The daily business briefing: August 9, 2017

Harold Maass
The Netflix logo on a tv screen


North Korea tensions weigh on stocks

U.S. stock futures pulled back early Wednesday as tensions rose over North Korea, where state-run media said leader Kim Jong Un is "carefully examining" a missile strike on an American base on the U.S. territory of Guam. Hours earlier, President Trump said any North Korean threat to the U.S. would be met with "fire and fury like the world has never seen." S&P 500 futures fell by 0.4 percent, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures dropped by 0.2 percent, and Nasdaq-100 futures fell by 0.6 percent. The dollar also edged down against a basket of six major rivals, as did stocks in Europe and Asia. [Reuters, MarketWatch]


Disney pulls away from Netflix to launch its own streaming service

Walt Disney Co. announced Tuesday that it would pull its new movies and children's programming from Netflix in 2019 to launch its own competing streaming video service. Disney's stock dropped by nearly 4 percent after the announcement, which Disney unveiled along with its quarterly results. The Disney-branded streaming service will be similar to one its sports network, ESPN, is launching in 2018. Analysts said spending on the technology needed to provide the service could weigh on Disney's future earnings. Disney is betting it will make more money in the long run by charging its own subscribers than it does renting its content to Netflix. Shares of Netflix dropped by 3 percent. [Reuters, The Washington Post]


McDonald's aims to double presence in China

McDonald's announced Tuesday that it expects to nearly double the number of restaurants it has in China over the next five years. If the plans pan out, China will replace Japan as the fast-food chain's second-biggest market, after the U.S. McDonald's has 2,500 restaurants in China now, and aims to have 4,500 by 2022. McDonald's joins numerous other U.S. companies that have responded to slowing growth at home by ramping up operations in China, the world's second largest economy. Starbucks is looking to more than double its store count in China to 5,000 by 2021. [The Associated Press]


Mazda announces new technology to boost gasoline engine efficiency

Mazda on Tuesday announced a breakthrough in gasoline-engine technology that could help conventional cars compete more effectively against electric alternatives. Days after striking a partnership to collaborate with Toyota on electric vehicles, Mazda said it had developed proprietary engine technology that will make its gasoline engines 20 percent to 30 percent more efficient. The Japanese automaker said the new compression-ignition technology Skyactiv-X will be available in models starting in 2019, when the new version of a model that gets 30 miles per gallon today might get 40 mpg, with more power. [USA Today]


Fired Google engineer files labor complaint

A former Google engineer, James Damore, has filed a labor complaint against the company for firing him over a controversial memo he wrote arguing that women were underrepresented in the technology industry because of their biological traits, not discrimination. Google fired the 28-year-old software engineer for violating company policy by "perpetuating gender stereotypes." Damore said he was weighing all of his legal options, and that he had been subjected to "coercive statements" while he worked for Google. A company spokesman said Google couldn't have retaliated over his labor complaint because it didn't learn about it until he already had been fired. [The Associated Press]