Amazon is now second most valuable U.S.-listed company, tops Alphabet

(Reuters) – (AMZN.O) became the second most valuable publicly listed U.S. company on Tuesday, surpassing Google parent Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) for the first time.

Amazon shares finished up 2.69 percent at $1,586.51, for a market capitalization of $768 billion, underscoring Wall Street’s confidence in its relentless expansion into cloud computing, groceries and other new businesses.

Alphabet lost 0.39 percent, trimming its stock market value to $762 billion, as Wall Street fretted about regulatory fallout following revelations that a political consulting firm had improperly obtained personal data on 50 million Facebook Inc (FB.O) users.

(GRAPHIC: Race for $1 trillion market cap –

Together, Alphabet and Facebook dominate online advertising. They have previously faced government criticism for how they employ their user data.

Amazon’s stock has surged 81 percent over the past year, through Monday, bolstered by scorchingly fast revenue growth as more shopping moves online and businesses shift their computing operations to the cloud, where Amazon Web Services leads the market.

“They’re using their cash flow to develop new businesses,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York. “They could have Apple in their sights at some point.”

Seattle-based Amazon dislodged Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) as the No. 3 U.S. company by market capitalization in February. Apple (AAPL.O) is the world’s most valuable publicly listed company, with a market capitalization of $889 billion.

Obviously, past stock gains are not a reliable predictor of future performance, and the surge in Amazon shares in recent years has been exceptional by most standards. But if Amazon’s stock were to keep growing on the trajectory seen over the past year, its market capitalization would hit $1 trillion in late August.

Apple’s market cap would reach $1 trillion around a month later if its stock price continued to rise at the 25 percent pace seen over the past year.

Alphabet’s stock has risen 4 percent so far in 2018 and is up 26 percent in the past year.

The median of analyst price targets for the three companies put Amazon’s market capitalization at $823 billion, Alphabet’s at $914 billion and Apple’s at $989 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Leslie Adler

Caution the watchword as Fed ponders rate pace

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A hush settled over financial markets on Wednesday as investors counted down to a likely hike in U.S. interest rates and guidance on how many more to expect this year, while trade war fears kept export nations’ currencies on edge.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS edged up 0.5 percent after a run of losses, tracking overnight gains on Wall Street.

Chinese shares were a bit more buoyant with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index .HSI gaining 1.2 percent as real estate firms posted stellar profits.

E-Mini futures for the SP 500 ESc1 inched up 0.1 percent, while FTSE futures FFIc1 were off a fraction.

Markets are convinced the Federal Reserve will announce a quarter point hike at 1800 GMT, but are less sure if it will signal three or four for the year as a whole.

“A significant weighting toward four hikes this year may well cause both equity and bond markets to sell off,” Jonathan Sheridan, analyst at FIIG Securities in Sydney, said.

“The concerns here are that the Fed overshoots with raising rates into a faltering economy,” Sheridan added.

“If this opinion takes hold then we may well see falling longer term rates and a flatter yield curve, and it would also be negative for equities as it increases the chances of a recession.”

The Fed has raised rates five times since it began tightening policy in late 2015. Yet the dollar has not really responded, ending 2017 down about 10 percent against a basket of currencies. .DXY

“We remind readers that every single FOMC rate hike this cycle has been a ‘dovish hike’ and the USD has declined on the day(s) post the rise,” Richard Grace, chief currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia wrote in a note to clients.

On Wednesday, the dollar index held near three-week highs around at 90.267 .DXY. Against the Japanese yen JPY=, the greenback hovered near a one-week top at 106.46.

(GRAPHIC: Developed market currencies against the Dollar –


Another major overhang for financial markets is the specter of a global trade war.

U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to unveil up to $60 billion in import duties on Chinese goods by Friday. The move comes after Trump imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum earlier this month.

Investors are worried Trump’s actions could escalate into a full-blown trade war if China and other countries retaliate with similar or harsher measures, threatening global growth.

To add to these concerns, a meeting of finance ministers and central banks of the world’s 20 biggest economies this week failed to diffuse the threat.

The so-called G20 agreed only to stand by an ambiguous declaration on trade from 2017 and “recognized” the need for more “dialogue and actions”.

