The daily business briefing: April 16, 2018

Harold Maass
Protesters target Starbucks in backlash over arrests.
Mark Makela/Getty Images
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Protesters briefly occupy Philadelphia Starbucks where 2 black men were arrested

About 75 protesters occupied a Philadelphia Starbucks on Sunday to demand the company fire a store manager who called police to get two African-American men to leave the store because they had not bought anything. The men were waiting for another friend, and sat at a table after being refused access to a restroom. Another protest is planned for Monday. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said he wanted to meet with the two men who were arrested so he could "offer a face-to-face apology." The men were handcuffed and arrested for suspected trespassing, but no charges were filed. A viral video of the incident sparked angry backlash. [Philadelphia Daily News]


WPP shares fall after founder and CEO Martin Sorrell resigns

Martin Sorrell, the British founder and longtime CEO of the advertising and PR giant WPP, resigned over the weekend after facing allegations of "personal misconduct" and misusing company funds. The news came after WPP investigated the allegations, although the company has not announced what it discovered. Sorrell, who built WPP into the world's largest advertising and PR firm, has said he did nothing wrong. The company said in a statement that Sorrell, 73, "will be treated as having retired." He is expected to receive around $28 million as part of his exit package. The company's shares dropped by 5 percent after the news broke. [NPR, Business Insider]


World stocks mixed after Syria airstrikes

Global stocks were mixed on Monday following U.S. airstrikes against Syria in response to the suspected use of chemical weapons by the military of President Bashar al-Assad. Some analysts were relieved by signs that the tensions might not escalate any further. "Trump was able to enforce his chemical weapons red line without crossing the threshold for Russian retaliation," analysts at JPMorgan said in a note. Others were cautious due to concerns about how Russia, Syria's key ally, would respond to new sanctions expected to be imposed Monday by the Trump administration. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Sunday that any more Western attacks could cause chaos. S&P 500 futures rose by 0.4 percent and those for the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 0.6 percent early Monday, while oil prices dropped by 1.8 percent. [Reuters, MarketWatch]


Trump campaign spent 20 percent of 2018 funds on legal fees

Since Jan. 1, President Trump's 2020 re-election campaign has spent $835,000 in legal fees, about 22 percent of its total spending, reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show. The campaign has paid at least eight law firms, with the two firms working on the Stormy Daniels case receiving a combined $280,000. The reports also state that the campaign has spent $125,000 at several Trump businesses, including Trump International Hotel and Trump Tower, and paid former Trump White House aide Johnny McEntee $22,000. After McEntee was fired over security concerns, he was immediately hired by the campaign. So far this year, the campaign has raised $10.1 million, and spent $3.9 million. [BuzzFeed News]


60 Minutes report puts Allegiant Air on defensive

CBS News' 60 Minutes on Sunday aired the results of a seven-month investigation into Allegiant Air, a Las Vegas-based ultra-low-cost airline, that found that the airline was 3.5 times more likely to have midair mechanical problems or breakdowns than other major carriers. 60 Minutes reported that Allegiant had more than 100 serious incidents involving mechanical issues. The airline went on the defensive before the report aired, telling CBS News that the segment pushed a "false narrative," and saying in a memo to employees that the airline was "prepared to fight back against 60 Minutes." The stock of Allegiant's parent company, Allegiant Travel Co., fell by 8 percent on Friday in anticipation of the report. [CBS News, Tampa Bay Times]