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S&P 500 Futures Edge Lower After Alabama Vote Cuts GOP Senate Majority

Futures for the SP 500 turned slightly lower early Wednesday morning after Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama’s special election Tuesday, reducing the GOP’s already-narrow Senate majority. Still, the overnight impact was muted.

X Alabama is normally a deep-red state, but accusations of sexual misconduct involving teens hurt Republican Roy Moore.

Tuesday’s vote will complicate President Trump’s agenda by cutting the GOP Senate majority to just 51-49. However, Jones likely won’t take office for a few weeks, giving Republicans some time to pass tax cuts with another vote to spare.

Details of the evolving GOP tax-cut plan appeared after Tuesday’s close. Meanwhile, investors expect a Federal Reserve interest-rate hike Wednesday.

SP 500 index futures fell 0.1% vs. fair value. Dow futures were essentially flat. Nasdaq 100 futures sank 0.1%.

Meanwhile, Apple (AAPL) is close to carving out a flat base. But Apple chip plays are not faring as well, with Broadcom (AVGO) undercutting its buy point Tuesday, joining Skyworks Solutions (SWKS), Applied Materials (AMAT), Analog Devices (ADI) and Qorvo (QRVO) below the 50-day line as chipmakers continue to slump.

The GOP tax plan being hashed out between the House and Senate now has a 21% corporate tax cut, down from the current 35%, but up from prior  plans for 20%. There would be a 37% personal income rate and the mortgage interest deduction would  be capped at $750,000, down from the current $1 million but above the House’s $500,000.


Apple shares fell 0.6% to 171.70 in Tuesday’s stock market trading, but they’re still holding support slightly above the 50-day moving average.

Apple appears to be headed toward a flat base, which needs a minimum of five weeks. That would occur at the end of this week. This hypothetical bullish consolidation, with a potential buy point of 176.34, would be a base-on-base formation above a prior cup-with-handle pattern.

The tech titan, a member of the Nasdaq, SP 500 and Dow industrials, has shaken off iPhone X supply concerns.

But such worries may be affecting key iPhone-related chip plays, which are also struggling due to general weakness in semiconductors.


Broadcom had been one of the stronger Apple chipmakers, holding above its 259.46 buy point for the most part since the late-October breakout, becoming somewhat extended in late November.

Broadcom, which is mounting a now-hostile bid for fellow wireless-chip giant Qualcomm (QCOM), reported strong earnings and guidance as well as a big dividend hike last week.

Shares popped intraday Dec. 7 on the report, but closed flat. In the last three sessions, shares tested their buy point and 50-day moving average, finally closing below both levels with Tuesday’s 0.4% loss to 258.81.

Because Broadcom wiped out a 10% gain from its buy point, that entry is now invalid. A strong, high-volume retaking of the 50-day line could present a new buying opportunity.

Applied Materials

The chip-equipment giant is not a direct Apple supplier, though it’s been deemed an iPhone X play for its work with OLED screens.

Applied Materials fell 2.2% to 50.47 on Tuesday, continuing to hold below its 50-day moving average.

In fact, just one of the 22 largest chip-gear stocks by market cap is current above that key support line, Kulicke Soffa (KLIC). That’s despite the record chip-gear sales in 2017 and 2018 seen by industry group SEMI.

Among top chipmakers, Intel (INTC) and Texas Instruments (TXN) are slightly above their 50-day lines, but not many others are, outside of MA-related plays.

Analog Devices

Analog Devices successfully broke out in late September/early October, unlike many other Apple suppliers. Shares rose more than 9% above an 85.81 buy point by Nov. 20. But shares then reversed lower on the company’s latest earnings report and soon undercut their 50-day line.

In recent sessions, Analog Devices has been holding just above or below the 85.81 entry, which is technically still valid. Shares fell 0.4% to 85.48 on Tuesday.

Skyworks Solutions, Qorvo

Skyworks broke out in late October and Qorvo in early November, with both rising for a few sessions but then quickly tumbling through their buy points and 50-day lines.

Skyworks fell 0.5% to 96.47 on Tuesday, about 18% off its high. Qorvo lost 1.3% to 67.70, hitting a four-month low intraday.


