Business briefing

The daily business briefing: July 21, 2017

ExxonMobil sues U.S. over Russia-deal fine, Microsoft beats expectations as cloud services grow, and more

1

ExxonMobil hits back at fine over Russia deal

ExxonMobil filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government on Thursday after the Treasury Department imposed a $2 million fine over the oil giant's three-year-old joint venture with Rosneft, Russia's largest oil producer. The Treasury Department accused Exxon of "reckless disregard" of U.S. sanctions in its collaboration with Russia in 2014, when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was the company's CEO. ExxonMobil said that the fine was "unlawful" and "capricious." The fine stemmed from a government review of Exxon's deals with Rosneft weeks after the U.S. imposed the sanctions over Russia's annexing of Ukraine's Crimea region.

2

Microsoft beats profit expectations as cloud business grows

Microsoft reported quarterly earnings and profit that beat analysts' expectations on Thursday. Cloud computing services led the way, with Microsoft's Dynamics 365 revenue up 74 percent, and commercial Office 365 revenue up 43 percent in a sign of progress for CEO Satya Nadella's shift from the shrinking personal computer software business to cloud computing and subscription services. Overall, revenue from Microsoft's cloud unit, which includes the Azure platform and server business, rose by 11 percent. Microsoft shares jumped by 4 percent then gave back their gains after the company gave its guidance for the next quarter.

3

FTC investigates allegation that Amazon misleads customers about discounts

The Federal Trade Commission, as part of its review of Amazon's plan to buy Whole Foods, is investigating allegations that the world's largest online retailer misleads customers about pricing discounts, Reuters reported Thursday, citing a source close to the inquiry. The advocacy group Consumer Watchdog said it overstated list prices on many discounted items reviewed in June, falsely inflating the discounts it was offering on the products. Amazon said it verifies its reference prices with manufacturers and sellers, and Consumer Watchdog's study was "deeply flawed."

4

Stocks struggle on concerns over politics, earnings

Asian stocks edged down on Friday for the first time in 10 days, as investors took profits in a sign of concern over global political turmoil. Bloomberg reported that investors were concerned about the prospects for President Trump's economic agenda following the news that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was expanding his investigation into Russia's election meddling to include Trump's past business dealings with Russians. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell by 0.2 percent after rising by 4.4 percent in the nine previous sessions. U.S. stock futures struggled for traction early Friday, with General Electric, Honeywell International, and other big companies reporting their quarterly results.

5

Corning announces plan to create 1,000 jobs making new medical glass

Corning said Thursday that it would create 1,000 jobs by investing $500 million in making a new glass for medical products. "This is part one of a plan to invest $4 billion and create 4,000 high-tech jobs right here in the U.S.," Corning CEO Wendell Weeks told CNBC. The project — a collaboration with Merck and Pfizer — was announced at a "Made in America" event with President Trump. The product, called Valor Glass, is stronger than Corning's existing products, the company said. The Trump administration is not providing financial incentives, but has committed to streamlining government approvals, Weeks said.

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