The currencies of export-heavy nations such as the Australian, New Zealand and Canadian dollars were on the defensive after being knocked down to multi-month lows.

The Aussie AUD=D4 fell to a three-month trough of $0.7679 overnight while the kiwi dollar NZD=D4 hit the lowest since early January. The Canadian dollar CAD=D4 held at $1.3029 from Monday’s low of $1.3124, a level not seen since mid-2017.

Equity analysts have also turned increasingly downbeat.

“Cracks in the bull case are starting to emerge,” said Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, citing the bank’s March fund manager survey.

“The threat of a trade war returns to the top of the list of tail risks most commonly cited by investors, followed by inflation and a slowdown in global growth,” he added.

“Investors have yet to act on these fears, however, as rates and earnings are keeping the bulls bullish.”

Among major commodities, oil prices were lifted by tensions in the Middle East and healthy demand. [O/R]

U.S. crude CLc1 rose 15 cents to $63.69 per barrel. Brent LCOc1 gained 16 cents to $67.58.

Spot gold added 0.2 percent to $1,313.31 an ounce XAU=.

Reporting by Swati Pandey, Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Himani Sarkar

Exclusive: Kaspersky Lab plans Swiss data center to combat spying allegations

MOSCOW/TORONTO (Reuters) – Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab plans to open a data center in Switzerland to address Western government concerns that Russia exploits its anti-virus software to spy on customers, according to internal documents seen by Reuters.

Kaspersky is setting up the center in response to actions in the United States, Britain and Lithuania last year to stop using the company’s products, according to the documents, which were confirmed by a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

The action is the latest effort by Kaspersky, a global leader in anti-virus software, to parry accusations by the U.S. government and others that the company spies on customers at the behest of Russian intelligence. The U.S. last year ordered civilian government agencies to remove the Kaspersky software from their networks.

Kaspersky has strongly rejected the accusations and filed a lawsuit against the U.S. ban.

The U.S. allegations were the “trigger” for setting up the Swiss data center, said the person familiar with Kapersky’s Switzerland plans, but not the only factor.

“The world is changing,” they said, speaking on condition of anonymity when discussing internal company business. “There is more balkanisation and protectionism.”

The person declined to provide further details on the new project, but added: “This is not just a PR stunt. We are really changing our RD infrastructure.”

A Kaspersky spokeswoman declined to comment on the documents reviewed by Reuters.

In a statement, Kaspersky Lab said: “To further deliver on the promises of our Global Transparency Initiative, we are finalizing plans for the opening of the company’s first transparency center this year, which will be located in Europe.”

“We understand that during a time of geopolitical tension, mirrored by an increasingly complex cyber-threat landscape, people may have questions and we want to address them.”

Kaspersky Lab launched a campaign in October to dispel concerns about possible collusion with the Russian government by promising to let independent experts scrutinize its software for security vulnerabilities and “back doors” that governments could exploit to spy on its customers.

The company also said at the time that it would open “transparency centers” in Asia, Europe and the United States but did not provide details. The new Swiss facility is dubbed the Swiss Transparency Centre, according to the documents.


Work in Switzerland is due to begin “within weeks” and be completed by early 2020, said the person with knowledge of the matter.

The plans have been approved by Kaspersky Lab CEO and founder Eugene Kaspersky, who owns a majority of the privately held company, and will be announced publicly in the coming months, according to the source.

“Eugene is upset. He would rather spend the money elsewhere. But he knows this is necessary,” the person said.

It is possible the move could be derailed by the Russian security services, who might resist moving the data center outside of their jurisdiction, people familiar with Kaspersky and its relations with the government said.

Western security officials said Russia’s FSB Federal Security Service, successor to the Soviet-era KGB, exerts influence over Kaspersky management decisions, though the company has repeatedly denied those allegations.

The Swiss center will collect and analyze files identified as suspicious on the computers of tens of millions of Kaspersky customers in the United States and European Union, according to the documents reviewed by Reuters. Data from other customers will continue to be sent to a Moscow data center for review and analysis.

Files would only be transmitted from Switzerland to Moscow in cases when anomalies are detected that require manual review, the person said, adding that about 99.6 percent of such samples do not currently undergo this process.

A third party will review the center’s operations to make sure that all requests for such files are properly signed, stored and available for review by outsiders including foreign governments, the person said.

