Trump Will Remain Off Facebook, for Now
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Trump Will Remain Off Facebook, for Now

Here’s what it means for the stock.

By Max A. Cherney
Thu, May 6, 2021 1:24pmGrey Clock 2 min

A body funded by Facebook to arbitrate decisions about content issued its first major ruling early Wednesday, saying the social network’s ban on former President Donald Trump‘s account was fair, but describing his indefinite suspension as inappropriate.

Facebook (ticker: FB) shares were choppy when the market opened, ticking up 0.2% to $318.63 as investors processed the latest batch of quarterly earnings and a private-sector employment report.

The decision about Trump’s account, which punts the matter back to Facebook, is unlikely to have a significant impact on the stock. As Barron’s wrote in our April 2 cover story, the company has faced controversy after controversy, with little impact on its profit and revenue growth over the years. Wednesday’s decision is no different.

Fifty-eight sell-side analysts cover Facebook and none made a change to their target price or recommendation on shares immediately after the decision.

Facebook’s Oversight Board said that the former president’s posts on the platform after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, as Congress was certified the 2020 election, violated the company’s rules

“However, it wasn’t appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension,” the board wrote. “Facebook’s normal penalties include removing the violating content, imposing a time-bound period of suspension, or permanently disabling the page and account.”

The Oversight Board told Facebook to “determine and justify a proportionate response” that follows the rules the company applies to other users.

Facebook created the oversight board and provided funding for it to handle final decisions about a select batch of content. The company has vowed to abide by the body’s recommendations in specific content cases brought before it. Facebook has 30 days to publish a response to the decision and recommendations.

“We will now consider the board’s decision and determine an action that is clear and proportionate. In the meantime, Mr. Trump’s accounts remain suspended,” said a blog post by Nick Clegg, Facebook vice president for global affairs and communications.

Twitter permanently banned Trump from its platform after the incident at the Capitol. At the time, at least one analyst was concerned that kicking the former president off the site could damage the company’s user count and revenue.

But fears of financial problems as a result look to be unfounded. Twitter’s latest quarterly results were better than analysts expected. Twitter hasn’t signalled it plans to re-evaluate the decision.

Facebook stock has advanced 6.8% since Barron’s cover story, as the S&P 500 index rose 3.9%.



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Surveys point to a fresh acceleration in the U.S., even as growth in the eurozone strengthens

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Global economic growth is becoming more broad based, with surveys indicating that business activity in both the U.S. and the eurozone gained momentum in May.

The eurozone economy contracted in the second half of 2023 following a surge in energy and food prices triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the subsequent rise in interest rates intended to tame that inflation.

By contrast, the U.S. economy expanded strongly over the same period, opening up an unusually wide growth gap with the eurozone. That gap narrowed as the eurozone returned to growth in the first three months of the year, while the U.S. slowed.

However, surveys released Thursday point to a fresh acceleration in the U.S., even as growth in the eurozone strengthened. That bodes well for a global economy that relied heavily on the U.S. for its dynamism in 2023.

The S&P Global Flash U.S. Composite PMI —which gauges activity in the manufacturing and services sectors—rose to 54.4 in May from 51.3 in April, marking a 25-month high and the first time since the beginning of the year that the index hasn’t slowed. A level over 50 indicates expansion in private-sector activity.

“The data put the U.S. economy back on course for another solid gross domestic product gain in the second quarter,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Eurozone business activity in turn increased for the third straight month in May, and at the fastest pace in a year, the surveys suggest. The currency area’s joint composite PMI rose to 52.3 from 51.7.

The uptick was led by powerhouse economy Germany, where continued strength in services and improvement in industry drove activity to its highest level in a year. That helped the manufacturing sector in the bloc as a whole grow closer to recovery, reaching a 15-month peak.

By contrast, surveys of purchasing managers pointed to a slowdown in the U.K. economy following a stronger-than-expected start to the year that saw it outpace the U.S. The survey was released a day after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called a surprise election for early July, banking on signs of an improved economic outlook to turn around a large deficit in the opinion polls.

Similar surveys pointed to a further acceleration in India’s rapidly-expanding economy, and to a rebound in Japan, where the economy contracted in the first three months of the year. In Australia, the surveys pointed to a slight slowdown in growth during May.

Businesses reported that they were raising their prices at the slowest pace since November, which should reassure the European Central Bank. However, the eurozone continued to add jobs in May, suggesting that wages might not cool as rapidly as the ECB had hoped.

The ECB released figures Thursday that showed wages negotiated by labor unions in the eurozone were 4.7% higher in the first quarter than a year earlier, a faster increase than the 4.5% recorded in the final three months of 2023

The ECB has signalled it will lower its key interest rate in early June, while the Fed is waiting for evidence that a slowdown in inflation will resume after setbacks this year.

Nevertheless, eurozone businesses and households shouldn’t bank on successive cuts to borrowing costs, ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos said. “There is a huge degree of uncertainty,” he said. “We have made no decisions on the number of interest rate cuts or on their size,” he said in an interview published Thursday. “We will see how economic data evolve.”

Continued resilience in the eurozone economy would likely make the ECB more cautious about lowering borrowing costs after its first move, economist Franziska Palmas at Capital Economics wrote in a note. “If the economy continues to hold up well, cuts further ahead may be slower than we had anticipated,” she said.

– Edward Frankl contributed to this story.

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Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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