FirstFT: Today’s top stories – Financial Times

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Donald Trump and Joe Biden sparred over the president’s stewardship of the US economy after a sharp rebound in third-quarter output brought the split over jobs and growth back to the centre of the race for the White House.

With just days to go before November 3, when polls will close across the US, Mr Trump and Mr Biden took their fight over the economy to duelling rallies in the populous — and crucial — swing state of Florida.

Here’s what to watch for on election night, as an unprecedented surge in early and mail-in ballots could delay results in swing states. Facebook has mistakenly blocked thousands of Biden advertisements from appearing on its platform, according to the Democratic challenger’s campaign.

Walmart removed firearms and ammunition from store floors in the run-up to the poll. (FT)

Timeline showing which swing states could be projected for Biden or Trump to win on election night, based on how they process and count their early votes in advance. Many midwestern states are expected to have delays

Joe Biden is ahead by 8.6 percentage points nationally and holds a smaller lead in several battleground states that will decide the election

Tech round-up

Big Tech shows its resilience to pandemic and politics
The biggest US tech companies set aside political troubles to disclose a stunning boom in digital markets. The combined sales of Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Facebook leapt 18 per cent in the third quarter to $227bn, some 4 per cent higher than expected, while after-tax profits jumped 31 per cent, to $39bn. Here are the highlights:

Amazon's coronavirus growth spurt continues as an advertising rebound lifts Google and Facebook

Coronavirus digest

Follow our live coverage.

In the news

Trump vs Biden: 4 policy plans US stock investors are watching
Investment banks have produced reams of research, created complex models and scrutinised polls in an attempt to predict exactly how the US election will reshape the country’s stock market. Corporate bond markets are beginning to waver. (FT)

Leon Black on Epstein links: ‘Any suggestion of blackmail . . . untrue’ Apollo founder Leon Black said he was never the target of a blackmail attempt by Jeffrey Epstein, but called his business relationship with the late paedophile a “terrible mistake” in an extraordinary statement on Apollo Global Management’s earnings call. (FT)

China sets out five-year plan The Chinese Communist party’s planning blueprint prioritised expanding domestic demand and achieving technological self-sufficiency. (FT)

Ghosn extraditions delayed A US federal judge has temporarily halted the extradition of two US citizens accused of orchestrating Carlos Ghosn’s daring escape from Japan last year, shortly after their removal was approved. (FT)

Investors race for Ant Group Ant Group’s initial public offering has prompted a rush among investors to secure a piece of the world’s biggest ever stock sale, helping to push the fundraising total to almost $37bn. The QR code, used for contactless payments and Covid-19 tracing, helped make Ant a hit, John Gapper writes. (FT)

New Zealand passes on marijuana New Zealanders voted to introduce euthanasia but preliminary referendum results show the Pacific nation has drawn the line at legalising recreational marijuana. (FT)

How many Republican senators voted against confirming Amy Coney Barrett, Donald Trump’s third nominee to the US Supreme Court: None, one or three? Take our quiz.

The days ahead

Google antitrust hearing The US justice department’s antitrust lawsuit against Google opens on Friday. The search group is accused of hobbling rivals in the biggest challenge to Big Tech in decades. (Reuters, FT)

Earnings ExxonMobil, which suffered big losses in the oil price crash, reports on Friday, as does Total and NatWest, which closes out the calendar for UK banks. (FT)

Berlin’s ‘laughing stock’ airport The opening of Berlin’s new international airport on Saturday should be a moment of triumph. But it comes almost a decade behind schedule and three times over budget. (FT)

What else we’re reading

Simon Schama: the two Americas A moment of truth is at hand. Tuesday’s election is not so much a choice between opposed policies as a bitter fight between mutually exclusive visions of what America is meant to be. Edward Luce warns against a repeat of 2000, when the Supreme Court stepped in. (FT)

The first concession by a defeated candidate was in 1896, when William Jennings Bryan wired congrat­ulations to William McKinley. Don’t expect that kind of magnanimity from Mr Trump © Illustration by Tom Straw

Tech groups start to step further into rivals’ territory
The prospect of a return of the internet search wars raises an interesting question, writes Richard Waters. Why hasn’t there been more competition between the biggest tech companies in the core markets that have defined them? And can regulators nudge them into more open rivalry? (FT)

Why tech isn’t always the answer — the perils of bionic duckweed
Always waiting for a breakthrough — the next so-called “bionic duckweed” miracle fuel that journalist and railway expert named Roger Ford invoked in 2008 — can keep us from taking action now, Tim Harford writes. (FT)

Americans are still internationalists at heart Donald Trump’s foreign policy has bewildered America-watchers, writes Robert Zoellick. Searching for an explanation, the cosmopolitan class warns of a return to American isolationism. The problem with that hypothesis is that the US public disagrees. (FT)

How’s the water? Martin Riese grew up in the village of Aventoft, the northernmost point of contiguous German territory. The first water sommelier says the more we think about what we drink, the more we care about the planet. But first he needs people to take him seriously. (Afar)

Will we go skiing this winter? Early snowfall in the Alps and Rockies created a buzz, but access remains uncertain, Tom Robbins writes. Simon Usborne visits a Colorado resort with no crowds, no queues and no lifts — it’s “human-powered” and socially distanced by design. (FT)

Skiing in Tignes, France, has been brought to an abrupt end until at least December © Andy Parant

Podcast of the day

Rachman Review Gideon Rachman talks to columnist Susan Glasser about what to expect on November 3 — and after, if there is no decisive victor. Read her latest dispatch here. (FT, New Yorker)

Meet our journalists: Emiliya Mychasuk

Emiliya is the FT’s inaugural climate editor in London, where she works with writers across the newsroom on our new climate hub.

What climate change storyline are you especially interested in? The return to old values or old ways of doing things that were more sustainable, as well as the new — developing tech and science that will change the world in the next decade.

What FT podcasts/newsletters would you recommend? The Behind the Money podcast is unique in exploring the drama in finance, both in explaining the bigger picture as well as storytelling — plus Aimee Keane makes me want to listen.

What’s an interesting fact about you? My father was born in Ukraine and my mother in Greece. They met as non-English speaking postwar migrants in Australia, where I was born. My father would sit me on his knee as a toddler and read the newspaper aloud to me as a way for him to learn English, and to distract me.

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