U.K. house prices see sharp drop in August: Rightmove

Average asking prices of newly-listed houses in the U.K. tumbled 2.3% on a seasonal basis in August from July, as sellers launched a “late summer sale” to unload property faster, according to the Rightmove House Price Index, released on Monday. That drop, equal to 7,218 pounds ($9,198.42), is slightly bigger than the 2.1% fall seen during August 2017. The main drags on the index were the subdued London market, and the commuter belt of the South East; excluding those two regions, the index fell just 1.5%. On an annual basis, prices were up 1.1%, though slower than a 1.4% annual gain in July. But the August drop is also in keeping with a traditional trend of lower peak-summer pricing, said Rightmove. “Sellers who come to market in the peak holiday month often have a pressing need to sell and price down accordingly, and are offering ‘summer sale’ prices to entice holiday-distracted buyers,” said Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst, in a press release.


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U.K. government to temporarily take over operations of G4S prison: media reports

The U.K. government has taken over the operations of HMP Birmingham, a major prison run by G4S Plc, after an inspection found it was in a “state of crisis,” multiple media outlets reported on Monday. The Ministry of Justice said it would run the prison for an initial six-month period, Reuters reported, in order to combat “squalid” conditions, including widespread use of violence and drugs by the inmates, as well as a lack of sanitation that has attracted rats and cockroaches. As part of the change in operations, 300 prisoners will be moved to other sites, while a new governor will be installed. Prisons Minister Rory Stewart was quoted as saying that “it has become clear that drastic action is required to bring about the improvements we require.” He called the prison’s conditions “unacceptable.” G4S [UK: GFS] said it welcomed the government taking over the operations, saying the prison had “exceptional challenges.” Shares of G4S Plc have struggled lately, having dropped 8.6% thus far this month. The FTSE 100 [UK: UKX] is down 2.5% over the same period.


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PepsiCo to acquire Israeli-based SodaStream in $3.2 billion deal

Softdrinks giant PepsiCo Inc.
PEP, +0.62%
said it has entered into an agreement to acquire SodaStream International Ltd.
SODA, +0.84%
in a deal valued at $3.2 billion, the companies announced on Monday. Under terms of the agreement, PepsiCo will buy all outstanding shares of the Israeli-based home carbonation maker for $144 per share, an 11% premium to Friday’s closing price of $129.85. PepsiCo said it will fund the deal with cash on hand. The boards of both companies have unanimously approved the tie-up, though it will be subject to a SodaStream shareholder vote. The deal is expected to close in January.


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Feds investigating Michael Cohen for bank, tax fraud: report

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, is under investigation for bank and tax fraud, the New York Times reported Sunday, and charges may be filed by the end of the month. The Times said federal authorities are centering on $20 million in loans taken by taxi businesses owned by Cohen and his family. Authorities suspect Cohen misstated his assets in order to get the loans, and failed to report income from his taxi businesses to the IRS, the Times said. The investigation is reportedly in its final stages. Cohen is also under investigation for possible campaign finance violations related to payoffs to women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump, the Times reported. In April, federal agents raided Cohen’s home and offices.


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Saudi fund may invest more than $1 billion in Tesla rival Lucid Motors: report

Elon Musk is hoping an investment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund can help take Tesla Inc.
TSLA, -8.93%
private, but it may strike an investment deal with a Tesla rival, according to a report Sunday. The fund, called PIF, is in talks to invest in electric-car startup Lucid Motors Inc., according to Reuters. The report said after an initial $500 million investment, PIF could eventually invest more than $1 billion and gain majority ownership of the Newark, Calif.-based company. Lucid was founded in 2007 by former executives from Tesla and Oracle Corp., and has received significant funding from Chinese investors. While it had not built any cars yet, it hopes to start production later this year.


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White House counsel McGahn has cooperated ‘extensively’ with Mueller: NYT

The White House counsel, Donald McGahn, has cooperated “extensively” with Robert Mueller’s investigation, the New York Times reported Saturday. Quoting a dozen current and former White House officials and other briefed on the matter, the said McGahn gave investigators a mix of information potentially damaging and favorable to the president. McGahn said he never saw Trump go beyond his legal authorities, the report said. He gave investigators information on some episodes they did not know about, the report said.


