Brazil card processor Cielo to tap Banco do Brasil’s Caffarelli as CEO – report

SAO PAULO, Oct 25 (Reuters) – Brazilian card processor Cielo SA will tap Banco do Brasil Chief Executive Paulo Rogerio Caffarelli as its new CEO, newspaper O Globo reported on Thursday.

One source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters that Caffarelli is likely to become the new chief executive of Cielo.

Since July, Cielo has been mulling CEO choices after Eduardo Gouveia’s resignation, including potential candidates from the banks that control it, Banco Bradesco SA and Banco do Brasil SA.

Cielo has been struggling with fierce competition from various domestic financial technology start-ups, such as PagSeguro Digital Ltd and StoneCo Ltd.

Banco do Brasil and Cielo declined to comment on the matter. (Reporting by Carolina Mandl; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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Factbox: European fighter jet competitions and recent contract wins

BERLIN (Reuters) – Following is a list of European fighter jet competitions and which companies are bidding for the work or have won contracts in recent weeks:

BELGIUM

Belgium has chosen Lockheed Martin’s (LMT.N) F-35 stealth jets over the Eurofighter Typhoon to replace its aging F-16s, the government said on Thursday, in a move that cements the U.S.-made war plane’s position in Europe.

The Belgian contract for 34 new F-35 fighter jets, with first deliveries in 2023, is worth just under 3 billion euros ($3.42 billion).

The Eurofighter Typhoon is a joint project between Britain’s BAE Systems (BAES.L), Airbus (AIR.PA) and Italy’s Leonardo (LDOF.MI).

BULGARIA

Bulgaria wants to buy 8 new or used fighter jets to replace its aging Soviet-designed MiG-29s in a tender valued at 1.8 billion levs ($1.06 billion) to help the country meet its obligations as a member of NATO, which it joined in 2004.

The United States, Sweden and Italy have submitted bids, with the United States offering two options: either new Lockheed F-16V jets or new Boeing (BA.N) F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. Sweden offered new Saab (SAABb.ST) Gripen jets, while Italy proposed supplying second-hand Eurofighters.

FINLAND

Finland is seeking bids to replace its aging fleet of 62 F/A-18 Hornet jets, which are due to be phased out from 2025, in a deal expected to cost up to 10 billion euros ($11.47 billion).

Possible candidates include Saab’s Gripen, the Rafale built by France’s Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA), Boeing’s Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and the Eurofighter.

Bids are due by early 2019, and Finland plans to make a final decision in 2021.

GERMANY

Germany wants to buy up to 90 new multi-role fighter jets to replace its aging fleet of 85 operational Tornado fighters.

Possible candidates include the Lockheed F-35, the Boeing F/A-18E/F and Boeing’s F-15E fighter, as well as the Eurofighter, with deliveries to start in 2025 or sooner.

Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen has said she favors the Eurofighter, but Lockheed and Boeing still hope for a chance to bid for the work.

Germany is studying a number of options, including buying one type of jet to replace the Tornado jets, a split buy of two aircraft types, or a service life extension of the Tornado jets, according to sources familiar with the process.

POLAND

Poland has a fleet of 48 Lockheed F-16 fighter jets but is expected to move toward replacing its 30 Soviet-era MiG 29s in coming years. No details have been released.

SLOVAKIA

Slovakia said in July it had agreed to spend $1.9 billion to buy 14 Lockheed F-16 fighter jets to replace its aging Russian-made MiG-29s, opting for the U.S. warplanes instead of Swedish Gripen jets produced by Saab.

SWITZERLAND

Switzerland has chosen a novel approach to replace its aging fleet of F-5 fighter jets and older model F/A-18 fighters, and buy new ground-based air defenses in a combined competition worth up to 8 billion Swiss francs. The country invited five European and U.S. weapons makers to submit bids for 30 to 40 planes by January.

