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LONDON (Reuters) – Global investors remain overwhelmingly bullish on U.S. and Chinese tech shares, while short positions on emerging equities are growing increasingly popular, Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s latest monthly fund manager survey showed on Tuesday.
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, U.S., April 3, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Investors picked “Long FAANG and BAT” as the “most crowded” trade for the seventh straight month, BAML’s August survey found, referring to U.S. tech giants Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, and China’s Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent.
Tech has kept its crown, even though results-driven declines by Facebook and Twitter last month triggered anxiety over the mega-cap stocks responsible for the lion’s share of stock market gains in the U.S. and China.
Going short emerging-market equities was the second most popular trade, according to the survey, which was conducted between Aug. 3 and Aug. 9 – just before Turkey’s lira plunged 16 percent against the dollar on Friday.
Investors had a small underweight on EM equities, but BAML said prior EM crisis lows saw investors’ underweight at -27 percent, versus -1 percent today – suggesting investors could slash allocations a lot further from here.
Among risks to global markets, investors said for the third month in a row that trade war was the most concerning.
They continued to position for a global monetary tightening cycle led by the U.S. Federal Reserve. A net 54 percent of investors were underweight bonds, while 20 percent were overweight global banks, which gain from higher interest rates.
Overall, global investors became more cautious in August, raising their cash allocation to 5 percent from 4.7 percent. The increased caution was tempered with a more positive outlook on the profit cycle, with a net 5 percent saying profits will improve.
European fund managers were relatively more bullish, cutting their cash allocations to 4.3 percent from 5 percent.
The proportion of European investors expecting stronger economic growth rose to the highest since April, and the share expecting a recession in the next 12 months also fell to its second lowest ever.
U.S. EQUITIES IN FAVOR, UK STOCKS DUMPED
Investors’ allocation to U.S. equities rose to the biggest overweight since January 2015, making the U.S. the top equity region for the first time in five years as Wall Street stocks delivered strong earnings.
The U.S. was the most favorable region in terms of corporate profits, according to 67 percent of surveyed investors – the highest proportion in 17 years.
Meanwhile, investors pulled money from UK equities, which saw the biggest one-month drop in allocations since May 2016 as concerns of a no-deal Brexit rose.
After six months of falling allocations to euro zone equities, investors added to the region again.
As the S&P 500 volatility gauge .VIX hit its lowest since January on Aug 9, surveyed investors showed the lowest conviction on record for buying volatility.
Accordingly, going long volatility would be a staunchly contrarian bet, going against the grain of current investor thinking, while BAML also suggested “long BRIC/short FAANG” and “long bonds” as trades for the contrarian investor.
Reporting by Helen Reid; editing by Sujata Rao, Larry King
It’s tempting to think of fax machines as a relic, every bit as relevant as an eight-track tape. But fields like health care and government still rely on faxes every day. Even your all-in-one printer probably has a fax component. And new research shows that vulnerabilities in that very old tech could expose entire corporate networks to attack.
In fact, the surprising ubiquity of fax machines is what inspired Check Point researchers Yaniv Balmas and Eyal Itkin to analyze the tech’s present-day security posture. Vulnerable network printers are a classic target, and the researchers found that they could similarly exploit bugs in faxes to get inside private networks.
“Fax is an ancient technology, the protocols we use today haven’t been changed for the past 30 years,” Balmas says. “But everybody is still using fax and nobody really looks at it as a valid attack vector. So we thought, what if we could exploit a printer just by sending a malicious fax? In an all-in-one printer, one side is connected to the phone line and the other side is connected to the network. So if we could take over the device, we could then move into the internal network.”
Hackers have targeted fax machines for decades, and the technology is still insecure in basic ways. For example, fax data is sent with no cryptographic protections; anyone who can tap a phone line can instantly intercept all data transmitted across it. “Fax is perceived as a secure method of data transmission,” says Balmas. “That’s a huge misconception—it’s absolutely not secure.”
In addition to the lack of encryption, researchers say that the fax protocol—the industry standard description of how the technology should be incorporated into products—is documented in a very confusing way. As a result, they suspected that it was likely implemented improperly in many devices. When the researchers analyzed the Officejet line of fax-capable all-in-one printers from industry giant Hewlett-Packard, the found exactly the type of issue they had suspected.
The problem they discovered was a common issue known as a “stack overflow,” in which the structure that stores information about a running software program overloads, causing it to crash. Attackers can initiate stack overflows strategically to gain more access or privileges on a system. So the researchers crafted a malicious fax with data in it that would exploit the bug when sent to a vulnerable machine.
