Business briefing

The daily business briefing: June 5, 2017

Wonder Woman sets a record on opening weekend, stocks head into potentially volatile week, and more

1

Wonder Woman sets a record on opening weekend

Wonder Woman led the weekend box office by bringing in $100.5 million in North America, the biggest opening ever for a female director. The haul smashed the previous record of $85.2 million set by Fifty Shades of Grey. Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot and directed by Patty Jenkins, also was the first major superhero film led by a woman. Just over half the film's audience members were female, a significant departure in a genre that typically lures in more male movie-goers. "Any ridiculous notion that a woman may not be suited to direct a big budget superhero movie is hopefully once and for all shattered," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore.

2

Stocks head into a potentially volatile week

U.S. stock futures edged down early Monday before the start of trading in what analysts warn could be a volatile week. A flurry of potentially market moving events are coming later in the week — former FBI Director James Comey's congressional testimony in the Russia investigation, British parliamentary elections, and the European Central Bank's policy meeting, followed next week by the Federal Reserve's decision on interest rates. "A perfect storm of events is converging," said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Financial Partners. U.S. stocks have been on a tear, setting numerous records, including fresh ones last week. The gains have been fueled by anticipation of President Trump's promised tax cuts and fiscal stimulus, but the political turmoil in Washington over the Russia inquiry has stoked doubt over Trump's chances of getting a business-boosting agenda passed.

3

Qatar stocks fall after Arab neighbors cut off diplomatic ties

Oil prices jumped and Qatari stocks fell by the most since 2009 on Monday after Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates cut diplomatic ties with their fellow Sunni Arab nation Qatar over its friendlier relations with Iran, and alleged support for terrorist groups. The dispute pits several U.S. allies against each other. Qatar is small, but wealthy and strategically important. It hosts the headquarters of CENTCOM, the U.S. military's central command in the Middle East, and is the world's largest producer of liquified natural gas. Also, its $335 billion sovereign wealth fund holds stakes in major companies, including Barclays and Credit Suisse. The tensions between Qatar and its neighbors are not new, but analysts say Saudi Arabia may have been emboldened by its warmer ties with the U.S. under President Trump, seizing the moment as an opportunity to firm up a united front against Shiite-ruled Iran.

4

Facebook vows to be a 'hostile environment for terrorists'

Facebook joined a chorus of world leaders in condemning the Saturday van-and-knife attack that left seven people dead in London. "We want Facebook to be a hostile environment for terrorists," Simon Milner, director of policy at Facebook said in an emailed statement. "Using a combination of technology and human review, we work aggressively to remove terrorist content from our platform as soon as we become aware of it — and if we become aware of an emergency involving imminent harm to someone's safety, we notify law enforcement." The announcement came after British Prime Minister Theresa May said internet companies shared the blame for recent attacks because they provided opportunities for terrorist groups to spread extreme ideologies and recruit terrorists.

5

Apple to debut hardware, software at Worldwide Developers Conference

Apple on Monday kicks off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference for developers in San Jose, California, where it will reveal its latest hardware and software. The iPhone maker is expected to unveil new iPads and Mac laptops, as well as the devices' latest operating systems. One of the most closely watched offerings is expected to be a new smart speaker based on the Siri virtual assistant to compete with Amazon's Echo and Google Home. The speaker, expected later this year, will give developers a new Apple device to build apps for.

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