Zuckerberg stands firm; Stocks skid; Ghosn not gone

Posted November 21, 2018 4:55 a.m. EST

— 1. Zuckerberg talks to CNN Business: Facebook has been rocked by a year of negative headlines about fake news, election meddling and privacy concerns.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave a rare interview to CNN Business on Tuesday. The social network pioneer said he intends to stay on as chairman and that his No. 2, Sheryl Sandberg, isn't going anywhere either.

"Sheryl is a really important part of this company and is leading a lot of the efforts for a lot of the biggest issues that we have," said Zuckerberg.

"She's been an important partner to me for ten years. I'm really proud of the work that we've done together and I hope that we work together for decades more to come," he added.

The interview followed renewed criticism of Zuckerberg and Facebook (FB) after a New York Times investigation last week suggested the company had attempted to ignore and conceal Russian interference on its platform.

On Tuesday, Zuckerberg pushed back.

"A lot of the criticism around the biggest issues has been fair, but I do think that if we are going to be real, there is this bigger picture as well, which is that we have a different world view than some of the folks who are covering us," he said.

The Times has said it stands by its reporting.

Facebook stock has plummeted 40% from its record high in July. Investors have been spooked by warnings from Facebook that its ad sales machine could slow as it "puts privacy first."

2. Stocks skid: The Thanksgiving break can't come soon enough for investors.

The Dow plummeted 552 points, or 2.2%, on Tuesday as fears of an earnings and economic slowdown deepened. The S&P 500 fell 1.8%, while the Nasdaq lost 1.7%.

All three major indexes have given up their gains for the year.

"Put simply, stocks have already started to price in the risk of an economic slowdown," Goldman Sachs chief US equity strategist David Kostin wrote to clients on Tuesday.

Tech and retail were hit especially hard. Apple retreated another 5% after Goldman Sachs trimmed its price target on the iPhone maker for the second time in a week. Netflix (NFLX) and Amazon (AMZN) closed lower again.

Disappointing results sent Target (TGT) and Kohl's (KSS) more than 9% lower on Tuesday. TJX Companies (TJX) and Ross Stores also retreated. Home improvement retailer Lowe's (LOW) lost 6% after posting results.

The pressure on retailers makes the holiday shopping season, starting with Black Friday, all the more important.

3. Ghosn not gone: Renault (RNSDF) has appointed an acting chief executive but stopped short of removing Carlos Ghosn as CEO and chairman following his arrest on suspicion of financial misconduct in Japan.

The company said in a statement late Tuesday that it would elevate chief operating officer Thierry Bolloré on an interim basis, giving him the same powers that Ghosn enjoys as CEO.

It said independent director Philippe Lagayette would chair board meetings "during this period."

Ghosn was detained by Japanese authorities on Monday after an internal investigation at Nissan (NSANY), where he is also chairman, revealed "significant acts of misconduct" over many years.

"At the board meeting yesterday we found that we had no elements that allowed us to come to any conclusions in this affair or to take definitive measures," Lagayette said Wednesday. "That's why we're not making any changes."

What happens next?

Nissan's board will meet Thursday. It is expected to remove Ghosn as chairman. Mitsubishi Motors (MMTOF), the third member of the alliance built by Ghosn, is asking its board of directors to also remove him as chairman.

4. Global market overview: US stock futures were lower.

European markets opened higher, while stocks in Asia closed mixed.

US crude oil prices increased nearly 2%, bouncing back from a sharp fall on Tuesday. The price had briefly dipped below $53 per barrel, a 13-month low.

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5. Earnings and economics: Deere (DE) will release its earnings before the open. A report on US existing homes sales for October will be published at 10 a.m. ET.

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6. Coming this week: Wednesday — Deere & Co. (DE) earningsThursday — US markets closed for ThanksgivingFriday — Black Friday; US markets close early