Dollar ends strongest year since 2015 on defensive note

© Reuters. Illustration photo of a U.S. Dollar note © Reuters. Illustration photo of a U.S. Dollar note

By Saqib Iqbal Ahmed

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar fell against the yen and euro in thin year-end trading on Monday as optimism about progress in the U.S.-China trade dispute hurt its safe-haven allure, but the greenback stayed on track to log its strongest annual performance in three years.

The (), which tracks the greenback versus six peers, was down 0.22 percent on Monday.

"The U.S. dollar is heading into the end of the calendar year on the defensive as global stocks — bearing in mind that some markets are done for the year already — perk up following positive comments on U.S.-China trade from President Trump," Shaun Osborne, chief FX strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto, said in a note.

Equities around the world rose on Monday as hints of progress on the Sino-U.S. trade standoff provided optimism in what has been a punishing end of year for markets globally.

Risk sentiment brightened slightly when U.S. President Donald Trump said he held a "very good call" with China’s President Xi Jinping on Saturday to discuss trade and claimed "big progress" was being made.

The two nations have engaged in a trade war for much of 2018, shaking world financial markets as punitive tariffs disrupted the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods between the world’s two largest economies.

The yen which tends to benefit during geopolitical or financial stress as Japan is the world’s biggest creditor nation, remained in demand and the greenback hit a fresh six-month low against the Japanese currency .=>

"We’ve heard this all before and are still awaiting concrete details, of course," said Osborne.

The persistent tensions have boosted safe-haven demand for the greenback this year as investors bet that the United States is in better shape than its rivals to weather a trade war.

For the year, the index was up 4.4 percent, its best yearly percentage gain since 2015.

While the dollar has been relatively stable going into the end of 2018, expensive valuation, a flagging equity boom, waning cash repatriation by U.S. companies, and the possibility that the U.S. Federal Reserve will not raise interest rates as many times as previously signaled pose a challenge for the greenback.

"We still rather think the U.S. dollar may be peaking after spending much of the past year on the offense," said Osborne.

On Monday, the euro () EBS was 0.08 percent higher against the greenback. Although the single currency has gained versus the dollar in recent weeks, economic growth and inflation in Europe remain much weaker than the European Central Bank’s expectations.

The euro is set to lose nearly 5 percent versus the dollar in 2018.

Sterling, which has been battered this year by Brexit woes, rose 0.31 percent to a three-week high . The British pound has lost about 6 percent of its value versus the dollar this year.=>

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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Mexico stocks post worst quarter in 17 years, government weighs

© Reuters. A worker cleans the glass doors of the building of Mexico's Stock Exchange in Mexico City © Reuters. A worker cleans the glass doors of the building of Mexico’s Stock Exchange in Mexico City

By Sheky Espejo and Miguel Gutierrez

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s main stock index closed out its worst quarter in over 17 years on Monday, dragged down by doubts about how the new leftist government will manage the economy as well as concerns over global growth and trade.

The S&P/BMV IPC stock index () lost 15.89 percent in the fourth quarter, its steepest drop for a three-month period since the third quarter of 2001, when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks hit the United States.

That quarter the market fell by nearly 19 percent.

Before taking office earlier this month, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador rattled financial markets when on Oct. 29 he said he would scrap a partly built $ 13 billion new Mexico City airport on the basis of a straw poll that was widely criticized.

The decision kicked off a dispute with some bondholders of debt issued to finance the airport and raised fears Lopez Obrador could pursue an agenda characterized by arbitrary decision-making and frequent use of referendums.

Market sentiment was also hammered by a bill drafted by Lopez Obrador’s National Regeneration Movement to limit bank fees and another to regulate the mining sector.

"Those decisions were not well received and the unease has persisted among investors," said James Salazar, economist at CI Banco.

After seesawing earlier on Monday, the index finally closed 0.44 percent higher at 41,640.27.

During the global financial crisis in the third quarter of 2008, the Mexican bourse fell 15.3 percent.

Global markets have been depressed this year by U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade dispute with China, uncertainty surrounding Britain’s planned departure from the European Union and more recently the U.S. federal government shutdown.

Mirroring falls in other major stock exchanges, Mexico’s main index posted its worst annual performance in 10 years, declining 15.63 percent in 2018.

Still, the index has steadied in the last few weeks, having fallen well below the 40,000 level in late November.

The market will likely continue to move "laterally" during the first half of 2019 until it becomes clearer how Lopez Obrador is managing public finances, said Jorge Placido, an analyst at brokerage Vector Casa de Bolsa.

