MGM hands board seat to activist hedge fund Corvex's Meister

(Reuters) – MGM Resorts International (MGM.N) has struck a deal with hedge fund Corvex Management’s founder, Keith Meister, to give him a board seat, one week after a rival activist investor was seen building a position in the casino operator. Corvex owns roughly 3 percent of MGM’s stock. Meister will join the board on Friday, expanding its size by one to 13 members, MGM said in a statement released late on Thursday. MGM’s chief executive officer and chairman, Jim Murren, said the company and Meister have been holding “constructive dialogue”…

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Gloomy forecast for Davos: crises aplenty, but few world leaders

MILAN (Reuters) – An array of crises will keep several world leaders away from the annual World Economic Forum in Davos next week, which takes place against a backdrop of deepening gloom over the global economic and political outlook. Anxieties over trade disputes, fractious international relations, Brexit and a growth slowdown that some fear could tip the world economy into recession are set to dominate the Jan. 22-25 Alpine meeting. The WEF’s own Global Risks Report set the tone this week with a stark warning of looming economic headwinds, in…

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Asia stocks gain on hopes for eased U.S.-China tension

TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian stocks gained early on Friday, as hopes for a thaw in the U.S.-China trade conflict fed investor appetites for risk assets. The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed lifting some or all tariffs imposed on Chinese imports and suggested offering a tariff rollback during trade discussions scheduled for Jan. 30. U.S. stocks rallied following the report, but pared some of those gains after a Treasury spokesperson told CNBC that Mnuchin had not made any such recommendations. For the day,…

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Consumer giants spurn risks to chase online subscribers

LONDON (Reuters) – Major consumer companies including Unilever (ULVR.L), Procter & Gamble (PG.N) and Nestle (NESN.S) are chasing consumers who want food and household goods delivered automatically, even though this kind of business has not always worked. The companies are pitching new online subscription services, which promise stable revenues, lower delivery costs and valuable data about customers. The world’s biggest packaged food company, Nestle, whose Nespresso coffee is already a sizeable subscription business, recently launched a subscription program for nutritional drinks in Japan and expanded ReadyRefresh, an online bottled water…

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American Express misses estimates on slowing customer spending; shares drop

(Reuters) – American Express Co (AXP.N) missed Wall Street’s fourth-quarter profit estimates on Thursday, as the rate of customer spending slowed despite a strong U.S. holiday sales season. The credit-card issuer’s shares fell 2.4 percent in extended trading. “For the past couple of quarters card spending for AmEx in the U.S. has been 10 percent, that dropped down to about 9 percent this quarter, that is having an effect on the stock,” Buckingham Research Group analyst Chris Brendler said. The slowing growth came despite the United States witnessing its strongest…

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Gulfport pledges share buybacks after hedge fund demand

BOSTON (Reuters) – Natural gas and oil firm Gulfport Energy Corp said it would buy back $400 million of shares on Thursday, just hours after a public demand to that effect from hedge fund investor Firefly Value Partners. After the close of trading, Oklahoma City-based Gulfport announced plans to buy back $400 million worth of shares in the next two years and said it bought $90 million worth of shares in the last weeks of 2018. “I want to underscore our commitment to further enhancing shareholder value with a newly…

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Four Audi managers indicted in U.S. VW diesel emissions probe: documents

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal grand jury in Detroit on Thursday indicted four managers at Volkswagen AG’s (VOWG_p.DE) luxury Audi unit as part of the U.S. government’s investigation into the German automaker’s diesel emissions cheating scandal, according to court documents. VW admitted in September 2015 to secretly installing software in nearly 500,000 U.S. vehicles to cheat government exhaust emissions tests and pleaded guilty in 2017 to felony charges. In total, 13 people have been charged in the United States, including the four Audi managers. Managers Richard Bauder, Axel Eiser, Stefan…

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Strap yourself in: Netflix is about to report

Shares of Netflix (NFLX.O) up 0.2 pct on Thursday in likely calm before the storm as the streaming video company co prepares to report Q4 results after the bell ** Of S&P 500 .SPX stocks, NFLX in the past has been the second most volatile in reaction to its quarterly reports, second only to Infinera (INFN.O), according to an analysis by Bespoke Investment Group ** NFLX on avg has jumped 12 pct in the session following its Q4 reports, while declining on avg in the session after its Q1, Q2…

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JPMorgan board raises Dimon's compensation to $31 million

NEW YORK (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon is receiving a 5 percent raise, bringing his total 2018 compensation to $31 million, the company said in a filing on Thursday. In setting the figure, independent members of the JPMorgan board took into account “the firm’s strong performance in 2018 and through the cycle” in categories including business results, risk, controls and conduct, customer focus and leadership, the filing said. JPMorgan reported record net income of $32.5 billion in 2018 and a return on tangible common equity…

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Stocks rise on trade optimism, pound strengthens

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Global stock indexes rose on Thursday as optimism over a resolution to the trade war between the United States and China lifted sentiment, while sterling strengthened amid hopes of a second referendum on Britain’s membership in the European Union. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed lifting some or all tariffs imposed on Chinese imports and suggested offering a tariff rollback during trade discussions scheduled for Jan. 30, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the internal deliberations. U.S. stocks rallied following the…

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