The daily business briefing: July 25, 2019

Facebook faces a record $5 billion fine over privacy violations, Tesla shares plunge as losses exceed expectations, and more

A Tesla logo on a car
(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

1. FTC hits Facebook with record $5 billion fine in privacy settlement

The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday hit Facebook with a record $5 billion fine and ordered the social media giant to step up oversight of its handling of user data. The moves were part of a settlement over allegations that Facebook deceived users about their control over the privacy of their personal information. Hours after the announcement, Facebook revealed that it was under an antitrust investigation by the FTC. Facebook said it learned of the inquiry in June. On Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced an antitrust review involving big tech companies. It didn't specify which ones it was targeting, but Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google all have faced questions about whether their practices unfairly squelched competition.

The Associated Press The New York Times

2. Tesla shares plunge after bigger-than-expected losses

Tesla shares dropped by 10 percent in after-hours trading on Wednesday after the electric car maker reported a larger-than-expected quarterly loss. The company said after trading closed that it lost $1.12 per share, considerably worse than the 39-cent-per-share loss analysts had expected. Revenue came in at $6.35 billion, short of the $6.47 billion consensus estimate. Tesla did reaffirm its guidance on full-year deliveries, saying it still sees sales of 360,000 to 400,000 vehicles for all of 2019. Most of the deliveries will be new mass-market Model 3 sedans. Tesla delivered 158,200 cars in the first half of the year, so it will have to exceed 200,000 in the rest of the year to hit its mark.

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3. ESPN: Zion Williamson's shoe deal richest ever for an NBA rookie

The endorsement deal secured by Zion Williamson, the New Orleans Pelicans' No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft, is the richest shoe deal ever for an NBA rookie, ESPN reported Wednesday. Williamson announced Tuesday that he had struck a five-year agreement with Jordan Brand, but he didn't immediately provide details. Jordan Brand battled numerous other shoe companies to sign Williamson, who played one-year at Duke and was named the nation's top men's college basketball player and its top freshman. Williamson reportedly had several offers of more than $10 million per year. Before Williamson signed with Jordan Brands, LeBron James had the richest rookie shoe contract in NBA history.


4. Mnuchin says Amazon has 'destroyed' retail industry

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that Amazon has "destroyed the retail industry across the United States." Mnuchin said he was eagerly awaiting the conclusions of a newly announced Department of Justice investigation into whether big technology firms unfairly stifle competition. "It's absolutely right the attorney general is looking into these issues and I look forward to listening to his recommendations to the president," Mnuchin said. The Trump administration hasn't identified the companies it is targeting. Amazon, the leading online retailer, defended itself by noting that 90 percent of sales take place in brick-and-mortar stores. "Today, independent sellers make up more than 58 percent of physical gross merchandise sales on Amazon, and their sales have grown twice as fast as our own," an Amazon spokesman said.


5. Stock futures mixed ahead of next wave of earnings reports

U.S. stock index futures struggled for footing early Thursday ahead of another batch of corporate earnings reports. The main U.S. indexes were mixed. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 0.2 percent as 3M and Facebook shares gained after the companies reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings. Futures of the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were down by less than 0.1 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. Also on Thursday, investors will be reacting to the European Central Bank's decision to keep interest rates unchanged while signaling future rate cuts. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite hit record highs on Wednesday as chip stocks rose, while the Dow fell by 0.3 percent, weighed down by disappointing earnings from Boeing and Caterpillar.

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.