iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Record auto sales for the month of November may have helped drive markets into the green on Tuesday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 168.43 to close at 17888.35.
The Nasdaq gained 47.64 to finish at 5156.31, while the S&P 500 ended the session at 2102.63, up 22.22 from its open.
Auto makers released November sales in the U.S. on Tuesday, with many companies reporting modest gains. According to the Detroit Free Press, Nissan posted a 3.8 percent increase in sales while Hyundai's sales went up about 12 percent. The Big Three-- General Motors, Ford, and Fiat-Chrysler-- reported 1.5 percent, 0.4 percent, and 3 percent gains respectively. Among the losers was Honda with a 5.2 percent drop in sales, but the biggest loser was scandal-ridden Volkswagen with a 24.7 percent drop.
Cyber Monday sales exceeded expectations with $3.07 billion spent, according to Adobe’s Digital Index. The sales were 16 percent higher than last year's numbers and 3.2 percent more than expert predictions. For the entire extended holiday weekend-- five days starting on Thanksgiving-- Americans spent $11.11 billion, 17 percent more than last year and 2.4 percent more than expectations at $10.85 billion. Mobile sales were a big help this year, with 37 percent of online sales done while mobile on Thanksgiving, 33 percent on Black Friday, and 28 percent on Cyber Monday.
Electronic toy maker VTech is facing backlash after announcing it suffered a security breach to its database. According to a statement, the hacking happened on Nov. 14, 2015 and an "unauthorized party" potentially could have accessed names, email addresses, encrypted passwords, secret question and answer for password retrieval, IP addresses, mailing addresses, and download history. A hacker spoke to Vice's Motherboard anonymously and took responsibility for the hacking. According to the hacker and Motherboard, even more sensitive information was accessed including photos of children and chat transripts. In response to that, a statement from VTech said, "As the investigation is on-going, we cannot confirm [this information] at this stage."
ABC News(NEW YORK) - Virgin America apologized to a Dallas attorney after he was banned from boarding his flight -- an incident the airline called a "misunderstanding."
Bobby Abtahi, an Iranian-American, was waiting to board his flight from New York to Dallas on Monday, when a flight agent "informed me that I wouldn't be getting on the flight," he told ABC News via Skype.
"I asked her why, and she said that because the captain and crew did not feel comfortable with me on board," Abtahi said. "She said that it wasn't her call, it was their call."
According to Abtahi, the crew told the agent that he "cut off a crew member on the way into the airport. I said, 'Well I was rushing to the gate, if I did, I'm sorry.' I said, 'I'll apologize.'"
The agent went back to the plane to ask the crew if they'd accept his apology, Abtahi explained, but the agent then returned and told him, "No, that's not going to work. They don't feel comfortable with you on the plane, you can't get on this flight."
At the gate, Abtahi said, he got on the phone with Virgin as other passengers walked by him and boarded.
"When they told me I couldn't get on the plane I was just really in a state of shock," he said. "But as reality started to set in and people who were boarding the plane were staring at me, I just really felt like I was out there on an island by myself."
That's when a supervisor came down and apologized, Abtahi said, telling him, while she didn't agree with the call, it wasn't her decision.
So @VirginAmerica captain/crew didn't "feel comfortable" w/ me on flight. Wasn't allowed to board. Still waiting for @aplusk to show up...
Virgin America spokesman Dave Arnold said in a statement that, “This was the result of a misunderstanding and we have apologized to Mr. Abtahi for his experience."
"As an airline that prides itself on our award-winning guest service, we take issues like this very seriously," Arnold said. "We are sorry Mr. Abtahi had this experience, as it was not representative of the guest service for which we are known."
Arnold told ABC News the airline reached out to Abtahi directly to apologize and "offered to compensate Mr. Abtahi for the inconvenience."
I got a nice sincere apology from @VirginAmerica. You are now permitted to calm down Internet.
The incident the agent may have been referencing when she said, Abtahi "cut off a crew member on the way into the airport," was when he entered some revolving doors, Abtahi said.
"I got in and I started pressing ... I felt someone behind me and I realized, wait a minute, someone is in this small section with me," he recalled. "I couldn't turn around or anything, so I said, 'Are you in here with me?' And someone said, 'Yes, I am.' So we kind of awkwardly both pushed the door forward and got out."
"I went to security, and I didn't think anything of it," Abtahi said, adding that he's not sure if that was the incident in question.
Abtahi, who ended up taking an American Airlines flight home to Dallas, said of the incident with Virgin, "It's impossible to know for sure if this has anything to do with my ethnicity. Because I don't know what's going on in other people's heads."
"Whether it was because of that or not, it's a horrible feeling," he added.
Abtahi said, "I don't think the actions of [a] few people represent the whole airline," adding that he "wasn't really mad. I was just a little upset and felt bad about the whole situation."
He said his experience "should be an eye-opener to a lot of people out there, in what I feel like is the most subjective part of getting on an airplane."
"We have all these rules and regulations, but at any moment someone can feel uncomfortable, and you're just tossed off," he said. "And you are no longer innocent until proven guilty -- you're just guilty."
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Restaurant chains Applebee's and IHOP are dumping soda from their children's menus nationwide.
"We believe this is a small step in assisting parents while dining out, as parents are in the best position to determine the appropriate food and beverage choices for their children," Craig Hoffman, a spokesman for DineEquity, the group that owns Applebee's and IHOP, told ABC News in a statement.
But the move doesn't mean kids won't have the chance to drink soda at all at the two chains; soft drinks will still be available for adults who request them for their children, according to the statement. Other kids' menu beverages such as milk, chocolate milk, hot chocolate and, beginning next spring, juice, will be featured in the IHOP's children's menu, Hoffman said. Similar options are available at Applebee's, he added.
"We believe in having a broad variety of selections so our guests have a choice that best meets their needs," the statement said.
Applebee's and IHOP are the latest to join a growing number of food chains axing soft drinks from the beverage options available for kids. McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and Dairy Queen have all made similar changes to their menus amid a push for food chains to provide healthier menu offerings. So have Chipotle, Panera and Subway.
Sugary drinks are associated with obesity, diabetes and tooth decay, among other public health concerns. A third of all children in the United States are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2012, about 208,000 people younger than 20 years old were living with diabetes, a study from the institute shows. About 9 percent of all Americans have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, told ABC News Applebee's and IHOP are moving in the right direction. Portion sizes and an analysis of the whole menu should be next.
"This sends a message to parents and allows parents to make a healthier choice. It doesn't create habit, but it does send a message to parents," Benjamin said. "When you have...a menu that has healthier food options and beverages for kids, parents learn that that's a better option for kids than having a sugary beverage with their meal."
Stephen Lam/Getty Images(MENLO PARK, Calif.) -- Mark Zuckerberg announced the birth of his daughter Max on Tuesday in a heartfelt post where he also shared his plans to give away 99 percent of his Facebook shares -- amounting to $45 billion at today's prices -- to fund a new charitable initiative.
In a letter to their daughter Max, Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, said the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will "join people across the world to advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation."
"Our initial areas of focus will be personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities," the proud new parents wrote in the letter, which was posted to both of their Facebook pages.
The new parents said they would provide more details "in the coming months once we settle into our new family rhythm and return from our maternity and paternity leaves." However, a Facebook filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sheds more light on how Zuckerberg plans to gradually donate his shares to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
"He has informed us that he plans to sell or gift no more than $1 billion of Facebook stock each year for the next three years," the filing said. It added the Facebook co-founder and CEO plans to retain his majority voting position in the company "for the foreseeable future."
Explaining their big gift, Zuckerberg and Chan wrote to their daughter they felt "a great responsibility to leave the world a better place for you and all children. We wish you a life filled with the same love, hope and joy you give us. We can't wait to see what you bring to this world."
Zuckerberg didn't say when his daughter was born, however, the new father made headlines recently when he announced his choice to take two months of paternity leave once his daughter was born. Facebook has also increased its leave for all new parents, giving fathers and same sex couples the chance to take up to four months off to spend with their new babies.
Oli Scarff/Getty Images(HONG KONG) -- VTech, the maker of high-tech educational toys for children, has announced it suffered a security breach to its database, potentially putting the information of customers at risk.
The Hong Kong-based company said in a statement that its Learning Lodge store, a portal where customers can download educational content to their child-friendly VTech devices, which include tablets and watches, had been accessed by an unauthorized party on Nov. 14.
VTech makes kid-friendly gadgets, including the InnoTV, which is a gaming system, tablets under the InnoTab brand, and a smartwatch and action camera under its Kidizoom line.
Customers were first told about the breach on Nov. 27, but questions remain. Here's the latest:
Who's at Risk
Anyone who has used VTech's Learning Lodge store to download content onto their child's VTech gadget should consider their information as compromised. VTech said its customer database includes people in the following countries: USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Luxembourg, Latin America, Hong Kong, China, Australia and New Zealand.
What Was Compromised
VTech's customer database includes "general user profile information," according to the company. That includes a customer's name, email address, password, their secret question and answer for retrieving a lost password, IP address, mailing address and download history. In addition, VTech says its “database also stores kids’ information including name, genders and birthdates.”
The company said credit card data was not impacted since payments are sent to a secure, third-party payment gateway.
A hacker who claimed to be responsible for the data breach and who asked to remain anonymous told Vice's Motherboard about the hack last week, including the above information.
Perhaps even more troubling is the other sensitive information the hacker alleged was exposed on the servers, including photos of children and chat transcripts they've had with their parents, according to Motherboard, which obtained copies of some of the data to verify the hacker's claims.
VTech has not mentioned photos and chat transcripts as being possibly exposed. The company did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.
When and How VTech Found Out
A statement from VTech said the company first heard about the breach when they were emailed by a journalist asking for comment on Nov. 23.
"After receiving the email, we carried out an internal investigation and detected some irregular activity on our Learning Lodge website on November 14," the statement said. "We immediately conducted a comprehensive check of the affected site and have taken thorough actions against future attacks."
Customers were notified "as swiftly as possible" on Nov. 27, the company said.
What VTech Is Doing About the Breach
While the company said it has taken actions to make sure this won't happen again, it was unclear what specifically was being done.
"We are committed to protecting our customer information and their privacy, to ensure against any such incidents in the future," VTech's statement said.
A breach such as this one shouldn't steer parents away from buying connected toys this holiday season, said Robert Siciliano, an online safety expert to Intel security. Siciliano recommends parents do their research before buying a toy -- even if it's a simple Google search with the toy name and the words "vulnerability" or "hacked" to see if there have been any reported issues.
After buying a connected toy -- or any other device with a Wi-Fi connection -- a scan should immediately be done on the new item as soon as it is plugged into a computer to ensure it didn't come from the factory with any potential malware, Siciliano told ABC News.
He also recommends installing all software updates in a timely manner and ensuring the device is connected to a secure Wi-Fi network to help keep it safe from hackers.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- Ford is expanding its truck plant in Louisville, Kentucky, adding 2,000 new employees there to support the production of new F-Series Super Duty work trucks, the automaker announced on Tuesday.
"We're making a $1.3 billion investment in our Kentucky truck plant, which currently builds the Super Duty F-Series truck along with the Expedition and Navigator," Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas, said. "And we're investing that $1.3 billion to produce an all-new Super Duty truck next year."
That nearly doubles Ford's investment in Kentucky over the past two years -- since 2014, the automaker has invested more than $1.5 billion -- and expands the company's workforce in the state by half.
“This tremendous investment and commitment to new job creation reconfirms the strength of a more than century-long relationship between Kentucky and Ford Motor Company,” Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said in a statement. “We wholeheartedly appreciate Ford’s continued confidence in the commonwealth’s work force and pro-business environment, and we look forward to expanding our relationship in the future.”
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — People who opened their wallets for Black Friday and Cyber Monday may want to keep them open just a bit longer to give back to an organization of their choice Tuesday, which is known as #GivingTuesday.
Now in its fourth official year as a movement, #GivingTuesday was started by the 92nd Street Y in New York City and the United Nations Foundation with the intent of harnessing the power of social media and people around the world to encourage them to donate money or time to a group that may be in need of extra help -- or even donate blood or sign up to be an organ donor.
"Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with events throughout the year and a growing catalog of resources," a post on the movement's official website said.
Check out the the Giving Tuesday Twitter account to find some ideas for how to give back and see how other people are spreading the love on this day that marks the start of holiday philanthropy.
ABC News(NEW YORK) — Travelers not rushing through JFK’s terminal 5 now have time to stop and smell the...potatoes, garlic, leeks, mint, lavender and a variety of other fresh crops sprouting outside the security lines and baggage check.
After three years of planning, JetBlue opened a 24,000-square foot vegetable farm at the airport this October.
“We were really trying to think of ways to make people love their travel experience, to disassociate the stress of travel with an airport,” said Sophia Mendelsohn, head of sustainability at JetBlue.
Thirty different types of vegetables are growing in 2,000 crates. Like a traditional farm, the crops rotate depending on the season.
“We are definitely growing blue potatoes here and we send them to our partner Terra,” Mendelsohn said.
Terra makes the blue potato chips that are served on JetBlue flights.
“They’re testing the sugar and starch levels to make sure they make good chips," Mendelsohn said.
JetBlue partnered with GrowNYC, a nonprofit that specializes in urban agriculture, to build the farm.
"We brought in soil...from a farm upstate which actually uses compost that comes from terminal 5, comes from some of JetBlue’s vendors here. So it’s kind of a neat cycle," said Shawn Connell, the program manager with GrowNYC.
JetBlue harvested all the crops in November. Crew members volunteered their time to assist with the undertaking, along with GrowNYC and City Harvest, another nonprofit that donated the extra produce to New York's food banks.
"We thought it was a wonderful idea to donate to restaurants and to some other organizations that may need fresh vegetables and things like that," said JetBlue employee Ron Haskins. "It was a great opportunity to come in and say thank you and give back."
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Losses across the board on Cyber Monday, but Wall Street still closed out a winning month for the market.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 78.57 to close at 17719.92.
The Nasdaq lost 18.86 to finish at 5108.67, while the S&P 500 ended the session at 2080.41, down 9.70 from its open.
After this weekend's holiday shopping failed to impress, retail shares fell including Target and Macy's dropping 1.28 percent and 2.25 percent respectively. Target also struggled Monday after reports of technical issues with the retail giant's website. Tuesday's stocks will be a better indication of the effects of Cyber Monday and sales of the annual online shopping day are expected to hit over $3 billion.
Will the Federal Reserve raise interest rates in December? Analysts are saying, "Yes," because of strong job creation in the past month and the Fed's meeting minutes from October released last week revealed most were behind the hike. If the Fed does raise rates, it'll be for the first time since June 2006.
Over the weekend, Amazon teased its "Prime Air" drone delivery system in a new advertisement with the help of U.K. TV personality Jeremy Clarkson. According to the company, the program will deliver orders in 30 minutes or less below an altitude of 400 feet, and could be available in the "not too distant future." Amazon boss Jeff Bezos told The Guardian a few months ago that shoppers in the U.K. could be among the first to try out the program. He also said his deal with Clarkson, made famous by Top Gear, to produce a new auto show was "expensive but worth it."
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images(ZURICH) -- It's a watch that can pay, but it's not a smart watch.
Swatch has announced a partnership with Visa to create the Swatch Bellamy, a watch that can make payments with a flick of the wrist.
"Like a prepaid bankcard, a SWATCH BELLAMY watch allows customers to pay for items using merchants' contactless POS terminals," said the product description. "Pay-by-the wrist transactions require absolutely no energy at all from the watch."
In a statement, Swatch said the name of the watch comes from American writer Edward Bellamy who in his novel Looking Backward 2000-1887 "envisions a utopian world in which cash has been replaced by credit/debit cards."
The watch will be available in the U.S., Switzerland, and Brazil in early 2016.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images(PARIS) -- The world’s largest climate change summit in Paris has brought not only the union of state leaders but also the private sector to tackle what has become a global threat. Under the leadership of the world’s richest person, Bill Gates, their goal is ambitious: get greenhouse gas emissions down to zero.
Breakthrough Energy Coalition is a compliment to Mission Innovation, an international commitment to fueling research and development in the clean-energy arena. In a statement, the White House said 20 countries are committing to doubling their investment over five years, including the five most populous nations: China, India, the United States, Indonesia and Brazil. With technology as a guiding principle, “the new model will be a public-private partnership between governments, research institutions and investors,” the White House said.
Gates hopes to pour in billions of dollars to new companies and research efforts that are involved in developing technologies that bring clean energy to all aspects of our lives.
Months ahead of COP21, Gates announced a personal $2 billion investment in renewable energy to “bend the curve” on climate change. The Breakthrough Energy Coalition has 28 investors from 10 countries in the project. “What we’re asking ourselves to do here is change energy, and that includes all of transport, all of electricity, all of household usage and all of industrial usage,” Gates told The Atlantic.
Backers include Hewlett Packard’s Meg Whitman, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, Indian industrial titans Ratan Tata and Mukesh Amabani, business magnate George Soros, and the head of Amazon, Jeff Bezos. Gates says, “people like myself, who can afford to take big risks with start-up companies, should — because of climate change — be willing to put some number of billions into the spin-offs that will come out of that government-funded activity.”
What’s in It for Us?
In a report on the coalition’s site, Gates writes, “1 billion people lack access to the most basic energy services.”
The investment group aims to make zero-carbon energy available to everyone. One example of a technology he hopes to make available for wide use is solar paint. It could power homes and cars and could be easily implemented. The challenge is to make it safe to use, he says.
Hershey’s "enrobing" process has been creating the undefined-shaped sweets for years, spokeswoman Anna Lingeris told ABC News.
"It’s important to remember that these products are not solid chocolate made in molds, which would have a more distinct shape. They are soft peanut butter centers that are enrobed in chocolate, a process which, by its nature creates, a less-distinct shape," Lingeris said.
The communications manager said the company knows fans look forward to their seasonal snacks of all shapes and sizes. She noted that designs such as Christmas trees "have a higher ratio of peanut butter to chocolate that is distinct from our traditional cups," which may also cause them to lose their shape.
Reese's popular seasonal shapes include eggs for Easter, hearts for Valentine's Day and pumpkins for Halloween to help consumers "Celebrate with Hershey's," according to the company website.
The Trees were introduced in 1993, Lingeris said. Once the complaints caught the company's eye, Hershey apologized to customers via Twitter. The company is asking for formal notes so it can more adequately address the complaints.