BILL GRIFFETH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Data debacle. Facebook`s
crisis is intensifying, and the pressure is coming from Wall Street, Main
Street, and Washington.
SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Rising risks. What economists
see as the biggest threat to the economy as Fed policymakers begin their
meeting on interest rates.
GRIFFETH: Confused cars? What happens when self driving vehicles need a
human touch? One Silicon Valley start-up says it has the answer.
Those stories and more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for this Tuesday,
March the 20th.
HERERA: Good evening, everybody. And welcome.
Stocks bounced back. Investors focused on fundamentals as the Federal
Reserve started its two-day policy meeting with most expecting the central
bank to increase interest rates. We`ll have more on that in just a minute.
Higher oil prices lifted the energy sector which helped offset a decline in
social media stocks. By the end of the trading day, the Dow Jones
Industrial Average rose 116 points to 24,727, the Nasdaq climbed 20, and
the S&P 500 added four.
GRIFFETH: And it was a continued slump in Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) shares that
curbed some of the market`s gains today. The social media company is
facing as you know a barrage of criticism over how it handles and protects
user data. One analyst said today that the level of uncertainty
surrounding that stock is like never before. And that also sent shares
Julia Boorstin has the latest on Facebook`s privacy scandal.
JULIA BOORSTIN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Regulators,
consumers, employees and investors looking for answers from Facebook
(NASDAQ:FB) in the wake of the scandal over the harvesting and sale of data
of 50 million Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) user to U.K.-based Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) issuing a new statement, quote: Mark, Sheryl and their
teams are working around the clock to get all the facts and take the
appropriate action moving forward because they understand the seriousness
of this issue. The company is outraged we are deceived. We are committed
to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people`s information and
will take whatever steps are required to see that this happens.
SCOTT GALLOWAY, NYU STERN PROFESSOR: We`re in the text book case study on
how not the handle a crisis. Rule number one, top guy or gal have to
address the issue. It appears that Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg
have retreated to the caves of Kandahar here. Where the heck are they?
BOORSTIN: Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) shares continuing their decline today. And
among other things, the FCC saying it takes these allegations of data
misuse seriously, saying, quote, consumers need stronger protections for
the digital age, such as comprehensive data security and privacy laws,
transparency and accountability for data brokers and rights to and control
over their data.
WALTER ISAACSON, THE ASPEN INSTITUTE CEO: The business model of Facebook
(NASDAQ:FB) really does depend on harvesting user data for selling to
advertisers. So, if you have to really cut back on that because of this
investigation, I think it will deeply hurt the revenue model Facebook
(NASDAQ:FB) has come to depend on.
BOORSTIN: Meanwhile, Cambridge Analytica taking action, suspending its CEO
Alexander Nix with immediate effect pending a full independent
investigation, saying his comments secretly recorded by Channel 4 in which
he describes shady business practices do not represent the values or
operations of the firm.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Julia Boorstin in Los Angeles.
HERERA: But it wasn`t just Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) that felt the heat. Other
social media stocks like Twitter, Snapchat and the social media ETF also
fell. And when an entire sector is under pressure, especially one that has
played a role in the market`s run up, investors take notice.
Bob Pisani is at the New York Stock Exchange for us tonight.
BOB PISANI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is
a big issue for the markets in general, for several reasons. First,
technology was the big market leader last year and into 2018. And it was
partly because social media stocks were big market movers. And not just
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), it`s Snap and Pandora, Twitter, Groupon
(NASDAQ:GRPN), other social media stocks attracted a lot of new money last
The social media ETF SOCL, it was up over 50 percent in 2017 and attracted
a lot of new money. But now social media in general is under attack and
it`s not clear if there will be any market leader. There is a big problem
with that. No market leadership in social media.
The other problem is rick of increased regulation. Internet platforms in
general have been very lightly regulated since the first laws were written
in the 1990s. With always for investigations and Congress gaining steam
all we need are one or two more nasty revelations and there will be bills
introduced with broad implications for many other tech and software stocks.
Finally, if you are hopeful that Facebook`s shareholders will rise up and
force changes in the way Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) manages itself or even force
changes in management, forget about it. That`s not going to happen.
Founder Mark Zuckerberg has assured that that won`t happen of that`s
because Mr. Zuckerberg owns the majority of the voting rights to the
company. Facebook`s class B shares controlled by Mark Zuckerberg and a
small group of insiders has about approximate 18 percent of the shares.
Zuckerberg himself controls about 14 percent but their class B shares have
10 votes per share. The class A shares that trade have only one vote per
The net effect is that Zuckerberg and a small group of insiders control
almost 70 percent of the voting shares in Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). Good luck
forcing changes with those kinds of voting rights.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Bob Pisani at the New York Stock Exchange.
