Popsugar’s Twinning app is leaking everyone’s uploaded photos

I thought the worst thing about Popsugar’s Twinning tool was that it matched me with James Corden.

Turns out, the hundreds of thousands of selfies uploaded to the tool can be downloaded by anyone who knows where to look.

The popular photo matching tool taking the web by storm is fairly simple. “It analyzes a selfie or uploaded photo, compares it to a massive database of celebrity photos to find matches, and finally gives you a ‘twinning percentage’ for your top five look-alikes,” according to Popsugar, which developed the tool. Then, you share those matched photos on Facebook and Twitter so everyone knows that you don’t look at all like one of the many Kardashians.

All of the uploaded photos are stored in a storage bucket hosted on Amazon Web Services. We know because the web address of the bucket is in the code on the Twinning tool’s website. Open that in your web browser, and you’re looking at a real-time stream of uploaded photos.

We verified the findings by uploading a dummy photo of a certain file size at a specific time. Then, we scraped a list of filenames uploaded during that time period from the bucket’s web address, downloaded them, and found our uploaded image by searching for that photo of a certain file size. (We didn’t download any more than necessary to preserve people’s privacy.)

TechCrunch reached out to Popsugar president Lisa Sugar and vice-president of engineering Mike Patnode, but did not hear back.

As data leaks go, this is definitely on the low-end. You might not care that their selfies were exposed and easily downloadable. (Many photos were already leaking out of Google’s search results — even before people shared their selfie matches on Twitter!) It’s not as if the site was leaking your passwords or your Social Security number. Most probably didn’t go in expecting any reasonable level of security or privacy to begin with.

But like any free app, quiz or some viral web tool, it’s worth reminding that you’re still putting your information out there — and you can’t always get it back. Worse, you almost never know how secure your data will be, or how it might end up being used — and abused — in the future.

This is Captain Buzzkill, signing off.

UPDATE 1-Chile monthly copper output highest in 13 years

(Adds that output was highest in 13 years, adds January-November production.)

SANTIAGO, Dec 31 (Reuters) – Chile’s copper production touched 540,720 tonnes in November, its highest level in 13 years, as ore grades and efficient processing favored increased output in the world’s top producer of the red metal, the government said on Monday.

Copper production rose 7 percent from the same month the previous year, Chile’s national statistics agency INE said, putting it at its highest level since December 2005.

Total production between January and November reached 5.33 million tonnes, a 6 percent increase over the same period the previous year.

Chile is home to the world’s top copper miner, Codelco, as well as global miners BHP, Anglo-American, Glencore Plc and Antofagasta Minerals. (Reporting by Dave Sherwood and Antonio de la Jara; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

JEFFREY LIPTON in BARBADOS – http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/companyNews/~3/x2MAr_JB_pg/update-1-chile-monthly-copper-output-highest-in-13-years-idUSL1N1Z005Z

2019 looks to continue another lights out year for fintech startups

This time last year, the crypto bull market stole the spotlight. In the midst of bitcoin’s wild run, we announced the Matrix FinTech Index in recognition of the top 10 publicly traded U.S. fintechs quietly surpassing $100 billion in total market capitalization. We predicted that in 2018, the fintechs would prove to be the more relevant disruptors and their equity value would continue to outpace the incumbents.

As we look back, this prediction proved to be true. The market cap of the Matrix FinTech Index grew 50 percentage points in 2018, far outpacing the incumbent financial service giants and the S&P 500. Looking ahead to 2019, we predict that the fintechs will continue to steal the show—creating innovative tech-enabled products, providing access to underserved demographics, and putting consumers first.

The FinTech Index continues to outperform in 2018, though volatility has increased

In this 2018 year-end edition of the Matrix FinTech Index[1] , we are excited to provide a refreshed view of last year’s index. As a quick reminder, the index is a market-cap weighted index that tracks the progress of a portfolio of 10 leading public fintech companies. For comparison, we also included another portfolio of 10 large financial services incumbents (companies like JP Morgan and Visa), as well as the S&P 500. In 2018, the total market cap of the top 10 publicly traded U.S. fintechs grew to nearly $170B and the 2-year returns of the fintechs are now at 133%–100 percentage points higher than the 2-year returns for the incumbents.

