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United Airlines cuts some China flights as demand falls amid coronavirus



United Airlines on Tuesday said it would suspend dozens of China flights next month because of a “significant decline in demand” to the country as it battles the growing number of coronavirus cases.

United has the most service to China of the U.S. airlines.

The flight cancellations take effect Feb. 1 and last through Feb. 8. It wasn’t immediately clear if United would cancel more flights.

We will continue to monitor the situation as it develops and will adjust our schedule as needed,” United said in a statement.

This is breaking news. Check back for updates.

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Facebook’s Zuckerberg meets EU’s competition chief ahead of new A.I. rules



Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is meeting Europe’s competition chief in Brussels Monday, at a time when regulators in the region are preparing new rules that could impact the social network’s business.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, is due to unveil new regulations on artificial intelligence (AI) Wednesday. Media reports suggest the EU could go as far as a temporary ban on the use of facial recognition. Facebook is one of many U.S. tech giants that have invested in A.I. Zuckerberg’s firm recently bought the British A.I. company Deeptide and the London-based computer vision start-up Scape Technologies.

Zuckerberg’s visit also happens at a time when European regulators are assessing whether Facebook’s data practices have disrespected competition law. Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition chief, is also looking at Google and Amazon data use in separate probes.

A Facebook spokesperson told CNBC Monday that Zuckerberg is meeting “with European decision-makers in Brussels to discuss a framework for new rules and regulation for the internet.” Shares of Facebook are up by about 30% over the last 12 months.

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg answers questions about the improper use of millions of users’ data by a political consultancy, at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, in this still image taken from Reuters TV May 22, 2018

ReutersTV | Reuters

Zuckerberg said in the Financial Times Sunday that private companies like Facebook need help from regulators in defining certain aspects of their work. Facebook’s chief has called for specific regulation when it comes to elections, harmful content, privacy and data portability.

“Mark Zuckerberg has changed his tune somewhat,” Seth Wallis-Jones, principal analyst at Omdia, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” Monday.

“He has been looking at four different areas, he has been talking about things like election integrity,” Wallis-Jones said, adding that Zuckerberg is “trying to avoid, I think, looking at the competition and the taxation aspects, which are probably the most expensive.”

Facebook and other big U.S. tech firms have been under pressure in Europe, but also to some extent in the United States. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said last week it would be examining prior acquisitions by Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft.

Wallis-Jones also told CNBC that on their own these acquisitions are not anti-competitive, “but if you look at pattern-behaviour maybe it does build them into something bigger.”

Apple CEO Time Cook has previously told CNBC that it acquires a company every two to three weeks on average, looking for talent and intellectual property.

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Victoria Beckham always gets ‘nervous’ in the run up to fashion shows



British fashion designer Victoria Beckham presents for her Autumn/Winter 2020 collection on the third day of London Fashion Week in London on February 16, 2020.

Daniel Leal-Olivas/ AFP via Getty Images

Fashion designer Victoria Beckham said she always gets nervous in the run up to her fashion shows.

“It doesn’t get any easier. If anything, I think it gets, it gets more difficult,” Beckham told CNBC’s Tania Bryer, when she caught up with the designer after her London Fashion Week show on Sunday.

“You literally don’t sleep for about five nights in the lead up to the show,” she added.

The former Spice Girl, who launched her eponymously named brand in 2008, said she was “a little bit innocent” about this when she first ventured into the fashion industry.

Despite what she describes as an “intense” week of preparation, Beckham said it was “fun” and “exciting” to see the “clothes come to life” in the show.

“And it’s about challenging myself every season,” said Beckham, adding that she spent a lot of time “agonizing over every single detail” of her collection and catwalk show.

The designer also explained how she was using her reach on social media to promote her brand. On Instagram, for instance, she has 28 million followers and has launched a filter game which asks users “Which VB are you?”

“I take my job very seriously, but I do like to have fun, and I think that you see that on social media,” she said, explaining that she also tried to do this in the colors and prints used in her fashion collections.

The designer rose to fame in the 1990s, first becoming known as “Posh Spice” in British girl band the Spice Girls. Marrying soccer star David Beckham cemented her place in the public eye but she then went on to develop her status as a fashion icon.

Beckham’s brand made nearly £36 million ($47 million) in revenue in 2018, according to the latest company accounts.


Speaking about the increasing importance of sustainable fashion, Beckham said the industry was “still educating” itself but she believed that it did recognize that it had a responsibility to tackle this issue.

She pointed out that her recently launched line of beauty products, focused on using “clean” ingredients, uses packaging that is made entirely of post-consumer waste. Beckham also opted for sending digital invites out to her show instead of posted invites.

Beckham said she had a “big plan” for the expansion of her beauty and make-up lines.

She also touched on the effect of coronavirus, in limiting travel from China and the impact this was having with designers seeing fewer people at their shows at this year’s various fashion weeks.

As a “big market” for her brand, she said it had affected business but that this was also the case for everyone in the fashion industry.

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Coronavirus could impact 5 million companies worldwide, research shows



People wearing protective face masks queue to order food from a stall in Shanghai on February 14, 2020.

Noel Celis | AFP | Getty Images

The new coronavirus outbreak and subsequent shutdown of huge swathes of China could impact more than 5 million businesses worldwide, according to a new study.

A special briefing issued by global business research firm Dun & Bradstreet analyzed the Chinese provinces most impacted by the virus, and found they are intricately linked to the global business network.

The affected areas with 100 or more confirmed cases as of February 5 are home to more than 90% of all active businesses in China, according to the report, and around 49,000 businesses in these regions are branches and subsidiaries of foreign companies.

Almost half (49%) of the companies with subsidiaries in impacted regions are headquartered in Hong Kong, while the U.S. accounts for 19%, Japan 12% and Germany 5%.

As of Monday, over 70,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed in China, resulting in 1,770 deaths, according to the Chinese National Health Commission.

Dun & Bradstreet researchers found that at least 51,000 companies worldwide, 163 of which are in the Fortune 1000, have one or more direct or “tier 1” suppliers in the impacted region, while at least 5 million — and 938 in the Fortune 1000 — have one or more “tier 2” suppliers.

The impact on businesses in China and around the world is already dragging down economic growth forecasts for the year.

In a research note published Monday, Moody’s revised down its global growth forecasts by two-tenths of a percentage point, expecting G-20 economies to collectively grow at an annual rate of 2.4% in 2020 with China slipping to 5.2%.

This assumes a baseline forecast that the spread of the virus is contained by the end of the first quarter, restoring “normal economic activity” in the second quarter. However, the global economic toll would be “severe” if the rate of infection and rising death toll do not abate, with international supply chain disruptions amplifying the shock.

“There is already evidence albeit anecdotal – that supply chains are being disrupted, including outside China. Furthermore, extended lockdowns in China would have a global impact given the country’s importance and interconnectedness in the global economy,” Moody’s Vice President Madhavi Bokil said in the research note.

The Dun & Bradstreet report identified that the top five major sectors, accounting for more than 80% of businesses within impacted provinces, were services, wholesale trade, manufacturing, retail and financial services.

Dun & Bradstreet hypothesized that a major portion of Chinese employment and sales originate from companies within the impacted region.

The impacted provinces of, for instance, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Beijing and Shandong account for 50% of total employment and 48% of total sales volume for the Chinese economy.

The Chinese economy constitutes around 20% of global GDP (gross domestic product) and analysts estimated that if containment of the outbreak is delayed beyond the summer, the “cascading effect” might cause a drag of around one percentage point on global GDP growth.

“No matter which scenario plays out, the Hubei region, China, and the global economy are indicated to see a churn in their business population and some lackluster employment and revenue growth in the near-term,” the company said in the report.

“When (not if) containment and eradication is achieved, factors within the impacted geography are bound to generate economic activity with consumers, satisfying pent-up demand once improved conditions are underway. The sum of the efforts to revitalize the region will place the global economy back on track for sustained growth.”

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