Saturday, January 28, 2017
US court stays Trump immigration ban; Oil falls on prospect of higher US output; Cloud business boosts tech giants
1 US court stays Trump immigration ban (Raya Jalabi & Alan Yuhas in The Guardian) A federal judge has granted a stay on deportations for people who arrived in the US with valid visas but were detained on entry, following President Donald Trump’s executive order to halt travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The stay is only a partial block to the broader executive order, with the judge stopping short of a broader ruling on its constitutionality. Nevertheless, it was an early, significant blow to the new administration.
Less than 24 hours after two Iraqi men were detained at John F Kennedy airport in New York on Saturday morning, Judge Ann Donnelly ordered an emergency stay, blocking the deportation of any individual currently being held in airports across the US. “I think the government hasn’t had a full chance to think about this,” Donnelly told a packed courtroom.
The swift pace at which the travel ban was drawn up and implemented was plain in the conduct of the court. Lawyers representing the government displayed a clear lack of information, echoing the confusion of various government agencies in the past 24 hours.
2 Oil falls on prospect of higher US output (Gulf News) Oil dropped from a three-week high amid speculation that increased US drilling will boost output, offsetting cuts by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and other producers.
Futures fell 1.1 per cent in New York. Rigs targeting crude in the US rose this week by 15 to 566, the highest since November 2015, according to Baker Hughes Inc data. American crude output is the highest level since April, government data show. Oil supplies from Opec are plunging this month, according to tanker-tracker Petro-Logistics SA.
Last month’s pact between Opec and 11 other nations gave hope to a market stuck in a two-and-a-half-year slump. While Saudi Arabia says more than 80 per cent of the agreed cuts have been implemented, analysts and investors are waiting for data to gauge the extent of the decrease. The International Energy Agency says rising prices will spur US shale output, and drillers are adding more rigs.
Energy shares slipped after Chevron Corp posted its first annual loss since at least 1980, signalling the difficulties faced by the world’s biggest oil companies as they struggle to emerge from the worst collapse in a generation.
3 Cloud business boosts tech giants (Straits Times) Alphabet, Microsoft and Intel, which all posted quarterly results on Thursday, have reinforced what has become a truism in technology: the biggest growth is in businesses that deliver computing over the Internet.
Microsoft topped projections on the strength of rising customer sign-ups for its cloud offerings like Azure, which saw revenue almost double. Intel sales rose more than expected, helped by orders for processors that power data-centre servers - the machines at the heart of cloud computing.
Although profit at Google parent Alphabet disappointed, the numbers signalled that heavy spending to catch cloud leaders Amazon.com and Microsoft is paying off. Google's Other Revenue line, which includes cloud computing, jumped 62 per cent to $3.4 billion in the fourth quarter.
"Our cloud business is on a terrific upswing," Google chief executive officer Sundar Pichai said. "I definitely think we're going to have a great year." What started a decade ago as an easy way for start-ups to run websites has turned into an increasingly popular way for companies of all sizes to access the software needed to run their operations.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has been working to reposition the company around such Internet services. In addition to robust demand for Azure, consumers and corporations continue to buy Office 365, a cloud-based version of the company's productivity software that includes Word and Excel.
Intel's fourth-quarter sales of server chips to cloud service providers jumped 30 per cent from a year earlier. "It's moving to the public cloud, it's moving to those areas at a faster rate than I think we expected," said Intel CEO Brian Krzanich. Amazon reports earnings next week and RBC Capital Markets expects the company's AWS cloud business to generate $3.6 billion in fourth-quarter revenue, up 50 per cent from the year before.