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BOJ stuns markets with negative interest rate surprise

TOKYO The Bank of Japan unexpectedly cut a benchmark interest rate below zero on Friday, stunning investors with a move aimed at shielding the country’s sluggish economy from volatile markets and slowing global growth.

Asian shares jumped, the yen fell and sovereign bonds rallied after the BOJ said it would charge for excess reserves parked with the institution, an aggressive policy pioneered by the European Central Bank (ECB).

“The BOJ will cut the interest rate further into negative territory if judged as necessary,” the bank said in a statement announcing the decision.

BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda had said as recently as last week that the bank was not thinking of adopting a negative interest rate policy for now, telling the Japanese parliament that further easing would likely take the form of an expansion of its massive asset-buying program.

But in a 5-4 vote, the BOJ’s policy board decided to charge a 0.1 percent interest on current accounts that financial institutions hold with it.

The central bank said the move was aimed at forestalling the risk of global financial turbulence hurting business confidence and reviving the “deflationary mindset” it is striving to wipe out with aggressive money printing.

“Kuroda had been saying that he didn’t think something like this would help so it is a bit surprising and it’s clear the market has been surprised by it,” said Nicholas Smith, a strategist at CLSA based in Tokyo.

“The banking sector is getting smoked right now, though everything else seems to be doing just fine. This has obviously had a big effect on inflation and on inflation expectations.”

Several European central banks have cut key rates below zero, and the European Central Bank became the first major central bank to venture into negative territory in June 2014.


The BOJ maintained its pledge to expand base money at an annual pace of 80 trillion yen ($675 billion) via aggressive purchases of Japanese government bonds (JGBs) and risky assets conducted under its quantitative and qualitative easing (QQE) program.

Markets have been split on whether the central bank would ease policy as slumping oil costs and soft consumer spending have ground inflation to a halt, knocking price growth further away from the BOJ’s ambitious 2 percent target.

In a quarterly review of its forecasts released on Friday, the BOJ cut its core consumer inflation forecast for the coming fiscal year beginning in April to 0.8 percent from 1.4 percent projected three months ago.

However, it expects consumer inflation to accelerate to 1.8 percent in the fiscal year ending in March 2018, taking into account the effect of Friday’s measures.

Friday’s surprise interest rate decision came in the wake of data that showed household spending and output slumped in December, underscoring the fragile nature of Japan’s recovery.

Analysts point out that the bank’s room for further maneuver with its QQE program was limited because it was quite simply running out of assets to buy.

“I think this is a regime change and the BOJ’s main policy tool is now negative interest rates,” said Daiju Aoki, an economist at UBS Securities in Tokyo. “This shows that the ability to buy more JGBs is limited.” Consumer inflation was just 0.1 percent in the year to December, invigorating expectations that the BOJ would eventually have to deliver further stimulus.

Many BOJ policymakers have been wary of using their diminishing policy tools to counter what they see as factors beyond their control, such as volatile financial markets and China’s economic slowdown.

But pessimists on the BOJ board have worried that slumping Tokyo stocks may discourage firms from boosting capital expenditure, threatening the positive momentum the BOJ is trying to create with its heavy money printing.

(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Additional reporting by Stanley White, Tetsushi Kajimoto, Kaori Kaneko and Joshua Hunt; Writing by Alex Richardson; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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U.S. economy likely hit a speed bump in fourth quarter

WASHINGTON U.S. economic growth likely braked sharply in the fourth quarter as businesses doubled down on efforts to reduce an inventory glut and unseasonably mild weather cut into consumer spending on utilities and apparel.

Gross domestic product probably rose at a 0.8 percent annual rate, according to a Reuters survey of economists, also as a strong dollar and tepid global demand hurt exports, and lower oil prices continued to undercut investment by energy firms.

The economy grew at a 2 percent pace in the third quarter. Risks to the fourth-quarter GDP forecast are tilted to the downside after a report on Thursday showed a collapse in new orders for long-lasting manufactured goods in December.

