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Musk says he would reverse Twitter ban on Donald Trump

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Elon Musk arrives at the In America: An Anthology of Fashion themed Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, New York, U.S., May 2, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

By Sheila Dang

(Reuters) -Billionaire Elon Musk said Tuesday he would reverse Twitter (NYSE:TWTR)’s ban on former U.S. President Donald Trump when he buys the social media platform, the clearest signal of Musk’s intention to cut moderation of the site.

Musk, the world’s richest person and chief executive of Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Inc, has inked a $44-billion deal to buy Twitter. He has called himself a “free speech absolutist” but given few specific details of his plans.

Musk is expected to become Twitter’s temporary CEO after closing the deal, Reuters previously reported according to a source familiar with the matter.

The question of reinstating Trump has been seen as a litmus test of how far Musk will go in making changes.

Musk, speaking to the Financial Times Future of the Car conference, added that he and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey believe permanent bans should be “extremely rare” and reserved for accounts that operate bots or spread spam.

Musk said the decision to ban Trump amplified Trump’s views among people on the political right, and he called the ban “morally wrong and flat-out stupid.”

The suspension of Trump’s account, which had more than 88 million followers, silenced his primary megaphone days before the end of his term and follows years of debate about how social media companies should moderate the accounts of powerful global leaders.

Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter shortly after the Jan. 6 riot on the U.S. Capitol. Twitter cited “the risk of further incitement of violence” in its decision.

Musk has also said the platform must limit speech as required by law, and he told a European Union official on Monday that EU policy was “exactly aligned” with his own thinking, referring to a new law that levies hefty fines on companies that do not control illegal content such as advertising aimed at children.

‘OUGHT TO BE EVERYWHERE’

Conservatives, who have accused San Francisco-based Twitter of bias against right-leaning views, have cheered the prospect of Trump’s return.

“He (Trump) ought to be everywhere he can,” Republican Senator Rick Scott told reporters when asked about Musk’s comments. “We shouldn’t have social media companies that are restricting people’s ability to get their message out.”

Democrats have said Trump’s potential reinstatement could constitute a threat to democracy, although some hope that a frequently-tweeting Trump could upset their base and rev up turnout in the November midterm congressional elections.

Twitter declined to comment.

Trump had previously told Fox News that he would not return to Twitter if allowed, preferring his own social media app, Truth Social, a Twitter-like platform that launched on the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) app store in lat February and in which users post “truths” instead of tweets.

Trump has revved up his messaging on the new platform after a slow start, posting about 50 times, mostly in the last week, to his 2.7 million followers. He averaged 18 tweets a day when he was president.

There was no immediate comment from a Trump spokesperson.

Trump is chairman of the company that owns Truth Social, which is merging with blank-check acquisition firm Digital World Acquisition Corp.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday Twitter’s ban on Trump was a matter for the company to decide. The Biden administration wants online platforms to protect freedom of speech but also ensure they are not forums for disinformation, she said.

During the conference, Musk said the deal to acquire Twitter could be done in two to three months in the “best case scenario.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Twitter shares fell to a level that indicated the stock market believed it was unlikely that Musk would make the acquisition for $44 billion, as he originally agreed.

Musk’s decision to go after Twitter has concerned some Tesla investors and put pressure on the stock. Musk on Tuesday added that he would stay at Tesla “as long as I can be useful.”

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Citi promotes Asia-based banker Valderrabano as global wealth COO

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Citigroup Inc (Citi) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. Picture taken October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

By Selena Li

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Citi has appointed Valentin Valderrabano as its new chief operating officer (COO) for Citi Global Wealth, effective in July, according to an internal memo reviewed by Reuters.

Valderrabano, who reports to the bank’s global wealth head Jim O’Donnell, was most recently consumer business manager for Citibank Korea with nearly 20 years of experience at the bank.

He will replace Citi’s current COO Eduardo Martinez Campos, who will move to lead Citi Wealth Services and Strategic Investments.

The U.S. bank’s wealth business brought in $7.5 billion in revenue globally in 2021, running over $800 billion in client assets with more than 3,000 client advisers.

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Analysis-Rare double whammy hits investors: steep slumps for both stocks and bonds

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Wall Street sign outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York City, New York, U.S., October 2, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo/File Photo/File Photo

By David Randall and John McCrank

NEW YORK (Reuters) – From meme-stock enthusiasts to retirees, this year’s steep dive for both stocks and U.S. Treasury prices has upended portfolios for individual investors who had enjoyed watching their wealth grow during the historic rally in financial assets early in the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

Wall Street’s brutal tumble continued on Wednesday, with the worst one-day loss since June 2020 for the S&P 500 . The benchmark index is now down 17.5% from its peak at the start of the year, erasing $499 billion in market value. At one point the S&P was down nearly 20% and on the cusp of confirming a bear market.

