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The daily business briefing: December 6, 2018

Harold Maass
The Huawei logo in Barcelona
JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images
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1.

Canada arrests CFO of China's Huawei Technologies

Canada has arrested Meng Wanzhou, the global chief financial officer of China's Huawei Technologies, Canadian Justice Department spokesman Ian McLeod said Wednesday. Meng has a bail hearing Friday and faces extradition to the U.S., where the Chinese tech giant is under investigation for possible violations of sanctions against Iran. McLeod said Meng, a deputy chair of Huawei's board and daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Vancouver on Saturday. The U.S. has been looking into Huawei's suspected shipping of products originated in the U.S. to Iran since 2016. China demanded Meng's release, and Huawei said it was "unaware of any wrongdoing" by her. [The Associated Press, The Globe and Mail]

2.

Stock futures plunge as Huawei exec's arrest reignites trade fears

U.S. stock futures dropped sharply early Thursday after the arrest of a top executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei in Canada intensified doubts that a temporary truce will lead to the end of the U.S.-China trade war. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 1.8 percent, while those of the S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 were down by 1.7 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively. U.S. markets were closed Wednesday for a day of mourning for former President George H.W. Bush, but the main U.S. indexes dropped by more than 3 percent on Tuesday. The U.S. has been urging allies to stop using Huawei equipment due to fears China could use it for spying. [MarketWatch, Reuters]

3.

Oil prices fall after Saudi Arabia backs smaller output cut

Oil prices dropped by about 4 percent early Thursday morning after Saudi Arabia's energy minister said that OPEC and allied producers might cut output by less than previously promised. The powerful oil cartel is holding a meeting in Vienna, Austria, aiming for an agreement on production levels for the next six months. Saudi Arabia previously indicated it wanted the allied producers to cut production by 1.3 million barrels per day to trim excess supply, but Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told reporters Thursday morning a cut of 1 million barrels per day would be enough. OPEC started working with Russia and other nations last year to tweak crude supply in response to a glut that had driven down prices. [CNBC]

4.

Report: Facebook gave favored partners special access to user data

Facebook boosted some partners, including Airbnb, Lyft, and Netflix, by giving them access to user data that it kept from rival companies, according to internal Facebook emails and other documents released Wednesday by a British parliamentary committee. The documents mostly concerned Facebook's actions from 2012 to 2015, a period of explosive growth for the social network. The material showed how intimately involved Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg were in making sure decisions fueled growth and kept users engaged. The release of the internal documents complicates Facebook's challenges as it faces questions about how it has handled misinformation and whether it does enough to protect user data. [The New York Times]

5.

Fed reports continuing economic growth but rising threats

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that the economy grew in the fall but concerns grew about a drag from higher tariffs, rising interest rates, and a tightening labor market. The Fed said in its latest report on nationwide economic conditions that most of its 12 regions experienced healthy growth through November, but that businesses were facing "increased uncertainty." Fed policy makers will take the report into account at their next meeting, scheduled for Dec. 18 and 19. The Fed is expected to raise interest rates another quarter point at the meeting, but economists increasingly expect the U.S. central bank to signal that it could slow its plan to steadily nudge its benchmark interest rate higher. [The Associated Press]