But some of the impediments to growth – inventories and mild temperatures – are temporary and the economy is expected to snap back in the first quarter. Nevertheless, the U.S. Commerce Department’s advance fourth-quarter GDP report, to be released on Friday at 08:30 a.m. could spark a fresh wave of selling on the stock market, which has been roiled by fears of anemic growth in both the United States and China.

“Given the state of financial markets, fourth-quarter GDP could fuel fears that the expansion is unraveling. This would be misguided as inventories will be a significant weight and trade will also be drag,” said Ryan Sweet, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in Westchester, Pennsylvania.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday acknowledged that growth “slowed late last year,” but also noted that “labor market conditions improved further.” The Fed, the U.S. central bank, raised interest rates in December for the first time since June 2006.

Though the Fed has not ruled another hike in March, financial markets volatility could see that delayed until June.

“We remain unconvinced that (the slowdown) will develop into a more serious economic downturn,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics in Toronto.

“We have already seen a number of temporary dips in GDP growth during this expansion. Nevertheless, each time GDP growth accelerated again in the following quarter and there is no reason to believe this time will be any different.”


In the fourth quarter, businesses are forecast to have accumulated between $55 billion and $65.9 billion worth of inventory, down from $85.5 billion in the third quarter. Economists estimate the small inventory build will slice off at least one percentage point from the first estimate of fourth-quarter GDP growth.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, is forecast to have increased at around a 1.7 percent rate. That would be a big step-down from the 3.0 percent pace notched in the third quarter.

Unusually mild weather hurt sales of winter apparel in December and undermined demand for heating through the quarter.

With gasoline prices around $2 per gallon, a tightening labor market gradually lifting wages and house prices boosting household wealth, economists believe the slowdown in consumer spending will be short-lived.

“The U.S. consumer is still in a good position to accelerate spending in the quarters ahead,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco.

The dollar, which has gained 11 percent against the currencies of the United States’ trading partners since last January, likely remained a drag on exports, leading to a trade deficit that probably subtracted about half a percentage point from GDP growth in the fourth quarter.

The downturn in energy sector investment probably put more pressure on business spending on nonresidential structures. Oil prices have dropped more than 60 percent since mid-2014, forcing oil field companies such as Schlumberger (SLB.N) and Halliburton (HAL.N) to slash their capital spending budgets.

With consumer spending softening, inflation likely retreated in the fourth quarter. A price index in the GDP report that strips out food and energy costs is expected to have increased at a 0.7 percent rate, slowing from a 1.3 percent pace in the third quarter.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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China shares rally, Beijing reassures on yuan

SHANGHAI Chinese share markets bounced higher on Friday morning at the end of a week of sudden falls, while Beijing tried to reassure the world it would not use a lower yuan to wage a trade war.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was up 2 percent at the midsession interval, while the CSI300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen added 2.3 percent.

Investors remain wary, however, as the indexes have a habit of sliding late in the session, often for no apparent reason, and have lost about 23 percent this month or 12 trillion yuan ($1.8 trillion).

More broadly, China’s economic growth, which slowed to a 25-year low last year and has put pressure on the yuan currency as capital flows out of the country, is giving investors pause.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) did its part to keep the banking system flush with cash, pumping out a huge 690 billion yuan this week to avoid a liquidity crunch ahead of the Lunar New Year celebrations beginning in early February.

Late on Thursday, the central bank announced it would conduct more liquidity operations than usual between Jan. 29 and Feb. 19 to keep the system awash with cash through the holiday period.

The PBOC also seems to have succeeded in calming market concerns about an imminent devaluation in the yuan, though many analysts still suspect the currency will be allowed to trickle lower over time.

The central bank held the yuan’s daily midpoint fixing steady at 6.5516 per dollar on Friday, dimming memories of the surprisingly lower fix that so spooked markets early in the month.

In the latest move to stem pressure on the currency from capital flight, the authorities on Thursday asked several domestic funds to postpone issuing new outbound investment products, sources told Reuters.

Premier Li Keqiang also phoned International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde to pledge Beijing would keep the yuan “basically stable” and improve communication with financial markets on the currency.

“The Chinese government has no intention to promote exports through currency depreciation, nor it will launch a trade war,” Li told Lagarde in the call, according to remarks published on a central government website.

