Transcript: Nightly Business Report – June 19, 2019

ANNOUNCER:  This is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT with Sue Herera and Bill  Griffeth.

JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN:  The committee will closely  monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook  and will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion.  

BILL GRIFFETH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR:  The door is open.  The Fed  holds interest rates steady today but signals that one could still be  coming.  

SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR:  Top heavy market.  A quarter  of the gains this year are concentrated in four stocks.  Is that cause for  concern among investors?  

GRIFFETH:  Quality control.  Why car buyers are finding plenty of problems  with the new technology designed to keep them safe.  
Those stories and much more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for  Wednesday, June 19th.  

HERERA:  And good evening, everyone, and welcome.  
The Federal Reserve appears close to cutting interest rates.  The chairman  of the world`s most powerful central bank said what the market wanted to  hear, that the case for more accommodating policy has strengthened.  Today,  the Fed held rates steady but it raised the prospect of lowering them in  the future and stocks rose.  
The Dow Jones rose 38 points, 26,504.  The Nasdaq was up 33.  The S&P added  eight.  It is now less than 1 percent away from a record.  
Steve Liesman starts us off tonight in Washington.  

STEVE LIESMAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  The Federal Reserve  left interest rates unchanged at the June meeting but made a major change  in its outlook that`s just in.  It could cut interest rates in the months  ahead, maybe even at the next meeting in July.  The big changes the Federal  Reserve effectively ended its policy of patience where saying it wouldn`t  do anything for many months.  That word came out of the policy statement.  

Instead, it emphasized uncertainties in the economic outlook and said it  would, quote, act as appropriate to sustain the economic expansion.  As  recently as March, no Fed official forecast a rate cut this year.  Now,  eight Fed officials forecast at least one in 2019 and seven of them  forecast two.  
Fed Chair Jay Powell said even those who are not forecasting cuts in the  survey are leaning that way.  

POWELL:  A number of those who wrote down a flat rate pass agree that the  case for additional accommodation has strengthened since our May meeting.   This added on accommodation would support economic activity and inflation`s  return to our objective.  Uncertainties surrounding the baseline outlook  have clearly risen since our last meeting.  It is important however that  monetary policy not overreact to any individual data point or short-term  swing in sentiment.  Doing so would risk adding even more uncertainty to  the jot look.  

LIESMAN:  So, what will it take for the fed to actually cut rates?  Powell  made clear the committee wants more clarity in the outlook and how much the  economy is really going to weaken.  And he wants to see how trade talks  with China work out.  
If those concerns about the economy are proven right in the data, it seems  clear the fed would respond with rate cuts and it could happen as soon as  July.  
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Steve Liesman in Washington.  

GRIFFETH:  And let`s turn now to Diane Swonk for more analysis of today`s  Fed meeting.  She`s chief economist at Grant Thornton.  
Always good to see you.  
And we should point out, you were among those who were pointing out we  could get what you called an insurance cut today.  But what did you make of  what we got today?  

DIANE SWONK, GRANT THORNTON CHIEF ECONOMIST:  Well, we didn`t get an  insurance cut today but we sure got Powell punted to July, but I think  they`re gearing up for take cut in July.  Steve is absolutely right.   They`ve got a little more data they would like to see.  

They`re really worried now that inflation — I know many of your viewers  say, hey, I`m paying too much for things, but they would like to see a much  warmer economy given how long the expansion is.  They would like to see a  bit of a heat wave and we`re not getting it.  And that`s something they`re  concerned about.  They really miss that.  

Something else important for viewers to understand is in the statement  itself, Steve read that part of the statement, they said they want to  extend, actually do whatever necessary to extend the length of the  expansion.  I think that`s something that`s really unusual for the Fed.  We  really don`t usually hear the Fed talking about sustaining expansions.  

