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Google parent Alphabet shared YouTube revenue after U.S. SEC request

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) began disclosing revenue for its YouTube video service this year after U.S. securities regulators asked the Google parent to give more “quantitative and qualitative” data on the business, according to filings released Monday.

Alphabet’s Chief Accounting Officer Amie Thuener O’Toole wrote to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission on Dec. 20 saying that in response to comment from SEC staff, “We will separately disclose YouTube advertising revenues” even though “there have been no significant changes to our advertising business,” according to one regulatory filing.

The letter followed a comment from the SEC’s corporate finance division last October, asking the company to revise its quarterly filings to provide more detailed information on key business units, according to another filing.

“We note that YouTube, mobile search and desktop search have experienced different growth and monetization rates and enjoy different margins,” the SEC staff wrote. “As such, they represent significant subdivisions or components of Google properties revenues that should be discussed separately to allow investors to view the company through the eyes of management.”

The SEC declined to comment on the filings on Monday.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the Dec. 20 letter, Thuener O’Toole also wrote that Alphabet also would disclose the growth of Google Cloud revenues “although we do not believe it is currently a required disclosure.”

Offering detailed YouTube and cloud data for the first time last month, Alphabet said YouTube ad revenue grew 31% in the fourth quarter compared with last year and the cloud business grew 53%.

Thuener O’Toole’s letter said the company did not view separating out ad revenue by mobile or desktop as meaningful because it generally does not sell ads by device type.

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Exclusive: UK supermarkets may cut services to stay open as coronavirus spreads – sources

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s major supermarkets are working on plans to streamline their operations by cutting cafes, counters and other services to enable a depleted workforce to maintain basic provisions during the coronavirus outbreak, industry sources told Reuters.

The country’s supermarket sector, including market leader Tesco (TSCO.L), Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L), Asda (WMT.N) and Morrisons (MRW.L), has struggled for over a week to keep shelves stocked as shoppers panic buy items like dried pasta, canned food, flour, toilet rolls and hand sanitizer.

But executives are now working on plans to keep the stores running if large numbers of their staff become ill or if the outbreak forces the closure of schools, which would escalate workers’ child care needs.

“What (products) we can and can’t get is the least of our current challenges,” one UK supermarket executive told Reuters.

The person said far more pressing problems were how the business staffs its stores and how it practically helps the elderly and vulnerable when the virus takes hold of the UK population.

The government announcing the closure of all schools would be “a binary moment”, the person added.

Another source at a UK supermarket group said planning was focused on “What would it take to keep the store running?”

The source said this could involve having a much more streamlined operation in individual stores, keeping them running with less staff.

Options could include temporarily closing in-store cafes and fresh food counters.

The industry says it is working closely with government and suppliers to keep food moving through the system and is making more deliveries to stores to get shelves re-stocked. But it has also appealed to customers to be more considerate.

Health officials have said 35 people have died from coronavirus in Britain, while the total diagnosed was 1,372.

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Coronavirus: Transport for London expects £500m loss of passenger income

Transport for London says the coronavirus outbreak could result in a £500m loss of passenger income, adding that it will ask the government for financial support.

The firm said it had seen a reduction in demand and passenger revenue since October last year due to economic uncertainty.

But this worsened during February due to bad weather and in March when the initial impact of coronavirus in the UK became clear.

TfL said since 2 March, it had seen “further reductions in ridership, coinciding with growing public awareness of the COVID-19 virus, starting with modest reductions in ridership of around 2% compared to the same days the previous year.

“Since then, a growing number of firms and individuals have changed their travel behaviour, with greater numbers of people working from home.

“This has led to an acceleration in the reduction in passenger numbers in the last week to around 19 per cent on the Tube and 10% on buses compared to the same week the previous year.

“This is made up roughly equally of fewer people travelling and those travelling making fewer journeys.”

Simon Kilonback, TfL’s chief finance officer, said: “Our best forecast, based on government scenarios, is that the financial impact of the coronavirus could be up to £500m.

