DAILY MARKET REPORTS
- U.S. shares posted modest gains after the White House and China were said to close in on a trade deal, while the dollar strengthened and Treasury yields fell.
- Beijing was offering to lower tariffs and other restrictions on American goods while Washington was considering removing most, if not all, sanctions levied against Chinese products since last year.
- AT&T announced that it started reorganizing its WarnerMedia unit by combining its disparate networks and entertainment businesses, in an overhaul that is expected to lead to significant layoffs.
- Dovish signals from the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve in recent weeks helped stocks bounce off a slump.
- On Thursday, the ECB convenes for its next monetary-policy meeting, two months after it ended its massive stimulus program.
US FINANCIAL MARKET
AT&T Breaks Up Turner, Bulks Up Warner Bros. in Major WarnerMedia Overhaul
- AT&T hired former NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt to be chairman of a newly created unit called WarnerEntertainment—which combines HBO and Turner’s entertainment operations—and Direct-to-Consumer, which includes the streaming service WarnerMedia plans on launching later this year.
- Other parts of Turner are being lopped off and merged with different units as part of the overhaul. Turner’s sports division will be overseen by CNN chief Jeff Zucker, who now becomes chairman of WarnerMedia News and Sports, and president of CNN.
- Warner Bros. Chairman and Chief Executive Kevin Tsujihara will add oversight of Turner’s animation operations, which include the Cartoon Network and Adult Swim as well as their merchandise and licensing units. By combining Turner’s animation with Warner Bros.’ DC Entertainment, AT&T is looking to create a new global children programming and videogame behemoth. Turner Classic Movies will also be housed at Warner Bros. under Mr. Tsujihara.
- Gerhard Zeiler, president of Turner’s international operations, will become chief revenue officer in charge of distribution and advertising for the cable networks group.
- Cutting costs and streamlining operations is crucial for AT&T, which is currently saddled with about $170 billion in net debt, the most of any nonfinancial U.S. company.
- After AT&T announced its plans to acquire Time Warner in 2016, it projected $1.5 billion in annual cost savings and another $1 billion in “revenue synergies.”
Newmont Board Rejects Barrick’s $17.8 Billion Hostile Offer
- The board unanimously rejected the proposal, saying it would not be better than Newmont’s previously announced takeover of Goldcorp Inc.
- Instead, Newmont submitted a joint venture proposal to Barrick that would encompass the two companies’ Nevada operations.
- Amazon has challenged grocers by pushing them to lower prices and expand their delivery options.
- Now the company’s latest plans threaten to steal sales of some of the industry’s more profitable products.
- The e-commerce giant plans to launch urban grocery stores that could offer a spectrum of goods that includes beauty products alongside food, The Wall Street Journal has reported.
- Beauty products represent a small portion of supermarket sales but tend to offer higher profits than more traditional items.
- The company aims to open dozens of locations in major cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., the Journal has reported.
- The timing of Amazon’s store development comes during a difficult period for the roughly $1 trillion food and consumer-product retail sector, which already deals with low margins and extreme competition.
- Grocers have been struggling to keep shoppers coming to their stores, while Amazon’s quick, low-cost delivery has eaten into sales of shelf-stable goods and bulky items sold at supermarkets, market analysis shows.
Biogen Buys Gene Therapy for Rare Eye Disease
- All-cash purchase of Nightstar accelerates Biogen’s entry into the “emerging growth area” of eye diseases.
- The all-cash deal, which values Nightstar at around $877 million, hands Biogen a gene therapy for choroideremia, a rare, inherited eye disease that leads to blindness.
- Nightstar, which was founded in 2013 based on research at the University of Oxford, also has several earlier-stage gene therapies in its pipeline, all aimed at rare inherited eye disorders.
Steven Spielberg is trying to change the rules so Netflix can’t win an Oscar
- Netflix responded to criticism over its inclusion in the Oscars by saying its streaming platform has made movies more accessible.
- The company’s original production “Roma” was nominated for 10 Academy Awards this year and won three. It was widely tipped to win the best picture award but lost out to “Green Book.”
- Netflix’s inclusion in the awards has come under fire, with claims the company does not take steps to meet studio standards — such as reporting its films’ box office earnings. Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Spielberg — who is also a member of the organization that gives out the awards — is an outspoken critic of Netflix’s nominations.
- According to IndieWire, he’s attempting to convince the rest of The Academy to shut the streaming giant’s movies out of the Oscars when it meets next month.
