-backed CCTV.Tencent uses the online streams to sell ads, and the gargantuan scale of the audience drives its marketing business, which is expected to be a key driver of Tencent growth going forward. To spruce up its investment, Tencent has been developing memorabilia, entertainment shows and video games based on the NBA.“Advertising of Tencent sports will likely take a hit. NBA is the star of Tencent sports, so it could cause a contract of Tencent’s advertising growth further,” said Michael Norris, a Shanghai-based research and strategy analyst at consultancy AgencyChina.NBA China Woes Threaten Billions of Dollars, Decades’ WorkA single tweet from the Houston Rockets’ general manager supporting Hong Kong’s protesters was enough to spark a chain reaction, including an abridged history lesson by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Vice-Chairman Joe Tsai, majority owner of the Brooklyn Nets. Alibaba has also yanked Rockets merchandise from its online stores, causing harm to both the NBA and Alibaba’s bottom line.After initially apologizing, the league went on to express its support for staff’s freedom of political expression via a statement by Commissioner Adam Silver. That sparked another round of fury in China, threatening to prolong the clash and the blackout.The Chinese company’s shares have held up well so far, despite warnings from analysts including Citigroup’s Alicia Yap that the streaming freeze will hurt Tencent’s media ad revenue -- particularly if it extends into the regular season.But there’s more trouble ahead: Tencent’s gaming portfolio is spurring controversy too. For years, the WeChat operator took a hands-off approach with the startups and studios across its empire, reaping the benefits of importing Western content and technology for a vast Chinese market. Now the two are increasingly at odds, and Tencent is beginning to realize the downside to its passive approach.Blizzard’s stern reprimand of the pro-Hong Kong player was popular in China, but drew outrage from the U.S. to South Korea. Online, gamers called for a boycott of the company and proudly posted their cancellations.Then Epic CEO Sweeney jumped into the crossfire, explicitly giving Fortnite players the green light to discuss politics. The game maker is 40% owned by Tencent, but Sweeney is the controlling shareholder.His statement earned accolades in the U.S., but was shunned in China. “Tencent why are you not holding your dog on a leash? They are biting you in your face,” one person wrote on Weibo. Tencent spokeswoman Jane Yip didn’t respond to a request for comment.With its investments in Epic and Blizzard, Tencent has its brand on the line -- but little control.“Never have we seen this policing of China companies being extended to subsidiaries,” said Norris. “And that’s what Tencent is having to grapple with.”Over the years, Tencent and Alibaba have worked hard to remain on the good side of Beijing, with Tencent recently launching a patriotic game called Homeland Dream in time for the People’s Republic of China’s 70th anniversary celebrations. Both have also been called out by name in Senator Marco Rubio’s letter to President Trump as examples of how Chinese companies are used as tools to help “coerce American companies and American citizens to bend to Beijing’s will.”With its growing exposure to international markets and regulation, Tencent finds itself in the middle of a maelstrom of political, economic and cultural grievances. Eight Chinese companies -- two of which are backed by Alibaba -- were this week placed on a U.S. blacklist for allegedly being involved in human rights abuses of a Muslim minority in China’s Xinjiang region. That follows the Washington government’s discussion about whether to restrict pension fund investments into China.Tencent and the rest of China’s technology companies now have to consider risks they’ve never faced before.“They’re realizing they may not have as many friends as they thought they had across the Pacific,” said Tanner of China Skinny.(Updates with shares from the 11th paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at ychen447@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at echan273@bloomberg.net, Vlad Savov, Peter ElstromFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Turkey Says Hundreds of ‘Terrorists’ Killed So Far: Syria Update
    Bloomberg

    Turkey Says Hundreds of ‘Terrorists’ Killed So Far: Syria Update

