Technology

FILE PHOTO: A worker cycles past containers outside a logistics center near Tianjin Port
FILE PHOTO: A worker cycles past containers outside a logistics center near Tianjin Port, in northern China, May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

May 23, 2019

(Reuters) – The recent ratcheting up of U.S.-China trade tensions is creating uncertainties for businesses and could threaten economic growth, four Federal Reserve policymakers said on Thursday.

The remarks suggest the outcome of the 10-month trade war between the world’s two largest economies will be an important factor as Fed policymakers weigh how long to stay “patient” on interest rates.

“I feel like the data is good, but the mood is teetering, so if we get a relaxation or a reduction in the uncertainty…then I expect the economy’s momentum to be an upside risk to growth,” San Francisco Federal Reserve President Mary Daly said at a Dallas Fed conference. “If the uncertainties persist…then I think that’s a downside to the economy, because the uncertainty has real effects, but it also has effects on confidence, and that confidence feeds back into investment.”

Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin and Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic, who spoke on the same panel, also said that uncertainties around trade could hurt growth, while their resolution could boost it.

“I’m watching very carefully how these trade tensions unfold because I have a concern.. whether that could cause some deceleration in the rate of growth,” Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan told reporters after the panel. “It’s too soon to say.”

The comments came as researchers at the New York Fed published research showing the newest round of U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports will cost the typical American household $831 annually.

The Trump administration this month increased existing tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25% from 10%, prompting Beijing to retaliate with its own levies on U.S. imports, as talks to end a 10-month trade war between the world’s two largest economies stalled.

“Our rate setting for the moment — key words being ‘for the moment’ — is in the right area,” Kaplan said. “I think the new development over the last month has been increased trade tensions and more business uncertainty, and it’s going to take a little while to sort out how that might unfold, or how long that might last.”

The policymakers made the comments at a Dallas Fed conference on technology, where academics, educators, and policymakers gathered to discuss the effect of technological advances like artificial intelligence on inflation, labor markets and the economy.

Research presented suggested that the adoption of new technologies may be pushing down on inflation and changing the nature of work in a way that could exacerbate what are already big income inequalities.

(Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Source: OANN

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The belief that the primary purpose of a business is to maximize profits for its shareholders is widely held across the country, from the boardrooms of the Fortune 500 to the classrooms of the nation’s top business schools. But this idea, which emerged in the 1970s and is now virtually assumed to be economic law, came under attack this week from a surprising direction.

Pro-business Republican Sen. Marco Rubio released a study warning of threats to the economy posed by excessive financialization. The well-researched, persuasive report highlights that private sector investment – defined as businesses using capital to purchase or build assets – has been in decline for decades, while the profits accruing to shareholders have dramatically increased. The report paints a bleak picture of an economy becoming less innovative, less competitive, and less rewarding for most of its participants.

Rubio lays the blame for this situation squarely at the feet of a business sector captured by the “ideology of shareholder primacy.” The report briefly mentions the evolving career choices of graduates of Harvard Business School while discussing America’s manufacturing decline. As a recent HBS graduate, I know that shareholder primacy theory is rigorously debated on campus by students and professors. But less often discussed is how the career choices of the school’s graduates are evidence of the ideology’s pervasiveness. The result is a staggering misallocation of some of the country’s most valuable human capital.

Harvard’s data shows that in the 1960s, 6% of HBS graduates pursued careers in finance; that figure is now over 30%, making finance the school’s most popular career field. Hedge funds, private equity firms, and investment banks are just the first order players. Over the last five years, 24% of the school’s graduates went to management consulting firms, whose rise parallels corporate America’s pursuance of shareholder primacy and its emphasis on financial initiatives like cost-cutting and merger diligence. The data shows 18% took jobs in technology, but it seems that Silicon Valley increasingly produces start-ups designed to maximize value for investors rather than pursue true innovation.

These career choices are not confined to Harvard. Data from Stanford and Wharton, two other top business schools, shows nearly identical trends. If you believe these findings, what they suggest is that many of this country’s future leaders work on behalf of an increasingly smaller group of shareholders rather than putting their talents and training to use in building, hiring, and inventing – the pursuits that result in economic development and shared prosperity.

