News Archive

Trump touts expected Ford announcement on plant investments

WASHINGTON U.S. President Donald Trump touted Ford Motor Co’s (F.N) expected announcement later on Tuesday about investments and jobs at its U.S. plants, saying the automaker would be making a major investment in three Michigan facilities.

Trump said in a tweet that the anticipated announcement showed “car companies coming back to U.S. JOBS!JOBS!JOBS!” It was not immediately clear, though, whether Ford was taking new steps or acting on previously planned or announced investments.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

Article source:

AI to become main way banks interact with customers within three years: Accenture

LONDON Artificial intelligence (AI) will become the primary way banks interact with their customers within the next three years, according to three quarters of bankers surveyed by consultancy Accenture (ACN.N) in a new report.

Four in five bankers believe AI will “revolutionise” the way in which banks gather information as well as how they interact with their clients, said the Accenture Banking Technology Vision 2017 report, which surveyed more than 600 top bankers and also consulted tech industry experts and academics.

Artificial intelligence — the technology behind driverless cars, drones and voice-recognition software — is seen by the financial world as a key technology which, along with other “fintech” innovations such as blockchain, will change the face of banking in the coming years.

More than three quarters of respondents to the survey believed that AI would enable more simple user interfaces, which would help banks create a more human-like customer experience.

“The big paradox here is that people think technology will lead to banking becoming more and more automated and less and less personalized, but what we’ve seen coming through here is the view that technology will actually help banking become a lot more personalized,” said Alan McIntyre, head of the Accenture’s banking practice and co-author of the report.

“(It) will give people the impression that the bank knows them a lot better, and in many ways it will take banking back to the feeling that people had when there were more human interactions.”


The top reason for using AI for user interfaces, cited by 60 percent of the bankers surveyed, was “to gain data analysis and insights”.

But worries over the privacy of data were cited as the top challenge, with one in three also saying that the fact users often prefer human interactions could also be a problem.

The report also found that, while the number of human interactions in bank branches or over the phone was falling and would continue to do so, the quality and importance of human contact would increase.

“What you’re going to get on the bankers’ side is access to far better information, and that’s going to allow them to understand what your needs are and what the advice is that they need to give you,” said McIntyre.

Banks’ advisory arms are an area considered one of the ripest for technological innovation.

“The advisory business of banking is a very costly model, and artificial intelligence can help to manage the data and to scale the advisory model in a way that was unforeseeable before,” said Roberto Mancone, Deutsche Bank’s global head of disruptive technologies and solutions.

(Reporting by Jemima Kelly; Additional reporting by Axel Threlfall; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Article source:

Uber to end services in Denmark after three years

COPENHAGEN Ride-hailing group Uber Technologies [UBER.UL] will withdraw services in Denmark next month due to a taxi law that sets out new requirements for drivers such as mandatory fare meters, the company said on Tuesday.

Uber has faced headwinds since its app went online in Denmark in 2014 as local taxi driver unions, companies and politicians complained that Uber posed unfair competition by not meeting legal standards required for established taxi firms.

Uber, which says about 2,000 Danish drivers and 300,000 riders use its app, said in a statement that it would shut down its services in Denmark on April 18 due to the new law.

Despite the minority liberal government’s ambitions to deregulate the taxi business and accommodate new operations like Uber, the taxi law presented in February introduced measures such as mandatory fare meters and seat sensors.

“For us to operate in Denmark again the proposed regulations need to change. We will continue to work with the government in the hope that they will update their proposed regulations and enable Danes to enjoy the benefits of modern technologies like Uber,” Uber said.

Two Danish Uber driver were fined in November for violating taxi laws and in December Uber’s European division was indicted by Danish public prosecutors on charges of assisting those drivers in violating taxi laws.

Uber said it would allocate resources to help Danish Uber drivers through the shutdown process.