    (Bloomberg) -- President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would “open the doors” for 3.6 million refugees currently in Turkey to seek shelter in Europe, should his country come under undue criticism.Erdogan’s threats on Thursday came a day after Turkish troops began a major incursion into northeastern Syria, drawing criticism from the U.S., many European nations and Arab states.The cross-border military offensive, code-named “Peace Spring,” resulted in deaths of hundreds of “terrorists” since it began on Wednesday, according to Turkey’s military. The operation against U.S.-backed Kurdish militant groups and Islamic State started three days after President Donald Trump said U.S. troops in the area wouldn’t stand in the way.Here’s a rundown of major events since Thursday morning in local time.Key DevelopmentsErdogan delivered a warning to European nations against calling his Syria campaign an “invasion” a day after Turkish troops began their advance across the border.U.S. senators including Lindsey Graham, a key Trump ally, slammed the incursion and threatened to punish Ankara.Trump floated the idea of mediating between Turkey and Kurdish militants.Seven civilians have been killed on the Turkish side as a result of shelling from areas held by Kurdish militants in Syria. Turkey’s military says it killed hundreds of “terrorists” in the meantime.Turkish state banks have been trying to buoy the currency amid a rout in the nation’s markets. The lira was trading 0.1% weaker at 8:34 a.m. in Istanbul on Friday, after a 0.6% advance on Thursday.Turkey Claims 277 Kurdish YPG Militants Killed (7:00 a.m.)Turkey’s Defense Ministry said 277 fighters of the Kurdish militant group YPG have been killed since the operation began, a claim that was impossible to verify independently. The ministry said a Turkish soldier was also killed during clashes.Mortar attacks by the YPG from areas under its control in Syria killed seven civilians in southeast Turkey, including a 9-month-old baby of a Syrian refugee family, the state-run Anadolu Agency said.Trump Floats Mediator Role in Kurdish Conflict Amid Criticism (11:07 p.m.)President Trump said the U.S. has three options in dealing with Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria: send the American military back in, unleash punishing sanctions on Turkey or mediate between the two sides.UN Security Council Holds Closed Hearing (9:52 p.m.)The United Nations Security Council held an emergency closed-door session on Turkey’s incursion into Syria. Afterward, a group of European ambassadors called upon Turkey to “cease the unilateral military action,” adding that “renewed armed hostilities in the northeast will further undermine the stability of the whole region.”“It is unlikely that a so-called ‘safe zone’ in north-east Syria, as envisaged by Turkey, would satisfy international criteria for refugee return,” the diplomats from the U.K., Belgium, France, Germany and Poland said.Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, refrained from criticizing Turkey’s incursion even as she made it clear the U.S. doesn’t endorse it either.“Failure to play by the rules, to protect vulnerable populations, failure to guarantee that ISIS cannot exploit these actions to reconstitute, will have consequences,” Craft said.Erdogan Hits Back (1:30 p.m.)Erdogan said he would “open the doors” for 3.6 million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey to seek shelter in Europe, should EU members continue their attacks on his country.During a speech to the ruling party officials in Ankara, Erdogan hit back at countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which criticized Turkey’s military advance into northeastern Syria. The president warned the European Union against labeling the operation as a form of “invasion” and threatened to unleash a wave of refugees otherwise.SOHR Says Over a Dozen Kurdish Militants Killed in Action (1 p.m.)At least 19 Kurdish militants were killed since the Turkish assault began and 38 wounded, according to U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the eight-year Syrian war through activists on the ground.According to Erdogan, Kurdish forces lost 109 members over the past day and many more were wounded.SOHR said Syrian forces that are allied with Turkey also lost 9 members during clashes.Turkish state media say pro-Turkey Syrian rebels pushed Kurdish militants out of two villages near Tal Abyad.Turkey Cracks Down on Dissent Amid Operation (11:03 a.m.)Turkey expanded its crackdown on criticizing the government for its decision to begin a new offensive into Syria. An investigation was launched against five lawmakers of pro-Kurdish party HDP, including its co-chairs Sezai Temelli and Pervin Buldan.Hakan Demir, an editor at daily Birgun newspaper, was detained by police over accusations that he was inciting hatred with his social media postings.Turkey Probes Social Media Posts (9:45 a.m.)Turkey’s police force cracked down on social-media content that it says went against the military operation in Syria. A total of 78 people faced legal action but it wasn’t clear if anyone was immediately detained.The posts represented incitement to “hatred,” police said on its website, and accused the posters of engaging in “propaganda of a terrorist organization.” The charges carry years in prison if upheld in a court.Turkish Warplanes in Action (06:20 a.m.)Turkish F-16 warplanes and artillery units, with howitzers and rocket-launchers, have struck at least 181 targets so far as Turkey’s armed forces began a campaign into northeast Syria against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said early Thursday.Erdogan: Syrian Airspace Doesn’t Belong to U.S. (1:00 a.m.)