Definition: Matrix Partners considers “fintechs” to be venture-backed organizations that are (a) technology-first companies that leverage software to compete with traditional financial services institutions (e.g. banks, credit card networks, insurers, etc.) in the delivery of traditional financial services (e.g. lending, payments, investing, etc.) or (b) software tools that better enable traditional finance functions (e.g. accounting, point-of-sales systems, etc.)

Compared to 2017, volatility increased in 2018. While part of this is the broader state of the equity markets in 2018, it’s worth noting a few specific headwinds (e.g. the TIO security breach that impacted PayPal, Amazon launching Amazon Pay) as well as a few general macro concerns like rising interest rates. But looking ahead to 2019, all 10 of the publicly traded fintechs are expected to continue to have double-digit growth. The only incumbents expected to squeak into double-digit territory in 2019 are card issuers like Visa (11%) and Mastercard (13%) –enabled, in part, by the growth of fintech payment companies like Square and PayPal.

2019 Prediction: The Matrix FinTech Index will deliver 200% returns over the three years ending in December of 2019, outperforming the incumbents and S&P 500 by at least 150 percentage points.

Liquidity is starting to trickle in for private fintech companies

While the FinTech Index performed well on the public markets in 2018, we also saw some very promising liquidity events for privately held companies. In 2017, there were only 3 fintech exits in the U.S. over $100M, totaling just over $700M in value. In 2018 that number grew by a factor of 10 to over $7B in value. More than half of that value came from the GreenSky IPO, but there were also a number of significant M&A events. We expect M&A activity to increase as financial services incumbents acquire fintech companies in an effort to stay competitive. And we continue to believe that the fintech sector will prove to be one of the most fruitful sectors for venture returns in the 15 years following the 2008 financial crisis.

2019 Prediction: Total aggregate value for fintech liquidity events will exceed $10B in one year for the first time ever.

The fintech unicorn pipeline is primed for some big outcomes

What’s even more exciting than 2018’s liquidity is the backlog of privately held fintechs, led by Stripe, that are valued at over $1B. There are now 20 fintech unicorns. In fact, there are more fintech unicorns than any other industry vertical in the Unicorn Club. More than 50% of these raised big growth rounds in 2018 and five of them (Circle, Plaid, Brex, Root and LendingHome) made their debut on the U.S. fintech unicorn list for the first time. The expansion of this list shows that there is no shortage of high-potential areas to disrupt in financial services.

2019 Prediction: Total aggregate value for fintech unicorns will cross $90B and the total number of fintech unicorns will begin to close in on 30.

The next wave of value creation from younger fintechs will be even bigger than the first

Despite these successes on the public markets, in liquidity events and among the unicorn ranks, we are still in the very early innings of the fintech revolution. 2019 will be even more impressive than 2018 as there are an additional 40 U.S. fintechs that have raised more than $100M in equity funding and are on the brink of entering the unicorn club. As many of these companies make that transition, they will sprout another wave of more interesting fintech companies as early employees go on to start their own companies in a virtuous wave of value creation.

We expect these newcomers, and others aspiring to follow in their footsteps, will threaten to end the rule of the financial establishment. They will continue to offer better financial products to consumers, empower more efficient payment channels, and create a more open financial system. At the same time, the incumbents will continue to struggle with innovation, hamstrung by their scale, regulatory burdens, and decades of accumulated technical debt.

Make no mistake. What new fintech companies are attempting is very ambitious and incredibly difficult to achieve. The existing ecosystem of incumbent providers dates back 150 years and represents some of the largest global financial institutions. That said, digital transformation is afoot and the financial service industry will not be spared.

TSX closes higher on final day of difficult year for the market

Canada’s main stock index closed higher along with U.S. markets on the final day of trading of what has been a difficult year for stocks.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 100.86 points, at 14,322.86, as part of a late-December rally. But it wasn’t enough to stave off significant losses for the year.

The index ended down 12 per cent for 2018 after declines that started in the summer gained momentum as trade disputes and slowing global growth stoked fears of a recession.