(Editing by Mark Potter and Edmund Blair)

Article source:

Exclusive: China’s HNA in talks to buy controlling stake in Forbes

HONG KONG Acquisitive Chinese conglomerate HNA Group is in talks to buy a controlling stake in the owner of the publisher of Forbes magazine, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Hong Kong-based investor group Integrated Whale Media Investments (IWM), which holds 95 percent of Forbes Media, is also in talks with another Chinese media firm and is scouting for more potential buyers for most or all of its stake, said one of the sources, who declined to be identified as the talks are confidential.

Reuters was not able to confirm the names of the other possible bidders.

HNA, ranked 353rd in the 2016 Fortune Global list of the world’s biggest 500 companies, has been in discussions for a couple of weeks with IWM for a deal worth at least $400 million, said the source.

IWM and Forbes Media declined to comment, while HNA didn’t respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The move comes three years after the Forbes family, which founded the American financial magazine 100 years ago, gave up its controlling stake in Forbes Media to IWM.

That transaction valued the Forbes company at $475 million, a source familiar with the transaction has said. []

HNA, which has more than $100 billion in assets, has been on an acquisition spree expanding out of its traditional business of aviation and logistics into financial, media and cultural sectors.

Late last year, HNA Capital, the group’s financial arm, bought an 80 percent stake in Beijing Lianban Caixun Cultural Media, a media firm that runs the website of influential financial publication Caijing magazine, for an undisclosed sum, records with China’s state-run corporate register showed.

“Going forward, HNA will continue to scout for good-quality domestic and international media assets,” the second source said. “HNA wants to display publications owned or invested by it on its planes, in its hotels across the world.”

The media deals are taking place at a time when Beijing is flexing its “soft power” muscles to extend its global influence.

Last year, China Central Television, the country’s largest TV network, said it would launch a new global media platform to help re-brand China overseas.

Chinese internet giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N) has also acquired or invested in a growing portfolio of media and content firms in the past few years. It snapped up Hong Kong’s flagship English-language newspaper the South China Morning Post and other media assets of SCMP Group Ltd (0583.HK) for $266 million in late 2015.

(Reporting by Julie Zhu; Additional reporting by Jessica Toonkel in New York, Michelle Price in Hong Kong and Liana B. Baker in San Francisco; Editing by Anshuman Daga and Will Waterman)

Article source:

Stocks recover, dollar off lows as markets move past Trump’s policy stumble

LONDON Stocks recovered while the dollar rose off four-month lows on Tuesday as anxiety over Donald Trump’s setback on healthcare reform gave way to tentative hopes for the U.S. president’s planned stimulus policies.

Hopes that the Trump administration will now prioritize tax reforms coupled with still-robust economic data and corporate earnings forecasts spurred some investors to look past creeping doubts about Trump’s ability to deliver on campaign promises.

Europe’s STOXX 600 rose 0.4 percent helped by financials and pharmaceutical stocks.

The dollar index against a basket of major currencies edged up 0.1 percent to 99.252 .DXY, after plumbing a trough of 98.858 overnight, its lowest level since Nov. 11.

“Risky asset markets have rebounded from yesterday’s opening low, supporting our view of the current market setback as a risk pause and not a turning point towards generally lower risk valuations,” analysts at Morgan Stanley said in a note to clients.

The Trump administration’s failure to undo Obamacare raised concern among investors that planned tax reforms face a rockier road though Congress. The White House said it would take the lead in crafting legislation to overhaul the tax code, adding: “We’re going to work with Congress on this.”

Morgan Stanley said that given some of the savings that were to come from replacing Obamacare would be lost, the upcoming tax reform may turn out to be a smaller package or result in a higher fiscal deficit.

U.S. stock futures ESc1 were up 0.1 percent.

The dollar steadied after its worst week since Trump’s election after talk of more rises in Federal Reserve interest rates this year.

“Clearly we shouldn’t forget we are going to see at least two more hikes by the Fed this year and that there is still the potential for the next one to be pulled forward to June,” said CIBC strategist Jeremy Stretch.

Sterling GBP= edged up a notch, trading within a narrow range as Britain prepared to start formal divorce proceedings with the European Union on Wednesday.

