Business briefing

The daily business briefing: May 29, 2019

Netflix could "rethink" Georgia filming over abortion ban, Huawei asks a court to find U.S. sanctions unconstitutional, and more

1

Netflix to 'rethink' filming in Georgia over abortion restrictions

Netflix on Tuesday became the first major Hollywood studio to say it would "rethink" its investment in Georgia if the state's restrictive abortion law takes effect. "We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law," said Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer. "It's why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court." Netflix produces the hit TV series Stranger Things and Ozark and other content in the state. Several actors, including Alyssa Milano, have called for a boycott. Warner Bros., Disney, and other major studios have withheld comment to avoid alienating audiences. Georgia's booming film and TV industry has generated 92,000 jobs and $2.7 billion in annual revenues.

2

Huawei asks court to find U.S. sanctions unconstitutional

Chinese tech giant Huawei on Tuesday stepped up its lawsuit against a U.S. military-spending ban on contracting with Huawei or companies that use its equipment, asking a Texas court to find the law unconstitutional. Huawei, the world's biggest maker of network equipment and the No. 2 smartphone maker, filed a lawsuit in March challenging the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, saying it selectively punishes Huawei without proving it has done anything wrong. The Trump administration says Huawei equipment could be used to spy for China, which the company denies. "The U.S. government has provided no evidence to show that Huawei is a security threat," Huawei's chief legal officer, Song Liuping, said Wednesday. "There is no gun, no smoke. Only speculation."

3

China suggests it could use rare earths exports as leverage in trade war

China is prepared to use its exports of rare earth minerals as leverage in its trade war with the U.S., according to commentaries in Chinese newspapers on Wednesday. Rare earths are used in high-tech consumer electronics as well as military equipment, and China is the main exporter of the minerals to the U.S. A commentary in China's official People's Daily noted America's "uncomfortable" dependence on rare earths from China, and suggested the materials could "become a counter weapon for China to hit back against the pressure the United States has put on for no reason at all." Shares of rare earth miners in Asia Pacific jumped by 10 percent or more after the veiled threat.

4

Stocks drop as trade tensions continue to intensify

U.S. stock futures fell sharply early Wednesday, adding to Tuesday's losses as investors continued to worry that intensifying U.S.-China trade tensions will hurt global economic growth. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were down by about 0.7 percent, while those of the Nasdaq fell by 0.9 percent. The Dow fell by 0.9 percent on Tuesday, closing down by 238 points after being up by 131 points earlier in the day. The S&P 500 fell by 0.8 percent on Tuesday, and the Nasdaq dropped by 0.4 percent. Bank shares fell broadly on Tuesday, as interest rates fell a day after President Trump said tariffs on Chinese goods could rise "substantially."

5

MacKenzie Bezos pledges to give half her fortune to charity

MacKenzie Bezos, former wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, announced Tuesday that she would give at least half of her more than $36 billion fortune to charity. "There are lots of resources each of us can pull from our safes to share with others," the fiction author said in a letter announcing that she had signed the Giving Pledge, a philanthropy initiative launched in 2010 by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. MacKenzie Bezos has previously bankrolled cancer research and anti-bullying work. "My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful," she said. "It will take time and effort and care. But I won't wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty."

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