GRIFFETH: And so as both Bob and Julia mentioned, there is now this
increased risk that the whole social media industry will face tighter
regulation, not exactly something that businesses usually want. But it is
something that a number of people in Washington are calling for.
Kayla Tausche picks up the story for us from there.
KAYLA TAUSCHE, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Facebook (NASDAQ:FB)
is heading to Capitol Hill this week. Today and tomorrow, company staff
will brief staff of six congressional committees. House and Senate
Intelligence Committees, the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, the
House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and the Senate Commerce Committee.
The company`s general counsel testified in November on foreign actors using
social media to influence the 2016 election. At the time, lawmakers said
the company was making progress in scrubbing its platform but now say
stronger regulation will be needed if the problems persist.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: The industry won`t solve these kind
of problems themselves. We`ll have to solve them with legislation. And I
don`t think that`s the most desirable course of action. But you can`t have
50 million people lose the privacy of their data this way.
TAUSCHE: So far, potential legislation has simply targeted disclosure. In
the U.S., the Senate proposal called for social media companies to label
and report political ads bought on their sites and who is behind them. The
European Commission will release a regulatory action plan next month. One
study at commission suggested clearer labeling for paid content.
But the Cambridge Analytica breach deals with the unwitting leveraging of
users` own data and privacy to sell them a political candidate. While
lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic wouldn`t rule out regulating this
kind of social media, they wanted to investigate Cambridge Analytica first.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Kayla Tausche in Washington.
HERERA: And indeed at the center of the Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) controversy
is a company that few had heard of until now. Cambridge Analytica is a
data analytics firm and today its CEO was suspended.
Michele Caruso-Cabrera has more on the company that`s now facing a crisis
of its own.
MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Cambridge
Analytica is a U.K.-based political consulting firm and it credits itself
with helping Donald Trump win the election. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) accuses
them of violating its rules for harvesting user data. Hedge fund manager
and top Republican donor Robert Mercer is a major investor. And Steve
Bannon who worked in the Trump White House is reportedly on the board.
Today, Cambridge Analytica is in the news again after Channel 4 of the
United Kingdom unveiled several pieces of video last night which showed the
CEO, Alexander Nix, speaking with a man he thinks is a potential client.
ALEXANDER NIX, CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA CEO: No, no, we`ll have a wealthy
developer come in, somebody posing as a wealthy developer.
MARK TURNBULL: I`m a master of disguise.
NIX: Yes. They will offer a large amount of money to the candidate, to
finance his campaign in exchange for land, for instance. We`ll have the
whole thing recorded on cameras. We`ll blank out the face of our guy and
we post it on the Internet.
REPORTER: So, on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) or YouTube, or something like this?
NIX: Send some girls around to the candidate`s house. We have lots of
history of things.
CARUSO-CABRERA: Cambridge Analytica prides itself on creating detailed
psychological profiles of individuals on social media and making extremely
targeted ads. But the methods described in the video — use of women,
bribes on tape — have very little to do with anything digital.
In a statement, Cambridge Analytica explained that conversation this way:
Assessing the legality and reputational risks associated with new projects
is critical for us and we routinely undertake conversations with
prospective clients to try to tease out any unethical or illegal
intentions. The two Cambridge Analytica executives at the meeting humored
these questions and actively encouraged the prospective clients to disclose
his intentions. They left with grave concerns and did not meet with him
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Michele Caruso-Cabrera.
GRIFFETH: Well, there was other news today. As we mentioned, Fed
officials are meeting for the first time under their new chairman Jerome
Powell. The two-day gathering started today. It ends with a decision on
interest rates tomorrow.
Ahead of that decision, Steve Liesman surveyed top economists and money
managers about the economy and the stock market.
STEVE LIESMAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Look out for higher
interest rates and lower stock price this is year. Respondents to the CNBC
Fed Survey have upped their outlook for the yield on the ten-year treasury
to 3.17 percent by year-end and 3.5 percent for 2019, and they have edged
down their outlook for stocks for the first time since July.
One percent of the 40 respondents to include economists, fund managers and
strategists, expect the Federal Reserve to hike rates at the conclusion of
its March meeting tomorrow. That`s in route to hiking three times this
year and twice next year.
But the risks are towards more rate hikes. The second choice of the group
for both years was one additional rate rise.