"Investors are willing to pay and stick around until there is more clarity about the economy," said Placido.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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The biggest FX mover for the year? The JPY takes the prize.

The major currency biggest winner is the JPY

If you were to take the % changes of the major currencies vs. each other and added up those % changes, the winner for largest 2018 change was the JPY (it rose). The next biggest % changer was the AUD (the AUD fell).  

The JPY rose vs. all the major currencies with gains against the AUD (AUDJPY) the largest at 12.2%.  Versus the USD, the JPY only gained 2.6%. That was the smallest gain of the JPY vs. the majors. Today, the price of the USDJPY moved toward the midpoint of the years trading range at 109.572 (the low was in March at 104.60, while the high war reached in October at 114.544). The low today reached just above that midpoint level at 109.628.  

With Japan GDP moving into the negative in the 3rd quarter, it can be a head-scratcher why the JPY is the strongest. 

Typically, weaker economic growth is a precursor for a weaker currency.  However, the Pavlovian reaction to lower stock prices is often a flight into the “relative safety of the JPY” and out of the “risk currencies” like the AUD, CAD and NZD.  

Looking at the weakest currencies, the AUD led the way followed by the CAD. The NZD was mostly lower, but the GBP (and Brexit concerns) nosed it out.  

As for the stock markets influence on currencies, 2018 was indeed full of lower global stock prices with the Shanghai Composite as major index with the largest decline at -24.59% from the end of 2017 year close. This too helps to explain the weakness in the AUD as the Australian economy is reliant on China’s growth. 

Overall, all the major indices are closing in the red this year (see chart below) which has helped to contribute to the JPYs rise and flow out of the risk currencies.

ForexLive

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ForexLive European morning FX news wrap: Pound gains as markets steady ahead of the new year

Forex news from the European morning session – 31 December 2018

Headlines:

Markets:

  • GBP leads, NZD lags on the day
  • European equities mixed, a little higher mostly; E-minis up 0.8%
  • US 10-year yields up 1.4 bps to 2.732%
  • Gold up 0.20% to $ 1,283.63
  • WTI up 1.83% to $ 46.16
  • Bitcoin down 3.89% to $ 3,740


With little on the economic calendar and Japanese and German markets also closed today, trading action was very much limited. The aussie started off on the front foot after positive remarks by Trump on trade over the weekend.

But as the session progressed, the dollar started to lose some ground while the pound is the one posting solid gains as we look to wrap up the year. GBP/USD started the session around 1.2690 before shooting up to 1.2740 levels before consolidating in the region and then pushing higher again now.

There wasn’t much to gather from changes in risk sentiment as well with US equity futures trading higher for the most part, posting gains of 0.7% to 0.8% throughout the session. Despite that, USD/JPY made its way lower from 110.10 to touch 109.88 as the greenback lost some ground late in the European morning.

The aussie maintained its gains for the most part with AUD/USD ranging between 0.7050-60 levels on the session. Meanwhile, USD/CAD pushed lower as gains in oil prices are also helping the loonie push higher on the day. The pair started around 1.3620 before slipping to a low of 1.3609 before trading back at 1.3620 levels now.

I would advise not attaching too much thinking into the moves seen today as they can be a little wonky with thin liquidity conditions and stocks experiencing some window dressing. I sincerely hope that 2018 has been a fruitful year for all of you and hopefully 2019 will be an even better year for every one! I want to thank all of our readers for continuing to support us in what we do and also I would like to wish you a Happy New Year and have a blessed and profitable year in 2019!

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2018: BBC Tech's biggest stories and what happened next

When tech historians of the future look back at 2018, it may stand out as the year that the wheels came off Facebook or at least its original platform.

Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus all had their troubles but managed to escape the year without seeing their brands trashed in quite the same way as their parent.

So, it’s no surprise to see articles related to Facebook’s various scandals secured it three of the spots in BBC Tech’s most-read stories list for 2018.

Two other controversy magnets – Elon Musk and Huawei – however, narrowly missed out.

And for the first time since we started compiling this list in 2012, none of the placings went to a product launch.

Below are the most clicked on articles for each month of the year – a mix of controversy, endeavour and sparkly revenge.

January: Chipocalypse Now

Software flaws have long been a bane of computing, but when news emerged of serious vulnerabilities in popular processor chips there was a serious intake of breath from the cyber-security community.

