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WHO officials say decision to delay Olympics ‘difficult but wise’

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A pedestrian wearing mask walking past the Olympic rings in Tokyo, Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced on Tuesday that Japan and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have agreed to postpone the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games by one year.

Du Xiaoyi | Xinhua News Agency | Getty

The International Olympic Committee’s decision to delay the Tokyo Olympic games until 2021 was “difficult but wise” as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the globe, World Health Origination officials said Wednesday. 

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed over 16,000 people globally, continues to take its toll, including the IOC’s “difficult but wise” decision to postpone the 2020 Summer Games. 

“I thank Prime Minister Abe and the members of the IOC for making this sacrifice to protect the health of athletes, spectators and officials,” Tedros said at a press briefing.

On Tuesday, the IOC and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe postponed the 2020 Olympics, which were scheduled to begin July 24 in Tokyo, and the Paralympic Games for no later than summer 2021. The decision came after weeks of rising calls to postpone the games due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which has killed over 16,000 people globally. 

Over the weekend, the IOC said in a statement that there were significant improvements in the coronavirus outbreak in Japan and, with certain safety restrictions, the Olympic Games could go on. 

Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal owns NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. NBC Olympics is the U.S. broadcast rights holder to all Summer and Winter Games through the year 2032.

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India’s data regulation proposal spurs concerns from U.S. tech industry

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This photograph taken on September 28, 2017, shows a smartphone being operated in front of the logos of Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon web giants.

Damien Meyer | AFP | Getty Images

India’s plan to regulate “non-personal” data has jolted U.S. tech giants Amazon, Facebook and Google, and a group representing them is preparing to push back against the proposals, according to sources and a letter seen by Reuters.

A government-appointed panel in July recommended setting up a regulator for information that is anonymized or devoid of personal details but critical for companies to build their businesses.

The panel proposed a mechanism for firms to share data with other entities – even competitors – saying this would spur the digital ecosystem. The report, if adopted by the government, will form the basis of a new law to regulate such data.

But the U.S.-India Business Council, part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, calls imposed data sharing “anathema” to promoting competition and says this undermines investments made by companies to process and collect such information, according to a draft letter for the Indian government.

“USIBC and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are categorically opposed to mandates that require the sharing of proprietary data,” says the USIBC’s previously unreported letter, which is likely to be completed and submitted in coming weeks to India’s information-technology ministry.

“It will also be tantamount to confiscation of investors’ assets and undermine intellectual property protections.”

A USIBC spokeswoman had no comment on the draft letter. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce didn’t respond to Reuters queries.

The head of the panel, Kris Gopalakrishnan, a founder of Indian technology giant Infosys, said the group will work with the government to review input from the industry.

India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet’s Google did not respond to requests for comment. The report is open for public comments until September 13.

India’s plan to regulate non-personal data is the latest irritant for U.S. tech companies that have been battling tighter e-commerce rules and data storage norms that several countries are also developing.

New Delhi and Washington are already at odds on such issues, as well as over digital taxes and tariffs.

The USIBC draft letter says “forced data sharing” will limit foreign trade and investment in developing countries, and the panel’s proposals run against Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s calls for U.S. companies to invest in India.

The lobby group expresses concern about the panel’s recommendation to mandate local storage for non-personal data, describing this as a “dramatic tightening” of India’s international data transfer regime.

“These are far-reaching concepts that would have a significant impact on the ability of both Indian and multinational firms to do business in India,” Washington-headquartered law firm Covington & Burling said in a note prepared for the USIBC, which was also seen by Reuters.

The law firm did not respond to a request for comment.

The Indian panel has listed research, national security and policymaking among purposes for which such data should be shared. Three sources said tech executives participated in several meetings in recent weeks to discuss concerns over the report.

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Stock futures slip after Trump signs orders extending coronavirus relief

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Trader Michael Urkonis works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, January 28, 2020.

Bryan R Smith | Reuters

U.S. stock futures slipped on Sunday night after President Donald Trump signed several executive orders aimed at extending coronavirus relief.

Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 5 points, or less than 0.1%. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures were also marginally lower. 

Those orders continue the distribution of expanded unemployment benefits, defer student loan payments through 2020, extend a federal moratorium on evictions and provide a payroll tax holiday. However, the unemployment benefit will be continued at a reduced rate of $400 per week. Originally, the benefit provided workers impacted by the pandemic with $600 per week.

Trump’s moves come after congressional leaders failed to make progress on a new coronavirus stimulus package last week. Several benefits from a package signed earlier in the year lapsed at the end of July, raising uncertainty about the U.S. economy moving forward.

“The fiscal cliff still represents downside risk for August,” said Aneta Markowska, chief financial economist at Jefferies. Markowska added, however, any weakness from this will be “short-lived.”

“By September, another round of fiscal support will create positive momentum. The reopening of schools, even if only in some states, will reinforce the positive momentum by (1) boosting back-to-school shopping and (2) allowing more parents to return to work in September,” she said in a note to clients. “Bottom line, all the stars are lining up for another inflection point in activity and a second leg up in the reopening.”

Wall Street was coming off a strong weekly performance. The Dow rose 3.8% last week for its biggest weekly gain since June. The S&P 500 climbed 2.5% along with the Nasdaq Composite. Last week’s gains come during a historically tough time for the market as August kicks off the worst three-month stretch for the S&P 500.

Those gains were led in part by Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, all of which rose by more than 3% last week. They also left the S&P 500 just 1.2% below its Feb. 19 record high.

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U.S.-China tensions to weigh on sentiment

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Vehicles are reflected in a window as electronic boards display stock information at the Australian Securities Exchange, operated by ASX.

Lisa Maree | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Futures pointed to a slightly higher open Monday in Australia as investors remain cautious over heightened U.S.-China tensions. 

SPI futures traded up 0.7% at 6,014, a touch more than the benchmark ASX 200’s last close at 6,004.80. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7154, sliding from levels near $0.7200 in the previous week. 

Australia is also tackling a fresh wave of coronavirus outbreak in Victoria state, which accounts for the majority of reported cases and deaths in the country. In an effort to slow the spread of infection, the state has imposed strict lockdown measures limiting people’s movements and closed large parts of the economy. 

Markets in Japan are closed Monday for a public holiday. 

U.S.-China tensions

U.S. President Donald Trump last week issued executive orders that are set to ban American use of WeChat and TikTok, taking effect from the middle of next month.

Following that, the Trump administration said it will impose a fresh round of sanctions on 11 individuals, including Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam for her role in overseeing and “implementing Beijing’s policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes.”

Administration officials have also urged Trump to delist Chinese firms that trade on U.S. exchanges and fail to meet U.S. auditing requirements by Jan. 2022, Reuters reported last week

“The bigger question for markets is whether these actions jeopardise the US-China trade talks on August 15 and markets will be looking closely for any Chinese retaliation,” Tapas Strickland, director for economics and markets at the National Australia Bank, wrote in a Monday morning note. 

“The running assumption in markets has been President Trump needed the phase one deal to succeed (as much as China) this side of the November elections to secure the mid-West. At the same time President Trump is running a hard China line into the elections,” he added. 

U.S. futures slipped Sunday night after the president signed several executive orders aimed at extending coronavirus relief — infection cases in the U.S. topped 5 million.

The U.S. dollar traded at 93.430 against a basket of its peers, climbing from levels around 92.800 in the previous week. 

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