Business briefing

The daily business briefing: June 29, 2021

Juul will pay N.C. $40 million to settle youth vaping allegations, judge throws out antitrust cases against Facebook, and more

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Juul to pay N.C. $40 million to settle vaping allegations

Juul has agreed to pay North Carolina $40 million to settle allegations that it aggressively marketed high-nicotine e-cigarettes to teens, getting them addicted to vaping, state Attorney General Josh Stein announced Monday. "For years, JUUL targeted young people, including teens, with its highly addictive e-cigarette," Stein said in a statement. "It lit the spark and fanned the flames of a vaping epidemic among our children — one that you can see in any high school in North Carolina." North Carolina is the first state to settle its complaints against Juul for its role in a surge in vaping among young people. Thirteen other states and Washington, D.C., also have filed lawsuits against the company. As part of the settlement with North Carolina, Juul agreed not to sell some flavored e-cigarettes without authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.

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Judge throws out Facebook antitrust cases

A federal judge on Monday rejected lawsuits against Facebook filed by the Federal Trade Commission and more than 40 states. The judge said the federal government had failed to provide facts to back up its core claim that Facebook wields monopoly power over social networking, and gave the FTC 30 days to provide more detail. The decision marked a major setback for regulators trying to break up the social media giant. "This really stings," said William Kovacic, a former chairman of the FTC. "This is a reminder to those who have wanted a dramatic, sweeping litigation campaign to take on Big Tech that there's nothing easy about it, because the courts have a different view of the antitrust system." Facebook stock jumped by 4.2 percent after the decision, pushing the company's market capitalization above $1 trillion for the first time.

3

Study: Pfizer, Moderna vaccines could provide years of immunity

The coronavirus vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna appear to have the potential to trigger an immune reaction that could protect against COVID-19 for years, possibly a lifetime, scientists said in a study published Monday in the journal Nature. The findings supported mounting evidence that the mRNA vaccines might not need boosters if new variants do not develop that render the vaccines less effective. "It's a good sign for how durable our immunity is from this vaccine," said Washington University in St. Louis immunologist Ali Ellebedy, who led the study. Immunologists said the lasting immunity shows that while the virus is evolving, so are B cells, white blood cells that fight bacteria and viruses by producing antibodies.

4

Stock futures mixed after latest S&P 500, Nasdaq records

U.S. stock index futures were mixed early Tuesday after the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closed at all-time highs on Monday. S&P 500 futures were little changed several hours before the opening bell. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by 0.1 percent, while those of the tech-heavy Nasdaq were down by 0.1 percent. Big Tech led Monday's gains, lifting the Nasdaq by nearly 1 percent on Monday. The S&P 500 rose by 0.2 percent to close at a record high for the third straight day. "Markets are off to a strong start this year," LPL Financial chief market strategist Ryan Detrick said. "However, most of those gains came early in the year, and many stocks have stagnated over recent months."

5

Gas prices rise as demand increases

Gas prices are continuing to rise as the quick economic recovery from the damage of the coronavirus pandemic lifts demand. The U.S. average price of gas reached $3.09 per gallon on Monday, an increase of 2.5 cents from last week, according to travel and fuel price tracking app GasBuddy. The national average has risen 5 cents since a month ago, and 92 cents since the end of June last year. Prices could rise further due to the increase in demand during the summer travel season and the threat of supply disruptions from storms in the Gulf of Mexico during hurricane season. "Motorists should prepare to dig deeper for the second half of the summer, unfortunately," GasBuddy petroleum analyst Patrick De Haan said.

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