Business briefing

The daily business briefing: July 5, 2022

Airline delays ease as July 4th weekend ends, drug distributors win landmark West Virginia opioid lawsuit, and more

1

Airlines delay fewer flights as busy July 4th weekend ends

Airline delays eased across the United States on July 4 as weather improved. By Monday afternoon, only 183 flights had been canceled and 1,200 delayed, down from more than 300 cancellations and nearly 4,700 delays a day earlier, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware. More than 19,000 flights, or roughly one-fifth of daily departures, were delayed Thursday through Sunday. About 1,600 flights were canceled over the first four days of the Thursday-to-Monday holiday weekend. Industry staffing shortages, partly due to pandemic-era buyouts, added to the disruption caused by bad weather.

2

Drug distributors win West Virginia opioid lawsuit

A federal judge in West Virginia sided with three major U.S. drug distributors on Monday, ruling that they can't be held responsible for the addiction epidemic in Cabell County. The three drug companies — AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson — distributed 81 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to Cabell County over eight years ending in 2014 — 94 pills per person annually. The county's lawyers argued that the drug distributors acted unreasonably and without regard for public health and safety during a growing opioid-fueled addiction crisis. Lawyers for the drug companies countered that they were only fulfilling orders from licensed pharmacies based on prescriptions written by doctors. U.S. District Judge David Faber agreed, saying the plaintiffs did not prove the companies violated public nuisance laws.

3

U.K. judge rejects Kellogg challenge of sugary-cereal ad ban

A judge in Britain on Monday rejected Kellogg Co.'s legal challenge against England's new anti-obesity measures, especially a ban on ads for sugary cereals. Kellogg, the U.S. maker of Coco Pops, Frosted Flakes, Frosties, and Rice Krispies, had argued that British government regulations restricting the promotion of foods with high fat, sugar, or salt content failed to take into account the nutritional value of milk typically poured onto the cereals. High Court Judge Thomas Linden wrote that adding milk to breakfast cereal does nothing to reduce its high sugar content, so arguing that cereals like Milk Chocolate Curls "somehow become healthy products if they are consumed with milk is wholly unconvincing."

4

Fortune: Housing boom ending, but analysts disagree on what's next

The pandemic housing boom is coming to an end as Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, intended to fight inflation, push mortgage rates higher, Fortune reports, but housing industry experts are split on what that means for home prices in the coming year. Zillow forecasts a 9.7 percent price rise between May 2022 and May 2023 — a slowdown from the 39.8 percent spike since March 2020, but still higher than the average 4.4 percent annual home appreciation since 1987. CoreLogic predicts a 5.6 percent price increase in the next year, while the Mortgage Bankers Association and Fannie Mae forecast 3.1 percent and 3.2 percent increases, respectively. Capital Economics predicts home prices are in for a rare 5 percent drop.

5

Stock futures fall after worst first half in decades

U.S. stock futures fell early Tuesday after the long Fourth of July weekend. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were down 0.5 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. Nasdaq futures were down 0.6 percent. The three main U.S. indexes had another losing week last week to close out the worst first-half of a year in decades, despite solid Friday gains. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had a virtual call Monday with China's Vice Premier Liu He to discuss economic issues. President Biden is reportedly considering easing some tariffs on Chinese goods to help fight high inflation.

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