Business briefing

The daily business briefing: September 21, 2017

Hackers target SEC, Google to buy HTC team working on Google Pixel smartphones, and more 


SEC data hacked

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday night that someone hacked its computer database on company filings last year, accessing private information that could have been used to trade stocks and make profits. The announcement from the SEC, the top U.S. securities regulator, came following the disclosure of a breach at Equifax, a major credit reporting firm, that exposed the personal information of 143 million people. Together, the breaches have intensified concerns about the computer vulnerabilities of key financial institutions.


Google to pay $1.1 billion for HTC's Pixel division

Google announced Thursday that it would buy the division of HTC Corp. that works on Google's Pixel smartphones for $1.1 billion. The all-cash deal will add 2,000 HTC employees, about one-fifth of the Taiwanese firm's workforce, to Google's team working on its hardware products, including Pixel phones, Google Home, Google Wifi, Daydream View, and Chromecast Ultra. Rick Osterloh, the former Motorola executive Google hired last year to run its hardware division, said the move will "fuel even more product innovation in the years ahead." The news came ahead of Google's launch of its second generation of hardware products on Oct. 4.


Fed decides to start reducing its balance sheet in October

The Federal Reserve said Tuesday that it would start next month to slowly reduce the trillions of dollars in bonds it bought to stimulate economic growth after the 2008 financial crisis. The move was seen as a sign that Fed policy makers have confidence in the strength of the economy as the employment picture brightens. The U.S. central bank now projects growth of 2.4 percent this year, up from a forecast of 2.1 percent earlier this year. The Fed said a slowdown in inflation remained a concern, but that it expected a rebound. The Fed also left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at the close of its two-day meeting, as expected, but signaled it could hike rates again by the end of the year.


U.S. stocks waver after Fed decision

U.S. stock futures pointed to a slightly lower open on Thursday following the Federal Reserve's decision to start reducing its huge stockpile of bonds purchased since the 2008 financial crisis to stimulate the economy. The decision was seen as a sign of the Fed's confidence in the economy, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 reached fresh highs on Wednesday after the announcement. Investors are still digesting the news after a volatile trading session on Wednesday, and awaiting weekly jobless claims and other data on Thursday.


Apple shares under pressure following critical Apple Watch 3 reviews

Apple shares dropped by about 2 percent on Wednesday after the company conceded its new smartwatch had wireless connectivity problems. The admission came after several negative reviews of the Apple Watch 3. Lauren Goode wrote in The Verge that Siri didn't respond to questions when she tried out the product, although the problem didn't occur in a second watch Apple gave her to try. Goode also said her cellular connection was unreliable in both watches, a problem other reviewers also reported. Apple said the watch at times could be prevented from using cellular when it joined unauthenticated Wi-Fi networks, and the company is "investigating a fix for a future software release." The Apple Watch Series 3 will be released Friday.


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