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Italy crisis will be too much for Europe, Latvia finance minister warns

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Uncertainty continued to roil markets through Wednesday, although Italian stocks and bonds rebounded on reports that the two anti-establishment parties were renewing efforts to form a government, potentially staving off the prospect of a snap election.

Still, fears loom large over potential contagion, which refers to the spread of market disturbances from one region to others and is normally associated with a financial meltdown. The spread of an Italian financial and debt crisis to other countries could cripple their ability to repay government debt without third-party help.

The closest example of this would be Greece, whose debt crisis over the past several years brought chaos onto Europe and still remains a major problem for the continent today, although European safeguards largely prevented contagion.

Latvia adopted the shared European currency in 2014 and in 2017 saw robust growth of 4.5 percent, aided by EU funds like the European Social Fund, and European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund.

While the market panic seems to corroborate Reizniece-Ozola’s views, many analysts see the risk of contagion as small, and the risk of a euro departure even smaller. Former IMF Chief Economist Olivier Blanchard told CNBC this week that he believed Europe would be OK, but he was “very worried about Italy.”

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‘Risk of civil unrest’ around election

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the company has been taking steps to address the increased risk of potential civil unrest associated with the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election.

“I’m worried that with our nation so divided and election results potentially taking days or weeks to be finalized, there is a risk of civil unrest across the country,” Zuckerberg said on a call discussing Facebook’s third-quarter earnings. “Given this, companies like ours need to go well beyond what we’ve done before.”

Zuckerberg noted steps that Facebook has taken in response to this increased risk. This includes helping users register to vote, providing users with accurate information about the election, banning new political ads one week prior to the election, blocking ads that try to delegitimize the election results and banning problematic content, such as groups focused on the QAnon conspiracy theory and Holocaust denialism.

“This is not a shift in our underlying philosophy or strong support of free expression,” Zuckerberg said. “Instead it is a reflection of the increased risk of violence and unrest.”

Facebook is not alone in these concerns. Walmart on Thursday also removed guns and ammunition from sales floors in stores where those items had been displayed because of isolated incidents of “civil unrest” in some areas around the U.S.

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Dow futures fall more than 300 points as Apple and Amazon shares decline after earnings

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U.S. stock futures fell in early morning trading Friday after some of the technology heavyweights came under pressure following their quarterly reports.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 355 points. S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq-100 also traded in negative territory.

Shares of Apple fell more than 4% in extended trading after the tech giant reported a 16% decline in iPhone sales and failed to offer investors any guidance for the quarter ahead. Amazon dipped 1.87% even after the e-commerce giant reported blowout third-quarter results with a big beat on the top line.

Wall Street staged a modest rebound on Thursday on the back of better-than-expected U.S. gross domestic product and jobless claim data. The 30-stock Dow gained more than 100 points for its first positive day in five, while the S&P 500 rose 1.2% to snap a three-day losing streak. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.6%.

Still, major averages are on pace to post their worst weekly performance in months. The Dow is down 5.9% week to date, on pace for its worst week since March 20. The S&P 500 has fallen 4.5% this week, headed for its worst week since June 12.

Volatility remained elevated as investors grappled with rising new cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. and abroad. The Cboe Volatility Index (VIX), also known as Wall Street’s “fear gauge,” touched a high of 41.2 Thursday, its highest level since June 15.

“Pre-election market volatility is not unusual and has arisen around swirling questions about elections, COVID-19, and economic and earnings growth,” Paul Christopher, Wells Fargo’s head of global market strategy, said in a note Thursday. “This indigestion triggered declines in the S&P 500 Index.”

The Dow and the S&P 500 are also set to post their second straight month of losses as Wall Street wraps up a turbulent October. The 30-stock average is down 4% this month, and the S&P 500 has lost 1.5%. The Nasdaq outperformed, rising just 0.2% in the same period.

Shares of Alphabet soared more than 7% in extended trading after the Google parent company posted quarterly results that topped Wall Street expectations. Meanwhile, Twitter dropped more than 14% after the social media company reported user growth that fell short of expectations.

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Amazon (AMZN) earnings Q3 2020

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