Moving operations to Switzerland will address concerns about laws that enable Russian security services to monitor data transmissions inside Russia and force companies to assist law enforcement agencies, according to the documents describing the plan.

The company will also move the department which builds its anti-virus software using code written in Moscow to Switzerland, the documents showed.

Kaspersky has received “solid support” from the Swiss government, said the source, who did not identify specific officials who have endorsed the plan.

Reporting by Jack Stubbs in Moscow and Jim Finkle in Toronto; Editing by Jonathan Weber

Powell’s Fed likely to raise rates, may upgrade 2018 outlook

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates at its first policy meeting under Chairman Jerome Powell and may signal more hikes are coming in response to tax cuts and government spending that could further stoke a robust U.S. economy.

The U.S. central bank projected late last year that it would lift rates three times in 2018, but some investors believe the fiscal stimulus and recent hints of inflation pressures will push policymakers to add an additional increase to the mix.

(Interactive graphic of Fed’s forecasts, dove-hawk divide:

The Fed is scheduled to issue its latest policy statement at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT). Powell is due to hold a press conference half an hour later.

Fed officials have speculated in recent weeks that the stimulus could drive more Americans into an already tight labor market and lift inflation to the central bank’s 2 percent target, or much above that level if the economy gets too hot.

Yet analysts are split over whether the Fed, which is wary of an early misstep under its new leadership, will raise policy tightening expectations until more price pressures are clearly evident, especially given outside risks to the economy such as a possible global trade war.

“A prudent institution would probably give more weight to the facts, at least for the moment,” Roberto Perli, a former Fed economist who is now a partner at Cornerstone Macro, wrote in a note predicting the Fed would stick with three projected rate increases for this year.

The Fed’s drive to stimulate the world’s largest economy in the wake of the 2007-2009 financial crisis and recession is drawing to a close. It raised its benchmark overnight lending rate three times last year, to a range of 1.25 to 1.50 percent, as joblessness fell and economic growth accelerated. It is expected to raise rates by another 25 basis points on Wednesday.

With futures markets anticipating another increase in June, Powell’s Fed could leave its rate outlook unchanged until then to see how the economy absorbs the $1.8 trillion in stimulus expected from the Trump administration tax cuts and planned spending. (Graphic of Fed forecasts:


While recent home sales and retail spending data have been on the weak side, the overall economic picture has brightened this year. Inflation has strengthened after remaining below the Fed’s target for more than five years, and there have been more hints of wage gains.

The central bank is expected on Wednesday to boost its economic growth forecasts for the next few years, and could project that the unemployment rate will fall well below the current 4.1 percent, which is seen as a low but stable level.

The blockbuster U.S. jobs report for February could further convince Powell and his colleagues that the Fed’s stated “gradual” rate hike path could carry on longer than previously thought. A sign of this would be a rise in the Fed’s longer-term, or neutral, expected policy rate, currently at 2.8 percent.

Powell, who took over from former Fed chief Janet Yellen in early February, triggered a brief global market selloff when he told U.S. lawmakers late last month that he had grown more confident in the economic outlook. Yet worries over a new hawkish central bank are likely overblown given Powell’s cautious, consensus-building approach.

Seven of the 15 Fed policymakers who will update their forecasts on Wednesday have recently indicated the fiscal stimulus could boost their expectations for the economy, rate hikes, or for both, according to an analysis of public statements.

New York Fed President William Dudley, one of the most influential policymakers, said four rate increases this year would still be considered “gradual,” noting that fiscal policy is turning “quite stimulative.”

The comments suggested a shift “towards a potentially faster pace of tightening … particularly with tax cuts now implemented and with an additional fiscal boost from federal spending arriving this year,” Jan Hatzius, chief U.S. economist at Goldman Sachs, wrote in a note predicting that the Fed would signal on Wednesday that rates will rise four times this year.

Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Paul Simao

Cambridge Analytica CEO claims influence on U.S. election, Facebook questioned

LONDON/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The suspended chief executive of Cambridge Analytica said in a secretly recorded video broadcast on Tuesday that his UK-based political consultancy’s online campaign played a decisive role in U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory.