Likewise, speculation that Hong Kong might be forced to give up its peg to the U.S. dollar has waned in recent days.

Ratings agency Moody’s on Friday said it believed Hong Kong’s large fiscal and foreign-exchange reserves would allow policy makers to handle any pressure on the peg.

(Writing by Wayne Cole and Will Waterman; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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Oil futures set for second weekly gain on supply cut talk

SEOUL Global benchmark Brent crude futures rose on Friday, moving nearly 6.5 percent higher so far this week and set for a second weekly gain, spurred by hopes of a deal among oil-producing countries to tackle a growing supply glut.

Brent futures LCOc1 have jumped over 25 percent since hitting an intraday low of $27.10 a barrel on Jan. 20 and up to its Jan. 28 high of $35.84.

Brent had risen 35 cents to $34.24 a barrel by 0429 GMT, after ending up 79 cents, or 2.4 percent, at $33.89 on Thursday, and is heading for its fourth straight session of gains.

U.S. crude CLc1 climbed 36 cents to $33.58 a barrel, having settled up 92 cents, or 2.9 percent, at $33.22 on Thursday. U.S. crude is also set for a 4.6 percent weekly gain.

“Despite the unlikely scenario of supply cutbacks in the oil market, prices have found some support above $30 a barrel. We believe this basis is fragile, with fundamentals expected to weaken in the coming weeks,” ANZ said on Friday.

“The likelihood of an agreement between producers is extremely low. In the absence of a supply cut, there is further downside risk to prices in the short term.”

Iran’s oil exports are set to rise more than a fifth in January and February from last year’s daily average, data from a source with knowledge of its loading schedules shows, revealing how Tehran is ramping up sales after the lifting of sanctions.

Brent futures rallied as much as 8.2 percent after Russia said on Thursday that OPEC’s largest producer Saudi Arabia had proposed oil production cuts of up to 5 percent in what would be the first global deal in over a decade to help clear a glut of crude and prop up sinking prices.

“We remain highly skeptical that such a meeting will result in credible cuts in supply; thus, we see this as nothing more than an attempt to shift market sentiment, and we do not expect that it will change the physical market imbalance,” Barclays said Thursday, referring to meetings between OPEC members and Russia.

“The price path implied by our forecasts, of Brent trading less than $40 a barrel for at least two quarters, is required for the balancing process to take place, paving the way for a more sustainable increase in prices.”

London-based capital market analysts Edison Investment Research has reduced its 2016 oil price forecast to $40 a barrel from $60.

“The oil markets have been in turmoil now for 16 months, with January 2016 trading the most tumultuous we have seen in years,” said Edison analyst Ian McLelland.

Oil volatility has climbed to its highest since 2009 as traders try to price in the uncertainty around supply cuts. At-the-money implied volatility for both WTI and Brent has surged this week. Implied volatility is a measure of expectations for future market price turbulence.

Outright close-to-close price volatility is also at 2008/2009 levels.

(Reporting by Meeyoung Cho; Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein in Singapore; Editing by Joseph Radford and Christian Schmollinger)

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Asia stocks jump, yen weakens as BOJ stuns with negative rates

SYDNEY Asian shares jumped on Friday and the yen swooned after the Bank of Japan stunned markets by adopting negative interest rates in its boldest step yet to reinflate the long-languishing economy.

The yen fell across the board and sovereign bonds rallied after Japan’s central bank said it would charge 0.1 percent for excess reserves parked with the institution, an aggressive policy pioneered by the European Central Bank.

It also said rates could go even more negative if needed to ensure inflation gravitated to its long-held, and often missed, target of 2 percent.

The move came as a major surprise to investors, who had thought policy makers too cautious to ever adopt such radical measures. The reaction was immediate with the dollar surging over two yen to 121.14 JPY=.

The dollar was up 0.44 percent against a basket of currencies .DXY, while the euro EUR= eased back to $1.0911 EUR=.

Japan’s Nikkei share index .N225 extended early gains to rise 3.4 percent, and lifted bourses across the region. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS jumped 1.3 percent.