In emerging markets, the South African rand and government bonds extended losses after Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was ordered home by the president, triggering speculation of an imminent cabinet reshuffle.

Recent weakness in the dollar underpinned crude oil prices though persistent worries about oversupply kept gains in check.

Prices for front-month Brent crude futures LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil, were up 0.6 percent. In the United States, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 rose 0.7 percent.

(Additional reporting by Patrick Graham; editing by Richard Lough)

Article source:

All aboard: American Airlines takes $200 million stake in China Southern

HONG KONG/SHANGHAI China Southern Airlines Co Ltd (1055.HK)(600029.SS) said on Tuesday it will sell a small stake to American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O) in a $200 million deal that will give the carriers better access to the world’s two largest travel markets.

China Southern will issue new shares worth HK$1.55 billion ($199.6 million) to American Airlines, making American the second U.S. carrier to own part of a Chinese airline after Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) bought 3.55 percent of China Eastern Airlines Corp 6000115.SS (0670.HK) for $450 million in 2015.

It also means China’s three biggest airlines now have tie-ups with foreign airlines, something Beijing has encouraged as a way to boost the sector’s global competitiveness. Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific (0293.HK) and Chinese flag carrier Air China (601111.SS) (0753.HK) purchased stakes in each other in 2006.

“We’re pleased to begin this relationship to better connect two of the world’s largest aviation markets and leading economies,” China Southern Chairman Wang Chengshun said in a statement issued by American Airlines.

In a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange, China Southern said it would issue 270.61 million Hong Kong-listed H-shares, representing 2.68 percent of the enlarged share capital of the airline. The shares would be issued at HK$5.74 apiece, or a 4.6 percent premium to the previous close.

The carrier’s mainland-listed shares, which resumed trading after a three-day suspension, jumped as much as 4.3 percent in early trading to their highest price in 7-1/2 months.

Its Hong Kong-listed shares, which opened higher, were down 2.37 percent by 0641 GMT at HK$5.36, lower than the price of the newly issued shares.

“We are two of the biggest carriers in the world and our networks are highly complementary,” American Airlines President Robert Isom said in the statement.


For American Airlines, the deal could widen access to China, one of the biggest sources of tourists to the United States, and will help it compete with rival Delta, which has invested in foreign carriers in Mexico, Brazil and Britain in recent years.

It said the two carriers expected to begin codeshare and interline agreements later this year that would allow customers to travel to more than 70 destinations beyond Beijing and Shanghai, and for China Southern’s customers to access almost 80 destinations beyond Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.

Guangzhou-based China Southern, the country’s biggest airline in terms of passenger numbers, said the deal would help it “achieve the strategic goal of building a world-class aviation industry group”.

The airlines also could increase cooperation in other areas including staffing, sales, passenger loyalty programs and sharing airport facilities, it said.

Analysts, however, said they expected the deal to have little impact on the airlines’ operations beyond closer cooperation.

“It makes sense to partner with another foreign airline,” said Daiwa Capital Markets analyst Kelvin Lau, citing Air China and China Eastern’s deals.

“But … because the stakeholding is pretty small, I don’t think it will make any material changes in terms of management.”

Beijing has vowed to shake up Chinese airlines by implementing mixed-ownership reforms and introducing private capital and strategic investment into its state-owned enterprises to improve efficiency and competitiveness.

Chinese airlines have been aggressively expanding their fleet and international routes as they seek to capitalize on strong growth in outbound Chinese travel that has far outpaced tourism at home.

(Reporting by Donny Kwok in HONG KONG, John Ruwitch and Brenda Goh in SHANGHAI; Editing by Stephen Coates)

Article source:

Wall Street off as Trump agenda weighed; Dow down for eighth day

The SP 500 cut earlier losses on Monday to end slightly lower, while the Dow declined for an eighth straight session, as investors assessed how the defeat of President Donald Trump’s first major legislative action would impact the rest of his agenda.

With stocks soaring to record highs after Trump’s election, investors are concerned about the fate of his economic plan, including tax reform and infrastructure spending. Congressional Republicans pulled their healthcare overhaul bill on Friday after failing to gather enough votes.

