The daily business briefing: March 26, 2019


Apple unveiled its new streaming service, a credit card, and a news subscription service Monday at its Cupertino, California, headquarters. The streaming platform, AppleTV+, will feature content from Oprah, Stephen Spielberg, Sesame Street, and dozens more big-name creators. The service is set to launch this fall, but prices were not immediately announced. The new Apple Card is a fee-free digital credit platform where users earn 2 percent cash back on all Apple Pay purchases. Customers can access the card via the iPhone Wallet app or with a physical titanium card. The new expansion of Apple News will offer content from more than 300 magazines for $9.99 per month. [The Verge, TechCrunch]


FBI agents on Monday arrested Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels’ former lawyer in her legal battle with President Trump, on charges that he tried to extort $20 million from Nike by threatening to damage the company with negative publicity. Avenatti allegedly told Nike he had evidence its employees funneled money to the families of star high school basketball players and would go public with the information unless the athletic apparel maker met his demands. Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney in Manhattan, described the actions as a “shakedown.” Avenatti, 48, also was charged with embezzling a client’s money and defrauding a bank. Avenatti said when the evidence in the case is out he “will be fully exonerated and justice will be done.” [CNBC, The New York Times]


British lawmakers voted Monday night to take control of the parliamentary timetable on Wednesday, giving them the opportunity to vote on several alternatives to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal. The amendment, put forward by a member of May’s Conservative Party, passed 329 to 302. Alternatives to May’s plan include leaving the European Union without a deal, extending the country’s departure, and revoking Article 50 to remain in the EU. Last week, the EU agreed to postpone Brexit, originally set for March 29, until May 22 if British lawmakers agree to May’s twice-rejected withdrawal deal. Otherwise, the EU will extend the delay only to April 12. Earlier Monday, May said she did not have enough support to win a third vote. [Reuters, MarketWatch]


Airbus shares rose by 1.9 percent early Tuesday after China announced it would buy 300 planes from the European company in a deal worth about $34 billion. The record Airbus order, which matched in size a previous Chinese purchase from Boeing, was revealed as Chinese President Xi Jinping made a state visit to France. French President Emmanuel Macron said the two countries want a “strong Euro-Chinese partnership, based on clear, strict, and ambitious rules.” Citigroup said it was keeping its “buy” rating for Airbus. “China has been taking about 20-25 percent of Airbus production per year, and given the A320 family is sold out at announced production rates out to 2024/25, we believe this increases the probability of Airbus moving to a production rate of 70 per month,” wrote Citigroup. [Reuters, The Associated Press]


Samsung Electronics warned Tuesday that slumping prices for chips and LCD screens would hurt its first-quarter financial results. The South Korean electronics giant attributed the looming worse-than-expected quarter to “weakening overall demand” for its products, the latest sign of cooling demand for smartphones and other tech gadgets. Smartphone shipments fell by 7 percent worldwide in the fourth quarter as consumers held onto their old phones longer due to a widespread perception that new models didn’t offer big enough improvements to justify the expense of upgrading. [The New York Times]