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September 28, 2016

  • 12:20 GMTAsian Stocks Down

    Asian Shares Down – Nikkei Is Biggest Decliner

    Stocks in Japan led to declines across the region, dragged by weak oil prices and concerns about the health of the nation’s banks.

    The Nikkei Stock Average closed Wednesday down 1.3% with energy, banking and export sectors leading losses. Korea’s Kospi closed down 0.5%, the Shanghai Composite Index ended 0.3% lower and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was flat.

    Japanese shares were also down as the Mizuho Financial Group Inc. fell 1.8%, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc. ended down 2.4%, Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co. lost 2.5% and Nomura Holdings Inc. fell 2.8%.

    The persistent strength of the yen has also weighed on Japanese stocks, said Linus Yip, chief strategist at First Shanghai Securities, calling the yen a “major focus for the Japanese market.” A strong yen makes Japanese exports less competitive and diminishes profits earned overseas.

    The yen gained against the dollar in Asian trade Wednesday but was last trading 0.2% lower at ¥100.57 to the dollar.

    The situation has been made worse by an oil-price slide in the U.S. overnight Tuesday that hit Japanese energy stocks. Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) wouldn’t reach a deal to curb output during talks this week in Algiers.

    However, oil prices recovered slightly in Asian trade Wednesday, with international benchmark Brent crude rising 0.4% to $46.17 a barrel.

    That helped Japanese oil explorer Inpex narrow its losses. It ended down 0.4%, after being off 2.3% earlier. Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. was down 2%.

September 25, 2016

  • 12:16 GMTTwitter shares soar almost 20% on takeover talk

    Twitter shares on the rise

    Shares in Twitter jumped more than 20% after a report said the home of the 140-character tweet had received multiple takeover approaches.

    Twitter has been the subject of numerous takeover rumours before but is now getting closer to a sale.

    Potential suitors that are interested in a possible takeover include Google and Salesforce.com, the report said.

    Last month Twitter shares jumped after comments from co-founder Ev Williams. When asked whether the company would remain independent he replied: “We’re in a strong position now, and as a board member we have to consider the right options.”

    The company’s performance has also spurred talk of a takeover as sales growth has been slowing in recent quarters.

    In July, Twitter reported that second quarter sales had risen almost 20%, the weakest growth since its stock market flotation in 2013.

    Co-founder Jack Dorsey took over as chief executive in July of last year, after the previous boss stepped down. Mr. Costolo who had been chief executive from 2010, was under pressure from investors unhappy with the company’s performance.

    “With ex-CEO Dick Costolo lacking ideas and founder Jack Dorsey split between Twitter and his other company Square, the social network has lost its way,” said Jasper Lawler, an analyst at CMC Markets.

    “The hope for investors would be that under the wing of a big company, it could expand its user base and better monetise those users,” he added.

    Twitter shares added 21% on Friday to close at $22.62.

  • 12:12 GMTYahoo hackers stole data from 500 million users

    Yahoo confirms breach is much bigger than previously thought

    /p>Yahoo says “state-sponsored” hackers stole data from 500m users in what is known to be the largest publicly disclosed cyber-breach in history.

    The breach included swathes of personal information. Stolen data includes names, emails, telephone numbers and dates of birth. The hack took place in 2014 but has now only been made public.

    Yahoo has confirmed that credit card data has not been stolen. The company said the information was “stolen by what we believe is a state-sponsored actor”.

    News of a possible major attack on the company first emerged in August when a hacker known as “Peace” was attempting to sell information on 200 million Yahoo accounts.

    Yahoo is currently recommending all users should change their passwords if they have not done so since 2014.
    In July 2016, Yahoo was sold to US telecoms giant Verizon for $4.8bn.

    Verizon has only learned of the hack “within the last two days” and said it had “limited information”.

    Nikki Parker, vice-president at security company Covata, said: “Yahoo is likely to come under intense scrutiny from regulators, the media and public and rightly so. Corporations can’t shy away from data breaches and they must hold their hands up and show that they are committed to resolving the problem.”

    Questions are being asked about the length of time it took Yahoo to publicly acknowledge the breach.

    “It is really worrying that a breach from 2014 can have gone undetected for so long,” said Prof Alan Woodward from the University of Surrey.

    The scale of the hack eclipses other recent, major tech breaches – such as LinkedIn (164 million).

September 21, 2016

  • 12:09 GMTInditex Earnings Beat Estimates as Zara Owner focuses on Online Expansion

    Inditex, the world’s largest clothing retailer, reported earnings that beat analysts’ estimates as the company prioritized online expansion over shop openings.

