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OPEC TO EXTEND PRODUCTION CUTS

REGULATORY REVIEW

SHOWDOWN

CYBER MONDAY PASSES

$6 BILLION

​Cyber Monday sales, critical to e-commerce revenue for the holiday season, surged 16.8% to $6.59 billion, according to industry research. The data also show that total online sales have topped $1 billion every day in November.

According to Adobe Analytics, which tracks activity from 80 of the 100 largest e-commerce sites:

Cyber Monday is projected to hit a new record as the largest online sales day in history with $6.59 billion by the end of the day. This marks a 16.8 percent year-over-year (YoY) increase as of 10:00 p.m. ET. In comparison, Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day brought in $5.03 billion and $2.87 billion in revenue respectively.

The other notable information from Cyber Monday is the extent to which consumers have used smartphones to access retail sites this holiday season:

Overall web traffic to retail sites increased by 11.9 percent on Cyber Monday, with the season average at 5.7 percent. Mobile set a new record representing 47.4 percent of visits (39.9 percent smartphones, 7.6 percent tablets) and 33.1 percent of revenue (24.1 percent smartphones, 9.0 percent tablets). Smartphone traffic specifically grew 22.2 percent YoY while revenue coming from smartphones ($1.12 billion) saw 39.2 percent growth YoY, a new all-time high.

This trend should worry already decimated brick-and-mortal retailers. In recent years, consumers have visited stores to look at merchandise only to shop online and buy products from e-commerce sites, particularly Amazon. The practice, known as showrooming, has been difficult to combat. Because they are portable, smartphones allow people to look at merchandise in stores and buy at better prices online, almost instantaneously. Mickey Mericle, Vice President, Marketing and Customer Insights at Adobe, said:

Shopping and buying on smartphones is becoming the new norm and can be attributed to continued optimizations in the retail experience on mobile devices and platforms. Consumers are also becoming more savvy and efficient online shoppers. People increasingly know where to find the best deals and what they want to purchase, which results in less price matching behavior typically done on desktops. Millennials were likely another reason for the dramatic growth in mobile, with 75 percent expecting to shop via their smartphone.

Toy retailers have another reason to be concerned because of the deep discounts they have to offer. Toys “R” Us recently filed Chapter 11. The Adobe data show just how troubling the toy discount problem has become:

Largest price drops heading into Cyber Monday were for toys with an average discount of 18.8 percent, followed by TVs at 21.1 percent and computers at 14.7 percent. Black Friday saw the largest discounts in computers (15.9 percent on average), followed by TVs (21.6 percent) and toys (17.3 percent). On Giving Tuesday, pet products as well as furniture and bedding are expected to see the best deals with 22 and 13 percent respectively

The trend is relentlessly negative for traditional retailers. People not only buy online. They also use online shopping to look for discounts while they stand on showroom floors. The brick-and-mortar retailers are left with almost no defense of their century-old business model.

AWARD CANCELLED

Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) has been cleaning up on most retailers over the past few years, dominating the space through its e-commerce platform. A couple of the main ideas of this platform are lower prices and accessibility to practically any product imaginable. But are the prices really that much lower?

LendEDU took a look at Amazon’s prices overall and compared them to another giant in the space, Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST). Here’s what the firm found out.The total price increase when shopping on Amazon instead of at Costco for identical items was 12.1%. Also the average price increase for these identical items was 56.48%, when comparing Amazon to Costco.

The two widest differences for any subcategory came from identical food and beverage products. This subcategory tallied a total price increase of 95.82% and an average price increase of 120.15%.The narrowest differences for any subcategory came in technology, where the total price increase was 0.23% and the average price increase was 2.23%, for products on Amazon instead of Costco.

LendEdu described its process for this survey as:

Taking matters into our own hands, LendEDU went shopping at a physical Costco store in Long Island City, New York and browsed Amazon Prime to compare the prices on 38 identical, commonly-bought items…After shopping at a physical Costco Wholesale location and browsing Amazon for 38 identical items, LendEDU found that, on average, products on Amazon are 56.48 percent more expensive than the same goods found at the Costco store.If a consumer was to buy all 38 items that we analyzed in one fell swoop, he or she would find that the total price from buying on Amazon would be 12.10 percent more expensive than going to Costco and purchasing the same items.24/7 Wall St.
4 Companies Expected to Post Massive Holiday Sales This Year

While Amazon seems to be winning the war against retail this season, don’t expect giants like Costco or Walmart to take this lying down.Shares of Amazon were last seen at $1,199.20, with a consensus analyst price target of $1,227.32 and a 52-week trading range of $736.70 to $1,213.41.

Costco was trading at $173.60 a share, with a 52-week range of $150.00 to $183.18 and a consensus price target of $178.85

NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER 5

A long and bitter partisan battle over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is coming to a head. President Donald Trump's pick as acting director of the consumer agency is set to take the reins this week, aiming to put the agency long loathed by Republicans and Wall St on as new scaled back mission. He will likely face resistance from the agency's Obama-era leadership under which the CFPB developed a reputation as an aggressive regulator of products ranging from credit cards to payday loans. 


