New Petrobras CEO rules out privatization, wants non-core asset sales

A University of Chicago-trained economist named on Monday to head Brazil’s Petrobras will not privatize the state-run company, but wants to push ahead with selling non-core assets and to focus on oil exploration and production.

Shooting at Chicago hospital leaves four in critical condition

At least four people, including a police officer, were shot near a Chicago hospital and in critical condition on Monday afternoon and at least one “possible offender” has been shot, police and fire officials said.

Northern Irish DUP fail to back UK PM May in finance bill votes

The small Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which supports British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government, failed to back her in several votes on a finance bill on Monday after being vocally critical of her draft Brexit deal.

House Democrats target DOJ decision not to defend Obamacare

Democrats will scrutinize the Trump administration’s decision not to defend Obamacare in federal court, when Democrats take control of the U.S. House of Representatives next year, a leading Democrat said on Monday.

NASA picks a landing spot on Mars for its 2020 rover

Image of a river delta on Mars, taken from orbit.

On Monday, NASA announced that it had chosen a landing spot for its upcoming Mars 2020 rover. The site (more or less at center here) is called Jezero Crater, and it contains a delta formed by flowing water. NASA says that landing in its difficult terrain requires new technology that allows increased steering in the atmosphere.

Mars 2020 will be based on the design of the Curiosity rover, which is currently operating in Gale Crater, but it will have a different suite of instruments. The mission will have two focuses: to give us a better perspective on whether Mars has ever hosted life and to cache rocks for a sample return mission.

The details of how to get rocks back off the Red Planet are still being worked out. But there has been a steadily growing body of evidence that Mars had large amounts of liquid water on its surface in the distant past, and Mars 2020 will be about sampling some of what that water left behind in order to determine if it could have hosted lifeforms similar to those on Earth.

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Interest rates and fears of a mounting trade war send tech stocks lower

Shares of technology companies were battered in today’s trading as fears of an increasing trade war between the U.S. and China and rising interest rates convinced worried investors to sell.

The Nasdaq Composite Index, which is where many of the country’s largest technology companies trade their shares, was down 219.4 points, or 3 percent, to 7,028.48. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 395.8 points, or 1.6 percent, to 25,017.44.

Facebook, Alphabet (the parent company of Google), Apple, Netflix and Amazon all fell into bear trading territory, which means that the value of these stocks have slid more than 20 percent. CNBC has a handy chart illustrating just how bad things have been for the largest tech companies in the U.S.

Some of the woes from tech stocks aren’t necessarily trade-war related. Facebook shares have been hammered on the back of a blockbuster New York Times report detailing the missteps and misdirection involved in the company’s response to Russian interference in the U.S. elections. Investors are likely concerned that the company’s margins will shrink as it spends more on content moderation.

And Apple saw its shares decline on reports that sales of its new iPhones may not be as rosy as the company predicted — although the holiday season should boost those numbers. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Apple has cut the targets for all of its new phones amid uncertainties around sales.

The Journal reported that in recent weeks, Apple had cut its production orders for all of the iPhone models it unveiled in September, which has carried through the supply chain. Specifically, targets for the new iPhone XR were cut by one-third from the 70 million units the company had asked suppliers to produce, according to WSJ sources.

Those sales numbers had a ripple effect throughout Apple’s supply chain, hitting the stock prices for a number of suppliers and competitors.

But the U.S. government’s escalating trade war with China is definitely a concern for most of the technology industry as tariffs are likely to affect supply chains and drive prices higher.

According to a research note from Chris Zaccarelli, the chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance, quoted in MarketWatch, interest rates and slowing global growth are adding to trade war pressures to drive tech stock prices down.

“Tech continues to be caught in the crosshairs of the triple threat of rising interest rates, global growth fears and trade tensions with China,” Zaccarelli wrote. “Trade war concerns with China weigh on the global supply chain for large technology companies while global growth fears worry many that future earnings will be lower,” he said.