    First-half operating profit increased 8 percent to 1.61 billion euros in the six months through July. This beat analysts’ estimate of 1.58 billion euros. Revenue rose 13% in the first weeks of the third quarter and the stock rose as much as 1.6 percent in early Madrid trading.

    Inditex, which operates Zara and other brands through more than 7,000 stores in 91 countries and operates eight brands including Pull&Bear, Massimo Dutti and Bershka.

    Inditex has decided this year to lower its target for retail space expansion as it focuses on bolstering online shopping. The online expansion strategy also includes bigger stores in key markets, as part of an attempt to maintain growth after revenue increased eight-fold since the company’s 2001 initial public offering. Its performance beat industry peers such as Hennes & Mauritz, whose August sales missed analysts’ estimates.

    Chairman and chief executive Pablo Isla has emphasized the firm’s investment in technology, saying the company has expanded its online stores to 11 new countries.

    Inditex has also launched mobile phone payment in all its Spanish stores as part of its digital expansion strategy, with the objective of “extending the service to other countries”. This will encompass payment by online apps for all of its brands and a specific app for the whole group called InWallet.

    Mr Isla added, “Both our online and bricks-and-mortar stores are seamlessly connected, driven by platforms such as mobile payment, and other technological initiatives that we will continue to develop.”

    Inditex is also benefiting from the steady pace of economic growth in Spain, where the retailer earns about a fifth of its sales. The local clothing market grew an average 3 percent in the three-month period through July.

September 20, 2016

  • 12:07 GMTGrab raises $750 million to take on Uber in Southeast Asia

    Grab, the biggest rival to ride-sharing service Uber in Southeast Asia, has raised $750 million in a funding round.

    Four-year-old Grad said it planned to expand its services in Southeast Asia through the funding round, which was led by Japan’s SoftBank Group with new and existing investors.

    The region has become attractive for ride-hailing firms due to a burgeoning middle class as well as a youthful, internet-savvy demographic.

    Since leaving China in August, Uber is even more focused on Southeast Asia. The company is refocusing more than 150 engineers to work on its Southeast Asian operations and hiring more engineers in India. Uber was also working on making sure its maps fit the region.

    Grab says it has 95 percent market share in third-party taxi-hailing services, while its private-car business has more than half of the Southeast Asian market.

    In addition to expanded ride-hailing services, Grab said it planned to invest in mobile payments capabilities in a region with low banking and credit card penetration and limited cashless payment options.

    Since its launch in 2012, the company has expanded into motorbike hailing, carpooling and delivery. It also recently teamed up with Indonesian conglomerate Lippo Group to roll out a mobile payment platform in its biggest market, Indonesia.

    “We are particularly excited about the growth opportunity in Indonesia, where we see an almost $15 billion market for ride-hailing services alone, as well as the potential to extend GrabPay’s platform regionally,” CEO and co-founder Anthony Tan said in the statement.

    Grab said it will also invest in data science and machine learning capabilities to enable services like predictive demand and driver and user targeting.

    The company operates in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

September 14, 2016

  • 12:04 GMTUber is winning the driverless car race

    Uber edges ahead in the driverless car race

    Uber made a big move on Wednesday when it released its self-driving car to the public for the first time. As part of its pilot program, select Uber users in Pittsburgh will be able to hail and ride in a driverless car.

    A number of car companies are aiming to do this, but Uber is ahead. Ford, for example, plans to roll out its first fully autonomous cars for ride-sharing by 2021.

    Companies want to get into some sort of ride-hailing service because automakers and tech companies predict that the traditional car ownership model will dwindle with the rise of self-driving cars.

    There are predictions, that in the future cars will be fully autonomous and it will become cheaper for consumers to hail a driverless car than to own a personal vehicle.

    While auto sales may decline, companies see a huge opportunity in rolling out autonomous cars in a fleet setting to transport people wherever they want to go. But car companies and tech firms will have to catch-up with Uber in building up a ride-sharing network.

    Uber has built up one of the largest ride-sharing networks in the world and is the most popular taxi app in 108 countries.

    Uber introducing the public to its driverless tech, even it still needs a driver and engineer present at the moment, is a genius way to expose people to the concept of getting picked up in a driverless Uber.

    Like other driverless car companies, there is still time before a driverless Uber can be fully autonomous.

September 6, 2016

  • 12:02 GMTIT Issue delays British Airways Passenger check-ins

    Delays leave passengers frustrated

    British Airways has apologized to passengers facing delays after an IT glitch affected check-in desks. Passengers complained of delays at check-in and at the baggage drop.

    British Airways passengers around the world endured delays of up to five hours when an IT problem affected check-in systems at airports yesterday.

