The daily business briefing: July 19, 2019

Harold Maass
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Drew Angerer/Getty Images


Microsoft earnings beat expectations on cloud computing growth

Microsoft on Thursday reported earnings that far exceeded Wall Street's expectations due partly to strong ongoing growth from its Azure cloud services and LinkedIn. The software giant reported profit of $13.19 billion, or $1.71 a share, up from $8.87 billion, or $1.14 a share, in the same period last year. Analysts had expected profit of $1.21 a share. Microsoft wrapped up its 2019 fiscal year with $36.8 billion in net profit, a 21.6 percent increase over the previous year. Sales increased by more than 14 percent. Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood said the company expects sales and operating profit to continue growing by double digits in the coming fiscal year, too. Microsoft shares gained more than 1 percent in after-hours trading after closing up by 0.1 percent on Thursday. [MarketWatch]


Toys 'R' Us attempts U.S. comeback

Toys "R" Us' new owner, Tru Kids Brands, announced Thursday that the iconic toy store was starting a comeback in the U.S. with two new stores. The chain collapsed and closed all 700 of its U.S. stores more than a year ago. The new stores will be smaller than old Toys "R" Us outlets, and will offer a "highly engaging retail experience designed for kids, families and to better fit within today's retail environment," Tru Kids said. The new stores, which will open in Houston and Paramus, New Jersey, before the holiday shopping season, will sell fewer toys than the old stores did. Tru Kids, which bought the Toys "R" Us brand last October, says it will open more stores in "prime, high-traffic retail markets" next year. Toys "R" Us still has 900 stores overseas, in Europe, Asia, and India. [CNN]


Stock futures edge up on rising hope of aggressive Fed action

U.S. stock index futures rose early Friday after comments from Federal Reserve policy makers stoked hope for aggressive interest rate cuts and other policy easing to boost the economy. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq were up by 0.2 percent, while those of the S&P 500 gained 0.1 percent. U.S. stocks shook off early losses to close higher on Thursday after New York Fed President John Williams said the central bank should "act quickly" when economic growth is slowing and rates are low, although the Fed later clarified that Williams wasn't promising "potential policy actions." Investors also have been watching mixed corporate earnings reports, with Netflix shares plunging after an unprecedented U.S. subscriber dip, as Microsoft shares rose on strong revenue. [CNBC]


House passes $15 minimum wage bill that is doomed in Senate

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 in a 231-199 vote. If passed into law, the legislation would raise the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 an hour, for the first time since 2009. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) celebrated this "historic day," saying that "no one can live in dignity with a $7.25 an hour wage." Republicans oppose the bill, arguing it would result in the loss of jobs, and it's not expected to advance in the Senate. "This would depress the economy at a time of economic boom," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Thursday. "We're not going to be doing that in the Senate." [The Washington Post, Reuters]


DOJ indicts second drug distributor linked to illegal opioid sales

The Justice Department announced Thursday that a federal grand jury has indicted pharmaceutical wholesaler Miami-Luken, two of its top former officials, and two pharmacists for allegedly conspiring to illegally distribute painkillers. The indictment said the suspects distributed oxycodone and hydrocodone prescription painkillers in states hit hard by the opioid epidemic, in quantities "outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose." Miami-Luken, an Ohio drug distributor, allegedly failed to report suspicious orders, including 2.6 million hydrocodone tablets and 2.3 million units of oxycodone distributed to a pharmacy in a West Virginia town of 1,400 people. This is the second time drug-distributor executives have been criminally charged with contributing to the opioid epidemic. [CNN]