“The attack scenario is actually pretty simple,” Check Point’s Itkin says. “A malicious attacker wants to infiltrate a covert network, let’s say a bank. And the fax number for this bank is public, so he can get that number. On the bank side, if the printer that receives the fax is also connected to the internal network, then all the attacker needs to do is send a malicious fax to this phone number and automatically he will be inside the internal network of this bank. It’s crazily dangerous.”
An attacker could also embed an additional exploit into the malicious fax, so once the first phase of taking over the all-in-one printer is complete they can bore deeper into a company’s network from there. In a demo, the researchers show that they’ve taken over an HP Officejet printer by displaying a sinister image on its screen. Then they use the infamous Eternal Blue Windows exploit as an example of a hacking tool an attacker could deploy from there to gain deeper remote network access. The researchers say it currently takes less than one minute to transmit a fax with all of this code hidden inside it, and that they could potentially reduce the transmission time even more.
Balmas and Itkin disclosed the issue, which affects all Officejet printers regardless of model or version, to HP. And the company has released a patch that adds standard protections against stack overflows. “HP was made aware of a vulnerability in certain printers by a third party researcher,” HP spokesperson Luke Cuell told WIRED. “HP has updates available to mitigate risks and have published a security bulletin with more information. … We encourage customers to keep their systems updated to protect against vulnerabilities.” Many HP printers automatically download updates, but printer update adoption rates are often slow.
IT administrators have increasingly added authentication checks to network printers so that only authorized users can initiate printing—a safeguard that cuts down on the potential that a remote attacker could send a malicious print job. But the researchers say that the fax protocol doesn’t allow for such a mechanism. “There are absolutely no protections over fax,” Balmas says. “Even if you really wanted to do that there is no way. Fax is always sent unauthenticated, it’s a design thing, so no matter what you do I will still be able to send you this fax.”
For institutions and individuals the researchers say that the crucial safeguard comes from a conceptual understanding that plugging a printer into a phone line opens up an additional avenue for potential attack.
“The real solution would be to stop using fax,” Itkin says. “But if you can’t do that then probably the solution for organizations or home users would be to segregate the printers, put them in a separate network, so even if someone takes over the printer they won’t easily be able to propagate into the main network.”
You probably haven’t thought about fax machines—or used one—in forever. But some tech never dies; it just gets less and less secure.
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BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China is yet to approve U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc’s (QCOM.O) proposed $ 44 billion acquisition of NXP Semiconductors (NXPI.O), three people close to the talks said, dismissing an earlier media report that said Beijing had already greenlit the deal.
Chinese clearance would remove a long-running roadblock to the deal that has become entangled with broader trade tensions between the United States and China. The acquisition has already got a nod from eight of the nine required global regulators, with China being the only hold-out.
Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Friday morning that China had given its go-ahead to the deal, citing people with knowledge of the matter, driving up shares of the U.S. firm in extended trade.
But Reuters sources, who are close to the Qualcomm-NXP deal, said they were not aware of any Chinese approval. One of them said planned U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods expected to be unveiled later in the day could impact the process.
Qualcomm did not have an immediate comment on Friday, while NXP did not respond to a request for comment.
China’s State Administration for Market Regulation, the regulator which reviews merger deals, did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.
Qualcomm met with regulators in Beijing last month in a bid to secure a clearance, but sources at the time said an approval would depend on the progress of broader bilateral talks and the U.S. government lifting a crippling supplier ban on telecoms equipment maker ZTE Corp (000063.SZ)(0763.HK).
Washington and Beijing have struck a deal to help ZTE back into business. However, trade talks remain in the balance with U.S. President Donald Trump expected to unveil “pretty significant” tariffs on Chinese goods on Friday.
Analysts said a Chinese approval would be significant as it would remove the last major barrier to the NXP deal, which is seen as key for Qualcomm to diversify its business and make a push into new areas like smart cars.
Qualcomm initially announced its bid for Dutch semiconductor company NXP in October 2016.
Reporting by Michael Martina and Matthew Miller in BEIJING, Adam Jourdan in SHANGHAI and Nikhil Subba in BENGALURU; Editing by James Dalgleish, Grant McCool and Himani Sarkar
This isn’t just any Hubble photo of the Lagoon Nebula; this is a special birthday photo celebrating the Hubble Space Telescope’s 28 years in orbit. The Lagoon Nebula, seen here in dazzling color, is 4,000 light years away and is gargantuan as star nurseries go: 20 light years high and 55 light years wide.
