See Boston Dynamics robot stack warehouse boxes like a Tetris pro

first_img Post a comment 18 Photos Share your voice Tags The upgraded Boston Dynamics Handle robot can stack robots quickly in a warehouse setting. Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET Boston Dynamics builds robots that can run, dance and even do parkour. Now the company has perfected its Handle robot so it can stack heavy boxes as if they were blocks in an extreme version of Tetris. The original Handle robot was created in 2017 as a research robot. It stands 6.5 feet (2 meters) tall, travels at 9 mph (14.5 kph) and jumps 4 feet (1.2 meters) vertically.  Sci-Tech Now playing: Watch this: 1:51 Meet Boston Dynamics’ weird and wonderful robot familycenter_img Robots 0 More robots Handle’s onboard vision system tracks marked pallets, and finds individual boxes for grasping and stacking. As Handle puts a box onto a pallet, it uses force control to stack the boxes up against each other. The boxes seen in a video posted on Thursday weigh about 11 pounds (5 kilograms). But Handle is designed to lift heavier boxes up to 33 pounds (15 kilograms). This upgraded Handle can also work with pallets that are 48 inches (1.2 meters) deep and 68 inches (1.7 meters) tall. Boston Dynamics Handle robot is a box-stacking beast This new version of the Handle robot has been upgraded as a mobile manipulation robot designed for warehouse tasks and manual labor. The robot can quickly stack multiple heavy boxes on a pallet, as well as unload them, according to Boston Dynamics. Smart, agile MIT robot plays a mean game of Jenga This robot wants to teach you Buddhist chants Hotel fires half its robot staff for sucking at their jobslast_img read more

Study shows truck SUV owners want better fuel economy from their vehicles

first_img The best SUVs for off-roading Driving Detroit: Pushing the fuel economy envelope More about 2020 Ram 1500 Tradesman 4×2 Quad Cab 6’4″ Box More From Roadshow News • 2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel has tech, torque and towing capability in spades 5 2019 Chevy Malibu review: Swing and a miss Share your voice 22 Photos Now playing: Watch this:center_img 2020 Hyundai Palisade review: Posh enough to make Genesis jealous Trucks SUVs Comments Preview • 2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel first drive: More capability for an already solid fullsize truck 2020 BMW M340i review: A dash of M makes everything better 8:39 Tags Enlarge ImageTruck and SUV owners want automakers to step it up with regards to efficiency. Chevrolet The auto industry as a whole has seen impressive gains in fuel economy in the past two decades, especially in the crossover SUV segment. Pickup trucks and larger SUVs, however, still suffer from pretty ho-hum fuel economy figures. It appears owners have started to take notice as a new Consumer Reports study revealed truck and SUV owners are interested in better fuel economy.Compared to the 42% of owners of all other vehicle types, the study revealed 73% of people driving a large SUV and pickup truck are interested in purchasing a vehicle with better fuel economy. The results follow an EPA report that noted large SUVs and pickups have fallen behind other segments with regards to fuel efficiency.Overall, fuel efficiency is still a high priority for American car buyers. Of the numerous categories, the majority of respondents (37%) said fuel economy is the area in most need of improvement for their next vehicle. The answer topped maintenance costs, purchase price and infotainment by at least 11 percentage points. Digging deeper into the fuel efficiency woes truck and SUV owners feel, they were nearly twice as likely to select fuel efficiency as the trait most desired for their next vehicle compared to owners of other vehicle types.Although the sample size was rather small at 1,078 US adults, 88% agreed fuel economy should continue to rise for all vehicle types. Further, 80% said fuel economy should increase to 40 mpg and the figure is a “worthwhile goal.” This is in contrast to current doings at the federal level. The Trump administration is finalizing weakened fuel economy and emissions regulations, though a handful of automakers have revolted and joined a pact with California that features a compromise standard.On the negative side of things, only 34% of Americans felt automakers truly cared about lowering fuel costs for buyers. The rest disagreed or were unsure.last_img read more

