The daily business briefing: February 12, 2018

Harold Maass
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
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Stocks try to build on Friday's late surge

World stocks struggled to bounce back on Monday in the wake of last week's volatility, as investors worried that rising inflation would prompt the Federal Reserve to speed up its plan to hike interest rates. In the U.S., futures for the three major equity indexes climbed by more than 1 percent ahead of the opening bell, following a late surge Friday. Attention is turning to President Trump's plan to spend $200 billion on infrastructure, and the release of U.S. consumer price data on Wednesday. Aziz Sunderji, an economist at Barclays, said the inflation scare is likely to fade. "In our view, the recent market turmoil is a bump in the road, not a wholesale change of direction," Sunderji said in a note to clients. [MarketWatch, Reuters]


White House to unveil budget, infrastructure proposals

The White House on Monday is releasing its 2019 budget proposal, in which President Trump is expected to renew calls for deep cuts to non-defense spending. The budget will call for "an aggressive set of spending reforms" to slash the federal deficit by $3 trillion over a decade, out of a shortfall currently estimated at $10 trillion. Trump also will seek a big boost in funding for the Pentagon to give the U.S. a "ready, larger, and more lethal military." The White House also will unveil an infrastructure plan that proposes to leverage $200 billion in federal spending into $1.5 trillion worth of infrastructure projects, mostly by asking state and local governments to match the funds by as much as a 4-to-1 ratio. Both proposals face long odds in Congress. [The Washington Post, The New York Times]


New York sues Harvey Weinstein and Weinstein Co.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Sunday filed a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein, his brother Robert Weinstein, and the Weinstein Company for alleged violations of civil rights and business laws. The suit cites accusations about mistreatment of employees by Weinstein when he was the film production company's CEO. Among other allegations, the lawsuit says Weinstein told several employees that he would "kill" them. New York says the company "employed one group of female employees whose primary job it was to accompany (Harvey) to events and to facilitate (his) sexual conquests." Schneiderman's investigation is ongoing, but he reportedly wanted to make sure the sale of The Weinstein Company wouldn't make Weinstein's enablers rich while depriving his victims of ways to seek compensation. [USA Today]


OxyContin maker cuts sales staff as it ends marketing of opioids

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma announced over the weekend that it had slashed its sales staff in half, to about 200, after the opioid crisis sparked widespread criticism of pharmaceutical companies for their marketing of addictive painkillers. Purdue Pharma also said it would inform doctors in a letter on Monday that its sales representatives would stop promoting opioids in visits to their offices. "We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers," the Connecticut-based company said in a statement. Opioids were linked to more than 42,000 overdose deaths in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [CNBC]


London City Airport flights canceled after unexploded World War II bomb found

London's City Airport was closed and all flights in and out were canceled on Monday after an unexploded World War II bomb was discovered nearby in the River Thames. "The airport is cooperating fully with the Met Police and Royal Navy and working hard to safely remove the device and resolve the situation as quickly as possible," said Robert Sinclair, CEO of London City Airport, the city's fifth biggest and most central airport. Police said the bomb was found during scheduled work at a dock near a runway at the airport early Sunday. They set up an exclusion zone about 250 yards wide, and evacuated all properties within it. [Reuters]