Declines accelerated in December, pushing the index down to as low as 13,776.90 on Christmas Eve, before staging a modest rally in the final days of the year.

The drop, especially in the final month of the year, caught most market-watchers off-guard.

“We all felt as though the market was a little ahead of itself, or maybe in some instances a lot ahead of itself,” said Allan Small, senior investment adviser at HollisWealth.

He said the economy has slowed somewhat, but is still healthy and he expects more of a minor stock correction than a major economic crisis.

“Lot of people are talking about recession, but I don’t think a recession’s anywhere in the short term. What I think you have is a bear market without the recession.”

Investors, however, will have to get used to the recent volatility as a major trade dispute with China hits a deadline in the new year, while Democrats take hold of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I think it just stirs the pot a little more,” said Small.

Investors did get some positive sentiment on the trade front after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that he had a positive discussion with Chinese President Xi Jinping, said Small.

“President Trump tweeted out over the weekend that he spoke with the Chinese president, everything seems positive, he seemed optimistic in his tweet that they’re working towards some sort of trade deal.”

The news helped send the Dow Jones industrial average up 265.06 points at 23,327.46. The S&P 500 index ended up 21.11 points higher at 2,506.85, while the Nasdaq composite was up 50.76 points at 6,635.28.

U.S. stocks still ended down for the year for their worst showing in a decade. The S&P 500 ended down 6.2 per cent, the Dow down 5.6 per cent.

The Canadian dollar averaged 73.30 cents US, down 0.02 of a US cent from Friday.

The February crude contract closed up eight cents at $45.41 US per barrel and the February natural gas contract was down 36 cents at $2.94 US per mmBTU.

The February gold contract was down $1.70 at $1,281.30 US an ounce, and the March copper contract was down five cents at $2.63 US a pound.

JEFFREY LIPTON in BARBADOS – https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/global-stock-market-1.4962150?cmp=rss

TSX ends difficult year for the market on a bright note

North American stocks were moving higher on Monday as investors held out new hope for progress in U.S.-China trade frictions. Health-care companies, retailers and technology stocks drove the gains as the market overcame a midmorning wobble. Even so, the benchmark S&P 500 index was on track to end a volatile year with its worst showing in a decade.

The S&P 500 index rose 10 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 2,496 in afternoon trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 169 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 23,231. The Nasdaq added 24 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 6,608. The S&P/TSX composite index was up 87.53 points at 14,309.

Trading has been highly volatile in December, capping a year of turbulence for markets. The major indexes closed last week with their first weekly gain in what’s been an otherwise painful month. The indexes are still all down around 10 per cent for the month and on track for their worst December since 1931.

“Last week we really had such a volatile week, and a lot of that had to do with thin trading volumes, some computerized trading and investors just being exhausted from a very difficult fourth quarter,” said Jeff Kravetz, regional investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “Today is the last day of the year, and investors are starting to look into next year.”

Today is the last day of the year, and investors are starting to look into next year.– Jeff Kravetz, regional investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management

World share and commodity prices rose Monday as hints of progress on the U.S.-China trade standoff provided a glimmer of optimism in what has been a punishing 2018 for markets globally.

Europe’s STOXX 600 followed Asia’s lead to push 0.4 per cent higher, and Wall Street futures were up one per cent as traders tried to overcome the worst year for equities since the 2008 financial crisis.

Sentiment had improved when U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that he held a “very good call” with China’s President Xi Jinping on Saturday to discuss trade and claimed “big progress” was being made.

The Wall Street Journal reported the White House was pressing China for more details of how it might increase U.S. exports and loosen regulations that stifle U.S. companies there.

Chinese state media were more reserved, saying Xi hoped the negotiating teams could meet each other half-way and reach an agreement that was mutually beneficial.

Economic data out of China was also unhelpfully mixed, with manufacturing activity contracting for the first time in two years, although the service sector improved.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares managed a 0.6 per cent gain, but it was still down 16 per cent for the year. A sub-index of top Chinese companies lost more than a quarter of its value.

Major indices deep in the red

The story was much the same across the globe, with most major stock indices deep in the red.

Paris made a respectable one per cent on the day, but London’s FTSE fell flat again. They are down 11 and 12 per cent for the year, respectively. Germany’s export-heavy DAX has had it worse, losing more than 18 per cent of its value.

E-Mini futures for Wall Street’s S&P 500 had gained 0.8 per cent ahead of U.S. trading. The index is off almost 10 per cent for December, its worst month since February 2009, down 15 per cent for the quarter and 7 per cent for the year.

“Simply looking at the markets would suggest that the global economy is headed into recession,” said Robert Michele, chief investment officer and head of fixed income at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

Simply looking at the markets would suggest that the global economy is headed into recession. However, while we agree the global economy is in a growth slowdown, we don’t see an impending recession.– Robert Michele, chief investment officer and head of fixed income at J.P. Morgan Asset Management

“However, while we agree the global economy is in a growth slowdown, we don’t see an impending recession,” he said, in part because the Federal Reserve could provide a policy cushion.

“Already, commentary out of the Fed suggests that it is nearing the end of a three-year journey to normalize policy,” said Michele.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies before a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington on July 18. Fed fund futures have now largely priced out any rate increase for next year. (Mary F. Calvert/Reuters)

No more hikes

Indeed, Fed fund futures have now largely priced out any rate increase for next year and now imply a quarter-point cut by mid-2020.

The Treasury market clearly thinks the Fed is done. Yields on two-year debt have fallen to just 2.52 per cent from a peak of 2.977 per cent in November.

The $15.5 trillion US market is heading for its biggest monthly rally in 2 1/2 years, according to an index compiled by Bloomberg and Barclays.

European bond markets were closed Monday, but the drop in U.S. yields has undermined the dollar in recent weeks. Against a basket of currencies, it was on track to end December with a loss of 0.8 per cent but remained up on the year.

The dollar has also had a tough month against the yen. It lost 2.8 per cent this month and was last trading at just under 110. However, 2018 was mostly stable for the pair, trading all year in a range of 104.55 to 114.54.

The euro was on track to end the month higher at $1.1450 but nursing losses of almost 5 per cent over the year. Sterling made a last push to $1.28, but Brexit woes have cost it more than 5 per cent.

That was trivial compared with the drop in oil prices —Brent crude is down almost 40 per cent since its peak in October. It was last up $1.22 cents at $54.40 a barrel but down 20 per cent for the year. U.S. crude futures nudged up 96 cents to $46.29.

The supply side is tight, but my fear is that with demand weakening it will offset all these supply concerns so we could see inventories begin to pick up.– INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir

Gold rallied almost 5 per cent in the past month to stand at $1,283 an ounce.

Copper, aluminum, zinc and nickel, however, were all down 17 to 26 per cent this year. The industrial metals are sensitive to China’s economy, which consumes almost half the global supply.

“The supply side is tight, but my fear is that with demand weakening it will offset all these supply concerns so we could see inventories begin to pick up,” said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.

JEFFREY LIPTON in BARBADOS – https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/global-stock-market-1.4962150?cmp=rss

UPDATE 7-Brent crude rises but set for first yearly drop since 2015

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices rose more than 2 percent on the final day of the year, mirroring gains in stock markets, but were on track for their first annual decline in three years as concerns of a persistent supply glut lingered.

FILE PHOTO: A pump jack operates in the Permian Basin oil production area near Wink, Texas U.S. August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Nick Oxford/File Photo

Hints of progress on a possible U.S.-China trade deal, with U.S. President Donald Trump saying he had a “very good call” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, helped bolster sentiment for oil.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 were up 75 cents at $53.96 a barrel by 1357 GMT but rose over $1 to a high of $54.82 in earlier trade.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were at $45.90 a barrel, up 57 cents. In earlier trade, WTI was up over $1 at $46.53 a barrel.

Both contracts are down more than a third this quarter, the steepest decline since the fourth quarter of 2014.

For most of 2018, oil prices were on the rise, driven up by healthy demand and supply concerns, especially around the impact of renewed U.S. sanctions against major producer Iran, which were introduced in early November.

Brent crude, seen as a global benchmark for oil prices, rose by almost a third between January and October, to a high of $86.74 per barrel.

That was the highest level since late 2014, the start of a deep market slump amid bulging global oversupply, and many leading analysts and traders at the time said they expected crude to hit $100 per barrel again by the end of 2018.

Instead, Brent prices have wiped out all of 2018’s gains, plunging by almost 40 percent from the year’s high, in what has been one of the steepest oil market sell-offs of the past decades.

The slump came after Washington gave unexpectedly generous sanction waivers to Iran’s biggest oil buyers and as concerns over a global economic slowdown amid the Sino-American trade dispute dented the outlook for oil demand.

“It was the bailout of Iran that really pricked the bubble that was the crude oil market,” said Sukrit Vijayakar, director of energy consultancy Trifecta.

“For the immediate future, in the absence of anything new, the first pressure point for oil markets would come around May 2019 or a month or so earlier when the ‘extensions of (Iran)waivers’ would be discussed.”

A Reuters poll showed a bearish 2019 outlook on Monday. A survey of 32 economists and analysts forecast an average Brent price of $69.13 a barrel next year, compared with $71.76 in 2018.

The current downward pressure on oil prices should likely taper off from January, analysts said, as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies including Russia start curbing production by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd).

The market, however, might still remain under some pressure from swelling production in the United States, which has emerged as the world’s biggest crude producer this year, pumping 11.6 million bpd.

“The key swing producers within OPEC+ do have meaningful spare capacity and are able to use it if they deem it necessary. That said, it is nonetheless a difficult tool to use correctly in a world where forecasters tend to routinely underestimate U.S. production by several hundred thousand barrels per day,” JBC Energy consultancy said in a daily note.

Outside the United States, production in Russia and Saudi Arabia also hit record levels this year.

Reporting By Koustav Samanta and Henning Gloystein in Singapore, Editing by Adrian Croft and Kirsten Donovan

JEFFREY LIPTON in BARBADOS – http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/companyNews/~3/1axh9GQ2Wh4/update-7-brent-crude-rises-but-set-for-first-yearly-drop-since-2015-idUSL3N1Z00YL

This man makes sure the public has access to Utah's Olympic facilities

The ride clocks in at 71.5 miles per hour, with an effect that’s three times the force of gravity. It takes more than a dozen curves in 61 seconds, and it’s over before you know it.

The ride is taking place on the same course that hosted the bobsled, skeleton, and luge competitions at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002. Although the bobsled in use is being piloted by an experienced athlete, the ride is something that ordinary visitors to the Utah Olympic Park can enjoy.

Indeed, on this summer afternoon at the park, athletes and enthusiasts – young and old, experienced and novice – are engaging in a range of activities. Children and families are participating in zip-line and ropes courses, and others are riding tubes down the iconic Olympic ski jumps. Meanwhile, members of the national ski team are practicing their doubles and triples into a special pool that helps simulate a winter climate. As for the bobsled ride, participants climb into an apparatus outfitted with wheels that can negotiate the course in the absence of ice.

Recommended: An outdoorsman’s outreach to youths facing troubles at home

The 2002 Games are known as having had the largest crowds ever for a Winter Olympics. Today, the venue continues to be a destination.

And Colin Hilton, president and chief executive officer of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, plays a key role in managing the balance between the many people who come to the facilities.

“Here, we are making sure that these Olympic venues are not just for a select few, but are for the masses – for locals, for visitors, for athletes in training, for kids who just want to come and have a fun program,” says Mr. Hilton, who notes the results he’s seen: “We are four times busier today in our use of our Olympic venue than we were after the 2002 Games.”

And it’s not only about athletic excellence. “Our measure of success is more about participation rates than it is about gold medals,” Hilton says.

The Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation has several aims, including to celebrate the spirit of the 2002 Games, to inspire and promote active lifestyles, and to facilitate community use of these venues: the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, and Soldier Hollow Nordic Center near Midway, Utah. The foundation also maintains the venues, some of which serve as US Olympic Training Sites year-round.

One focus of Hilton and his team is improving the quality of youth sports and physical fitness programs in Utah.

“We have programs and camps, and all sorts of activities, at our three Olympic venues” for local residents including youngsters, says Hilton, who notes it can be hard to get more people to maintain an active lifestyle. “Utah has a lot of great outdoors, and we do have a love of outdoor recreation, but it is challenged like it is in every city in the United States,” he says.

So organizers work to offer youths and other members of the community a range of opportunities, such as public skate times at the Olympic Oval and camp programming at the Olympic Park.

Also, for the past 12 years the foundation has provided physical education classes to children at two elementary schools in Salt Lake City. The instruction is by professional coaches, and the backdrop is the oval.

“We look at these Olympic venues as community recreation centers, as opportunities to be a place where kids and families can go,” Hilton says.

ABOUT 1.5 MILLION VISITS ANNUALLY

More than 600,000 visit the Olympic Park each year, and some 900,000 pass through the doors of the oval, Hilton says. Youth programming reaches nearly 20,000 on average annually between the three venues.

Those numbers have been on the rise, he notes. In 2006, he says, 400 children participated in learn-to-skate programs. Today, that number is over 1,500.

Fraser Bullock was the chief operating officer of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Games, and he’s co-chair of the Olympic exploratory committee working to potentially bring the global event back to Salt Lake City in 2030.

“I am amazed when I go up in the winter and see hundreds of children skiing, jumping … and then I go down to [the] oval and see hundreds engaged in ice sports,” says Mr. Bullock in an email interview. “We couldn’t have written a better script for our post-Games legacy.”

Bullock unequivocally credits Hilton.

“Colin has been the heart and soul of the Foundation,” he says. “He has incredible dedication, which he combines with fantastic vision to get the Foundation to where it is today and for the future.”

And yes, there are stories of young people who have been inspired by the Olympic venues and end up training to become Olympians themselves. Speedskater Jerica Tandiman is a prime example: She grew up in a housing complex near the Olympic Oval and made the US speedskating team for this year’s Olympics.

There’s also Miriah Johnson, who began aerial skiing five years ago at a camp hosted by the foundation. She’s competed year-round at the Utah Olympic Park and has received foundation support for her training.

“The impact of the Foundation has been powerful,” says Ms. Johnson in an email, noting the foundation’s support both for athletes and the venues. “They have helped keep the Olympic energy alive….”

Johnson also speaks highly of Hilton and his commitment. “He works passionately to help maintain and grow what the Utah Olympic Legacy is all about,” she says, “from the day-to-day work, to the vision of expanding the park to continue to develop athletes.”

SPORTS AS A TRANSFORMER

While Hilton enjoys celebrating stories like those of Johnson and Ms. Tandiman, he is also glad to see the quieter transformations that sports and a positive, supportive environment can bring about for any young person.

“I’m equally happy about the hundreds of thousands of kids who go through the facility every year, [and] I am a big believer in sports being a medium to develop life skills, [set] goals, [and build] confidence,” he says. “We have a platform with the Olympic rings to showcase how the true [spirit of the Olympics] can really come out and how sports should be in our world today.”

Hilton is no stranger to international sporting events, having gotten his start helping to organize the 1993 World University Games in Buffalo, N.Y. He also served on the organizing committee for the 1994 FIFA World Cup and the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Then he was invited to assist with the Salt Lake City Games.

“I loved the community-building dynamics of these major sporting events,” he says. “Salt Lake was one of the most rewarding jobs that I ever had.”

After that, Hilton took a job as economic development director for Park City, in which he helped reshape the city’s image from being just a ski town into a destination that has a range of attractions and amenities.

Hilton assumed his present role in 2006 and was challenged with changing the culture, which at the time focused almost solely on high-performance athletes. He has also shepherded the creation of a long-term strategic plan and has worked to secure funding for infrastructure repairs and upgrades.

In addition, he has bolstered public uses of the Olympic Park and has increased revenue from paid events and fundraisers to accommodate the $17 million annual operating budget. And he’s protected the sizable endowment that was given to the foundation at the close of the 2002 Games.

Many of the goals that Hilton has championed for the foundation are also providing support for Salt Lake City’s likely bid for the 2030 Games, he says.

“The International Olympic Committee has recognized that going back to regions around the world that have already-existing infrastructure – and have been using these facilities in a sustainable, prudent way – is a very logical and right thing to do,” he says.

For more, visit utaholympiclegacy.org.

OTHER GROUPS REACHING OUT TO COMMUNITIES

UniversalGiving helps people give to and volunteer for top-performing charitable organizations around the world. All the projects below are vetted by UniversalGiving; 100 percent of each donation goes directly to the listed cause.

• The Small Things creates care plans for orphaned children and at-risk families in the Meru district of Tanzania. Take action: Be a volunteer for this organization’s community library and adult education program.

• Rural Communities Empowerment Center provides resources and services to raise levels of literacy in Ghana. Take action: Contribute to funds for community resource centers overseen by this group.

• Global Partners for Development works with communities in rural East Africa to improve education and public health. Take action: Donate money to aid education efforts in the Singida region of Tanzania.

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Lots of choice for New Year’s celebrations

Lots of choice for New Year’s celebrations

Some Barbadians may be paying a pretty penny to bring in the New Year in style. From earlier this month and beyond some hotels and restaurants announced their events and they have been well received….

JEFFREY LIPTON in BARBADOS – http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/227922/lots-choice-celebrationshttp://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/227922/lots-choice-celebrations

Lots of choice for New Year’s celebrations

Some Barbadians may be paying a pretty penny to bring in the New Year in style. From earlier this month and beyond some hotels and restaurants announced their events and they have been well received….

JEFFREY LIPTON in BARBADOS – http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/227922/lots-choice-celebrationshttp://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/227922/lots-choice-celebrations

UPDATE 1-European shares in tentative New Year’s Eve rise after bruising 2018

LONDON (Reuters) – European shares closed slightly higher on Monday as soothing comments from Washington and Beijing about trade frictions between the world’s top two economies provided some comfort for investors as a bruising year in equity markets drew to a close.

Stock index price for France’s CAC 40 and company stock price information are displayed on screens as they hang above the Paris stock exchange, operated by Euronext NV, in La Defense business district in Paris, France, December 14, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

In a shortened session before New Year’s Eve celebrations, the STOXX 600 was up 0.5 percent, continuing to claw back from multi-year losses hit on Thursday.

France’s CAC 40 .FCHI was up 1.1 percent, Spain’s IBEX .IBEX was up 0.5 percent while Britain’s FTSE 100 .FTSE was dragged lower by a stronger pound.

Volumes were thin with German and Milan bourses shut and many investors still away for the Christmas holidays.

Market mood brightened slightly after U.S. President Donald Trump said he held a “very good call” with China’s President Xi Jinping on Saturday to discuss trade and claimed “big progress” was being made.

Chinese state media were more reserved, saying Xi hoped the negotiating teams could meet each other half way and reach an agreement that was mutually beneficial.

Still, investors headed into 2019 licking their wounds after a torrid past year amid lingering worries about slowing global economic growth, trade frictions, expectations of more U.S. interest rate increases and the UK’s divorce from the European Union.

The pan European STOXX 600 had its worst year since Lehman Brothers imploded in 2008, while euro zone stocks put in their worst performance since 2011.

One major issue that has plagued markets this year – Italy’s budget crisis – was put to rest for now as Rome passed the 2019 budget just before a year-end deadline, averting a major showdown with Brussels.

Highlighting potential headaches for investors in 2019, data on Monday showed China’s factory activity contracted for the first time in over two years in December, as the world’s second-largest economy lost further momentum.

“Mixed Chinese PMI surveys have done little to help the growth story as (Chinese) stocks close out the year as the biggest losers,” said Josh Mahoney, market analyst at IG.

“Meanwhile, improving tones from both the U.S. and China on trade talks helped improve sentiment ahead of the new year.”

Auto and luxury goods stocks, which are vulnerable to rising protectionism and Washington’s row with Beijing, benefited the most from the conciliatory noises over the weekend. China is the biggest market for high-end retailers.