The most obvious sign: a rival acting director in the bureau's G Street headquarters. Last minute maneuvering by the outgoing director, Richard Corday means that come Monday , two different officials have a claim on the acting top  job: Mr Trump's pick, Mick Mulvaney, who also serves as the head of the Office of Management and Budget and Mr Corday's pick, Leandra English a career staffer. agency watchers said the stalemate could end up  in federal court, thanks to different ways current states regardig succession can be interpreted. 

​Investors are focusing on Uber and Lyft, the two companies that are powering the ride-sharing industry.

A Wall Street Journal story on Thursday said the Japanese company Softbank is weighing an investment in Uber that would put its stake as large as 22%. The story said Softbank is apparently ready to spend $10 billion on the deal. Uber’s current valuation is about $68 billion.

Softbank already has invested in other ride-hailing firms, such as Didi Chuxing and Ola, the dominant players in China and India, respectively. It most recently put money into Grab, a key Uber rival in Southeast Asia, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reports Google parent Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) has held recent conversations with about a possible investment, according to people familiar with the matter.

Bloomberg said Lyft might get an investment of about $1 billion from Google or CapitalG, Alphabet’s private-equity arm. Alphabet and Lyft declined to comment.

Alphabet is also an Uber shareholder through its GV venture capital arm.

Lyft held informal talks with Alphabet and other potential acquirers last year but didn’t pursue a sale.

The possible funding initiatives come as Uber tries to rebound from a series of scandals that ultimately led to the resignation of company founder Travis Kalanick in June. Dara Khosrowshahi, the former Expedia chief executive officer, took over as Uber’s new CEO last week. Uber also is trying to fend off Lyft, which has gained market share this yea

Google is facing a new front in its regulatory battles after Missouri's attorney general launched a broad investigation into whether the internet giant's practices violate the state's consumer protection and antitrust laws. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley on Monday said he issued an investigative subpoena to probe Google's collection of user data, its use of other sites' content and its alleged manipulation of search results to favor its own services. Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc, has so far skirted the scrutiny in the US, that it has faced in Europe, where regulators levied a record $2.7 billion fine against Google in June for allegedly favoring its shopping ads in its search results. Mr Hawley said his investigation was in part prompted by the European fine. We are not concerned in a similar pattern of behavior in the United States.


Google said in a statement: We have not yet received the subpoena; however, we have strong privacy protections in place for our users and continue in place for our users and continue to operate in a highly competitive and dynamic environment It has disputed European regulators' charges. The Federal Trade Commission ended a nearly tow year antitrust investigation into Google in early 2013   after the company agreed to make some changes to its business practices for five years, a period that is about to expire. In the US some federal lawmakers such as  Sen Al Franken have czlled for new probes into the company's power.

​The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, based at the Arizona State University, named for a man many people think is the greatest TV journalist of all time, took away the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism given to him in 2015.

Christopher Callahan, Founding Dean and Professor, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University wrote:

This unprecedented action is taken with the utmost seriousness and deliberation. We are not in the business of trying to rewrite history. The Cronkite Award is bestowed each year to celebrate a great journalist, our school, our students, our alumni and our profession. It is a lifetime achievement award. It does not come with term limits. It is given in perpetuity. The idea of “taking back” a Cronkite Award is so foreign that the possibility was never even considered when the award was first created by Walter, the school and the Cronkite Endowment Board of Trustees more than 30 years ago.

We give the award each year based on the knowledge we have of a recipient at that time. When new information about a recipient surfaces, the question we ask is not whether the award would be given again with a new set of facts, but whether the transgressions are so egregious that they demand nothing less than a reversal of history.

One has to presume this is among the first actions reversing awards given to Rose which must number in the dozens

After years of doing too little OPEC could suddenly be doing too much. The OPEC 14 members and other major producers like Russia are widely expected to strike an agreement this week to continue withholding about 2% of global oil supply from the market. The national energy ministers of about two dozen countries are set to meet Thursday at the oil cartel's headquarters in Vienna. OPEC is beset by doubts that renewing its production agreement for another several months will help its members. Some members, along with outside analysts say that OPEC could overstimulate the market and send prices too high next year, would surpress demand. Brent crude, the international benchmark is already up more than one fifth in the past three months, closing at $63.86 a barrel on Friday. US crude oil futures settled 1.6% higher at $58.95, the highest closing level since June 2015. The upward trend is partly thanks to OPEC's productions limits but also to geopolitical threats to production in Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia and Saudi public statements suggesting the kingdom is committed to supporting oil prices

COSTCO IS CHEAPER

INVESTORS FOCUS ON RIDE SHARING