Business briefing

The daily business briefing: April 12, 2018

Zuckerberg says social media regulations are "inevitable," stocks struggle to rebound despite Syria tensions, and more


Zuckerberg concedes social media regulations 'inevitable'

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced a second day of questioning on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, fielding tougher questions from members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee than he did Tuesday from members of the Senate. For five hours, both Democrats and Republicans grilled him on Facebook's privacy policies, often cutting him off and pressing him to answer "yes" or "no." He repeated his apologies for the accessing of personal information of 87 million users by data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica, but lawmakers questioned whether Facebook could fix its privacy problems without government help in the form of regulation. Zuckerberg, appearing frustrated at times, acknowledged that some kind of regulation of social media probably was "inevitable."


Stock futures struggle to rebound despite Syria concerns

U.S. stock futures edged higher early Thursday, signaling a possible rebound after Wednesday losses fueled by anxiety over geopolitical tensions. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 0.9 percent on Wednesday, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite dropped by 0.6 percent and 0.4 percent respectively. The declines came after President Trump tweeted that a U.S. missile attack was coming in response to the suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria. "Get ready, Russia," he said. Early Thursday, futures for the Dow were essentially flat, and those for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 were up by 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent. "With markets consolidating, we wait to see what Trump tweets today," said Richard Perry, a Hantec Markets analyst, in a note.


Fed minutes suggest support for faster rate hikes

Federal Reserve officials "all" expect economic growth and inflation to pick up, and favor a "slightly" faster pace in interest rate hikes, according to minutes of Fed policy makers' March meeting. Although they worry that the economy could start "overheating," a "strong majority" of the members of the Fed's Open Market Committee cautioned that a trade war would hurt the U.S. economy. Most of the central bank's policy makers suggested two or three more hikes could be coming this year. Traders expect the next interest rate increase to come at the Fed's June meeting.


Hulu and Spotify to team up on streaming bundle

Hulu and Spotify announced Wednesday that they were teaming up to offer a dual subscription to both streaming services for $12.99 month. Currently, Hulu charges $7.99 for its TV and movie service with limited ads, and Spotify charges $9.99 for its music streaming service, so the bundle would amount to a savings of $4.99. "Two apps. One bill. Endless entertainment," Spotify said in an ad Wednesday. Initially, only current Spotify Premium members can get the bundle, which comes with a three-month, 99-cent Hulu trial, after which customers will be asked to decide whether they want the bundle. It won't be offered with Hulu's "No Commercials" plan, only the one including limited ads.


Bank of America to stop loans to gunmakers

Bank of America Corp. will stop lending to companies that make assault-style rifles for civilians, Anne Finucane, a vice chairman of the company, told Bloomberg Television. "We want to continue in any way we can to reduce these mass shootings," Finucane said in the interview. "It is our intention not to finance these military-style firearms for civilian use." The remarks were the first indication from the nation's second-largest bank about how it would respond to the Feb. 14 Parkland, Florida, school shooting that left 17 dead. Citigroup, the nation's fourth-largest bank, said in March it would prohibit retail chains that use its services from offering bump stocks, or selling guns to customers under 21.


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