Asian stocks tumble after Wall Street skids, China slows
BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets sank Friday after Wall Street declined on losses for tech and industrial stocks and Chinese economic growth slowed.
On Wall Street, investors sold technology and internet stocks, industrials, and companies that rely on consumer spending amid worries about economic growth. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index has lost 5.5 percent in volatile trading since Oct. 3. Industrial and basic materials companies that investors worry might be vulnerable to a worsening U.S.-Chinese tariff battle have taken some of the biggest losses. The S&P 500 shed 1.4 percent to 2,768.78. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.3 percent to 25,379.45. The Nasdaq composite sank 2.1 percent to 7,485.14.
Growth in the world’s second-biggest economy slowed to 6.5 percent in the quarter ending in September from the previous quarter’s 6.7 percent. The downturn adds to pressure on communist leaders as China fights a mounting tariff battle with Washington. A government spokesman said the economy was stable but “external challenges” and “downward pressure” were increasing. Retail spending and investment, key economic drivers, decelerated to still-robust levels.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose but remained below $69 per barrel.
The dollar gained against the yen and declined against the euro.
American Express profits jump 22 percent, beating forecasts
NEW YORK (AP) — American Express said its third quarter profits jumped by 22 percent from a year earlier, as the credit card giant benefited from a lower tax rate and increased spending on the company’s credit cards.
The New York-based company said it earned a profit of $1.65 billion, or $1.88 a share, which is up from $1.36 billion, or $1.51 a share, in the same period a year ago. The results beat analysts’ expectations, who were looking for AmEx to earn $1.77 a share, according to FactSet.
The results came as American Express faces a much more competitive landscape than it did only a couple years ago. The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card by JPMorgan Chase became a major product in the premium credit card market, something that solely belonged to American Express with its Platinum Card.
American Express card users spent $294.7 billion on their cards globally last quarter, an 8 percent jump from a year earlier. In the U.S., the company’s largest market, card user spending was up 10 percent from a year earlier. AmEx takes a fee from merchants for each time their cards are used.
AmEx has also been encouraging its users to maintain a balance on their cards as well, collecting more interest income particularly as interest rates rise. Total loans held by AmEx users were $77.6 billion in the quarter, up from $67.9 billion a year earlier. That helped contribute to a 20 percent rise in interest revenue this quarter.
FACEBOOK-ELECTION WAR ROOM
Facebook’s election ‘war room’ takes aim at fake information
MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — Facebook has a new “war room” to combat fake accounts and bogus news stories. It’s the social network’s latest public signal that it takes election interference seriously ahead of the midterms. But critics fear the war room is more of a publicity stunt than an effective solution.
Inside the room are dozens of employees staring intently at their monitors while data streams across giant dashboards. On the walls are posters of the sort Facebook frequently uses to caution or exhort its employees. One reads, “Nothing at Facebook is somebody else’s problem.”
That motto might strike some as ironic, given that the war room was created to counter threats that almost no one at the company, least of all CEO Mark Zuckerberg, took seriously just two years ago — and which the company’s critics now believe pose a threat to democracy.
The war room is a major part of Facebook’s ongoing repairs. Its technology draws upon the artificial intelligence system Facebook has been using to help identify “inauthentic” posts and user behavior. Facebook provided a tightly controlled glimpse at its war room to The Associated Press and other media ahead of the second round of presidential elections in Brazil on Oct. 28 and the U.S. midterm elections on Nov. 6.
More than 20 different teams now coordinate the efforts of more than 20,000 people — mostly contractors — devoted to blocking fake accounts and fictional news and stopping other abuses on Facebook and its other services. Facebook credits its war room and other stepped-up patrolling efforts for booting 1.3 billion fake accounts over the past year and jettisoning hundreds of pages set up by foreign governments and other agents looking to create mischief.
But Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters For America, a liberal group that monitors misinformation, says it remains unclear whether Facebook is doing enough.