Billions of PCs, smartphones and other devices were said to be susceptible to the Meltdown and Spectre bugs – including, as it emerged, Apple’s products.

At one point there was talk of owners having to brace themselves for their machines feeling noticeably more sluggish as a result of the workarounds that would be needed, or even needing to send their computers in for component swap-outs.

A year on, there doesn’t appear to have been any malware related to the flaws reported in the wild, even though further variants of the originally disclosed exploits have been discovered.

And as far as personal computers are concerned, the patches released don’t appear to have caused much of a hit to performance.

February: Fake porn

Deepfakes gave the internet something else to worry about in February, after it emerged that free software meant anyone could replace the face of one person with another’s in video footage so long as you had enough photos of the latter.

Inevitably, the tool was used to create pornography with a range of predominantly young female celebrities’ features generated to supplant those of the original adult actresses. One after another websites lined up to ban the content until Reddit, which had been home to much of it, decided to do likewise.

As the algorithms involved have improved, there has been much discussion about the danger of fake news creators adopting the face-mapping technique to create bogus videos of politicians.

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But there’s another worrying trend.

It appears that some Deepfakers are attempting to scrape social media for images of acquaintances that they can turn into pornography, and have been sharing details of their progress in chat forums.

March: Cambridge Analytica

Donald Trump’s election in 2016 helped put Cambridge Analytica in the public eye after reports that its psychological profiles of US voters had helped his campaign target messages.

But the London-based consultancy only became a household name after a report in the Observer explained how the firm had made use of millions of harvested Facebook accounts’ details, while a follow-up Channel 4 TV report recorded the consultancy’s chief on tape discussing how beautiful girls could be sent to a politician’s house as a honey-trap.

Facebook also found itself in the firing line. It didn’t help itself by first trying to suppress the story and then quibbling over whether it warranted being described as a “data breach”.

When Mark Zuckerberg did finally apologise several days later, he made a promise that has been repeatedly thrown back at him since.

“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” he said.

April: Scandal grows

By early April, Facebook was estimating that up to 87 million of its members’ details had been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica. More than a million of them were thought to belong to UK-based users.

This was based on the number of accounts that an academic at the University of Cambridge – Dr Aleksandr Kogan – had harvested from the social network via a personality quiz.

Soon after, Cambridge Analytica responded that its parent, SCL Elections, had in fact “only” licensed 30 million people’s records from Dr Kogan, and all, it said, had been from US citizens.

That wasn’t enough to save it – the political consultancy folded in May.

But it now forms part of Facebook’s defence against a fine from the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office, which was imposed despite the watchdog acknowledging that it had found no evidence that UK citizens’ data had been passed to Cambridge Analytica.

The £500,000 amount is peanuts to the social network – it makes more in half an hour, and the reputational damage it has incurred has arguably been far more costly.

But Facebook is concerned that the penalty could set a precedent for other data regulators to follow.

May: RIP TotalBiscuit

The British video games critic John “TotalBiscuit” Bain had first told his fans and wider following that he had cancer in 2015.

By April 2018 the 33-year-old had announced he was retiring from journalism as the medication he was on was preventing him from thinking clearly.

Even so, his death shocked and saddened many of his 2.2 million YouTube fans when it was confirmed.

The obituaries that followed mostly focused on how he had championed indie games and criticised some of their bigger-budgeted rivals, which he had said sometimes prioritised profit over all else.

But on social media and in some later articles, there was criticism of the role Mr Bain had played in the GamerGate movement.

It was claimed he had given legitimacy to a misogynistic campaign that had been responsible for the harassment of others.

But this in turn spurred on his supporters to defend his legacy. They said his involvement had been mischaracterised and noted that Mr Bain had called for ethics in games journalism for several years before GamerGate existed.

June: Data from the deep

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The phrase “the cloud” conjures up images of our data being stored in some nebulous form high above us.

In reality, tech firms are investing billions of pounds in racks of computer servers housed in gigantic data centres across the globe to power the apps we use and internet services we call on.

For the most part, these are built at ground-level. But in June, Microsoft sank an experimental data centre into the sea off Orkney in the north of Scotland.

The idea is to reduce cooling costs by keeping the equipment in a sealed vault underwater.

The tech giant intends to monitor Project Natick for five years to see if the scheme is a practical proposition for a wider rollout.

But elsewhere, Google revealed it had already made the switch to liquid-cooling to tackle the heat given off by its latest artificial intelligence-focused computer servers.

But rather than dropping its equipment overboard, it is piping coolant to each chip.