The consequences are not just economic. The clustering of young talent in financial hubs has cultural and political implications. Over the last five years, an astounding 61% of U.S.-bound HBS graduates have landed in three cities: Boston, New York, and San Francisco. Those cities certainly have vibrant economies, but they generate just 15% of the country’s GDP and contain only 6% of America’s population.

Meanwhile, huge opportunities for leadership and wealth creation are being missed in other parts of the country and in other sectors of the economy. Texas, for example, is home to 9% of the country’s population and a dynamic economy that created one in seven new American jobs last year. Nearly 50 Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the state, and several of its largest cities offer bustling start-up scenes. It is the epicenter of the shale revolution, arguably the most geopolitically important American innovation of the last two decades. Yet, over the same period, just 3% of HBS MBAs moved to Texas after graduation.

This is a complex issue, not easily distilled into a story of makers versus takers. And none of this is to say that finance or its practitioners are bad. On the contrary, financiers play a critical role in the economy. But, as Rubio’s report explains, in a healthy system they would take a back seat to industry, and industry would be allowed to reinvest its profits into less certain activities designed to yield greater amounts of long-term value.

The political and economic consequences of all of this should be the most worrisome. What happens to a country that sits by idly while a generation of its best minds congregate in a handful of cities, pursuing activities so out of sorts with the historic tenets of American capitalism? We are in the process of finding out. The political divides and the rise in income inequality that we see today are not random occurrences; they are at least in part caused by financialization and a fixation on the shareholder.

Our universities can and should play key roles in undoing these trends. It was the business schools and their faculties, after all, that helped normalize the theory of shareholder primacy. But it was not so long ago that they sought different, nobler ends. Donald David, the dean of HBS during the late 1940s, asserted that the ideal graduate would combine “competence in management” with the application of “social skill as to make his business a ‘good society,’” while demonstrating “the willingness to contribute constructively in the broader affairs of the community and nation.” The idea that managers have an obligation to do more than just return cash to shareholders – produce goods, create jobs, and lead their communities – is as relevant in an era of Sino-American economic confrontation as it was on the eve of the Cold War.   

Sam Long is a graduate of Harvard Business School. He is among the 31% of the Class of 2018 working in finance.

President Donald Trump is delivering $16 billion more in aid to farmers hurt by his trade policies, an effort to relieve the economic pain among his supporters in rural America.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the first of three payments is likely to be made in July or August and suggested that U.S. negotiators may be weeks away from settling a bitter trade dispute with China.

The latest bailout comes atop $11 billion in aid Trump provided farmers last year.

Trump, seeking to reduce America’s trade deficit with the rest of the world and with China in particular, has imposed import taxes on foreign steel, aluminum, solar panels and dishwashers and on thousands of Chinese products.

U.S trading partners have lashed back with retaliatory tariffs of their own, focusing on U.S. agricultural products in a direct shot at the American heartland, where support for Trump runs high.

“The package we’re announcing today will ensure that farmers will not bear the brunt of those trade actions,” Perdue said.

Financial markets buckled Thursday on heightened tensions between the U.S. and China. The Dow Jones industrial average was down more than 400 points in mid-day trading.

U.S. crude plunged 6 percent on fears that the trade standoff could knock the global economy out of kilter and kill demand for energy.

Talks between the world’s two biggest economies broke off earlier this month with no resolution to a dispute over Beijing’s aggressive efforts to challenge American technological dominance. The U.S. charges that China is stealing technology, unfairly subsidizing its own companies and forcing U.S. companies to hand over trade secrets if they want access to the Chinese market.

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to discuss the standoff at a meeting of the Group of 20 major economies in Osaka, Japan, next month.

But briefing reporters on the farm aid package, Perdue said he doubted that “a trade deal could be consummated before” the first payments to farmers in July or August.

