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Big Tech earnings can make or break this market

today 10/25/2023
Investors are closely monitoring Big Tech earnings this week to gain insight into the direction of the volatile stock market. Microsoft and Google parent Alphabet have already reported strong third-quarter earnings, but Amazon, Meta, Nvidia, and Apple are yet to report. These tech giants have a significant impact on investors' portfolios and their earnings are seen as indicators of market trends. The recent earnings of Alphabet and Microsoft were positive, with Alphabet reporting increased sales and profits, while Microsoft exceeded expectations with revenue and profits growth. However, Alphabet's stock fell due to underperformance in its cloud business. Excluding Big Tech, the average earnings for S&P 500 companies would decline this quarter, highlighting the importance of tech companies to overall market performance. The upcoming earnings of Big Tech companies will be crucial in determining market trends. Additionally, the United States and Gulf nations are collaborating to target a 'secret' Hamas investment portfolio worth up to $1 billion, and Apple has announced its upcoming October event where new iMacs are expected to be unveiled.
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Russian propagandists exploited celebrity Cameo videos to spread disinformation, Microsoft says

According to cybersecurity researchers at Microsoft, Russian propagandists used the popular platform Cameo to disseminate celebrity videos that were manipulated to support their misinformation campaigns. These videos, featuring American celebrities like Elijah Wood and Mike Tyson, were edited to appear as if they were attacking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The manipulated videos, which included emojis and links, were widely shared on pro-Russian social media channels and amplified by Russian media outlets. The Microsoft researchers observed at least seven of these manipulated videos since late July 2023. The videos were edited to resemble interviews with news outlets or the celebrities' own social media accounts, making it seem like they were part of a plea to Zelensky to seek help for substance abuse. The Russian embassy in the US did not respond to requests for comment, and the celebrities named in the report have not commented either. Cameo stated that such videos would violate their Community Guidelines, and they would take steps to remove the content and suspend the purchaser's account if violations are substantiated.

The US shoplifting scourge is a lot of hype with little evidence

Retail crime has not significantly increased nationwide in recent years, and even decreased in many areas. A study released last month found that shoplifting reports were 16% higher in the first half of 2023 compared to 2019, but excluding New York City, the number of incidents actually fell by 7%. Overall, shoplifting has followed similar patterns as other types of theft over the past five years and remained below pre-pandemic levels through 2022. The National Retail Federation has retracted a claim about organized retail crime, admitting it was not based on data or research. Major retailers have cited rising theft as a hindrance to profitability, but external theft only accounts for about 36% of overall shrink, similar to pre-pandemic levels. Retail theft is difficult to measure and is not tracked at the federal level. However, shoplifting data tracked by the FBI shows that the number of incidents is lower now compared to five to ten years ago. While there are pockets of increased retail crime in certain cities, the national trend remains relatively flat.

China'€™s real estate crisis is coming for its massive shadow banks

Moody's recent downgrade of China's credit outlook has raised concerns about the impact of the real estate crisis on the wider economy. While there is growing risk of contagion, experts do not believe it will lead to a global financial crisis like the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. However, the crisis does have implications for China's growth, which should be of interest to international investors. The shadow banking sector, an important part of China's financial system, is particularly vulnerable to the spillover effects of the property market downturn. Two major players in this sector have already failed to make payments to investors, sparking fears of financial contagion. The problems in the shadow banking industry are not limited to these two players, and a wider meltdown seems likely. S&P Global Ratings also warned that the real estate industry's troubles could have negative effects on banks, financial institutions, and investor and consumer sentiment. The shadow banking industry, which includes trust firms, has reached $12 trillion in size and accounts for 86% of China's GDP. Defaults on trust investment products, especially those linked to real estate, have been increasing. Trust firms may need to sell more liquid assets to prepare for the repayment of trust products, which could trigger a bond price correction and hinder companies' financing access. This could lead to debt-servicing challenges or even defaults for companies and local government entities. Overall, the real estate crisis in China has significant implications for the country's economy and financial system.

From the Boy Scouts to the Catholic Church, an upcoming Supreme Court ruling may mean some victims won’t see their day in court

The US Supreme Court is currently dealing with a high-profile bankruptcy case involving Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin. The case revolves around the legality of Purdue Pharma's bankruptcy plan, which would require the Sackler family, the former owners of the company, to personally pay up to $6 billion to victims of the opioid crisis in exchange for legal immunity from future lawsuits. The Supreme Court's decision in this case could have broader implications for third-party releases, a provision that shields organizations from additional civil lawsuits. Proponents argue that these releases are a fair and efficient way for victims to receive compensation, while opponents claim that they allow potentially liable parties to evade legal scrutiny. The Sackler family insists on being shielded from liability due to the numerous civil cases they would have to settle or fight in court. However, the US Trustee argues that this is an abuse of the bankruptcy system. The Supreme Court's ruling could affect future mass injury claims resolved through bankruptcy. Purdue Pharma's bankruptcy agreement was approved by the majority of victims, but the US Trustee argues that the court cannot bind the minority who voted against it. The Supreme Court's decision could open the door to nonconsensual third-party releases, which may raise concerns about the accountability of these parties. Other high-profile bankruptcies, such as the Boy Scouts of America, have also employed bankruptcy courts to protect individuals from legal trouble. The outcome of the Purdue Pharma case will be closely watched by legal experts, as it could have far-reaching implications.