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Nearbuy and Little Internet merge, Paytm gets majority stake

BENGALURU:Discoveryand deals platforms Nearbuy and Little Internet have merged, and financial services platform Paytm has taken a majority stake in this combined entity, the company announced on Wednesday. The merged entity, is expected to be valued at about $100 million with a fresh capital infusion of $25 million by Paytm, according to a source briefed on the matter.

Nearbuy-Little combined is expected to be spearheaded by Nearbuy’s chief executive Ankur Warikoo, said the person cited above.

While the two brands will continue to exist independently, Little Internet founders Manish Chopra and Satish Mani would be moving on. Sequoia Capital, along with other investors of Nearbuy will continue to be shareholders of the merged entity.

“In the local commerce space, Little Internet and Nearbuy combined will own 88% of the market share,” said Warikoo, Nearbuy’s CEO without commenting on specifics of the transaction. “There are around half-a-million merchants in the organised retail space, which we would like to bring on our platform.”

ad028_merge Nearbuy and Little Internet merge, Paytm gets majority stake

This merger brings the total merchants’ count to over 40,000, as the companies look to expand that number to 100,000 by 2018-end. Customers would be able to access Nearbuy and Little Internet deals from the Paytm app as well once it’s integrated on the platform in the next month or two, added Warikoo.

This transaction comes as Paytm looks to boost its position in the offline space allowing its merchants to have the option of acquiring more customers by offering deals and discounts. In July, the payments company acquired a majority stake in online ticketing and events platform, thereby allowing Paytm customers to access events listed on Insider.

“Paytm’s goal is to provide its base of over five million merchants, tools to expand their business and to offer its customers the opportunity to buy all categories of digital and physical goods,” said Vijay Shekhar Sharma, CEO, Paytm. Nearbuy (formerly Groupon India) parted from its parent Groupon in 2015. It was later rebranded as Nearbuy when Sequoia Capital pumped in $20 million.

Majority of Android apps have hidden trackers

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Majority of Kenyans access Internet through mobile phones

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More Kenyans are addicted to the Internet and even more, to higher internet speeds, according to a study conducted by Consumer Insights, a market research company.

The research dubbed Digitalk focused on digital usage trends and sought to demystify how Kenyans use the internet compared to their South African and Nigerian counterparts.

According to the study, Kenya is among the frontrunners in internet penetration in the continent at 53 per cent, slightly lower than continental giants, South Africa and Nigeria who both clock slightly higher than of 60 per cent penetration.


Up to 99 per cent of the Kenyans connected to internet use their mobile phones for access, with other devices taking up what’s left, hence the country could be said to be in a nomophobic era, where people have an irrational fear of being without their mobile phones or being unable to use their phones, according to the research.

“While South Africans found their Internet, which is deemed slower than Kenya’s quite satisfying, most Kenyans ever incessantly feel their Internet’s speed should be higher than what they have, and this can be attributed to human nature to always yearn for something even better than what they already have,” said Ruth Ruigu, an associate research director at Consumer Insights. However, most Kenyans still admit that they have a great experience with the country’s Internet, with an average approval rating of 4 out of 5.

According to her, while initially there were much slower speeds such as GPRS and edge, as technology improve and much faster speeds are introduced, people feel these internet speeds can be bettered, hence the introduction of 3G, 4G and probably 5G in the near future.

Chatting, social media, emailing, job search, information seeking, movies and videos, music, news, video calls, buying and banking, in that order, emerged as the activities that most Kenyans engage in while online.

WhatsApp is by far the most popular chatting and instant messaging app in the country followed by Facebook Messenger, rendering the traditional SMS vulnerable to being phased out by the more advanced technologies.

Facebook is decidedly the most popular social media site according to the survey, followed by YouTube and Twitter.


Though not among the top three, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat are key challengers of the top three social media sites.

Markedly, apart from Facebook which attracts users from all demographics, other social media sites are more likely to be used by a specific demographic; while more females are more inclined towards Instagram and YouTube, more males prefer Twitter.

The bad news to traditional media is that while more internet junkies access news every day, more are drawn towards independent news brands such as Tuko, Ghafla and Mpasho, followed by blogs, then international media houses sites, social media, chatting platforms then local media house sites.