In Beijing, China held the door open to resuming talks in the tariff war with Washington on Thursday, but lashed out at limits on access to key technologies that it said might hurt global supply chains.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China hopes to restart the talks that broke down earlier this month after the U.S. hiked tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports, but only if the conditions are deemed fair.

“China is open to the door of dialogue, but sincerity is indispensable to make a consultation meaningful,” Lu said at regularly scheduled briefing. “A mutually beneficial agreement must be based on mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.”

Seeking to rally support for its side in the tariff war, Beijing is vehemently protesting the Trump administration’s decision last week to impose controls on exports of computer chips and other key components.

The move, mainly aimed at telecom equipment maker Huawei and other Chinese high-tech companies, will hinder global cooperation in science and technology and has “harmed the vital interests of relevant enterprises and countries,” Lu said.

A spokesman for China’s Commerce Ministry said Washington was “using American national power to suppress Chinese companies.”

This “not only seriously disrupts regular business cooperation between the sides’ enterprises, but also seriously threatens the security of the global industrial supply chain,” the spokesman, Gao Feng, told reporters.

The Trump administration has singled out Huawei, accusing it of posing a security threat. As a result, U.S. allies and their companies increasingly have put cooperation with the company on hold.

On Wednesday, Britain’s EE and Vodafone and Japan’s KDDI and Y! Mobile said they were holding off on the launch of Huawei smartphones, including some that can be used on next generation mobile networks, amid uncertainty about the devices from the world’s No. 2 smartphone maker.

As the trade dispute drags on, battering Chinese manufacturers and raising uncertainty for investors, Beijing has stepped up efforts to sway opinion in its favor both at home and abroad.

That extends even to neighboring countries whose economies are unlikely to be much affected by friction between Beijing and Washington.

Speaking to members of the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization at a meeting in Kyrgyzstan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi vowed to match “extreme pressure” from the U.S. with its own measures.

The trade frictions have “aroused great concern from the international community,” Wang said. “I stress to everyone that China’s actions are not just about preserving our own legitimate rights and interests but also to maintain the norms of international relations and safeguard the international free trading system.”

Wang, whose comments Wednesday were posted on the Foreign Ministry’s website, said representatives of the group had expressed “broad support” for China’s position.

A security-oriented group dominated by Moscow and Beijing, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization also includes Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan and several observer states and “dialogue partners.”

Beijing has already responded to Trump’s tariff hikes on $250 billion of Chinese imports by slapping penalties on $110 billion of American goods. Based on last year’s trade, that leaves about $45 billion in imports from the U.S.

They include semiconductors and other critical inputs needed by fledgling Chinese tech industries.

So far, Beijing has sought to win sympathy and support by burnishing its credentials as a rules-abiding member of the World Trade Organization.

China has hinted it could also leverage its role as the main global supplier of rare earths used in smartphones, lightweight magnets, batteries and other components to slap back. It could also target Apple and other companies that rely on Chinese manufacturing and sales.

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: A mans hold a Zara shopping bag outside a Zara store, an Inditex brand, in central Madrid
FILE PHOTO: A mans hold a Zara shopping bag outside a Zara store, an Inditex brand, in central Madrid, Spain, December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Susana Vera/File Photo

May 23, 2019

By Sonya Dowsett

MADRID (Reuters) – The world’s biggest clothing retailer Inditex said on Thursday it would split its current dual role of chief executive and chairman, leaving Pablo Isla leading the company as chairman and appointing COO Carlos Crespo as the new CEO.

The appointment reflected the importance of technology at Inditex, a company source said, given the owner of Zara, Massimo Dutti and Bershka is seeking to integrate online sales with its store network by focusing on large stores where customers might try on items to buy later online.

Although Inditex is seen by investors as one of the best-performing apparel retailers, its earnings growth has come under pressure as it faces increasing competition and as online retailing makes shoppers more savvy trawling for bargains.

As chief operating officer, Crespo oversaw the integration of the company’s online and physical stores with features like “click and collect” and the ability of customers to check online to see if an item was available in a nearby store.

Isla, who until now has held the positions of both chairman and CEO, will stay as executive chairman. Crespo will work with Isla to define overall company strategy, the company said.

“Most importantly for investors in our view is that Pablo Isla remains fully committed to the business as executive chairman and Carlos Crespo will be reporting into him,” said Adam Cochrane, analyst at Citi.

“The overall strategy and execution will be unchanged.”

Inditex had separate roles for chairman and chief executive until 2011 when then-CEO Isla took over as chairman from founder Amancio Ortega. Ortega, 83, still plays an active role in the company.

The company disappointed the market in March by missing full-year earnings expectations, held back by flat margins and a stronger euro which curbed sales growth at Zara and its other brands.

Shares closed at 24.7 euros on Thursday, giving the company a market value of 77.25 billion euros. Shares have risen 13 percent in the year to date.

Crespo, 48, has been with Inditex for 18 years and will be responsible for technology, IT security, logistics and transportation amongst other areas in his new role.

“Carlos Crespo’s track record within the group and his responsibilities as COO made this promotion the natural next step,” Inditex said in a statement.

The appointment will take effect in July, once approved by the board and shareholders.

(Reporting by Sonya Dowsett, editing by David Evans)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Hungarian Foreign Minister Szijjarto attends a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo in Budapest.
FILE PHOTO: Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto attends a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Budapest, Hungary, February 11, 2019. REUTERS/Tamas Kaszas

May 23, 2019

By John Irish

PARIS (Reuters) – Hungary’s foreign minister on Thursday accused major Western European nations of “hypocrisy” and “hysteria” for criticizing central European countries’ business dealings with China, and defended Hungary’s use of Huawei 5G mobile phone technology.

Sixteen central and eastern European countries, including 11 European Union members, held a summit with China in April during which it pledged to increase trade and provide more support for big cross-border infrastructure projects.

The area is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to link China by sea and land with Southeast and Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

France and Germany oppose such independent moves, which they fear might make Europe appear disunited at a time when the EU is trying to forge a more defensive strategy towards China.

On Tuesday, speaking to reporters in Paris, France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire criticized “negotiations of 16 states from the east with China in parallel to negotiations that the EU is leading with China”.

But Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto rejected such criticism, saying Germany and France do far more business with China than the central European states, and often negotiate directly with Beijing.

“There is such a bad hypocrisy in the European Union when it comes to China,” Szijjarto told Reuters on the sidelines of an OECD meeting in Paris. “The 11 central and eastern European member states … represent 9.9 percent of EU trade with China.”

“When the German chancellor and French president meet China’s leadership nobody thinks that’s a problem,” he said. “Nobody raises a question about how it is possible that they sell 300 aircraft to China, which is a bigger deal than the (entire) trade represented by the 11 central European countries.”

He said it was also unfair for Western European states to criticize Hungary for using technology from Chinese firm Huawei in its 5G mobile phone networks, when those networks were being built under license by German and British companies, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone.

The United States and some of its European allies are pushing countries to exclude Huawei technology from their infrastructure, arguing that the world’s biggest telecoms equipment maker could pose a security threat. Huawei denies that its technology could be misused by the Chinese state.

The Hungarian mobile phone licenses were “signed by the biggest German and British telecommunications companies, and then the Germans, British and French accuse us of opening up our market to Huawei,” Szijjarto said.

“When it comes to China it’s a matter of competition. Instead of crying, instead of making hysteria and accusing central European countries, we should strengthen ourselves and be ready for the competition.”

(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Leigh Thomas)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An EU flag flies between Swiss and German national flags near the German-Swiss border in Rheinfelden, Germany
FILE PHOTO: An EU flag flies between Swiss and German national flags near the German-Swiss border in Rheinfelden, Germany, March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd WIegmann/File Photo

May 23, 2019

By Michael Shields

ZURICH (Reuters) – Opposition from across the political spectrum will make it all but impossible for the Swiss government to sign a draft treaty with the European Union next month, sources close to the matter told Reuters.

Failure to sign the accord that Brussels has sought for a decade and which was negotiated over four years would plunge Swiss ties with its biggest trading partner into a new ice age, potentially disrupting trade and cross-border securities deals.