“We manage our finances prudently, and have reduced our deficit hugely in recent years. This means that we can manage the impacts on our passenger numbers and finances that are currently envisaged. But, given the nature of the situation, we will be looking to the government to provide appropriate financial support.

He added: “We continue to follow and communicate Public Health England advice, including that there is no specific risk on public transport.

“We’ve also stepped up our cleaning regime from the already very high standards to give our customers and staff further reassurance.”

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Coronavirus will ‘bankrupt nearly all of the world’s airlines in weeks’

Coronavirus could bankrupt almost all of the world's airlines in just a few weeks, experts have predicted.

The impact is already clear in the UK. On Monday British Airways, easyJet and Ryaniar all announced plans to heavily cut back on flights, while Tui suspended almost all its travel operations "until further notice".

And while all the firms said they had funding to cover their cuts, experts have said this could run out before the summer unless they get help.

"As the impact of the coronavirus and multiple government travel reactions sweep through our world, many airlines have probably already been driven into technical bankruptcy, or are at least substantially in breach of debt covenants," CAPA Centre for Aviation said in a statement on Monday.


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"Cash reserves are running down quickly as fleets are grounded and what flights there are operate much less than half full.

"Forward bookings are far outweighed by cancellations and each time there is a new government recommendation it is to discourage flying. 

"Demand is drying up in ways that are completely unprecedented. Normality is not yet on the horizon."

Airlines are already appealing to their respective Governments for help.

In an unusual joint statement, the world's three main airline alliances – oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance – called for government aid to alleviate the "unprecedented challenges" faced by the industry.

EasyJet said it would likely ground most of its fleet as it joined Virgin Atlantic in calling for government support.

"European aviation faces a precarious future, and it is clear that coordinated government backing will be required to ensure the industry survives," chief executive Johan Lundgren said.

CAPA said coordinated government and industry action is immediately needed to avoid a "catastrophe".

Bernstein analyst Daniel Roeska said: "Airlines are siphoning cash and have no way of stopping it" as bookings grind to a halt and traffic collapses.

With many carriers now dependent on government help to survive, Roeska added, "the key focus should be on emergency liquidity support and enabling short-term layoffs or working-hour reductions to safeguard cash."

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Zero rates, zero impact: Fed & co fail to calm markets

LONDON (Reuters) – Stock markets and oil prices continued to nose-dive on Monday after the second emergency cut in U.S. interest rates in as many weeks — effectively to zero — and supportive measures from all corners failed to quell coronavirus fears.

Central banks across Asia and Europe also cut borrowing costs and pumped funds into the system in a bid to cushion the economic impact as the breakneck spread of the virus all but shut down more countries. But they had limited success in calming panicky investors.

The volatility gauge for euro zone stocks, known as Europe’s “fear index” surged to record highs as the main European stock markets plunged nearly 8% in brutal opening trade, with Wall Street bracing for similar moves later.

Fear still reigned. Europe introduced curbs on short-selling, while bond markets tried to juggle both the risk to vulnerable countries but also that a fiscal spending splurge might impact safe-haven debt.

Oil, already reeling from a price war, plunged more than 9% to almost $30 a barrel as investors fretted about the impact of coronavirus on global demand.

“The central banks threw the kitchen sink at it yesterday evening yet here we are (with deep falls in stock markets),” said Societe Generale strategist Kit Juckes.

“There is a great sense that central banks are going to get to grips with the issues of getting money flowing … But the human problem, the macro problem, there is nothing they can do about that.”

With global travel grinding to a standstill, Europe’s travel and leisure stocks index has halved in value in roughly three weeks. The drastic shock to demand delivered to airlines and travel companies maybe replicated elsewhere.

The Fed’s emergency 100 basis point rate cut on Sunday was followed on Monday by further policy easing from the Bank of Japan in the form of a pledge to ramp up purchases of exchange-traded funds and other risky assets.

