Stocks move lower…Trade deficit falls…Facebook bans “deepfakes”
NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks are falling in early trading on Wall Street as investors wait for the next step in the increasingly tense U.S.-Iran confrontation. Oil prices gave up some of their recent big gains after a U.S. drone killed Iran’s top general on Friday. U.S. officials were bracing for Iran’s response to the killing. Gold touched its highest price in nearly seven years on Monday and was holding steady Tuesday. Asian and European stock markets recovered some of their sharp losses from a day before, while Treasury yields held steady. Oil companies had some of the biggest declines.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. trade deficit fell in November to the lowest level in more than three years. U.S. exports rose while imports declined. For the first 11 months of 2019, the trade deficit is running slightly below the same period in 2018. That puts the country on track to see the first annual decline in the trade deficit in six years. The Commerce Department says the trade gap narrowed by 8.2% in November to $43.1 billion, the smallest deficit since October 2016.
WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. services companies grew more quickly in December than the previous month, a sign that the economy’s steady expansion should continue. The Institute for Supply Management said Tuesday that its service-sector index rose to 55, from 53.9 in November. Any reading above 50 signals an expansion. The index covers retail, health care, hotels and restaurants, and professional services, among other sectors. Services firms added jobs last month but at a slightly slower pace than in November, while sales jumped in a sign of consumers’ health.
PARIS (AP) – France’s government and unions appear still far apart after talks over fiercely contested pension reforms. The government was hoping to soften union opposition after record-setting strikes that have hobbled the country’s train network, made commuting miserable for Parisians and are spreading to oil refineries. áBut union representatives gave a grim readout from the initial discussions on Tuesday morning and vowed more walkouts.
LONDON (AP) – Facebook says it’s banning “deepfake” videos as it steps up efforts to fight online manipulation. The social network said Monday that it’s beefing up its policies to remove the the false but realistic clips created with artificial intelligence. However, the company said the new rules won’t include parody or satire, or clips edited just to change the order of words. The exceptions underscore the balancing act Facebook faces as it struggles to stop the spread of online misinformation and “fake news” while also respecting free speech and fending off allegations of censorship.