But some analysts and investors are hopeful the healthcare bill’s failure will pave the way for quicker action on legislation deemed desirable by investors, namely tax reform.

“Tax legislation done right and done quickly is a big stimulant to earnings and the market,” said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“The idea that tax legislation will come much quicker than it would have if the healthcare legislation passed is positive, and I think people are grasping onto that as a reason to hang on and buy more,” Tuz said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 45.74 points, or 0.22 percent, to 20,550.98, the SP 500 .SPX lost 2.39 points, or 0.10 percent, to 2,341.59 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 11.64 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,840.37.

The Dow’s eighth straight decline marked its longest such streak in nearly six years.

The benchmark SP 500 had fallen as much as 0.9 percent initially on Monday and briefly dropped below its 50-day moving average for the first time since just after the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election.

The SP 500 has climbed 9.4 percent since Trump’s election, but the rally has stalled recently.

“What we have seen the last three years, every time there’s a drastic down move, the market has been so resilient,” said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa. “It’s just incredible what type of short-term memory this U.S. market has and the buying appetite global investors have for the U.S. market.”

The telecoms sector .SPLRCL fell 0.7 percent while financial shares .SPSY dropped 0.5 percent.

Healthcare .SPXHC climbed 0.4 percent, helped by hospital stocks after the healthcare bill’s failure.

In corporate news, Snap Inc (SNAP.N) shares jumped 4.8 percent after several of the Snapchat owner’s IPO underwriters gave it “buy” ratings.

About 6.3 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, below the 7.1 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.00-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.29-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The SP 500 posted 11 new 52-week highs and 7 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 62 new highs and 54 new lows.

(Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Nick Zieminski)

Article source:

Snap surges after IPO banks give flurry of ‘buy’ ratings

Shares of Snap Inc jumped nearly 5 percent on Monday after several of the Snapchat owner’s IPO underwriters handed it badly needed “buy” ratings.

Snap’s listing on March 1 was the largest by a technology firm in three years but trading has been volatile, with many investors critical of decelerating user growth. Snap has warned it may never become profitable.

Analysts unrelated to the IPO had in recent weeks mostly assigned neutral or negative ratings to Snap, making it one of the worst-rated stocks on Wall Street.

But on Monday, at least eight banks involved in Snap’s IPO gave it positive ratings, including Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. Its stock rose 4.79 percent to end at $23.83.

That left Snap up 37 percent from its $17 initial public offer price, but still down more than $3 from its peak in its second day of trading.

The Los Angeles-based company’s app, which allows users to share short-lived messages and pictures, is popular with young people. But it faces intense competition from larger rivals like Facebook Inc.

Like many technology companies popular with consumers, including Facebook and Alibaba, Snap’s IPO was a hit with non-professional investors.

TD Ameritrade said Snap accounted for 7 percent of trading volume on its online platform during its first day of trading. As of last Thursday, almost half of its retail customers who bought the stock in the IPO have since sold their shares.

Snap has also become popular with short sellers betting it will fall, with over $600 million worth of its stock currently sold short, according to Astec Analytics.

“The last time we saw something this interesting was when we shorted LendingClub at $22,” said Brad Lamensdorf, co-manager of the AdvisorShares Ranger Equity Bear ETF.

LendingClub is a peer-to-peer lender whose shares soared 56 percent to over $23 in its 2014 IPO, only to sink to around $5 after a scandal related to its business practices.

Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak started Snap with an “overweight” rating and a $28-price target.

“SNAP’s engaged/hard-to-reach millennial users and unique video offerings should attract significant ad dollars,” Nowak wrote in a research note.

Snap recently traded at the equivalent of 22 times its expected 12-month sales, expensive compared to Facebook at 10, according to Thomson Reuters data.

JP Morgan, also an underwriter, started Snap with a “neutral” rating, with analyst Doug Anmuth pointing to an “increasingly competitive social media landscape.”

