U.S. fund investors add stock exposure during volatile week -Lipper

(Reuters) – U.S. fund investors took advantage of wild stock market trading during the latest week, buying $4.2 billion in equities, according to Lipper data on Thursday.

The research service’s data estimates sales activity in U.S.-based mutual funds and exchange-traded funds over the seven days ended Oct. 24. During the week, the S&P 500 benchmark erased its gains for the year.

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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Republican senator decries USDA aid for WH Group unit Smithfield

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Charles Grassley questions FBI Director Christopher Wray and U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz during a Judiciary Committee hearing “Examining the Inspector General’s First Report on Justice Department and FBI Actions in Advance of the 2016 Presidential Election” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A prominent Republican on the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee complained on Thursday about Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods Inc receiving aid from the U.S. Department of Agriculture meant to help American farmers hurt by China’s trade tariffs.

“I dont understand why Chinese owned Smithfield qualifies for USDA $$ meant to help our farmers,” Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa wrote on Twitter. Smithfield is a unit of Hong Kong-based WH Group Ltd. (0288.HK)

Smithfield did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In July, the Agriculture Department announced a $12 billion aid package for U.S. farmers hurt by retaliatory tariffs from American trading partners. The program includes $1.2 billion in purchases of commodities, including pork.

But Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue earlier this month said the aid could end up being smaller following the announcement of a new trade deal between Canada, Mexico and U.S. to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The United States has slapped tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods this year as part of Republican President Donald Trump’s vow to cut the U.S. trade deficit with China.

Beijing retaliated by hitting $110 billion of U.S. products, including the agriculture sector.

Grassley has represented farm state Iowa in the U.S. Senate since 1981, making him one of the most senior Republicans in the chamber.

Reporting by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Eric Beech and Jonathan Oatis

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Amazon projects holiday season sales below Wall St. targets

(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) forecast disappointing holiday season sales on Thursday, projecting its fourth-quarter revenue growth would be the slowest in years, sending shares of the online retailer down 6 percent in after-hours trade.

A logo of the Amazon fulfillment is seen outside the Amazon fulfillment center in Kent, Washington, U.S., October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

Third-quarter sales also missed analyst estimates, and Amazon forecast operating income for the fourth quarter below estimates.

The outlook marks a potential change for Amazon, which has posted consistent and strong revenue increases for years.

The retailer is preparing for its busiest time of year, the holiday shopping season that runs from around the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday in late November through New Year’s. It forecast that fourth-quarter sales will rise between 10 percent and 20 percent, or up to $72.5 billion. Analysts were expecting $73.9 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

That would be Amazon’s lowest quarterly sales growth since at least the start of 2016.

Amazon forecast operating income between $2.1 billion and $3.6 billion, below the $3.87 billion expected by analysts, according to FactSet.

Amazon’s chief financial officer, Brian Olsavsky, told reporters on a call that the company expected a strong holiday season.

For the third quarter, net sales rose to $56.58 billion from $43.74 billion a year earlier, but missed analyst estimates of $57.1 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

Amazon’s net income rose to $2.88 billion, or $5.75 per share, in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, from $256 million, or 52 cents per share, a year earlier.

Total operating expenses surged 21.8 percent to $52.85 billion as the company invests heavily in its Prime program, grocery delivery from Whole Foods stores and the creation of original video content.

Revenue from Amazon Web Services, the company’s fast-growing cloud services business, surged 45.7 percent to $6.68 billion, narrowly edging past estimates of $6.67 billion.

Shares of Amazon were trading down at $1,674.12.

Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler

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UPDATE 1-Republican U.S. senator decries USDA aid for WH Group unit Smithfield

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Charles Grassley questions FBI Director Christopher Wray and U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz during a Judiciary Committee hearing “Examining the Inspector General’s First Report on Justice Department and FBI Actions in Advance of the 2016 Presidential Election” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A prominent Republican on the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee complained on Thursday about Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods Inc receiving aid from the U.S. Department of Agriculture meant to help American farmers hurt by China’s trade tariffs.

