The daily business briefing: July 19, 2023

Morgan Stanley and Bank of America earnings boost bank stocks, a jury rules J&J must pay $18.8 million in talc lawsuit, and more

A Johnson & Johnson baby powder bottle sits on its side in a pile of white powder
Hernandez Valadez says he developed cancer from heavy exposure to Johnson's Baby Powder since childhood
(Image credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

1. Morgan Stanley, Bank of America shares jump

Morgan Stanley shares jumped 6.5% on Tuesday after it reported better-than-expected second-quarter earnings, even though profit fell 13% compared to a year earlier. The investment bank said its wealth management business growth offset a drop in trading revenue. Bank of America shares jumped 4.4% after it reported quarterly profit that exceeded Wall Street's expectations on strong earnings from customers' loan payments and better-than-expected investment banking income. The news boosted shares of other banks, including Bank of New York Mellon, which gained 4.1%. Charles Schwab shares jumped 13% even though it reported a big drop in profit. JPMorgan and Wells Fargo last week reported big profit gains.

Reuters The Wall Street Journal

2. J&J ordered to pay cancer patient $18.8 million in talc lawsuit

A jury ruled Tuesday that Johnson & Johnson must pay $18.8 million to a California man, Emory Hernandez Valadez, who sued the company saying he developed cancer from heavy exposure to Johnson's Baby Powder since childhood. Hernandez, 24, has the deadly cancer mesothelioma in tissue around his heart. The jury said he was entitled to payment for his pain, suffering, and medical bills, but it didn't impose punitive damages. The company vowed to appeal, saying "decades of scientific evaluations" had confirmed "Johnson's Baby Powder is safe." The verdict marked a setback for Johnson & Johnson as it tries to settle thousands of similar lawsuits, although a bankruptcy court has frozen most of the talc cases.

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3. Americans increase spending as inflation eases

Retail sales rose 0.2% in June, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. The increased spending came as inflation eased and hiring remained strong. Shoppers reversed a recent pullback and spent more on electronics and home furnishings. Online sales also rose, but sales at grocery stores and gas stations dropped. The third straight month of increased sales after declines in February and March showed continued consumer resilience after a long period of high inflation. But shoppers have changed their habits after struggling to keep up with rising prices. "I'm not buying Del Monte and Green Giant anymore," Ryan Dixon of Tennessee told The Associated Press. "I'm buying the Walmart brand."

The Associated Press

4. Stock futures edge higher after Dow extends winning streak

U.S. stock futures rose slightly early Wednesday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average made its seventh straight day of gains. Futures tied to the Dow were up 0.2% at 6:45 a.m. ET. S&P 500 futures were little changed, while Nasdaq futures were up 0.1%. The Dow gained 1.1% on Tuesday, extending what is now its longest winning streak since March 2021. The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.7% and 0.8%, respectively, after a series of quarterly reports from big companies got earnings season off to a good start. Eighty-two percent of the S&P 500 companies that have reported second-quarter results so far have exceeded analysts' expectations, according to FactSet.


5. Taco Bell wins fight to free up the 'Taco Tuesday' trademark

Taco Bell has won its fight over the "Taco Tuesday" trademark. Taco John's, a regional chain that has owned the "Taco Tuesday" trademark for 34 years, announced Tuesday that it would stop defending its claim to the phrase to avoid a costly fight against giant Taco Bell. "We've always prided ourselves on being the home of Taco Tuesday, but paying millions of dollars to lawyers to defend our mark just doesn't feel like the right thing to do," Taco John's CEO Jim Creel said. The bigger rival filed a petition in May asking the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel Taco John's trademark, arguing the phrase was so common it "should be freely available to all who make, sell, eat, and celebrate tacos."


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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.