The daily business briefing: November 11, 2019

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Harold Maass
Workers sort shipments for Alibaba's Singles Day event.
NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images
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1.

Alibaba's Singles Day sales jump

Chinese e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba said Monday that sales reached $22.63 billion in the first nine hours of its annual 24-hour Singles Day shopping event. That total marked a 25 percent increase over the same period last year. The event started in 2009 and has grown into the biggest online sales event in the world. The Singles Day total of $30 billion last year far surpassed Cyber Monday in the U.S., which had $7.9 billion in sales. Citic Securities said in a note over the weekend that it expected Alibaba's Singles Day sales to rise by up to 25 percent this year, held back from an even bigger jump by slowing overall online sales growth in China. [Reuters]

2.

Iran discovers oil field that could expand reserves by a third

Iran has found a new oil field with 53 billion barrels of crude, President Hassan Rouhani announced Sunday. If the discovery is proven, it could increase Iran's proven oil reserves by just over a third. Rouhani said the new field is located in the oil-rich southern Khuzestan province. The find comes as Iran is struggling to find ways to sell its crude internationally due to renewed sanctions by the U.S., which is withdrawing from the landmark nuclear deal that exchanged curbs on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Iran currently has the world’s fourth largest proven oil reserves and the second biggest natural gas deposits. [The Associated Press]

3.

Asian markets drop after tensions escalate in Hong Kong

Asia Pacific markets fell on Monday as surging tensions in Hong Kong fueled fears of instability. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell by 2.3 percent after the latest anti-government demonstrations on Monday, during which police opened fire on mass protests in the Chinese-run former British colony, injuring at least two demonstrators. Over the weekend, police also arrested three pro-democracy lawmakers. Markets in China's mainland simultaneously lost ground, with the Shanghai composite falling by 1.2 percent and the Shenzhen composite dropping by 1.4 percent. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 gave back early gains and fell by 0.2 percent. South Korea's Kospi dropped by 0.8 percent. In the U.S., futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq Composite all fell by about 0.4 percent. [CNBC]

4.

Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson dies unexpectedly at 60

Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard Tyson died unexpectedly in his sleep on Sunday, the company said in a statement. He was 60. Tyson, a strong backer of affordable health care, took the company's top job in 2013, becoming its first black chief executive. A day before his death he tweeted about "high-tech and high-touch" health care. Colleagues described him as "an outstanding leader, visionary, and champion for high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans." Following news of Tyson's death, the National Union of Healthcare Workers postponed a strike by 4,000 mental health professionals that had been scheduled to start Monday at dozens of Kaiser clinics in California. [Reuters]

5.

New York investigates claims of gender bias in Apple Card algorithms

The New York Department of Financial Services is investigating allegations that the new Apple Card's algorithms discriminate against women in setting credit limits. Apple teamed up to launch the card with Goldman Sachs, which is responsible for credit decisions. Entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson criticized the Apple Card in a series of tweets starting Thursday, saying it gave him a credit limit 20 times higher than his wife's even though she has a better credit score. Later, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said he got 10 times more credit on the card than his wife, but they have "no separate bank or credit card accounts or any separate assets." Apple did not immediately respond Sunday to Reuters' request for comment. Goldman said its decisions were based on creditworthiness, not factors such as gender or race. [MarketWatch, Reuters]