“I dont understand why Chinese owned Smithfield qualifies for USDA $$ meant to help our farmers,” Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa wrote on Twitter. Smithfield is a unit of Hong Kong-based WH Group Ltd. (0288.HK)

Smithfield did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In July, the Agriculture Department announced a $12 billion aid package for U.S. farmers hurt by retaliatory tariffs from American trading partners. The program includes $1.2 billion in purchases of commodities, including pork.

But Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue earlier this month said the aid could end up being smaller following the announcement of a new trade deal between Canada, Mexico and U.S. to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The United States has slapped tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods this year as part of Republican President Donald Trump’s vow to cut the U.S. trade deficit with China.

Beijing retaliated by hitting $110 billion of U.S. products, including the agriculture sector.

Grassley has represented farm state Iowa in the U.S. Senate since 1981, making him one of the most senior Republicans in the chamber.

Reporting by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Eric Beech and Jonathan Oatis

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EMERGING MARKETS-Brazil, Mexico lead Latam currencies and stocks higher

 By Aaron Saldanha Oct 25 (Reuters) - Latin American stocks and currencies
gained ground on Thursday, with riskier assets coming back into
favor after healthy corporate profit reports in the U.S. tech
sector fueled a global rebound in equities. MSCI's indexes of Latin American equities
and currencies rose 1.2 percent and 0.2 percent,
respectively. The move tracked a wider rally in global stocks,
led by the biggest daily gain on Wall Street in six months,
which retraced about half of the previous day's massive losses. Against that backdrop, Brazil's real and Mexico's
peso gained about 0.7 percent. Gabriela Siller, director of financial and economic analysis
at Banco BASE, however, cautioned the peso was still at risk in
the run-up to a change in government at the end of next month. Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's
incoming administration is polling the public over whether to
complete a partially finished new airport for Mexico City, a
project he contends is over budget and rife with corruption.
Scrapping the project could hit the peso and Mexican government
bonds, analysts have said. Mexican stocks rose 0.7 percent, rebounding from a
four-month low. Brazilian shares gained 1.23 percent, with the
market focusing on Sunday's presidential run-off election. Polls
show far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, favored by investors,
defeating leftist Fernando Haddad. "I think (Bolsonaro winning) will be positive for the entire
region. Brazil is almost half of Latin American GDP," said
Mauricio Oreng, senior Brazil strategist with Rabobank. Argentina's peso firmed 0.7 percent while local
stocks surged 4.4 percent, their biggest gain in nearly
two weeks. Colombian stocks rose 0.4 percent. Colombia's peso
, however, slipped fractionally to close at a two-year
low. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 0750 GMT Stock indexes daily % YTD % Latest change change MSCI Emerging Markets 948.99 -0.43 -17.73 MSCI LatAm 2663.04 1.16 -6.92 Brazil Bovespa 84284.55 1.47 10.32 Mexico IPC 46289.60 0.72 -6.21 Chile IPSA 5141.67 0.02 0.02 Argentina MerVal 29341.87 4.21 -2.41 Colombia IGBC 12317.64 0.42 8.33 Currencies daily % YTD % change change Latest Brazil real 3.7045 -0.05 -10.56 Mexico peso 19.4450 0.80 1.31 Chile peso 687.6 0.17 -10.61 Colombia peso 3169 -0.13 -5.90 Peru sol 3.344 -0.06 -3.20 Argentina peso 36.7600 1.06 -49.40 (interbank) Argentina peso 36.5 1.37 -47.32 (parallel) (Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru, Editing by Rosalba
O'Brien) 

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Weak reports from Amazon and Alphabet hit Facebook, Netflix

Packages go on an automated conveyor line to be scanned, weighed and labeled at the Amazon fulfillment center in Kent, Washington, U.S., October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – So-called FANG stocks dropped in extended trade on Thursday following disappointing quarterly reports from Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), two of the group’s components.

The weak results from Amazon and Google parent Alphabet were the latest setback for the high-growth quartet of stocks known as FANG, which also includes Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Netflix Inc (NFLX.O).

Wall Street favorites in recent years, those stocks have been punished in a month of volatility for U.S. equities that has some investors worried a decade-old bull market may be ending.