“There is no U.S. airspace over there, there is international airspace. It is Syria’s airspace. Thus, the decision belongs to the regime,” Erdogan told reporters on his way home from Serbia late Tuesday, according to newspaper Haberturk. He said a 1998 treaty gave Turkey authority to use that airspace to target groups Turkey views as terrorists.Two U.S. defense officials said the U.S. and Turkey are no longer exchanging intelligence or coordinating air sorties in the region. One of the officials, who asked not to be identified, said the U.S. was told Turkish planes were incoming and that the U.S. needed to get its forces out of harm’s way.\--With assistance from Cagan Koc, Taylan Bilgic, Dana Khraiche, David Wainer and Ugur Yilmaz.To contact the reporters on this story: Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at shacaoglu@bloomberg.net;Firat Kozok in Ankara at fkozok@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Onur Ant at oant@bloomberg.net;Lin Noueihed at lnoueihed@bloomberg.net;Alaa Shahine at asalha@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Dyson Becomes Latest Sign That Electric-Car Bubble Is Bursting
    Bloomberg

    Dyson Becomes Latest Sign That Electric-Car Bubble Is Bursting

    (Bloomberg) -- Dyson Ltd.’s sudden decision to scrap its $2.5 billion electric-vehicle ambitions is the latest reality check creeping into the once soaring EV industry.The famed maker of vacuum cleaners and hair dryers couldn’t find a way of making the project commercially viable, billionaire James Dyson said in a letter to staff Thursday. The announcement came about two years after the company first disclosed its plans to jump into car manufacturing.Dyson represents one of the most high-profile players to pull out of a sector that’s attracted hundreds of start-ups in recent years seeking to become the next Tesla Inc. But there are mounting signs that the bubble is bursting as China scales back handouts in the sector and competition heats up. Sanford C. Bernstein estimates that global EV sales fell for the first time ever in July and dropped by a record 23% in August.“Tesla’s future remains uncertain. Almost all the EV start-ups trying to follow look challenged,” Bernstein analysts, including Max Warburton and Robin Zhu, said in a report that cited the Dyson decision as a worrisome development in the industry. “Most of these start-ups will likely fold. The truth is barriers to entry in autos remain high. Making cars is hard. The move to EVs will be expensive.”Take the case of China’s NIO Inc., one of the most prominent electric-car makers in a country that makes about half of the world’s EVs. Last month it reported a wider-than-expected quarterly loss, leading the stock to tumble to a record low and prompting analysts to openly question the company’s viability. The shares jumped on Tuesday after NIO reported third-quarter deliveries exceeded the company’s forecast, but the stock has since erased all those gains.Elsewhere in China, Lifan Industry Group Co. and Zotye Automobile Co. have had to issue statements denying speculation that they’re planning to file for bankruptcy, though the former conceded it’s under liquidity pressure.The competition is also getting tougher. Besides Tesla, traditional automakers such as General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG are throwing massive resources into electrification. VW has vowed a $33 billion push to bring battery-powered autos to the masses. Apple Inc. has had an automotive project since about 2016, although it is said to have scaled back its ambitions.There are growing concerns that the ample supply of cheap funding for new-age carmakers is about to dry up, according to Bernstein.As to Dyson, the company said it plans to continue its 2.5 billion-pound ($3.1 billion) investment program into new technology, and will concentrate on manufacturing solid-state batteries and other technologies including machine learning and robotics.“Singapore will play an important role in Dyson’s growth plans,” Tan Kong Hwee, assistant managing director at Singapore’s Economic Development Board, said in an emailed statement Friday. Despite Dyson’s decision, Singapore “remains interested in advanced manufacturing activities, including for EVs,” he said.Experts had questioned the company’s costly plans to build an electric car plant in Singapore, where average salaries are among the highest in the world. Ford Motor Co. closed its factory in the city-state about 40 years ago, effectively ending car production on the island.