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Future is now: Nike’s next self-lacing shoe hitting shelves

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Nike’s latest performance basketball shoe, from concept to reality, took about three years to put together.

Or 30 years, depending on how you count.

The Nike Adapt BB — a self-lacing smart shoe that can be controlled by a smartphone — gets released to the public on Sunday, a date that just happens to coincide with the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte. It has a motor embedded within the shoe, a hefty $350 US pricetag and wearers will need to give them some time on a wireless charging pad every couple weeks or so.

But Nike also insists that this isn’t just a gadget or gizmo for the feet, something techies and sneakerheads will get because of the coolness factor. It was also made with the baller — some of the world’s best ballers, to be precise — in mind. Even with the tech features, it weighs about as much as a more conventional high-end basketball shoe does.

“The footwear component of the design, it is intended and it is designed in the same vein as our highest performing basketball products,” said Jordan Rice, part of Nike’s smart systems team that made the Adapt happen. “So higher ability, high life.”

A small number of NBA players are already in the Adapt, including Boston’s Jayson Tatum, Dallas rookie Luka Doncic, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma and New York’s Frank Ntilikina. Some future NBA players have been exposed to it as well; the Duke men’s basketball team has given them a test drive.

“It’s a sneaker, it’s a good shoe,” Duke standout Cam Reddish said. “I didn’t break it in enough for me to wear in a game, but it’s a phenomenal sneaker.”

Rice said it took almost three years from the concept of the Adapt to go from first drawing to first game, though others would insist the idea goes all the way back to 1989.

The self-lacing shoe was something that Nike developed at the behest of those looking to add futuristic touches to “Back to the Future Part II,” released 30 years ago. In the film Michael J. Fox’s character, Marty McFly, pulls on a pair of grey Nike high-tops that light up and lace themselves at a touch of a button — purportedly the sort of thing that everyone in the world will be wearing in 2015.

“Power laces! All right!” McFly says as the shoe tightens around his foot and ankle.

Life imitated art.

Buttons on the side of the sole can adjust the tension of the laces, or how the shoe wraps around the foot. When synced to an app — with the highest level of security and encryption in mind — the colours of the shoes can be changed as well at any time at the touch of a phone.

The idea is to have a true custom fit for every foot. In time, the app could also collect performance data.

“What that could look like in the future is something that’s much more integrated with digital services but feels real time and feels contextual,” Rice said.

Nike has been in the self-lacing game before, coming out three years ago or so with shoes that Tinker Hatfield — the legendary Nike designer who came up with the concept seen in the movie — called E.A.R.L., or electro adaptive reactive lacing.

“It’s the future,” Hatfield said at a Nike event in 2016.

Nike apparently thinks the future — or a better future — is now.

“There’s just something cool about it,” Tatum said. “It’s like a glove.”

Tatum was among a small group of pros who were brought to Nike’s Oregon headquarters to test the shoes out a few months ago, the list of players also including WNBA stars Kelsey Plum and Breanna Stewart. But the real testing — since the shoes basically are a piece of electronics — went well beyond some of the world’s best players seeing how they hold up to running and jumping and cutting.

They were soaked in water overnight, sprayed with water cannons for 20 minutes at a time, hammered with thousands of pounds of force in extreme conditions. The shoes still performed, and the bells and whistles still worked.

Put simply, they’re ready for sweat.

“They’re tested to such an extent,” Rice said. “You know, this is one of the most tested products that Nike’s actually ever produced.”

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S&P 500 posts highest close since November 8 on trade optimism

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – The S&P 500 posted its highest closing level since Nov. 8 on Friday as investors clung to signs of progress in the ongoing trade talks between the United States and China.

Investors assessed a slew of headlines on the talks, with top trade negotiators from the two countries meeting to wrap up a week of discussions on some of the thorniest issues in their trade war.

If the two sides fail to reach a deal by midnight on March 1, then their seven-month trade war could escalate.

“People are expecting some sort of positive news on trade and tariffs with China fairly soon,” said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“But we won’t know until the end of next week,” he said, and, “there has been a lack of specifics.”

