The daily business briefing: October 5, 2016

Yahoo reportedly searched customer emails, Google unveils Pixel smartphone, and more

Google's new products, including the Pixel phone, on display
(Image credit: GLENN CHAPMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Yahoo searched email accounts at request of intelligence officials

Yahoo and the U.S. government are working together.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Yahoo last year created custom software to search customers' incoming email for information described by U.S. intelligence officials, according to a Reuters investigation published Tuesday. Reuters, citing people familiar with the matter, said Yahoo scanned hundreds of Yahoo Mail accounts. Two former employees said Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer made the decision, angering some other senior executives and leading to the departure of Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos in June 2015. Yahoo declined to comment beyond saying it is "a law abiding company, and complies with the laws of the United States."


2. Google announces new smartphone line in hardware push

Google on Tuesday unveiled the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, the first handsets entirely designed by the internet giant. The phones, aiming to challenge Apple's smartphone dominance, feature an ultra-sophisticated camera, unlimited photo storage, built-in tech support, the ability to connect with a virtual reality headset, and voice-controlled AI software capable of understanding context unique to each user. Google also introduced specifics about Home, a smart-home device that can answer questions, play music, give traffic reports, and communicate with other smart-home gadgets. Home will cost $129, and the Pixel phones will range from $649 to $869.

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The Verge Engadget

3. Fed officials' comments strengthen rate hike expectations

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans said Wednesday that he expected the U.S. central bank to raise interest rates once by the end of the year "if data continue to roll in as they have." His remarks came on the heels of a similar statement by Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Jeffrey Lacker, who dissented twice last year in favor of raising interest rates and said this week that the Fed should head off a likely rise in inflation with rate hikes. Strengthening expectations of a rate increase in December helped weigh down global stocks on Wednesday.

Bloomberg The Associated Press

4. Texas-based oil company announces big Alaska find

Caelus Energy Alaska, a Texas-based oil company, announced Tuesday it had discovered six billion barrels of light oil off Alaska's North Slope. It made the huge find on its state leases in Arctic waters about 450 miles northwest of Fairbanks. "It has the size and scale to play a meaningful role in sustaining the Alaskan oil business over the next three or four decades," Chief Operating Officer Jim Musselman said. The company says drilling in the area could produce 200,000 barrels per day of light oil to be delivered over the trans-Alaska pipeline.

The Associated Press

5. BP buys its first Iranian oil since sanctions lifted

Energy giant BP on Tuesday purchased ultra-light oil or condensate from Iran's state-owned oil company, a milestone for Iran as it tries to revive its production after the lifting of devastating sanctions over its nuclear program. Iran is OPEC's third-largest producer, and it has vowed to return to its pre-sanctions output of more than four million barrels a day. The deal marks BP's first purchase from Iran since sanctions were lifted in January.


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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.