“If everybody else is building a plant in China at a fraction of the cost in terms of labor, it didn’t make a lot of sense for anybody to build that size of a manufacturing facility over there,” said Steve Man, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in Hong Kong. “I hope Singapore wasn’t expecting much from this.”Still, Singapore has much riding on Dyson in its efforts to attract start-ups and advanced technology companies. Dyson became one of the biggest global industry names to ever relocate there.There’s another sector Dyson is looking to invest in Singapore. The family office of James Dyson has incorporated in the city state and is in the process of hiring IT and finance-service staff, according to job advertisements posted on Dyson’s website. The family office was established in 2013 and employs around 55 people globally.“It would have been nice to have but the reality is OK, it’s not going to work let’s look at something else,” said Song Seng Wun, an economist at CIMB Private Banking in Singapore. “It’s still about making money.”\--With assistance from Craig Trudell.To contact the reporters on this story: Kyunghee Park in Singapore at kpark3@bloomberg.net;Molly Schuetz in New York at mschuetz9@bloomberg.net;Yoolim Lee in Singapore at yoolim@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at ycho2@bloomberg.net, ;Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Will DaviesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Firing of Chinese Facebook Engineer Ignites Fury Back Home
    Bloomberg

    Firing of Chinese Facebook Engineer Ignites Fury Back Home

    (Bloomberg) -- The firing of a Chinese Facebook Inc. coder who accused the social media giant of mistreating foreign employees has provoked an outpouring of outrage on domestic social media.Software engineer Yi Yin struck a chord when he posted on WeChat that he was forced out for “lack of judgment.” The 37-year-old said he got an emailed warning the same day he joined a memorial at Facebook’s Menlo Park campus for a colleague, also from China, who killed himself by jumping from the fourth floor of a company building last month.The Sept. 26 vigil had morphed into a demonstration over alleged discrimination against Facebook’s Chinese employees. Yin told Bloomberg News that HR sent the email and then called him into a meeting the day after, during which he was told to stop speaking publicly about the death because of privacy concerns.Yin got a second and “final warning” just a few days later, which he said didn’t cite any breaches of company rules or other specific reasons. He was dismissed Oct. 7. Facebook spokeswoman Pamela Austin confirmed Yin had been dismissed but denied his participation in the rally was the cause. She declined to comment on the details Yin described. Another company representative, Charlene Chian, said Facebook doesn’t comment on the specifics of personnel issues.The engineer went on social media to describe his experience, which was widely covered by Chinese media at a time tensions with the U.S. are running high and many feel Washington is trying to contain China’s ascendancy. His LinkedIn post about the firing has garnered more than 7,000 likes, with many commenting to offer him a new job.A discussion thread about his dismissal on Chinese Q&A site Zhihu has been viewed over 1.6 million times, after his tale initially spread across WeChat, which has a billion-plus users.“Facebook expects all of our employees to treat one another with respect, particularly when dealing with sensitive issues,” Facebook’s Austin said via email. “We won’t hesitate to take action to make sure all of our people feel safe and comfortable at work.”Read more: Facebook Worker Dies After Jumping From Headquarters BuildingA widely circulated video showed dozens of black-clad Chinese people gathered at Facebook’s famous “Like” sign at 1 Hacker Way during last month’s memorial for the deceased, a 38-year-old software engineer. The mourners placed flowers under the billboard and chanted slogans including “We deserve the truth” and “Chinese lives matter.” Bloomberg couldn’t verify the authenticity of the video and Austin declined to comment.But co-organizer David Jin, co-founder of Santa Clara-based cybersecurity startup Deeper Network, told Bloomberg via a Telegram message that about 400 people attended, including non-employees in the Bay Area. Jin, Yin and Austin all appeared in the video published by a Chinese online news outlet, though Yin said he was the only Facebook employee wearing a company badge.