The daily business briefing: November 19, 2019

Harold Maass
A Chick-fil-A bag


California sues JUUL, accusing it of fueling vaping epidemic

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Monday that the state had filed a lawsuit accusing JUUL Labs of illegally targeting minors with advertising and flavored e-cigarettes to get them to buy vaping products, creating a "public health epidemic." "We will go after anyone who uses deceptive business practices to harm our people," Becerra said in a news conference where he announced the litigation. California says JUUL delivered e-cigarettes to underage customers without checking their ages. Youth vaping has doubled since JUUL made its debut in 2015. The company's sales now account for more than 64 percent of the e-cigarette market, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [The Sacramento Bee]


Chick-fil-A stops donations to 2 allegedly anti-LGBTQ organizations

Chick-fil-A's charitable arm said Monday that it was halting donations to two charities widely seen as anti-LGBTQ. The fast-food chain had faced boycotts and protests for years over its ties to the groups, the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The Chick-fil-A Foundation said in a statement that the change came as it cut the number of charities it worked with to focus on education, homelessness, and hunger. It did not acknowledge the groups' allegedly anti-LGBTQ records. The Salvation Army has denied claims that it is discriminatory. The FCA received $2.4 million for sports camps for underserved youths, and the Salvation Army got $165,000 to buy Christmas gifts for needy children in 2018, but neither is on the Chick-fil-A Foundation's donation list this year. [The Washington Post]


Stock futures gain despite mixed signals on U.S.-China trade

U.S. stock index futures rose early Tuesday despite continuing mixed signals on efforts to end the U.S.-China trade war. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were up by 0.2 percent or more, after all three of the main U.S. indexes edged higher on Monday. China is concerned that differences over the lifting of new tariffs could get in the way of a "phase one" trade deal, CNBC reported, citing a government source. Former White House Chief Economic Edviser Gary Cohn told CNBC that he expected President Trump to go ahead with a plan to impose more tariffs on Chinese goods on Dec. 15 if the two sides haven't reached a trade agreement. [CNBC]


Trump meets with Fed chief Jerome Powell

President Trump met with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Monday after criticizing him for months, saying the central bank was keeping interest rates too high and holding back the economy. The two discussed the economy for the first time since Trump said Powell and other Fed policy makers were "boneheads" and that the Fed was hurting America's ability to compete with other nations whose central banks were setting interest rates lower. Trump also once said it was unclear whether Powell or Chinese President Xi Jinping was a "bigger" U.S. enemy. Despite the friction going in, Trump tweeted that the meeting was "very good & cordial." Trump wrote that "everything was discussed including interest rates, negative interest, low inflation, easing, Dollar strength," and other topics. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also attended. [The New York Times, USA Today]


California to stop buying from automakers siding with Trump on emission rules

California said Monday that it would stop buying vehicles for state government fleets from automakers that back President Trump's effort to strip the state's authority to set its own tailpipe emission standards. Last month, GM, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, and members of the Global Automakers trade association got behind Trump's move to bar California from setting tougher emission standards than the federal government. Between 2016 and 2018, California bought $58.6 million worth of vehicles from GM, $55.8 million from Fiat Chrysler, $10.6 million from Toyota, and $9 million from Nissan. Starting in January, it will only buy from automakers that recognize its authority to set separate emission standards, as Ford, Honda, BMW, and Volkswagen have done. [Reuters]