Tata Steel UK Govt meets Indianorigin businessman for sale talks

first_imgBusiness tycoon Sanjeev Gupta, who is interested in acquiring Tata’s steel business in the U.K., met the British government representatives Tuesday. The U.K. government is hunting for a potential buyer for the loss-making steel business.Tata had announced last week it was putting its entire U.K. operations up for sale. Sajid Javid, Britain’s Business Minister, met Gupta in London Tuesday to determine how serious he was about buying the steel business. Javid is also due to meet Tata Chairman Cyrus Mistry in Mumbai Wednesday, to discuss the process of sale, Reuters reports.Gupta termed the meet as “positive.” He also said that the U.K. government was “highly supportive” and “actively engaged” in terms of finding a possible solution.”The next step is for Tata to define the formal sales process and request indications of interest from potential buyers, “he said in a statement after the meeting, Reuters added.Last week, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron reportedly met ministers to discuss possible options for the Tata business.Carwyn Jones, Wales’ First Minister, told Reuters that the government is “willing” to discuss solutions for the company’s pension deficit, structural challenges and high energy costs — that drove Tata to walk away.The U.K. Business Minister also met other potential buyers but the details have not been revealed. “The important thing is where the buyers are coming forward we are ready to work with them,” Javid was quoted as saying by BBC.Sanjeev Gupta’s Liberty House Group is a U.K.-based steel and non-ferrous metals group, which operates in London, Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong. It has its assets in Asia, Africa and Britain. The firm’s annual turnover is about $5 billion. Its total production capacity in steel exceeds three million MTPA, according to the company’s website.last_img read more

BSF shoots Bangladeshi dead along Lalmonirhat border

first_imgBSFA Bangladeshi national was shot to death and another received bullet wounds in firing by Border Security Force of India (BSF) in Doikhawa border of Hatibandha upazila of Lalmonirhat district in the early hours of Thursday, reports UNB.The deceased could not be identified immediately.Lt Col Golam Morshed, director of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB)-15, said that a team of BSF from its 100-Paglabari camp in Cooch Behar district opened fire on a group of cattle trader who went in the border adjacent to sub pillar No 10F of main pillar No 905 around 4:00 am for bringing cattle, leaving a cattle trader dead on the spot and another injured with bullet.last_img

Study Electric Market Reforms Delivered What Was Intended

first_img 00:00 /01:18 Listen Photo by Fré Sonneveld. CC0 license. To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code:center_img X “Deregulating” the Texas electricity market “delivered what was intended.”That’s the takeaway from a new study of the price you pay for electricity, but the findings don’t mean there’s a consensus on whether competition is good for consumers.Here’s the big question: do you get a better deal if you can choose who you buy electricity from, or is better if you have no choice, and have to buy from one city-owned utility company?New research from Rice University shows that since reforms aimed at expanding consumer choice went into effect 15 years ago, they have made progress toward lowering prices. “As we rolled through 2016, you actually saw that rates in competitive areas had moved to a point of parity with rates in non-competitive areas,” says Ken Medlock, one of the study’s authors. Still, the consumer advocacy group Texas Coalition for Affordable Power has repeatedly documented more expensive electricity in places like Houston, where there are a lot of options. “The findings here are a bit rosier than our findings over the years,” says R.A. Dyer, a policy analyst with the group.Medlock, with Rice University, says it’s true that competitive markets have been more expensive on average since deregulation, but he says that’s because reforms took a while to have an impact.“Prices were adjusting over time to reflect the introduction of competition in the area where you lived, whereas maybe it wasn’t introduced in an area where your friend lived,” he says. Medlock says cheap natural gas prices have helped lower electric costs in areas with multiple providers, but natural gas hasn’t had much of an impact in places with one city-owned provider. Sharelast_img read more

AFRO to Launch New Clean Block Campaign

first_imgHow the Clean Block campaign played out in the past. (AFRO file photo)The latest incarnation of the AFRO’s Clean Block will launch on June 4 with a press conference held in front of the Baltimore AFRO at 2519 N. Charles, Baltimore, Md.The AFRO’s Clean Block program began in 1934 as a way to beautify Baltimore and ran for several decades. As the AFRO wrote in 1968 about the kickoff of the 34th season of Clean Block, “The AFRO sponsors the campaign in the hopes that Clean Blockers will learn the value of respect for property, for one another and for the community.”This new campaign has the support of numerous neighborhoods and Baltimore City Council members. The press conference will begin at 10 a.m. on June 4 and neighborhoods that want to participate can contact Diane Hocker, director, community & public relations for the AFRO at dhocker@afro.com or 410-554-8243.last_img

