Big Tech heads to Washington

1. Big Tech heads to Washington: Top brass from Twitter a...

Posted: Sep 3, 2018 9:31 AM
Updated: Sep 3, 2018 9:31 AM

1. Big Tech heads to Washington: Top brass from Twitter and Facebook will face off with members of Congress Wednesday.

Twitter chief Jack Dorsey and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee at 9:30 am ET on Wednesday. The topic is foreign actors' use of social networks to influence American elections.

The hearing promises to be newsworthy and will again raise questions about regulation, but investors are not expecting any shocks.

"Investors have become more immune to this news" since Facebook endured a public beating over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, said GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives. "I think investors are expecting the companies to continue to reiterate their messages and communications from the last few months. This is not a new issue."

Lawmakers will be seeking answers about what the companies are doing to respond to criticism of fake news, state-sponsored misinformation, bias and harassment on their platforms.

The hearing comes as tech giants have been heavily scrutinized for letting Russian trolls spread misinformation to influence US elections. Some Republicans, including the president, have also accused social media platforms of harboring a liberal bias and attempting to silence conservative voices.

Google was also asked to appear but has yet to publicly say that its CEO will attend.

Michael Pachter, the managing director of equity research at Wedbush, said he doesn't expect Google stock to face any pressure if the company doesn't show up. But he added that he believes "investors expect their CEOs to have respect for their institutions."

Separately on Wednesday, Dorsey will appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee at 1:30 pm ET to face questions about the conservative claim that Twitter is silencing far-right voices on its platform.

Republican chairman Greg Walden said he wants "to better understand the decisions Twitter makes about content and the company's process to prevent mistakes and undue bias."

2. Next round of China tariffs could be very big: President Donald Trump is reportedly ready to move ahead with a plan to slam China with hefty tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods as soon as the public comment period ends on Thursday. Trump has already imposed 25% tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods -- and Beijing has retaliated in kind.

China has pledged to push back against the United States if it moves forward with the new tariffs, though the country is running out of goods to target. Even so, it's possible China could choose to fight back by devaluing its currency, which would make Chinese products more competitive around the globe.

3. Trillion dollar club: Amazon is nearing $1 trillion. On Friday the stock closed at $2012.71 per share for a market cap of $981.7 billion. It would become the second American company to cross $1 trillion in value. Apple crossed the $1 trillion threshold on August 2.

4. Jobs report: The US Labor Department will release its monthly employment data Friday. Investors are expecting another set of solid job gains and steady wage growth. The unemployment rate ticked down to 3.9% in July.

5. Kickoff: The NFL kicks off its 2018 season on Thursday with the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles in a primetime match-up on NBC. Disney, Fox, CBS, Comcast and Amazon have made substantial investments in NFL broadcasting rights, so investors will be attuned to this season's ratings. NFL ratings have struggled.

6. Back to work: Trading volume has been low. But with vacations coming to an end, the real test for the market might be when traders turn their full focus back on Wall Street. Markets could react more meaningfully to trade deals, interest rate decisions from the Fed and corporate earnings.

Coming this week:

Monday — US markets closed for Labor Day

Tuesday — Restoration Hardware earnings

Wednesday — DocuSign and Vera Bradley earnings; Twitter and Facebook executives testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee

Thursday — Barnes & Noble, Broadcom and GameStop earnings; NFL regular season begins

Friday — Jobs report

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported the July unemployment rate.

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