Business briefing

The daily business briefing: August 22, 2017

Jury tells Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in talc lawsuit, stocks edge up after last week's losses, and more

1

Jury orders Johnson & Johnson to pay woman $417 million in talc lawsuit

A California jury on Monday found Johnson & Johnson liable for failing to warn a woman over the alleged risk of ovarian cancer from the company's baby powder, and ordered it to pay $417 million. The verdict includes $347 million in punitive damages. Johnson & Johnson has lost four previous jury verdicts with judgments in St. Louis totaling $300 million, and it faces 5,500 claims altogether linking its baby powder and Shower to Shower talc to ovarian cancer. The Monday verdict was the first outside Missouri. The company said it would appeal.

2

Stocks edge up after last week's losses

U.S. stock futures rose early Tuesday, adding to Monday's modest gains as traders shopped for bargains after last week's selloff. Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 futures gained 0.2 percent before trading began, and Nasdaq-100 futures added 0.4 percent. Many investors are moving cautiously ahead of a Thursday meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, where Federal Reserve officials are expected to provide fresh insights into their concerns over low inflation. European and Asian stocks also rebounded somewhat after three days of losses, although trading was light.

3

China's Great Wall Motors expresses interest in Jeep

Chinese SUV manufacturer Great Wall Motors confirmed on Monday that it wants to buy the Jeep brand in a bid to expand internationally. Great Wall has not yet made a formal bid. Jeep owner Fiat Chrysler acknowledged "market rumors" but said it had not been approached on any business matters by the Chinese company. Fiat Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne has expressed a desire for some kind of merger to help his company compete better against Volkswagen, Toyota, and other global powerhouses. Shares of both Great Wall and Fiat jumped on news of a possible merger.

4

Denmark's Moller-Maersk agrees to sell oil and gas operations to Total

Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk said Monday that it would sell its oil and gas business to French energy company Total for $4.95 billion. With oil prices starting to recover from an extended plunge due to oversupply, oil companies are starting to consider mergers. Total Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné said last month that the company would start looking for possible acquisitions and launching new projects to "take advantage of the low-cost environment." The proposed deal would be worth $7.45 billion including debt.

5

Secret Service running out of money allotted to protect Trumps

The Secret Service said Monday that it would run out of money for salaries and overtime to protect President Trump and his family at the end of September unless Congress lifts a spending cap. Extensive business and vacation travel by Trump and members of the extended first family has placed an unexpected strain on the Secret Service, as well as local governments and the Coast Guard. Roughly 1,100 employees will work overtime exceeding pay caps this year, Director Randolph "Tex" Alles said in a statement. "To remedy this ongoing and serious problem," he said, "the agency has worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security, the administration, and the Congress over the past several months to find a legislative solution."

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