5 Crazy Things We Learned About Google Today

first_img 4 min read Google-parent Alphabet’s revenue rose 24 percent year-over-year, to $32.32 billion, exceeding expectations. Net revenue also beat expectations, at $25.9 billion. And because of recent tax legislation in the last quarter, the company faced a net loss of $3.02 billion.But to better illustrate those metrics and potential growth areas for the company, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Alphabet and Google CFO Ruth Porat sprinkled in some more tangible numbers about the company’s progress over the last quarter of 2017 and the year overall. Related: The Surprising Ways Amazon, Apple and Microsoft Really Make Their Billions The figures they shared reveal where the company is headed and how its investments in its “three biggest bets,” — hardware, cloud and YouTube — have manifested themselves. 1. Google Assistant is now available on more than 400 million devices.From the Google Home speaker to smartphones, tablets, headphones, televisions and even 400 different car models, the Google Assistant is finding its way into more and more devices. Google has sold “tens of millions” of Google devices for the home over the past year, including the Google Home, Mini, Max and Chromecast.“Our AI research and innovation leads the world,” Pichai said during Thursday’s earnings call. “Our mission to better organize the world’s information has been transformed by these technologies, with our search products and the Google Assistant at the heart.” Pichai also noted that “There was a lot of excitement around the Google Assistant at CES from partners and consumers.” (That was thanks in part to the company’s aggressive advertising efforts in Las Vegas.) 2. People rang in the new year with 3 billion Google Photos.“One area that’s really benefiting from our advancements in AI is photography,” Pichai said during Thursday’s call. He noted that the Pixel 2 phone employs machine learning and video stabilization to up the ante on smartphone video standards.He also shared a crazy stat about Google Photos: More than 3 billion photos and videos were uploaded to Google Photos on New Year’s Eve alone. 3. Google Cloud brings in $1 billion per quarter.“Google Cloud, which includes Google Cloud platform and G suite, has reached meaningful scale,” Pichai said. “And I’m excited to share today that it’s already a billion-dollar-per-quarter business. In fact, we believe that Google Cloud platform, based on publicly reported data for the 12 months ending December 2017, is the fastest-growing major public cloud provider in the world.” Also this quarter, Google surpassed 4 million paying customers on G Suite.4. ‘Every month, more than 1.5 billion people come to YouTube.’Those 1.5 monthly visitors are responsible for 1 billion “learning-related video views” daily, Pichai reported. Around the world, there are now localized versions of YouTube in 90 countries — in 80 languages.He also noted that more and more people are watching traditional television programs, such as news events, via YouTube. On Jan. 30, YouTube garnered 5 million live views of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address. 5. Google’s self-driving car business clocked 1 million miles in the past six months.Google’s driverless car division, Waymo, has “surpassed 4 million miles of driving in the real world,” Alphabet and Google CFO Ruth Porat reported during the earnings call. It took the Waymo vehicles “only six months to achieve the last million miles, compared to about 18 months for our first million miles,” Porat said. Waymo self-driving vehicles cover 10,000 miles on public roads each day. Porat reminded listeners that in November 2017, Waymo became the only fleet of driverless cars that operates completely autonomously.In 2017, we drove an additional 2.7 billion miles in simulation, multiplying what we learn in the real world. (At its peak, that’s 2,000 complex driving scenarios per second!). pic.twitter.com/ZJ3uCiGbLL— Waymo (@Waymo) February 1, 2018 Hear from business owners and CEOs who went through a crippling business problem and came out the other side bigger and stronger. Listen Nowcenter_img Problem Solvers with Jason Feifer February 1, 2018last_img read more

Two lanes closed on M6 in Staffordshire after accident damages barrier

first_imgGet the biggest Daily stories by emailSubscribeSee our privacy noticeThank you for subscribingSee our privacy noticeCould not subscribe, try again laterInvalid EmailTwo lanes remain closed on the M6 motorway in Staffordshire following an accident in the early hours of this morning. Lanes two and three are closed on the northbound carriageway between junction 11 (Cannock) and junction 11a (the M6 Toll) according to Highways England. The collision, which took place at around 1.30am this morning, closed the northbound motorway for several hours, however just lanes remain shut as of 6am this morning (Wednesday February 27). One lane was also closed southbound, but reopened just after 6am. As of 7.37am Highways England confirmed there were around five miles of congestion. Highways England are continuing to work on the barrier this morning (Image: Highways England) Highways England said barrier repairs are continuing, with a HGV involved in the accident also knocking over a lamp column. At 7.45am a Highways England spokesman added:  “Lane 2 & 3 (of 3) remains closed on the M6 Northbound between J11 Cannock & J11A M6 Toll whilst our team are rehanging the barrier.” “The location of the incident means traffic joining the M6 northbound from the M6 Toll at J11a is unaffected by the closure. “Road users are advised to allow additional time for their journey. Read MorePlans for £40m development off M6 with M&S Simply Food, drive thru and 96 homes set to be THROWN OUT   Want to tell us about something going on where you live? Let us know – Tweet us  @SOTLive or message us on  our Facebook page . And if you have pictures to share, tag us on Instagram at  StokeonTrentLive .last_img read more

