Facebook stock plunges 19 percent, over $150 billion wiped from value

Facebook may be heading for its worst day on the markets in its history a day after the company revealed that user growth, amid swirling questions about how their information is used, has slowed.

Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a special assembly at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, California. Source: Associated Press

The stock plunged 19 percent in early trading this morning, eradicating well in excess of US$100 billion (NZ$174 billion) in market value.

The social media company's financial results, released late Wednesday, fell short of Wall Street expectations as the company continues to grapple with privacy issues. It also warned that revenue would decelerate as it promotes new products

Facebook had 2.23 billion monthly users as of June 30, up 11 percent from a year earlier, but well short of what industry analysts had been expecting.

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

The results are from the first full quarter following the revelation of the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal. The company is also contending with European privacy rules that went into effect in May.

The firm’s shares opened down nearly 20 per cent, shaving almost $150 billion from its market value. Source: Breakfast



Former cricketer Imran Khan declares victory in Pakistan general election

Former cricket star Imran Khan declared victory yesterday in Pakistan's parliamentary election that was marred by violence and allegations of fraud, and he pledged to fight corruption and build a nation that bowed to no one.

Khan, who aspires to be the next prime minister, said in a televised address that he wanted good ties with his neighbours, including rival India, and would seek a more equal relationship with the United States.

The cricketer-turned-politician is likely to need coalition partners to secure power, however. Source: Breakfast

"Today in front of you, in front of the people of Pakistan, I pledge I will run Pakistan in such a way as it has never before been run," Khan said in the speech, vowing to wipe out corruption, strengthen institutions he called dysfunctional and regain national pride by developing international relationships based on respect and equality.

Pakistan's election commission has not yet released final results from Wednesday's vote, but Khan has maintained a commanding lead, according to projections from many TV stations. It's still unclear if his Tehreek-e-Insaf party, or PTI, would get a simple majority or have to form a coalition government. Election officials said an official count was expected later Thursday.

Khan said the elections were the most transparent and promised to investigate every complaint of irregularity that his opponents presented.

"It is thanks to God (that) we won and we were successful," said the 65-year-old former playboy.

While Khan's appeared casual and conciliatory in his speech, his words were laced with passion. He said the United States treats Pakistan like a mercenary, giving it billions of dollars to fight its war on terrorism.

"Unfortunately, so far our relations were one-sided. America thinks that it gives Pakistan money to fight for them. Because of this Pakistan suffered a lot," said Khan, who has been critical of the U.S.-led conflict in neighbouring Afghanistan.

He offered nothing to suggest an improvement in Pakistan's already testy relationship with Washington since President Donald Trump's tweets in January that accused Islamabad of taking U.S. aid and returning only lies and deceit.

Khan focused on what he wanted to do for the poor in Pakistan and his vision of a country that bowed to no one, where everyone was equal under the law and taxes were paid by the rich to fund services for the less fortunate.

His campaign message of a new Pakistan resonated with young voters in a country where 64 percent of its 200 million people are under 30.

More than a dozen TV channels, based on partial returns, projected that the PTI would win as many as 119 seats of the 270 National Assembly seats that were contested, although the broadcasters did not disclose their methodology. The rest of the 342-seat parliament includes seats reserved for women and minorities. Voting for two seats was postponed after one candidate died during the campaign and another was disqualified.

Even if Khan's party wins a simple majority, he would need to wait until the president convenes the parliament to swear in the new lawmakers — traditionally within a week. He also faces an opposition that is challenging the election results, alleging vote-rigging.

His leading rival, Shahbaz Sharif, was one political leader who rejected the outcome. Sharif heads the Pakistan Muslim League, the party of his older brother, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is in prison on corruption charges. TV projections give his party barely 61 seats.

The younger Sharif tweeted that "our democratic process has been pushed back by decades," adding that "had the public mandate been delivered in a fair manner, we would have accepted it happily."

Complaints also emerged from the independent Human Rights Commission, which issued a statement saying that women were not allowed to vote in some areas.

In other areas, it said, "polling staff appeared to be biased toward a certain party," without elaborating. In the days before the election, leading rights activist I.A. Rehman called the campaign "the dirtiest" in Pakistan's bumpy journey toward sustained democracy.

Analysts have expressed concern that disgruntled losers could create instability for the incoming government, which must deal with a crumbling economy, crippling debt and a raging militancy.

The voting was marred by a suicide bombing in the southwestern city of Quetta, the Baluchistan provincial capital, that killed 31 people as they waited to vote. A bombing in the same province earlier this month killed 149 people, including a candidate for office. Baluchistan has been roiled by relentless attacks, both by the province's secessionists and Sunni militants who have killed hundreds of Shiites there.

The election marked only the second time in Pakistan's 71-year history that one civilian government has handed power to another.

There were widespread concerns during the campaign about manipulation by the military, which has directly or indirectly ruled Pakistan for most of its existence. The military had deployed 350,000 troops at the 85,000 polling stations.

In a tweet, Pakistan's military spokesman Gen. Asif Ghafoor called allegations of interference "malicious propaganda."

Khan looks increasingly likely to win the election marred by violence and claims of fraud. Source: 1 NEWS


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Britain feels the strain as it endures its hottest day of 2018

Britain sweltered through the hottest day of the year, as an unusual heatwave wreaked havoc on transport and hospitals in a country more known for rain than sunshine.

Cars at a standstill as they queue for the Eurotunnel in Folkestone, southern England, as some miles of traffic wait to make their way to the cross-Channel services, with warnings of delays up to five hours, Thursday July 26, 2018.  Temperatures are expected to hit around 35C (95 Fahrenheit) today as the heatwave continues across the UK. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)
Passengers queue for the Eurotunnel in southern England. Source: Associated Press

The mercury peaked at 35 degrees celsius at London's Heathrow Airport, smashing this year's record of 34.5 Celsius set June 21. Todayis likely to be hotter still, with predictions that the all-time record of 38.5 degrees Celsius set in 2003 will be smashed as a weak jet stream traps heat inland.

Passengers on the Eurotunnel, which connects Britain and France, endured five-hour delays with no air conditioning. Hospitals, many of which have wards without air conditioning, heaved under the strain. The Royal College of Nursing said high temperatures were leaving nurses dizzy and exhausted.

"Nurses are now becoming patients themselves due to the heat," said Kim Sunley, a union representative, adding that one nurse ended up in the emergency room because of dehydration after working long hours.

Many parts of the country have seen no rainfall for weeks. The Met Office said rising temperatures will be driven by a tropical plume due to sweep into Britain from Africa and Europe on Friday.

London issued a high pollution alert, and fire officials called for a ban on barbeques in parks. Authorities warned drivers not to throw trash along the roadside amid a surge in grassfires.

The RAC, which offers roadside assistance, reported a 15 percent rise in the number of vehicle breakdowns compared to usual figures. Spokesman Simon Williams said the tarmac's black colour allows it to absorb more heat.

"It is very hazardous from a driver's point of view. Our roads are in a pretty bad state anyway due to years of underinvestment and this is the last thing they need," he said. "The newly laid roads are especially at risk of melting."