By Shinichi Saoshiro TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian stocks stuttered in early trade on Wednesday after downbeat U.S. manufacturing data raised concerns about the health of the world's biggest economy, while the dollar retreated from 8-1/2-month highs. Japan's Nikkei dipped 0.2 percent, Australian stocks lost 0.5 percent and South Korea's Kospi shed 0.3 percent. The mixed data prompted markets to question whether the U.S. economy was ready for an interest rate hike that could come as early as this month.
U.S. manufacturing contracted in November for the first time in three years as the sector buckled under the weight of a strong dollar and deep spending cuts by energy firms, but robust automobile sales suggested the economy remained on solid ground. Other data released on Tuesday showed a sturdy increase in construction spending in October, which should help offset the drag from manufacturing on fourth-quarter economic growth. With manufacturing accounting for only 12 percent of the economy, analysts say it is unlikely the persistent weakness will deter the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates this month.
By Yasmeen Abutaleb SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Mark Zuckerberg will put 99 percent of his Facebook Inc shares, currently worth about $45 billion, into a new philanthropy project focusing on human potential and equality, he and his wife said Tuesday in a letter to their newborn daughter. The plan, which was posted on the Facebook founder and chief executive officer's page and has attracted more than 360,000 'likes', follows other high-profile billionaires such as Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates, who have set up foundations to dedicate their massive fortunes to philanthropic endeavors. Zuckerberg, 31, who will control the new initiative and remain in charge of the world's largest online social network, said he would sell or give up to $1 billion in shares in each of the next three years.
Buyout firms KKR & Co LP , Thoma Bravo LLC and Vista Equity Partners Management LLC are competing for $4 billion worth of Dell Inc's assets, people familiar with the matter said, as the computer maker steps up asset sales. Divesting these assets would help Dell bolster its balance sheet after it agreed in October to buy data storage company EMC Corp for $67 billion. The three private equity firms are vying for Dell's Quest Software, which helps with information technology management, as well as SonicWall, an e-mail encryption and data security provider, the people said this week.
SAN FRANCISCO/BENGALURU (Reuters) - The board of Web giant Yahoo Inc is set to discuss the company's future, and that of high-profile Chief Executive Marissa Mayer, when it meets this week, The Wall Street Journal reported late on Tuesday. The company's shares were up more than 6 percent in extended trading. Yahoo's core business, which includes popular services like Yahoo Mail and its news and sports sites, could attract private equity firms, media and telecom companies or firms like Softbank Group Corp , analysts have said in the past.