Private equity groups Apax Partners and Bain Capit

first_imgPrivate equity groups Apax Partners and Bain Capital have made a rival bid for Portugal Telecom following Altice’s €7 billion bid for the company and Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos’s counter-bid for the holding company for Portugal Telecom’s stake in Oi. The two private equity companies have made a €7.075 billion bid for the Portuguese assets of Portugal Telecom, rivaling Altice’s €7.025 billion bid. The joint offer includes two €400 million deferred payments that are dependent on how the assets perform in the future.Like Altice’s bid, the new bid would seek to reverse Portugal Telecom’s controversial merger with Oi. Dos Santos’s bid, on the other hand, is based on the merger going ahead.last_img

Several years ago when 15 power companies proposed

first_imgSeveral years ago when 15 power companies proposed as many as 29 new reactors, many assumed that the US nuclear industry was staging a comeback. Then the shale gas boom happened, and natural gas came roaring back in a big way. Now, only two nuclear reactor projects are moving off the drawing board, while US utilities plan to build 258 natural-gas-powered plants by 2015.The shale gas boom, Fukishima disaster, and the fact that it now costs $978 per kilowatt of capacity to build and fuel a gas-fired power plant (as opposed to $5,339 per kilowatt for a nuclear plant) are a few reasons why nuclear projects are being put on the back burner.But US utilities could be eyeing the expiration of a government program that has kept uranium – a vital component of nuclear energy – in check since the early 1990s as a reason to avoid investing in nuclear plants.(Click on image to enlarge)Taken out of the “swords to ploughshares” playbook of old (a concept whereby military weapons are converted into peaceful civilian applications), the Megatons to Megawatts Program is a 1993 US-Russia nonproliferation agreement under which the two former enemies agreed to convert high-enriched uranium (HEU) taken from disassembled Russian nuclear weapons into low-enriched uranium (LEU) to be used for nuclear fuel.The agreement came to fruition in the early 1990s as a result of an alarming lack of security at post-Soviet nuclear-weapons installations. After the collapse of the USSR, there were insufficient funds to pay military guards, even at sites that housed nuclear materials. To prevent nuclear weapons from making their way onto the black market – and joining the 50-odd nuclear warheads that have gone missing in the last 50 years – the US and Russia embarked on an unheard-of joint venture to disarm much of Russia’s nuclear arsenal.The system worked as follows: the US government established the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) (NYSE:USU), while the Russians designated Tekhsnabeksport (“Tenex”) to implement the program in the former Soviet Union. Although subject to political bickering during its onset, the program was mutually beneficial, as the US was flooded with cheap uranium while the Russians were compensated to the tune of $8 billion.In the last 15 years, this program has converted 400 metric tons of HEU from 16,000 Russian nuclear warheads into uranium fuel for US nuclear power plants. Currently, one in every ten American homes, businesses, schools, and hospitals receives electricity generated by Megatons to Megawatts fuel.And, encouragingly, USEC and Tenex signed an agreement in 2011 to extend the exchange of cash for LEU after the Megatons for Megawatts program expires in 2013. Although the US will receive about half of its current uranium shipments, it’s better than nothing.Don’t get me wrong: I’m thrilled that the world has 16,000 fewer nuclear warheads as a result of this program. But the ensuing shortage of uranium and the impact it will have on the US nuclear market is troubling.LEU fuel purchased by USEC through the Megatons for Megawatts program currently generates roughly 50% of the electricity produced by the US’s nuclear power plants, while nuclear power as a whole accounts for about 20% of the total US electricity production. For the 103 nuclear plants currently operating – many of which are owned by nuclear powerhouses Exelon Corp. (NYSE:EXC) and Entergy Corp. (NYSE:ETR) – a shortage of uranium could squeeze margins as suppliers like USEC jack up prices to match dwindling supply.Some proponents of the program, including US Department of Energy consultant Edgar Berkey, assert that the US should try to persuade the 32 or so countries possessing nuclear materials to embark on a program similar to Megatons for Megawatts.But – taking the perspective of one of those 32 nations – why would I want to disarm myself while the US still holds nearly 10,000 warheads of its own?That leaves only one other option: domestic disarmament. Considering the US’s history of flexing its military might, I would say this is highly unlikely, and that – once the de facto subsidy runs out – we’re in for an interesting ride with respect to domestic uranium supplies.last_img read more

