The daily business briefing: March 19, 2018

AT&T's proposed takeover of Time Warner heads into court, Black Panther leads box office for the fifth straight weekend, and more

AT&T heads to trial.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. AT&T's landmark merger fight heads into court

AT&T Inc. heads into court on Monday in a fight with the Justice Department over the company's proposed $85 billion takeover of Time Warner. Time Warner is the home of DC Comics heroes Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, as well as HBO and CNN. Phone giant AT&T says it needs Time Warner's media power to compete in a changing media landscape increasingly dominated by Netflix and Amazon. The Justice Department says the deal would hurt consumers by giving AT&T power over both content and distribution, which would help it drive out rivals and push up prices. AT&T, the nation's largest telecom company, says there is "no fact-based evidence that this merger will harm competition."

Bloomberg The Hill

2. Black Panther leads box office for 5th straight weekend

Black Panther finished Sunday at the top of the domestic box office for the fifth straight weekend. The Disney comic-book smash, directed by Ryan Coogler, became the first film since James Cameron's Avatar in 2009 to hold onto the top spot that long. The film raked in $27 million in ticket sales over the weekend, raising its domestic total to $605.4 million, while its global gross reached more than $1.1 billion. The MGM-Warner Bros. reboot of Tomb Raider, starring Alicia Vikander as archaeologist adventurer Lara Croft, came in close behind Black Panther with $23.5 million, despite mediocre reviews, and it was No. 1 overseas.

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The Associated Press

3. Stocks fall back ahead of this week's Fed meeting

Global stocks fell Monday as investors expressed caution ahead of Jerome Powell's first policy meeting as chairman of the Federal Reserve this week, which is widely expected to end with an interest-rate hike. The two-day meeting starts Tuesday. The Stoxx Europe 600 fell by 0.6 percent, and Britain's benchmark FTSE 100 fell by 1 percent. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 fell by 0.5 percent early Monday, pointing to a lower open for U.S. stocks. Facebook led the declines, dropping by 3.6 percent in pre-market trading as it faced criticism over how it has let outside parties access user information after it said a firm with ties to the 2016 Trump campaign improperly held onto member data for years.

The Wall Street Journal MarketWatch

4. Bitcoin prices rattled as Twitter expected to ban cryptocurrency ads

Bitcoin prices plunged then regained some ground over the weekend after a report that Twitter would become the latest social media giant to ban cryptocurrency ads. Bitcoin dropped to $7,336 before rallying back by more than $700 in less than three hours late Sunday. It remained down by 15 percent over the last week. Sky News reported that Twitter is planning to start banning ads for initial coin offerings and other cryptocurrency deals, starting two weeks from now. Facebook announced a cryptocurrency ad ban in January, and Google last week said it will restrict ads for "cryptocurrencies and related content" starting in June.

CNBC Gizmodo

5. Report: Kushner Cos. filed false housing paperwork with NYC

Kushner Cos., the family business of President Trump's son-in-law and senior aide Jared Kushner, filed false paperwork with New York City declaring that it had no tenants with rent-controlled apartments in dozens of buildings. In three such buildings Kushner Cos. purchased in a gentrifying Queens neighborhood in 2015, most of the tenants should have been protected by the rules, but the company managed to push them out, raise rents, and sell the buildings two years later for $60 million, nearly 50 percent more than it had paid for them. Kushner Cos. said the paperwork is outsourced to third parties and corrected whenever the company catches a mistake.

The Associated Press

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