The Swiss cabinet is likely to tell Brussels that too many issues remain unresolved to clinch a deal now while it battles a far-right campaign to end the free movement of EU citizens in a referendum due next year, the sources said. That looming battle is being billed as Switzerland’s Brexit moment.

With the treaty stalled, the European Commission has threatened not to extend beyond mid-2019 the recognition of Swiss stock exchange rules that lets EU investors make trades there.

Swiss medical technology firms could feel the pinch as Brussels drags its feet on updating mutual recognition of industrial standards in the sector, making exports harder. Swiss scientists could also be frozen out of EU research programs if Europe plays hardball over Swiss footdragging on a pact.

The EU accounts for 60% of Switzerland’s foreign trade by volume.

The dangers are clear, but it is a price Swiss leaders appear ready to pay.

“There are still too many open points that can been seen as negative for the economy,” broadcaster SRF quoted President Ueli Maurer as telling a conference in Interlaken.

FIFTY SHADES OF NO

In the four-party, seven-member cabinet, only Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis of the pro-business Liberals actively supports the deal, said one senior official from a coalition member. For the others, it is “fifty shades of no”, the source said, seeking anonymity to discuss confidential deliberations.

The treaty would have non-EU member Switzerland routinely adopt EU single market rules and have EU citizens in Switzerland enjoy the same rights as in their home countries. It would open the possibility of new trade deals, such as for an electricity union yoking Swiss and European utilities.

Opponents range from the far-right Swiss People’s Party, which calls the treaty an unacceptable infringement of sovereignty, to the center-left Social Democrats, who reject diluting Swiss rules that protect Europe’s highest wages from cross-border competition.

The government has wrapped up months of consultations with domestic power brokers on how to proceed, and must give Brussels an answer next month.

The message is likely to be that Switzerland will keep working on a treaty but that its top priority is to unite its political forces and stave off the campaign to end the free movement of EU nationals into the country.

That is unlikely to satisfy the EU, which expects a clear signal that Bern accepts the treaty text and will start the ratification process. It has ruled out renegotiating the treaty.

A Swiss government spokesman said only that the cabinet discussed the situation regularly and would communicate its decision by summer.

The timing is complicated by parliamentary elections in both the EU and Switzerland this year. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has urged the Swiss to do a deal while he is still in office, but this looks increasingly unlikely.

Unlike Britain’s messy Brexit divorce from the EU, Switzerland has a patchwork of 120 sectoral accords that govern EU ties and which would remain in place in the absence of a new treaty. But they will become increasingly outdated as EU single market rules evolve.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Mark Heinrich and John Stonestreet)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An EU flag flies between Swiss and German national flags near the German-Swiss border in Rheinfelden, Germany
FILE PHOTO: An EU flag flies between Swiss and German national flags near the German-Swiss border in Rheinfelden, Germany, March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd WIegmann/File Photo

May 23, 2019

By Michael Shields

ZURICH (Reuters) – Opposition from across the political spectrum will make it all but impossible for the Swiss government to sign a draft treaty with the European Union next month, sources close to the matter told Reuters.

Failure to sign the accord that Brussels has sought for a decade and which was negotiated over four years would plunge Swiss ties with its biggest trading partner into a new ice age, potentially disrupting trade and cross-border securities deals.

The Swiss cabinet is likely to tell Brussels that too many issues remain unresolved to clinch a deal now while it battles a far-right campaign to end the free movement of EU citizens in a referendum due next year, the sources said. That looming battle is being billed as Switzerland’s Brexit moment.

With the treaty stalled, the European Commission has threatened not to extend beyond mid-2019 the recognition of Swiss stock exchange rules that lets EU investors make trades there.

Swiss medical technology firms could feel the pinch as Brussels drags its feet on updating mutual recognition of industrial standards in the sector, making exports harder. Swiss scientists could also be frozen out of EU research programs if Europe plays hardball over Swiss footdragging on a pact.