In This Issue    Global conflicts heat up  

first_imgIn This Issue. *   Global conflicts heat up. *   Yen benefits from ‘risk off’ atmosphere. *   Brazilian and Russian currencies drop. *   Safe haven funds boost Gold. And Now. Today’s A Pfennig For Your Thoughts. Conflicts across the globe send investors scrambling for shelter. Good Day!  I have to kick off today’s Pfennig with an apology to readers.  Yesterday I was obviously running behind, and being well past my self-imposed deadline I rushed to hit the send button and forgot to update the prices in the ‘Currencies today’ section.  That combined with the breaking news out of Ukraine is what prompted the ‘special update’ which I sent out yesterday morning.  I again apologize for sending two Pfennigs yesterday, but figured it was a big enough oversight on my part to warrant another email into your inbox.  And I felt the breaking news regarding the Malaysia Airlines plane was certainly newsworthy enough to justify the update. The civilian aircraft, flying out of Amsterdam  in route to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over Ukraine in an area where the separatist rebels had recently shot down two Ukraine military planes.  There were 280 passengers and 15 crew who were lost in the crash.  The Ukraine government was quick to deny involvement stating: “The Ukrainian armed forces did not attempt to shoot down targets in the air.”  Ukraine officials stated that they have no reason to shoot down planes in the air, as the rebels do not have aircraft.  They instead blamed the separatist rebels who have been using Russian supplied equipment which the Ukrainian government contends is more than capable of downing a plane cruising over 6 miles up.  I’ll bet that it will be a while before anyone can figure out exactly what happened, and meanwhile the incident has substantially raised the stakes in this conflict which has largely been ignored by the markets. In any event very sad news and another tragedy for Malaysian Airlines. I actually found out about the plane crash when a Bloomberg metals reporter called to get my reaction to it – and by the time I had pulled up the story, gold had dropped $20 and the dollar was moving higher.  Then in the early afternoon Ty Keough leaned over to tell me he just heard Israel had begun a ground invasion of Gaza.  Israeli troops and heavy equipment rolled across the border in search of the ‘terrorist infrastructure’ in Gaza.  The currency and metals markets largely ignored the announcement out of Israel, apparently traders were already as defensive as the felt they needed to be.   But stock investors didn’t like all of this conflict, and equity markets booked their largest single day loss in 2 months (S&P down 1.18% and Dow down .94%).  The proceeds resulting from the sale of these stocks flowed over into US treasuries which rallied throughout the day.  Yields on the US 10 year treasury dropped about 12 basis points following the airline crash and then dropped another 10 basis points following  the Israeli offensive.  The main benefactor of the ‘risk off’ atmosphere was the safe haven currency of the Japanese yen.  The yen strengthened against all of its 31 major peers as these two  geo-political events sent shock waves through the markets.   Again this strength in the Japanese currency was not due to anything which the BOJ or Japanese leaders did, but rather it was a result of currency investors looking for a ‘safe’ place to park funds.  I believe we are also seeing investors reverse ‘carry trades’ which they had entered into over the last few months.  The reversal of these trades involves investors selling their higher yielding currencies and buying back the ‘funding’ currency which has traditionally been the Japanese yen.    The yen has given back some of its gains as Europe opens up this morning. Another sign that these carry trades are being reversed in this ‘risk off’ environment is the fact that the biggest loser of the dollar’s 16 major peers was the Brazilian real, a very popular currency for carry trade investors.  Brazil’s currency dropped 1.5% after the central bank left rates unchanged and investors exited the higher yielding ‘riskier’ currencies.  The only currency which fell more than the real yesterday was the Russian ruble which dropped for obvious reasons.  As I wrote in yesterday’s Pfennig, Brazilian policy makers said that they will hold the target lending rate at 11% as they weigh stalled economic growth against inflation which remains above their target rate.   Adding to the selling pressure on the real, Brazil’s labor minister revised his forecast of job creation yesterday and announced the number of new jobs in June missed analyst forecasts for the fourth straight month.   I will be heading up to Canada later today, and I just realized that I had overlooked reporting on Canada’s central bank meeting earlier this week.  BOC Governor Stephen Poloz left rates unchanged (as expected) but said they are researching what the ‘ideal’ interest rate for the Canadian economy is.  Speaking after the BOC meeting, Poloz noted that the prolonged period of low borrowing costs has led to high debt loads, meaning that when interest rates do eventually rise, they will be more effective in slowing the economy than in the past.  Did you hear that?  Hopefully our own central bank leaders are listening.  It is exactly what Chuck and all of us here have been warning – with the tremendous amount of debt that has been accumulated since the financial crisis, the impacts of any interest rate increase are going to be severe on those responsible for paying interest on all of this debt! As I mentioned in the opening paragraphs, the precious metals were another benefactor of all of the heightened geo-political concerns yesterday.  Gold posted the biggest gain in four weeks and Palladium extended its rally to a 13 year high.  Yesterday’s move put gold’s year to date gain at 9.10%, easily surpassing the YTD gains of equities, treasuries and currencies (top performer is NZD which is up 5.62% YTD).   But Palladiums move this year is over twice that of gold!  The price of palladium has risen 22.38% in 2014 due to supply concerns and increased demand from the automobile industry.   