This is a gorgeous photo and one you might not recognize of a famous astral body, called the Lagoon Nebula. The Hubble Space Telescope took this photo in infrared light, which reveals different elements of the nebula not seen in the visible spectrum. The bright star in the center is called Herschel 36 and is only 1 million years old—a fledgling in stellar terms.
Mars is covered in craters and while typically thought to be a “dead” planet, it’s actually quite active. Earth’s red neighbor has wind, although not strong enough to kill The Martian’s Mark Watney. This impact crater (a relatively new one by Mars standards) is called Bonestell crater, located in the plain known as Acidalia Planitia. The streaks in the image are caused by winds blowing down into the crater.
This photo of the Sun was taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory some weeks ago. The dark regions are called coronal holes—openings in the Sun’s magnetic field—and when open, they spit highly charged particles into space. When these particles run into Earth’s magnetic field, they create spectacular displays of aurora near our northern and southern poles.
Hello deep space! This galaxy cluster has a name that is rather difficult to remember—PLCK G308.3-20.2, but it’s way cool. Galaxy clusters like this contain thousands of galaxies, some just like our own. They’re held together by gravity, making them one of the largest known structures in space affected by this invisible force.
Ready to shoot the moon? The new administration in Washington is setting its sights on some lunar adventures. Among the various reasons why people want to head back to the moon: There’s a decent amount of water frozen around our cratered satellite, and also the views from there aren’t too shabby.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said on Wednesday that the ride-sharing company still believes in the prospects for autonomous transport after one of its self-driving vehicles was involved in a fatal crash in Arizona last month.
A 49-year-old woman was killed after being hit by an Uber self-driving sports utility vehicle while walking across a street in Phoenix, leading the company to suspend testing of autonomous vehicles.
Khosrowshahi declined to say when the company might resume testing or what might have gone wrong. He said the company was cooperating with federal investigators and dealing with the incident “very seriously.”
The accident has raised questions about the lack of clear safety standards for such vehicles.
But, speaking at a transport forum, Khosrowshahi said Uber was still betting on the technology in the long-term.
“We believe in it,” he said, adding that Uber considered autonomous vehicles “part of the solution” and in the long-term key to eliminating individual car ownership.
“Autonomous (vehicles) at maturity will be safer,” he said.
The company’s interest in investing in bike sharing and public transit should not be interpreted as a move away from self-driving cars, he added.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating the incident.
“They are a neutral party,” said Khosrowshahi. “They understand this.”
“We’ll figure out what we do afterwards.”
Arizona’s governor suspended Uber’s ability to test self-driving cars on public roads in the state following the crash. Arizona had been a key hub for Uber’s autonomous project, with about half of the company’s 200 self-driving cars and a staff of hundreds.
Governor Doug Ducey last month called a video of the incident “disturbing and alarming” and the crash “an unquestionable failure.”
NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt on Tuesday told Reuters he had no update on the investigation.
Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Susan Thomas and Rosalba O’Brien
Twitter surprised investors and followers Thursday with revenue gains and its first profit, but some analysts say the company is still withholding vital information.
Twitter (twtr), on its earnings conference call, declined to give hard daily active user (DAU) statistics, simply saying it achieved its fifth consecutive quarter of double digit DAU growth, with a 12% year-over-year increase. That’s all well and good, say analysts, but without actual numbers, it’s a relatively meaningless boast.
“The DAU growth metric is literally the FIRST THING in their shareholder letter,” said Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter via Twitter. “Their excuse that they won’t disclose is lame. If they can’t tell us the numbers, why brag about growth? It’s either important (and should be disclosed) or not (and should be ignored).”
Pachter’s frustration grew as the call went on.
And he wasn’t the only critic.
Relying on percentage growth figures without giving any sort of base is an old trick of corporations. The reigning king of this strategy is Amazon, which has yet to give hard numbers regarding Amazon Prime members, though it has regularly touted the service’s membership growth.
While Twitter won’t disclose the number of daily users, it did, however, shed some light on monthly active users. That number was roughly the same as the prior quarter at 330 million, a lower-than-projected total that the company attributed in part to stepped-up efforts to reduce spam, malicious activity, and fake accounts.