AP INTERVIEW-MELINDA GATES-DIGITAL FUTURE
Melinda Gates speaks on smoothing the shift to digital age
NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AP) — Melinda Gates says that instead of destroying jobs and leaving legions of people without work, the digital revolution can open doors to unseen opportunities and industries, but only if everyone has access to the internet and the ability to use it.
She commented in a recent interview with The Associated Press .
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has joined a global initiative working to ensure frontier technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality will help, not hurt the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
The effort to build so-called “digital ecosystems” by the Gates Foundation-supported Pathways for Prosperity Commission on Technology and Inclusive Development was showcased at the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank last week in Bali, Indonesia.
ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD
Major business and economic reports scheduled for today
WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Association of Realtors releases its report on September existing home sales today.
China’s economic growth slows amid trade battle
BEIJING (AP) — China’s economic growth slowed further in the latest quarter, adding to challenges for communist leaders who are fighting a mounting tariff battle with Washington.
The government reported Friday the world’s second-largest economy expanded by 6.5 percent over a year earlier in the three months ending in September, down from the previous quarter’s 6.7 percent.
Forecasters expected China’s economy to cool after Beijing tightened credit controls to rein in a debt boom. But the slowdown has been deeper than expected, prompting Chinese leaders to reverse course and encouraging banks to lend.
Growth in retail spending and investment slowed, though to still-robust rates.
Exports have begun to weaken after President Donald Trump imposed tariff hikes of up to 25 percent on Chinese goods in a fight over Beijing’s technology policy.
Australia lawyers’ group: Draft cyber laws would curb rights
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The president of Australia’s top lawyers’ group has told a parliamentary inquiry that proposed cybersecurity laws to force global technology companies such as Facebook and Google to help police by unscrambling encrypted messages sent by extremists and other criminals would significantly limit individuals’ privacy and freedom.
A parliamentary committee on Friday began examining a bill introduced into the Parliament last year that would give security agencies new powers to demand that tech companies help them decrypt data.
Law Council of Australia’s president-elect Arthur Moses told the committee that a secret service officer could be able to use the proposed law to side-step the need for a warrant.
He says the bill also places no time limit on how long a telecommunications employee can be held to assist police.
BP-GULF OF MEXICO EXPANSION
BP starts expansion to Thunder Horse deep-water Gulf field
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Energy giant BP says it’s added the equivalent of 30,000 barrels of oil a day to production at its largest Gulf of Mexico platform, called Thunder Horse .
A news release Thursday from Houston-based BP United States says that brings the field’s gross output to more than 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day. The field is about 150 miles (240 kilometers) southeast of New Orleans, in more than 6,000 feet (1,800 meters) of water.
BP says the expansion started four months ahead of schedule and 15 percent under budget.
The company did not give the cost of adding a new subsea manifold and two wells tied into existing lines.
BP operates the platform and has a 75 percent working interest in it. ExxonMobil holds the other 25 percent.
CANNED TUNA-PRICE FIXING
StarKist admits fixing tuna prices, faces $100 million fine
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Authorities say StarKist has agreed to plead guilty to price fixing as part of a broad collusion investigation of the canned tuna industry.
Federal prosecutors announced the plea agreement Thursday and said the company faces a fine up to $100 million. Bumble Bee Foods last year pleaded guilty to the same charge and paid a $25 million fine.
Chicken of the Sea has not been charged because prosecutors say the company exposed the scheme and cooperated with the investigation.
Two former Bumble Bee executives and a former StarKist executive also each pleaded guilty to price-fixing charges.
Former Bumble Bee chief executive Christopher Lischewski has pleaded not guilty to a price fixing charge.
The three companies are accused of conspiring to keep canned tuna prices artificially high between 2010 and 2013.
Nature-themed resort will be built at Walt Disney World
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Walt Disney World says it’s going to build a new nature-themed resort.
The Florida-based theme park resort said Thursday that the as-yet-unnamed resort will open in 2022. It will have 900 hotel rooms as well as villas for Disney’s timeshare program.
The new project joins three other resort construction projects underway at Disney World.
The 27,000-acre tourist destination already has 36 resorts on its property, as well as four theme parks.