Russia is the world’s biggest source of palladium, so the Ukraine conflict has combined with the five-month strike in South Africa to worry investors about a possible ‘supply squeeze’.    On the demand side, European car sales for June were reported yesterday and rose for the 10th straight month – the longest such run in over four years.  We have also seen a pick-up in Asian demand for autos along with a rebound in US auto demand.  All good news for Palladium. There was a slew of data released yesterday here in the US, but all of the geo -political events overshadowed the economic releases.  US housing starts started the day off with a disappointing print of just 893k which equated to a 9.3% drop from the previous month.  And adding to the negative news, May’s housing starts were revised from a 6.5% drop to -7.3%.  Building permits were also lower, dropping 4.2% in June after a revised 5.1% drop in May.  This data calls the ‘housing recovery’ back into question with two consecutive months of lower housing starts and permits in what has to be ‘prime season’ for new home construction.  The US economy has always been somewhat dependent on a strong housing sector, and the recovery is going to need this sector to turn around to give us a much needed boost. The weekly jobs numbers were next to hit the news wires and helped to ease the pain of the housing numbers as the weekly jobless claims came in at 302k vs last weeks print of 305k and an expected figure of 310k.  Continuing claims were also lower than expected so the numbers show the labor market is continuing to improve albeit at an extremely slow pace.  And you may have missed this news with all of the conflicts yesterday, but Microsoft announced yesterday that they will be cutting 18,000 jobs.  That certainly won’t help the labor market recovery!!  The morning ended with the  Philly Fed Outlook which easily beat expectations and gave investors another reason to look past the disappointing housing data. St. Louis Fed head James Bullard did his best to rescue the dollar yesterday stating that the Fed may have to raise interest rates more quickly than planned as unemployment falls and inflation quickens.  Bullard has traditionally been a ‘hawkish’ voice on the Fed, so these comments weren’t surprising – but his words may have lost some of their impact as he is no longer a ‘voting member’ of the FOMC.  We don’t have a slew of data releases this morning, with only the Univ of Michigan Confidence report followed by the release of the Leading Index.  The confidence number is expected to show another increase to a level of 83 from the last reported level of 82.5.  And the leading index is expected to have remained stable at a reading of .5% in June.  Just more of the same – slow growth and a very sluggish recovery here in the US. For What its Worth.  A poll completed by Bloomberg showed that 47% of respondents said the equity market is close to unsustainable levels while 14% already saw a bubble.  The quarterly survey of 562 investors, analysts and traders who are Bloomberg subscribers shows the level of anxiety which exists in today’s equity investors.    Almost a third of respondents called the market for lower rated debt overheated and most said stock swings will increase within six months, the July 15-16 poll showed. And I guess you could count Fed Chair Janet Yellen as one of those raising concerns over valuation levels as she took the unusual step of calling out the biotech and technology sectors earlier this week.  But Yellen backpedaled a bit in Wednesday’s testimony when she said asset valuations aren’t out of line with historical norms.  Could the geo-political events of the past days be the ‘trigger’ to a big correction?   Today’s sell off is probably healthy for this market and if the conflicts continue we could actually see a true ‘correction’ in the equity markets, easing investor concerns regarding the valuation levels.  Stronger earnings would also help justify the current price levels.  But with nearly ½ of the professional investors feel the equity markets are close to unsustainable levels, we certainly seem primed for a big sell-off. To recap.    Geo-political conflicts sent shivers through the markets yesterday, with the safe havens of Japanese yen, US treasuries and Gold being the biggest benefactors.  The ‘risk off’ atmosphere sent the high yielding currencies of Brazil and South Africa lower along with the Russian ruble.  Gold was up but the biggest winner this year in the precious metals markets is Palladium which hit a 15 year high.  Data out of the US showed the housing recovery is still questionable but the labor market continues to recover.  And I closed today’s Pfennig with Bloomberg poll results which indicate ‘professional investors’ agree that the equity markets are nearing unsustainable levels. Currencies today 7/18/14. American Style: A$ .9381, kiwi .8675, C$ .9306, euro 1.3523, sterling 1.7094, Swiss $1.1136 . European Style: rand 10.6945, krone 6.1729, SEK 6.8193, forint 229.50, zloty 3.0657, koruna 20.29, RUB 35.098, yen 101.36, sing 1.2420, HKD 7.7510, INR 60.31, China 6.1568, pesos 12.9717, BRL 2.2582, Dollar Index 80.532, Oil $103.47, 10-year 2.48%, Silver $20.93, Platinum $1,488.49, Palladium $874.72, and Gold. $1,310.79 That’s it for today.  I’m off to the airport this morning to catch a plane up to Quebec City.  I will be speaking at an investment conference sponsored by our friends at The Oxford Club and then I’ll head west to meet up with Chuck and Frank over in Vancouver.  We will all be participating in the ‘Sprott Vancouver Natural Resource Symposium’.  If you are in the area or want an excuse to visit Vancouver next week you can get more information on the conference here:  http://www.naturalresourcesymposium.com/register/ .  It is supposed to be another gorgeous weekend here in St. Louis, so I won’t be running away from the typical July heat and humidity but I’m still looking forward to discovering a new city. Mike will take over the Pfennig next week, but I will try to give him a few updates from ‘the road’.  And looking at the clock I had better hit the send button (yes I updated the currency prices today!).  I hope you all have a Fantastic Friday and a Wonderful Weekend!! Chris Gaffney, CFA Vice President EverBank World Marketslast_img read more

