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After Zuckerberg’s Congress hearing, Facebook awaits further scrutiny

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Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., listens during a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.

Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., listens during a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.

Facebook’s Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg spent two days this week facing scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers, but the social network he helped create isn’t in the clear just yet.

The firm’s billionaire co-founder told lawmakers at the two-day Congress hearing of how his own data had been compromised as a result of the data scandal haunting the company. He said the company failed to notify the Federal Trade Commission about the leak of users’ data to controversial political data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica.

Now Facebook faces further scrutiny in Europe.

Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfner is due to appear before U.K. lawmakers later this month to address the ongoing data scandal enshrouding the company. Stepping in for the firm’s CEO, Schroepfner will face questions from the U.K. Digital, Media, Culture and Sport select committee, chaired by Damian Collins, on April 26.

British lawmakers still want to hear from the Facebook boss, however. After Zuckerberg declined an invitation to appear before British lawmakers, Collins, a parliamentarian from Britain’s governing Conservative Party, sent Facebook a letter insisting that Zuckerberg give evidence before the committee.

Facebook has admitted that the data of 87 million users’ profiles — even Zuckerberg’s — may have been shared without their permission to controversial political data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica. The social network has been letting users know whether their data was compromised since Monday.

“People will seek to clarify the converging testimonies, especially on the more technical aspects where he (Zuckerberg) was obscuring and giving evasive answers,” Paul-Olivier Dehaye, co-founder of PersonalData.IO, told CNBC in a phone interview.

Some commentators have said that U.S. politicians did not ask difficult enough questions to the Facebook CEO. That is something that could change when Schroepfner gives evidence, Dehaye said.



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The market is now pricing in almost a 50/50 chance of four rate hikes this year

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Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks at a news conference following the Federal Open Market Committee meetings in Washington, U.S., March 21, 2018.

Aaron P. Bernstein | Reuters

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks at a news conference following the Federal Open Market Committee meetings in Washington, U.S., March 21, 2018.

The market is finally coming around to the idea that the Federal Reserve this year will be raising interest rates a total of four times.

Though some big forecasting firms on Wall Street for months have been predicting a more aggressive Fed, traders thus far had been anticipating three moves this year — the increase already approved in March, plus two more, likely in June and September.

However, the fed funds futures market Monday morning gave almost a 50 percent probability that the central bank would move one more time in December.

The CME’s FedWatch tool, which has been a reliable gauge of the Federal Open Market Committee’s actions, assigned a 48.2 percent chance in early trade. The move toward a more aggressive Fed came as the benchmark 10-year Treasury note yield hovered around 3 percent, which multiple bond experts have predicted would be a key level.

The probability had been just 33 percent a month ago and less than 40 percent as of late last week.

The CME computes the probability of a rate hike by taking the end-month futures contract, subtracting the level at the beginning of the month, and dividing that by 25 basis points, which is the assumed level of each rate hike. (A full explanation of the process is here. The fed funds contracts are here. To get the implied funds level for each month, subtract the contract level from 100.)

FOMC members themselves, in their latest forecast in March, still indicated three increases in the funds rate this year. However, with increasing signs of inflation picking up and as the market begins to price in more hikes, the committee could begin to set its sights higher.



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Bitcoin extends post-Tax Day rebound to $9,000

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Bitcoin rebounded above $9,000 over the weekend as the cryptocurrency extended post-Tax Day gains.

The digital currency traded near $8,878 as of 4:28 p.m. ET Monday, up more than $950 since last week, according to CoinDesk. Bitcoin has fallen more than 30 percent this year, and pundits blamed much of that price pressure on U.S. tax obligations.

Tom Lee, co-founder and head of research at Fundstrat Global Advisors, estimated U.S. households owed $25 billion in taxes on their cryptocurrency holdings after bitcoin’s rise to near $20,000 in 2017. The Internal Revenue Service views bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as property, meaning profits from transactions are subject to capital gains tax.

Lee, the only major Wall Street strategist to issue bitcoin price targets, predicted bitcoin would recover after U.S. investors submitted their taxes and has a $20,000 price target for this year.

Bitcoin’s one-week rebound

Source: CoinDesk

Monday’s price marked a roughly 15 percent increase from the low of $7,834 hit Tuesday, which was the original deadline to file taxes. After the agency’s web page for making the payments crashed Tuesday, the IRS gave taxpayers another day to submit returns.

“We believe the ‘winter’ is ending for Bitcoin, as the crypto to fiat pressures from tax day subside, and as headline risks seem to be fading,” Lee said in a note to clients Friday.

Other “alt-coins,” or cryptocurrencies other than bitcoin, were also trading higher Monday. Ethereum, the second biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, was up 3.6 percent, while ripple rose roughly 1 percent, according to CoinDesk.

Bitcoin cash, which spun off from bitcoin in July, rose 17 percent Monday. The cryptocurrency has jumped 80 percent over the past week after developers announced a spin-off of the cryptocurrency, known as a “fork,” planned for May 15.



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Alcoa shares dive 12% after US reconsiders penalties against Russian competitor

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“Rusal has approached us to petition for delisting. Given the impact on our partners and allies, we are issuing a general license extending the maintenance and wind-down period while we consider Rusal’s petition,” Mnuchin added.

The latest decision from the Treasury Department sent aluminum prices swinging more than 5 percent lower.

Moscow’s Rusal was targeted during a wave of harsh U.S. sanctions earlier in April, freezing all of the company’s assets within U.S. jurisdiction.

Deripaska, a billionaire oligarch who previously ran Rusal, was also slapped with sanctions and has been charged in special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation regarding Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Alcoa did not wish to comment for this story at the time of its publication.



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