Business briefing

The daily business briefing: March 1, 2018

Walmart and Dick's raise minimum age on gun sales, Spotify files to sell shares publicly, and more

1

Walmart and Dick's raise minimum age for gun purchases

Walmart said Wednesday that it would stop selling guns and ammunition to anyone under 21, hours after Dick's Sporting Goods did the same thing. Dick's also said it would stop selling assault-style rifles, which Walmart did in 2015. Bass Pro Shops, which bought former rival sporting goods retailer Cabela's last year, is now the only remaining giant retailer that still sells the powerful semiautomatic weapons. Bass Pro Shops has 160 stores under the two brands in the U.S. Dick's CEO Edward Stack said he made the decision to stop selling the rifles after the Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which a 19-year-old suspect killed 17 people with a legally purchased AR-15 rifle.

2

Spotify files to start selling shares publicly

Spotify on Wednesday filed to start selling shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Rather than selling new shares in a traditional initial public offering of stock, the music streaming service will take the unusual step of pursuing a direct listing of its shares. Unlike a traditional IPO, the move will not raise new capital for the company. It will simply allow existing investors to trade their shares on the open market. In a standard IPO, bankers assess demand to determine how many shares a company releases with confidence the price will be supported. Spotify's shares will open to trading with demand largely unknown. Private transactions have valued the company at up to $23 billion.

3

UPS and FedEx spar over NRA relationships

UPS said Wednesday that it does not offer National Rifle Association members discounts, countering a claim by FedEx that the shipping rival has a relationship with the powerful gun-rights lobbying group. "For shipping from its online store, the NRA uses UPS and not FedEx," FedEx said Tuesday. Both companies are listed as shippers at the NRA online store, which sells ball caps, T-shirts, holsters, and other merchandise. FedEx's comments on UPS's relationship with the NRA came as it faced criticism from gun-control advocates for publicly stating that it would not discontinue its own discount program for NRA members, a step several major companies have taken since the deadly Parkland, Florida, school shooting. UPS said it is a "common carrier" and accepts any legal shipment from anyone.

4

SEC launches investigation into cryptocurrencies

The Securities and Exchange Commission has launched an investigation into cryptocurrencies, sending subpoenas to firms it suspects might have violated securities laws with fraudulent initial coin offerings (ICOs), Bloomberg reported Wednesday, citing a person with direct knowledge of the matter. SEC regulators have worried for months that some ICOs have raised money for non-existent businesses. Companies have used ICOs to raise about $8.7 billion, according to CoinDesk, selling digital tokens that later can be redeemed for goods or services.

5

Stocks remain volatile as investors look for Fed clues

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged Wednesday by 381 points, or 1.8 percent, and the S&P 500 fell by 1.1 percent, ending a 10-month winning streak for both indexes. The Nasdaq fell by 0.8 percent, also ending an eight-month winning streak. February was a volatile month for U.S. stocks, with the major indexes dropping 10 percent from the record highs they set on Jan. 26, putting them officially in correction territory. This week's declines came after comments from new Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell fueled concern that the central bank would get more aggressive about raising interest rates to keep the economy from overheating. Stock futures slipped early Thursday ahead of Powell's testimony to the Senate Banking Committee.

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