The daily business briefing: September 11, 2018

Harold Maass
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
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Investors in court against VW seeking $10.7 billion over diesel scandal

Investors, including the California Public Employees' Retirement System, squared off against Volkswagen in German court on Monday, seeking $10.7 billion in compensation for the damage done by the German automaker's diesel emissions scandal. The backlash from VW's attempts to cheat on diesel-emissions tests, which was revealed three years ago, has cost the company more than $30 billion in penalties so far. On the first day of the trial, the court indicated that some of the 1,670 claims might be too old to be considered, and that several key issues had to be resolved before witnesses testify. Andreas Tilp, a lawyer for some of the plaintiffs, said some of the claims have a good chance. "We are very confident that there will be money at the end of the day," he said. [Los Angeles Times, Reuters]


EPA reportedly close to easing methane emission rules

The Environmental Protection Agency could announce as early as this week its plan to roll back Obama-era regulations requiring oil and gas companies to monitor and repair methane leaks, The New York Times reports. Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, and is often released into the atmosphere by leaky oil and gas wells. The Times reviewed documents showing that the EPA will propose weakening the requirements that oil and gas drillers perform leak inspections every six months and repair any leaks detected within 30 days, making it so they only have to do inspections every one or two years and make repairs within 60 days. The proposal also lets energy companies follow state methane standards rather than federal rules. [The New York Times]


Tesla drops some paint options to 'simplify manufacturing,' Musk says

Tesla is dropping two of its seven standard paint options for its luxury electric cars on Wednesday "to simplify manufacturing," CEO Elon Musk tweeted Tuesday. "Obsidian Black & Metallic Silver will still be available as special request, but at higher price," Musk wrote. The company has been trying to ramp up production of its first mass market car. Tesla on Tuesday said it manufactured 2,020 Model 3 vehicles in the first quarter's final week, missing a target of 2,500. Musk also has been facing criticism for his leadership after shocking many investors recently by announcing he was considering taking Tesla private, then reversing and saying it would be better to keep the company public. Some senior executives have resigned recently, too. [CNBC, Business Insider]


Snap shares drop as another top executive leaves

Snap shares fell by more than 2 percent on Monday as the parent of the Snapchat app lost another top executive. Imran Khan, Snapchat's chief strategy officer, announced that he planned to leave, according to a regulatory filing on Monday. Khan, a former analyst with Credit Suisse and JPMorgan Chase who joined Snapchat in January 2015, joined a growing list of executives who have left in recent years, including former chief financial officer Drew Vollero, who left in May. The company has been without a chief operating officer since 2015, when Emily White left. Snap's shares have dropped by more than 40 percent since its initial public offering last year. [CNN]


Stocks struggle as new U.S. tariffs against China loom

Global stock markets struggled on Tuesday as investors braced for the U.S. to impose new tariffs in President Trump's trade war with China. Germany's DAX fell by 0.1 percent and London's FTSE dropped by 0.3 percent. Hopes of a U.K.-EU deal over Brexit boosted the British pound and partly offset concerns over trade tensions. In the U.S., futures for the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were flat. The S&P 500 gained 0.2 percent and the Nasdaq Composite rose by nearly 0.3 percent on Monday, snapping a four-day losing streak. The Dow fell by 0.2 percent. [The Associated Press, Reuters]