“Tech companies in Silicon Valley are almost hitting their ceilings so they have the pressure to cut jobs and increase efficiency,” Yin, who joined Facebook in July, said in a phone interview. “Chinese people usually don’t make trouble, giving the impression that we are weak and easy to pick on.”Since the suicide, current and former Facebook employees have posted online about alleged bullying of international workers at the company. The Sept. 26 rally took place days after Patrick Shyu, who claimed to be a former programmer with Facebook and Google, said in a YouTube video that Chen suffered an unfair review and was thereby blocked from a team transfer.That could potentially have hampered the prospect for renewing his H-1B work visa, forcing him to return to China, Shyu said, citing anonymous postings on Facebook’s internal messaging board. Shyu, who has said online that he too was fired from Facebook, didn’t respond to a request for comment via a Twitter message and Austin declined to comment about his allegations.\--With assistance from Kurt Wagner and Vlad Savov.To contact the reporter on this story: Zheping Huang in Hong Kong at zhuang245@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at echan273@bloomberg.net, Peter ElstromFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Tim Cook Defends Decision to Remove Hong Kong Maps App in Memo
    Bloomberg

    Tim Cook Defends Decision to Remove Hong Kong Maps App in Memo

    (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook defended the company’s decision to remove a mapping app in Hong Kong, saying on Thursday that the company received “credible information” from authorities indicating the software was being used “maliciously” to attack police.Apple pulled HKmap.live from its App Store on Wednesday after flip-flopping between rejecting it and approving it earlier this month. Apple made the decision after consulting with local authorities, because it could endanger law enforcement and city residents. Cook echoed that sentiment in an email to Apple employees.“Over the past several days we received credible information, from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau, as well as from users in Hong Kong, that the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present,” Cook wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News. He also said the app violates local laws.The company has been criticized for the move, and Cook addressed that. “These decisions are never easy, and it is harder still to discuss these topics during moments of furious public debate,” the CEO wrote. “National and international debates will outlive us all, and, while important, they do not govern the facts. In this case, we thoroughly reviewed them, and we believe this decision best protects our users.”Apple joins other foreign companies struggling to navigate the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong as protests that began in June show no sign of abating. The issue has become a red line for those doing business in China, most recently drawing the National Basketball Association into a firestorm over a tweet supporting the protesters that caused partners to stop doing business with the league and state television to halt airing games. A growing number of American giants, including Activision Blizzard Inc., find themselves embroiled in controversies over the extent to which their actions are influenced by economic considerations in a vast Chinese market.Greater China, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, is Apple’s largest market after the U.S. The iPhone maker is also one of the most visible symbols of corporate America in the world’s No. 2 economy. Apple recently pulled the Taiwan flag emoji from some iPhones, underscoring the difficult balance the company must strike in supporting free speech while appeasing China.Google, which pulled out of mainland China years ago, confirmed on Thursday that the HKmap.live app is still available in the Play app store in Hong Kong. However, the internet giant removed a mobile game from the store for "attempting to make money from serious ongoing conflicts or tragedies." The game let players pretend to be Hong Kong protesters.Charles Mok, a legislative counselor in Hong Kong, said he was “deeply disappointed” by Apple’s move and contested the company’s reasons in an open letter to Cook.“There are numerous cases of innocent passersby in the neighbourhood injured by the Hong Kong Police Force’s excessive force in crowd dispersal operations,” Mok wrote in the letter, which he posted on Twitter. “Information shared using HKmap.live in fact helps citizens avoid areas where pedestrians not involved in any criminal activities might be subjected to police brutality.”Apple’s reversal came after the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship newspaper criticized Apple for letting the app into its store. Protesters in the city used HKmap.live to monitor police whereabouts and it facilitated illegal activities, the People’s Daily said in a commentary late Tuesday. But the app’s developers rejected that view.