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HUD brings complaint against Facebook for allowing housing discrimination on platform

Fixes description of the legal action HUD brought against Facebook.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development brought a complaint against Facebook
FB, -0.52%
for violating the Fair Housing Act by allowing landlords and home sellers to use its advertising platform to engage in housing discrimination. Facebook enables advertises to display ads either only to men or women, not show ads to Facebook users interested in an “assistance dog,” “mobility scooter,” “accessibility” or “deaf culture”; not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “child care” or “parenting,” or show ads only to users with children above a specified age; not display ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in a particular place of worship, religion or tenet, such as the “Christian Church,” “Sikhism,” “Hinduism,” or the “Bible;” not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “Latin America,” “Canada,” “Southeast Asia,” “China,” “Honduras,” or “Somalia;” and draw a red line around zip codes and then not display ads to Facebook users who live in specific zip codes. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York filed a statement of interest, joined in by HUD, in U.S. District Court on behalf of a number of private litigants challenging Facebook’s advertising platform.


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Chinese content-aggregation app Qutoutiao files for IPO

Qutoutiao Inc., a two-year-old Chinese content-aggregation app, filed for an U.S. initial public offering Friday afternoon. The company said it would seek $300 million by selling American depositary shares, though that number is typically a placeholder to determine fees and will be updated in later filings. Qutoutiao launched in June 2016 and claimed in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission to have 17.1 million users accessing the service daily and spending, on average, almost an hour — 55.6 minutes — on the app each day. The app, which translates to “fun headlines,” brought in $108.5 million in the first half of 2018, almost all of it from advertising, which was more than the company collected in all of 2017, when it reported total revenue of $78.1 million. Losses also grew however, with Qutoutiao reporting a net loss of $77.7 million in the first half of this year after an annual net loss of $14.3 million in 2017. Qutoutiao would join a wave of Chinese mobile apps that have gone public on the U.S. markets in 2018, a list that includes iQiyi Inc.
IQ, +1.38%
Bilibili Inc.
BILI, +1.33%
and Pinduoduo Inc.
PDD, -0.21%
The company hopes to list its ADSs on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol QTT, and has enlisted Citigroup and Deutsche Bank Securities as underwriters.


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Avista Healthcare shares rise on deal to acquire Organogenesis

Avista Healthcare Public Acquisition Corp.
AHPA, -0.11%
shares rose in the extended session Friday after the company said it planned to acquire Organogenesis Inc. Avista shares rose 5.4% after hours, following a 0.1% decline to finish the regular session at $10.11. The combined company is expected to have an enterprise value of about $673 million, and Organogenesis will trade under the ticker “ORGO” on the Nasdaq as a wholly owned subsidiary, Avista said. Avista said the deal will be funded through a combination of cash, stock and debt, and is expected to close by the end of the year. Canton, Mass.-based Organogenesis is a regenerative medicine company that makes products for wound treatment and surgery.


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S&P Global, Moody’s both downgrade Turkey’s sovereign ratings

S&P Global Ratings on Friday lowered Turkey’s long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating to ‘B+’ from ‘BB-‘ with a stable outlook. “The downgrade reflects our expectation that the extreme volatility of the Turkish lira and the resulting projected sharp balance of payments adjustment will undermine Turkey’s economy,” said the ratings agency. S&P Global also projected the Turkish economy to sink into a recession in 2019 even as inflation accelerates to 22% in the next four months. The ratings agency also warned that the weaker lira is putting pressure on the highly indebted corporations and raised the funding risk for Turkey’s banks. Moody’s Investors Service also downgraded Turkey’s sovereign rating to ‘Ba3’ from ‘Ba2’ and revised the outlook to negative. “The key driver for today’s downgrade is the continuing weakening of Turkey’s public institutions and the related reduction in the predictability of Turkish policy making,” said Moody’s. It cited escalating concerns over the independence of the country’s central bank, and the absence of a “credible” plan to tackle the root causes of the current financial problems. “The tighter financial conditions and weaker exchange rate, associated with high and rising external financing risks, are likely to fuel inflation further and undermine growth, and the risk of a balance of payments crisis continues to rise,” it warned. The Turkish lira
USDTRY, +3.2826%
retreated against the U.S. currency with the greenback buying 6.028 lira in recent action versus 5.8246 lira late Thursday in New York.