July: Thoughtless threat

PayPal was guilty of a major faux pas when it wrote to Lindsay Durdle, one of its recently deceased customers, to say her death was a breach of its rules.

To make matters worse, it added that it might take legal action as a consequence.

Her husband Howard Durdle was appalled, and to be fair so was PayPal’s PR team when the BBC brought the matter to its attention.

Although the firm was unable to confirm exactly what had gone wrong it attempted to make good on the situation by writing off a debt his wife had owed.

“PayPal have been in touch, have apologised sincerely and have promised to change whatever they need to internally to ensure this can’t happen again,” Mr Durdle tweeted after the BBC’s article was published.

“I just hope more organisations can apply empathy and common sense to avoid hurting the recently bereaved.”

August: Mystery satellite

As official statements go, the US State Department’s wasn’t the most reassuring: “We don’t know for certain what it is and there is no way to verify it.”

The subject was a Russian satellite that had been launched 10 months earlier and was displaying abnormal behaviour.

One US official suggested it could be a space weapon designed to destroy other satellites – an allegation a Russian diplomat slammed as being “unfounded [and] slanderous”.

For those who track such developments, the US’s suspicions echoed those raised about another Russian launch four years earlier when what was thought to be a bit of debris started zipping about in orbit.

In any case, at the end of the year we are officially none the wiser about the objects true capabilities.

But with the Trump administration pursuing its own plan to create a Space Force by 2020, off-planet militarisation looks set to remain a hot topic.

September: Facebook flaw

With the Cambridge Analytica scandal still ratting along, Facebook revealed that a separate problem had exposed almost 50 million accounts to being hijacked.

The cause was a vulnerability in the code of its View As privacy facility, which was designed to let users see what their profile looked like to others.

At the time, Facebook said it was “temporarily turning off” the tool while it conducted a review. Three months on, it remains disabled.

The firm did, however, revise its estimate down to 30 million accounts.

While we’re on the topic, here’s some of Facebook’s other controversies in 2018:

  • being accused by the UN of having played a “determining role” in stirring up hatred against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims
  • being sued by advertisers who alleged the firm took more than a year to disclose its video view figures had been over-estimated after discovering the problem. Facebook says the complaint is “without merit”
  • getting into a spat with the philanthropist George Soros after chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg questioned if the billionaire was shorting Facebook’s stock because he had described it as a “menace”
  • losing WhatsApp’s co-founders over a privacy clash, and then Instagram’s two co-founders because of other tensions
  • launching first a dating service and then Portal, a video chat device for the home, while still embroiled with its various privacy breaches, leading to suggestions the company was “tone deaf”
  • having details of its data-sharing practices with other companies revealed via a series of newspaper exposes and a House of Commons parliamentary committee
  • Mark Zuckerberg telling Congress that he was not familiar with the phrase “shadow profiles” – a term used to refer to information gathered about non-members – despite the fact complaints had been made against the practice since at least 2011

In an end of year message posted yesterday, Mr Zuckerberg said Facebook had become much more “proactive” at addressing the challenges it faced but warned some problems could “never be fully solved”.

But overall, he said he was “proud of the progress” Facebook had made in 2018.

October: Power struggle

Many of us have experienced the sinking feeling that comes from leaving the home in the morning to discover your smartphone battery never recharged overnight.

Typically, it’s a case of failing to properly plug the handset in. But a YouTuber’s tests of the latest iPhones indicated some of the new devices only topped up their power if their displays were “woken up” first.

Inevitably this was dubbed “chargegate”, and when the BBC published its take on the issue Apple had yet to comment.

But a week later, when it released the next version of its mobile operating system, Apple’s accompanying notes confirmed it had fixed a bug that had caused the flaw.

November: #Dontbeevil

At the start of the year the Time’s Up movement was founded to take a stand against sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. It was a response to the allegations against Harvey Weinstein but also marked an effort to tackle problems faced by women more widely.

Eleven months later, seven of Google’s employees declared “time’s up” on the tech giant after accusations of misconduct emerged involving two past male high-fliers as well as dozens of other staff.

As a result, workers at Google’s offices across the world staged a series of walkouts. Managers were delivered a set of demands, including a call to end the firm’s requirement that sexual harassment disputes be dealt with internally.

About a week later, Google’s chief Sundar Pichai confirmed that the business would indeed stop its policy of forced arbitration, opening the door to it being sued over the matter in the future.

December: Glitter bomb

The internet fell in love with a revenge prank staged by an ex-Nasa engineer earlier this month.

