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Newsletter: California Inc.: At the box office this week, they’re cranking up the ABBA

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Universal’s “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” is, like the first film, dripping with tunes from a certain Swedish supergroup.
(Universal Pictures)

Welcome to California Inc., the weekly newsletter of the L.A. Times Business Section.

I’m Business columnist David Lazarus, and here’s a rundown of upcoming stories this week and the highlights of last week.

Stocks closed higher Friday as rising oil prices pushed shares of energy companies northward. Investors were more cautious about bank stocks amid dodgy quarterly earnings from the likes of JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo.

LOOKING AHEAD

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Stream dreams: Netflix reports its second-quarter financial results Monday. Investors and analysts will be watching closely to see if the provider of video-streaming services and programs continues its heady growth, which has sent its stock soaring 158% over the last 12 months. Last week, Netflix garnered 112 Emmy nominations, the most of any network.

Ballot measure: The Rancho Palos Verdes City Council is scheduled on Tuesday to consider putting a measure on the ballot to provide workers at the exclusive Terranea Resort and nearby Trump National Golf Club wage increases. A union representing workers at the two businesses alleged in a lawsuit filed in June that the city was refusing to put the measure on the ballot even though the group had collected enough valid signatures.

Powell speaks: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will discuss the state of the economy and monetary policy during his semiannual testimony before Congress. Powell will testify before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday and the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday.

Beige Book: The Federal Reserve releases its latest Beige Book on Wednesday. The roundup of info about regional economic conditions has been showing steady growth amid relatively strong manufacturing.

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Here we go again: It’s sequel time (again) in Hollywood. Up next at the box office is Universal’s aptly titled “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” which, like the first, will crank up the ABBA. Meanwhile, Denzel Washington will bring deadly testosterone to the multiplex with Sony’s ultra-violent “Equalizer 2.” Both films will probably gross about $30 million.

THE AGENDA

Monday’s Business section observes that the tight job market has been beneficial for people with disabilities. The labor shortage, coupled with growing openness to workers with mental and physical limitations, has brought record numbers of people with disabilities into the workforce — and has pushed employers to adopt more inclusive practices to support the new hires, such as longer and more hands-on training.

STORY LINES

Here are some of the other stories that ran in the Times Business section in recent days that we’re continuing to follow:

Secret revealed: For years, Yolanda’s Little Black Book has been a mystery in Los Angeles real estate circles. By dishing tightly guarded details of the latest multimillion-dollar housing transactions, the gossipy anonymous blog has wreaked havoc among elite real estate agents and their wealthy, celebrity clients. A Times investigation unmasked the real Yolanda.

Second opinion: The Justice Department is appealing the ruling a federal judge issued June 12 that allowed AT&T Inc. to buy Time Warner Inc. in the biggest antitrust case of this century. The department’s move comes after its lawyers decided not to seek an emergency stay of U.S. District Judge Richard Leon’s ruling that cleared the way for the $85.4-billion deal after a six-week trial.

Tug-of-war: The bidding war for Sky, the European pay-TV service, heated up when Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox upped its ante and Comcast Corp. countered with an even higher offer. Independent directors of the London company initially approved Fox’s $32.5-billion bid, but they withdrew their support and accepted Comcast’s offer, which valued Sky at $34 billion.

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L.A.’s Xanadu: It’s the type of location moguls dream of: 120 acres of undeveloped land in one of L.A.’s ritziest pockets. Owned by billionaire and Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, the sprawling Beverly Crest property is one of the largest undeveloped sites remaining on the Westside. And it’s now for sale at $150 million.

Pacific theater: President Trump raised the stakes in his trade war with China, threatening to impose tariffs on imports totaling roughly $200 billion. China’s Commerce Ministry said that the nation would act with “necessary counter-measures,” but did not say that the government would retaliate in commensurate fashion, as it has promptly done in the past.

WHAT WE’RE READING

And some recent stories from other publications that caught our eye:

The home front: The New York Times serves up a helpful tally of how much the United States’ trade war with China will cost American consumers. “For the more than $80 billion in tariffs that the United States has already placed on ... hundreds of products made in China, the short answer is $60 a year per household.”

Par-tay: Wired remembers, via oral history, the wild and crazy early days of Facebook. In Mark Zuckerberg’s words, “Most businesses aren’t like a bunch of kids living in a house, doing whatever they want, not waking up at a normal time, not going into an office, hiring people by, like, bringing them into your house and letting them chill with you for a while and party with you and smoke with you.”

Too many toppings: How not to run a company. Esquire pulls together a timeline of Papa John’s founder John Schnatter’s fall from grace. “From NFL protests to admitting to a racial slur.”

Very friendly skies: From the Wall Street Journal, yet another look at why it’s fun to be rich. In this case, the super-deluxe service from Emirates Airline. “On a recent flight, cabin crew poured a $566 bottle of 1998 Chateau Margaux for its first-class passengers.”

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United technologies: A cool multimedia show from Bloomberg that makes the case for why a $1,000 smartphone is a relative bargain. “If you’d been around to buy all the early gizmos shown here, you’d have forked over the equivalent of more than $25,000.”

SPARE CHANGE

The New Yorker lays down a nifty profile of funkmeister George Clinton. “Parliament is currently on an American tour, which Clinton says will be his last. He will retire from performance next year, at the age of seventy-seven.” In case you need some reminding why this is a thing, there’s this, not to mention this.

For the latest money news, go to www.latimes.com/business. Mad props to Laurence Darmiento and Scott J. Wilson for helping put this thing together.

Until next time, I’ll see you in the Business section.


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