The EU accounts for 60% of Switzerland’s foreign trade by volume.

The dangers are clear, but it is a price Swiss leaders appear ready to pay.

“There are still too many open points that can been seen as negative for the economy,” broadcaster SRF quoted President Ueli Maurer as telling a conference in Interlaken.

FIFTY SHADES OF NO

In the four-party, seven-member cabinet, only Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis of the pro-business Liberals actively supports the deal, said one senior official from a coalition member. For the others, it is “fifty shades of no”, the source said, seeking anonymity to discuss confidential deliberations.

The treaty would have non-EU member Switzerland routinely adopt EU single market rules and have EU citizens in Switzerland enjoy the same rights as in their home countries. It would open the possibility of new trade deals, such as for an electricity union yoking Swiss and European utilities.

Opponents range from the far-right Swiss People’s Party, which calls the treaty an unacceptable infringement of sovereignty, to the center-left Social Democrats, who reject diluting Swiss rules that protect Europe’s highest wages from cross-border competition.

The government has wrapped up months of consultations with domestic power brokers on how to proceed, and must give Brussels an answer next month.

The message is likely to be that Switzerland will keep working on a treaty but that its top priority is to unite its political forces and stave off the campaign to end the free movement of EU nationals into the country.

That is unlikely to satisfy the EU, which expects a clear signal that Bern accepts the treaty text and will start the ratification process. It has ruled out renegotiating the treaty.

A Swiss government spokesman said only that the cabinet discussed the situation regularly and would communicate its decision by summer.

The timing is complicated by parliamentary elections in both the EU and Switzerland this year. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has urged the Swiss to do a deal while he is still in office, but this looks increasingly unlikely.

Unlike Britain’s messy Brexit divorce from the EU, Switzerland has a patchwork of 120 sectoral accords that govern EU ties and which would remain in place in the absence of a new treaty. But they will become increasingly outdated as EU single market rules evolve.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Mark Heinrich and John Stonestreet)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Dr Karl-Thomas Neumann speaks during a news conference on media day at the Paris auto show, in Paris
FILE PHOTO: Dr Karl-Thomas Neumann speaks during a news conference on media day at the Paris auto show, in Paris, France, September 29, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

May 23, 2019

By Tina Bellon

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A company working to make open-source self-driving software reliable enough to be used in commercially available vehicles said it had hired a former German car boss as it seeks to expand its reach.

Palo Alto, California-based Apex.AI has added Karl-Thomas Neumann, an industry veteran who in the past served as the chief executive of Continental AG and led Volkswagen AG’s China business, to its board.

“Karl-Thomas is a great fit for us as we’re trying to learn off what worked in the past and reach out to more industry players,” Apex.AI co-founder Jan Becker told Reuters in an interview this week.

The U.S. firm is expanding to Europe, opening an office in Munich, Germany in July.

Founded by Becker and Dejan Pangercic, two longtime self-driving car engineers formerly at automotive technology supplier Bosch Corp, Apex.AI plans to make a safer and more reliable version of the so-called Robot Operating System, or ROS.

That software is used by scores of labs and companies in their self-driving car and robotics efforts, including Intel Corp, Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc.

The software is open source, meaning that anyone can adopt it and use it free of charge, but it has so far mainly been deployed in research settings.

Apex.AI aims to create a robust, failproof version of the software that can be deployed by carmakers in later stage commercial applications to guarantee safety-critical driving functions.

It hopes to finish the software by the end of the year and submit it to German inspection firm TÜV for approval in early 2020. Once certified, the software could then be deployed by carmakers worldwide, Becker said.

The company wants to license the software and charge for support services, with the exact pricing model currently under discussion, Neumann said.

Apex.AI to date has raised $15.5 million in venture capital funding, including from the venture arms of Airbus SA and Toyota Motor Corp. Becker said the company was well-funded into 2020.