The Shanghai benchmark .SSEC rose 2.0 percent, attempting to bounce from steep losses early in the week.

The buying spread to U.S. debt markets as investors wagered the BOJ decision would make it even harder for the Federal Reserve to hike rates four times this year, as originally envisioned by its policy board.

Fed fund futures 0#FF: rose to imply a rate of 51 basis points by year end, compared to 90 basis points a month ago. Futures for U.S. 10-year bonds 0#TZY: rose 5 ticks.

The promise of extra global stimulus gave an added fillip to oil, which had already risen for three sessions on talk of a possible deal to pare back excess supply.

U.S. crude CLc1 was up a further 35 cents at $33.55 per barrel, while Brent futures LCOc1 firmed 36 cents to $34.25.

The semblance of stability in oil combined with some solid company results to lift Wall Street. The Dow .DJI gained 0.79 percent, while the SP 500 .SPX added 0.55 percent and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC 0.86 percent.

Facebook (FB.O) surged 15.5 percent in its biggest one-day leap since 2013 after smashing expectations, while Alphabet (GOOGL.O) climbed 4.28 percent.

Microsoft (MSFT.O) rose 4.5 percent in late trading after beating forecasts, but Amazon (AMZN.O) slumped 12 percent as profits missed analysts’ estimates by a wide margin.

(Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Sam Holmes and Kim Coghill)

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Amazon shares plunge as record profit still misses estimates Inc posted its most profitable quarter ever on Thursday but the world’s No. 1 online retailer still managed to disappoint Wall Street by badly missing estimates, sending its shares down more than 13 percent in after-hours trading.

The results, as well as the company’s determination to invest more in new areas and its extremely low profit margins, brought back perennial questions for investors about the company’s ability to consistently earn money.

“By comparative retail standards, Amazon’s level of profitability is still painfully weak,” said Neil Saunders, head of retail analyst firm Conlumino, who is still positive on Amazon’s prospects. “For every dollar the company takes, it makes just 0.75 of a cent in profit.”

Amazon’s net profit for the fourth quarter, which includes the holiday shopping season, rose to $482 million, or $1.00 per share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31, up from $214 million, or 45 cents per share, a year earlier.

That figure was held back by rising operating costs. It was well below analysts’ average forecast of $1.56 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company’s shares plunged 13 percent to $551.50 after hours on Thursday, following a 9 percent increase in regular trading. They are still up 80 percent over the past 12 months.

Amazon notched its third consecutive profitable quarter for the first time since 2012, but it still left Wall Street wanting more.

“The growth story that investors were looking for… clearly Amazon has not been able to live up to the hype,” said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital.

Net sales rose 21.8 percent to $35.75 billion, but missed analysts’ expectations of $35.93 billion.

Excluding a $1.2 billion unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, net sales increased 26 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2014.

Amazon Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky defended the company’s results on Thursday, adding that foreign exchange rates had an unexpectedly large impact, but overall the company had “a very strong quarter and a strong year.”

Net sales from its cloud services business, Amazon Web Services, rose 69.4 percent to $2.41 billion, compared with a growth of more than 78 percent in the third quarter. AWS continues to be the fastest growing division within Amazon.

The company’s total operating expenses rose more than 20 percent to $34.64 billion in the fourth quarter.

Olsavsky reiterated Amazon’s expectation to make continued investments in its cloud division and expand its offering for Prime members with faster delivery and more original video content.

“The investments will ebb and flow over time, but our focus on cost reductions and improvement on customer experience will be constant,” he said.

Amazon has historically sacrificed profit, instead doubling down on investment in growth areas like Prime and AWS. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has called these “big bets” that are the cornerstone of the online retailer’s growth.

As a sign of its underlying growth, the Seattle-based company now employs 230,800 staff, many of them in its warehouses, up 50 percent from 154,100 a year ago.

Amazon’s net shipping costs surged 37 percent in the fourth quarter as it handles more deliveries for its third-party merchants. The company said the number of sellers using the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program grew by more than 50 percent last year.