After the bell, Amazon dropped 6 percent after the online retailer and cloud computing heavyweight’s quarterly net sales rose to $56.58 billion from $43.74 billion a year earlier, but missed analyst estimates of $57.1 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

Alphabet missed analysts’ estimates for third-quarter revenue, while rising expenses trimmed its operating margin for the third straight quarter, fanning concerns about regulatory scrutiny. Its stock fell 4.7 percent.

Reacting after hours, Netflix dipped 1.9 percent and Facebook, which reports results on Oct. 30, lost 1.5 percent.

Earlier on Thursday, all four FANG stocks rallied by between 3 and 7 percent, regaining some of the territory lost in recent weeks during a broad market selloff.

Reporting by Noel Randewich in San Francisco; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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Mattel reports surprise rise in North America sales, shares jump

(Reuters) – Mattel Inc (MAT.O) reported a surprise rise in North American sales, allaying concerns about the effects of retailer Toys ‘R’ Us’ liquidation on the toy industry and driving its shares up 8 percent on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Comic Con fans gather at the Mattel booth they participate in the opening preview night at Comic Con International in San Diego,California, U.S., July 19, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Mattel credited the improving trend to stronger demand for Barbie, the iconic brand of dolls that has undergone a revamp in recent years.

The El Segundo, California-based toymaker has made several tweaks to Barbies, by adding a variety of skin tones, plus-sized and hijab-wearing models and science kits to make the products more educational.

Gross sales from North America rose 5.6 percent in the three months ended September, Mattel said, marking the first increase in at least six quarters. Four analysts polled Refinitiv had on average estimated a near 13 percent drop in sales.

The upbeat North American sales contrast with results from Mattel rival Hasbro Inc (HAS.O), which said this week the Toys ‘R’ Us bankruptcy was still having a lingering impact on its U.S. and Canadian businesses.

Mattel’s overall net sales, however, missed Wall Street estimates as its international business was hit by lower demand in China and Europe.

Lower sales of Fisher-Price and Thomas & Friends products resulted in an 18 percent decline in international sales in the third quarter.

Mattel mis-forecast demand in China relative to supply and is taking action to better manage inventories at retailers, Chief Executive Officer Ynon Kreiz said in an interview.

Mattel on Thursday also said it would consider strategic alternatives for its manufacturing facilities.

Its overall sales fell 8 percent to $1.44 billion, below the $1.49 billion expected by analysts.

Mattel reported a third-quarter net income of $6.3 million, compared with a loss of $603.3 million a year earlier, when the company had higher tax expenses.

Excluding one-time items, Mattel recorded a profit of 18 cents per share, missing analysts’ estimates by 2 cents.

Mattel’s shares, which have fallen 12.6 percent this year, were up 8.3 percent at $14.99 in extended trading.

Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar

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UPDATE 3-Card processor Cielo offers CEO job to Banco do Brasil’s Caffarelli -sources

(Adds context)

By Carolina Mandl

SAO PAULO, Oct 25 (Reuters) – Cielo SA has invited Paulo Rogerio Caffarelli, currently chief executive of state lender Banco do Brasil SA, to become CEO of the Brazilian card processor two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Thursday.

The move could be the first in a string of senior executive changes at Brazil’s major state enterprises, where management shake-ups usually follow presidential elections like the one concluding on Sunday.

The sources, who requested anonymity to discuss the matter, did not say if Caffarelli had accepted the offer.

Banco do Brasil, Cielo and Caffarelli declined to comment.

Newspaper O Globo reported earlier on Thursday that Cielo had tapped Caffarelli as its new CEO.

Cielo has been searching for a new CEO since July, looking at potential candidates from its controlling shareholders, Banco do Brasil and Banco Bradesco SA.

Cielo has faced stiff competition from financial technology startups such as PagSeguro Digital Ltd and StoneCo Ltd , which have raised capital in highly successful U.S. initial public offerings this year.

Cielo shares have fallen more than 46 percent this year, as the company has lost market share to its competitors.

Caffarelli was named CEO of Banco do Brasil in May 2016 and was credited for the bank’s improved earnings.

