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SoftBank’s Vision Fund says portfolio reached 65 companies so far

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Speculators pare U.S. 10-year T-note net shorts before Fed minutes

(Reuters) – Speculators’ net bearish bets on U.S. 10-year Treasury note futures fell a tad earlier this week before Federal Reserve’s release of minutes from its policy meeting last month, according to Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released on Friday.

The Treasuries market had stabilized earlier this week from heavy losses in the previous two weeks due to jitters about rising inflation and a faster pace of interest rate increases from the Federal Reserve.

The Fed’s record of its Sept. 25-26 meeting suggested a few policymakers are open to raising short-term interest rates above a “neutral” level as the economy has been growing faster than their forecast.

The latest minutes sparked a dramatic selloff in the money markets that caused a sharp spike in key short-term rates on Thursday. Bond yields however were buffered by safe-haven demand from losses on Wall Street.

The amount of speculators’ bearish, or short, positions in 10-year Treasury futures exceeded bullish, or long, positions by 615,970 contracts on Oct. 16, according to the CFTC’s latest Commitments of Traders data.

A week earlier, speculators held 622,422 net short positions in 10-year T-note futures.

In addition to the FOMC minutes, big swings in global equity prices and worries about Italy’s budget, Brexit negotiations and strained relations between United States and Saudi Arabia have stoked volatility in the bond market the latter part of this week, analysts said.

On Friday, benchmark 10-year Treasury yield ended up 2 basis points at 3.196 percent, holding below the 7-1/2 year high of 3.261 percent reached last week.

By investor groups, asset managers increased their net longs in 10-year T-notes to 987,547 contracts, while hedge funds raised their net 10-year T-note shorts to 833,471 contracts.

Bond dealers’ 10-year net shorts slipped to 231,145 from prior week’s 232,818, which was the highest level since late August, CFTC data showed.

Among other bond contracts, speculative net shorts in ultra bonds reached a record peak of 244,975 contracts on Tuesday.

On the other hand, speculators pared their T-bond net shorts to 103,937 contracts from previous week’s 138,382, which was the highest since June 2007.

Among interest rate futures, speculators rebuilt their net shorts in Eurodollar to 2.59 million contracts from 2.47 million contracts which were the fewest since late December.

They increased their net shorts in federal funds for first time in four weeks to 30,038 contracts.

Reporting by Richard Leong in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Matthew Lewis

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ZF takes 35 percent stake in autonomous driving specialist ASAP

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Car parts maker ZF Friedrichshafen said on Friday it acquired a 35 percent stake in ASAP, a Germany-based maker of software and testing systems for autonomous driving applications and electric vehicles.

ASAP specializes in car-to-x communication, human-machine interfaces and electronic architecture and last year generated sales of 84 million euros. It employs 1,100 staff.

ZF’s Chief Executive Officer Wolf-Henning Scheider recently said ZF will invest about 12 billion euros in electromobility and autonomous driving over the next five years.

A purchase price for the ASAP stake was not disclosed.

Reporting by Arno Schuetze, editing by Riham Alkousaa

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Comcast says its fastest internet reaches more U.S. homes than any other provider

(Reuters) – Comcast Corp said on Thursday that its fastest-speed gigabit internet service now reaches more homes than any other provider in the United States after it completed rollout to nearly all 58 million homes and businesses it serves.

The milestone widens its greater coverage over telecoms rivals. Competitor Verizon Communications Inc races to deploy its next-generation 5G wireless service on mobile phones and in the home with speeds theoretically rivaling cable company products. Verizon launched its home internet 5G service in October, the first commercial offering of its kind in the United States.

Comcast’s high-speed internet business is one of its biggest contributors to revenue and profit as customers for its video services decline. The segment has helped prop up the media and communications conglomerate’s finances.

So-called cord cutters, many of whom continue to rely on broadband providers such as Comcast for internet services, have started defecting to video-streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Youtube TV for television programming.

That trend sparked a wave of media company mergers. Walt Disney Co struck a deal to buy 21st Century Fox for $71.3 billion and AT&T Inc bought Time Warner for $85 billion, and both have vowed to build streaming video services for consumers looking for a lower-cost alternative to traditional pay television services.

Comcast lost to Disney on a bid to buy Fox this year but prevailed against Disney in an auction to buy satellite television broadcaster and media company Sky.

Reporting by Kenneth Li; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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Robot market growth slows as trade war hits industrial spending: robot industry chief

TOKYO (Reuters) – An escalating trade war between the United States and China has dampened manufacturers’ appetite for investment in equipment, causing growth in the industrial robot market to slow, the chief of the global robot industry group said.

Many global manufacturers “are now in a wait-and-see mode, wondering whether to shift production (away from China) to, let’s say, Vietnam or the United States,” said Junji Tsuda, chief of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), in an interview on Thursday.

IFR, which brings together nearly 60 global robot suppliers and integrators, predicts worldwide industrial robot sales this year to grow 10 percent compared to last year’s 30 percent jump.

China is the world’s largest robots market with a 36 percent global share, with its sales volume exceeding the total of Europe and the Americas combined.

Tsuda, also the chairman of Japan’s Yaskawa Electric Corp, said the manufacturers would move out of the wait-and-see mode by the end of this year.

It will take a while for the direction of the trade war to be clear, Tsuda said. “But global demand for smartphones, semiconductors and autos have been solid, and the time will eventually come that they can wait no longer and will resume investment to meet the demand.”

Yaskawa, one of the world’s top robot manufacturers, last week cut its annual operating profit forecast to 59 billion yen ($524.40 million) from 65.5 billion yen, citing a slowdown in smartphone-related demand in China and growing caution over the trade dispute.

From next year onwards, however, IFR expects the robot market growth to pick up again, forecasting an average 14 percent increase per year through 2021.

($1 = 112.5100 yen)

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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