    Passengers took to Twitter around midnight to complain of overly long check-in queues at Heathrow and Gatwick. Also people flying from San Francisco, Washington DC and Atlanta reported long delays on social media.

    British Airways later confirmed there was a problem as airport staff were forced to manually process check-ins. Passengers had to board flights with boarding cards written out by hand. One user on Twitter posted a photo of their boarding card written out in pen.

    It is not known what specifically caused the problem, aside from it being an IT glitch. British Airways new FLY check-in system went live last October but since then has experienced problems.

    One passenger posted a notice by British Airways on Twitter confirming that passengers would be delayed for up to 30 minutes while alternative arrangements were put in place “in the absence of the computer system”.

    In response to the situation, British Airways said on Twitter that it apologised “to our customers for the delay and we appreciate their patience as our IT teams work to resolve this issue”.

    BA encouraged customers affected by the IT problems to check-in online before they reached the airport.

September 4, 2016

  • 11:59 GMTG20 leaders discuss global economy at China summit

    Leaders from 20 major economies are in China for the G20 summit

    World leaders are meeting in China at the G20 summit to discuss policies to bolster global economy.

    China’s president Xi Jinping urged leaders of the world 20 largest economies to avoid “empty talk” as they look to revive economic growth. They are also discussing the global steel crisis and tax of multinationals like Apple.

    At the opening of the summit, President Xi said the world economy is recovering but faced multiple challenges in areas of finance, trade and investment.

    “Against risks and challenges facing the world economy, the international community has high expectations of the G20 in the Hangzhou summit,” he said.

    Before the meeting, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned it was likely to downgrade its forecast for global economic growth. The IMF has cut forecasts for world GDP growth to 3.1% in 2016 and 3.4% in 2017.

    President Obama has also said that the US would prioritize its trade talks with the EU – known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

    Other topic of discussion at the summit is the steel crisis. China’s continued production of cheap steel was also an issue on the opening day of the G20 summit.

    European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said China must address its problem of industrial overcapacity, saying it was “unacceptable”.

    “Overcapacity is a global problem but there is a particular Chinese element,” Mr Juncker said.

August 31, 2016

  • 11:57 GMTiPhone 7 launch date confirmed by Apple!

    Apple to hold the product launch of the iPhone7 at San Francisco

    Apple is going to hold the product launch of the iPhone7 on 7 September at San Francisco.

    Apple has held events in September for the last five years. They are the highlight of the company’s year, as well as launching the new iPhone, its most successful product by far; it often uses the attention to launch other, smaller products.

    This year the iPhone launch will be doubly important, since it will be the first major new headset to be revealed since sales of the iPhones started sliding.

    Many of the innovations expected in the phone have been revealed through leaks. They include a body that removes the antenna lines that sweep around the back and the removal of the headphone jack.

    The event is likely to focus on the advanced photography capabilities of the iPhone7, which is expected to include a dual-lens camera for taking deeper images.

    The company is also expected to unveil the second version of the Apple Watch (Apple Watch 2). It is expected to include more technology to allow it to work without a phone, and more tools for health tracking.

    Apple will be livestreaming the event on its special page.

August 30, 2016

  • 11:55 GMTApple Ordered to pay 13bn euros in EU Tax Crackdown

    European Commission rules that Apple should repay Ireland 13bn euros

    Ireland should recover up to €13bn from Apple in back taxes, the European Commission has ruled.

    The commission said Ireland enabled Apple to pay substantially less than other businesses, paying a corporate tax of no more than 1%.

    Ireland and Apple have both said they disagreed with the record penalty and would appeal against it.

    Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: “Member states cannot give tax benefits to selected companies – this is illegal under EU state aid rules.”

    “The Commission’s investigation concluded that Ireland granted illegal tax benefits to Apple, which enabled it to pay substantially less tax than other businesses over many years,” she added.

    The standard rate of Irish corporate tax is 12.5%. The Commissions’s investigation concluded that Apple had effectively paid 1% tax on its European profits in 2003.

    Apple is going to appeal against the ruling and said: “Apple follows the law and pays all of the taxes we owe wherever we operate. We will appeal and we are confident the decision will be overturned.”

    Ireland also disagrees with the record penalty and would appeal against it: “I disagree profoundly with the Commission…The decision leaves me with no choice but to seek cabinet approval to appeal. This is necessary to defend the integrity of our tax system; to provide tax certainty to business; and to challenge the encroachment of EU state aid rules into the sovereign member state competence of taxation,” said Ireland’s finance minister, Michael Noonan, in a statement.

    The tax bill should not be a problem for Apple, which made a net profit of $53bn in the 2015 financial year.