- Disney ramps up its battle with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
- SpaceX's Starship explodes after taking, but there are silver linings.
- Procter & Gamble earnings top Wall Street's expectations.
Here are the most important news items that investors need to start their trading day:
1. What a drag
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U.S. stock markets are on track to finish in losing territory this week as investors weigh sluggish economic data against so-far lackluster earnings from major companies. All three major indices fell Thursday. Tesla, which posted a lackluster earnings report Wednesday evening, declined 10% and was a big drag on the Nasdaq. Lots more earnings are on the way, too. Procter & Gamble reported Friday morning. Next week brings several big names, including General Motors, McDonald's, Alphabet, Amazon and Boeing. Follow live market updates.
2. Disney vs. DeSantis
Disney isn't taking any chances in Florida. While Gov. Ron DeSantis comes under fire from even his fellow Republicans for insisting on continuing his crusade against the entertainment giant, Disney is telling its army of lobbyists to work against any bills in the Florida legislature that appear to be targeting the company. At stake is whether Disney can continue self rule in a special district of Florida that includes the company's Disney World theme park. The company wants to protect its ability to keep doing business in the Sunshine State the way it has been for decades. DeSantis, meanwhile, is gearing up for a potential run for president and has tried to make Disney a political punching bag over its opposition to an education policy critics have dubbed "Don't Say Gay." Disney CEO Bob Iger, for his part, has said he's willing to sit down and talk it through with DeSantis.
3. Starship's silver linings
SpaceX's Starship, hyped as the most powerful rocket ever built, took off Thursday in Texas, stunning spectators who were there and those who were watching on screens across the globe. It flew for about four minutes before blowing up and falling short of its goal to reach space. That doesn't mean it was a total failure, however, as CNBC's Michael Sheetz points out in his Investing in Space newsletter. "This was an experimental test flight, and the first of its kind for a U.S. rocket larger and more powerful than any in history," he writes. "Not destroying the launchpad? Success. Flying for multiple minutes? Success. Collecting a trove of data about a new launch vehicle's performance? Success." What's next for Starship? SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said another test launch could come in "a few months."
4. P&G reports earnings
Consumer products giant Procter & Gamble on Friday beat Wall Street's expectations for earnings and revenue, each rising from the same period a year ago. The company also lifted its sales forecast for its fiscal year – now in its fourth quarter. Still, P&G isn't immune to economic challenges. CEO Jon Moeller called it "a very difficult cost and operating environment." Consumers have had to contend with rising inflation, which the Federal Reserve has sought to quell with interest rate hikes. Now, because of the Fed's actions, the economy is slowing, resurrecting fears of a real downturn. With products such as Charmin toilet paper and Tide detergent, P&G is on the front lines of any consumer struggles.
5. Twitter blues
Elon Musk's companies dominated much of Thursday's business news cycle, for good and for ill. Tesla's stock tanked after a lackluster earnings report. SpaceX's Starship experienced an explosive mix of success and failure. And Twitter, as was long promised, started removing blue verification badges from non-paying customers. Accounts for governments and some corporations will continue to be verified through silver and gold badges, respectively. But the move is sure to trigger some confusion as many notable people and organizations have opted not to pay for verification.
– CNBC's Hakyung Kim, Brian Schwartz, Michael Sheetz, Amelia Lucas and Rohan Goswami contributed to this report.
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