Business briefing

The daily business briefing: February 2, 2018

The economy added a better-than-expected 200,000 jobs in January, Amazon shares jump after its earnings smash expectations, and more

1

Economy added 200,000 jobs in January, beating forecasts

U.S. employers added 200,000 jobs in January, beating economists' expectations of 190,000 jobs gained. The figure marked a pickup from December, when the economy added a modest 160,000 new jobs, a number adjusted up from the originally reported 148,000. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1 percent, a 17-year low. Wages rose by 2.9 percent over the last 12 months, the biggest jump since the Great Recession ended nearly nine years ago, as employers battled for candidates to fill record-high job openings. The figures were the latest in a long series of signs of strengthening employment. Stocks extended their losses after the report, with Dow Jones Industrial Average futures down by 255 points.

2

Amazon shares jump after quarterly earnings beat expectations

Amazon reported quarterly results Thursday that smashed analysts' expectations. The giant online retailer posted earnings of $3.75 per share for the quarter that included the crucial holiday shopping season, more than double the figure from the same time last year and the $1.85 per share many analysts expected. Net sales rose by 38 percent over the prior year, reaching $60.5 billion. Analysts had forecast $59.8 billion. Revenue from cloud services jumped to $5.1 billion from $3.5 billion in the same period a year earlier. "Our 2017 projections for Alexa were very optimistic, and we far exceeded them," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. "We don't see positive surprises of this magnitude very often — expect us to double down." Amazon shares jumped by 3 percent in after-hours trading.

3

Apple posts record earnings, sending stock rising

Apple on Thursday reported iPhone sales that fell short of expectations, but the company still posted record earnings thanks to higher average prices stemming from strong demand for the more expensive iPhone X. The company said it sold 77.3 million iPhones in the most recent quarter, missing analysts' average forecast of 80 million iPhones sold. Apple said it expects $60 billion to $62 billion in revenue in the current quarter, which ends in March. That figure also disappointed Wall Street, which was looking for $65.7 billion in sales this quarter. After a bumpy start to after-hours trading following the news, Apple shares gained 3 percent overnight.

4

Bitcoin falls below $8,000, down 60 percent since December

Bitcoin fell below $8,000 for the first time since November early Friday as investors continued to show fear for cryptocurrencies' future. Bitcoin hit a record high of $19,511 on Dec. 18 after the first exchanges started selling regulated futures contracts in the U.S. It has gone on a steady slide since then due largely to regulatory threats in India, South Korea, China, and other countries. A record $500 million theft at Japanese exchange Coincheck, and Facebook's ban on cryptocurrency ads, have added to the gloom. "Bitcoin is in trouble," wrote Forextime research analyst Lukman Otunuga in a Friday note. "Price action suggests that bears are clearly in control, with further losses on the cards as jitters over regulation erode investor appetite further."

5

Alphabet earnings miss expectations

Shares of Google-parent Alphabet dropped sharply in after-hours trading on Thursday, after the company reported quarterly earnings that fell short of Wall Street's expectations. Alphabet reported revenue of $32.3 billion, beating analysts' projections of $31.9 billion, but its earnings amounted to $9.70 per share, below consensus estimates of $9.96. The $9.70 figure doesn't include a one-time $9.9 billion transition tax on accumulated foreign subsidiary earnings and deferred tax impacts stemming from the Republican tax reform package. When the tax impact is factored in, Alphabet lost $4.35 per share. Alphabet shares dropped by as much as 5 percent immediately after the results were released.

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