Disney+ just overhauled its subscription options. Everything you need to know

Disney+ is getting more expensive, unless you want ads.

https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/08/media/disney-plus-ad-prices/index.html

Microsoft Slides After FTC Blocks Activision Deal, Drags Market Lower

Microsoft Slides After FTC Blocks Activision Deal, Drags Market Lower

As if a million merger arbs suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

Just before 2pm ET, the US Federal Trade Commission confirmed earlier rumors when it announced that it had voted 3-1 to sue to block Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of gaming giant Activision Blizzard, saying the tie-up between the Xbox maker and popular gaming publisher would harm competition in the gaming market.

The commission voted to proceed with the complaint, which will be filed in its in-house court Thursday, in a closed-door meeting, said two BBG sources.

The full statement is below:

FTC Seeks to Block Microsoft Corp.’s Acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Inc.

Agency alleges that maker of Xbox would gain control of top video game franchises, enabling it to harm competition in high-performance gaming consoles and subscription services by denying or degrading rivals’ access to its popular content

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking to block technology giant Microsoft Corp. from acquiring leading video game developer Activision Blizzard, Inc. and its blockbuster gaming franchises such as Call of Duty, alleging that the $69 billion deal, Microsoft’s largest ever and the largest ever in the video gaming industry, would enable Microsoft to suppress competitors to its Xbox gaming consoles and its rapidly growing subscription content and cloud-gaming business.

In a complaint issued today, the FTC pointed to Microsoft’s record of acquiring and using valuable gaming content to suppress competition from rival consoles, including its acquisition of ZeniMax, parent company of Bethesda Softworks (a well-known game developer). Microsoft decided to make several of Bethesda’s titles including Starfield and Redfall Microsoft exclusives despite assurances it had given to European antitrust authorities that it had no incentive to withhold games from rival consoles.

“Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming rivals,” said Holly Vedova, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “Today we seek to stop Microsoft from gaining control over a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in multiple dynamic and fast-growing gaming markets.”

Microsoft’s Xbox Series S and Series X are one of only two types of high performance video game consoles. Importantly, Microsoft also offers a leading video game content subscription service called Xbox Game Pass, as well as a cutting-edge cloud-based video game streaming service, according to the complaint.

Activision is one of only a very small number of top video game developers in the world that create and publish high-quality video games for multiple devices, including video game consoles, PCs, and mobile devices. It produces some of the most iconic and popular video game titles, including Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Overwatch, and has a combined 154 million monthly active users around the world, according to the FTC’s complaint. Activision currently has a strategy of offering its games on many devices regardless of producer.

But that could change if the deal is allowed to proceed. With control over Activision’s blockbuster franchises, Microsoft would have both the means and motive to harm competition by manipulating Activision’s pricing, degrading Activision’s game quality or player experience on rival consoles and gaming services, changing the terms and timing of access to Activision’s content, or withholding content from competitors entirely, resulting in harm to consumers.

The Commission vote to issue the complaint was 3-1, with Commissioner Christine S. Wilson voting no. A copy of the administrative complaint will be available shortly.

Having limped lower in recent weeks below where it had been trading around $80, already a wide discount to the $95 MSFT purchase price, ATVI stock slumped 2.5% to $74…

… while MSFT stock dropped about $2 from session highs some 2% higher on the session, to trade up just 0.9%.

The drop in MSFT promptly hammered the Nasdaq and sent shockwaves across the entire market, pushing spoos down more than 25 points to near session lows around 3950 having traded at session highs of 3975 just moments earlier.

Tyler Durden
Thu, 12/08/2022 – 14:28

https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/microsoft-slides-after-ftc-blocks-activision-deal-drags-market-lower

House passes defense bill scrapping COVID vaccine mandate

The bill provides about $45 billion more for defense programs than Biden requested, the second year in a row Congress notably exceeded his request.

     

http://rssfeeds.usatoday.com/~/721492296/0/usatoday-newstopstories~House-passes-defense-bill-scrapping-COVID-vaccine-mandate/

Opinion: The day the football gods reversed the tide of history

Those moments unwritten from the pages of history are often simply missing a stage. But for the Moroccan team taking to the field in Qatar to face off against heavily favored Spain on Tuesday, a new kind of stage was being set. The biggest football tournament, the FIFA World Cup, was unfolding in the heart of a Muslim nation. And authors adorned in red jerseys were primed to pen history with their feet instead of their hands.

https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/08/opinions/morocco-world-cup-football-muslim-beydoun/index.html

Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout: The ‘Merchant of Death’ swapped for Brittney Griner

Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, swapped Thursday for WNBA star Brittney Griner, is widely known abroad as the “Merchant of Death” who fueled some of the world’s worst conflicts.

https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20221208-russian-arms-dealer-viktor-bout-the-merchant-of-death-swapped-for-griner

NY Democrat Chuck Schumer unanimously reelected as Senate majority leader

Senate Democrats met Thursday to unanimously reelect Sen. Chuck Shumer Senate majority leader, days after the party expanded their majority 51-49.

     

http://rssfeeds.usatoday.com/~/721482282/0/usatoday-newstopstories~NY-Democrat-Chuck-Schumer-unanimously-reelected-as-Senate-majority-leader/

US House passes bill protecting same-sex marriage

Both houses of Congress have now approved the measure to enshrine same-sex marriage into law, with President Joe Biden expected to sign it.

https://www.dw.com/en/us-house-passes-bill-protecting-same-sex-marriage/a-64035176?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf

Exxon Slaps Biden In Face, Redlines Share Buybacks To $50 Billion Through 2024

Exxon Slaps Biden In Face, Redlines Share Buybacks To $50 Billion Through 2024

The only thing the left hates more than stock buybacks and billionaires is the fossil fuel industry. On that note, we can picture Senator Elizabeth Warren spitting out her coffee as we speak…and we love it.