New Zealand’s central bank shocked by cutting rates 75 basis points to 0.25%, while the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) pumped more money into its financial system. South Korea and Kuwait both cut rates while Russia and Germany were throwing together multi-billion dollar anti-crisis funds.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said G7 leaders would hold a teleconference at 1400 GMT to discuss the crisis.

MSCI’s index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan tumbled 5.2% to lows not seen since early 2017, while the Nikkei fell 2.5% as the BoJ’s easing steps failed to reassure markets.

Chinese data underscored just how much economic damage the disease has already done to the world’s second-largest economy, with official numbers showing the worst drops in activity on record. Industrial output plunged 13.5% and retail sales 20.5%.

In Asia, Shanghai blue chips fell 4.3% overnight even as China’s central bank surprised with a fresh round of liquidity injections into the financial system. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index tumbled 4%.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 plunged, finishing down 9.7% — its steepest fall since the 1987 crash.

“By any historical standard, the scale and scope of these actions was extraordinary,” said Nathan Sheets, chief economist at PGIM Fixed Income, who helps manage $1.3 trillion in assets. “This is dramatic action and truly does represent a bazooka.

“Even so, markets were expecting extraordinary action, so it remains to be seen whether the announcement will meaningfully shift market sentiment.”

Sheets emphasized investors wanted to see a lot more U.S. fiscal stimulus and evidence the Trump administration was responding vigorously and effectively to the public health challenges posed by the crisis.

UNDER STRAIN

Wall Street was set for further falls after New York and Los Angeles both ordered bars, restaurants, theaters and cinemas to shut to combat the spread of the coronavirus, mirroring similar measures in Asia and Europe.

Markets have been severely strained as bankers, companies and individual investors stampede into cash and safe-haven assets while selling profitable positions to raise money to cover losses in savaged equities.

To ease the dislocation, the Fed cut interest rates by a full percentage point on Sunday to a target range of 0% to 0.25%, its second cut this month, and promised to expand its balance sheet by at least $700 billion in coming weeks.

Five of its peers also joined up to offer cheap U.S. dollar funding for financial institutions facing stress in credit markets.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been haranguing the Fed to ease policy, called the move “terrific” and “very good news”.

The Fed’s rate cut combined with the promise of more bond-buying pushed U.S. 10-year Treasury yields down sharply as low as 0.63% from 0.95% late on Friday, though they were back up to 0.74% ahead of U.S. trading.

In Europe, Spanish and Portuguese 10-year bond yields rose to 9-1/2 month highs at 0.74% and 0.93% respectively, up as much as 13 basis points on the day.

French 10-year yields also soared as much as 14 basis points to 3-1/2 month highs at 0.14%, while Italian 10-year yields were up 17 basis points at 1.98% having briefly touched 2%.

“The momentum we’ve seen in the periphery is largely to do with the sentiment towards debt metrics in countries which after many, many years of quantitative easing and existing central bank support within the euro zone, are going into another fairly significant if not larger crisis than the one before,” said Rabobank strategist Matt Cairns.

The fall in U.S. Treasury yields pounded the dollar. It was last down 1.9% on the Japanese yen at 106.01, marking its second-biggest fall since May 2017. The euro went up as far as 1% to $1.1212.

The commodity-exposed Australian dollar fell as much as 0.3% to $0.6166 while the New Zealand dollar slipped 0.2% to $0.6044.

Oil fell again, with Brent crude last off $3.21, or 9.5% at $30.70 per barrel while U.S. crude slipped $2 to just below $30 a barrel.

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Brent falls 10%, WTI below $30 as coronavirus spreads

LONDON (Reuters) – Brent fell by 10% on Monday, and U.S. crude to below $30, as emergency rate cuts by the U.S. Federal Reserve and its global counterparts failed to tame markets and China’s factory output plunged at the sharpest pace in 30 years amid the spread of coronavirus.

Brent crude was down $3.58, or 10.6%, to $30.27 a barrel by 1231 GMT. The front-month price had risen $1 earlier in the session.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was at $29.24, down $2.49 or 7.8%.

