Technology: Google hit with record EU fine
Google was slapped with a $2.7 billion fine by the European Union this week, for abusing its dominance in online search, said Michael Birnbaum and Brian Fung in The Washington Post. Antitrust re gulators in Brussels say Google “illegally steered users” toward its own comparisonshopping site over those of its rivals, and ordered the company to open up its shopping search results to competitors. Google now has 90 days to comply or face steep penalties of up to 5 percent of the daily revenue of its parent company Alphabet, fines that could be backdated years.
This record-breaking fine “could be just the start of Google’s headache in Europe,” said Rob Price in Business Insider.com. The company is still facing EU antitrust investigations into its Android mobile operating system and AdSense advertising business, “far more fundamental parts of Google’s business than its shopping service.” Google can probably afford to shoulder additional multibillion-dollar fines, but more negative rulings could upend how the company operates on the Continent. The search giant may also face lawsuits from rival comparison sites that say they’ve been harmed by Google’s business practices.
Energy: Cheap gas boosts summer travel
“American dr ivers are preparing to hit the road this Fourth of July,” said Hailey Waller in Bloomberg.com. The American Automobile Association expects a record-breaking 44.2 million Americans to travel at least 50 miles away from home over the holiday weekend, encouraged by the lowest seasonal gasoline prices in 12 years. U.S. drivers will pay an average of $2.21 a gallon, the first time in 17 years that gas prices are expected to be lower on July 4 than New Year’s Day. Domestic airfares are also 10 percent lower this year, leading to an uptick in holiday fliers.
Autos: Takata files for bankruptcy
“The company at the heart of one of the worst auto safety scandals in history has filed for bankruptcy,” said Jethro Mullen in CNN.com. Takata, whose exploding airbags were linked to 11 deaths in the U.S. and triggered a massive recall, announced this week that it’s seeking bankruptcy protection. The Japanese company, which has $9 billion in debt, is also “selling the lion’s share of its business” to a rival. Key Safety Systems, which is Chinese-owned but based in Michigan, is paying $1.6 billion for most of Takata’s operations, minus its airbag inflators.
Banks: Stress tests less stressful
The nation’s biggest banks received a “strong report card” from the Federal Reserve last week, said Ryan Tracy and Telis Demos in The Wall Street Journal. In the first part of its annual stress tests, the Fed found that 34 of the largest U.S. banks “have significantly improved their defenses since the 2008 financial crisis.” The success of the drills, which are designed to see how banks would weather a deep recession, could be used to bolster the Trump administration’s push to weaken post-crisis financial reforms. “Supporters of the rules say healthy banks show the regulations are working.”
Investing: A stock index for the Fortune 500
Time Inc. is hoping that investors want to own a piece of the Fortune 500, said Sheila Dang in Reuters.com. Time, which publishes Fortune magazine, announced this week that it’s working with Barclays to create a stock index based on its iconic listing of the country’s largest companies by revenue. The Barclays Fortune 500 Equal Weighted Index, which will launch in July, will track about 450 publicly traded companies that appear on Fortune’s annual list. Time, “which like many of its publishing peers has been struggling as print circulation shrinks,” has been looking to broaden its revenue streams. ■