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The daily business briefing: October 10, 2018

Harold Maass
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
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1.

SoftBank discussing investing up to $20 billion in WeWork

SoftBank is in talks to invest up to $20 billion in WeWork to acquire a majority stake in the shared workspace company, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing anonymous sources. The potential deal would give Japan's SoftBank effective control over the fast-growing company. The discussions are ongoing, and there is no guarantee the two sides will reach a deal, the Journal reported. The investment under discussion would mark a huge infusion of cash into a private company. SoftBank and WeWork earlier this summer discussed a smaller investment that would have valued WeWork at up to $40 billion. [The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider]

2.

Google announces new smartphone, home speaker, and tablet

Google announced Tuesday a slate of new hardware, including the latest models of its Pixel smartphone. The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL will start at $799 and $899 respectively, with both phones getting a screen size upgrade. The devices, which ship Oct. 17, have two front-facing cameras and come with advanced photography software. Google also announced the Google Home Hub, a smart screen device that is essentially the company's version of Amazon's Echo Show and Facebook's Portal, although unlike its competitors, it does not contain a camera. The Home Hub retails for $149 and ships Oct. 22. Additionally, the Pixel Slate was also unveiled; this Chrome OS tablet has a 12.3-inch display. It starts at $599 and ships later this year. [The Verge, CNN]

3.

Trump says Fed interest-rate hikes unnecessary

President Trump on Tuesday resumed his criticism of the Federal Reserve for steadily raising interest rates even though inflation is under control near the Fed's target rate of 2 percent. "I like to see low interest rates," Trump told reporters on the White House lawn before leaving for an Iowa event. "The Fed is doing what it thinks is necessary but I don't like what they're doing because we have inflation really checked, and we have a lot of good things happening." Trump has complained numerous times that the Fed, which has raised interest rates three times this year and is expected to make one more increase this year, is hiking rates too fast and holding back the economy. [Reuters]

4.

Stocks struggle against ongoing concerns over trade and slowing global growth

World stocks edged up from eight-week lows on Wednesday but continued to struggle against ongoing concerns about trade tensions, $80-per-barrel oil, and slowing global economic growth. The possibility of a clash between Italy and the European Union over budget spending also weighed on markets. MSCI's world equity index rose by 0.1 percent after four days of losses. In the U.S., futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 fell by 0.1 percent, pointing to a slightly lower open on Wall Street. Sears shares plunged by 20 percent in pre-market trading after a report that it had hired advisers to prepare for a possible imminent bankruptcy filing. [The Associated Press, Reuters]

5.

Google challenges $5 billion EU fine

Google on Tuesday challenged a record $5 billion fine imposed in July by European Union antitrust regulators. The European Commission said Alphabet unit Google had abused the market dominance of its Android mobile operating system, provided free to device makers, to thwart rivals. The company said its appeal cites arguments Chief Executive Sundar Pichai made in July that Android has broadened consumer choice, rather than limiting it as the regulators suggest. EU competition regulators say Google uses Android, which runs roughly 80 percent of the world's smartphones, to force manufacturers to pre-install Google Search, its Chrome browser, and the Google Play app store on the devices. [Reuters, Engadget]