But higher interest rates are not seen as the biggest threat to the
economy. It`s trade. Sixty-three percent of respondents say President
Trump`s trade policies are negative for U.S. growth. Just 3 percent, which
is one respondent says this will help. Twenty-three percent say too soon
Meanwhile, 81 percent say leaving the North American Free Trade Agreement
or NAFTA is negative for growth, 75 percent were concerned about a trade
war. And 48 percent, a plurality, say the president`s steel and aluminum
tariffs will cost more jobs than they will add.
But strong criticism from a group where 58 percent say they support the
president`s handling of the economy. The concern about trade is so great
that it tops the list of biggest threats in the U.S. expansion, far
outpacing worries about inflation, terrorism, and even the Federal Reserve
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Steve Liesman.
GRIFFETH: By the way, there are signs that banks are starting to lift
deposit rates for savers. As you well know, banks have largely kept their
deposit rates the same for years despite incremental increases in the Fed
fund`s rate. According to bankrate.com, though, the average rate on a one
near CD rose — are you ready? – to 0.49 percent last week. While that is
still historically low, it is the highest level in more than seven years.
Time to take a look at some of today`s upgrades and downgrades. Bank of
America (NYSE:BAC) is one of a number of banks that are well-positioned for
those higher interest rates. That`s according to Raymond James. The firm
cites Bank of America`s low cost deposit and non-interesting bearing
deposit bases. Higher rates will add to earnings per share this year and
next. The stock today was unchanged at $31.98.
Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) says Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) shares could easily hit
$1,900 this year. The analyst calls the stock undervalued. He says
current estimates are too low for the company`s cloud and retail
businesses. The shares rose more than 2.5 percent to $1,587.51. Its
market cap is now larger than Alphabet`s, making it the second most
valuable publicly traded company.
GRIFFETH: Elsewhere, Oppenheimer raised its rating on Roku to perform to
from under perform. The firm says that the stock is no longer a compelling
short trade at its current valuation. The analyst cited a number of
potential catalysts for the stock, including the launch of the Roku
Channel. The stock rose more than 2 percent today to $34.73.
And Signet Jewelers saw its price rate cut to $40 from $52 by J.P. Morgan.
The firm says that the jeweler`s transition is going to take time and that
store closures will weigh on future revenue. The analyst also cited a lack
of product innovation and he maintained his neutral rating on the stock.
Signet Jewelers fell 3 percent today to $38.27.
HERERA: Still ahead, with the clock ticking, are lawmakers any closer to
reaching a spending deal by Friday`s deadline?
HERERA: The board of the California Public Employees Retirement System
voted against a proposal to divest its investment in assault rifle
retailers and wholesalers. The board said such a move would do little to
reduce gun violence. CalPERS has more than $350 billion in assets, making
it the largest public pension fund in the U.S.
GRIFFETH: Congress is in a race against time to pass a $1.3 trillion
spending bill ahead of Friday`s deadline or face another government
shutdown. House Speaker Paul Ryan said today the lawmakers do continue to
talk and they worked their way through various unresolved budget issues.
Ylan Mui is back with us again tonight.
And you also have a snowstorm to deal with tomorrow. So, they really have
to work hard. When do you think we`ll finally see a bill of some kind?
YLAN MUI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Republican
leadership keep saying that it will be today before midnight. But we have
heard this story before. Just as recently as yesterday.
The House is trying to vote on this bill on Thursday in order to give the
Senate time to pass it before that Friday deadline. But we are already
hearing from rank-and-file lawmakers that this time line could slip. Maybe
the omnibus spending bill doesn`t come out tonight and maybe we even better
a temporary government shutdown and even might need another stopgap
spending measure to give lawmakers more time to hammer out all of these
HERERA: I know there are a lot of issues out there, what is the primary
MUI: There are really two big issues that have been stumbling blocks. One
is funding for the gateway project which funds a tunnel that goes from New
Jersey to New York. The president said he is opposed to that project but
is very important to key lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The other
issue is border wall funding. That is something that the White House wants
that Democrats have been opposed to, especially without a solution for the
undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children.
GRIFFETH: So, what do you think? Government shutdown or short-term bill
to kick the can down a little further on the road?
MUI: You know, every hour that passes without a deal means that the risk
of a shutdown is actually rising and we are reaching the point now where
any one senator who decides to hold up this process will mean that Congress
will fail to reach that Friday deadline. And then all bets are off.
GRIFFETH: Maybe we`ll see you tomorrow night.
MUI: Hopefully not saying the same thing.
GRIFFETH: Exactly. Ylan Mui in Washington, thank you.
HERERA: Well, FedEx (NYSE:FDX) raises its full year outlook, and that is
where we begin tonight`s “Market Focus”.
