UPDATE 1-HBO goes dark on Dish Network in carriage dispute

FILE PHOTO: HBO logo is on display during an Apple event in San Francisco, California, U.S., March 9, 2015. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/File Photo

(Reuters) – Dish Network Corp said on Thursday AT&T Inc had blacked out HBO and Cinemax networks for its Dish and Sling TV subscribers as the companies failed to agree on a new distribution pact.

AT&T, the No.2 U.S. wireless carrier by subscribers, closed its $85-billion acquisition of media company Time Warner in June, and created WarnerMedia to house assets including Turner TV networks and the premium channel HBO.

“It seems AT&T is implementing a new strategy to shut off its recently acquired content from other distributors,” said Andy LeCuyer, Dish’s senior vice president of programming.

A WarnerMedia spokesman said past behavior showed that removing services from customers was becoming a common negotiating tactic for Dish.

Over the last few years, Dish has dropped Fox News, CBS and local TV station owners Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc and Tribune Media Co, the spokesman said.

Dish said AT&T is demanding that the company pay for a guaranteed number of subscribers, regardless of how many consumers actually want to subscribe to HBO.

Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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UPDATE 1-BlackRock’s Fink says US, China on path to full-fledged trade war

NEW YORK (Reuters) – BlackRock Inc (BLK.N) Chief Executive Larry Fink said on Thursday the United States is on a path to a full-fledged trade war against China as the world’s two largest economies engage in tit-for-tat tariffs.

FILE PHOTO: Larry Fink, Chief Executive Officer of BlackRock, takes part in the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit in New York, U.S., February 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Fink is one of the most influential figures in global finance, who keeps up relations with politicians in many countries as leader of the world’s largest fund manager, overseeing $6.4 trillion in assets from sovereign debt to corporate equity.

“If the path remains the same in the next few weeks, we’re going to have a full-fledged trade war,” Fink said at the New York Times Co’s (NYT.N) DealBook conference.

“China is a very strong, very proud nation. I think they’re going to stand pretty firm.”

The United States has imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China has responded with retaliatory duties on $110 billion worth of U.S. goods.

U.S. President Donald Trump has long threatened to impose tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports into the United States if Beijing fails to meet U.S. demands for sweeping changes to Chinese trade, technology transfer and industrial subsidy policies.

In a tweet on Thursday Trump said he had a “very good” talk with Chinese President Xi Jinping on trade and North Korea and that the two planned to meet at the G20 summit in Argentina which starts at the end of this month.

Fink said he had traveled to China in recent weeks and defined a “full-fledged trade war” as meaning U.S. levies on all Chinese imports.

He said China will likely not buy more U.S. Treasuries as the trade war goes on. That would put pressure on Washington, which has financed its growing debt by selling bonds, often to China and other foreign governments.

Just days after a gunman killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue, Fink said his company has privately engaged with gun makers on how they plan to respond to the social backlash from mass shootings.

BlackRock is the largest shareholder in several gun makers through its massive index funds, which generally hold shares in all companies in a certain index.

Fink in January wrote a letter to corporate executives saying that companies need to show how they make “a positive contribution to society” in addition to delivering financial performance, as his company faces such demands from shareholders and customers.

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Bill Rigby

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CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Marathon Petroleum misses profit estimates as costs rise

FILE PHOTO – A Marathon Petroleum banner covers an Andeavor sign outside the El Paso refinery in El Paso, Texas, U.S., October 1, 2018. REUTERS/Julio-Cesar Chavez

(Reuters) – U.S. oil refiner Marathon Petroleum’s third-quarter profit missed Wall Street estimates on Thursday, as higher costs offset gains from cheaper heavy crude.

Marathon said total costs climbed 22 percent to $21.73 billion in the quarter ended September, partly due to some pension settlement charges.

Marathon and other refiners process heavy crude, sourced from countries like Canada, to make petroleum and fuel.

But heavy crude prices have been driven lower by capacity constraints in Canadian pipelines.

Marathon, the largest U.S. refiner by capacity, said otherwise weak profit margins were buoyed by cheaper Canadian crude, which pushed margins up by 1 percent.

Net income attributable to Marathon fell to $737 million or $1.62 per share in the three months ended Sept. 30, from $903 million or $1.77 per share a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of $1.70 per share, according to Refinitiv data.

Revenues and other income rose to $23.13 billion from $19.39 billion.

(This story corrects to remove Argentina in third and fourth paragraphs. Adds dropped word in first paragraph.)

Reporting by Debroop Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli

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As elections loom, companies weigh the benefits of civic time off

With the mid-term elections less than a few weeks away, the pressure across all parties and organizations to get people to the polls is more prevalent than ever before — from nationwide campaigns, like Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote” to public pleas from social media influencers encouraging their followers to get out and participate in the pivotal election.

Yet, as the number of eligible voters increases, we continue to see some of the lowest voter turnout in our nation’s history, with only half of eligible voters showing up to the polls in the 2014 election. Equally as troubling, the youngest voters, aged 18-29, have the lowest voter turnout with only 20% participating in 2014 according to the 2014 Pew Research Center study.