Googleorg Donates 115 Million to Fight for Racial Justice

first_img Angela Moscaritolo Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel. Reporter The fight for racial justice just got an infusion of cash from Google.The web giant’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, has already committed more than $5 million to nonprofits advancing racial justice since 2015, but this week it more than doubled its previous pledge. Google.org is investing $11.5 million in new grants to organizations working to reform the criminal justice system. The funds will go to 10 organizations Google.org believes “can create meaningful change around racial, social and criminal justice in the U.S.,” Google.org Principal Justin Steele wrote in a Thursday blog post.”Mass incarceration is a huge issue in the United States, and a major area of focus for our grants,” Steele wrote. “The U.S. penal population has exploded, growing by 400 percent since 1984 to more than 2 million today, with Black men sentenced at over five times the rate of white men.”The largest sum, $5 million, will go to the Center for Policing Equity, a New York-based organization working with police agencies and communities to create a database to track national statistics on police behavior. Meanwhile, a $1.5 million grant will go to Measures for Justice, which is building a web platform that lets people see how their local justice system treats people based on different factors, such as race, sex, status and age.Google.org is also giving $1 million to support Impact Justice’s national Restorative Justice Project, which aims to keep youth of color out of the juvenile justice system. Other new organizations getting funding are working to train formerly incarcerated individuals (JustLeadershipUSA) and make data more accessible to criminal justice reform organizations (W. Haywood Burns Institute).”A person’s race should not determine how they are treated by the law,” Steele wrote. “We’re proud to support these organizations, and we hope that their focus on data and community-driven solutions to will bring us closer to a more just society.”Google has also sponsored community screenings of the Netflix documentary 13th in 12 Google offices across the country; Netflix has announced it will also allow the film to be screened for educational purposes. 13th, from Selma director Ava DuVernay, was up for Best Documentary at this weekend’s Academy Awards. 2 min read Add to Queue February 27, 2017 Image credit: via PC Mag The funds will go to 10 organizations working to foster racial, social and criminal justice.center_img –shares Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business This story originally appeared on PCMag Google.org Donates $11.5 Million to Fight for Racial Justice Next Article Google Register Now »last_img read more

