German watchdog probes Facebook

Facebook is being investigated by Hamburg’s data protection authority over transcribing audio from users of its services, adding to a probe into Google’s automatic speech assistant.

Facebook “is currently the subject of a separate investigation” into transcription of human-to-machine and human-to-human communications, the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection said Monday.

Earlier in August, Bloomberg News reported that Facebook has been transcribing audio of users who chose the option in Facebook’s Messenger app to have their voice chats transcribed. The human review was aimed at checking whether Facebook’s artificial intelligence correctly interpreted the messages.

Facebook has said it had paused human review of the audio in early August.

— Bloomberg News


Aircraft sales boost durable-goods orders

Orders to U.S. factories for large manufactured goods rose for the second straight month in July, but the strength again came from a big jump in the volatile aircraft category. A category that tracks business investment also rose for the second straight month, though June’s reading was revised down significantly.

The Commerce Department said Monday that orders for durable goods — items meant to last at least three years — rose 2.1 percent. That follows a 1.8 percent gain in June, which helped to offset significant declines in May and April.

A category that serves as a proxy for business investment rose 0.4 percent, but last month’s gain of 1.9 percent was revised down to 0.9 percent.

Excluding transportation, orders fell 0.4 percent, the biggest decline since March. Commercial aircraft orders rose 47.8 percent.

— Associated Press

Also in Business

Yum Brands said Monday it will test Beyond Meat's plant-based chicken nuggets at an Atlanta KFC restaurant. The restaurant is the latest to cater to diners seeking vegan alternatives, a growing market as more fast-food chains tweak their menus. Customer feedback from the Atlanta test will be considered as KFC evaluates a broader test or a potential national rollout, Yum said.

Kraft Heinz is tapping former chief financial officer Paulo Basilio for a reprisal of the role as the packaged-food company seeks to rebuild its business. Chief executive Miguel Patricio, who took over the top post in July, "made the strategic decision to shift to a seasoned veteran," the company said in a filing. Basilio, 44, will take over the role Sept. 1. Current CFO David Knopf will return to 3G Capital.

Beer and wine giant Constellation Brands warned Monday it will lose $54.3 million in the current quarter from its nearly $4 billion investment in a Canadian-based weed company. In 2017, Constellation, based in Victor, N.Y., made an initial investment in Canopy Growth as it sought to capture a portion of the recreational marijuana market. Constellation raised its stake to 38 percent in August 2018. Earlier this year, Constellation wrote down $160 million of its investment in Canopy. Its current stake in Canopy, which produces and sells cannabis in dried, oil and softgel capsules, is 35.6 percent, according to securities filings. Its six-month loss will be $132.5 million, the filing said.

Amgen will buy Celgene's psoriasis drug Otezla for $13.4 billion in cash, clearing the way for Bristol-Myers Squibb to go ahead with a $74 billion deal for Celgene by the end of the year. Amgen, which announced the deal Monday, is paying a hefty price for the drug, according to analysts and investors. Bristol-Myers said in June that it would sell Otezla to allay concerns raised by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission because of a competing treatment that it is developing. Analysts said at the time that they were expecting Otezla to sell for around $8 billion to $10 billion.

— From news reports

Coming today

9 a.m.: S&P/Case-Shiller home price index for June.

10 a.m.: The Conference Board releases its consumer confidence index for August.