From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, these are the top stories that moved markets and had investors, business leaders, and entrepreneurs talking this week on Cheddar.
Marriott, the world’s largest hotel chain, said its Starwood guest reservation database was hacked and the personal data of as many as 500 million people has been at risk since 2014. That would make it the largest consumer data breach since the 2013 hack of Yahoo’s systems, in which all 3 billion of its user accounts were exposed. Marriott ($MAR) admits the information hackers were able to see was extremely sensitive, and included passport numbers, credit card details, dates of birth, and addresses. When Marriott acquired Starwood, it folded brands like Westin, Sheraton, W, and St. Regis into the Marriott portfolio. The company said any reservation between 2014 and Sept. 10, 2018 at any Starwood property worldwide was exposed in the breach. Read more.
Microsoft and Apple spent the week vying to wear the crown of “world’s most valuable company,” with Microsoft ending the week in the top spot. Earlier in the week on Tuesday, Microsoft had also briefly surpassed Apple in market cap before falling behind again until the week's end. Each tech giant is worth upwards of $840 billion, though Apple ($AAPL) was valued at $1 trillion just a couple months ago. Apple, however, has struggled since, as demand for the iPhone begins to show signs of waning. Before Tuesday, the last time Microsoft ($MSFT) had overtaken Apple in valuation was 2010 when the Zune was still on store shelves and a little product called the iPad had just been introduced. Read more.
Interest rates are “just below” neutral. That’s all Fed Chair Jerome Powell had to say to give investors the boost they needed after a volatile autumn due, in part, to concerns over the central bank’s rate hikes. Powell made a lunchtime address to the Economic Club of New York and struck a dovish tone, leaving Fed watchers and economists to believe he may be easing off efforts to drive up interest rates as the economy expands. Powell had become a favorite punching bag of President Trump over his monetary policy, which the president has blamed for the wild market swings of the last several weeks. Powell did not mention Trump’s attacks in his remarks. Read more.
General Motors ($GM) announced a major corporate restructuring that will put 14,000 jobs on the chopping block and force the possible closure of five plants in North America ー including locations in Lordstown, Ohio and Oshawa, Ontario ー as the automaker moves away from sedan production to focus on SUVs and emerging technology like electric and autonomous vehicles. The plan would save the company $6 billion over the next two years, but it also had the more immediate effect of uniting Republicans, Democrats, and labor unions in anger. President Trump blasted GM for layoffs, sarcastically tweeting, “this is the thanks we get” after the government bailed the company out during the financial crisis a decade ago. Read more.
Last week around this time, it was shaping up to be a historic Cyber Monday for retailers ー and shoppers didn’t disappoint. Sales were projected to reach nearly $8 billion, even more than expected, making it the single biggest day for e-commerce in U.S. history, and Amazon’s ($AMZN) biggest day ever. Americans are in the mood to shop. A booming economy, wage growth, low gas prices, and high consumer confidence all add up to what could be a record holiday season. So far, online retailers are reporting a 17 percent increase over last year. Read more.
- by Carlo Versano