($1 = 1.7045 leva)

($1 = 0.8761 euros)

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Adrian Croft

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Europe’s parliament calls for full audit of Facebook in wake of breach scandal

The European Parliament has called for a full audit of Facebook following a string of data breach scandals —  including the Cambridge Analytica affair.

MEPs are urging the company to allow European Union bodies to carry out a full audit to assess data protection and security of users’ personal data, following the scandal in which the data of 87 million Facebook users was improperly obtained and misused.

In the resolution, adopted today, they have also recommended Facebook make additional changes to combat election interference — asserting the company has not just breached the trust of European users “but indeed EU law”.

We’ve reached out to the company for comment on the parliament’s resolution.

Earlier this month the EU parliament’s civil liberties committee adopted a similar resolution, calling for a full and independent audit of Facebook and for the company to make further changes to its platform.

The Libe committee also called for an update to EU competition rules to reflect what it dubs “the digital reality”, and investigation of what it called the “possible monopoly” of big tech social media platforms.

Commenting in a statement today, following the parliament’s vote, civil liberties committee chair Claude Moraes said: “This is a global issue, which has already affected our referenda and our elections. This resolution sets out the measures that are needed, including an independent audit of Facebook, an update to our competition rules, and additional measures to protect our elections. Action must be taken now, not just to restore trust in online platforms, but to protect citizens’ privacy and restore trust and confidence in our democratic systems.”

The resolution follows an appearance by Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg in front of the EU parliament’s Conference of Presidents in May, and a series of parliament committee hearings including with Facebook staffers.

The EU’s tough new data protection framework, GDPR, only came into force this May — so the Cambridge Analytica breach is being handled under the bloc’s prior data protection framework, comprising a patchwork of Member State laws.

And earlier today a fine handed to Facebook for this breach by the UK data watchdog was upheld. The £500k penalty is the maximum possible fine under the country’s prior data protection regime.

In the new resolution, MEPs have suggested the data obtained by Cambridge Analytica may have been used for political purposes, by both sides in the UK referendum on membership of the EU and to target voters during the 2016 US presidential election — describing it as a matter of urgency that electoral laws be adapted to take account of digital campaigning. (Clearly with an eye on the upcoming EU elections, next May.)

To combat electoral meddling via social media, MEPs are proposing:

  • applying conventional “off-line” electoral safeguards online: rules on spending transparency and limits, respect for silence periods and equal treatment of candidates;
  • making it easy to recognise online political paid advertisements and the organisation behind them;
  • banning profiling for electoral purposes, including use of online behaviour that may reveal political preferences;
  • that social media platforms should label content shared by bots, speed up the process of removing fake accounts and work with independent fact-checkers and academia to tackle disinformation;
  • investigations should be carried out by member states with the support of Eurojust, into alleged misuse of the online political space by foreign forces.

In the UK a parliamentary committee also recently urged the government to prioritize updating electoral law to take account of digital risks to democratic processes. Although the government has so far only taken a cautious approach, saying it’s still gathering evidence via a series of reviews into different aspects of the issue.

Meanwhile Facebook has been rolling out its own system of checks on political advertisers in certain regions — including the UK.  Though MEPs evidently believe the company needs to go further.

The UK’s DPA also previously called for an ethical pause on political microtargeting via online platforms, saying it had a number of concerns about how data is being used and potentially misused.

ConocoPhillips tops profit estimates, raises 2018 spending

(Reuters) – ConocoPhillips (COP.N) quarterly profit topped analysts’ estimates on Thursday, benefiting from a recovery in oil prices that also helped it raise 2018 capital expenditure forecast.

Logos of ConocoPhillips are seen in its booth at Gastech, the world’s biggest expo for the gas industry, in Chiba, Japan, April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

The world’s largest independent oil and gas producer said it now expects to spend $6.1 billion this year, up from its prior forecast of $6 billion.

U.S. oil producers have been under pressure from investors to produce more oil at lower costs. But with oil prices steadily rising, Conoco’s raised capital expenditure indicates that companies can now afford to spend more.

