The daily business briefing: June 5, 2018

Harold Maass
Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz speaks at a shareholder meeting in March.
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Starbucks chair Howard Schultz steps down, fueling 2020 speculation

Starbucks announced in a memo to employees Monday that Howard Schultz would step down as executive chairman effective June 26. Schultz is considered the architect of the ubiquitous coffee chain as Americans know it today. He joined the company as director of operations and marketing in 1982, 11 years after it opened its first store in Seattle, and played a key role in transforming it into a global enterprise with more than 28,000 locations. Some speculated that Schultz, who supported former President Barack Obama and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, could launch a 2020 bid for the White House. "I'll be thinking about a range of options for myself, from philanthropy to public service," he said in the memo, "but I'm a long way from knowing what the future holds." [CNBC]


Supreme Court rules for baker who refused to make cake for gay couple

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had not respected baker Jack Phillips' religious beliefs when it found he violated anti-discrimination laws. Kennedy wrote that the baker, as a business owner, "might have his right to the free exercise of religion limited by generally applicable laws," but "the delicate question of when the free exercise of his religion must yield to an otherwise valid exercise of state power" can only be addressed when there is no "religious hostility" from the state. Only Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented. [The Washington Post]


Apple shares rise to record high as WWDC starts

Apple shares rose by 0.8 percent to a record close Monday as the iPhone maker opened its 11th annual Worldwide Developers Conference. The gains marked a break with history, as Apple stock typically edges down as the WWDC gets underway. The event kicked off with announcements of new augmented-reality features for Apple's next mobile operating system, iOS 12; changes to News and other apps; and new personalized, animated emojis. The stock has gained 13.4 percent so far this year. If it rises another 6.1 percent, Apple will become the world's first $1 trillion company. [MarketWatch]


DOJ to appeal ruling barring Trump from blocking Twitter followers

The Justice Department said Monday that it was appealing a federal judge's ruling that President Trump can't legally block Twitter users from his account over their political views. Trump has used the account as a key vehicle in promoting his policies, and U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled in May that his use of the platform as a public forum made blocking people a violation of their right to free speech under the First Amendment. Jameel Jaffer, a lawyer for the seven blocked Twitter users who sued, said Trump's account, @realDonaldTrump, had unblocked the plaintiffs on Monday. The White House made no immediate comment. [Reuters]


Tech shares lead stock market rally

Tech shares led a U.S. stock rally Monday, lifting the Nasdaq Composite 0.7 percent higher to a record close. The jump marked the Nasdaq's first high mark since March 12. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also rose by 0.7 percent, and the S&P 500 rose by 0.4 percent. The surge gave U.S. stocks their second straight day of solid gains since the Labor Department released unexpectedly strong May job gains. U.S. stock futures edged higher Tuesday, with tech shares poised to push to another record. Futures for the Dow and the S&P 500 were up by 0.1 percent early Tuesday, while Nasdaq-100 futures were up by 0.2 percent. [MarketWatch]