We hear all of this other stuff that is, you know, more abstract like full  employment, price stability.  But the idea they want to sustain the  expansion, and I was at the meeting that Jay Powell was at and he was  talking to people getting a second chance in the economy.  He only sees the  method he has for opening up the economy to more people participating in  the marathon (ph) of expansion is to extend the length of the expansion.  

HERERA:  So, Diane, how important is the upcoming G20 meeting in all of  this, and, you know, rather, the flat talks between the U.S. and China?  We  haven`t really seen any progress on that front.  

SWONK:  Exactly.  And that`s — we really need to see progress on that  front and some backing off of tariffs as well.  That`s something that the  Fed is concerned about, that already the tariffs we have — because the  Mexican situation did flare up and that scared the Fed.  That settled down,  with the idea we would tear up everything from Mexico, but now, we`re going  to see another round of tariffs with China or at least a backing off of  tariffs with China.  

That is going to be one of the many factors they take into account.  The  trade situation is something they`re very concerned about.  The issue on  uncertainty, too, and in sentiment, this is something — they really got  spooked last December because not only did businesses pull back when we had  the huge market swoon, but we also saw consumers pull back, and there are  in better economic situation and the overall economic data showing more  momentum in it than there is today, and that`s something they are really  worried about.  
So, they are still talking about a preemptive cut.
GRIFFETH:  Right. 

SWONK:  They`re talking about cutting before the economy falls apart and  insurance.  

GRIFFETH:  Diane Swonk with Grant Thornton, always good to see you.   Thanks, Diane.  

SWONK:  Thank you.  

HERERA:  And now to trade and that changing tone out of China.  The  rhetoric used to be defiant but not anymore.
Eunice Yoon is in Beijing.

EUNICE YOON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  The Chinese Foreign  Ministry struck a warmer tone today, saying that the history of U.S.-China  relations shows that positive outcomes are possible.  State media was  quoting President Xi Jinping as saying that the world wants a U.S.-China  trade deal and that he is willing to meet with President Trump to exchange  views on fundamental issues.

However, President Xi also laid out some parameters that the two should  talk as equals, accommodate each other`s legitimate concerns, and that the  U.S. should treat Chinese companies fairly — a possible hint at what China  sees as a U.S. is unfair treatment of Chinese tech giant Huawei.

And I spoke with people on the Chinese side who followed the talks closely  and they say that China is cautious.  There`s concern that President Trump  could decide to hit Beijing with tariffs on issues of the Chinese see as  unrelated to trade and economics, such as the Hong Kong protests.  He did  it with Mexico and the flow of migrants over the border.  

So, the way he was explained to me is what would stop President Trump from  doing that again with China, in which case a trade deal would be  meaningless and it might be better to wait things out.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Eunice Yoon in Beijing.

GRIFFETH:  Meanwhile, China`s Huawei as Eunice just mentioned, has become  one of the most controversial companies in the world.  The U.S. has barred  suppliers from doing business with a telecom giant, citing national  security issues.  The concern is that Huawei`s cozy relationship with the  Chinese government leads to fears that it could use its devices to spy on  other countries and companies.  And the ban has clearly had an impact on  its business.
Deirdre Bosa spoke today with Huawei`s founder and CEO in Shenzhen, China.

DEIRDRE BOSA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Currently blacklisted  by the Trump administration and possibly a key pawn in the U.S.-China trade  war, China`s biggest tech company Huawei is in the midst of a public  relations battle, and a costly one at that.  

But for a company trying to prove to the world that it`s embracing  transparency and trying to earn the trust of governments, Huawei CEO and  founder Ren Zhengfei was very unforthcoming.  He downplayed the company`s  importance and denied its role in the trade war.

REN ZHENGFEI, HUAWEI CEO AND FOUNDER (through translator):  Huawei is a  very small issue.  And on the table of the U.S. side, it is not even as big  as a sesame.  So, it is not worthwhile to talk about our issues and we will  counter ourselves to address the issue.  We still do trust the judicial  system in the U.S. and we believe the judicial system will address the  issue.