Amazon has been spending on rolling out several new services for members of its $99-a-year Prime loyalty program, including one-hour delivery and original TV programming, to attract customers in a highly competitive online shopping market.

The company said on Thursday worldwide paid Prime subscribers grew 51 percent. Amazon’s Prime program is estimated by some analysts to have around 50 million members worldwide.

Amazon forecast sales for the first quarter of between $26.5 billion and $29 billion, or up between 17 percent and 28 percent compared to the same quarter last year. It forecast operating income between $100 million and $700 million, compared to $255 million in the first quarter last year.

Analysts had forecast $27.6 billion in sales and $400.3 million in profit.

“The stock is getting killed because the Street is too high on next year,” said Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter.

(Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey, Stephen R. Trousdale and Bill Rigby)

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Microsoft beats Wall Street view on high demand for cloud products

Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) reported quarterly revenue and profit that beat analysts’ expectations, driven by aggressive cost cutting and growing demand for its cloud products and services.

Chief Executive Satya Nadella has focussed on cloud services and mobile applications on slower growth in its traditional software business. Companies moving much of their information technology off premises, part of the cloud-computing trend, proved a bright spot.

“The enterprise cloud opportunity is massive, larger than any market we have ever participated in,” Nadella said in a conference call.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft’s stock had climbed more than 26 percent in the past 12 months to $52.06 at Thursday’s close, even as the broader market has dropped 5 percent. The shares rose 3 percent in after-hours trading.

Revenue from the “intelligent cloud” business, which includes products such as its Azure cloud infrastructure and services business along with other noncloud products such as traditional servers, rose 5 percent to $6.3 billion.

Perhaps a better indicator of its cloud strength is what the company calls its combined cloud business, on track for $9.4 billion in annual revenue, the company said. That measure, which includes Azure plus other businesses like Office 365, is up 15 percent from the $8.2 billion revenue it estimated last quarter.

“They nailed the cloud,” said Matt Howard, a venture capitalist at Norwest Ventures who monitors Microsoft closely.

Total revenue, however, fell 10.1 percent to $23.80 billion, squeezed by a strong dollar as well as a weak personal computer market that has reduced demand for Microsoft’s Windows operating system. On an adjusted basis, revenue fell to $25.69 billion but beat analysts’ estimates.

Microsoft generates more than half of its revenue from outside the United States.

Revenue in the business that includes Windows fell 5 percent to $12.66 billion. Windows revenue closely tracks sales of personal computers, which fell 10.6 percent globally in the December quarter from a year earlier, according to research firm IDC.

IDC said business should improve later this year as companies that had delayed replacing machines before upgrading to Windows 10 make the switch. Microsoft released Windows 10 in July.

Microsoft’s net income fell to $5 billion, or 62 cents per share, in its second-quarter ended Dec. 31 from $5.86 billion, or 71 cents per share, a year earlier. (

Excluding items, the company earned 78 cents per share.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 71 cents per share and revenue of $25.26 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

(Reporting by Abhirup Roy in Bengaluru and Sarah McBride in San Francisco; Editing by Ted Kerr, Bernard Orr)

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Fed owns up to global risks in statement shift

SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON In the U.S. Federal Reserve’s arsenal of tools the characterization of economic risks is heavy artillery, used to flag the moments when major events like the 2003 Iraq war or the near crack-up of the euro zone in 2011 make forecasting even trickier than usual.

The U.S. central bank has now put the world on notice that the slide in oil prices and sharp slowdown in global growth may rank as one of those very shocks, capable of changing the Fed’s bias from implying a steady set of future rate hikes to one pointing to an extended pause or even a rate cut driven by stubbornly low inflation.

Coming just a month after it began hiking rates for the first time since the financial crisis, the Fed’s decision to pull the risk assessment altogether from its statement this week is “a U.S. recession insurance policy,” said Bank of the West Chief Economist Scott Anderson. It “opens up the door for a change in the balance of risks…and even an interest rate hike reversal at some point, should the economic and financial outlook turn out to be particularly nasty.”

