Netflix Is Rewarding Executives for Passage of Tax Reform: LIVE MARKETS BLOG

 | Dec 29, 2017 | 4:11 PM EST
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The Nasdaq led the late morning selling that saw all three major indices close trading on Friday, the last day of trading of the year, deep in the red. 

The Nasdaq fell 0.67%, or 47 points in the session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.48%, or 118 points and the S&P 500 fell 0.52%, or 14 points, on the day. 

All three major indices closed trading at their session lows. 

Friday's close runs counter to the direction markets went this year, with each index setting multiple record highs throughout the year. 

Crypto Exchange CEO Released After Paying $1 Million Bitcoin Ransom

Pavel Lerner, CEO of U.K.-based cryptocurrency exchange Exmo Finance, has reportedly been released after being kidnapped in front of his office in Kiev, Ukraine earlier this week. 

Anton Gerashchenko, a Ukrainian adviser, told the Financial Times that Lerner was released after he paid a ransom of more than $1 million in bitcoins. 

Lerner, 40, was reportedly dragged into a black Mercedes-Benz by masked men after he left his office, according to local reports.

Trump Rolls Back Offshore Drilling Safety Requirements

Let the oil flow.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) announced that it will propose revisions to Obama-era laws governing offshore drilling activities that were put in place following the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

"I am confident that this revision of the Production Safety Systems Rule moves us forward toward meeting the Administration's goal of achieving energy dominance without sacrificing safety," said Director Scott A. Angelle. "By reducing the regulatory burden on industry, we are encouraging increased domestic oil and gas production while maintaining a high bar for safety and environmental sustainability."

The federal agency says that the amendments it plans to propose will unburden operators while offering the same level of environmental protections that were provided under the previous rules.

Netflix Is Rewarding Executives for Passage of Tax Reform

Netflix (NFLX) is such a fan of the GOP tax reform bill that the company is increasing Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos' salary to $12 million annually from $1 million.

"With the recent passage of federal tax reform, the performance bonus plan will no longer eliminate such surcharges," the company said in a filing this week. "As such, the compensation committee of the board of directors has determined that all cash compensation for 2018 will be paid as salary."

Chief Executive Reed Hastings will earn a base salary of $700,000 with $28.7 million in annual stock options. Chief Product Officer will earn a $6 million base salary with $6.6 million in stock options. CFO David Wells will earn $2.8 million in salary with $2.5 million in stock options next year. 

Alaska Airlines Sued Over Fatal Escalator Fall

Alaska Airlines (ALK) was sued by the family of a 74-year old elderly woman who died three months after falling down an escalator at an airport in Portland.

The woman's family had requested a wheelchair assistance service to help her once she landed. After initially receiving assistance, surveillance video showed the woman wandering the airport unattended, and eventually, she found herself falling down an escalator. 

The woman suffered lacerations to her face and a wound on her right leg that became infected and resulted in her death.

Alaska Airlines says that the contractor it hired to help with disabled passengers in need provided the service like it was supposed to, but the woman declined further assistance. 

Alaska Air was down 0.34% Friday afternoon. 

Apple Loses Court Battle to Italian Clothing Company Over the Name of Steve Jobs

Deceased Apple Inc. (AAPL) founder Steve Jobs' name will live on as a branding tool for an Italian clothing company after the company lost a lawsuit seeking to keep "Steve Jobs" from using their founder's moniker to sell jeans.

Two brothers from Naples, Italy trademarked the name 'Steve Jobs' in 2012 after noticing that there wasn't a trademark on the name. Already in the process of starting their own clothing company, the pair chose to name their venture Steve Jobs.

Apple sued Vincenzo and Giacomo Barbato over the trademark. Apple was particularly offended by the stylized version of the letter 'J' in the name, which featured a bite taken out -- ala Apple's iconic mark -- and a leaf above the letter.

The judge ruled that since the letter 'j' isn't edible that the bite could not be a rip off of the company's logo.

Mcdonald's Can't Vouch for 40% of Indian Restaurants

McDonald's (MCD) said that it is unsure about what is being served at 169 of its restaurants in India due to "serious compliance risks" involving food quality. 

The statement is part of the company's ongoing litigation with local partner Connaught Plaza Restaurants (CPRL). McDonald's issued a notice of termination of its franchise agreement with the company four months ago, saying that CPRL breached the terms of their partnership.

The American company barred CPRL from using its brand name, trademarks, designs and food recipes. But CPRL has ignored McDonald's directives and has continued to use McDonald's branding. 

Opening Bell

U.S. markets opened in the green across the board on the final day of trading in 2017.

The S&P 500 was leading the way higher, rising 0.12%, or 3.29 points while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.06%, or 15 points, and the Nasdaq climbed 0.07%, or 4.7 points.

The Dow is on pace to have its best year of trading since 2013. The blue-chip index has risen more than 27% this year. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 has risen 20% and the Nasdaq has spiked about 30%.

India's Finance Ministry Likens Crypto to 'Ponzi Schemes'

India's finance ministry cautioned investors on the cryptocurrency craze, likening digital commodities like bitcoin to "Ponzi schemes."

"There is a real and heightened risk of investment bubble of the type seen in Ponzi schemes," a statement released by the government office said. 

India currently has no regulation for cryptocurrencies, but the country's capital market regulator said that it is in talks with the government and central bank on how to regulate them. 

Bitcoin Exchange CEO Kidnapped in Kiev

Pavel Lerner, CEO of U.K.-registered bitcoin exchange Exmo Bitcoin, has been kidnapped outside of his company offices in Kiev, Ukraine, according to reports. Lerner, 40, was reportedly dragged into a black Mercedes-Benz by masked men after he left his office, according to local reports.

The BBC was unable to confirm that Lerner was the person kidnapped, but police told the news service that a man was kidnapped. 

Exmo then suffered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that was intended to disrupt its exchange. 

EXMO is under the DDoS attack.

The site will be available within half an hour.

We apologize for the temporary inconvenience.

Sincerely, The EXMO Team

— EXMO (@Exmo_com) December 28, 2017

Goldman Says Tax Bill Will Cost It One Time $5 Billion Charge

Goldman Sachs (GS) said that it expects to take a $5 billion one-time charge related to the new tax law that was just signed by President Donald Trump. 

Two-thirds of the charge will stem from repatriation taxes when the lender brings overseas money home. The rest of the charge is attributable to the "effects of the implementation of the territorial tax system and the remeasurement of U.S. deferred tax assets at lower enacted corporate tax rates."

Goldman joins British lender Barclays (BCS) in forecasting a billion dollar charge due to the new law. Barclays said that it expects to pay a one-time charge of $1.3 billion. 


U.S. futures were indicating a strong opening for markets on the last day of trading in 2017. Markets were set to build off the momentum of a strong day of trading Thursday which saw the Dow move closer to 25k.

S&P 500 futures contracts were leading the way, rising 0.43%, or 11.5 points, while Nasdaq futures gained 0.33%, or 21 points and Dow futures climbed 0.31%, or 78 points. 

In Asia, the Nikkei was the lone major average to trade in the red, falling 0.08% on the day. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Composite and Hang Seng both rose 0.33% and 0.19% respectively. 

In Europe, trading on the FTSE 100 closed early, hitting a new record high of 7,787 points. The DAX in Germany was set to close down for the day with about 10 minutes left in trading while the CAC 40 in France declined 0.29% with about four hours left in trading. 

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