BOSA:  Mr. Ren, how can you say this?  You have 180,000 employees.  You are  one of the biggest companies not only in China but in the world.  Why would  it be strange to talk to Chinese government officials when you are such an  important company to China and in the world?

REN:  Because we are fully capable to deal with those issues on our own.

BOSA:  Earlier this week, the world`s number two cell phone maker said it  could take a $30 billion hit to revenue on those U.S. sanctions, but that  massive number doesn`t scare Ren.  He told me that $30 billion is a very  small thing, and that the company does not attach importance to high  numbers, rather they focus on performance.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Deirdre Bosa in Shenzhen, China.

HERERA:  Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is reportedly looking to move 15 to 30 percent  of its production capacity out of China and to Southeast Asia.  Such a move  would reduce its reliance on Chinese manufacturing.
Separately, Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) inked a deal to build smaller  motorcycles in China.  The bike will be sold in China and likely in other  Asian markets as well.  It is expected to go on sale at the end of 2020.

GRIFFETH:  Back here, White House officials were on Capitol Hill today to  talk about another looming issue that would be the debt ceiling, certainly  something that lawmakers have to increase so the government can pay its  bills and avoid defaulting on its obligations.
Ylan Mui joins us from Washington tonight.
Here we go again.  Where do things stand right now?

YLAN MUI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Well, we`re certainly  closer to a deal than we were hours ago.  Treasury Secretary Steven  Mnuchin, along with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, they  met with congressional leaders today and they`re really trying to do three  things, not just raise the debt ceiling but also make sure they can fund  the government and avoid a sequester, very painful steep cuts to government  spending that would take effect by the end of the year if they can`t reach  this deal.

So, these negotiations are ongoing and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and  Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer put out a statement saying that they  feel today`s discussions advanced those bipartisan negotiations.

HERERA:  So, Ylan, you hinted at this a minute ago but what happens if they  don`t or can`t reach a compromise?

MUI:  Well, particularly when we`re talking about the debt ceiling, it  could be devastating for investors.  That`s something that could shake the  faith that investors have in the United States credit.  However, Treasury  Secretary Mnuchin said that if they can`t reach a broader deal, the White  House is prepared to offer a one-year increase in the debt ceiling as well  as a one-year continuing resolution that would keep the government funded  at its current levels.  He said that President Trump wants to keep the  government open and does not want to play around with the debt ceiling.

GRIFFETH:  All right.  But what is their deadline right now to reach an  agreement?

MUI:  So they do have some time here to continue those negotiations.  The  deadline for raising the debt ceiling is sometime in the fall, likely late  September or early October they need to keep the government funded however  by the end of the fiscal year which ends on September the 30th.

GRIFFETH:  A little bit of time.  
Ylan Mui in Washington, thanks, Ylan, for staying late for us tonight.
MUI:  Absolutely.

HERERA:  It is time to take a look at some of today`s “Upgrades and  Downgrades”.
U.S. Steel was upgraded to buy from sell at Vertical Group.  The analyst  cites the company`s decision to idle two of its U.S. plants.  The price  target is $17.  The shares rose 4 percent to $15.17.
TripAdvisor was upgraded to buy from hold at SunTrust.  The analyst cites  the company`s growth outlook and potential revenue acceleration.  The price  target is $60.  The shares were up nearly 2 percent to $47.19.
Six Flags was upgraded to outperform from neutral at Wedbush Securities.   The analyst cites spending improvements and the development of its parks in  China.  The price target is $62.  The shares rose 2 percent to $57.67.

GRIFFETH:  Still ahead, a growing concern for advertisers.
JULIA BOORSTIN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  I`m Julia Boorstin  in Cannes, France, at the Annual Advertising Festival here, and Facebook  (NASDAQ:FB) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) are out in force, but so is talk of  tech lash.  We`ll look at what potential regulatory scrutiny could mean for  the other players in the space.  That`s coming up on NIGHTLY BUSINESS  REPORT.

GRIFFETH:  As we mentioned earlier, the stock markets` major averages are  nearing new highs and the biggest gains have been concentrated in just a  handful of stocks.
Bob Pisani explains.

BOB PISANI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  We`re just about  halfway through the year and stocks have enjoyed a strong first half.  All  three major averages are up double-digit so far in 2019, but the gains have  been concentrated in one sector in particular, technology.  

Tech is the best performing sector in the S&P 500.  It`s up 25 percent and  we should point out that almost a quarter of the gains this year have come  from four big names alone: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL),  Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB).  Why?  The investors have  been searching for growth and protection from the trade tensions.   Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) in particular has been rallying to all-time high  several days in a row and now it`s firmly above the trillion dollar mark in  market capitalization.

The S&P, remember, is a market cap weighted index.  Those four stocks, they  comprised about 15 percent of the S&P`s overall weighting, four stocks.   Remember, May was a very bumpy month for big tech as a whirlwind of privacy  and regulatory concerns hit the sector primarily around lawmakers looking  into putting tech titans on a tighter leash, and trade sensitive  semiconductors have been at the mercy of these U.S.-China trade talks but  they stopped believe it or not more than 20 percent on the year.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Bob Pisani at the New York Stock Exchange.

HERERA:  So with most of the stock market gains concentrated in four of the  biggest names in tech, what are the risks and should investors be  concerned?
Joining us now to discuss this is Erin Gibbs.  She`s a portfolio manager at  S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Welcome.  Nice to have you here, Erin.


HERERA:  So are you concerned about this top-heavy market or not?

GIBBS:  So I am concerned that they are concentrated in really what we  consider two different sectors.  I know — I know you call them technology,  but when you actually look at them, two of the top five are in pure  technology, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), and the other  two are communications, so the Facebooks, the Googles.  And then the last  one, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), is actually consumer discretionary, remember,  it`s all about buying stuff.  It`s not a tech company.  

But even so, those are very concentrated and that is somewhat unusual that  we have so few sectors representative.  When you look at the overall  weightings and you say, oh these top five, these top four stocks are such a  big way to the index, it`s actually not that different from the past 20  years, and it has been a bit of a gradual increased over the past five  years.

GIBBS:  But when you look back 20 years, it`s actually very much in line  and much like what we kind of saw the average weights in the early aughts.   So I`m not as concerned about them being big and having these mega cap  stocks.  I am concerned that investors are too focused in very much more  volatile sectors and they may not be getting the diversification that they  really need.

GRIFFETH:  I mean, if there is a concentration you`re concerned about, it`s  that all five could be considered growth stocks, right?  

GIBBS:  And that`s —  

GRIFFETH:  You don`t have a value stock per se in this group, right?  

GIBBS:  Exactly and all you have to do is just go down to sort of the top  ten stocks and you start getting some value stocks and some financials.   But that`s another problem is that you are very much in these growth stocks  and growth stocks are the ones that have by far the highest prices, and not  just higher than value even historically when you`re looking at the past  ten to fifteen years, growth stocks are priced at about 50 percent higher  for every dollar that they earn versus what a dollar of value stock earns.  
So, you`re paying 50 percent more for every dollar that they earn.  And so,  that`s concerning that you`re paying so much more for growth stocks versus  of value, and it is something that we definitely want to recommend to  investors to be diversified and have some value as well as growth in your  portfolio.

HERERA:  I was just going to ask you if the average investor should take a  look at that and maybe say you know I need to diversify in some other  sectors.

GIBBS:  Certainly, if you have all of these very low growth stocks have  been doing well and it is healthy to have an overweight in growth stocks  when the economy is growing is well, but we`re actually expecting a bit of  a slowdown over the next 12 months and particularly when we`re seeing just  increased volatility over the past 12 months, where you see these big huge  up days and down days, concerns about Chinese tariff wars, whether we`re  going to have a rate cut, there`s some big unknowns out there.
And so, a little diversification at this point in the economic cycle is not  a bad thing.

HERERA:  On that note, Erin, thanks so much for joining us.  Erin Gibbs  with S&P Global Market Intelligence.

GRIFFETH:  Southwest pilots want reimbursement from Boeing (NYSE:BA), and  that`s where we begin tonight`s “Market Focus”, with the pilots union for  the airline asking Boeing (NYSE:BA) for compensation to cover legal costs  and lost income due to the grounding of the 737 MAX planes and the canceled  flights that that has caused.  Southwest, by the way, also said it has  extended those cancellations through early September, but the airline did  raise its full-year revenue even though its overall fuel efficiency was  reduced by the groundings.  Shares were down a fraction today to $51.51.  
Meanwhile, American Airlines agreed to buy 50 of Airbus`s new a 321 XLR  planes, the aircraft maker`s longest range single aisle plane.  American  becomes the first major U.S. carrier to purchase the new narrow-body jet  since it was unveiled at the Paris Air Show earlier in the week.  Shares of  American rose more than 2 percent today to $33.21.

Target`s CEO today publicly apologized to customers after cash registers at  its stores went down for a couple of hours on Saturday and then a credit  card glitch prevented sales on Sunday.

BRIAN CORNELL, TARGET CEO:  I need to start out by apologizing to the  thousands of guests who were shopping our stores on Saturday and again on  Sunday.  And unfortunately, we had issues both days.  On Saturday, we had  an internal issue, just tied to standard maintenance that knocked us down  for a couple of hours.  And on Sunday, we had an issue with our partner NCR  (NYSE:NCR), one of their upstream data centers.  So, a disappointing  weekend for us.

GRIFFETH:  Target (NYSE:TGT) shares fell another fraction today to $86.16.

HERERA:  Winnebago posted better than expected earnings due to lower costs  and a more favorable tax rate.  But the recreational vehicle maker did miss  revenue estimates because of what it called a challenging R.V. wholesale  market.  The stock was up more than three and a half percent to $40 even.

MGA Entertainment says it is no longer interested in trying to merge with  Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT) after the rival toy maker rejected MGA`s second merger  attempt.  MGA CEO said it was in the best interest for his company not to  move forward with an offer and that Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT), quote, cannot be  salvaged, end quote.  Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT) shares were off more than 5  percent to $11.41.

And after the bell, Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) reported better than expected  earnings.  The software maker also topped revenue estimates, thanks to an  increase in cloud services and license support.  Shares initially rose in  the after-hours trading, but closed the regular session down a fraction to  $52.68.

GRIFFETH:  Hundreds of billions of dollars will be spent on digital ads  this year and much of that money will likely go to companies like Google  (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB).  But before making spending  decisions, advertisers are taking in consideration the regulatory backlash  against these tech giants sometimes referred to as tech lash.
Julia Boorstin reports once again tonight from the Cannes Lions Conference  in France.

BOORSTIN:  The annual gathering of advertising giants discussing where to  put the $600 billion that would be spent on ads worldwide this year comes  amid growing tech lash, criticism of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Facebook  (NASDAQ:FB), that digital duopoly that together controlled the majority of  all digital ad spending.  With the CEO of the largest ad conglomerate WPP`s  Mark Read says breaking up those two giants would not help consumers.

MARK READ, WPP (NASDAQ:WPPGY) CEO:  Clearly, you know, with the shift  online, these two companies are ever more powerful.  But I didn`t have to  ask ourselves, you know, what are we really trying to achieve by and if you  would have call for them to be broken up?  And is that really going to  make, you know, the world a better place?  

The great benefit of these platforms for consumers is most of their  products are free.  The advertisers fund it, advertisers support it, and I  think in balance that`s a good thing.

BOORSTIN:  And with so many other options out in force here in Cannes, from  Snap to Twitter, the CEO of another conglomerate, IPG`s Michael Roth, says  advertisers will start to move their dollars if Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and  Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) don`t make meaningful changes around issues of brand  safety, not having ads placed next to offensive content and privacy  protections.

MICHAEL ROTH, IPG CEO:  You know, everyone talks about government  regulation and breaking them up.  But what really will happen is our  clients will not start spending with them, and that will be the biggest  effect eventually if it doesn`t get corrected.

BOORSTIN:  And there are a range of companies here that are positioning  themselves as alternatives to Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Google  (NASDAQ:GOOG), by focusing on professionally created content which doesn`t  have the risks around a brand safety.  One of those is AT&T`s ad tech  division Xandr. 

BRIAN LESSER, XANDR CEO:  That`s a big opportunity for us because frankly I  think that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) have had a hard  time managing the content on their platforms and assuring advertisers that  they`re not going to end up advertising in a place that is inconsistent  with the brand.

BOORSTIN:  Others such as Pinterest and videogames streaming service Twitch  are ramping up their presence here to explain to advertisers the depth of  their devoted audiences, while magazine publisher Conde Nast positions  itself as a premium filter for YouTube.

ROGER LYNCH, CONDE NAST CEO:  Advertisers who may not want to advertise  just broadly on YouTube will advertise through us on YouTube because their  content maybe they want endemic content for their advertising, or they`re  concerned about brand safety.

BOORSTIN:  And as the tech companies here host parties and panels for  advertisers, those brands have more options than ever.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Julia Boorstin in Cannes, France.

HERERA:  Coming up, why car quality is stalling out.

GRIFFETH:  A new report says car buyers are finding plenty of problems with  the latest models and showrooms.  In particular, they`re seeing issues with  the technology design to make driving cars safer.
Here`s Phil LeBeau.

PHIL LEBEAU, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  If you`re looking to  buy a new car or truck, you know one of the big selling points —  technology that makes driving easier and safer.  Take lane departure  warnings, the goal is to keep cars from colliding during lane changes.  But  a new report by J.D. Power says driver assist technology is not always  intuitive or easy to use.  

DAVE SARGENT, J.D. POWER:  One of the dangers is that automakers  overcomplicate the technology and engineers need to remember that they are  designing for normal people and not for other automotive engineers.

LEBEAU:  While automakers may be struggling with driver assist technology,  J.D. Power says buyers are seeing fewer problems with connectivity and  infotainment systems.  And this year`s report shows Korean brands continue  to have the most problem-free new vehicles with Genesis, Kia and Hyundai  leading the way.  

SARGENT:  They deliver as much technology as most other brands but they are  very, very good at keeping it simple and giving consumers exactly what they  want.

LEBEAU:  By comparison, the luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover both owned  by the same company are rated as among the newest models with the most  issues.  Jaguar, Land Rover, along with Mitsubishi, are rated the worst in  initial quality.  

J.D. Power says new car reliability is still at a record high, but his  automakers add new features especially technology to help us drive safer,  the challenge is making sure not only that that technology works but that  it`s easy to use.

HERERA:  The billionaire founder of Blackstone is giving the University of  Oxford $188 million dollars to research the ethics of artificial  intelligence.  It is believed to be the largest single gift to oxford since  the Renaissance.  Steve Schwarzman said he hopes that gift will help the  rollout of the technology and limit the disorder to society.

GRIFFETH:  And finally tonight, an exclusive club has a new member.   Bernard Arnault is now worth $100 billion, joining the ranks of Amazon  (NASDAQ:AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) founder Bill  Gates.  Mr. Arnault is chairman of luxury goods maker LVMH.  He is also the  richest person in Europe and owns a 97 percent stake in the fashion house  Christian Dior.

HERERA:  Here`s a look at the final days numbers on Wall Street.  The Dow  rose 38 points, the Nasdaq up 33, S&P 500 added eight, less than 1 percent  away from a record.

And that is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for tonight.  I`m Sue Herrera.  Thanks  for joining us.

GRIFFETH:  I`m Bill Griffeth.  Have a great evening.  See you tomorrow.


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