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Last Week in Numbers: Facebook’s Confession

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) has revealed that it believes that most of its two billion users have likely had their public profiles “scraped” by outsiders without the users’ permission. Facebook also revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a political data consultancy, gained access to up to 87 million users, 71 million of whom are Americans and around 65 thousand Singaporeans.

In an attempt to curtail the problem, Facebook has announced that it will be changing its policy to restrict outsiders and app developers from accessing users’ information. It will also be shutting down data brokers who use their data to target customers.

The United States-China trade tensions continued to rise this week as President Trump threatened new tariffs on China imports. It started when the United States proposed a 25% tariff on 1,300 Chinese imports. China retaliated just 11 hours later, by imposing duties of 25% on 106 US imports worth US$50 billion (S$65.7 billion).

According to energy and commodities consultancy, Wood Mackenzie, the total number of upstream oil and gas projects sanctioned more than doubled in 2017 from the previous year. However, at the same time, capital spent on each major project fell to a 10-year low.

The average capital expenditure (capex) for each project was US$2.7 billion, less than half the average of US$5.5 billion for the last decade. A project that holds commercial reserves of over 50 million barrels of oil equivalent is classified as a “major” project. The lower average project capex is part of a major cost reduction trend seen in the upstream O&G industry since the collapse of oil prices in 2014.

Meanwhile, Europe’s manufacturing boom slowed slightly in March due in part to the winter storm that swept across the continent. HIS Markit’s final manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) for the eurozone fell to an 8-month low of 56.6 in March from 58.6 a month ago. However, it was still comfortably above the 50 mark which indicates growth. Britan’s PMI inched up to 55.1 in March from 55 in February. An index measuring output prices remained high at 57.3 in March, albeit slightly below February’s reading of 58.4, which was the highest in seven years.

Back home, Singapore’s manufacturing recorded its 19th straight month of growth with the PMI increasing to 53.0 in March from 52.7 in February. The higher reading was due to broad-based improvement across most manufacturing sectors. Electronics sub-sector, which has been one of the reasons for manufacturing output’s growth so far, recorded a PMI of 52.4, up from 52.1 a month ago. Elsewhere in Asia, Japan’s PMI came in at 53.1 and China’s Caixin PMI fell to 51.0 from 51.6 in Feburary.

Finally, the #MeToo movement has firmly hit South Korea as more people have called for an overhaul of one of the “world’s worst workplaces for women”. Despite being the 11th largest economy, South Korea has one of the highest gender pay-gap and the least proportion of women in managerial roles. A 2017 research by the gender ministry found that out of the country’s 500 biggest companies, only 2.7% of the executives were women, compared to 26% for S&P 500 companies in the U.S. Korean female employment rate is at 51%, lagging behind the rate for men at 71%. Overall, women in South Korea are paid 37% less than their male colleagues, the biggest gender pay gap among the 35 member countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. The Motley Fool Singapore has recommended shares of Facebook. Motley Fool Singapore contributor Jeremy Chia own shares in Facebook.