December 5, 2023


Unlimited Technology

FirstFT: Today’s top news

The chief executives of Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Alphabet faced accusations of behaving like “cyber barons” and unfairly squashing competition in an unprecedented and at times uncomfortable grilling from US lawmakers on Wednesday.

Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai were told their companies had “too much power”, which harmed not just rivals but also consumers and threatened the health of the American economy.

“Many of the practices used by these companies have harmful economic effects. They discourage entrepreneurship, destroy jobs, raise costs and degrade quality,” said David Cicilline, the Democratic chair of the House antitrust subcommittee.

While concern over the power of Big Tech is a bipartisan issue, the two parties seemed at odds over the nature of the threat, with Republicans railing against what they claim to be an anticonservative bias.

More from the Financial Times

Here’s which tech titan was questioned most, and how often the group repeated stock phrases, including “we are not that big”. In Europe, Apple also faced another formal antitrust complaint, this time from Telegram. (FT, NYT)

The US coronavirus death toll increased at its fastest pace in weeks as figures jumped in Florida, California and Texas. Lawmakers remain “far apart” on new stimulus as jobless benefits expire on Friday.

Boris Johnson was urged to rethink blanket new quarantine rules on Spain. UK car manufacturing has fallen 42 per cent to the lowest level since 1954. Outbreaks reveal disparities in the test and trace programmes of England and Wales.

The UK agreed to buy up to 60m doses of a Covid-19 vaccine from Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline. Russia plans to register the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine in August. Kodak shares surged nearly 1,500 per cent on a pandemic loan.

Germany tightened abattoir regulations following outbreaks. The EU is set to drop Algeria from its travel safe list — which still excludes the US.

Hong Kong’s economy shrank 9 per cent in the second quarter, a bigger drop than expected. (FT, WSJ. Reuters)

The FT has launched a global economic recovery tracker to provide a first snapshot of activity across key sectors. Follow our live coverage here.

Fed warns over virus resurgence The Federal Reserve made no changes to monetary policy and extended measures to deal with the risk of an international dollar shortage, turning to Congress to renew fiscal stimulus. Stocks gained, gold lost ground and the dollar weakened. (FT)

Auf Wiedersehen The Trump administration will begin pulling almost 12,000 US troops out of Germany within “weeks”, Mark Esper, defence secretary, said. The move is set to inflame tensions within Nato. (FT)

TikTok fights back Chief executive Kevin Mayer accused Facebook of smearing TikTok and described forthcoming Instagram Reels as a “copycat product”. But even a possible sale of the Chinese-owned, viral-video app has not reassured Republicans. (FT, WSJ)

Portland pullout Federal agents will begin a “phased withdrawal” from Portland, Oregon, the homeland security department said. Here’s a fact-check of attorney-general William Barr’s testimony to Congress this week that covers the protests, police shootings and coronavirus. (FT, NYT)

Private equity’s own medicine Amid a wave of coronavirus-prompted corporate restructurings, private equity firms long seen as aggressive interlopers are appealing to courts about the behaviour of rival creditors. (FT)

Exclusive: Vatican property ‘scandal’ middleman revealed A UK-based businessman charged with fraud for his role in brokering the Vatican’s purchase of a luxury London building provided a loan to the seller of the property months before the real estate deal took place. (FT)

Wirecard defence Olaf Scholz, Germany’s finance minister, insisted in closed-door hearings on Wednesday that authorities had done all in their power to uncover irregularities at Wirecard. Germany asked Russia for help locating fugitive Wirecard executive Jan Marsalek. (FT, WSJ)

Earnings round-up Shopify sales doubled, surpassing spending on eBay for the first time, while Qualcomm shares hit a record high on a deal with Huawei. Boeing is planning deeper cuts to production and employment, General Motors’ sales halved and General Electric will sell its stake in oilfield services business Baker Hughes. (FT)

Stonehenge source discovered Scientists have determined that many of the sandstone megaliths erected at Stonehenge around 2500BC were sourced about 15 miles away, at a site called West Woods. (Reuters)

Tech earnings Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook, worth almost $5tn combined, report quarterly results on Thursday. Weaker consumer spending will weigh on Apple while Alphabet is set to suffer from advertising declines, but Facebook is expected to post a revenue rise. (FT)

Shell dividend All eyes are on whether Royal Dutch Shell will pay a dividend when it reports after cutting its payout in April for the first time since the second world war. (FT)

US GDP The US economy is expected to post its biggest quarterly fall on record for the second quarter, with analysts forecasting a 35 per cent drop. Weekly jobless claims are set to remain near last week’s 1.4m. (WSJ, FT)

Mission to Mars Nasa’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is set to launch shortly before 8am EDT on Thursday from Florida. Watch it here. (Nasa)

Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s Week Ahead . Click to subscribe here . And don’t miss our FT News Briefing  audio show — a short daily rundown of the top global stories.

UK small business meltdown After more than four months of lockdown, the UK’s 6m small businesses are running out of cash and at the centre of a looming economic crisis that could result in more than 3m unemployed, a level not witnessed since the deep recession of the 1980s. (FT)

The world views of Trump and Pompeo The US president and his secretary of state have radically different world views, Janan Ganesh writes — Donald Trump is transactional while Mike Pompeo moralises. Here are the leading candidates to be Joe Biden’s running mate. (FT)

Where do Mr Trump and Mr Biden stand? Follow our poll tracker here .

A US-China rivalry is no cold war Beijing has grand ambitions to replace the US as the world’s most powerful nation. But to paraphrase George Kennan, it is not seeking the global defeat of capitalism, Philip Stephens writes. Speculators have found a new tool to pressure Beijing: antique debt. (FT)

Will Covid-19 tame China’s wildlife trade? China’s illegal wildlife trade has come under global scrutiny over the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. The government has responded sharply — but will the prohibition on trading exotic species be permanent? (FT)

ETFs are the canary in the bond coal mine It is too early to pass definitive judgment on the resilience of banks and finance during the pandemic, but lessons are emerging around ETFs, writes Gillian Tett. The crisis has also taken a bite out of the chocolate market. (FT)

Pandemic ‘motherhood penalties’ New data show women were more likely to face job losses during the pandemic and to bear the brunt of childcare, writes Lucy Warwick-Ching. Jo Ellison reflects on the viral #challengeaccepted and finds it promotes little more than vanity. (FT)

How safe is it to fly? As airlines rush to return to the skies, the industry must restore travellers’ confidence that flying is not as risky as it seems. Michael Skapinker hails the end of the jumbo jet era with dry eyes for Boeing’s 747 and appreciation for the Airbus A380. (FT)

FT300: Financial advisers Coronavirus has proven a boon to financial advisers, who are discarding the 2008 crisis playbook as markets begin to recover. Here’s the FT’s annual list of the top 300 US investment advisers by state — has yours made the cut? Read more in our special report. (FT)

Don’t miss our August picks for the top business books .

The future after furlough Next week, the UK will begin winding down its furlough scheme. In this live Q&A, personal finance editor Claer Barrett and Craig Beaumont, chief of external affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses, answered readers’ questions. (FT)

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