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FAANG Report: Google told to drop China search engine; Netflix moving to Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard

Police using Facebook accounts to keep track on protesters and gangs
Google search engine.

The Trump administration called on Alphabet Inc's Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) to abandon Project Dragonfly, the censored search engine and news app it is developing for China, a report by The Verge said.

Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech that Google's modified search engine would "strengthen Communist Party censorship and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers."

Google has not yet formally confirmed the program even exists, with company CEO Sundar Pichai saying the project is "exploratory", but opposition has already erupted against the project, the report said.

Shares of Google retreated 1.49% to $1,150.80 by midsession.

Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:NFLX) is dramatically expanding its footprint in Los Angeles by leasing space in a new 13-story building on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, Variety reported.

Netflix is planning to move into the building, which is currently under construction, in phases beginning in January 2020. The lease is set to expire in 2031.

The streaming giant also signed a coterminous lease extension - through 2031 - for 325,757 square feet of office space at ICON and 91,953 square feet of office space at CUE, both of which are Hudson Pacific assets located on the Sunset Bronson Studios lot.

Sunset Bronson is owned and operated by Hudson Pacific and is home to long-term tenants CBS and KTLA, the report said.

Netflix stock was 4.7% weaker at $346.41.  

READ: Super Micro Computer rejects reports Chinese spy chips in servers used by Apple and

The profitability of Inc may take a slight hit after it decided to raise its minimum pay to $15 per hour, a report by CBS said.

The wage increase may add $2.2 billion to Amazon's annual payroll, making it $8.2 billion. While that looks big like a big jump, it's actually less than 1% of the retail giant's projected revenue in 2019, analysts at Deutsche Bank noted this week.

The pay increase could cut Amazon's operating margins, a measure of profitability that Amazon has struggled to raise, especially in its earlier stages, to 4% in 2019 from 4.8% now, with "all else equal," the Deutsche Bank analysts wrote.

Lower margins could make Wall Street leery in the short term as Amazon digests the new costs, the report said.

Amazon shares declined 1.66% to $1,877.78.

READ: Facebook says hacking attack hit almost 50 million accounts

Police officers around the United States are using undercover accounts on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) to watch protesters, track gang members, lure child predators and capture thieves, a report by NBC News said.

The tactic violates Facebook’s terms of use, and the company says it disables fake accounts whenever it discovers them, it said.

But that is about all it can do: Fake accounts are not against the law, and the information gleaned by the police can be used as evidence in criminal and civil cases. Investigators know this, which is why the accounts continue to flourish.

“Every high-tech crime unit has one,” said an officer who uses an undercover account to monitor gang members and drug dealers in New Jersey and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid having the account exposed or shut down. “It’s not uncommon, but we don’t like to talk about it too much.”

Facebook shares fell 0.9% to $157.39.

The stock of suppliers of Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) fell across Asia after the report that Chine planted spy chips in hardware used by the iPhone maker and of retail giant Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN), a report by CNBC said.

In Japan, shares of electronic parts maker TDK dropped by 4.79% while component supplier Murata Manufacturing declined by 3.9%. In South Korea, LG Display fell by 1.84% while industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics closed flat despite earlier announcing that its third-quarter operating profit was likely to have risen to a record high, the report said.

Declines were also seen in the Taiwanese markets, where major Apple chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor fell by 1.57% and lens maker Largan Precision dropped by 7.28%. The moves followed a report by Bloomberg which claimed data center equipment for Amazon Web Services and Apple were compromised by the Chinese planting chips on their motherboards during the manufacturing process in China.

Apple shares dropped 1.8% $223.89. 

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