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Dow, S&P 500 end the day and week higher buttressed by optimism over China-U.S. trade talks

U.S. stock benchmarks Friday booked a second straight win, capping a volatile week in August that has been marked by jitters about contagion emanating from Turkey, and a resumption of negotiations between China and the U.S. to possibly end a protected tariff spat. The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA, +0.43%
closed up 110 points, or 0.4%, at 25,669, while notching a weekly gain of 1.4%, the S&P 500 index
SPX, +0.33%
finished the session up 0.3% at 2,850, registering a weekly climb of 0.6%. Meanwhile, the technology-laden Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP, +0.13%
added 0.1% at 7,816 on the day, lagging behind its equity peers amid concerns about tech giants, including Tesla Inc.
TSLA, -8.93%
and chip makers Applied Materials Inc.
AMAT, -7.72%
and Nvidia Corp.
NVDA, -4.90%
which both delivered quarterly results that failed to thrill investors and fueled some early weakness among semiconductor shares, as measured by the iShares PHLX Semiconductor ETF
SOXX, -0.75%
The popular semiconductor, exchange-traded fund finished the session off 0.8%. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq closed out the week 0.3% lower. Turkey’s lira
USDTRY, +3.5814%
closed lower against the dollar, reversing some of the gains of the past few sessions, with the currencies gyrations sparking concerns about the health of emerging markets, while a report from the Wall Street Journal, indicates that Beijing and Washington are set to next week establish the groundwork for a series of talks that may end their testy trade dispute by November.


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Facebook sued by HUD as ad platform allows housing discrimination

Facebook Inc.
FB, -0.52%
was sued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for violating the Fair Housing Act by allowing landlords and home sellers to use its advertising platform to engage in housing discrimination. Facebook enables advertises to display ads either only to men or women, not show ads to Facebook users interested in an “assistance dog,” “mobility scooter,” “accessibility” or “deaf culture”; not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “child care” or “parenting,” or show ads only to users with children above a specified age; not display ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in a particular place of worship, religion or tenet, such as the “Christian Church,” “Sikhism,” “Hinduism,” or the “Bible;” not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “Latin America,” “Canada,” “Southeast Asia,” “China,” “Honduras,” or “Somalia;” and draw a red line around zip codes and then not display ads to Facebook users who live in specific zip codes. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York filed a statement of interest, joined in by HUD, in U.S. District Court on behalf of a number of private litigants challenging Facebook’s advertising platform.


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SEC’s Clayton says agency studying frequency of corporate reporting, after Trump tweet

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton on Friday issued a statement about long-term investing in which he neither endorsed nor rejected the call from President Donald Trump for companies to report to twice a year, rather than four times a year. But he did say the SEC Division of Corporation Finance “continues to study public company reporting requirements, including the frequency of reporting.” Clayton said: “The President has highlighted a key consideration for American companies and, importantly, American investors and their families – encouraging long-term investment in our country. Many investors and market participants share this perspective on the importance of long-term investing.”


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Salads sold at McDonald’s sicken 476

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a romaine lettuce and carrot mix that was sold at McDonald’s Corp.
MCD, -0.46%
tested positive for cyclospora, which has resulted in 476 illness cases across 15 states. Twenty-one people were hospitalized. Cyclospora is an intestinal illness caused by a parasite. The salads came from a Fresh Express processor in Streamwood, Ill. Fresh Express, which was alerted to the results on July 27, says the carrot mix went to McDonald’s and the romaine-only item was distributed elsewhere. Romaine lettuce from the same lot tested for cyclospora in salads and wraps distributed by Caito Foods. A public health alert was issued on July 30 about salads and wraps distributed by Caito Foods. McDonald’s shares are down 6.3% for the year to date while the Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA, +0.49%
is up 4.1% for the period.