Unlike many past market selloffs, this downturn has also slammed U.S. Treasuries prices, pushing up yields, as the Federal Reserve began to reverse the easy money policies that supported the economy during pandemic lockdowns.

Growing more pessimistic, retail traders sold $87 million in equities on net in the past week up to Tuesday, versus a one-year average of $3.3 billion in net buys, according to a note from JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM).

Normally, Treasuries have been considered among the world’s safest investments. But so far in 2022, the ICE (NYSE:ICE) BofA US Treasury Index is down 9.3%, the worst start to the year for Treasuries since 1830 according to Deutsche Bank (ETR:DBKGn). This has slammed investors who counted on the bond market for income and as a buffer against potential stock market losses.

“Most investors have never seen a market environment like this,” said Christine Benz, director of personal finance at Morningstar. “It could get worse before it gets better, and that will really test investors’ patience.”

Many high-flying growth and tech stocks soared during the pandemic, and their steep decline has rattled investors who had bet on them, hoping for the kind of eye-popping rallies seen early last year in GameStop (NYSE:GME) and other so-called meme stocks.

“What I’m seeing is the same thing everyone else is seeing who started 18-to-24 months ago, like, ‘oh, look at all of the green, going up, up, up,’ and then all of a sudden it’s like, ‘oh crud, what is happening?'”, said Alex Rutfield, 29, an engineer in the Boston suburbs who has invested over $50,000 in stocks and ETFs that include internet and robotics firms. He said the value of his portfolio has fallen back to around even.

DOUBLE WHAMMY

The dual selloffs in stocks and bonds have been particularly difficult on individual investors who counted on a mix of stocks and bonds to blunt declines in their portfolios, with stocks ideally rising amid economic optimism and bonds strengthening during turbulent times.

That strategy does not work when stocks and bonds fall in unison. The BlackRock (NYSE:BLK) 60/40 Target (NYSE:TGT) Allocation fund, which follows a standard portfolio technique of keeping 60% of its assets in equities and 40% in fixed income to limit risk, is down nearly 12% since the start of the year, its worst performance since it launched in 2006.

The bulk of the selling in both stocks and bonds has been coming from wealthier and older investors, who are reducing their overall risk exposure, mainly through the selling of mutual funds, according to data from Vanda (NASDAQ:VNDA) Research.

Bruce Bagley, 69, founder Santa Rosa Uniform & Career Apparel in Santa Rosa, California, said he has held the course so far in his portfolio, which is 55% stocks, 40% bonds, with the rest in cash, even though everything but his REIT investments have been falling.

“Where else are you going to put your money?” he said.

Investors who had large allocations to bonds, which make up some 20% of retirement accounts on average, according to Morningstar, have canceled vacation plans, are eating in more often, and have reconsidered assistance to other family members, said Melanie Nichols, a wealth advisor at WA Asset Management in Birmingham, Alabama.

“When you have one part of a portfolio that is providing all your income and now you see it down 10% that’s frightening,” she said. “People are not used to those returns because we don’t have those returns in the bond market very often.”

Other retirees are looking for other sources of income to try to rebuild their nest egg.

“You think you have enough to live off for years and now you don’t know if it will come back,” said one 73-year old former marketing executive in the Cleveland suburbs who had about 30% of her portfolio in bonds and said she was considering finding part-time work to help preserve her retirement savings.

“Clients who had larger allocations to bonds and who really did not want to experience volatility are feeling this, and it has been very destabilizing for those folks,” said John Cunnison, chief investment officer at Baker Boyer in Walla Walla, Washington.

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Woodside shareholders approve BHP petroleum merger

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo for Woodside Petroleum, Australia’s top independent oil and gas company, adorns a promotional poster on display at a briefing for investors in Sydney, Australia, May 23, 2018. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

By Sonali Paul

BRISBANE (Reuters) -Shareholders in Woodside (OTC:WOPEY) Petroleum approved on Thursday a merger with BHP Group (NYSE:BHP)’s petroleum arm to create a top 10 global independent oil and gas producer worth $40 billion, according to proxy votes shown at the company’s annual meeting.

More than 97% of proxy and direct votes received were in favour of the deal.

The merger, agreed last August, advances top global miner BHP’s effort to move away from fossil fuels as it looks to decarbonise, while doubling Woodside’s oil and gas production and beefing up its funding for growth.

“The merger is an opportunity for Woodside to increase its contribution to the world’s growing energy needs and build the scale, resilience and diversity to thrive through the energy transition,” Woodside Chief Executive Officer Meg O’Neill told shareholders.

BHP will be paid in Woodside shares, giving BHP investors a 48% stake in the merged group, which will have assets in Australia, the United States, Mexico, Senegal and Trinidad.

Woodside shareholders also approved a change of the company’s name to Woodside Energy Group Ltd.

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