So what is keeping our voters from the polls?

Voter turnout is directly correlated to annual household income. The 2014 Pew Research Center study found that 51% of households making $100,000 or more a year voted, while only 38% of those making $50,000 or less showed up to the polls, with the turnout numbers growing even smaller as income decreases. While many states like California mandate giving employees time off to vote, it is not a simple as just taking time off for busy families and non-exempt employees.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Additionally, lack of access to childcare services is another hurdle many American parents face. But what if voting didn’t have to mean lost wages and parting with PTO time?

To help combat this issue, companies are starting to think about how to introduce new progressive benefits that will empower employees to take the time they need to be more civically engaged and active members of their communities. For example, companies of all sizes, from Walmart, Lyft and Patagonia to our own company, Zenefits, all recently created initiatives to increase voter turnout — from offering free rides to the polls to shutting down corporate offices for the entire midterm election day.

These benefits are sometimes labeled as “CTO” or “Civic Time Off,” and ensure that employees are not penalized but are instead encouraged to take time to participate in our democratic system, regardless of political affiliation, in whatever way is authentic to their core values and political beliefs. While voting is hot on the national dialogue with midterm elections right around the corner, CTO policies are not solely focused on getting people to the polls. CTO can be used for any civic endeavors including voting, volunteering for a candidate, attending a school board meeting, canvassing, or any other time devoted to civic participation.  

But companies have not always viewed civic engagement as a benefit in this way. A recent influx of millennials into the workforce has shifted benefits conversations and influenced the way employers think about their responsibility around workforce wellness, creating a new wave of progressive benefit offerings.

These new innovative benefits add to employee perks and are often thought of as a supplement to an employee’s salary. Though it may sound simple, these offerings can absolutely make or break an employee’s experience at a company and often is what attracts them to the role in the first place. These benefits, when thought of in a meaningful way, can be anything from covering commuter costs to furthering educational interests to blanketed physical/wellness stipends.

In this case, employers have begun to realize the necessity of civic-minded benefits. More and more, companies are beginning to see how today’s political environment is affecting their employees and their work. By offering CTO policies, employees are able to participate in the political moments in time that matter most to them, coming back to the office fulfilled and ready to take on the next workplace challenge.

As a company, it is important to build your team’s skill sets, not only as it pertains to their career development but also as it pertains to personal development beyond the walls of the workplace. This will not only lead to a happier, more well-rounded workforce but will also greatly benefit our nation at large as more companies make civic engagement a priority.

Whether your company is focused on incentivizing employee voting or encouraging daily in-office wellness programs for a healthier work-life balance, the important thing is that we recognize as people leaders the positive affect opportunities outside of the workplace have on our employees. A truly healthy workforce is comprised of employees who are fulfilled both inside and outside of the workplace.

Wall Street gains ground after selloff, but tech falters as Apple slips

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks rose on Thursday, as robust earnings reports supported a third day of recovery from a bruising selloff in October, but a drop in Apple’s shares ahead of results kept technology stocks under pressure.

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

Chemicals producer DowDuPont Inc (DWDP.N) rose 6.6 percent after quarterly profit topped estimates and the company announced a $3 billion share buyback.

NXP Semiconductors (NXPI.O) climbed 8.6 percent after the chipmaker topped profit and revenue estimates, while American International Group Inc (AIG.N) gained 4.7 percent after the insurer posted a smaller-than-quarterly loss.

Markets also got a lift after U.S. President Donald Trump said in a tweet he had a “very good” talk with Chinese President Xi Jinping on trade and North Korea and that the two planned to meet at the upcoming G-20 summit.

The rebound comes after the benchmark S&P 500 .SPX in October posted its worst monthly performance since September 2011, battered by worries over rising borrowing costs, global trade disputes and a possible slowdown in U.S. corporate profits.

“Over the past few days, we’ve seen the pressure valve taken off the selling which certainly helps from a sentiment perspective,” said Michael Antonelli, managing director, institutional sales trading at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

The S&P technology index .SPLRCT slipped 0.1 percent after two days of solid gains, with Apple (AAPL.O), last among the major technology names to report earnings, falling 0.2 percent ahead of earnings after markets close.

Netflix (NFLX.O), Facebook (FB.O) and Alphabet (GOOGL.O) also fell, pushing the communication services index .SPLRCL down 0.3 percent.

Shares in Spotify Technology (SPOT.N) fell about 10 percent after the paid music streaming service reported quarterly revenue and margins in line with expectations and a modest rise in premium subscribers.

S&P 500 companies are on pace to have posted a 26.3 percent rise in third-quarter earnings with more than half of the constituents having reported, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Despite the big overall profit increase, some high-profile companies have issued disappointing reports.

At 10:12 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 147.40 points, or 0.59 percent, at 25,263.16, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 12.40 points, or 0.46 percent, at 2,724.14. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 23.57 points, or 0.32 percent, at 7,329.47.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with a 2 percent jump in the materials index .SPLRCM leading the gainers after DowDuPont’s results.

