Global Business Daily: Tech bosses quizzed, TikTok's $70m European creative fund, U.S. GDP dives
Patrick Atack in London
"We have a policy against using seller-specific data to aid our private-label business, but I can't guarantee you that that policy has never been violated."
Amazon boss Jeff Bezos was quizzed by Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal on the company's use of "third-party-seller data," and answered with today's opening quote.
When the lawmakers on Capitol Hill are looking for reassurance that web giants like Bezos's empire are behaving properly and with customers' interests at heart, it's no wonder the reception given to him, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Apple's Tim Cook was little warmer than a frosty November morning.
Another big story out of the U.S. today was the president's tweet suggesting a delay to the election, which is currently slated for 3 November, and any attempt to move it will receive similar frigidity. Some have been quick to ponder whether poor economic figures have soured the White House mood.
Across in Europe, today's video comes from Sotheby's auction house in London, where an online auction has brought in nearly $200 million. Iolo Ap Dafydd went along to watch.
And we look at how Sweden, the European country touted as brave for its lockdown-lite approach to COVID-19, is faring – scroll down to our graphic, which shows the track of Swedish business and consumer confidence.
Happy reading, Patrick Atack
Digital business correspondent
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U.S. GDP dropped by nearly a third, with declines outstripping the forecasts offered by analysts. The 32.9 percent loss from the economy in the second quarter comes after a decline of five percent in the first quarter, when the pandemic first struck the country.
Germany's economy also shrank by a record amount in Q2, with 10 percent lost compared with the first quarter. The year-on-year fall of 11 percent was also a record, since the quarterly measurements began in 1970.
Airbus has announced a fresh cut in production of its A350 long-range jet after the company released a larger-than-expected second-quarter loss – revenues at the aerospace giant dropped 55 percent in the second quarter compared with the year before.
TikTok is launching a $70 million fund in Europe to encourage creative content. The company said it hopes the money will support creators and supplement their income. It's the first time the company made money available to European users, as it fights to keep market access and retain users.
Renault's coronavirus recovery plan has been put in reverse by the announcement the company recorded a loss of almost $8.5 billion over the first half of the year. Sales at the group, which also includes Dacia, Alpine and Russia-based Avtovaz, fell by 34.9 percent between January and June.
Royal Dutch Shell has posted a modest second-quarter profit, despite a plunging oil price. Earnings have been helped by a booming trading business. Net income fell more than 80 percent year-on-year, but was still well above expectations. Shell has slashed the value of its oil and gas assets. And the company's CEO says energy demand may never return to pre-pandemic levels.
Credit Suisse has beaten expectations, with net profits up 24 percent. The Swiss bank has also unveiled an overhaul of its investment bank. Through the revamp, the company's new CEO wants to save more than $430 million a year. Jobs will be cut across all regions, but new jobs will be added – with overall headcount unchanged.
The world's largest brewer has sold more beer in June than a year earlier, as global lockdowns ease. Anheuser-Busch Inbev reported record sales in China last month. But the company still suffered a sharp fall in second-quarter earnings with, among other issues, an alcohol ban hitting sales in South Africa.
In Germany, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz faced a closed-door session of the Bundestag, answering legislators' questions about his handling of the Wirecard scandal. He insisted new regulations would ensure no more firms slip through the financial net. MPs from the Left Party were among those who remained unsatisfied by Scholz's answers.
The 21st century giants of industry, the leaders of web behemoths Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet faced U.S. congressional ire and accusations of behaving "like cyber-barons." Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai, of Google's parent firm Alphabet, answered several hours of lawmakers' questions.
UK car production has hit another negative milestone, with the fewest cars made in the first half of the year since the end of wartime rationing in 1954. The current rate has the UK producing around 800,000 cars this year, compared with 1.2 million predicted before the pandemic.
Watch: Sotheby's live-streamed auction was a financial success. Experts in London, New York, and Hong Kong, working for anonymous clients, bought $192.7 million of work from some of art history's biggest names, including Picasso, Rembrandt, and Banksy.
CGTN Europe spoke to Amos Folarin, the senior software development group leader at King's College London, about his team's innovative idea to take data from wearable fitness technology to recognize COVID-19 symptoms.
What is the aim of your project?
We're trying to put together an application that will allow us to collect data from Fitbit and devices from participants around the world. So this is really a citizen science project. And with this type of data, we're hoping to be able to identify cases where people are experiencing symptoms of a kind of respiratory illness.
Is there any way that these tech devices will be able to differentiate perhaps between coronavirus symptoms and symptoms of other diseases?
Yes… in addition to the sort of symptoms, questionnaires that we will give our participants, we will also get information back about participants who test positive for the coronavirus. So we'll be able to then look at the differences between people who have experienced a concrete case of the coronavirus and people who have just any other kind of respiratory illness.
What about privacy? Is this secure?
We have to go through very stringent processes to explain to ethics boards about exactly what we're collecting, how we're going to use that. We wouldn't want to mix this with a private venture.
Today's graphic shows the Economic Tendency Survey results over the past 12 months. The median score is 100, meaning the economy is going how traders and consumers would expect. Above 100 shows better-than-expected performance and below 100 means a poor economic performance for the month. Though it has begun to recover, it's clear that Swedes don't think any recovery is complete.