Stocks climb on trade-talk news

U.S. stocks climbed Thursday after the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. officials could reduce the new tariffs on Chinese imports as part of trade negotiations between the two countries. Stocks wobbled earlier following reports late Wednesday that the U.S. might bring criminal charges against Chinese technology giant Huawei over allegations it stole trade secrets. Technology, industrial and health care companies made some of the largest gains, and makers of chemicals and other basic materials jumped.

Netflix revenue doesn’t impress

Netflix subscriptions increased 26 percent to nearly 139.3 million in the fourth quarter, as the streaming giant continued to attract more customers and bolster its library of original programming. The earnings beat Wall Street expectations, while revenue remained in line with their estimates. Despite the strong results, the company still faces head winds. Netflix will probably lose licensed content from 21st Century Fox and Walt Disney Co. when Disney later this year launches its own streaming service.

Netflix also recently announced another price increase, which could cause some subscribers to ditch the service for cheaper alternatives.

Facebook pages spread false info

Facebook identified two disinformation campaigns originating from Russia that were targeted at users in Europe and Central Asia. The company said on Thursday it had deleted nearly 500 pages and accounts that had posted the misleading messages. Many of the pages were discovered to be linked to employees of Sputnik, an agency controlled by the Russian government that was established to spread reports and information sympathetic to Russia. Facebook said it used independent news pages on topics like weather, travel and sports to mask its efforts. The activity shows how Kremlin-linked groups continue to use the social network to spread misleading materials around the world.

PG&E bankruptcy could hurt solar

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. promises that its customers’ lights will stay on if it follows through on plans to file for bankruptcy this month. But companies that supply the California utility’s electricity may have more to worry about. PG&E said Monday that it would use bankruptcy to resolve huge liabilities arising from two years of deadly wildfires. Such a move would allow the company to try to revoke or renegotiate contracts it signed when power prices were higher. That, analysts said, could hurt companies that borrowed based on the higher prices — especially those whose power comes from renewable resources.

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