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The Dow is on the verge of its best close in 6 months as the stock market extends rally

The Dow Jones Industrial Average Friday afternoon looked poised to book its highest closing level since Feb. 1, according to FactSet data. A late-session 150-point rally for the blue-chip gauge, on the back of growing optimism that China and the U.S. can strike a detente on trade by November, has helped power the recent climb. If the Dow
DJIA, +0.43%
can finish above 25,709, it would mark its best finish since Feb. 1, when the gauge closed at 26,187. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 index
SPX, +0.33%
advanced 0.5% at 2,854, while the Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP, +0.13%
advanced 0.2% at 7,825.


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Dow jumps to session peak amid report that U.S.-China map out plan to end trade impasse by November

The Dow Jones Industrial Average in late-afternoon Friday trade jumped to session highs amid reports that the U.S. and China are setting the stage to end a contentious multibillion-dollar tariff dispute by November, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Dow
DJIA, +0.43%
was trading 150 points, or 0.5%, at 25,685, the S&P 500 index
SPX, +0.33%
climbed 0.4% at 2,850, while the Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP, +0.13%
also drifted into positive territory, after lagging behind its peers earlier in the session. The Nasdaq was up 0.1% at 7,814. All three benchmarks were trading at their best levels for Friday, extending a powerful rally ignited on Thursday, sparked by news that Beijing and Washington had agreed to resume trade negotiations next week. The coming negotiations are intended to set the stage for multilateral summits between President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in November, according to WSJ.


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Sugar futures settle at lowest in a decade on supply surplus

Sugar futures declined Friday to settle at their lowest in more than 10 years, as the market continued to be plagued by a surplus of global supplies. “We are in such a big surplus that even drought in Europe, Brazil and potentially India cannot really make a dent in it,” analysts at brokerage Marex Spectron wrote in a weekly report dated Monday. “Sugar stocks in Brazil are high, and demand for Brazilian sugar is weak.” October No. 11 sugar
SBV8, -0.97%
traded on ICE Futures U.S. settled at 10.18 cents a pound, down about 10 points, or 0.12 cent, for the session. That was the lowest finish for a front-month contract since June 10, 2008, according to Dow Jones Market Data.


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Dow, S&P 500 gains firm in midday trade on Wall Street as Apple’s stock bounces 2%

The Dow Jones Industrial Average saw its tentative climb firm somewhat midday Friday, with shares of Apple Inc. buoying the broader market. The Dow
DJIA, +0.33%
was about 80 points, or 0.3%, at 25,643, the S&P 500 index
SPX, +0.15%
climbed 0.2% at 2,845. The modest climb for both benchmarks come as the chip sector
SOXX, -1.12%
is limiting gains for the Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP, -0.15%
down 0.1% at 7,798. By dint of its share price, Apple
AAPL, +1.64%
was contributing nearly 30 points to the price-weighted Dow, while the roughly $1 trillion iPhone maker was also helping to support the market-cap weighted S&P 500. Most recently, Apples shares were up $4.30, or 2%, to $217.58.


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U.S. Treasury sanctions four Myanmar commanders and two military units for ethnic cleansing

The Treasury Department on Friday sanctioned four Myanmar military and border guard commanders and two military units for their involvement in ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya Muslim minority in the country in 2016 and 2017. “Treasury is sanctioning units and leaders overseeing this horrific behavior as part of a broader U.S. government strategy to hold accountable those responsible for such wide scale human suffering,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. As a result of violent attacks from Myanmar’s Buddhist majority, more than 700,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh.


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Tesla shares slide 8% on continued fallout from SEC probe of Musk tweet

Tesla Inc. shares
TSLA, -8.35%
sank 8% on Friday, as investors digested the news of a widening Securities and Exchange Commission probe of Chief Executive Elon Musk’s handling of a tweet disclosing his wish to take the company private. Musk told the New York Times that he had no regrets about saying “funding secured” in a tweet that said he was considering a going-private deal at $420 a share. In a wide-ranging interview with the paper published late Thursday, Musk said he has had a very difficult year spent in a constant state of exhaustion leading up to the tweet, which is understood to have angered some members of the board. The Times said Tesla’s board was concerned about Musk’s workload and health, especially his use of the sleep aid Ambien, and that efforts are underway to find a second-in-command who could take some of the strain off of him. Tesla shares are now down 0.9% in 2018, while the S&P 500
SPX, +0.03%
has gained 6%.


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