What's moving markets today
The backlash against Huawei is building. The Chinese company is the world's biggest maker of telecom equipment and a global leader in 5G technology. Its critics say it spies for the Chinese government. Huawei strongly denies those claims.
- US lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday that would tighten the rules for Chinese telecommunications companies. The proposed law would ban the sale of American parts to any Chinese telecom firm that has violated US export control laws or sanctions.
- The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday described the legislation as "hysteria." A spokeswoman said: "This is not a normal country's normal action."
- Federal prosecutors in the United States are looking into whether the company stole trade secrets from American business partners, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
- Several US lawmakers warned in a letter to Energy Secretary Rick Perry that Huawei's sale of solar panels in the United States threatens the electric grid, the FT reported Thursday.
- Germany is looking into whether it can ban the use of Huawei products in 5G networks, the WSJ reported Thursday.
Apple CEO Tim Cook is pushing the US government to pass comprehensive privacy legislation for consumers.
In an essay for Time, he said the Federal Trade Commission should create a "data-broker clearinghouse" requiring companies that obtain people's data to register and let consumers track their personal information. His article was part of a Time cover package on Big Tech and privacy.
He wants people to have the ability to "delete their data on demand, freely, easily and online, once and for all." He said:
Smart take: Cook is a vocal critic of the data practices of his Silicon Valley rivals, notably Facebook and Google. The two companies collect users' data to make tons of money off of targeted advertising, while Apple garners revenue from hardware and software. Cook previously told CNN Business' Laurie Segall that user privacy is a "fundamental human right."
Media note: Time is now owned by fellow Silicon Valley leader Marc Benioff, an outspoken privacy advocate who urges regulation. Our colleague Brian Stelter says in his latest Reliable Sources newsletter: "But let's be honest, I could have easily seen the editors running this cover if Meredith still owned the mag..."
US stock futures are trading lower this morning.
Shares in Societe Generale (SCGLY) have dropped 3% after the French bank warned investors that its fourth-quarter performance had been affected by the "challenging environment in global capital markets."
Investors are also keeping an eye on Deutsche Bank (DB), after a series of media reports speculated about its future.
According to the Financial Times, Germany's Finance Ministry has asked banking regulators to share analysis on a potential merger of Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank (CRZBY), another large German bank.
This adds to long-held speculation that the lenders may someday be pushed together as part of a wave of bank consolidation in Europe.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Deutsche Bank's regulators at the European Central Bank would prefer it to find a partner in another European country in order to better integrate the region's financial markets.