Business briefing

The daily business briefing: September 15, 2017

Stocks struggle after North Korea's latest missile test, Nestle buys majority stake in Blue Bottle Coffee, and more

1

Stocks struggle after North Korea's latest missile test

U.S. stock futures inched down early Friday in a sign of caution after North Korea fired another missile over Japan. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, coming off of three straight record closes, was roughly unchanged after climbing back from earlier losses, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 futures were down about 0.1 percent before the open on a day that will provide data on retail sales, industrial production, and consumer sentiment. "Global markets have reacted fairly calmly to the test," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, in a note. "Yet it is hard to escape the feeling that this so-called shadow boxing between North Korea and the rest of the world could end with a miscalculation from one side or the other."

2

Nestle to buy majority stake in Blue Bottle Coffee

Nestle agreed Thursday to acquire a majority stake in Blue Bottle Coffee. Nestle will pay as much as $500 million for two-thirds ownership of the Oakland, California, company. The move will strengthen the No. 1 position of Nestle, which owns Nespresso, in the global packaged coffee market as it faces a challenge by JAB Holding Co., an investment company that has spent $30 billion buying coffee businesses such as Keurig Green Mountain and Peet's. Blue Bottle operates 40 coffee shops in the U.S. and Japan, and is expected to grow to 55 stores by the end of the year.

3

3 women file gender-pay lawsuit against Google

Three women who used to work for Google filed a lawsuit against the company on Thursday, accusing it of paying female employees less than their male counterparts and keeping them in low-ranking jobs. The three plaintiffs — a software engineer, a communications specialist, and a manager — resigned over what they described as discrimination. The class-action suit came after the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs surveyed all 21,000 employees at Google's headquarters and found that women made less in nearly all job categories. Google spokesperson Gina Scigliano said the company would review the complaint, "but we disagree with the central allegations." She said Google "checks to make sure there is no gender bias" in hiring and promotion decisions.

4

HHS slashes ObamaCare 'navigator' funding

The Trump administration reportedly has slashed funding for groups that help people sign up for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act by as much as 92 percent. Health and Human Services announced two weeks ago that money for the program providing "navigators" to consumers would be reduced by 41 percent, and that ObamaCare advertising spending would be reduced from $100 million to $10 million because the outreach wasted taxpayer money. Congressional Democrats and some Republicans in rural states said Thursday, however, that the cuts would hamper efforts to help people get insured when open enrollment starts Nov. 1.

5

Facebook algorithm let advertisers pitch to 'Jew haters'

Facebook's self-service ad-buying platform allowed users to direct pitches to the newsfeeds of 2,300 people who had expressed interest in anti-Semitic topics, such as "Jew hater," "How to burn jews," and "History of 'why jews ruin the world,'" according to an investigation by ProPublica. The anti-Semitic categories were created by an algorithm, not people. Facebook this week eliminated the offensive links after being contacted by ProPublica. Rob Leathern, product management director at Facebook, said the social networking company was working on "building new guardrails in our product and review processes to prevent other issues like this from happening in the future."

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