During the quarter, the company earned $345 million related to a settlement agreement with Venezuela’s PDVSA. Conoco and Venezuela’s PDVSA reached a payment deal in August over a $2 billion arbitration, with Venezuela agreeing to pay $500 million by late November and the rest over the next 4-1/2 years.

The company said net income rose to $1.9 billion, or $1.59 per share, in the third-quarter ended Sept. 30, from $420 million, or 34 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned $1.36 per share, beating analysts’ estimate of $1.18 per share, according to Refinitiv data.

The company’s global output, excluding Libya, rose 22,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) to 1.22 million boe/d.

Reporting by John Benny in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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Twitter earnings boosted by major sports broadcasts

Wayne Rooney plays for Major League Soccer team DC United.Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Wayne Rooney plays for Major League Soccer team DC United.

Coverage of major football and baseball games in the US helped Twitter generate better-than-expected sales and profits in the third quarter.

The social network said revenue jumped 29% to $758m in the period, beating analyst estimates.

But its total number of users declined as it closed “spammy and suspicious” accounts, and it forecast further falls.

The results sent shares in the company up by 13% in pre-market trading.

In the last few years, the social network has found it hard to maintain growth in the face of intense competition from rivals such as Facebook and Instagram.

It has also struggled to convince advertisers that its messaging platform is the best forum for their campaigns.

But in the three months to 30 September, advertising revenue jumped by a third, boosted by advertiser interest in live broadcasts, a relatively new area for the platform.

During the period, Twitter streamed Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer games, as well as concerts in partnership with Live Nation.

Falling user growth

In July, shares in the firm dived 20% after it reported a fall in monthly active users. It has fallen further since then.

For the third quarter, it posted another fall to 326 million users, blaming efforts to remove suspicious accounts, including those used for political influence.

It has faced intense pressure to clean up the platform after it emerged that Russia and Iran had used it to influence foreign election campaigns.

However, analysts have warned that the firm needs to bolster user growth so it can better compete for ad spending with rivals.

Usage has been stagnant for more than a year, although this has been offset by increases in advertising revenue as the company generates more cash per user.

U.S. jobless claims rise; continuing claims lowest in over 45 years

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – New applications for U.S. unemployment aid rose last week, but the number of Americans receiving benefits fell to more than a 45-year low, pointing to tightening labor market conditions.

FILE PHOTO -Leaflets lie on a table at a booth at a military veterans’ job fair in Carson, California October 3, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 215,000 for the week ended Oct. 20, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Data for the prior week was unrevised. Claims fell to 202,000 during the week ended Sept. 15, which was the lowest level since November 1969.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 214,000 in the latest week. The Labor Department said claims for South and North Carolina continued to be affected by Hurricane Florence. Claims for Florida and Georgia were impacted by Hurricane Michael.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, was unchanged at 211,750 last week.

FILE PHOTO – Job seekers line up to apply during “Amazon Jobs Day,” a job fair being held at 10 fulfillment centers across the United States aimed at filling more than 50,000 jobs, at the Amazon.com Fulfillment Center in Fall River, Massachusetts, U.S., August 2, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The labor market is viewed as being near or at full employment, with the unemployment rate close to a 49-year low of 3.7 percent. There are a record 7.14 million open jobs in the economy, suggesting a shortage of skilled workers.

That was confirmed by the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book published on Wednesday. According to the Fed, “employers throughout the country continued to report tight labor markets and difficulties finding qualified workers.”

Tightening labor market conditions and a robust economy likely will keep the U.S. central bank on course to increase interest rates again in December. The Fed raised rates in September for the third time this year and removed a reference to monetary policy remaining “accommodative” from its policy statement.

Thursday’s claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 5,000 to 1.64 million for the week ended Oct. 13, the lowest level since August 1973. The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims fell 6,750 to 1.65 million, also the lowest level since August 1973.

