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Dow Jones Edges Lower as Apple Stock Sinks on China Gaming App Crackdown, Disney Stock Rises on Streaming Price Hike – Motley Fool

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was down about 0.1% at 11:45 a.m. EST Thursday, a small move to end what has been an eventful year for the stock market. The Dow crashed below 20,000 in March as the COVID-19 pandemic reached the U.S. and led to widespread stay-at-home orders. The pandemic was never brought under control, but that didn’t stop the Dow from eventually carving out new all-time highs later in the year. The Dow will end 2020 up more than 6% if nothing changes by the end of the day.

Turning to individual stocks, shares of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) were down a bit after the company removed thousands of paid game apps from its China App Store. Meanwhile, Disney (NYSE:DIS) stock rose after the company reportedly plans a price increase for its ESPN+ streaming service.

Image source: Getty Images.

Apple removes game apps in China

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that tech giant Apple planned to remove thousands of game apps from its App Store in China due to government pressure. Apple reportedly warned Chinese developers earlier this month that paid gaming apps were at risk of removal.

China requires paid video games to be licensed before being released, a policy that has been in effect for the past four years. However, app developers have been able to get around that rule on Apple’s platform. Apple began closing the loophole this year, the Journal reports.

On Thursday, Apple followed through by removing 39,000 game apps from its China App Store, according to Reuters. These include popular titles like Assassin’s Creed Identity and NBA 2K20. Just 74 of the top 1,500 paid game apps on the China App Store are still available, according to research firm Qimai.

The license requirement applies to paid games and games with in-app purchases, so the move by Apple could push more developers to opt for an ad-supported model. Apple takes a cut from sales of apps and in-app content, so such a shift would hurt Apples sales in China.

Shares of Apple were down about 0.8% by late Thursday morning. If nothing dramatic happens to the stock price for the rest of the day, Apple stock will end the year up more than 81%.

Disney’s ESPN+ raises prices

Given the popularity of Disney’s streaming services, it’s safe to say that the entertainment juggernaut has some pricing power. The company plans to boost the monthly pricing for its flagship Disney+ service from $6.99 to $7.99 in March, a move that’s unlikely to cause much churn given the low price of the service relative to the competition.

Disney’s sports-focused ESPN+ streaming service is joining Disney+ in raising prices in 2021, according to Variety. The price of an annual ESPN+ subscription will jump from $49.99 to $59.99 on Jan. 8, with renewals set to remain at the old price until at least March 2. The price of UFC pay-per-view events on the service are also increasing. Viewers will now need to shell out $69.99 per event, up from a previous price of $64.99.

Disney expects ESPN+ to rack up between 20 million and 30 million subscribers by the end of fiscal 2024, up from a previous target of 8 million to 12 million subscribers. Disney also expects the service to turn a profit by fiscal 2023.

Streaming is a big part of Disney’s future, and the company has so far shown a knack for quickly winning subscribers to its various services. Shares of Disney were up about 0.65% by late Thursday morning; the stock has surged over 26% in 2020.

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Britain in talks with 6 firms about building gigafactories for EV batteries

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Britain is in talks with six companies about building gigafactories to produce batteries for electric vehicles (EV), the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people briefed on the discussions.

Car makers Ford Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co Ltd, conglomerates LG Corp and Samsung, and start-ups Britishvolt and InoBat Auto are in talks with the British government or local authorities about locations for potential factories and financial support, the report added .

 

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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EBay to sell South Korean unit for about $3.6 billion to Shinsegae, Naver

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EBay will sell its South Korean business to retailer Shinsegae Group and e-commerce firm Naver for about 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion), local newspapers reported on Wednesday.

EBay Korea is the country’s third-largest e-commerce firm with market share of about 12.8% in 2020, according to Euromonitor. It operates the platforms Gmarket, Auction and G9.

Shinsegae, Naver and eBay Korea declined to comment.

Lotte Shopping had also been in the running, the Korea Economic Daily and other newspapers said, citing unnamed investment banking sources.

South Korea represents the world’s fourth largest e-commerce market. Driven by the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce has soared to account for 35.8% of the retail market in 2020 compared with 28.6% in 2019, according to Euromonitor data.

Shinsegae and Naver formed a retail and e-commerce partnership in March by taking stakes worth 250 billion won in each other’s affiliates.

($1 = 1,117.7000 won)

 

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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Canada launches long-awaited auction of 5G spectrum

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Canada is set to begin a hotly anticipated auction of the mobile telecommunications bandwidth necessary for 5G rollout, one that was delayed more than a year by the pandemic.

The 3,500 MHz is a spectrum companies need to provide 5G, which requires more bandwidth to expand internet capabilities.The auction, initially scheduled for June 2020, is expected to take several weeks with Canadian government selling off 1,504 licenses in 172 service areas.

Smaller operators are going into the auction complaining that recent regulatory rulings have further tilted the scales in the favour of the country’s three biggest telecoms companies – BCE, Telus and Rogers Communications Inc – which together control around 90% of the market as a share of revenue.

Canadian mobile and internet consumers, meanwhile, have complained for years that their bills are among the world’s steepest. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has threatened to take action if the providers did not cut bills by 25%.

The last auction of the 600 MHz spectrum raised C$3.5 billion ($2.87 billion) for the government.

The companies have defended themselves, saying the prices they charge are falling.

Some 23 bidders including regional players such as Cogeco and Quebec’s Videotron are participating in the process. Shaw Communications did not apply to participate due to a $16 billion takeover bid from Rogers. Lawmakers and analysts have warned that market concentration will intensify if that acquisition proceeds.

In May, after Canada‘s telecoms regulator issued a ruling largely in favour of the big three on pricing for smaller companies’ access to broadband networks, internet service provider TekSavvy Inc withdrew from the auction, citing the decision.

Some experts say the government has been trying to level the playing field with its decision to set aside a proportion of spectrum in certain areas for smaller companies.

Gregory Taylor, a spectrum expert and associate professor at the University of Calgary, said he was pleased the government was auctioning off smaller geographic areas of coverage.

In previous auctions where the license covered whole provinces, “small providers could not participate because they could not hope to cover the range that was required in the license,” Taylor said.

Smaller geographic areas mean they have a better chance of fulfilling the requirements for the license, such as providing service to 90% of the population within five years of the issuance date.

The auction has no scheduled end date, although the federal ministry in charge of the spectrum auction has said winners would be announced within five days of bidding completion.

($1 = 1.2181 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by David Gregorio)

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