On YouTube, NBA all-star Blake Griffin is his own comedic genre. A cursory search for his funniest moments generates 271,000 results, an aggregate of humor and oddball spirit that includes videos like “Blake Griffin Does Stand Up Comedy – Actually FUNNY!” “Chris Paul Says D*ck, Blake Griffin Cracks Up,” and “Top 10 Blake Griffin Funny Commercials.” Griffin has yet to record in such prolific strides, but the videos do point to some of his most enduring work throughout his 10 seasons as a Los Angeles Clipper: that of small-screen thespian.
But 10 seasons do not a lifer make. This week, the power forward was traded to the Detroit Pistons in an overnight deal that stunned the league. During his time in LA, Griffin had become a leading figure on a team that excelled on paper, but chronically sputtered out in the early rounds of the playoffs. Griffin’s brilliance, though, was at times even brighter off the basketball hardwood. Infrequent and strangely commanding, he’d made a noticeable mark in commercials and TV shows that tested the limits of his comedic craftsmanship. Over time, spanning one-off roles and web sketches, Griffin managed to become not just a adept line reader, but an innovator of the form.
Not since Shaquille O’Neal’s tenure with the Lakers has a local player exuded such natural potential for Hollywood. A collection of his most abiding bits were for Kia Optima, the untrendy economy car that Griffin made feel moderately chic. (LeBron would follow suit, though unsurprisingly endorsing the manufacturer’s king-size luxury sedan.) Over the years, as the company spokesperson, he embraced the texture of his eccentricities: there was Blake as the poised superhero (Griffin Force!); Blake as the blustering Roman emperor; Blake as the celestial being who lives in an otherworld known as “the zone”; Blake as the military pilot who believes the Optima to be a formidable combat weapon. (“The bad guys are expecting me to be in a fighter jet, not a midsize sedan,” he theorizes in a kind of half-baked logic, fully confident. “I’ll fly in under the radar.”)
In a series of commercials that took on an anthology format, Griffin journeys back in time, at infrequent points of his adolescence, and offers advice to his younger self. In one, he travels to 1997 and finds Young Blake in the middle of a flag football game. Without hesitation, he steals the ball, kicks it out of the frame, and declares with deadpan precision: “Wrong sport.” He then advises: “Stop wearing jean shorts. Just trust me.”
In 2016, Griffin landed his biggest role yet: a guest spot (as himself) in an episode of Broad City, Comedy Central’s hit series about the quirks of modern womanhood. For his part, Griffin participated in a nude sex scene in which he danced, cradled, played games, and drank tea with Ilana in a hotel room. For decades professional athletes have satirized their identities in film and television—poking fun at yourself has become all but a career prerequisite—but Griffin has an uncanny gift for short-form comedy; it’s as if he’s all but redefined the relationship athletes have to the genre.
When I spoke with him in 2010, during his injury-plagued first season on the Clippers (he sat out all 82 games due to a stress fracture in his left knee that later required surgery), Griffin said his hope was to “change the culture” in LA. He never won a championship with the Clippers, but it’s possible he changed the culture in other, less obvious modes. An early flash of genius, and a favorite of mine, came in 2011 in a hoax commercial inspired by the NBA Lockout. Alongside Kevin Love and Ron Artest, Griffin promotes various services for hire—carpentry, welding, crime-solving, DJing. The bit is awkward and takes on the veneer of a cheap infomercial, but you can see Griffin slowly coming into himself. Even back then he knew what we later would: he was his own best punchline.
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HELSINKI (Reuters) – Nokia is still reviewing its options for its undersea cables unit, a business that underpins the global Internet, chief executive Rajeev Suri said on Thursday.
Reuters reported in May that Nokia was planning to sell the ASN division, which is one of the top suppliers of undersea cable networks in the world and is valued at 800 million euros ($ 944 million).
“We are still in the middle of our strategic review which we have set for ASN, so there’s no update,” Suri told a conference call.
Some analysts had expected a decision on the unit alongside the release of Nokia’s interim report released on Thursday.
The unit was bought by Nokia last year as part of its 15.6 billion-euro ($ 17 billion) acquisition of Franco-American rival Alcatel-Lucent.
($ 1 = 0.8471 euros)
Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl, editing by Terje Solsvik
It was a story that was too good to pass up. The Svalbard ‘doomsday’ seed vault had flooded because of global warming-induced high temperatures melting the surrounding permafrost. But according to one of the vault’s creators, the reports are pretty overblown and everything’s fine. Well, the vault’s fine. The…