The continuing claims data covered the week of the household survey from which the unemployment rate for October will be calculated. The four-week average of continuing claims declined 33,250 between the September and October survey periods suggesting a further improvement in the unemployment rate.

Reporting by Lucia Mutikani Editing by Paul Simao

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UPDATE 2-ConocoPhillips tops profit estimates, raises 2018 spending

(Reuters) – ConocoPhillips (COP.N) quarterly profit topped analysts’ estimates on Thursday, as the world’s largest independent oil and gas producer turned more cost efficient by deploying better technology and selling some assets besides benefiting from higher oil prices.

Logos of ConocoPhillips are seen in its booth at Gastech, the world’s biggest expo for the gas industry, in Chiba, Japan, April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Those measures also helped the Houston-based company raise its 2018 capital expenditure forecast for the second time this year.

Chief Executive Ryan Lance said the company would keep its focus on free cash flow to ensure better shareholder returns. “This is what the market can expect from us again in 2019.”

The results and CEO comment sent shares up a percent in pre market trading.

Conoco is one of the first major U.S. oil producers to report third-quarter results and often an indicator of the sector’s performance. The company said it now expects to spend $6.1 billion this year, up from its July forecast of $6 billion.

U.S. oil producers have been under pressure from investors to produce more oil at lower costs. But with oil prices steadily rising, Conoco’s higher capital expenditure indicated that companies can now afford to spend more.

Brent crude prices LCOc1 touched nearly $85 earlier this month and is expected to hit the $100 mark by the end of 2018, as U.S. sanctions on Iran remove a major supplier from the global markets.

Conoco sold each barrel oil equivalents at a 46 percent higher rate in the quarter and saw production go up by nearly 2 percent.

The company said net income rose to $1.9 billion, or $1.59 per share, in the third-quarter ended Sept. 30, from $420 million, or 34 cents per share, a year earlier.

During the quarter, the company earned $345 million related to a settlement agreement with Venezuela’s PDVSA.

The proceeds were part of a first installment under a deal to satisfy a $2 billion arbitration award Conoco won earlier this year over broken oil contracts in the South American country more than a decade ago.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned $1.36 per share, beating analysts’ estimate of $1.18 per share, according to Refinitiv data.

The company’s global output, excluding Libya, rose 22,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) to 1.22 million boe/d, helped by higher output from Europe and Alaska.

Conoco is set to host a conference call later in the day to discuss details of results.

Reporting by John Benny in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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BlackRock-owned Mexican prison opens in Coahuila

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A federal prison in northern Mexico owned by BlackRock Inc (BLK.N) has gone into operation, the government said, as the world’s largest asset manager expands further into infrastructure investment around the world.

FILE PHOTO: A sign for BlackRock Inc hangs above their building in New York U.S., July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

A spokeswoman for prison agency OADPRS said that inmates began to arrive in August at the facility, known as CPS Coahuila, and that there were 139 people there by the end of that month. OADPRS declined to answer further questions.

Security at the prison is the responsibility of the Mexican government, while a BlackRock subsidiary runs operations such as food and maintenance.

The contract to build and maintain the prison was first awarded almost eight years ago to a different company. BlackRock took over the project in 2016, after the Mexican government made changes to the prison and raised the promised annual payments to its operator to pay for them.

BlackRock will receive annual payments of at least 1.281 billion pesos ($65.5 million) a year for 20 years to cover construction, food and other maintenance, according to documents obtained by Reuters via a freedom of information request and a report by congressional auditor ASF.

Neither the government nor BlackRock would confirm the new sum, which was calculated by Reuters.

In recent years, the asset manager has pushed deeper into infrastructure investment, mostly assets like toll roads, wind power and pipelines.

BlackRock said in a statement through a spokeswoman that any returns from the project would go to Mexican clients.

“BlackRock has been working with the government to effectively and efficiently complete the Coahuila facility, which is now operational,” the statement said.

The penitentiary is the last to open of eight semi-private prisons contracted out by former Mexican President Felipe Calderon to helped reduce chronic overcrowding. His program was criticized by civil society watchdogs.

Mexico’s prison population has fallen since a new justice system was introduced in 2016, as fewer crimes merit automatic pre-trial detention. Experts said cases are also falling apart under a higher bar for police conduct and standards of evidence.

OADPRS, which has had six different leaders under President Enrique Pena Nieto, originally gave the CPS Coahuila contract to Mexican construction firm Grupo Tradeco in December 2010.

Reporting by Christine Murray; Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Dave Graham and Steve Orlofsky

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Xiaomi opts for sliding camera and no notch for new bezel-less Mi Mix phone

Xiaomi has announced the newest version of its bezel-less Mi Mix family, and it doesn’t sport a notch like its Mi 8 flagship. Indeed, unlike the Mi 8 — which I called one of Xiaomi’s most brazen Apple clones — there’s a lot more to get excited about.

The Mi Mix 3 was unveiled at an event in Beijing and, like its predecessor, Xiaomi boasts that it offers a full front screen. Rather than opting for the near-industry standard notch, Xiaomi has developed a slider that houses its front-facing camera. Vivo and Oppo have done similar using a motorized approach, but Xiaomi’s is magnetic while it can also be programmed for functions such as answering calls.

That array gives it a claimed 93.4 percent screen-to-body ratio and a full 6.4-inch 1080p AMOLED display. The slider, by the way, is good for 300,000 cycles, according to Xiaomi’s lab testing.

The device itself follows the much-lauded Mi Mix aesthetic with a Snapdragon 845 processor and up to 10GB in RAM (!) in the highest-end model. Xiaomi puts plenty of emphasis on cameras. The Mi Mix 3 includes four of them: a 24-megapixel front camera paired with a two-megapixel sensor and on the back, like the Mi 8, a dual camera array with two 12-megapixel cameras.

Xiaomi has also snuck an ‘AI button’ on the left side of the phone, a first for the company. That awakens its Xiao Ai voice assistant, but since it only supports Chinese don’t expect to see that on worldwide models.

The 10GB version — made in partnership with Palace Museum, located at the Forbidden City where the device was launched — also packs 256GB of onboard storage and is priced at RMB 4,999, or $720. That’s in addition to a ceramic design that Xiaomi says is inspired by the museum… better that than a fruity-sounding U.S. company.

That’s the special model, and the more affordable options include 6GB + 128GB for RMB 3,299 ($475), 8GB +128G for RMB 3,599 ($520) and 8GB + 256GB for RMB 3,999 ($575). The company also plans to introduce a 5G version in Europe sometime early next year.

Xiaomi said the phones will go on sale in China from 1 November, there’s no word on international availability or pricing right now.

UPDATE 1-Union Pacific profit beats on higher freight demand

(Adds third-quarter details, compares with estimates)

Oct 25 (Reuters) – Union Pacific Corp, the No. 1 U.S. railroad, topped quarterly Wall Street estimates for profit on Thursday, as it transported more industrial and agricultural products.

A strong economy, robust freight demand and a tight trucking market in the United States have buoyed the sector, with railroads also benefiting from President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cuts.

The company’s freight revenue rose 10.1 percent in the third quarter. Freight revenue from industrial products, which include construction products and lumber, rose 13.1 percent, while revenue from agricultural products increased 6 percent.

Union Pacific said its operating ratio, a closely watched measure of operating expenses as a percentage of revenue and a key metric for Wall Street, was flat at 61.7 percent.

The company aims to reduce its operating ratio to at least 60 percent by the end of 2020. A lower operating ratio means more efficiency and higher profitability.

The company’s net income jumped 33 percent to $1.59 billion, or $2.15 per share, in the quarter ended Sept. 30.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of $2.10 per share, according to Refinitiv data.

Revenue rose 9.6 percent to $5.93 billion. (Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru and Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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