That’s because oil supermajor – and one of the best performing, cash gushing stocks over the last several years – Exxon, announced today it is expanding its share buyback program to $50 billion through 2024. 

The company outlined the statement on Thursday morning in an investor presentation, Bloomberg reported, citing the company’s “higher oil and natural gas prices” boosting the company’s earnings for the year. 

The addition tacks another $20 billion onto the company’s previous $30 billion plan for buybacks through 2023. The plan will now include $15 billion of repurchases this year, which would be the highest annual total since 2013, according to Bloomberg’s data. 

The company also set its capital budget for next year at about $24 billion, which comes in “near the top end” of the $20 billion to $25 billion range that was estimated. Bloomberg wrote in a wrapup this morning that “the plan is expected to help the company double earnings and cash flow potential by 2027 as compared with 2019” and laid out other key points from Exxon’s presentation, including the whopper that earnings and cash flow growth are expected to double by 2027:

  • Growing lower-emissions investments to ~$17b through 2027

  • Share-repurchase program expanded up to $50b through 2024

  • Expects to distribute about $30b to shareholders by year-end 2022

  • Earnings and cash flow growth expected to double by 2027 vs 2019

  • Investments in 2023 are expected to be in the range of $23b to $25b to help increase supply to meet global demand

  • Remains on track to deliver a total of ~$9b in structural cost reductions by year-end 2023 vs 2019

  • Upstream earnings potential is expected to double by 2027 vs 2019

  • Sees near-term upstream investments to keep production at ~3.7 million barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2023, assuming a $60 per barrel Brent price, offsetting the impact of strategic portfolio divestments and the expropriation of Sakhalin-1 in Russia

  • Sees production to increase by 500,000 OEBD by 2027 to about 4.2 million OEBD, playing a critical role in meeting anticipated increases in global demand

  • Working to consolidate supply chain in one organization

The buyback can only be described as a massive slap in the face to the Biden administration who, in the midst of a global energy crisis, has taken the stance to demonize fossil fuel companies in the U.S. Most recently, Biden said he was seeking to impose higher taxes on oil firms who do not boost their US production and refining capacity. He called oil companies “war profiteers” in October:

“It’s time for these companies to stop war profiteering, meet their responsibilities in this country and give the American people a break and still do very well,” Biden said during a brief speech at the White House.

“If they don’t, they’re going to pay a higher tax on their excess profits and face other restrictions. My team will work with Congress to look at these options that are available to us and others,” Biden added.

But we’re sure what the Biden administration and his union, laborer-supporting pals are not going to talk about is how workers at Exxon are some of the only few in the nation to get a pay hike that has been higher than the nation’s out of control inflation. 

“Workers will receive an average salary bump of 9%, and those who got promoted will see a further 5% increase, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not be identified discussing non-public information,” Bloomberg reported yesterday. It marks Exxon’s biggest salary award in 15 years, the report says. 

So while the left hand of the Democratic party bitches and whines about workers being mistreated across the country, the right hand is trying to shut down the “war profiteering” (pause for laughter) that is allowing some of the nation’s energy workers to see an actual real rise in income. 

Color us not surprised. Idiotic, circular illogical thinking has been a running theme as oil prices have risen, while at the same time Biden employs the one dimensional solution of draining the nation’s only oil reserves to try and claw back a meaningless, temporary respite at the pump:

We have discussed in detail what a crock of shit Biden’s claims are:

And there’s a way to solve it:

And this is not the way…

Tyler Durden
Thu, 12/08/2022 – 09:05

https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/exxon-cranks-its-share-buyback-plan-50-billion-through-2024

Long-Delayed Cold Weather To Blanket Much Of US

Long-Delayed Cold Weather To Blanket Much Of US

An update to the Climate Prediction Center’s official 8-14 day outlook for pre-Christmas forecasts more than two-thirds of the Lower 48 will be colder than average, with near-normal temperatures for the Mid-Atlantic and above-average temperatures for the Northeast. 

NOAA’s temperature outlook forecasts the West, Southwest, and Midwest, as well as parts of the Southeast (excluding coastal areas), will experience below-average temperatures between Dec.15-21. The forecast was issued on Dec. 7. As for the Mid-Atlantic, temperatures are expected to be around average, while temperatures in the Northeast will be above average. 

Lower 48 average temperatures are currently well above average. On Wednesday, the national average was 10 degrees above a 30-year mean, though forecasts show a cold pattern will begin at the end of this week and push temperatures down well below average through Dec. 21. 

Heating demand is expected to rise ahead of Christmas. 

Houston-based energy firm Criterion Research pointed out on Nov. 23, “The United States has officially flipped over to withdrawal season.” 

US natural gas futures bid yesterday after falling more than 27% since late November after weather forecasts for the US switched from cold to warm. Cold weather is finally on the way, which could put a bid under NatGas. 

As for the Northeast, The Washington Post said, “The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast still appear on track to turn more wintry during the second half of the month. As Christmas approaches, if you’re rooting for snow, waiting is often the hardest part.” 

Tyler Durden
Thu, 12/08/2022 – 14:25

https://www.zerohedge.com/weather/long-delayed-cold-weather-blanket-much-us

New York Times employees begin 24-hour walkout

It is more than four decades since workers at the newspaper took such action. The dispute stems for issues relating to salary, remote work policies and the paper’s employee evaluation system.

https://www.dw.com/en/new-york-times-employees-begin-24-hour-walkout/a-64035751?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf