Jinri Toutiao. The two built a rapport, and an investment vehicle associated with Mr. Milner led a $10 million financing in Mr. Zhang’s company that same year, three people with knowledge of the deal said.

The news aggregator eventually became ByteDance — now valued at around $360 billion, according to PitchBook — and owns TikTok; its Chinese sister app, Douyin; and various education and enterprise software ventures.

By 2015, Mr. Chew had joined Xiaomi as chief financial officer. He spearheaded the device maker’s 2018 initial public offering, led its international efforts and became an English-speaking face for the brand.

“Shou grew up with both American and Chinese language and culture surrounding him,” said Hugo Barra, a former Google executive who worked with Mr. Chew at Xiaomi. “He is objectively better positioned than anyone I’ve ever met in the China business world to be this incredible dual-edged executive in a Chinese company that wants to become a global powerhouse.”

In March 2021, Mr. Chew announced that he was joining ByteDance as chief financial officer, fueling speculation that the company would go public. (It remains privately held.)

appointed Mr. Chew as chief executive, with Mr. Zhang praising his “deep knowledge of the company and industry.” Late last year, Mr. Chew stepped down from his ByteDance role to focus on TikTok.

Kevin Mayer, a former Disney executive, left after the Trump administration’s effort to sunder the app from its Chinese parent. China was also cracking down on its domestic internet giants, with Mr. Zhang resigning from his official roles at ByteDance last year. Mr. Zhang remains involved in decision making, people with knowledge of ByteDance said.

Mr. Chew moved to establish himself as TikTok’s new head during visits to the app’s Los Angeles office in mid-2021. At a dinner with TikTok executives, he sought to build camaraderie by keeping a Culver City, Calif., restaurant open past closing time, three people with knowledge of the event said. He asked attendees if he should buy the establishment to keep it open longer, they said.

a TikTok NFT project involving the musical artists Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch. He reprimanded TikTok’s global head of marketing on a video call with Beijing-based leaders for ByteDance after some celebrities dropped out of the project, four people familiar with the meeting said. It showed that Mr. Chew answered to higher powers, they said.

Mr. Chew also ended a half-developed TikTok store off Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, three people familiar with the initiative said. TikTok briefly explored obtaining the naming rights of the Los Angeles stadium formerly known as the Staples Center, they said.

He has also overseen layoffs of American managers, two people familiar with the decisions said, while building up teams related to trust and safety. In its U.S. marketing, the app has shifted its emphasis from a brand that starts trends and conversations toward its utility as a place where people can go to learn.

In May, Mr. Chew flew to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, speaking with European regulators and ministers from Saudi Arabia to discuss digital strategy.

June letter to U.S. lawmakers, he noted that ByteDance employees in China could gain access to the data of Americans when “subject to a series of robust cybersecurity controls.” But he said TikTok was in the process of separating and securing its U.S. user data under an initiative known as Project Texas, which has the app working with the American software giant Oracle.

“We know we’re among the most scrutinized platforms,” Mr. Chew wrote.

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Stocks subdued by outsized rate risks, yen fragile

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  • Fed looms over broader markets, dollar rises
  • Oil tumbles on demand concerns, U.S. rail strike averted
  • Treasury yields climb while oil gold tumbles

NEW YORK, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Wall Street indexes were firmly in the red after a choppy start to Thursday’s session while bond yields rose as investors digested economic data that provided the Federal Reserve little reason to ease its aggressive interest rate hiking cycle.

Oil futures tumbled more than 3% on demand concerns and after a tentative agreement that would avert a U.S. rail strike, as well as continued U.S. dollar strength with expectations for a large U.S. rate increase. read more

Economic data showed U.S. retail sales unexpectedly rebounded in August as Americans ramped up purchases of motor vehicles and dined out more while taking advantage of lower gasoline prices. But data for July was revised downward to show retail sales declining instead of flat as previously reported.

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Separately the Labor Department said initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell for the week ended Sept. 10 to the lowest level since the end of May. read more

Investors are widely expecting an aggressive rate hike after the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting next week, but nervously awaiting hints from Fed Chair Jerome Powell about future policy moves, said Quincy Krosby, chief global strategist at LPL Financial.

“The market remains choppy knowing that there’s a Fed meeting next week. Even though participants agree that it’ll be a 75 basis points rate hike, it’s what the statement adds to previous commentary and what Chairman Powell says in his press conference” that have them worried, Krosby said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) fell 173.07 points, or 0.56%, to 30,962.02; the S&P 500 (.SPX) lost 44.69 points, or 1.13%, to 3,901.32 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) dropped 167.32 points, or 1.43%, to 11,552.36.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe (.MIWD00000PUS) shed 0.96% while emerging market stocks (.MSCIEF) lost 0.57%.

Stocks, bonds and currencies on Thursday were showing a market “increasingly understanding the Fed is going to hike more aggressively next week,” said Scott Ladner, chief investment officer at Horizon Investments in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Referring particularly to the still strong labor market, Ladner said “economic numbers released today are tying a bow on the situation.”

Treasury yields rose with the two-year hitting fresh 15-year highs, after data on retail sales and jobless claims showed a resilient economy that gives the Fed ample room to aggressively hike interest rates.

Also already signaling a recession warning the inverted yield curve – the gap between 2-year and 10-year treasury yields – widened further to -41.4 basis points, compared with -13.0 bps a week ago.

Benchmark 10-year notes were up 4.5 basis points to 3.457%, from 3.412% late on Wednesday. The 30-year bond last fell 5/32 in price to yield 3.4779%, from 3.469%. The 2-year note last fell 5/32 in price to yield 3.8646%, from 3.782%.

“In this vicious cycle where the data continues to remain resilient, that would imply a Fed that would likely stay the course and continue to tighten policy,” said Subadra Rajappa, head of U.S. rates strategy at Societe Generale in New York.

Also clouding investors’ moods on Thursday was the World Bank’s assessment that the world may be edging toward a global recession as central banks across the world simultaneously hike interest rates to combat persistent inflation. read more

In currencies the dollar was slightly higher against the yen while the Swiss franc hit its strongest level against the euro since 2015. read more

The dollar index , which measures the greenback against a basket of major currencies, rose 0.091%, with the euro up 0.18% to $0.9995.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.19% versus the greenback at 143.44 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.1469, down 0.57% on the day.

Before the tentative labor agreement, fears of a U.S. railroad worker strike had supported oil prices due to supply concerns on Wednesday. In addition, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said this week that oil demand growth would grind to a halt in the fourth quarter.

U.S. crude settled down 3.82% at $85.10 per barrel while Brent finished at $90.84, down 3.46% on the day.

Gold dropped to its lowest level since April 2021, hurt by elevated U.S. Treasury yields and a firm dollar, as bets of another hefty Fed rate hike eroded bullion’s appeal.

Spot gold dropped 1.9% to $1,664.46 an ounce. U.S. gold futures fell 2.02% to $1,662.30 an ounce.

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Additional reporting by Herbert Lash in New York, Marc Jones in London, Stefano Rebaudo in Milan, Tom Westbrook in Singapore and Wayne Cole in Sydney; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Oil dips on weak demand fear, strong dollar

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General view of oil tanks and the Bayway Refinery of Phillips 66 in Linden, New Jersey, U.S., March 30, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

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  • U.S. railroad strike averted by late-night deal
  • Strong dollar weighs as Fed decision looms over broader markets
  • IEA says oil demand growth to slow in Q4
  • Armenia-Azerbaijan clashes lend support -analyst

NEW YORK, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Oil futures fell over 3% to a one-week low on Thursday on a tentative agreement that would avert a U.S. rail strike, expectations for weaker global demand and continued U.S. dollar strength ahead of a potentially large interest rate increase.

Brent futures fell $3.26, or 3.5%, to settle at $90.84 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude ended $3.38, or 3.8%, lower at $85.10, the lowest closes for both benchmarks since Sept. 8.

Major U.S. railroads and unions secured a tentative deal after 20 hours of intense talks brokered by President Joe Biden’s administration to avert a rail shutdown that could have hit food and fuel supplies across the country and beyond. read more

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The prospect of a strike lent the market some support on Wednesday.

That rail deal also helped pressure U.S. diesel and gasoline futures to drop more than 5% during the session.

“The oil complex is drafting back down on U.S. dollar strength and the tentative agreement that would avert a U.S. rail workers strike,” analysts at energy consulting firm Ritterbusch and Associates said, noting crack spreads were weak.

The U.S. 3:2:1 crack spread – a measure of refining profit margins – was on track for its lowest close since early March.

Downside risks continue to dominate the global economic outlook and some countries are expected to slip into recession in 2023, but it is too early to say if there will be a widespread global recession, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). read more

World Bank Chief Economist Indermit Gill said he was concerned about “generalized stagflation,” a period of low growth and high inflation, in the global economy, noting the bank had pared back forecasts for three-fourths of all countries. read more

Wall Street indexes (.SPX), (.IXIC) were in the red while the dollar (.DXY) held near the 20-year high it hit on Sept. 6 as a slew of economic data pointed to resilience in the U.S. economy which could keep the Federal Reserve on track for aggressive interest rate hikes. [nL4N30M33J] read more

A strong dollar reduces demand for oil by making the fuel more expensive for buyers using other currencies.

“Oil fundamentals are still mostly bearish as China’s demand outlook remains a big question mark and as the inflation fighting Fed seems poised to weaken the U.S. economy,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at data and analytics firm OANDA.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said this week that oil demand growth would grind to a halt in the fourth quarter.

Crude prices have dropped substantially after a surge close to its all-time highs in March after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine added to supply concerns, pressured by the prospects of recession and weaker demand.

Other factors weighing on oil prices included an increase in U.S. crude inventories and an expected reduction in energy use by the Ethereum blockchain. [EIA/S] read more

The European Union’s executive, meanwhile, plans to raise more than 140 billion euros ($140 billion) to shield consumers from soaring energy prices by skimming off revenue from low-cost electricity generators and making fossil fuel firms share windfall profit. read more

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Reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York
Additional reporting by Alex Lawler in London and Muyu Xu in Singapore
Editing by Marguerita Choy and Matthew Lewis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Scott Disavino

Thomson Reuters

Covers the North American power and natural gas markets.

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Store Shelves Are No Longer Bare, but Baby Formula Remains in Short Supply

More than six months after one of the largest infant formula manufacturing plants in the United States issued a recall and was then shut down because of contamination concerns, a newborn staple remains in short supply.

In parts of the country, parents and their families are scrambling to locate precious containers of formula for their babies and many large retailers remain out of stock of popular brands. Some companies like Walmart and Target are limiting the number of containers that can be purchased at one time.

While the situation has improved since mid-July, the out-of-stock figures for powder formula on store shelves in late August remained at 23 percent, still above the 10 percent it was before the recall and shutdown, according to the Chicago-based market research firm IRI.

infections in four babies — two of them fatal — who had consumed formula manufactured at the plant. On Feb. 17, two days after the shutdown, Abbott recalled batches of three powdered formulas over complaints of serious bacterial contamination. (Abbott has said that there is no “conclusive evidence” to link the company’s formulas to the illnesses.) That disruption made it clear just how dependent Americans were on a few formula manufacturers, and the Biden administration found itself scrambling to figure out how to make more product available.

ending around Nov. 14, the F.D.A. said it would release guidance this month on how the new companies can continue to sell in the United States past this fall.

“Parents in the U.S. have been looking for a better product than what they were being offered,” said Will McMahon, one of the members of the family who owns the British baby formula Kendamil. The company has spent the last three years working through the formal process, including clinical trials, necessary to get its organic infant formula approved by the F.D.A.

Kendamil was one of the earliest formulas to get its application approved by the F.D.A. in the wake of the Sturgis plant shutdown, and the company has begun sending two million cans of formula to the United States.

dropped in early August after it said the F.D.A. had notified it that it was “deferring further consideration” of its application to import formula into the United States.

resume manufacturing of Similac formulas at its plant in Sturgis.

The company also said that it increased production at other U.S.-based manufacturing plants and one in Ireland, and that it would supply the United States with more than eight million pounds of formula in August, an increase from the year before. But it noted it would take six weeks for the Similac product from the Sturgis plant to start to hit store shelves.

But some industry experts say it will take time for Abbott to gain back the market share it once had. “To be frank, there is a lot of consumer mistrust around Similac right now,” said Mr. Dittmeier of the W.I.C. program.

That could be a boon for Reckitt Benckiser, which has been running its formula manufacturing plants at full tilt all summer, hoping to hold on to the market share it has gained at Abbott’s expense. Its market share has climbed to nearly 60 percent from 35 percent before the recall, said Robert Cleveland, who oversees the Mead Johnson nutrition business at Reckitt.

“We remain committed to making as much formula as we can,” Mr. Cleveland said. “We continue to maximize our domestic manufacturing, running overtime and going 24/7.” He added that the company had received approval to bring in formula from its plants in Singapore and specialty formula from its facilities in Mexico.

Still, in late August, when Lori Sharp, a first-time mother in Port Hueneme, Calif., realized she was down to one container of Reckitt’s Enfamil Sensitive infant formula for her 3-month-old daughter, the formula was out of stock on Walmart.com.

Panicking, she scoured more websites and widened her geographic search. She eventually discovered a container of formula at a Target 40 minutes away in Moorpark, Calif. “I went into the store and they actually had four more, but their shelves were so bare,” Ms. Sharp said. “I bought all of them.”

In Georgia, some of the most acute shortages are in rural areas. Jennifer Kelly, who is the family services manager at the early Head Start program in Swainsboro, which is between Macon and Savannah, said trying to find formula earlier this summer had become a “daily chore.”

The 14 babies she watches drink seven different kinds of formula. She and her staff were often driving to Walmart, Walgreens or a local grocery chain or scouring Amazon for some of the more obscure brands.

“It’s not like it was a few months ago when the shelves were bare,” Ms. Kelly said. “I am hoping we are on the other side of this dilemma.”

When the formula shortage was at a crisis point in May, Ms. Robinson of Bucks County, Pa., created a Facebook group that connected parents around the country. The group, called Formula Hunters, does not exchange money to keep out profiteers who have been hoarding formula and seeking to resell it at a markup.

The group operates on the notion that a parent who buys a hard-to-find formula brand and sends it to another parent in the group will eventually be repaid when others do the same for them.

Formula Hunters now has 1,500 members, who are still actively helping each other locate formula. “This has been going on for so many months,” Ms. Robinson said. “The frustration has been high.”

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China’s Options for Punishing Taiwan Economically are Limited

In retaliation for Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week, China conducted large-scale military exercises around the self-governing island democracy and suspended some trade between the sides.

The exercises led to a few shipping disruptions, but they did not affect traffic at Taiwanese or Chinese ports, analysts say. And the trade bans were notable mainly for what they did not target: Taiwan’s increasingly powerful semiconductor industry, a crucial supplier to Chinese manufacturers.

The bans that Beijing did impose — on exports of its natural sand to Taiwan, and on imports of all Taiwanese citrus fruits and two types of fish — were hardly an existential threat to the island off its southern coast that it claims as Chinese territory.

Taiwanese pineapples, wax apples and grouper fish, among other products.

a self-governing island democracy of 23 million people, as its territory and has long vowed to take it back, by force if necessary. The island, to which Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese forces retreated after the Communist Revolution of 1949, has never been part of the People’s Republic of China.

“The political message is greater than the economic hit,” said Chiao Chun, a former trade negotiator for the Taiwanese government.

Even though about 90 percent of Taiwan’s imported gravel and sand comes from China, most of that is manufactured. China accounted for only about 11 percent of Taiwan’s natural sand imports in the first half of this year, according to the Bureau of Mines.

The two types of Taiwanese fish exports that China restricted last week — chilled white striped hairtail and frozen horse mackerel — are collectively worth about $22 million, less than half the value of the Taiwanese grouper trade that was banned earlier this year. They are also less dependent on the Chinese market.

As for Taiwan’s half-a-billion-dollar citrus industry, its shipments to China account for only 1.1 percent of the island’s total agricultural exports, according to Taiwan’s Agriculture Council. A popular theory is that Beijing singled out citrus farmers because most orchards are in southern Taiwan, a stronghold for the governing political party, the Democratic Progressive Party, a longtime target of Beijing’s anger.

Future bans may become more targeted to punish industries in counties that are D.P.P. strongholds, said Thomas J. Shattuck, an expert on Taiwan at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House. There may also be less retaliation against counties run by the Kuomintang opposition party “in an attempt to put a finger on the scale for Taiwan’s local, and even national, elections,” he added.

increasingly indispensable node in the global supply chains for smartphones, cars and other keystones of modern life. One producer, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, makes roughly 90 percent of the world’s most advanced semiconductors, and sells them to both China and the West.

simulated a blockade of Taiwan.

Even though some of the exercises took place in the Taiwan Strait, a key artery for international shipping, they did not disrupt access to ports in Taiwan or southern China, said Tan Hua Joo, an analyst at Linerlytica, a company in Singapore that tracks data on the container shipping industry. He added that port congestion would build only if the strait was completely blocked, port access was restricted or port operations were hampered by a labor or equipment shortage.

“None of these are happening at the moment,” he said.

Vessels that chose to avoid the Taiwan Strait last week because of the Chinese military’s “chest beating” activities would have faced a 12- to 18-hour delay, an inconvenience that would generally be considered manageable, said Niels Rasmussen, the chief shipping analyst at Bimco, an international shipping association.

If Beijing were to escalate tensions in the future, it would indicate that it was willing to put at risk China’s own economy as well as its trade and relations with Japan, South Korea, Europe and the United States, Mr. Rasmussen said by phone from his office near Copenhagen.

“That’s just difficult to accept that they would take that decision,” he added. “But then again, I didn’t expect Russia to invade Ukraine.”

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China says it is in communication with U.S. over Pelosi’s expected Taiwan visit

BEIJING, Aug 2 (Reuters) – China has been in communication with the United States over U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s expected visit to Taiwan, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Tuesday.

Pelosi kicked off a tour of four Asian countries on Monday in Singapore amid intense speculation that she may risk the wrath of Beijing by also visiting self-ruled Taiwan. read more

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Reporting by Yew Lun Tian in Beijing, writing by Eduardo Baptista, editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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