Apple has more open software jobs than hardware jobs for the first time in years
- Apple is hiring more software engineers than hardware engineers for the first time in years, according to data from Thinknum.
- This reflects Apple’s new focus on its services business.
- Apple is expected to introduce its new streaming TV service and a subscription news service at an event reportedly set for March 25.
As Gen Z shuns traditional media, content creators adapt and bring television and movies where they live — YouTube
- The members of Gen Z have all but abandoned traditional television viewing, opting to consume shows, movies and other digital content on their phones, tablets and laptops.
- The average member of Gen Z spends about 3.4 hours a day online watching videos.
- This shift has led content producers to go where Gen Z lives — YouTube.
- This generation, the oldest of which is around 22, grew up with the internet, hand-held devices and social media. They do not remember a time when these things did not exist.
Tesla to unveil Model Y SUV on March 14
- Tesla will unveil its Model Y SUV on March 14, CEO Elon Musk said in a series of tweets Sunday.
- Musk said that the SUV would cost 10 percent more than Tesla’s Model 3 sedan and have “slightly less range” for the same battery.
Square Inc. Co-Founder Tristan O’Tierney Dies at 35
- Square Inc. co-founder Tristan O’Tierney died on Feb. 23, his mother, Pamela Tierney, said on Saturday. He was 35.
- “I don’t have an official diagnosis,” she said by phone, adding that it was probably related to his addiction.
- A doctor called her to say Tristan had kidney failure and was under cardiac arrest, she said.
- A former engineer at Yahoo and Apple Inc., O’Tierney was hired to develop Square’s original mobile payment app in 2009 and stayed until 2013, when he left the San Francisco company co-founded by Twitter Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey.
SpaceX Crew Capsule, With a Dummy Astronaut, Docks with Space Station
- A new-generation SpaceX capsule autonomously docked with the international space station on Sunday, in a successful test of computers and maneuvering systems deemed essential to carry U.S. astronauts on future missions.
- The high-profile mission was considered historic even before the gumdrop-shaped vehicle linked up with the station about 250 miles above the Earth.
- In large part, it aims to test navigational equipment, automated flight-control features and laser-assisted positioning hardware.
- The voyage marks the first time since 2011, when the NASA retired its space shuttle fleet, that a spacecraft designed and built in the U.S. to carry people has been blasted into orbit.
- Additional testing will be done before the Crew Dragon’s scheduled splash down in the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday.
Ted Baker CEO Resigns After Misconduct Probe
- British fashion retailer Ted Baker said its founder and chief executive has resigned with immediate effect following an investigation into his alleged misconduct.
- Ray Kelvin took a voluntary leave of absence from his role as CEO in December after staff accused him of inappropriate behavior, including forced hugs.
US ECONOMY & POLITICS
U.S., China Close in on Trade Deal
- Both countries could lift some tariffs imposed last year, and Beijing would agree to ease restrictions on American products.
- As part of a deal, China is pledging to help level the playing field, including speeding up the timetable for removing foreign–ownership limitations on car ventures and reducing tariffs on imported vehicles to below the current auto tariff of 15%.
- China is also planning to cut the value-added tax (VAT) rate that covers the manufacturing sector by 3 percentage points as part of measures to support the slowing economy.
- Beijing would also step up purchases of U.S. goods. One of the sweeteners would be an $18 billion natural-gas purchase from Cheniere Energy Inc.
U.S. 2018 Construction Spending Rises by Least in Seven Years
- The value of construction put in place increased 4.1 percent in 2018 to $1.3 trillion, according to a Commerce Department report Monday that was delayed by the government shutdown.
- For December, spending declined 0.6 percent from the prior month, missing forecasts for a 0.1 percent gain.
- The full-year figure reflected a 3.3 percent increase in private residential construction that was the smallest advance since 2011.
- On the positive side, state and local outlays jumped 7.1 percent, the most since 2007.
Trump Says Dollar Too Strong in Renewed Criticism of Powell
- President Donald Trump said Saturday that the U.S. dollar is too strong and took a swipe at Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell as someone who “likes raising interest rates.”
- “I want a strong dollar but I want a dollar that does great for our country, not a dollar that’s so strong that it makes it prohibitive for us to do business with other nations and take their business,” Trump said Saturday.
Mueller’s Final Report Will Ignite an Epic War Over Disclosure
- When Special Counsel Robert Mueller closes up shop and submits his long-awaited final report — possibly within days — it will be only the start of an explosive chain of events.
- There will be a struggle in Congress, on cable TV and social media and probably in the courts over how much must be disclosed from what will begin as a secret report to Attorney General William Barr.
- Justice Department regulations call for a special counsel to provide a final report to the attorney general, who decides what to tell Congress and make public.
EUROPE & WORLD
Huawei CFO suing Canada over December arrest
- Meng’s lawyers say the manner in which officers obtained evidence and information from her constituted serious violations of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- The suit alleges Canadian Border Services Agency officers unlawfully subjected Meng to detention, search and interrogation to extract evidence from her before she was arrested.
- Meng, who is out on bail, is due to appear in a Vancouver court at 10 a.m. PST (1800 GMT) on Wednesday, when a date will be set for her extradition hearing.
- The Canadian government approved her extradition proceedings on Friday.
Consumers Still in a Rut as Soft Economy Adds to Trudeau’s Woes
- The bad news just keeps coming for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
- Confidence among consumers remains sluggish — well below the 12-month average on widespread expectations the economy will stagnate or weaken, telephone polling shows.
- Canadians are more confident in their job security than they have been in years, but that hasn’t extended into better personal finances or optimism about the housing market.
- Trudeau is in an election year and Canada’s economy is stumbling, as data released Friday showed that gross domestic product essentially stalled last quarter.
Philip Morris Cuts 2019 Outlook After Quebec Court’s Ruling
- The Canadian units of BAT, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco Inc. were ordered Friday to pay damages of about C$17 billion ($12.8 billion) after losing an appeal of class actions filed by Quebec smokers.
- Philip Morris reduced its 2019 profit forecast by 9 cents, citing the decision.
- The company also warned that the “ultimate liability may differ significantly” from the amount in the ruling, because of a “significant lack of clarity” on the number of claimants and how their claims are being processed.
German Car Industry to Invest $45 Billion in Electric Vehicles
- The plan is pivotal to reach ambitious goals in the European Union to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and requires the expansion of charging infrastructure.
- In addition, the German automakers are expected to spend 18 billion euros on connected and self–driving cars.
- Daimler and BMW last month announced they’d cooperate on self-driving vehicles, days after detailing plans to turn their merged car-sharing operations into a global player. Volkswagen and Ford Motor Co. have agreed to cooperate on vans, a partnership that may extend to autonomous vehicles in future.
Guaido Heads for Caracas and a Showdown with Maduro
- Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido is bound for Caracas and confrontation. When he arrives to continue his drive to unseat strongman President Nicolas Maduro, he risks arrest.
- Guaido, who leads the opposition-dominated National Assembly, called on supporters to take to the streets on today’s carnival holiday to demand that Maduro step down.
Facebook Sues Chinese Companies for Creating Fake Accounts
- Facebook sued four companies and three people based in China for allegedly creating and selling fake online accounts, likes and followers that were used for misinformation campaigns and other scams.
- The four companies named as defendants in the China suit are 9 Xiu Network Science and Technology (Shenzhen) Co., 9 Xiu Feishu Science and Technology Co., 9 Xiufei Book Technology Co., and Home Network (Fujian) Technology Co.
- In China, Facebook’s social network has been blocked since 2009, which has pushed the company to pursue other avenues to gain entree into the country.
- Starting in 2017, the companies marketed and sold fake accounts in large quantities through six websites with similar domain names to Facebook such as myfacebook.cc and 9xiufacebook.com, according to the complaint filed Friday in San Francisco federal court.
- Facebook seeks to bar the companies from infringing on its trademarks and using domain names related to Facebook, a practice known as cybersquatting.
- Fake accounts were also created on other platforms including Amazon, Apple, Google and Twitter, according to the suit.
Volvo to cut top speed on vehicles
- Volvo is cutting the top speed for all of its new models to 112 miles per hour from 130 mph starting next year.
- The move is part of the Swedish automaker’s Vision 2020 initiative to eliminate fatalities or serious injuries by next year.
- Safety advocates are increasingly warning higher speeds are a factor behind traffic accidents and fatalities staying at high levels.
TODAY in HISTORY
- The Constitution of the United States went into effect. 1789
- Vermont became the 14th state in the United States. 1791
- Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as president. 1861
- Jeannette Rankin took her seat as the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. 1917
- Frances Perkins, appointed Secretary of Labor, became first woman to serve in the Cabinet. 1933
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