The stock market was open on Veterans Day, but investors had to deal with anxiety about whether hoped-for progress on the trade front between the U.S. and China will lead to any firm resolution. Protests in Hong Kong highlighted the ongoing tensions between the two countries, making it even more difficult to anticipate a solution in the near term. As of 11:30 a.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was down 116 points to 27,565. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) fell 11 points to 3,082, and the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) moved lower by 25 points to 8,450.
In other the news, Uber (NYSE:UBER) co-founder Travis Kalanick reported a huge sale of the ride-hailing service's stock shortly after the company's post-IPO lock-up expiration had occurred. Meanwhile, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) faced criticism over the weekend about whether its Apple Card credit card product is discriminating against customers on the basis of gender.
A vote of no confidence for Uber?
Shares of Uber sank 2% as investors learned about sales of stock that the company's co-founder made last week. Following the company's lock-up expiration on Wednesday, Kalanick reported four different sale transactions, selling a total of more than 20.26 million shares. Based on weighted average prices that ranged from $26.65 to $27.40 per share, the sales would've generated proceeds of almost $547 million.
Many took the sales as a vote of no confidence from Kalanick. With the lock-up provisions in place, the co-founder didn't have the right to sell stock until last week, and so jumping in at the first opportunity seems like a sign that Kalanick wasn't comfortable with Uber's future prospects.
However, there's a wrinkle here that should give bullish Uber shareholders some comfort. All the sales were made within a charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT) that Kalanick established. CRUTs can offer valuable tax-planning benefits, but they also often require that trustees consider whether the assets of the trust are invested prudently. A heavy concentration in a single stock might raise concerns from the charitable remainder beneficiary of the trust, and so having the CRUT sell the stock according to a set selling plan makes more sense in this context.
Kalanick also kept all of his roughly 75.4 million shares of Uber stock that he owns individually. That should show some confidence that the co-founder still thinks Uber has room to recover from its recent struggles.
Apple handles controversy
Shares of Apple were up a fraction of a percent after having lost ground earlier in the session. The latest drama for the iPhone maker came over the weekend following allegations that the new Apple Card credit card product uses an algorithm that effectively discriminates on the basis of gender.
The controversy started when well-known tech industry expert David Heinemeier applied for the card and got a credit limit that was 20 times greater than what his spouse received. That's despite the fact that in California, community property laws typically split income equally between spouses.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak then weighed in, saying that the same thing happened to him and his spouse. Wozniak said that his family has no separate bank accounts or other assets. Although some were quick to put the blame on Goldman Sachs, which has handled the financial side of the card product, the co-founder thinks Apple should bear at least some of the blame.
Regardless of who bears the blame, the news is ill-timed for Apple. With the tech company looking to give Apple Card a prominent place within its ecosystem, controversy could drive some customers away from its products entirely. With the stock having hit all-time highs recently, that's a headwind that Apple doesn't need right now.