The daily business briefing: October 21, 2020

Harold Maass
Google's office in NYC
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

1.

DOJ files antitrust lawsuit against Google

The Justice Department on Tuesday filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google. The long-anticipated suit accused the tech giant of abusing its market dominance to stifle competition for its flagship search engine and its related advertising business. "Google is the gateway to the internet and a search advertising behemoth," Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen said. "It has maintained its monopoly power through exclusionary practices that are harmful to competition." The Justice Department also is investigating Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and other companies, so the case against Google could mark the beginning of a broader crackdown on tech giants. Google said it would defend itself vigorously, calling the lawsuit "deeply flawed" and unfair. "People use Google because they choose to," the company said, "not because they're forced to or because they can't find alternatives." [The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal]

2.

Pelosi cites progress, downplays passing of stimulus deadline

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) walked back her Tuesday deadline for a coronavirus relief deal with the White House, saying that talks were going well so there was still hope a bill could be passed before Election Day. "It isn't that this day is the day we would have a deal," she said in a Bloomberg TV interview. "It's a day when we would have our terms on the table to be able to go to the next step." The news came as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reportedly told Republican senators privately that he had urged the White House not to agree to a stimulus deal that most members of the party would reject. McConnell's remarks, confirmed by several Republicans, came after President Trump increased his proposed relief package to $1.9 trillion, still short of the $2.2 trillion approved by the House. [Business Insider, The New York Times]

3.

Netflix subscriber growth slows after lockdown surge

Netflix on Tuesday reported quarterly subscriber growth that fell short of estimates as the boost it got from coronavirus lockdowns faded. The company said it added 2.2 million subscribers globally during the third quarter. Wall Street analysts had forecast 3.4 million. Netflix added 15.8 million subscribers from January through March, but it has faced increasing streaming competition since then, along with the lifting of some pandemic restrictions and the return of televised live sports. "Domestic subscribers were nearly flat, which highlights Netflix's saturation in the U.S.," said eMarketer analyst Ross Benes. The company said it expected to add 6 million subscribers in the fourth quarter, falling short of the 6.5 million analysts expected. [Reuters]

4.

Stocks struggle as stimulus uncertainty continues

U.S. stock index futures were flat early Wednesday as negotiators said they were making "good progress" toward a coronavirus relief deal but major differences remained. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were all up by less than 0.1 percent several hours before the opening bell. On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) eased off of her Tuesday deadline for sealing a stimulus deal that could pass before Election Day. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said talks would continue Wednesday. All three of the main U.S. indexes closed higher on Tuesday. The Dow gained 0.4 percent. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq rose by 0.5 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively, as uncertainty over the relief negotiations made some investors uneasy. [CNBC]

5.

New York Times: Trump has a Chinese bank account

President Trump maintains a bank account in China, and his tax records show that he spent at least a decade attempting, unsuccessfully, to get licensing deals and pursuing other projects in the country, The New York Times reported Tuesday. The Times obtained Trump's tax records, and found that he has three foreign bank accounts — the other two are in Britain and Ireland — but those do not appear on his public financial disclosures because they are held under corporate names. The account in China is controlled by Trump International Hotels Management LLC, which paid $188,561 in taxes in China while trying to secure licensing deals from 2013 to 2015. Trump first attempted to get licensing deals in China in 2006, the Times reported, and tax records show he specifically created five small companies, investing $192,000. He filed multiple trademark applications in Hong Kong and mainland China in 2006, and several were approved after he became president. [The New York Times]