McDonald’s hikes pay, and Europe targets Apple, Google — 5 things to know today
Hello friends and Fortune readers.
European regulators are reportedly zeroing in on both Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG), according to two separate media reports that focus on different antitrust concerns. The Apple probe is tied to the company’s plans to launch its own music streaming service, while the possible groundwork for charges against Google would extend a five-year-old investigation that has already stalled three times.
Meanwhile, stateside, specialty hardwood flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators (LL) said first-quarter sales rose 5.6% to $260 million. The company affirmed that sales were significantly weaker in March than in January and February, hurt by allegations from a “60 Minutes” report that alleged the company sold flooring with higher levels of formaldehyde than permitted under California’s health and safety standards. Lumber Liquidators has repeatedly denied the charges, and the stock has teetered in recent weeks.
Here’s what else you need to know to start your day.
1. Apple, Google face EU consternation.
The probe surrounding Apple is related to European Union concerns that the electronic gadgets maker’s music streaming service would push free, ad-based competition out of the market. The Financial Times reported that a number of digital music companies and labels had received questionnaires from a division of the European Commission asking for information about their agreements with Apple. Apple is planning to launch the streaming service later this year. Meanwhile, the European Commission has been asking companies that filed complaints against Google for permission to publish some of the information they had submitted confidentially. Antitrust experts say those requests are a strong signal that antitrust charges are being prepared, The Wall Street Journal reported.
2. McDonald’s raises (some) pay for minimum wage workers.
McDonald’s (MCD) has jumped on the pay hike bandwagon, but the move comes with an asterisk. The fast-food company’s decision to raise the average hourly rate for its U.S. restaurant employees to above $10 an hour was purportedly to help motivate the company’s workforce. But as Fortune reported, the higher wages are still well below activists’ demands and benefit workers at only 10% of its restaurants. Activists have long demanded a $15 hourly minimum.
3. Tesla’s April Fools’ Day joke a hit with traders.
Electric-car maker Tesla’s (TSLA) shares saw a small jolt on Wednesday after the company issued a press release proclaiming the launch of a new product. The problem? It turned out to be an April Fools’ Day joke. The release was issued just before the market closed, announcing the Tesla Model W on the company’s official website. The subsequent one minute of trading was the heaviest volume the stock experienced since Feb. 12, according to Reuters. The shares ebbed and ultimately ended the day down 0.6%.
4. Pfizer to end China vaccine sales.
Pfizer has stopped selling the pharmaceutical company’s vaccines in China after an import license that is required to do business in the Asian nation was not renewed. The move comes as some drug companies face growing problems winning approvals to sell their medications in China, which is the second-largest drug market in the world. The drug, Prevenar, is the only vaccine that Pfizer sold in China. The company said the move doesn’t affect its other operations in the country.
5. Airbnb lands in Cuba.
Airbnb, a lodging website that is #4 on Fortune‘s “Unicorn” list of tech startups worth a billion dollars or more, is now available in Cuba. The tech company said it is now offering properties for rent in Cuba, becoming one of the first U.S. companies to establish a presence in the country since it was announced late last year that the U.S. and Cuba would restore diplomatic ties after more than 50 years.