“We disagree with Apple’s claim that our app endangered anyone” in Hong Kong, the developer said in a statement.Asked about Apple removing the app specifically, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated Beijing’s stance. “Recent events in Hong Kong are extreme, violent acts, challenging Hong Kong’s rule of law and order, threatening the safety of Hong Kong’s people, damaging Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity,” he said. “We should oppose such violence instead of supporting or condoning them.”Here’s the memo in full:Team,You have likely seen the news that we made the decision to remove an app from the App Store entitled HKmap.live. These decisions are never easy, and it is harder still to discuss these topics during moments of furious public debate. It’s out of my great respect for the work you do every day that I want to share the way we went about making this decision.It is no secret that technology can be used for good or for ill. This case is no different. The app in question allowed for the crowdsourced reporting and mapping of police checkpoints, protest hotspots, and other information. On its own, this information is benign. However, over the past several days we received credible information, from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau, as well as from users in Hong Kong, that the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present. This use put the app in violation of Hong Kong law. Similarly, widespread abuse clearly violates our App Store guidelines barring personal harm.We built the App Store to be a safe and trusted place for every user. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously, and it’s one that we aim to preserve. National and international debates will outlive us all, and, while important, they do not govern the facts. In this case, we thoroughly reviewed them, and we believe this decision best protects our users.(Updates with Google decision on mobile game in seventh paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Gurman in San Francisco at mgurman1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net, Alistair Barr, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Protesters Parade Police Hostages and Demand IMF Leave Ecuador
    Bloomberg

    Protesters Parade Police Hostages and Demand IMF Leave Ecuador

    (Bloomberg) -- A throng of indigenous Ecuadorian protesters grabbed six policemen off the streets in central Quito on Thursday to cries of “murderers, murderers,” hours before seizing more than two dozen reporters who came to cover the event.The policemen had their motorcycles seized before being hustled to the stage of a theater to the delight of thousands of anti-government protesters resisting an International Monetary Fund-backed austerity drive by President Lenin Moreno. They were stripped of their vests and equipment as people jeered and chanted “Moreno out.”The protesters also detained 27 journalists, and one television reporter suffered a head wound, according to Fundamedios, a media advocacy organization. A Bloomberg News reporter was threatened, though managed to leave unhindered.The anti-government demonstrations are being led by indigenous communities, mostly from the Andean and Amazon regions. They initially demanded a restoration of canceled fuel subsidies, then that Moreno leave office and, on Thursday, their umbrella group issued a statement saying the protests won’t stop until the IMF leaves Ecuador.On Thursday morning, the crowd included a shaman in traditional dress with a head-high spear and an iPhone. He held an early morning ceremony to summon spirits on behalf of the people, who said officers had killed four indigenous protesters. Demonstration organizers said they would bring a corpse to the theater.The chaotic scene points to how combustible the situation has become a week after Moreno ended the fuel subsidies, which had been in place for the better part of four decades, as part of an agreement with the IMF to narrow a budget deficit.Moreno fled to the coastal city of Guayaquil and has vowed to return, and not to give in to demands to roll back the gasoline measures. Instead, he is calling for dialogue to reach an agreement. His foreign affairs minister said in a Wednesday interview that the government has money set aside for indigenous people, who are often poor and historically discriminated against.The crisis marks a turning point for Moreno. The president, who was expected to lead as a Venezuelan-style leftist, has instead pushed economic and political reform and tried to restore an independent press and judiciary -- an about face from his predecessor. He championed term limits for elected officials and