“This calls for our local media houses to enhance the content provision of their sites to attract more users, as currently, more people are drawn towards the internet from where information travels faster,” said Ruigu, adding that television, radio and newspaper reading has been significantly affected by the advent of internet.


Online shopping is similarly another product of the dawn of internet use and social media, rivals the traditional online platforms such as OLX and Jumia. Social media as a shopping site is essentially more popular among Kenyans compared to Nigerians and South Africans.

And according to Consumer Insights, more businesses should strive to boost their online presence especially in the social media, as this drives the consumers and potential clientele towards the physical business premises.

Virtual banking, and gambling similarly have been advanced progressively with the dawn of the internet, with one out of every two gamblers now deemed to be a fanatical gambler, this particularly heightened by the ease of access to the gambling means, through the internet.

“Essentially, internet drives nearly everything now, and adjusting oneself to the prevailing situation is indispensable,” said Ruigu.

The survey was carried out in three countries, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, with Kenya generating the bulk of the respondents.

Schumer: Bipartisan health care bill ‘has a majority’

40447_ Schumer: Bipartisan health care bill 'has a majority'

“This is a good compromise. It took months to work out,” Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer said of a bipartisan effort to stablize health insurance markets. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

10/22/2017 12:27 PM EDT

Updated 10/22/2017 12:48 PM EDT

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday that the Alexander-Murray bipartisan health care bill has support from a majority of senators, and he urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring it to the floor “immediately.”

“This is a good compromise. It took months to work out. It has a majority. It has 60 senators supporting it. We have all 48 Democrats, 12 Republicans,” Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on “Meet the Press” on NBC. “I would urge Senator McConnell to put it on the floor immediately, this week. It will pass and it will pass by a large number of votes.”

Story Continued Below

Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced this past week that they had reached an agreement on a Obamacare deal which would fund a key insurance subsidy program. The deal is meant to allow for some breathing room for the system amid attempts to improve or replace it.

Schumer said President Donald Trump originally urged lawmakers to come up with a bipartisan health care fix, but he added that the president’s reluctance to support the bipartisan bill comes after the “right wing” attacked it.

“The Republicans are in charge, and they should be coming up with a solution and Senator Alexander, their leader on health care did,” Schumer said.

“We can get together in a bipartisan way, the president urged it originally. He called both Senators Murray and Alexander and said, ‘Come to a solution.’ Then they come to a solution. The right wing attacks it, and he backs off. That’s not leadership.”

McConnell said on Sunday during an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” that he would bring the bill to the floor only if Trump would sign it. Trump has called the bill a “short-term fix” and has urged lawmakers to go further.

Mississippi Senator’s Health Woes Narrow Republican Majority

An aide to Mr. Cochran, 79, said on Monday that it was not yet clear when that would be.

Mr. Cochran is the chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee and a reliable vote for Senate leadership, making his health a source of widespread discussion in Washington, where Republicans fear he could be out of commission for the remainder of the year.

His precise condition has not been made publicly clear.

Late last month, as Senate Republicans’ most recent bid to dismantle the Affordable Care Act was collapsing, President Trump suggested on Twitter that a senator had been hospitalized and was unable to vote on the measure. It was an apparent reference to Mr. Cochran, who wrote in a tweet of his own that he had, in fact, not been hospitalized, but was recovering at home.

The absence — and the possibility that it could stretch on — is particularly concerning to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, who has struggled to translate Republican control in Washington into a meaningful legislative victory. Mr. McConnell’s majority was already small, and with a special Senate election scheduled for December in Alabama, it could soon become less predictable. One fewer reliable Republican vote would add to that.

In the meantime, Mr. McConnell needs to lock down the support of Mr. McCain and Mr. Paul for a budget blueprint that could come to a vote on Friday or Saturday. Mr. McCain would like to see greater increases to military spending. Mr. Paul is a fiscal hawk who has shown himself willing to buck his party’s leadership.

Republican leaders expect they can muster the votes. The House passed a budget blueprint this month.