To combat the economic fallout of the pandemic, the Fed on Sunday cut its key rate to near zero, triggering an unscheduled easing by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand to a record low as markets in Asia opened for trading this week.

The Bank of Japan later stepped in by easing monetary policy further, and Gulf central banks also cut interest rates. However, the measures failed to calm the investors, and stock markets weakened again.

“The price response is understandable given that lower interest rates and new bond purchasing programs will do nothing to combat the current weakness of oil demand,” Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch said.

He added that the more countries freeze public life, close their borders and cancel flights, the greater the impact will be on oil demand, especially as this also involves economic activity being generally scaled down.

Meanwhile, China’s industrial output fell by a much larger than expected 13.5% in January-February from the same period a year earlier, the weakest reading since January 1990 when Reuters records began.

Brent’s premium to WTI narrowed to less than $1, close to its narrowest since 2016, making U.S. crude oil uncompetitive in international markets.

(Graphic: Brent’s premium to WTI png, here)

“The relative weakness in Brent shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, given the severity of the breakout across Europe,” said ING analyst Warren Patterson.

“Another factor offering relatively more support to WTI is news that President Trump has ordered Strategic Petroleum Reserves to be filled up at these lower price levels.”

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that the United States would take advantage of low oil prices and fill the nation’s emergency crude oil reserve, in a move aimed to help energy producers struggling from the price plunge.

Oil prices have also been under intense pressure on the supply side, as top exporter Saudi Arabia ramped up output and slashed prices to increase sales to Asia and Europe.

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This month, the Organization of the Petroleum Countries and Russia failed to extend production cuts that began in January 2017 aimed at supporting prices and lowering stockpiles.

An OPEC and non-OPEC technical meeting planned for Wednesday in Vienna has been called off as attempts to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Russia after the collapse of their supply cut pact made no progress, sources said on Monday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also said a decline in oil prices did not come as a surprise, and that Moscow did not have any immediate plans for any contacts with the leadership of Saudi Arabia.

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Money Hacks Podcast: How can AI and big data help investors?

Money Hacks Ep 67: How can AI and big data help investors?

9:07 min

Synopsis: In this fortnightly podcast series on Mondays, The Business Times breaks down actionable financial tips.

In this week’s episode, we talk about artificial intelligence (AI) and big data and how they can help investors. Adam Reynolds, CEO Asia-Pacific, Saxo Markets, tells us more.

1. What’s state-of-the-art now in terms of AI and big data for investors? (0:46)

2. How accurate are the AI recommendations? (2:06)

3. A beginner’s guide to using AI for investing (4:45)

4. How comfortable should investors be with trusting AI? (6:13)

Produced by: Chris Lim and Lee Kim Siang

Edited by: Adam Azlee

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Website: http://bt.sg/moneyhacks

Feedback to: [email protected]

Do note: Any financial or investment information in this podcast is for use in Singapore only and is intended to be for your general information. Any particular investment or decision should only be made after consulting with a fully qualified financial adviser.

Thank you for your support! ST & BT Podcasts picked up a silver medal for Best Digital Project to engage younger and/or millennial audiences at 2019 Asian Digital Media Awards by Wan-Ifra: https://str.sg/Jw5T

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Oil slumps again as coronavirus hits demand and price war bites

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil fell on Monday as an emergency rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve failed to soothe global financial markets panicked by the rapid spread of the coronavirus, while a price war between top producers added to a growing supply glut.

Brent crude fell $2.07 to $31.78 a barrel by 0729 GMT, extending last week’s plunge of 25%, which was the largest weekly fall since 2008. The front-month price opened at a high of $35.84 but slipped to a low of $31.63.

U.S. crude was at $30.35, down $1.38 after slipping below $30 earlier in the session, losing ground despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s pledge to fill strategic petroleum reserves (SPR) in the world’s largest oil consumer “to the top”.

“While helpful on the margin, such (SPR) policy pales in comparison to a coronavirus plagued market that is measured in months or a price war that is expected to last several quarters or longer,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Michael Tran said.

With current SPR stockpiles at 634 million barrels, or 80 million barrels less than a nameplate SPR capacity of 714 million barrels, the government buying would clean up only about 20 days of a global overhang that RBC estimates at an imbalance of 4 million bpd, Tran said.

The U.S. Fed slashed interest rates to near zero on Sunday in its second emergency cut this month, and said it would expand its balance sheet by at least $700 billion in coming weeks in a bid to ease tension in financial markets.

Oil prices have come under intense pressure on both demand and supply sides: Worries about the coronavirus pandemic slashing oil buying persist, while oversupply fears have grown after top exporter Saudi Arabia ramped up output and slashed prices to increase sales to Asia and Europe.

Earlier this month, the Organization of the Petroleum Countries (OPEC) and Russia failed to extend a production cut agreement that has been supporting prices since 2016.

“Fear remains the crux of the problem here as market players remain unconvinced that monetary policy easing and liquidity injections will solve an essentially healthcare crisis,” OCBC Bank’s economist Selena Ling said.

“The end-game to me remains not about more policy bazookas, but a peak in global COVID-19 infections and fatalities, and, or a COVID-19 vaccine cure on the horizon.”

Despite the massive drop in both oil and natural gas prices last week, the U.S. oil drilling rig count rose for a second week in a row to its highest since December, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co said in its closely followed report on Friday.

The number of rigs is expected to fall, however, as producers deepen spending cuts on new drilling.

More pain will be felt by U.S. producers as Brent’s premium to WTI is close to its narrowest since 2016, making U.S. crude oil uncompetitive in international markets. Exports are set to fall by 1 million barrels per day each in April and May, sources have said.

“The big loser will be U.S. shale, where the Republican government will possibly face a bailout decision on a heavily indebted industry sooner rather than later,” said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA in Singapore.

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Coronavirus: Markets not convinced that US Fed Reserve rates decision is enough

America’s central bank the Federal Reserve slashed its benchmark interest rate to near zero overnight but it has not been enough to soothe market jitters.

The emergency action was taken to help the US economy come through the COVID-19 outbreak which is currently gripping the world.

The Fed also said it would expand its balance sheet by at least $700bn (£565bn) in the coming weeks but the FTSE 100 in the UK fell more than 5% in the first few minutes after its Monday opening.

Markets in South East Asia, among the first to react to the move, also seemed unconvinced.

Malaysia’s benchmark index slid 3.4% to near a 10-year low after the country’s prime minister said the tourism sector had probably suffered nearly $800m (£647m) in losses to the end of February because of the virus.

In the Philippines, shares started to rebound after losing as much as 7.6% in early trading but they were still in the red.

Singapore’s shares were down 3.4%, set for a fourth consecutive day of losses and Indonesian stocks were down by 4%.

Sydney’s benchmark fell 7%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 2%, Shanghai was down 0.5% and Tokyo was flat.

On Wall Street, futures for the benchmark S&P 500 index fell 5% on Sunday night and triggered a halt in trading.

Vishnu Varathan, a senior economist at Mizuho Bank, said: “Ironically, markets might have perceived the Fed’s response as panic, feeding into its own fears.

“Despite whipping out the big guns (and jumping the gun) the Fed appears to lack the silver bullets; falling short of being
the decisive backstop for markets.”

China said industrial output had contracted at its sharpest pace in 30 years during the first two months of the year.

It has seen the bulk of infections and deaths as a result of COVID-19 and is just starting to get its outbreak under control, following months of lockdown in many of its cities.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump said the Fed’s decision, which cuts the rate by a full percentage point to a target range of 0% to 0.25%, was “very good news”.

The US central bank said that rate would remain until it feels confident the economy has weathered recent events.

It has also dropped its requirements that banks hold cash reserves in another move to encourage lending.

Other central banks around the world, including the Bank of England, have said they would co-ordinate to ease liquidity in an attempt to blunt the economic impact of the virus.

A statement from the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, and incoming governor, Andrew Bailey, said such action would “improve global liquidity by lowering the price and extending the maximum term of US dollar lending operations”.