Facebook shares sink on perfect storm of bad news

first_img © 2018 AFP It has turned into a brutal reality check for Facebook. Credit: CC0 Public Domain Facebook’s reality check sends stock reeling “This is a direct result of scale as it becomes increasingly difficult to grow at such high rates when a company hits this size,” Windsor wrote.Windsor added that Facebook is forced to hire more people to handle tasks such as filtering inappropriate content after discovering the limits of artificial intelligence.”Weaknesses in AI are forcing (Facebook) to keep hiring humans to do the jobs that the machines are incapable of,” he said.Brian Wieser at Pivotal Research Group said the company appears to have hit a “wall” on growth in advertising.In a research note, he said Facebook’s outlook “suggests that while the company is still growing at a fast clip, the days of 30 percent-plus growth are numbered.”Until Wednesday, Facebook shares had been at record highs as investors seemed to shrug off fears about data protection and probes into the hijacking of private information by the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook has invested heavily in “safety, security and privacy” after being rocked by concerns of manipulation of the platform to spread misinformation, warning of an “impact” on profitability.- Not so fast-Some analysts however said it was too soon to write off Facebook or its growth prospects, and that the company may have simply been warning of the worst-case scenario.”The company has a track record of resetting revenue growth and expense expectations only to turn around and exceed those expectations the following quarter,” said Gene Munster of Loup Ventures.”We suspect Facebook is sticking with its historical playbook and will, in fact, beat these lower numbers.”Richard Greenfield of BTIG Research said he remained upbeat on Facebook despite the abrupt forecast shift.”Facebook is actively choosing to make less money, deprioritizing near-term monetization to drive engagement to even higher levels,” Greenfield said in a note to clients.Greenfield said he could “sense the fear/panic in investors’ voices” after the Facebook analyst call but that he has maintained his outlook.”Mobile is eating the world and Facebook is a core holding to benefit from that shift,” he said.RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney said the drop creates a rare buying opportunity for Facebook shares.”Facebook stills owns two of the largest media assets in the world (Facebook and Instagram) and the two largest messaging assets in the world (Messenger and WhatsApp),” Mahaney said in a note to clients, adding that he sees “no material change in marketer views of the attractiveness” of Facebook platforms. 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Citation: Facebook shares sink on perfect storm of bad news (2018, July 27) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-07-facebook-storm-bad-news.html The social network star—which has weathered storms over privacy and data protection—is now looking at cooler growth following a years-long breakneck pace.Shares in Facebook plummeted 19 percent to close at $176.26 Thursday, wiping out some $100 billion—believed to be the worst single-day evaporation of market value for any company.The plunge came one day after the firm missed revenue forecasts for the second quarter and warned that growth would be far weaker than previously estimated.Chief financial officer David Wehner warned Wednesday in an earnings call with analysts that revenue growth had already “decelerated” in the second quarter and would drop “by high single digit percentages” in coming quarters.At one point during the call, Facebook shares were trading down as much as 24 percent, an unprecedented drop for a large firm.On the call, Jefferies & Co. analyst Brent Thill said that “many investors are having a hard time reconciling that deceleration… It just seems like the magnitude is beyond anything we’ve seen.”Facebook said the slowdown will come in part from a new approach to privacy and security, but also appeared to acknowledge the limits of growth in advertising, which accounts for virtually all its revenue.Brian Sheehan, a Syracuse University professor of communication and advertising, said the weak forecast “made investors nervous about more basic long-term issues” with the huge social network, notably its diminished appeal to younger users.”With or without privacy issues, investors are scared that Facebook’s interactions, particularly with those under 25, are falling,” Sheehan said.More humans neededFor the second quarter, profit was up 31 percent at $5.1 billion; revenues rose 42 percent to $13.2 billion, only slightly below most forecasts.Facebook reported its user base was still growing but not as fast as some expected. Monthly active users rose 11 percent to 2.23 billion—below most estimates of 2.25 billion.Richard Windsor, a technology analyst who writes the Radio Free Mobile blog, said the new outlook should not be surprising.last_img read more