(Editing by Nick Zieminski and James Dalgleish)

Article source:

Trump tax plan faces rockier road after stinging healthcare loss

WASHINGTON The White House will take a lead role in crafting legislation to overhaul the U.S. tax code, eyeing an August target date as President Donald Trump seeks his first legislative victory following the failure last week of a long-promised bill to undo Obamacare.

Trump’s pledge to cut taxes, including a lowering of the rates paid by corporations, was a pillar of his 2016 presidential campaign and provided much of the fuel for the heady stock market rally that followed his Nov. 8 victory.

The White House said on Monday it was moving ahead with tax reform, calling it a “huge priority” for the Republican president and “something that he feels very strongly about.”

“Obviously, we’re driving the train on this,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said during a briefing, adding, “We’re going to work with Congress on this.”

Spicer noted that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has talked about August as a target date for tax legislation, but said the timetable could slip depending on how quickly a consensus could be reached.

Getting a broad tax bill passed by Congress and on Trump’s desk to be signed into law will not be easy, especially after intra-party differences torpedoed the healthcare legislation, after the Trump administration fiercely lobbied for it.

Republicans for seven years had promised to dismantle Democratic former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare, and the Trump administration made it its top priority when Trump took office in January.

But the effort collapsed on Friday when members of the Freedom Caucus, the most conservative lawmakers of the House of Representatives, refused to support the bill, which was also backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan.

The stinging defeat alarmed investors who began reassessing the chances for passage of the tax agenda this year. Major U.S. stock indexes opened sharply lower on Monday before paring losses, with the Dow Jones and the SP 500 ending only moderately down.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, the top House Republican tasked with tax reform, said over the weekend that the White House should start with proposals already in the House instead of crafting a separate bill.

“My point is that the Trump tax plan and the House Republican plan started at 80 percent the same. It think it’s grown to 90 percent or better,” Brady told reporters on Monday.

“I think it’s critical for the White House and Republicans in Congress to agree on pro-growth tax reform together and move forward together as well,” he added.


Analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch predicted in a research note that a tax bill, “if passed at all, could be a very watered-down version of current proposals.”

The White House over the weekend dangled the idea of a compromise tax restructuring that could win support from moderate Democrats. White House chief of staff Reince Priebus on Sunday said such a package could include middle-class tax cuts.

Spicer on Monday remained vague on how much Trump would allow the federal deficit to grow as a result of the tax cuts.

“It’s a really early question to be asking at this point,” Spicer said.

The U.S. tax code has not undergone a major overhaul since 1986, during the administration of Republican President Ronald Reagan.

Democratic Senator Christopher Coons signaled his party would be open to discussing tax legislation if it was not merely a giveaway to the rich. Democrats had fought former President George W. Bush’s tax policies for that reason.

“If we have a move toward tax reform that could strengthen manufacturing, strengthen our exports and provide tax relief to the middle-class – not overwhelmingly to the wealthiest – there’s a menu for us to start talking about it,” the Delaware senator told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.

Although winning over Democrats may be tough, the alternative – getting Republicans to vote as a bloc – could be a hard road in light of the healthcare rebellion by Republican lawmakers.

“Trump is stuck. He can’t cajole the arch conservatives in the Republican Party, and at the same time, my sense is the Democrats don’t want to throw him a bone either, so it is going to be difficult,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago.

One Republican lawmaker, Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, suggested Congress focus first on such things as getting a “realistic budget” done and passing legislation to raise the national debt ceiling.

“And then start on tax reform,” Cole told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. “But start with real hearings and start in a way that everybody at least at the outset is a potential player.”

Representative Ted Poe of Texas, who resigned from the Freedom Caucus after the healthcare debacle, said that getting an infrastructure spending package – another key piece of Trump’s legislative agenda intended to spur economic growth – through Congress will be no “slam dunk.”

“It’s going to be very, very difficult,” Poe told CNN’s “New Day” program.

(Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak, Megan Davies and Richard Leong in New York and David Morgan in Washington; Writing by Paul Simao and Amanda Becker; Editing by Will Dunham and Leslie Adler)

Article source: