UPDATE 1-Elliott’s ASG says it wants to buy Mitek, shares jump

NEW YORK/BOSTON (Reuters) – Hedge fund Elliott Management Corp’s software company ASG Technologies said on Wednesday it was offering to buy Mitek Systems Inc (MITK.O) for $10 a share after the provider of financial technology to banks rejected an earlier takeover approach.

ASG said in a letter to Mitek that it was reaffirming its “proposal to acquire Mitek for $10.00 per share in cash, a 51 percent premium above the unaffected price on October 9, 2018”, valuing the company at $425 million including debt.

Mitek said in a statement that “Mitek Board of Directors, in consultation with its financial and legal advisors, will carefully review and consider the proposal in order to pursue the course of action that is in the best interests of Mitek shareholders.” It said it would not comment until the board had completed its review.

Mitek’s stock price jumped 15.1 percent to trade at $9.25 shortly after the opening on Wednesday.

A takeover would benefit shareholders, including some large investors who are backing a potential sale, employees and customers, ASG said in its letter.

ASG’s plan would eliminate some risks for investors, employees and customers, the letter said, noting that a deal with ASG would be “be superior to the uncertainty and risks inherent in replacing the top two executives at the company and attempting to regain the confidence of investors through a turnaround of operational performance.”

Mitek said in August that Chief Executive Officer Jim DeBello and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Davison were stepping down to either retire or pursue other roles.

ASG added that Mitek’s shareholders face “the strong possibility of permanent impairment to the value” of their shares if Mitek chooses to stay public.

Mitek, which is based in San Diego and has agreements with large banks such as JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) to handle mobile check deposits, rebuffed an offer from Naples, Florida-based ASG, last month, Reuters reported.

On Wednesday, ASG said that Elliott, which invests $35 billion, has “adequate capital to consummate the acquisition.” The hedge fund, which was founded four decades ago by Paul Singer, already made a significant investment in Mitek’s stock and is now one of the company’s biggest investors, the letter said.

ASG received an investment last year from Evergreen Coast Capital, the private equity arm of activist hedge fund Elliott Management.

Elliott has been using its private equity arm, Evergreen, to acquire both public and private companies and sometimes involves ASG when it pushes companies to explore a sale.

Reporting by Liana B. Baker in New York and Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston; Editing by Frances Kerry and Tom Brown

JEFFREY LIPTON in BARBADOS – http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/companyNews/~3/WULHZO1QGbM/update-1-elliotts-asg-says-it-wants-to-buy-mitek-shares-jump-idUSL2N1XB1CH

UPDATE 1-Turkey’s lira weakens after government tax cut plans

(Adds economist, Albayrak comments, updates lira)

ANKARA, Oct 31 (Reuters) – Turkey’s lira weakened more than two percent against the dollar on Wednesday after the government unexpectedly announced a plan to cut taxes on several sectors, including cars, white goods and furniture, until the end of the year.

The tax cuts, announced by Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, came hours after the central bank sharply raised its inflation forecasts for this year and next, predicting a rate of 23.5 percent by the end of 2018.

The announcement prompted a sell-off in the lira, which had recently started rebounding from a meltdown that saw the currency plunge more than 40 percent this year.

The lira weakened to as far as 5.63 against the dollar, from 5.50 before the announcement, and closed at 5.6050.

“That doesn’t sound like a hugely clever move, and wasn’t something we were expecting,” said Paul Fage, senior emerging market strategist at TD Securities.

“What they are probably trying to do is … get a bit of a blip down in inflation, but that is a one-off blip and you run the risk of stimulating consumption and of rising pressure on inflation again.”

Piotr Matys, emerging market forex strategist at Rabobank, said it was an “unfortunate timing” for the government to announce the tax cuts, adding that the move could be an attempt to avoid prolonged economic slowdown ahead of next year’s local elections.

Albayrak later defended the tax cut plans, saying they were aimed at supporting economic rebalancing, employment and the fight against inflation.

Shares in Turkey’s white goods maker Arcelik rose 5 percent after the announcement, while car makers Ford Otosan and Tofas were both up 7 percent.

“At best these measure could be short term, but they are not tackling long term issues,” TD Securities’ Fage said. (Reporting by Ece Toksabay Additional reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun and Ali Kucukgocmen in Istanbul, Karin Strohecker in London Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu Editing by Peter Graff)

JEFFREY LIPTON in BARBADOS – http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/companyNews/~3/u7vV-UmHLD8/update-1-turkeys-lira-weakens-after-government-tax-cut-plans-idUSL8N1XB7PU

Trinidad continues to be rattled by earthquakes

Trinidad continues to be rattled by earthquakes

PORT OF SPAIN – Trinidad and Tobago was rattled by its eighth earthquake in as many days as the oil rich twin island republic recorded yet another earth tremor on Tuesday night, the Seismic Research Centre…

JEFFREY LIPTON in BARBADOS – http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/209635/trinidad-continues-rattled-earthquakeshttp://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/209635/trinidad-continues-rattled-earthquakes

Trinidad continues to be rattled by earthquakes

PORT OF SPAIN – Trinidad and Tobago was rattled by its eighth earthquake in as many days as the oil rich twin island republic recorded yet another earth tremor on Tuesday night, the Seismic Research Centre…

JEFFREY LIPTON in BARBADOS – http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/209635/trinidad-continues-rattled-earthquakeshttp://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/209635/trinidad-continues-rattled-earthquakes

UPDATE 2-Cenovus cuts crude production, sees price relief in mid-2019

(Reuters) – Canadian oil producer Cenovus Energy Inc (CVE.TO) said on Wednesday it was limiting output due to severe discounts and the price of domestic heavy crude should rise by mid-2019 as increased rail volumes ease transport bottlenecks.

Cenovus Energy Inc’s Chief Executive Alex Pourbaix speaks to reporters at the company’s headquarters in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Ethan Lou

The company did not specify how much production it was restricting, but said it has slowed output at both its Foster Creek and Christina Lake sites. Chief Executive Officer Alex Pourbaix said the entire industry needed to do its part to reduce excess supply.

“We’re not going to carry the industry on our backs. We’re going to do this as long as we can justify that we’re creating value for our shareholders by deferring this production,” Pourbaix said on a conference call.

Pourbaix said there has been no effort among producers to coordinate reductions.

The discount on Canadian heavy oil to U.S. crude widened to a record this month, on rising production from Alberta’s oil sands and pipeline constraints. (reut.rs/2AC096c)

Last month, Cenovus signed three-year deals with Canada’s two major railways to transport roughly 100,000 barrels per day of crude from Northern Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast, starting in the fourth quarter.

The company expects industry-wide crude by rail volumes to reach 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) by year end, up from 230,000 bpd in August.

Cenovus faced investor ire following its deal to buy some of ConocoPhillips’ (COP.N) oil sands assets last year and took on a huge debt. The company has been since taking steps to turn around its business through layoffs and asset sales.

Total production rose 4 percent to 495,592 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the third quarter ended Sept. 30.

The company’s net loss was C$242 million ($184 million), compared with a profit of C$275 million a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, the company lost 3 Canadian cents per share. Analysts on average had expected earnings of 21 Canadian cents per share, according to Refinitiv data.

The company’s shares rose 2.6 percent to C$11.38 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Laharee Chatterjee in Bengaluru and Rod Nickel in Calgary, Alberta; Editing by Maju Samuel and Shounak Dasgupta

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UPDATE 2-Conservative contenders vie to overturn Merkel’s centrism

BERLIN (Reuters) – Two leading contenders to replace Angela Merkel when the German chancellor bows out as leader of the Christian Democrats set out their stalls on Wednesday, promising to give new definition to a party grown centrist over her two decades at the helm.

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel awaits the arrival of participants ahead of the ‘G20 Compact with Africa’ summit at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, October 30, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Merkel, who has shaped European politics over her 13 years as chancellor, announced this week that she would step down as party leader after her conservative bloc suffered two painful election setbacks within a month.

While Merkel has declined to back a successor, she would find it easier to continue as chancellor if a fellow centrist, like party general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer – dubbed the “mini-Merkel” – were to triumph.

But the party’s conservative wing, which has increasingly chafed at the compromises forced upon them by a leader who has often seemed most comfortable governing with parties well to their left, now sees an opportunity to grab back the reins.

In his first news conference since returning to front line politics after a decade in the wilderness, Friedrich Merz, a 62-year-old lawyer, outlined an unapologetically pro-business agenda, describing himself as a reform-minded pro-European.

“I am a convinced economic liberal, a social conservative and a socially engaged person,” said Merz, who 15 years ago lost out to Merkel in the battle to run the party. “That’s what has made the CDU strong.”

Among the tasks of a CDU he led would be reclaiming voters who had deserted it for far right parties and coming up with a more detailed response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposals for deepening European integration.

“He deserves a more substantial response from Germany,” Merz said. “The biggest challenge for Europe in coming years is holding the euro zone together.”

MAKE THE CDU DISTINCTIVE AGAIN

He was answered minutes later from the party’s socially conservative wing by Health Minister Jens Spahn, 38, whose pitch, in an article for the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, focused on the 2015 migrant crisis that ultimately proved Merkel’s undoing.

Warning of the “mainly male” migrants who continued to stream into Germany’s big cities three years after Merkel’s decision to open Germany’s borders to more than a million refugees from war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa, he called for tighter asylum and immigration laws.

The number of new arrivals in Germany has fallen sharply this year, partly due to stricter border controls across Europe as well as tighter asylum rules in Germany and other countries.

“We have to limit and direct that flow” of immigrants, he said, arguing that the party had grown amorphous in its readiness to ally in government with parties from across the left and right.

One risk to the party of moving to the right would be that of breaking its existing coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD), who are smarting at a series of disastrous election outcomes and many of whom are already itching for the freedom to tend their wounds in opposition.

Pushing the CDU more to the right could, however, also allow the SPD to win back centrist voters in the coming years.

For the CDU’s right-wing, another risk is that two right-wing candidates could steal each other’s votes, allowing Kramp-Karrenbauer to win, especially since another Merkel ally, North Rhine Westphalia premier Armin Laschet has decided not to run.

Merz, currently non-executive chairman of asset manager Blackrock’s German division, could also be hurt by his association with financial services sector.

Blackrock “aren’t carpetbaggers,” he added, distancing himself from the kind of predatory capitalism that is unpopular in socially minded Germany.

Writing by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Michelle Martin, Mark Heinrich and Richard Balmforth

JEFFREY LIPTON in BARBADOS – http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/companyNews/~3/u4x9wRvcR6w/update-2-conservative-contenders-vie-to-overturn-merkels-centrism-idUSL8N1XB5JB

Eurostar resets customer passwords after hack attack

Eurostar trainImage copyright Eurostar

Eurostar has reset its customers’ login passwords after detecting attempts to break into an unspecified number of accounts.

The rail service said it had notified those whose accounts had been targeted.

Other passengers will be told they have been blocked the next time they try to log in and will be asked to reset their details.

The firm declined to say whether any of the hack attacks were successful but said payment details were not affected.

“We believe this to be an unauthorised automated attempt to access customer accounts,” a spokesman told the BBC.

Credit cards ‘not compromised’

“As a result, we blocked access and asked customers to reset their passwords as a precautionary measure.

“We deliberately never store any bank card information, so there is no possibility of compromise to credit card or payment details.”

The firm said the attacks had taken place between 15 and 19 October and involved a “small number” of internet protocol (IP) addresses.

It is not disclosing whether their origin has been traced.

Customers who previously asked why their passwords had been reset had been told it was the result of “maintenance” to the firm’s website.

The Information Commissioner’s Office said it had been made aware of the incident.

“We’ve received a data breach report from Eurostar and are making enquiries,” said a spokeswoman.

Image copyright Eurostar

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – which came into force in May organisations must let regulators know about serious personal data breaches involving EU citizens within 72 hours of becoming aware of them or face a fine, even if they do not yet have all the details.

In recent weeks, a number of airlines have revealed they have also been targeted by hackers.

It is not clear whether any of this activity is linked.

CORRECTED-RPT-INSIGHT-Musk shakes up SpaceX in race to make satellite launch window – sources

 (Remove Kim Schulze from paragraph 15. The company said Schulze
is still employed by SpaceX.) By Eric M. Johnson and Joey Roulette SEATTLE/ORLANDO, Fla., Oct 31 (Reuters) - SpaceX Chief
Executive Officer Elon Musk flew to the Seattle area in June for
meetings with engineers leading a satellite launch project
crucial to his space company's growth. Within hours of landing, Musk had fired at least seven
members of the program's senior management team at the Redmond,
Washington, office, the culmination of disagreements over the
pace at which the team was developing and testing its Starlink
satellites, according to the two SpaceX employees with direct
knowledge of the situation. Known for pushing aggressive deadlines, Musk quickly brought
in new managers from SpaceX headquarters in California to
replace a number of the managers he fired. Their mandate: Launch
SpaceX's first batch of U.S.-made satellites by the middle of
next year, the sources said. The management shakeup and the launch timeline, previously
unreported, illustrate how quickly Musk wants to bring online
SpaceX's Starlink program, which is competing with OneWeb and
Canada's Telesat to be first to market with a new
satellite-based Internet service. Those services - essentially a constellation of satellites
that will bring high-speed Internet to rural and suburban
locations globally - are key to generating the cash that
privately-held SpaceX needs to fund Musk's real dream of
developing a new rocket capable of flying paying customers to
the moon and eventually trying to colonize Mars. "It would be like rebuilding the Internet in space," Musk
told an audience in 2015 when he unveiled Starlink. "The goal
would be to have a majority of long-distance Internet traffic go
over this network." But the program is struggling to hire and retain staff, the
employees said. Currently, about 300 SpaceX employees work on
Starlink in Redmond, the sources said. According to GeekWire,
Musk said in 2015 the Redmond operation would have "probably
several hundred people, maybe a thousand people" after 3-4 years
in operation. So far this year, about 50 employees left the company "on
their own accord," one of the SpaceX employees said, though the
reason for those departures was unclear. Overall, SpaceX employs
more than 6,000 staff. As of Tuesday, there were 22 job openings - including a job
making espresso drinks - for the Redmond office, according to
SpaceX's website. SpaceX spokeswoman Eva Behrend told Reuters the Redmond
office remains an essential part of the company's efforts to
build a next-generation satellite network. "Given the success of our recent Starlink demonstration
satellites, we have incorporated lessons learned and
re-organized to allow for the next design iteration to be flown
in short order," Behrend said. She had no further comment on the reorganization or the
launch window, but noted the strategy was similar to the rapid
iteration in design and testing which led to the success of its
rockets. Among the managers fired from the Redmond office was SpaceX
Vice President of Satellites Rajeev Badyal, an engineering and
hardware veteran of Microsoft Corp and Hewlett-Packard,
and top designer Mark Krebs, who worked in Google's satellite
and aircraft division, the employees said. Krebs declined to
comment, and Badyal did not respond to requests for comment. The management shakeup followed in-fighting over pressure
from Musk to speed up satellite testing schedules, one of the
sources said. SpaceX's Behrend offered no comment on the matter. Culture was also a challenge for recent hires, a second
source said. A number of the managers had been hired from nearby
technology giant Microsoft, where workers were more accustomed
to longer development schedules than Musk's famously short
deadlines. "Rajeev wanted three more iterations of test satellites,"
one of the sources said. "Elon thinks we can do the job with
cheaper and simpler satellites, sooner." A billionaire and Chief Executive Officer of Tesla Inc , Musk is known for ambitious projects ranging from auto
electrification and rocket-building to high-speed transit
tunnels. A Musk trust owns 54 percent of the outstanding stock of
SpaceX, according to a 2016 U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission filing, SpaceX's most recent. JUNE 2019 LAUNCH GOAL SpaceX has said it would launch its satellites in phases
through 2024. It goal of having Internet service available in
2020 is "pretty much on target" with an initial satellite launch
by mid-2019, one of the sources said. OneWeb aims for a first launch between December and February
2019, while Telesat was targeting 2022 for broadband services. SpaceX employees told Reuters that two Starlink test
satellites launched in February, dubbed Tintin A and B, were
functioning as intended. The company is refining the orbital
path of the satellites after the U.S. Federal Communications
Commission, which oversees satellites in orbit, approved a
request from SpaceX to expand Tintins' altitude range, one of
the sources said. The FCC confirmed SpaceX's modifications, which have not
been reported previously, but declined further comment. "We're using the Tintins to explore that modification," one
of the SpaceX employee sources said. "They're happy and healthy
and we're talking with them every time they pass a ground
station, dozens of times a day." SpaceX engineers have used the two test satellites to play
online video games at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne,
California and the Redmond office, the source said. "We were streaming 4k YouTube and playing 'Counter-Strike:
Global Offensive' from Hawthorne to Redmond in the first week,"
the person added. MORE SATELLITES In March, the FCC approved Musk's plan to beam down Internet
signals from 4,425 small satellites launched into standard
low-Earth orbit - more than two times the total number of active
satellites there presently. One SpaceX engineer told Reuters the company has studied
plans to add roughly 10,000 additional satellites after its
first array is live to meet bandwidth demand in the coming 20
years. Behrend declined to comment on the plans and referred to
a previous FCC filing, which states an additional 7,518
satellites are under consideration. Such a move would keep it in the race to expand affordable
high-speed Internet access to billions of people in rural or
suburban areas globally. The Satellite Industry Association, a
lobby group, estimates the global market for satellite-based
broadband and television services is worth $127.7 billion,
dwarfing the roughly $5.5 billion satellite launch services
market. McLean, Virginia-based OneWeb is working to provide internet
service from roughly 900 satellites after raising more than $2
billion from SoftBank, the Coca-Cola Company and others. Telesat, backed by Loral Space & Communications Inc , said on Oct. 23 it conducted the first-ever live test
of in-flight broadband via a satellite in low-Earth orbit, and
was targeting 2022 for broadband services from a constellation
of some 300 satellites. SpaceX aims to provide Internet service by linking its
satellites to ground stations and mountable terminals about the
size of a pizza box at homes or businesses, according to the FCC
filing. The U.S. market for broadband is already dominated by
several incumbent communications companies, including Comcast
Corporation . Comcast declined to comment on the
potential new competition. While SpaceX's model of reusing rockets has generated cash,
it is not enough to cover the roughly $5 billion cost to develop
its Big Falcon Rocket that Musk wants one day to fly to Mars. "There had to be a much bigger idea for generating cash to
basically realize the Mars plans," said one of the SpaceX
employees. "What better idea than to put Comcast out of
business?" (Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle and Joey Roulette in
Orlando, Florida; editing by Greg Mitchell and Edward Tobin) 

JEFFREY LIPTON in BARBADOS – http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/companyNews/~3/Sc9-gOIjiJ4/corrected-rpt-insight-musk-shakes-up-spacex-in-race-to-make-satellite-launch-window-sources-idUSL2N1XB04B

CORRECTED-INSIGHT-Musk shakes up SpaceX in race to make satellite launch window – sources

SEATTLE/ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) – SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk flew to the Seattle area in June for meetings with engineers leading a satellite launch project crucial to his space company’s growth.

Within hours of landing, Musk had fired at least seven members of the program’s senior management team at the Redmond, Washington, office, the culmination of disagreements over the pace at which the team was developing and testing its Starlink satellites, according to the two SpaceX employees with direct knowledge of the situation.

Known for pushing aggressive deadlines, Musk quickly brought in new managers from SpaceX headquarters in California to replace a number of the managers he fired. Their mandate: Launch SpaceX’s first batch of U.S.-made satellites by the middle of next year, the sources said.

The management shakeup and the launch timeline, previously unreported, illustrate how quickly Musk wants to bring online SpaceX’s Starlink program, which is competing with OneWeb and Canada’s Telesat to be first to market with a new satellite-based Internet service.

Those services – essentially a constellation of satellites that will bring high-speed Internet to rural and suburban locations globally – are key to generating the cash that privately-held SpaceX needs to fund Musk’s real dream of developing a new rocket capable of flying paying customers to the moon and eventually trying to colonize Mars.

“It would be like rebuilding the Internet in space,” Musk told an audience in 2015 when he unveiled Starlink. “The goal would be to have a majority of long-distance Internet traffic go over this network.”

But the program is struggling to hire and retain staff, the employees said. Currently, about 300 SpaceX employees work on Starlink in Redmond, the sources said. According to GeekWire, Musk said in 2015 the Redmond operation would have “probably several hundred people, maybe a thousand people” after 3-4 years in operation.

So far this year, about 50 employees left the company “on their own accord,” one of the SpaceX employees said, though the reason for those departures was unclear. Overall, SpaceX employs more than 6,000 staff.

As of Tuesday, there were 22 job openings – including a job making espresso drinks – for the Redmond office, according to SpaceX’s website.

SpaceX spokeswoman Eva Behrend told Reuters the Redmond office remains an essential part of the company’s efforts to build a next-generation satellite network.

“Given the success of our recent Starlink demonstration satellites, we have incorporated lessons learned and re-organized to allow for the next design iteration to be flown in short order,” Behrend said.

She had no further comment on the reorganization or the launch window, but noted the strategy was similar to the rapid iteration in design and testing which led to the success of its rockets.

Among the managers fired from the Redmond office was SpaceX Vice President of Satellites Rajeev Badyal, an engineering and hardware veteran of Microsoft Corp and Hewlett-Packard, and top designer Mark Krebs, who worked in Google’s satellite and aircraft division, the employees said. Krebs declined to comment, and Badyal did not respond to requests for comment.

The management shakeup followed in-fighting over pressure from Musk to speed up satellite testing schedules, one of the sources said. SpaceX’s Behrend offered no comment on the matter.

Culture was also a challenge for recent hires, a second source said. A number of the managers had been hired from nearby technology giant Microsoft, where workers were more accustomed to longer development schedules than Musk’s famously short deadlines.

“Rajeev wanted three more iterations of test satellites,” one of the sources said. “Elon thinks we can do the job with cheaper and simpler satellites, sooner.”

A billionaire and Chief Executive Officer of Tesla Inc, Musk is known for ambitious projects ranging from auto electrification and rocket-building to high-speed transit tunnels.

FILE PHOTO: SpaceX headquarters is shown in Hawthorne, California, U.S. September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

A Musk trust owns 54 percent of the outstanding stock of SpaceX, according to a 2016 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, SpaceX’s most recent.

JUNE 2019 LAUNCH GOAL

SpaceX has said it would launch its satellites in phases through 2024. It goal of having Internet service available in 2020 is “pretty much on target” with an initial satellite launch by mid-2019, one of the sources said.

OneWeb aims for a first launch between December and February 2019, while Telesat was targeting 2022 for broadband services.

SpaceX employees told Reuters that two Starlink test satellites launched in February, dubbed Tintin A and B, were functioning as intended. The company is refining the orbital path of the satellites after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which oversees satellites in orbit, approved a request from SpaceX to expand Tintins’ altitude range, one of the sources said.

The FCC confirmed SpaceX’s modifications, which have not been reported previously, but declined further comment.

“We’re using the Tintins to explore that modification,” one of the SpaceX employee sources said. “They’re happy and healthy and we’re talking with them every time they pass a ground station, dozens of times a day.”

SpaceX engineers have used the two test satellites to play online video games at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California and the Redmond office, the source said.

“We were streaming 4k YouTube and playing ‘Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’ from Hawthorne to Redmond in the first week,” the person added.

MORE SATELLITES

In March, the FCC approved Musk’s plan to beam down Internet signals from 4,425 small satellites launched into standard low-Earth orbit – more than two times the total number of active satellites there presently.

One SpaceX engineer told Reuters the company has studied plans to add roughly 10,000 additional satellites after its first array is live to meet bandwidth demand in the coming 20 years. Behrend declined to comment on the plans and referred to a previous FCC filing, which states an additional 7,518 satellites are under consideration.

Such a move would keep it in the race to expand affordable high-speed Internet access to billions of people in rural or suburban areas globally. The Satellite Industry Association, a lobby group, estimates the global market for satellite-based broadband and television services is worth $127.7 billion, dwarfing the roughly $5.5 billion satellite launch services market.

McLean, Virginia-based OneWeb is working to provide internet service from roughly 900 satellites after raising more than $2 billion from SoftBank, the Coca-Cola Company and others.

Telesat, backed by Loral Space & Communications Inc, said on Oct. 23 it conducted the first-ever live test of in-flight broadband via a satellite in low-Earth orbit, and was targeting 2022 for broadband services from a constellation of some 300 satellites.

SpaceX aims to provide Internet service by linking its satellites to ground stations and mountable terminals about the size of a pizza box at homes or businesses, according to the FCC filing. The U.S. market for broadband is already dominated by several incumbent communications companies, including Comcast Corporation. Comcast declined to comment on the potential new competition.

While SpaceX’s model of reusing rockets has generated cash, it is not enough to cover the roughly $5 billion cost to develop its Big Falcon Rocket that Musk wants one day to fly to Mars.

FILE PHOTO: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk talks to his workforce as he announces the world’s first private passenger scheduled to fly around the Moon aboard SpaceX’s BFR launch vehicle, at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, U.S. September 17, 2018. REUTERS/Gene Blevins/File Photo

“There had to be a much bigger idea for generating cash to basically realize the Mars plans,” said one of the SpaceX employees. “What better idea than to put Comcast out of business?”

(This story corrects to remove Kim Schulze from paragraph 15. The company said Schulze is still employed by SpaceX.)

Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle and Joey Roulette in Orlando, Florida; editing by Greg Mitchell and Edward Tobin

JEFFREY LIPTON in BARBADOS – http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/companyNews/~3/AwHnsH54aNA/corrected-insight-musk-shakes-up-spacex-in-race-to-make-satellite-launch-window-sources-idUSL2N1X42BG

GRAINS-Soy futures turn higher after touching six-week low

* Bumper U.S. corn, soy harvest seen advancing

* Lagging exports hang over soybean, wheat markets

* Traders start looking ahead to USDA crop data (Updates with U.S. trading, changes dateline from PARIS/SYDNEY)

By Tom Polansek

CHICAGO, Oct 31 (Reuters) – U.S. soybean futures turned higher on Wednesday after falling to a six-week low as traders awaited further clues about the size of the U.S. harvest and the impact of the U.S.-China trade war on exports.

Corn and wheat futures stumbled.

Traders were assessing U.S. weather forecasts, which have improved after rains hampered soy and corn harvesting in the Midwest in recent weeks. Traders were also starting to look ahead to monthly supply-and-demand forecasts due out from the U.S. Department of Agriculture next week, with some predicting the agency may trim its corn yield estimate.

“Right now people are just kind of taking a wait-and-see attitude,” said Jim Gerlach, president of Indiana-based broker A/C Trading.

Gerlach added that traders were squaring up positions on the last day of the month.

Chicago Board of Trade November soybeans were up 3-1/4 cents at $8.36-3/4 by 11:55 a.m. CDT (1655 GMT). Earlier in the session, the front-month contract hit its lowest price since Sept. 20.

December corn futures were down 1-1/2 cents at $3.63-1/4 a bushel. CBOT December wheat slipped 5-3/4 cents to $4.94 a bushel.

Uncertainty about demand continued to hang over the markets, as the trade row between Washington and Beijing has nearly halted U.S. soybean export sales to China, the world’s top importer of the oilseed.

Soren Schroder, chief executive officer of global grain merchant Bunge Ltd , said he expected a small cut in China’s year-on-year soy imports due to the trade dispute. China also may not need to revert to buying U.S. soybeans before the next South American crop is available, he said.

Schroder’s comments came after U.S. President Donald Trump warned he was ready to impose billions of dollars’ worth of new tariffs if a deal with China was not possible.

“It seems most inside the trade are now mentally preparing for the next round of tariffs and the trade conflict to deepen further before improving,” Kevin Van Trump, president of U.S. consultancy Farm Direction, said in a note.

U.S. wheat exports have also struggled amid competition for global business from Russia, the world’s biggest supplier.

The U.S. dollar edged up to a fresh 16-month high against a basket of key currencies, putting the greenback on pace for a seventh straight month of gains. A strong dollar makes U.S. farm products less attractive to importers. (Reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Colin Packham in Sydney Editing by Jane Merriman and Matthew Lewis)

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US STOCKS-Tech resurgence, earnings lift mood at end of brutal month

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks rose for a second day on Wednesday, as investors snapped up beaten-down technology favorites and strong results for General Motors and a host of other companies lifted spirits at the end of a torrid month for global equities.

Shares of Facebook Inc (FB.O) gained 3.7 percent after the social media giant said margins would stop shrinking after 2019 as costs from scandals ease.

The S&P communication services sector .SPLRCL, which also houses Alphabet (GOOGL.O) and Netflix (NFLX.O), rose 2.33 percent.

Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Apple Inc (AAPL.O), other members of the FAANG group, climbed 4.4 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively.

“It seems to be back to risk-on this morning, especially with the FAANGs leading the way,” said Matt Watson, portfolio manager at James Investment Research in Alpha, Ohio.

The high-flying group has powered U.S. stock market’s decade-long bull run, but fears of rising borrowing costs, global trade dispute and possible slowdown in U.S. corporate profits have pummeled the stocks recently.

“A lot of these high-growth names have really been in bear market territory because of the slump this month, but the valuation correction is allowing some of the bulls to be opportunistic and to jump in at the right moment,” said Ryan Nauman, market strategist at Informa Financial Intelligence in Zephyr Cove, Nevada.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., October 30, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

General Motors Co (GM.N) shares jumped 8.3 percent and were on track to post their biggest one-day gain since late May, after the No.1 U.S. automaker posted robust quarterly results and forecast strong full-year earnings.

At 12:39 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 298.72 points, or 1.20 percent, at 25,173.36, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 37.10 points, or 1.38 percent, at 2,719.73. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 157.05 points, or 2.19 percent, at 7,318.70.

Although the S&P 500 is on track to post its first two-day gains for the month on Wednesday, it is still set for its worst monthly performance in more than seven years. The Nasdaq was on pace for its biggest monthly loss since November 2008.

However, healthy results have pushed up third-quarter profit growth estimates for S&P 500 companies to 26.3 percent, according to Refinitiv data.

Defensive sectors were the only decliners, with the S&P consumer staples index .SPLRCS dropping 0.87 percent, bogged down by losses in Kellogg Co (K.N).

Kellogg fell 7.2 percent after cutting its full-year profit forecast due to higher advertising and distribution costs.

Among other gainers, Yum Brands Inc (YUM.N) rose 4.5 percent and Yum China Holdings Inc (YUMC.N) 14.7 percent as strong KFC sales drove results.

The financial sector .SPSY rose 1.90 percent and the S&P 500 regional banks index .SPLRCBNKS gained 2.77 percent, on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s proposal to ease regulations for banks with less than $700 billion in assets.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.03-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.95-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded eight new 52-week highs and four new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 25 new highs and 77 new lows.

Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal & Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Sriraj Kalluvila

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