After the bell, the delivery giant said stronger operating performance and
tax changes prompted it to raise its guidance for fiscal 2018. The company
also reported quarterly results that topped expectations and said it was
making investments in two of its shipping hubs. Shares initially rose in
after hours and finished the regular day up nearly 1 percent to $251.99.
The cloud computing company Salesforce said it has agreed to by software
maker MuleSoft for $6.5 billion. Salesforce said the merger will help
users to access data across various cloud platforms. Salesforce shares
finished up a tick to $125.12. Meanwhile, shares of MuleSoft took off.
They rose 27 percent to $42 even.
And the children`s clothing retailer, the Children`s Place, topped profit
expectations and raised its quarterly dividend to 50 cents a share. Same
store sales and total revenue also grew. But both were softer than
expected. The shares fell nearly 8 percent to $127.95.
GRIFFETH: Defense contractor General Dynamics (NYSE:GD) has sweetened its
offer to buy CSRA. All in an attempt to ward off a stronger bid from rival
CACI International (NYSE:CACI), or CACI International (NYSE:CACI). General
Dynamics` new offer sits just under $7 billion. And, by the way, it is
still lower than CACI`s bid. Shares of General Dynamics (NYSE:GD), CSR and
CACI were all higher on the day.
Investors had their first chance the react today to Arena Pharmaceutical`s
upbeat drug study results that were released after the bell last night.
And, boy, did they react. The drugmaker said that its experimental
treatment for ulcerative colitis performed significantly better than the
placebo with fewer patients experiencing side effects. The company plans
now to move forward with additional tests. In the meantime, shares jumped
more than 28 percent to $39.75.
HERERA: Well, IBM has been a staple in many portfolios for decades. You
could call it one of the original disrupters. But recently, it has
struggled to keep up and turn itself around. Its shares have lost more
than a quarter of their value over the past five years. But a conference
in Las Vegas, IBM sees its future powered by new technologies.
Deirdre Bosa has more.
DEIRDRE BOSA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: At IBM`s annual Think
Conference, the company`s biggest costumers and partners are here in Las
Vegas to hear about Big Blue`s future strategy. We were able to sit down
with IBM`s CEO Ginni Rometty to hear about her turn-around plans to shift
the company towards next generation technologies like Blockchain and
artificial intelligence as its legacy business slows.
GINNI ROMETTY, IBM CHAIRMAN & CEO: It`s a different company than 10 years
ago, five years ago, three years ago. And so, break out the pieces. For
one, the new product and services. We did return to growth, starting in
the first quarter as you saw there.
And the point being, 46 percent of what we make today, our products and
services are growing at 11 percent and are new to the IBM Company, and a
strong pipeline behind it — Blockchain, quantum, strong pipelines built.
BOSA: In light of recent pressures on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) in terms of
privacy and security, data responsibility was a big topic here at Think.
Box CEO and founder Aaron Levie talked about the need for updated
regulations as tech and innovation play as bigger role in consumers lives.
AARON LEVIE, BOX CHAIRMAN & CEO: We have had a tremendous amount of
technology innovation that is now starting to impact every single element
of our lives. And this is what we`ve seen from the digital revolution.
It`s changing our cars and transportation. It`s changing life sciences and
health care. It`s changing voting and democracy.
And for quite some time, we`ve treated this technology platforms as sort of
utilities that all of the users are the ones liable on those platforms but
ultimately as you see growing news cases for machine learning and AI, the
platforms themselves are going to be making more decisions on behalf of us,
which means we have to be sure the decisions they are making Aare those
that protect consumers, to keep us safe, to keep our information private,
keep us secure.
BOSA: David McKay, CEO of RBC, joined Ginni Rometty on stage for the
conference keynote. As the chief of Canada`s largest bank, he is here to
discuss the importance of new technologies to his business and he also
knows a thing or two about winning consumers` trust and importance of
DAVID MCKAY, RBC PRESIDENT & CEO: There is a lot of brand risk.
Absolutely. I think you are seeing markets react to the uncertain in the
last couple of days.
But, certainly, if you want to create value for a customer and manage that
data and if you breach that trust — others will take that place and do
that on behalf of the customer in a better way. I think this does create
franchise risk over — absolutely, over the short and long term.
BOSA: From tech companies to banks and more, IBM`s Think Conference this
year looked at a future where data and privacy take center stage.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Deirdre Bosa, Las Vegas.
GRIFFETH: Coming up, a different kind of remote control car.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIL LEBEAU, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: What happens if you
are in a self driving car and it gets confused and isn`t sure what to do?