CEO Alexander Nix’s comments, which could not be verified, are potentially a further problem for Facebook Inc as it faces lawmakers’ scrutiny in the United States and Europe over Cambridge Analytica’s improper use of 50 million Facebook users’ personal data to target voters.

The social media network’s shares fell for a second day, closing down 2.5 percent, as investors worried that its dealings with Cambridge Analytica might damage its reputation, deter advertisers and invite restrictive regulation. The company has lost $60 billion of its stock market value over the last two days.

Cambridge Analytica’s board of directors suspended Nix on Tuesday, shortly before the second part of British broadcaster Channel 4’s expose of the firm’s methods.

In the program Nix describes questionable practices used to influence foreign elections and said his firm did all the research, analytics and targeting of voters for Trump’s digital and TV campaigns. He also boasts he met Trump when he was the Republican presidential candidate “many times”.

Nix’s comments “do not represent the values or operations of the firm and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation,” Cambridge Analytica said in a statement on Tuesday.

Cambridge Analytica has denied all the media claims and said it deleted the data after learning the information did not adhere to data protection rules.

Brad Parscale, the 2016 Trump campaign’s main digital adviser who dealt regularly with Cambridge Analytica, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Nix’s claims.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and now senior adviser, oversaw the Trump campaign’s digital operations. One former Trump adviser said Kushner brought Cambridge Analytica into the 2016 campaign effort. Kushner’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie told the Washington Post on Tuesday that in 2014 conservative strategist Steve Bannon, who would go on to be Trump’s White House adviser, oversaw the firm’s early efforts to collect Facebook data to build detailed profiles on millions of American voters. (

Bannon approved spending nearly $1 million to acquire data, including Facebook profiles, in 2014, Wylie told the Post. It is unclear whether Bannon knew how Cambridge Analytica was obtaining the Facebook data, the Post reported.

Bannon, who served on Cambridge Analytica’s board, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

U.S. law bans foreigners from making contributions or spending money on behalf of a U.S. election campaign but it was not illegal for the Trump campaign to retain Cambridge Analytica’s services, according to Bradley Smith, a former Republican member of the U.S. Federal Election Commission.

“The fact that they are a British company doesn’t add anything to the analysis unless they were giving their services away for free or charging below-market rates,” said Smith, now a professor at the Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio.


U.S. and European lawmakers have demanded an explanation of how Cambridge Analytica gained access to user data in 2014 and why Facebook failed to inform its users, raising broader industry questions about consumer privacy.

Facebook said it had been told by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the leading U.S. consumer regulator, that it would receive a letter this week with questions about the data acquired by Cambridge Analytica. It said it had no indication of a formal investigation.

“The entire company is outraged we were deceived,” Facebook said in a statement on Tuesday. “We are committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people’s information and will take whatever steps are required to see that this happens.”

The FTC is reviewing whether Facebook violated a 2011 consent decree it reached with the authority over its privacy practices, a person briefed on the matter told Reuters.

If the FTC finds Facebook violated terms of the consent decree, it has the power to fine the company thousands of dollars a day per violation, which could add up to billions of dollars.

Facebook was also hit on Tuesday in a San Francisco court by the first of what could be many lawsuits by shareholders claiming to suffer losses because the company misled them about its ability to protect user data. The company could also soon face lawsuits on behalf of users whose personal information was exposed.

Facebook and its peers Alphabet Inc’s Google and Twitter already face a backlash from users and lawmakers over their role during the U.S. presidential election by allowing the spread of false information that might have swayed voters toward Trump.

Fear of increased regulation hurt other social media firms on Tuesday. Shares of Snap Inc fell 2.5 percent and Twitter Inc fell more than 10 percent.


U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, called on Tuesday for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify in Congress. Congressional staff said the company would brief U.S. Senate and House aides on Wednesday.

A Congressional official said House Intelligence Committee Democrats plan to interview Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Wylie. The committee interviewed Nix by video teleconference, according to the Congressional official, but a transcript of that interview has not yet been made public.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting a long-term investigation of alleged Russian interference in U.S. politics and a detailed examination of U.S. election security precautions, would carry out its own inquiry of Cambridge Analytica, a Congressional official with direct knowledge of the investigation said.

The White House said it welcomed inquiries, and that the president believes that Americans’ privacy should be protected.