Brazil’s far-right presidential frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro plans to replace the CEOs of several state-owned companies if he wins the Oct. 28 election, the head of his party said on Tuesday.

Newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reported earlier this month that Bolsonaro could invite Alexandre Bettamio, head of the Latin America division of Bank of America Corp, to b CEO of Banco do Brasil. (Reporting by Carolina Mandl; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Susan Thomas and Richard Chang)

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UPDATE 2-Data center, PC demand drives Intel profit beat

(Reuters) – Intel Corp beat analysts’ estimates for quarterly profit and revenue on Thursday, driven by its high-margin data center business and strong demand for its PC chips, sending its shares up about 6 percent in extended trading.

FILE PHOTO: The Intel logo is shown at E3, the world’s largest video game industry convention in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

The company’s performance and better-than-expected fourth-quarter forecast should come as a relief for investors after three days of grim news from other major chipmakers that have shaken stock markets globally.

Texas Instruments Inc, STMicroelectronics NV and SK Hynix have all warned of slowing demand for the remainder of the year.

Intel forecast current-quarter revenue of $19 billion and adjusted earnings of $1.22 per share. Analysts on average were expecting revenue of $18.40 billion and a profit of $1.09 per share, according to Refinitiv data.

Intel has been increasingly catering to a booming data center market as revenue from PCs has flattened since 2011.

Revenue from its data center business rose 25.9 percent to $6.14 billion in the quarter, while analysts were expecting revenue of $5.89 billion, according to financial and data analytics firm FactSet.

Rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc, which has been gaining ground with its new EPYC chips for servers, reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday but forecast fourth-quarter revenue below estimates due to falling demand for its graphics chips from cryptocurrency miners.

Revenue in Intel’s client computing business, which caters to PC makers and is still the biggest contributor to sales, also rose 15.5 percent to $10.23 billion, beating FactSet estimates of $9.33 billion.

Intel’s PC sales have trended positive in recent quarters, lifted by stronger demand. Many businesses have started the process of buying new PCs because Microsoft Corp has said it will end support for Windows 7 in early 2020.

“There’s been really strong demand for both the consumer and enterprise for PCs which helped. They also did a great job managing through some supply disruptions,” said Elazar Advisors analyst Chaim Siegel.

Last month, the chipmaker said it had enough chip supplies to meet its revenue forecasts, addressing for the first time a shortage of its chips for PCs.

Net income rose to $6.40 billion, or $1.38 per share, in the third quarter ended Sept. 29 from $4.52 billion, or 94 cents per share, a year earlier. bit.ly/2Q193je

Excluding items, the company earned $1.40 per share.

Net revenue rose 18.7 percent to $19.16 billion.

Analysts on average were expecting adjusted earnings of $1.15 per share and revenue of $18.11 billion.

The company is still in the midst of a CEO search following the departure of Brian Krzanich in June after an investigation found he had a consensual relationship with an employee in breach of company policy. Chief Financial Officer Robert Swan is currently acting as its interim CEO.

Reporting by Sonam Rai in Bengaluru and and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Akanksha Rana; Editing by Anil D’Silva

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Google sacks dozens over sexual harassment

Andy RubinImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Android creator Andy Rubin left Google in 2014

Google has sacked 48 people including 13 senior managers over sexual harassment claims since 2016.

In a letter to employees, chief executive Sundar Pichai said the tech giant was taking a “hard line” on inappropriate conduct.

The letter was in response to a New York Times report that Android creator Andy Rubin received a $90m exit package despite facing misconduct allegations.

A spokesman for Mr Rubin denied the allegations, the newspaper said.

Mr Rubin left the company in 2014. He was given what the paper described as a “hero’s farewell”.

Mr Pichai’s letter said the New York Times story was “difficult to read” and that Google was “dead serious” about providing a “safe and inclusive workplace”.

“We want to assure you that we review every single complaint about sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct, we investigate and we take action,” it continued.

Shares in Alphabet, which owns Google, fell more than 3% in New York after it reported revenues of $33.7bn (£26.3bn) for the three months to September – slightly less than analysts had expected.

However, net profit soared $2.5bn to $9.2bn – far higher than expected.