Fears that Mr. Cochran may not recover have also fueled conjecture about political chaos breaking out in Mississippi, a Republican stronghold that has become an open front in the battle between the party’s establishment wing and an emerging nationalist wing, backed by Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist.

Mr. Cochran, an establishment figure best known for the federal money he has secured for his state, was nearly knocked off in a primary challenge in 2014 by Chris McDaniel, a firebrand state senator.

Now Mr. McDaniel is weighing a challenge to the state’s other Republican senator, Roger Wicker, a McConnell ally cut from Mr. Cochran’s mold.

Mr. Cochran’s health could determine whether another seat may soon be up for grabs, placating Mr. McDaniel or perhaps laying the groundwork for another intraparty fight.

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Poll: Majority supports single-payer health care

A slim majority of Americans support a single-payer health-care system that is funded and administrated by the government and eliminates private insurers, according to a new poll.

The latest Harvard-Harris Poll survey found 52 percent favor a single-payer system against 48 who oppose it. A strong majority of Democrats — 69 percent — back the idea. Republicans oppose single-payer, 65-35, and independents are split, with 51 percent opposing and 49 supporting.

“Given all of the discontent with health care and desire for coverage, single-payer has more support than I have seen in the past, with the country split down the middle,” said Harvard-Harris Poll co-director Mark Penn. “But health-care questions like this are before there has been a public debate on the costs and the effect of a single source for plans and we have often seen support disappear after that kind of debate.”

Sen. Bernie Sanderscdf69_sandersbernie_052317gn2_lead Poll: Majority supports single-payer health careBernard (Bernie) SandersOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Dems fear lasting damage from Clinton-Sanders fight MORE (I-Vt.) introduced a “Medicare for all” bill earlier this year to much acclaim from the left.

But the bill has no chance of passing the GOP-controlled Congress and was greeted coolly by Democratic leadership and swing-state Democrats running for reelection in 2018. 

However, the bill attracted support from potential 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, such as Sens. Elizabeth Warrencdf69_sandersbernie_052317gn2_lead Poll: Majority supports single-payer health careElizabeth Ann WarrenSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Trump bets base will stick with him on immigration Dems call for action against Cassidy-Graham ObamaCare repeal MORE (Mass.) and Cory Bookercdf69_sandersbernie_052317gn2_lead Poll: Majority supports single-payer health careCory Anthony BookerSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Grassley: ‘Good chance’ Senate panel will consider bills to protect Mueller Overnight Finance: GOP plans to unveil tax framework in late September | Critical stretch for Trump tax team | Equifax CEO called to testify | Sanders unveils single-payer bill MORE (N.J.). It was viewed by many on the left as a watershed moment for liberals.

When voters are told that Sanders and Warren are attached to the bill, 33 percent said they support it, 29 percent oppose and 38 said they didn’t have enough information to have an opinion. Knowing who is attached to the bill, most Republicans opposed it, most Democrats supported it and most independents said they didn’t know enough about it.

The best-polling aspect of single-payer is the public’s belief that it will cover more people. Sixty-nine percent said it would provide more coverage, including 54 percent of Republicans.

The public is largely split on every other question, with 51 percent saying the government should provide all health care and 49 saying it should only subsidize health care for the poor and elderly.

“Young people were most supportive of single-payer, while seniors, who use the most health care, reject it by a wide margin,” said Penn.

Fifty-one percent said the single-payer system will lead to runaway government spending and higher taxes, against 49 percent that said it would work out. Fifty-three percent said a single-payer system would restrict people’s choices in medical care.

Fifty-two percent said a government-run system would save the health-care system money, while 48 said it would be more expensive. 

Fifty-two percent said single-payer will improve the efficiency of the health-care system, and 53 percent said they believe they’d be able to keep their current doctor.

The Harvard-Harris Poll online survey of 2,177 registered voters was conducted from Sept. 17 to 20. The partisan breakdown is 37 percent Democrat, 31 percent Republican, 28 percent independent and 4 percent other.

The Harvard-Harris Poll is a collaboration of the Harvard Center for American Political Studies and The Harris Poll. The Hill will be working with Harvard-Harris Poll throughout 2017. 

Full poll results will be posted online later today. The Harvard–Harris Poll survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.

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