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WSJ City: Facebook's Lax Data Policies, U.S. to Ramp Up Curbs on China, Sentiment Still Dim on Brexit

21 Mar 2018 8:37 am

Good morning from the WSJ City desks in London. WSJ City is the app that delivers concise, smart news on business and finance for mobile. Download for iPhone or Android. Here's essential reading on today's developments.


Facebook's loose approach to policing how app creators and others deployed its user data persisted for years, according to court documents and people familiar with Facebook. The social-media giant is now dealing with the fallout, with a sharp drop in its share price amid increased regulatory scrutiny on both sides of the Atlantic.

This week's tech selloff, concentrated on Facebook's shares, has illustrated the flip side of the crowded bet on technology giants. Shifting sentiment stands to have an outsized effect when investors are making one-way bets on a continued rise in the sector.

The White House is preparing to crack down on what it says are improper Chinese trade practices by making it significantly more difficult for Chinese firms to acquire advanced US technology or invest in American companies.

UK investment professionals grew slightly more positive about a post-Brexit world, but a large majority still think Britain's vote to leave the European Union has damaged their business prospects -- or will do in the future.

Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 countries failed to reach a new agreement on trade, amid a deepening split between the US and other major economies over Washington's plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum.

US companies are poised to launch a spending spree linked to the recent tax overhaul, hoping to add to growth through mergers and acquisitions, according to a new survey by Ernst & Young.

Venture capital returns are more volatile than private equity, but the top firms seem to persistently make the best returns, which appears less and less the case with private equity, writes Paul J. Davies for WSJ Heard on the Street.


The Brexit transition deal reached on Monday has been thrown into doubt by Spain's push for further concessions over Gibraltar, according to diplomats in Brussels. Politico

Jean-Claude Juncker has been criticised for congratulating Vladimir Putin and urging closer ties with Europe, threatening to scupper British efforts to establish a wider alliance against Russia. The Times (GBP)

Republican congressional leaders said that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into meddling by Russia in the US election should be allowed to continue unimpeded, after stepped-up attacks from Donald Trump raised concerns he would move to end the probe. WSJ

Europe's banks have been told to keep planning for a full Brexit, despite Monday's agreement on a UK transition deal. FT (GBP)

Donald Trump said he had congratulated Vladimir Putin on his election win in a "very good call," despite escalating tensions over the Kremlin's alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election and poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK. WSJ


The Federal Reserve's policy decision loomed large over markets on Wednesday, with European stocks moving little at the start of trading.

The Stoxx Europe 600 was fractionally lower at the open while the UK's FTSE 100 dipped 0.2%.

French luxury firm Hermès jumped more than 2% after announcing an extraordinary dividend, while media group Vivendi rose 2% after announcing it had sold its stake in video games publisher Ubisoft. B&Q owner Kingfisher weighed on the FTSE 100, falling by 7% after reporting a disappointing set of earnings.

The Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates later today but key in the releases will be the number of interest-rate increases policy makers predict for 2018. In December, expectations were for three rises, which would match the number in 2017. But some analysts have raised the prospect of four rate rises this year as US economic growth has picked up and inflation could do the same.

Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist for Invesco, said she thinks the Fed will just increase rates, but she is keeping an eye out for any clues that Powell wants to alter plans for balance-sheet normalisation.


US interest rate decision; UK unemployment data.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 21, 2018 04:37 ET (08:37 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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