Opening Bell 7.18.18

Google gets fined; Elon apologizes; Morgan Stanley beats; High-heel Crocs and more!
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Google Fined Record $5 Billion by EU, Given 90 Days to Stop ‘Illegal Practices’ [Bloomberg]

Google was fined 4.3 billion euros ($5 billion) by the European Union and ordered to change the way it puts search and web browser apps on Android mobile devices, setting a global record for antitrust penalties.

The penalty -- the same amount the Netherlands contributes to the EU budget every year -- is far higher than any other dished out by the U.S., Chinese or other antitrust authorities. More significantly, Google was given 90 days to stop what the EU said were "illegal practices" on contracts with handset manufacturers that push Google services in front of users.

"Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine," EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in an emailed statement. "These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits."

Morgan Stanley beats estimates on higher trading revenue [Reuters]

JPMorgan Chase & Co, Bank of America Corp, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Inc have all reported second-quarter earnings which beat expectations, with only Wells Fargo & Co missing estimates.

Banks are benefiting from increased market volatility due in part to escalating trade tensions causing investors to buy and sell assets to protect their portfolios and take advantage of opportunities. Morgan Stanley highlighted its equity financing business and a stronger performance in commodities and credit products.

Morgan Stanley said net income rose to $2.4 billion in the quarter from $1.8 billion a year ago. Earnings per share rose to $1.30 from $0.87 the year before, beating the average analyst expectation of $1.11 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S data.

Trump advisor Kudlow says economic growth could top 4% for 'a quarter or two,' more tax cuts could be coming [CNBC]

Larry Kudlow, President Donald Trump's top economic advisor, gave an optimistic view of the economy on Wednesday in which growth will run considerably above what has been the norm for the past decade.

Kudlow, spoke at CNBC's Delivering Alpha conference in New York.

As part of the administration's plan to grow the economy, Kudlow said there would be additional rounds of tax cuts ahead.

Elon Musk apologizes to cave rescuer for 'pedo' tweet [CNN Money]

The Tesla (TSLA) CEO has faced an intense backlash over the unfounded claim against Vernon Unsworth, an expert caver who participated in the rescue mission that saved 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in Thailand.

Musk expressed remorse on Twitter.

The executive said that while Unsworth provoked him, "his actions against me do not justify my actions against him, and for that I apologize to Mr. Unsworth and to the companies I represent as leader. The fault is mine and mine alone."

Auto Industry Pushes White House to Back Off Tariffs [WSJ]

Industry representatives jointly petitioned President Donald Trump on Tuesday to back off on his threats to place tariffs on imports, with plans to amplify their message in digital and newspaper advertisements.

“Raising tariffs on auto and auto parts would be a massive tax on consumers, who buy or service their vehicles,” according to an open letter to the president and jointly submitted by the auto industry’s main lobbying groups, including trade organizations that represent the foreign and U.S.-based auto makers, as well as auto dealers.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents 12 of the largest auto manufacturers, warns the tariffs risk triggering a negative “domino effect” that would harm American workers and the broader economy, according to prepared remarks shared ahead of a hearing on Capitol Hill slated for Thursday.

High-heel Crocs shoes are selling out, prompting questions of why [CBS News]

Crocs describes this 'Cyprus V Heel,' as "a pair of casual and comfortable heels and wedges."

The brand, known for comfort and function, became popular among hospital and restaurant workers and others toiling on their feet all day after its 2002 launch, with annual sales soaring past $100 million before a fall from favor and experiencing a mixed road business-wise ever since.

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