After having a package stolen from his porch, Mark Rober constructed a “bomb” that married a centrifugal motor, lots of glitter, fart spray and several smartphones.

He then hid the device within an Apple Homepod speaker box and left it on his porch.

When thieves subsequently stole it, it recorded the moment it sprayed them with its contents. After which, Mr Rober retrieved the package and repeated the exercise.

In an ideal world, the story would have ended there, with Mr Rober’s YouTube fame assured thanks to the compilation video he made.

But a couple of days after uploading the footage, the inventor replaced the video with a shorter edit.

Some viewers had voiced suspicions about parts of the footage, and Mr Rober acknowledged that when he had chased up their concerns he had discovered that one of his helpers had recruited acquaintances to pose as two of the five featured thieves.

“I’m especially gutted because so much thought, time, money and effort went into building the device and I hope this doesn’t just taint the entire effort as ‘fake’,” he tweeted.

Most viewers seem to have been forgiving, but it’s unfortunate that what was a fun stunt might cause many to be more suspicious and cynical about what they see online in the future.

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USD Flat In Asia As US-China Trade Talks Progress

© Reuters.  The U.S. dollar was flat on Friday morning in Asia © Reuters. The U.S. dollar was flat on Friday morning in Asia

Investing.com – The U.S. dollar was flat on Friday morning in Asia as the Japanese yen dipped after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted over the weekend that trade talks with China are progressing well.

The , which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was up 0.01% at 96.40 by 10:50 PM ET (3:50 AM GMT).

The was trading at 6.8784 with Chinese markets closed on the last day of the year.

The pair gained 0.15% with the yen trading at 110.42. The safe-haven yen was sought-after at the end of the year as investors entered into risk-off mode over concerns of slowing global economic growth, trade tensions between the U.S. and China and volatility in equity markets.

Elsewhere, the pair and the pair gained 0.38% and 0.21%, respectively.

The CNY came under pressure Monday as the National Bureau of Statistics released the official , which showed the country’s first manufacturing decline in more than two and a half years. The manufacturing PMI slid to 49.4, with a reading below signalling contraction.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in a tweet that he “just had a long and very good call with President Xi of China. Deal is moving along very well. If made, it will be very comprehensive, covering all subjects, areas and points of dispute. Big progress being made!”

Bloomberg reported that a U.S. government delegation would travel to Beijing in the week of Jan. 7 to hold the first face-to-face trade talks with Chinese officials since Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a 90-day truce during a G20 meeting in Argentina earlier this month.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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Pope Francis will hold summit in 2019 on sexual abuse controversy

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Box Office: 'Aquaman' stays strong with $51.5 million in second weekend

© Reuters. Cast members Momoa, Kidman and Heard pose at the premiere for © Reuters. Cast members Momoa, Kidman and Heard pose at the premiere for “Aquaman” in Los Angeles

By Rebecca Rubin

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – "Aquaman" easily retained its reign in North America for the second weekend in a row, dominating box office charts with $ 51.5 million from 4,125 locations.

That marks a decline of just 24 percent from its opening weekend of $ 72 million and brings the DC superhero tentpole past $ 188 million in the states. Since it’s a busy time of year for moviegoing, "Aquaman" will likely cross $ 200 million by New Year’s and could become Warner Bros.’ biggest film of 2018. Overseas, the movie, directed by James Wan and starring Jason Momoa, has surpassed $ 560 million.

There was enough holiday cheer at multiplexes to spread the wealth. Disney’s "Mary Poppins Returns" held the No. 2 spot with $ 28 million, a solid uptick of 28 percent to take ticket sales just shy of $ 100 million. Globally, the musical has amassed $ 173 million.

Paramount’s "Bumblebee" landed in third place again, picking up $ 21 million from 3,550 venues, a small 3 percent drop. The "Transformers" origin story with Hailee Steinfeld has made $ 67 million through Sunday.

Meanwhile, a pair of Christmas Day releases — "Vice" and "Holmes and Watson" — are neck in neck for sixth place. The former, Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic, generated $ 7.8 million for a domestic haul of $ 17.7 million. That’s a middling result for a movie that cost Annapurna $ 60 million to produce before accounting for marketing costs. The latter, "Holmes and Watson," a comedy starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, brought in $ 7.3 million during the three-day stretch and $ 19.8 million since Tuesday. The good news, for the comedy at least, is its Rotten Tomatoes score has jumped from 0 percent to 9 percent. The bad news is Columbia Pictures shelled out $ 42 million to make the absurd take on Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Not falling far behind is STX and Jennifer Lopez’s "Second Act." The romantic comedy saw a gain this weekend, up 11% with $ 7.2 million for a domestic cume of $ 21.7 million.