Health insurer Cigna Corp (CI.N) rose 3.1 percent after beating quarterly profit estimates and raising its full-year earnings forecast on tight cost controls.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.99-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.28-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 6 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 12 new highs and 29 new lows.

Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Sriraj Kalluvila

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Suncor Energy CEO sees no need for oil output cuts despite growing discounts

CALGARY, Alberta, Nov 1 (Reuters) – Suncor Energy Inc , Canada’s second-largest energy producer, does not need to reduce crude output as some of its peers are doing to cope with low prices, Chief Executive Steve Williams said on Thursday.

Suncor, which has dedicated pipeline space for its crude as well as refineries in Canada, is mostly insulated from the impact of growing discounts on Canadian crude that are due to pipeline constraints. (Reporting by Rod Nickel in Calgary, Alberta)

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US STOCKS-Wall St gains ground after selloff, but tech falters as Apple slips

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks rose on Thursday, as robust earnings reports supported a third day of recovery from a bruising selloff in October, but a drop in Apple’s shares ahead of results kept technology stocks under pressure.

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

Chemicals producer DowDuPont Inc (DWDP.N) rose 6.6 percent after quarterly profit topped estimates and the company announced a $3 billion share buyback.

NXP Semiconductors (NXPI.O) climbed 8.6 percent after the chipmaker topped profit and revenue estimates, while American International Group Inc (AIG.N) gained 4.7 percent after the insurer posted a smaller-than-quarterly loss.

Markets also got a lift after U.S. President Donald Trump said in a tweet he had a “very good” talk with Chinese President Xi Jinping on trade and North Korea and that the two planned to meet at the upcoming G-20 summit.

The rebound comes after the benchmark S&P 500 .SPX in October posted its worst monthly performance since September 2011, battered by worries over rising borrowing costs, global trade disputes and a possible slowdown in U.S. corporate profits.

“Over the past few days, we’ve seen the pressure valve taken off the selling which certainly helps from a sentiment perspective,” said Michael Antonelli, managing director, institutional sales trading at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

The S&P technology index .SPLRCT slipped 0.1 percent after two days of solid gains, with Apple (AAPL.O), last among the major technology names to report earnings, falling 0.2 percent ahead of earnings after markets close.

Netflix (NFLX.O), Facebook (FB.O) and Alphabet (GOOGL.O) also fell, pushing the communication services index .SPLRCL down 0.3 percent.

Shares in Spotify Technology (SPOT.N) fell about 10 percent after the paid music streaming service reported quarterly revenue and margins in line with expectations and a modest rise in premium subscribers.

S&P 500 companies are on pace to have posted a 26.3 percent rise in third-quarter earnings with more than half of the constituents having reported, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Despite the big overall profit increase, some high-profile companies have issued disappointing reports.

At 10:12 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 147.40 points, or 0.59 percent, at 25,263.16, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 12.40 points, or 0.46 percent, at 2,724.14. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 23.57 points, or 0.32 percent, at 7,329.47.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with a 2 percent jump in the materials index .SPLRCM leading the gainers after DowDuPont’s results.

Health insurer Cigna Corp (CI.N) rose 3.1 percent after beating quarterly profit estimates and raising its full-year earnings forecast on tight cost controls.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.99-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.28-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 6 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 12 new highs and 29 new lows.

Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Sriraj Kalluvila

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Sonos delays Google Assistant integration until 2019, private beta to launch in 2018

Sonos today announced that Google Assistant will not be available on its products until at least 2019. The service was supposed to launch in 2018 but the company said in a blog posting it needs a bit more time. Additional information about timing will be released in early 2019, Sonos says.

Eager customers can sign-up for a private beta as long as they agree to use the service extensively and respond to surveys within a few days.

Sonos products already have access to Amazon Alexa. Given Sonos’s long-standing notion of supporting all platforms, it makes sense that the company would want customers to have access to both Alexa and Google Assistant. That’s what makes Sonos compelling: They provide the hardware, and owners use whatever software platform they want.

This is clearly critical for Sonos. For a long time, Sonos provided the best-sounding smart speaker system on the market but Amazon, Google and traditional speaker brands are quickly introducing speakers that provide similar sound quality. To keep up and justify the higher price of its hardware, Sonos needs to offer owners the best sound and the best software, and offering Google Assistant on its products is a key part of that goal.

USITC votes to continue investigating mattresses from China

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. International Trade Commission has made an affirmative determination in its preliminary phase anti-dumping duty investigation concerning mattresses from China, the commission said in a statement on Thursday.

The United States is investigating alleged dumping of China-made mattresses after complaints from several U.S. manufacturers, including Leggett & Platt Inc (LEG.N), Tempur Sealy International Inc (TPX.N) and others, the Department of Commerce said last month. On Thursday, the commission said it voted to continue its investigation of the mattresses.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Susan Heavey

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