Optimism on the trade front and dovish signals from the U.S. Federal Reserve have driven the recent gains and left indexes well above their lows of December, when the market swooned on fears of an economic slowdown. The S&P 500 is now up about 19 percent since its late-December low.

The S&P 500 technology index was up 1.3 percent, leading gains among the 11 major S&P sectors, while the trade-exposed industrials index climbed 0.6 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 181.18 points, or 0.7 percent, to 26,031.81, the S&P 500 gained 17.79 points, or 0.64 percent, to 2,792.67 and the Nasdaq Composite added 67.84 points, or 0.91 percent, to 7,527.55.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

All three indexes registered gains for the week, with both the Dow and Nasdaq posting a ninth week of increases.

The number of New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq stocks hitting 52-week highs hit 367, the most since mid-September and outnumbered those hitting year lows by the widest margin in six months.

Stocks briefly pared gains after U.S. officials briefed on the negotiations said more time is likely needed in the talks given China’s resistance this week to American demands for specific steps by Beijing to end forced transfers of U.S. technology and certain other policies.

Afterward, President Donald Trump said there was a very good chance the United States would strike a deal with China to end the trade war, and that he was inclined to extend his March 1 deadline to reach an agreement.

“Right now the downside risk has been not as steep, but there’s always a concern that something happens last-minute,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.

“Having a Chinese economy that stabilizes is constructive for global markets,” she said. “That’s what is key in terms of the market looking at the results.”

Kraft Heinz Co tumbled 27.5 percent, and was the biggest drag on the S&P along with a 1.7 percent fall in Class B shares of the company’s controlling stakeholder, Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The packaged food company posted a quarterly loss, disclosed a Securities and Exchange Commission probe and wrote down the value of its iconic Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands.

Slideshow (2 Images)

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.99-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.45-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 64 new 52-week highs and three new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 112 new highs and 21 new lows.

About 6.9 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges. That compares with the 7.3 billion-share daily average for the past 20 trading days.

Additional reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis

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FCA sets $14 million annual target compensation for CEO Manley: filing

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FILE PHOTO: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) CEO Mike Manley arrives at the memorial service held in honor of former CEO Sergio Marchionne in Turin, Italy, September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Massimo Pinca/File Photo

DETROIT (Reuters) – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA) has set an annual compensation target for Chief Executive Officer Mike Manley consisting of pay, cash and equity bonuses of $14 million, the automaker said in a regulatory filing on Friday.

Manley took over as the head of FCA last July after the abrupt departure of his predecessor Sergio Marchionne. The company paid its new CEO 600,442 euros ($680,240) for 2018 and he will receive a bonus for 2018 of $367,000 to be paid this year.

Manley also was granted FCA 180,364 shares for his work in 2018, which will vest in 2019 if the company meets certain targets. The fair value per share on the date those were granted was $16.61, FCA said.

His target annual compensation consists of a base salary of $1.6 million, and a bonus of $2.4 million and an equity award valued at $10 million, both linked to the company hitting certain performance targets.

Former CEO Marchionne received 6.6 million euros in compensation for 2018, which consisted of nearly 2 million euros in base pay and an annual bonus for 2017 of just over 4.6 million euros.

For the 2014 to 2017 time period, Marchionne also received 2.8 million FCA shares. The fair value per share was $14.84, FCA said.

FCA chairman John Elkann received a base salary of 1.7 million euros and no annual bonus.

Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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Flattening U.S. yield curve in late 2018 ‘flashing red’ on economy: Fed’s Williams

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President and Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, John Williams, addresses a news conference in Zurich, Switzerland September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A flattening U.S. yield curve in December, which was close to being inverted, was “flashing red” about a deceleration in U.S. economic growth heading into 2019, despite some solid data at the time, New York Federal Reserve President John Williams said on Friday.

The yield curve flattens as the gap between short and long-dated yields narrow, suggesting investors’ worries about a slowing economy.

The yield curve inverts when shorter-dated yields rise above longer-dated ones. An inverted yield curve has preceded all U.S. recessions in the past 50 years.

Williams was giving closing remarks at a conference about quantitative tools, jointly sponsored by the New York Fed and the Atlanta Federal Reserve.

Reporting by Richard Leong; editing by Diane Craft

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