DreamWorks and Universal’s "Welcome to Marwen" continues to have a bleak holiday, dropping to No. 14 with $ 2.23 million in its second outing. Robert Zemeckis directed the drama starring Steve Carell as a man who attempts to overcome his PTSD. It’s made just $ 7.7 million, branding it as one of this year’s biggest flops. The movie, based on the 2010 documentary "Marwencol," carries a $ 40 million price tag and stands to lose the studio over $ 45 million when marketing and distribution costs are considered.

A number of holdovers rounded out the top five. Sony’s "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" nabbed fourth place, amassing $ 18 million in its third week of release. The latest big-screen adaptation of Marvel’s web-slinging hero, which has received high praise from critics and fans alike, just crossed the $ 100 million mark in North America.

Fifth place went to Warner Bros.’ "The Mule" with $ 11.7 million from 2,787 theaters for a domestic tally of $ 60 million. Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the drama, which saw a 24 percent hike this weekend.

At the specialty box office, Participant Media’s "On the Basis Of Sex" pocketed $ 690,000 from 33 screens. Felicity Jones portrays a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the biopic, which launched on Christmas Day and has since made $ 1.5 million. It secured the best screen-average of the weekend with $ 20,877 per venue. The studio plans to expand to 100 theaters next weekend.

"Audiences across the country truly love the movie — exit polls are in the mid-90s — clearly showing the film’s sheer entertainment power," said Lisa Bunnell, Focus Features’ president of distribution . "As a woman heading up a studio’s distribution team, a part of our industry that has traditionally been filled by men for decades, I can’t help but watch this film and know that Ruth’s work help make that possible."

Annapurna and Nicole Kidman’s "Destroyer" also debuted on Christmas Day and took in $ 58,472 from three locations for a domestic total of $ 116,000. It scored the second-biggest screen average of the weekend with $ 19,491.

Elsewhere, Sony Pictures Classics’ "Stan and Ollie," a biographical drama about comedic duo Stan Laurel and Ollie Hardy, brought in $ 79,674 million from five screens for an average of $ 15,935.

A handful of awards hopefuls got a boost over the holiday frame. Annapurna’s "If Beale Street Could Talk" earned $ 759,579 when it added 60 locations. Barry Jenkins wrote and directed the film based on James Baldwin’s book, and it’s made $ 1.9 million in its platform release.

Focus Features’ "Mary Queen of Scots" also saw an increase in ticket sales with $ 2.6 million from 841 theaters in its fourth outing for a North American haul of $ 9 million.

Another royal costumed drama, "The Favourite," brought in $ 2.4 million from 809 locations. Yorgos Lanthimos directed the Fox Searchlight film starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz. It just crossed $ 15 million at the domestic box office.

Revenues in North America dropped 5.2 percent compared to the same weekend in 2017, according to Comscore, though that’s because last year benefited from the release of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi." Even so, the domestic market is up almost 7 percent from last year and over 4 percent from 2016’s record bounty. As of this weekend, ticket sales have surpassed $ 11.8 billion.

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U.S. judge dismisses suit versus Google over facial recognition software

© Reuters. Google signage is seen at the Google headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York © Reuters. Google signage is seen at the Google headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York

(Reuters) – A lawsuit filed against Google by consumers who claimed the search engine’s photo sharing and storage service violated their privacy was dismissed on Saturday by a U.S. judge who cited a lack of "concrete injuries."

U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang in Chicago granted a Google motion for summary judgment, saying the court lacked "subject matter jurisdiction because plaintiffs have not suffered concrete injuries."

The suit, filed in March 2016, alleged Alphabet (NASDAQ:) Inc’s Google violated Illinois state law by collecting and storing biometric data from people’s photographs using facial recognition software without their permission through its Google Photos service.

Plaintiffs had sought more than $ 5 million collectively for the "hundreds of thousands" of state residents affected, according to court documents. Plaintiffs had asked the court for $ 5,000 for each intentional violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, or $ 1,000 for every negligent violation, court documents said.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs as well as officials with Google could not immediately be reached to comment. Google had argued in court documents that the plaintiffs were not entitled to money or injunctive relief because they had suffered no harm.

The case is Rivera v Google, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, No. 16-02714.

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