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Big tech-media mergers raise fresh privacy concerns

They know how you browse the internet, your favorite TV shows and where you shop and travel. Data collected by internet and media companies is a powerful tool, and the big mergers planned by AT&T with Time Warner and Verizon with Yahoo offer those firms more data that can be used to target consumers with content and advertising. Privacy advocates say the prospect of firms using all that online and offline data without safeguards could be alarming. "Twenty-first century media is all about the ability to gather information on a single individual regardless of where they are -- whether they are using mobile phone or watching TV or in a grocery store," said Jeffrey Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy, a privacy rights group. The $85 billion deal unveiled Saturday would combine AT&T, …

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Big US banks unveil consumer payment app

Major US banking groups Monday announced they would join forces for a new person-to-person mobile payment application to counter services like PayPal's Venmo and Square Cash. The new app called Zelle will launch in 2017 and give consumers the ability to instantly send and receive payments using a smartphone. "Zelle will transform how people manage their financial lives, providing them faster, safer, and more convenient payment options with their friends and family," said Paul Finch, chief executive officer of the banking technology firm Early Warning, which made the announcement. "We are pleased to partner with the leading financial institutions and financial service organizations in the country to make our vision for faster payments a reality for millions of consumers nationwide." Zelle will be open to all banks and credit unions in the US and …

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Google acquires Eye-Tracking company for Virtual Reality efforts

Google just picked up a key piece of technology that might move its virtual reality ambitions closer to the masses. Eyefluence, which is working to enable eye movements to control digital screens, wrote in a blog post on Monday that it’s joining the search giant Alphabet Inc. The three-year-old startup, which had reportedly raised $21.6 million in funding, didn’t disclose a price. Google confirmed the deal with Eyefluence in an e-mailed statement. Jim Marggraff, the creator of the pioneering LeapPad tablet computer, started Eyefluence after buying up assets from neurological research firm Eye-Com. He pledged that the startup would allow people to manipulate objects and digital screens with their eye movements. Functional eye-tracking is a widely desired feature in virtual reality and augmented reality, which lets digital images interact with the physical world. Eye-tracking …

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Galaxy Note recall hits South Korea’s 3Q growth

South Korea's third-quarter economic growth has slipped to its lowest level in more than a year, with Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 recall having an impact. The country's central bank said Tuesday that Asia's fourth-largest economy expanded 2.7 percent during the July-September quarter over a year earlier, the slowest pace since the second quarter of 2015. From the previous quarter, the economy eked out a 0.7 percent growth. On a quarter-to-quarter basis, South Korea's economy grew less than 1 percent in the past year. The Bank of Korea said the manufacturing sector declined because handset sales slumped after the Galaxy Note 7 recall. Samsung Electronics recalled 2.5 million smartphones in September over battery defects. It stopped production earlier this month when its replacements for recalled phones also caught fire.

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Twitter planning hundreds more job cuts as soon as this week

Twitter Inc. is planning widespread job cuts, to be announced as soon as this week, according to people familiar with the matter. The company may cut about 8 percent of the workforce, or about 300 people, the same percentage it did last year when co-founder Jack Dorsey took over as chief executive officer, the people said. Planning for the cuts is still fluid and the number could change, they added. The people asked not to be identified talking about private company plans. An announcement about the job reductions may come before Twitter releases third-quarter earnings on Thursday, one of the people said. A Twitter representative declined to comment. Twitter, which loses money, is trying to control spending as sales growth slows. The company recently hired bankers to explore a sale, but the companies …

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‘Acute need’ to rebalance oil market — Russian energy minister

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak warned Monday there was an "acute need" to rebalance the oil market and help ease price volatility, after talks with the OPEC oil cartel in Vienna. "Probably by winter we will see considerable overkill of supply over demand. Therefore there is an acute and urgent need to speed up the rebalancing," Novak told reporters at the Vienna headquarters of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. The meeting highlighted "the impact that recent price volatility and the high level of stocks have had on the industry", the two parties said in a statement. "In addition, deliberations considered scenarios depicting the effects that climate change mitigation policies could have on oil and energy demand, and on investments in the industry," the statement read. OPEC and non-member Russia have held regular …

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US, European stocks up; merger criticism hits AT&T-Time Warner

US and European stocks moved higher Monday, but criticism of the proposed mega-merger of AT&T and Time Warner prompted a decline in the firms' share prices. The deal, worth $108 billion, became a political issue after it was sharply criticized by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, and drew skepticism from several leading Democrats, including vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine. Time Warner and AT&T dropped 3.0 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively, as the companies girded for tough scrutiny over their merger. But other technology shares moved higher in US trading: Amazon jumped 2.3 percent and Google parent Alphabet 1.7 percent ahead of earnings reports later this week. Apple, which reports Tuesday, climbed 0.9 percent. Wall Street action also focused on a series of smaller merger and acquisition announcements and quarterly earnings reports. "Certainly the earnings season …

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Asian stocks advance amid earnings as Dollar gains; Oil steady

Asian stocks rose to a two-week high after U.S. shares rallied amid a flurry of takeovers and better-than-expected corporate earnings. The dollar strengthened versus most peers. Almost three shares advanced for every one that fell on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index in early Asian trading and U.S. equity index futures edged higher following the S&P 500 Index’s best close in two weeks. Benchmarks gained in Australia, Japan and New Zealand, while South Korea’s declined. Crude oil was little changed, having lost ground on Monday after Iraq threatened to derail OPEC’s planned output cuts by saying it should be exempt. The U.S. earnings season has so far given a lift to investor sentiment, with about 80 percent of the companies to have reported so far beating estimates, and the pace of announcements picks …

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Smartwatch sales tumble, dragged down by Apple

Global smartwatch sales slid 51.6 percent in the third quarter, amid a steep decline for the Apple Watch ahead of its updated device, a market tracker said Monday. The IDC survey said total smartwatch volumes were 2.7 million units, less than half the level of a year earlier. Apple, the largest smartwatch vendor, saw its sales down 71.6 percent. But IDC analyst Ramon Llamas said the decline is not as ominous as it appears -- because many consumers were waiting for the new version of the Apple Watch and upcoming Android devices. "The sharp decline in smartwatch shipment volumes reflects the way platforms and vendors are realigning," Llamas said. "Apple revealed a new look and feel to watchOS that did not arrive until the launch of the second generation watch at the end of …

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Government tells dairy farmers to improve milk quality

The Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA), said it is ready to provide assistance to improve the quality and quantity of the farmers’ milk output. PCC Acting Executive Director Arnel Del Barrio said the agency is now implementing some interventions to address the problem of dairy farmers in marketing and distribution of milk, in line with Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol's plan to improve the country's dairy production. “With good feeding, management, and breeding, you are sure to boost your animals’ milk production. You just focus on the production and we, at PCC, are doing interventions such as the institutionalization of milk feeding program and establishment of products’ outlets," Barrio said. He added that in 2017, PCC will take on a new role to monitor the feeding …

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