They added: “These new operations will help ease strains in global funding markets, thereby supporting the supply of credit to households and businesses.”

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EasyJet prepares to ground majority of fleet amid warning that ‘most airlines could go bust by May’

Most of the world’s airlines could be bankrupt by the end of May without help from the government and industry, according to a major aviation consultancy.

The warning comes from CAPA Centre for Aviation, an airline analysis and consulting firm based in Australia, as airlines worldwide cut schedules and staff due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Demand is drying up in ways that are completely unprecedented,” CAPA said in a report. “Normality is not yet on the horizon.”

Many countries have closed borders to arrivals or have announced compulsory self-isolation, leading to a sharp fall in demand for air travel.

The US has banned all flights from Europe, including the UK, while countries including Israel, Australia and New Zealand have said all arrivals will have to spend 14 days in isolation on arrival.

On Monday morning, easyJet said it would continue to operate rescue flights for short periods “where we can” to repatriate passengers; however, it would also be cutting operations further.

“These actions will continue on a rolling basis for the foreseeable future and could result in the grounding of the majority of the easyJet fleet,” the airline said in a statement.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren added: “At easyJet we are doing everything in our power to rise to the challenges of the coronavirus so that we can continue to provide the benefits that aviation brings to people, the economy and business.

“European aviation faces a precarious future and it is clear that coordinated government backing will be required to ensure the industry survives and is able to continue to operate when the crisis is over.”

On Sunday, Sky News reported that Britain’s airline industry needs emergency government support worth up to £7.5bn to avert a catastrophe that would wipe out tens of thousands of jobs.

Peter Norris, the chairman of Virgin Atlantic Airways’ majority shareholder, Virgin Group, will write to the prime minister today to warn that the sector needs immediate financial aid to survive.

British Airways owner IAG said on Monday that the outbreak and associated travel restrictions were “having a significant and increasingly negative impact” on demand on almost all of its routes.

It said capacity is expected to be reduced by 75% in April and May compared to the same period last year.

It is also grounding surplus aircraft, reducing and deferring capital spending, freezing recruitment and discretionary spending, implementing voluntary leave options, temporarily suspending employment contracts and reducing working hours.

Willie Walsh, IAG’s chief executive, said: “We have seen a substantial decline in bookings across our airlines and global network over the past few weeks and we expect demand to remain weak until well into the summer. We are therefore making significant reductions to our flying schedules.

“We will continue to monitor demand levels and we have the flexibility to make further cuts if necessary. We are also taking actions to reduce operating expenses and improve cash flow at each of our airlines. IAG is resilient with a strong balance sheet and substantial cash liquidity.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News he was meeting with transport sector chiefs this week.

He added: “We know aviation is at the forefront in many ways…but we want to make sure companies and individuals, organisations in a good state are able to continue so we’ll be looking at all these measures, I’ll be discussing them with the chancellor and the prime minister later today.”

In the US, United Airlines said it will cut capacity by 50% in April and May as it announced that March brought $1.5bn (£1.2bn) less revenue than the same time last year.

The airline warned that many of its planes could be flying empty well into the summer months, despite the cuts.

It will also cut corporate salaries by half, with chief executive Oscar Munoz saying: “This crisis is moving really quickly”.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents 50,000 US flight attendants, called on Congress to “take all measures available to protect the health and payroll of American workers”.

Germany’s Tui AG and Scandinavian airline SAS will suspend most operations and apply for government help to survive the outbreak’s effects.

Icelandair Group says it will cut capacity and reduce its salary cost “significantly” and Air New Zealand said there would be job losses as it cuts long haul capacity by 85% over the coming months.

Air New Zealand’s chief executive Greg Foran said: “We are accepting that for the coming months at least, Air New Zealand will be a smaller airline requiring fewer resources, including fewer people.”

Australia’s Qantas said it would add further cuts to the 25% reduction announced last week.

The World Travel and Tourism Council last week warned that up to 50 million jobs globally were at risk in the sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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