  • Social media stocks tumble as Wall Street fears regulation
  • Senate Democrat wants Facebook CEO Zuckerberg to testify
  • Massachusetts, New York send letter to Facebook demanding documents


In Britain, the Information Commissioner’s Office, an independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, was seeking a warrant from a judge to search the offices of London-based Cambridge Analytica. It was unclear late on Tuesday whether it had obtained it.

Created in 2013, Cambridge Analytica markets itself as a source of consumer research, targeted advertising and other data-related services to both political and corporate clients.

According to the New York Times, it was launched with $15 million in backing from billionaire Republican donor Robert Mercer and a name chosen by Bannon.

Facebook says the data were harvested by a British academic, Aleksandr Kogan, who created an app on the platform that was downloaded by 270,000 people, providing access not only to their own personal data but also data from their friends.

Facebook said Kogan then violated its policies by passing the data to Cambridge Analytica. Facebook has since suspended both the consulting firm and SCL (Strategic Communication Laboratories), a government and military contractor.

Facebook said it had been told that the data were destroyed. Kogan was not immediately reachable for comment.

Reporting by David Ingram in San Francisco, Kate Holton and Paul Sandle in London, David Shepardson, Susan Heavey, Mark Hosenball, Jonathan Landay and Sarah N. Lynch in Washington, Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Munsif Vengattil; Writing by Susan Thomas and Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Nick Zieminski, Bill Rigby and Michael Perry

Dropbox IPO oversubscribed: sources

(Reuters) – Cloud storage company Dropbox Inc’s [DBX.O] initial public offering was oversubscribed, two people familiar with the matter said on Monday, indicating healthy demand for the first big tech IPO this year even as tech stocks opened the week on sour note.

While investor appetite looked encouraging with three days to go before final pricing, it was not clear if that would be strong enough to lift the deal above of the initial range of $16 to $18 a share that Dropbox set last week. The offering is expected to price Thursday, and the stock will start trading on the Nasdaq on Friday.

“It is early to predict the pricing. But what I can say is that from the conversations it seems the market is interested in it and IPO seems to be bright,” a separate source told Reuters. The three sources asked not to be named as the IPO pricing process was still underway.

Dropbox’s IPO comes in what is sizing up to be a challenging week for stocks, with the U.S. Federal Reserve set to raise interest rates on Wednesday, a day before the Dropbox deal is set to close.

Tech shares also fell hard to open the week, with Nasdaq down more than 2 percent on reports of Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) latest data privacy problems.

Dropbox’s IPO also comes on the heels of an upsized deal last week from cyber security firm Zscaler Inc (ZS.O) and is being watched as a barometer of investor enthusiasm for tech unicorns – young companies valued at more than $1 billion – after Snapchat owner Snap Inc’s (SNAP.N) shares cratered following a much-touted IPO a year ago.

Dropbox is selling 36 million shares, and the offering could be increased by 5.4 million if underwriters exercise their right to buy more stock. At the high end of the indicated pricing, it could raise nearly $650 million, making it the largest tech IPO since Snap hit the market just over a year ago.

The current price range suggests the San Francisco company, co-founded in 2007 by Andrew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, will hit the public market valued at roughly $7 billion, a hefty discount to the $10 billion implied by its last funding round in 2014.

The company has 500 million users and competes with Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google, Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), Inc (AMZN.O) and has Box Inc (BOX.N) as its main rival.

Reporting by Sweta Singh, Nikhil Subba and Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru, Editing by Dan Burns and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

Facebook under pressure as EU, U.S. urge probes of data practices

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg faced calls on Monday from U.S. and European lawmakers to explain how a consultancy that worked on President Donald Trump’s election campaign gained access to data on 50 million Facebook users.

Facebook’s shares fell more than 7 percent, wiping around $40 billion off its market value, set for their biggest drop since September 2012.

Lawmakers in the United States, Britain and Europe have called for investigations into media reports that political analytics firm Cambridge Analytica had harvested the private data on more than 50 million Facebook users to support Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign. (

The scrutiny presents a new threat to Facebook’s reputation, which is already under attack over Russians’ use of Facebook tools to sway American voters with “fake news” posts before and after the 2016 U.S. elections.

Facebook was already facing new calls on Saturday for regulation from U.S. Congress and questions about personal data safeguards after the reports in the New York Times and London’s Observer over the weekend.