It is also a capitulation of sorts, a subtle acknowledgement that events Fed officials have insisted for a year or more would prove of passing importance may be pulling the country toward a new slump. When it raised rates in December, the Fed described risks to the United States as “balanced,” which cleared the way for the hike by positing that the economy was just as likely to outperform the Fed’s expectations as to do worse.

In place of that sanguine view, the Fed in its January statement said it was “closely monitoring” global developments to better understand how they may affect the “balance of risks” faced by the United States. Of late those global developments have been routinely negative, depressing U.S. inflation, dragging on the real economy by holding down exports, and, of late, nipping at household wealth by triggering sharp drops in the stock market.

All of that points to the downside, and economists honed in on the omission of the risk assessment as perhaps the key change in a statement that held interest rates steady and characterized the economy as continuing to grow and produce jobs.

It doesn’t take a second rate hike as early as March off the table. Economists polled by Reuters still expect three rate hikes this year, just one less than the Fed saw last December before the plunging price of oil raised questions about how quickly inflation could recover toward the Fed’s 2-percent target. Even traders, who have long been expecting an even slower pace of tightening, are still pricing in at least one rate hike by the end of the year.

But Fed policymakers have now told markets: don’t be too sure, because we aren’t. The change comes after two years of saying the risks to the outlook for inflation and the labor market were nearly balanced, or actually so. The Fed used similar tweaks to the risk assessment language to signal its uncertainty around the start of the 2003 Iraq war, and to note how the rise in global financial stress in 2011 caused by the euro crisis had clouded the U.S. outlook.

“We think this language buys them time,” JP Morgan economist Michael Feroli said in a note to clients. “(T)his statement leaves a March move on the table, but it also highlights that the bar is fairly high for such a move.”

To Tim Duy, a University of Oregon professor who tracks Fed policy closely, the removal of the balance of risks statement could have an alternate explanation: Fed Chair Janet Yellen was unable to get policy hawks and policy doves to agree if things are looking up or down.

With headwinds from slowing global growth and lower oil prices pressing down on already too-low inflation, doves like Fed Governor Lael Brainard may have argued that downside risks have increased, he said. Meanwhile, those pushing for higher rates may have pointed to stronger-than-expected jobs growth in December that may soon push the unemployment rate below the Fed’s benchmark for full employment.

Faced with that split, Duy conjectures, she decided to “ditch the sentence,” with the hope that by March the economic data will be clear enough to break the standoff.

Fed officials are barred from speaking on policy until Friday.

(Reporting and writing by Ann Saphir in San Francisco and Howard Schneider in Washington; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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Alphabet changes results format to separate Google, other bets

Hoping to provide greater clarity into the performance of its many holdings, Alphabet Inc said it would report financial results under two segments, Google and “Other Bets,” when it releases fourth-quarter earnings on Monday.

Under Google, Alphabet will report the results of its main Internet and related businesses such as search, ads, maps, YouTube, Android, Chrome and Google Play, and hardware products such as Chromecast, Chromebooks and Nexus, as well as its virtual reality offerings. (

“Other Bets” will detail Alphabet’s other businesses including Access/Google Fiber, Calico, Nest, Verily (formerly known as Google Life Sciences), GV (once known as Google Ventures), Google Capital and X, better known as Google X.

Alphabet said there would be no changes to its consolidated financial reporting but some changes would be made to how it breaks out revenue.

Investors and analysts had praised the move to the Alphabet structure as a shift toward greater transparency and fiscal discipline when it was announced in August.

It will provide investors their first detailed peek into the finances of the parts of Google outside its highly profitable search engine.

In a blog post announcing the changes, Alphabet’s chief executive, Larry Page, said the change allows the company to take the “long-term view” of its holdings and invest “at the scale of the opportunities and resources we see.”

“Fundamentally we believe this (structure) allows us more management scale, as we can run things independently that aren’t very related.”

Since the Aug. 10 announcement, Alphabet’s stock price has climbed almost 13 percent, closing at $748.30 on Thursday. In addition, the company is close to displacing Apple Inc as the most valuable U.S. tech company.

(Reporting by Deborah M. Todd in San Francisco and Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey, Stephen R. Trousdale and Leslie Adler)

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