(Reporting by Tina Bellon, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Dr Karl-Thomas Neumann speaks during a news conference on media day at the Paris auto show, in Paris
FILE PHOTO: Dr Karl-Thomas Neumann speaks during a news conference on media day at the Paris auto show, in Paris, France, September 29, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

May 23, 2019

By Tina Bellon

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A company working to make open-source self-driving software reliable enough to be used in commercially available vehicles said it had hired a former German car boss as it seeks to expand its reach.

Palo Alto, California-based Apex.AI has added Karl-Thomas Neumann, an industry veteran who in the past served as the chief executive of Continental AG and led Volkswagen AG’s China business, to its board.

“Karl-Thomas is a great fit for us as we’re trying to learn off what worked in the past and reach out to more industry players,” Apex.AI co-founder Jan Becker told Reuters in an interview this week.

The U.S. firm is expanding to Europe, opening an office in Munich, Germany in July.

Founded by Becker and Dejan Pangercic, two longtime self-driving car engineers formerly at automotive technology supplier Bosch Corp, Apex.AI plans to make a safer and more reliable version of the so-called Robot Operating System, or ROS.

That software is used by scores of labs and companies in their self-driving car and robotics efforts, including Intel Corp, Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc.

The software is open source, meaning that anyone can adopt it and use it free of charge, but it has so far mainly been deployed in research settings.

Apex.AI aims to create a robust, failproof version of the software that can be deployed by carmakers in later stage commercial applications to guarantee safety-critical driving functions.

It hopes to finish the software by the end of the year and submit it to German inspection firm TÜV for approval in early 2020. Once certified, the software could then be deployed by carmakers worldwide, Becker said.

The company wants to license the software and charge for support services, with the exact pricing model currently under discussion, Neumann said.

Apex.AI to date has raised $15.5 million in venture capital funding, including from the venture arms of Airbus SA and Toyota Motor Corp. Becker said the company was well-funded into 2020.

(Reporting by Tina Bellon, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

Traders work on the floor at the NYSE in New York
Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

May 23, 2019

By Shreyashi Sanyal

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures slid on Thursday, as investors worried that the U.S.-China trade war could spiral into a technology cold war between the two countries, with no signs of resolution in sight.

Beijing said Washington needs to correct its “wrong actions” for trade talks to continue after the United States blacklisted Huawei Technology Co Ltd last week.

Although the Trump administration temporarily eased curbs on the Chinese telecoms gear maker, tensions again mounted following reports on Wednesday that the United States was considering sanctions on Chinese video surveillance firm Hikvision.

Investors now fret that tit-for-tat tariffs and other retaliatory actions by the world’s two largest economies will be a drag on global growth, especially hitting the high-growth technology sector.

Apple Inc shares fell 1.7% in premarket trading, while those of chipmakers, which have a higher revenue exposure to China, also declined. Intel Corp, Micron Technology Inc and Qualcomm Inc slipped between 1.7% and 3.6%

Tepid data from the eurozone added to the downbeat tone. A private survey showed business growth accelerating at a slower-than-expected pace this month, weighed down by a deepening contraction in the bloc’s manufacturing industry.

At 7:06 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 223 points, or 0.87%. S&P 500 e-minis were down 25 points, or 0.87% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 88 points, or 1.18%.

The prolonged U.S.-China trade war has rattled financial markets, knocking the benchmark S&P 500 index 3.4% off its record high hit on May 1. The index is now on track to post its worst monthly decline of the year.

Investors on Wednesday largely shrugged off the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting, in which officials agreed that their patient approach to setting monetary policy could remain in place “for some time.”

Tesla Inc fell 3.3%, set to add to a six-day slump, which has pushed its closing price to below $200 for the first time since 2016.

Hormel Foods Corp fell 2.3% after the packaged meat producer cut its full-year earnings forecast.

In a bright spot, L Brands Inc jumped 12.4% after the retailer reported better-than-expected earnings, helped by sales at its Bath & Body Works business.

A Commerce Department report, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, is expected to show new home sales declined to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 675,000 in April, after having risen to 692,000 units in March.

A separate report due later is expected to show Markit’s purchasing managers survey of manufacturing activity edged down to 52.5 in May from 52.6 in the previous month.

(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

Source: OANN


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