“It’s clear these platforms can’t police themselves,” Democratic U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar tweeted.

“They say ‘trust us.’ Mark Zuckerberg needs to testify before Senate Judiciary,” she added, referring to a committee she sits on.

On Monday, Republican Senator John Kennedy joined Klobuchar in calling on Zuckerberg to testify before Congress, and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden sent a letter to Zuckerberg asking for answers to questions regarding the company’s policies for sharing user data with third parties.

Wyden, an influential senator on technology issues, asked how many times during the past ten years Facebook was aware of third parties collecting or processing data in violation of the company’s platform policies, among several other questions.

“The lid is being opened on the black box of Facebook’s data practices, and the picture is not pretty,” said Frank Pasquale, a University of Maryland law professor who has written about Silicon Valley’s use of data.

Facebook usually sends lawyers to testify to Congress, or allows trade organizations to represent it and other technology companies in front of lawmakers.

It was not clear whether Republicans who hold congressional committee gavels would announce any hearings related to Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. But the calls reflected mounting bipartisan concern in Washington over whether internet firms are operating as fair trustees of the massive amounts of user data they collect.

Facebook said on Friday that it had learned in 2015 that a Cambridge University psychology professor had lied to the company and violated its policies by passing data to Cambridge Analytica from a psychology testing app he had built.

Facebook said it suspended the firms and researchers involved. It also said the data had been misused but not stolen, because users gave permission.

Cambridge Analytica and its CEO were not immediately available to comment on Monday.

Facebook shares fell 7 percent at $172.17, dragging the SP 500 technology sector down 2.5 percent and weighing on the overall U.S. equity market.

Fears of increased regulation also weighed on peers. Shares of Twitter Inc fell 1.6 percent, Google parent Alphabet Inc lost 3.6 percent, and Snapchat parent Snap Inc lost 4.1 percent.

“Tech companies all use data one way or the other as part of their businesses,” said Shawn Cruz, senior trading specialist at TD Ameritrade in Chicago. “They are going to get a lot more scrutiny over what data they are collecting and how they are using it.”


A spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said the allegations were “clearly very concerning … It is essential that people can have confidence that their personal data will be protected and used in an appropriate way.”

Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office said it would be considering the potential new evidence as part its separate civil and criminal probe into whether Facebook user data had been abused in British elections.

  • Democratic senator asks Zuckerberg about Facebook data

UK Parliamentary committee chairman and Conservative lawmaker Damian Collins said Facebook had avoided answering straight questions from the committee about what it knew about the abuse of its users’ social media data by Cambridge Analytica.

“Someone has to take responsibility for this. It’s time for Mark Zuckerberg to stop hiding behind his Facebook page,” Collins said in a statement.

The head of the European Parliament said on Monday EU lawmakers will investigate whether data misuse had taken place, calling the allegations an unacceptable violation of citizens’ privacy rights.

Germany’s Greens party also said it had asked the German government to report to parliament about the domestic impact.

In their joint letter, Kennedy and Klobuchar asked Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley to hold a hearing with Zuckerberg and the chief executives of and Twitter and Alphabet Inc’s Google.

Reporting by Dustin Volz and Munsif Vengattil; Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak and Sruthi Shankar; Writing by Susan Thomas; Editing by Nick Zieminski

Woman dies in Arizona after being hit by Uber self-driving car

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A woman died of her injuries after being struck by a Uber [UBER.UL] self-driving vehicle in Arizona, police said on Monday, and the ride hailing company said it had suspended its autonomous vehicle program across the United States and Canada.

The accident in Tempe, Arizona, marked the first fatality from a self-driving vehicle, which are still being tested around the globe, and could derail efforts to fast-track the introduction of the new technology in the United States.

At the time of the accident, which occurred overnight Sunday to Monday, the car was in autonomous mode with a vehicle operator behind the wheel, Tempe police said.

“The vehicle was traveling northbound … when a female walking outside of the crosswalk crossed the road from west to east when she was struck by the Uber vehicle,” police said in a statement.

A spokesman for Uber Technologies Inc said the company was suspending its North American tests. In a tweet, Uber expressed its condolences and said the company was fully cooperating with authorities.