helped judicial reformers replace a constitutional court so discredited that several members were under suspicion of money laundering.Moreno also remade economic policy, which led to a fall in yields on Ecuadorian bonds and a $4.2 billion agreement with the IMF to restore dollar reserves and stabilize public debt -- in part by removing the fuel subsidy.Ecuador’s bonds issued just two weeks ago have fallen 6 cents this week to 97 cents on the dollar to yield 9.9%.This week, protesters have occupied government buildings and oil fields as security forces struggle to enforce a state of emergency. Video on social media has shown police beating residents. The office of public ombudsman Freddy Carrion said that five people have died since the beginning of the protests.Large parts of the Andes region are cut off by roadblocks along mountain highways. The Ecuador Red Cross said Wednesday that it would suspend services in the country after repeated attacks on its staff and ambulances.In Quito on Thursday, the indigenous organizations met at the Agora Casa de la Cultura, part of a complex that includes the national museum and cinema.The theater, capacity of about 2,000, was filled and there were many more people in the parks and streets outside, where tires were burning. Some were in traditional dress, with pork-pie hats and ponchos, and a few were masked and wearing helmets in preparation for clashes. Down the street, police massed behind barricades.Tension between younger protesters and older organizers was palpable.Carrion said on Twitter that he would that would visit the theater to ensure the captured officers were well treated.Indigenous leader Floresmilo Simbana said in an interview at the entrance of the Agora that restoring the fuel subsidies was a mandatory first step toward ending the crisis, but the government’s current offer to aid rural communities was insufficient.“That’s public policy. We shouldn’t even have to be discussing it,” he said.To contact the reporters on this story: Matthew Bristow in Bogota at mbristow5@bloomberg.net;Stephan Kueffner in Quito at skueffner1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Juan Pablo Spinetto at jspinetto@bloomberg.net, Daniel Cancel, Stephen MerelmanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Oil Climbs on Optimism Around Potential U.S.-China Mini Deal
    Bloomberg

    Oil Climbs on Optimism Around Potential U.S.-China Mini Deal

    (Bloomberg) -- Crude jumped by the most in more than three weeks amid optimism over trade talks between the U.S. and China.Futures rose 1.8% in New York on Thursday. The U.S. and China began two days of talks, with both sides signaling they may reach a partial deal that could lead to a temporary truce on tariffs. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter Thursday: “Big day of negotiations with China. They want to make a deal, but do I? I meet with the Vice Premier tomorrow at The White House.”If a minor U.S.-China trade deal is reached to help set up a larger deal, “that would certainly be positive for expected demand for energy products,” said Michael Hiley, head of OTC energy trading with LPS Partners.Still, there are lingering concerns in the market. Prices are lower than they were before the attacks on Saudi Arabia last month, with the kingdom quickly restoring production and investors turning their attention to the global economic slowdown. The protracted trade war is denting the demand outlook for oil, with the heads of major trading houses predicting prices in the $50s a year from now.West Texas Intermediate for November advanced 96 cents to settle at $53.55 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest level in more than a week.Brent for December settlement rose 78 cents to end the session at $59.10 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe Exchange, and traded at a $5.54 premium to WTI for the same month.Vice Premier Liu He and the rest of the high-level Chinese team arrived at the office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer at around 9 a.m. in Washington. President Donald Trump said in a Twitter post that he plans to meet with Liu on Friday.The U.S.-China trade dispute has “cast a shadow” over oil demand and a failure to reach a deal would be “catastrophic” for the market Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said. OPEC and allies including Russia will do “whatever it takes” to prevent another oil slump as the global economy weakens, he also said.\--With assistance from Sheela Tobben and Alex Longley.To contact the reporter on this story: Jacquelyn Melinek in New York at jmelinek@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: David Marino at dmarino4@bloomberg.net, Jessica Summers, Christine BuurmaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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