Well, somebody who is a remote operator takes control of the wheel,
literally. I`m Phil LeBeau. We`ll explain when NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFETH: As expected, the Weinstein Company has filed for bankruptcy.
The movie studio was crippled as you now by the sexual harass men and
assault allegations made against co-founder Harvey Weinstein. Private
equity firm Lantern Capital Partners may acquire that company now through
the bankruptcy process.
HERERA: Expedia`s Orbit subsidiary discovered a possible data breach,
affecting more than 800,000 customers. The travel booking site said the
hacker may have accessed the data late last year on one of its older
platforms. The working is working to notify those who may have been
GRIFFETH: United Airlines is temporarily suspending transport of animals
in the cargo compartments of its planes. This after the carrier
inadvertently flew pets to wrong destinations last week, remember that? In
the meantime, the airline is conducting a review of its pet shipment
operations, and by the way, this suspension does not impact customers
bringing pets onboard in the cabin.
HERERA: As we reported yesterday, the fatal accident involving one of
Uber`s self driving cars remains under investigation. Today, Toyota
(NYSE:TM) said it will temporarily halt is autonomous vehicle testing. The
program was being tested in California and Michigan. The decision will not
affect its driverless operations in Japan.
GRIFFETH: Clearly, the steel young autonomous vehicle industry is working
to overcome a number of obstacles. One in particular is what to do when a
self-driving car stops or slows down because it`s confused about where to
Well, a start-up in Silicon Valley thinks it has an answer to that problem.
Phil LeBeau takes us for a ride in Mountain View, California, tonight.
LEBEAU: Phantom Auto`s test car may look like any other driverless
vehicle. But it`s not. It`s being operated remotely by Ben Shukman.
BEN SHUKMAN, PHANTOM AUTO: Welcome, Phil. My name is Ben and I`ll be your
Phantom remote operator for this drive.
LEBEAU: Right now, we are at a four way stop. Ben can see all the cars
and the traffic around here and he is making the turn. As someone who has
gone for a number of rides in autonomous drive vehicles, riding in a remote
operated vehicle doesn`t feel a whole lot different.
ELLIOT KATZ, PHANTOM AUTO CO-FOUNDER: We can take control, or it will take
us about 15 to 20 seconds. We are a solution when the vehicle is moving at
a very slow speed, or has already come to a stop or the vehicle is
paralyzed and doesn`t know what to do.
LEBEAU: While Waymo, GM and others have encountered relatively few issues
while logging millions of miles testing their self-driving vehicles, they
also admit autonomous drive cars constantly face tricky situations a hurdle
that will slow down how quickly we see large numbers of them out on the
SCOTT CORWIN, DELOITTE: We know that the last stretch here gets really
hard. The kinds of thing that are going to stand in the way are busy
cities like New York where you just have lots of pedestrians, bicyclists.
There is so much going on.
SHAI MAGZIMOF, PHANTOM AUTO CO-FOUNDER: Humans are always needed, even
with machines that work great. You always need a support channel. With
autonomous vehicle, you need that channel to be fast, you need someone to
be there in real time.
LEBEAU: Phantom Auto envisions a future with call centers around the world
where remote operators can step in and take the wheel, when self-driving
vehicles need a human touch.
Phil LeBeau, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Mountain View, California.
HERERA: Some sad news to tell you about tonight. Pete Peterson who made
his name on both Wall Street and in Washington has died at the age of 91.
The son of Greek immigrants, he went on to become the founder of the
private equity firm Blackstone. He was chairman of the Council on Foreign
Relations for 22 years, commerce secretary under President Nixon and vice
chairman of Lehman Brothers. He gave the bulk of his fortune to a
foundation that focuses on the dangers of swelling government debt.
GRIFFETH: Part of the fabled Four Seasons restaurant lunch crowd. A great
Before we go, another look at the bounce-back on Wall Street today. The
Dow rose 116 today to 24,727, Nasdaq climbed by 20, and the S&P added four.
HERERA: And that will do it for us tonight. I`m Sue Herera. Thanks so
much for joining us.
GRIFFETH: I`m Bill Griffeth. Be safe out there with all the bad weather,
everybody. We`ll see you tomorrow.
Nightly Business Report transcripts and video are available on-line post
broadcast at http://nbr.com. The program is transcribed by ASC Services II
Media, LLC. Updates may be posted at a later date. The views of our guests
and commentators are their own and do not necessarily represent the views
of Nightly Business Report, or CNBC, Inc. Information presented on Nightly
Business Report is not and should not be considered as investment advice.
(c) 2018 CNBC, Inc.