Valeo (VLOF.PA) topped France’s CAC 40, rising 3.9 percent, Michelin (MICP.PA) was up 2.5 percent and Peugeot gained 2.1 percent.

Gucci owner Kering (PRTP.PA) and LVMH (LVMH.PA) all rose between 2.2 and 4 percent.

The mining and resources sector .SXPP was another gainer, up 0.6 percent, buoyed by stronger copper prices even as most industrial metals headed for losses in 2018. [MET/L] The sector dropped almost 18 percent this year.

In individual moves, APRIL (APRL.PA) surged to its highest since May 2011 after private equity firm CVC Capital Partners said it was in exclusive talks with French peer Evolem to buy its majority stake in the French insurer.

Reporting by Josephine Mason; editing by Julien Ponthusand David Stamp

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MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai leaps as Gulf ends strong year; oil clouds 2019

* Dubai posts biggest rise since June 2017

* Local institutions buy real estate stocks

* Dubai is world’s worst 2018 performer in local currency terms

* Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi all beat emerging market index in 2018

* Oil is a worry but MSCI to bring fund inflows

*

By Andrew Torchia

DUBAI, Dec 31 (Reuters) – Dubai’s beaten-down stock market rose sharply on Monday as the largest Gulf bourses ended a year in which most outperformed global benchmarks, although soft oil prices cloud the outlook for 2019.

The Dubai index, which hit five-year lows last week, surged 2.4 percent — it biggest rise since June 2017 — as real estate stocks rebounded. Emaar Properties gained 3.3 percent and DAMAC Properties added 4.1 percent.

Dubai’s bounce still left it down 24.9 percent for all of 2018, making it the world’s worst-performing major stock market for the year in local currency terms, marginally underperforming indexes in Shanghai and Athens.

Exchange data showed buying by local institutions supported the market on Monday.

Slumping Dubai real estate prices, a major cause of the stock market’s weakness in 2018, still show no clear sign of recovering. Foreign investors sold a net $77.9 million of Dubai stocks in the last quarter of 2018, a large amount by historical standards, exchange data shows.

Other big Gulf markets fared much better during 2018, however. Saudi Arabia rose 0.2 percent on Monday, bringing its annual gain to 8.3 percent — far outperforming a 16.9 percent drop by MSCI’s emerging market index.

A $30 slide in oil prices since October has cast a shadow over Gulf markets’ performance in 2019.

Partly because of weak oil prices, “consumer and business sentiment remains depressed across the region,” said Akber Khan, head of asset management at Al Rayan Investment in Doha.

However, Saudi Arabia is due to join the emerging market indexes of MSCI and FTSE Russell next year, which is expected to attract $15 billion of passive, index-linked funds to Riyadh and billions more in active funds.

As a result, Saudi Arabia was the favourite market of fund managers polled by Reuters late this month, with 54 percent expecting to raise their Saudi equity allocations and none to reduce them in the next three months.

Talal Samhouri, head of asset management at Amwal in Qatar, said Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial Bank and Al Rajhi were the regional banks best positioned to benefit from rising interest rate margins in coming months.

Kuwait’s blue-chip index, up 9.9 percent in 2018, also outperformed other emerging markets by a big margin. Interest in Kuwait has been fuelled by its entry into FTSE Russell’s emerging market index in 2018 and MSCI’s decision to consider in 2019 whether to upgrade Kuwait to that status.

Qatar’s index closed Monday up 20.8 percent for the year, making it one of the world’s best performing markets. Stocks rose sharply in 2018 as companies raised limits on foreign ownership of their shares, a factor which could fade in 2019 as MSCI hopes draw funds to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index rose 0.2 percent to 7,827 points

EGYPT

* The EGX 30 Index gained 0.7 percent to 13,036 points

DUBAI

* The index surged 2.4 percent to 2,530 points

ABU DHABI

* The index rose 1.9 percent to 4,915 points

QATAR

* The Index added 0.2 percent to 10,299 points

KUWAIT

* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 5,267 points

BAHRAIN

* The index rose 0.4 percent to 1,337 points

OMAN

* The index fell 0.4 percent to 4,324 points

Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Jon Boyle

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