Reporting by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

Wall Street sinks as Facebook-led tech selloff deepens

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks sank about 2 percent on Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average shedding nearly 400 points, as Facebook led a selloff in technology stocks on reports that the social media company’s user information was misused.

Facebook shares tumbled 7.1 percent on reports that a political consultancy that worked on President Donald Trump’s campaign gained inappropriate access to data on more than 50 million users, sparking broader concerns about data privacy and security.

The stock was set for its worst day since September 2012 and was down about 13 percent from its all-time high hit on Feb. 1, entering what is called correction territory.

The Nasdaq Composite slid 2.09 percent to 7,325.58 points and the SP technology index dropped 2.5 percent, both set for their worst one-day percentage fall since a sell-off in early February.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio said he believed some internet companies have grown too fast to digest their responsibilities and obligations.

Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Alphabet – members of the so-called FAANG group of stocks, along with Facebook – were down between 1.7 percent and 7.2 percent.

“Tech companies all use data one way or the other as part of their businesses. They are going to get a lot more scrutiny over what data they are collecting and how they are using it,” said Shawn Cruz, senior trading specialist at TD Ameritrade in Chicago.

At 12:29 p.m. ET, the SP 500 was down 1.44 percent to 2,712.36, having spent the session below its 50-day moving average.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 1.23 percent at 24,639.94 and fell below its 100-day moving average.

Industrials fell 0.89 percent against the backdrop of worries about a global trade war, which are set to dominate a two-day G20 meeting starting later in Argentina.

The world’s financial leaders were seeking to clearly endorse free trade and renounce protectionism amid concern that U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum and looming actions against China could trigger a trade war that would hurt global growth.

All the 11 major SP sectors were lower. The CBOE Volatility index was up 5.86 points at 21.66, in one of its sharpest gains since the market sell-off in February.

“Increased political uncertainty is driving as well and you’ve a Federal Reserve meeting, so the market’s defensive,” said John Brady, senior vice president at futures brokerage R.J. O’Brien Associates in Chicago.

“It’s a general pullback in risk and technology tends to have a higher impact on the market.”

The Fed is near certain to raise interest rates on Wednesday, the end of its two-day policy meeting. But the focus is on whether policymakers think economic conditions are strong enough for four hikes this year, one more than the markets expect.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE for a 4.93-to-1 ratio, and for a 3.53-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza

Trial kicks off in U.S. challenge to AT&T, Time Warner merger

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A trial that could shape the future of U.S. media ownership kicks off in Washington this week as the Department of Justice seeks to block ATT Inc’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit in November to stop the U.S. No. 2 wireless carrier, which owns DirecTV and other services with 25 million subscribers, from buying movie and TV show maker Time Warner, which owns HBO and CNN.

The government is arguing a deal would hike a subscriber’s monthly cable bill by 45 cents and raise prices for rival cable and online video distributors.

ATT denies that prices would rise and plans to argue the deal is necessary for it to compete with new media companies like Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc, Inc and Netflix Inc, according to court documents filed before the trial.

ATT rejected settlement offers from the Justice Department, including government proposals to shed either its DirecTV division or Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting assets, which include CNN.

Opening arguments are set for Wednesday after up to two days of hearings to consider objections on a number of motions.

ATT Chief Executive Randall Stephenson, Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes and programming executives from rival companies are expected to testify during the trial that Judge Richard Leon has estimated would last six to eight weeks.

Looming over the trial is the question of whether U.S. President Donald Trump, who criticized the deal on the campaign trail and again as president, may have influenced the Justice Department’s decision to oppose the transaction.

ATT lawyers have said the Time Warner deal may have been singled out for enforcement, citing Trump’s statements that the deal was bad for consumers and the country.

Leon last month rejected a bid by ATT to force the government to disclose any White House communications that ATT lawyers believe may have shed light on the matter. ATT did not raise any arguments relating to Trump in its final pretrial brief filed earlier this month.

The outcome of the ATT/Time Warner case could affect other pending “vertical” mergers, in which different parts of a supply chain, rather than rivals in the same business, join together. Health insurer Cigna Corp wants to buy pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts Holding Co and CVS Health Corp wants to acquire health insurer Aetna Inc.

Reporting by Diane Bartz and David Shepardson; Editing by Bill Rigby