AIRLINES
Delta likely to reduce flights, hike fares

Delta Air Lines Inc. is looking to offset the rising price of jet fuel by raising fares and cutting some flights.

A benchmark gauge of pricing power will climb as much as 5.5 percent in the third quarter, the No. 2 U.S. carrier said in a statement Thursday as it reported second-quarter earnings, implying higher fares.

Delta also will take some seats off the market by paring “underperforming capacity’’ and said it continues looking for more places to trim.

Delta is rushing to offset the pain from pricier jet kerosene, which drove a 33 percent increase in the airline’s second-quarter fuel costs and prompted the company to cut its annual profit forecast. While a strong domestic economy has boosted travel demand, there is typically a six- to 12-month lag before airlines can raise fares to help offset higher spending.

“Delta’s focus going forward will be to overcome the rise in jet-fuel costs by raising ticket prices,’’ Helane Becker, an analyst at Cowen & Co., said in a note to clients. “The near-term revenue outlook remains optimistic.’’

— Bloomberg News

CONSUMER PROTECTION
J & J loses talc product contamination lawsuit

Johnson & Johnson must pay at least $200 million in damages to women who claimed asbestos in the company’s talc products caused them to develop ovarian cancer, a St. Louis jury said Thursday.

As the verdict was read in court, the first eight of 22 plaintiffs were each awarded $25 million — and damages were still being announced for the other 14 plaintiffs.

The women also sued a unit of Imerys, which supplied the talc to J&J. Imerys Talc America settled before trial on confidential terms. The company agreed to pay at least $5 million to settle the claims, according to two people familiar with the matter.

J&J knew its talc products were contaminated with asbestos and kept this information from reaching the public, Mark Lanier, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, told jurors in closing arguments Wednesday. J&J sought to protect the image of baby powder as “their sacred cow,’’ he said.

J&J denied any contamination with asbestos or any rigged testing. The accusations of suppressing or ignoring tests didn’t make sense, said Peter A. Bicks, the company’s trial counsel.

— Bloomberg News

Also in Business

U.S. entrepreneur Bryan Goldberg, the owner of websites Bustle, Elite Daily and The Zoe Report, has prevailed in the bankruptcy auction for Gawker.com with what sources said on Thursday was a $1.35 million bid. The sale to Goldberg marks the end of Gawker's nearly two-year stay in bankruptcy court and comes as Univision Communications looks to sell the gossip blog's sister websites such as Jezebel and Deadspin, which it bought for $135 million in 2016.

Britain's culture secretary has cleared the way for 21st Century Fox's bid for Sky following pledges that it will safeguard the independence of Sky News. Britain's government had been looking at the issue amid fears the takeover would give Rupert Murdoch too much power in the U.K. media market. The decision by Jeremy Wright clears the final regulatory hurdle for Fox's bid for the 61 percent of Sky that it does not already own.

The federal government recorded a $74.9 billion deficit in June, a month when the government often runs a surplus, as corporate taxes dropped sharply compared with a year ago. The Treasury Department reported Thursday that the June deficit pushed the imbalance so far this year to $607.1 billion, 16.1 percent higher than the same period a year ago.

Exxon Mobil quit the American Legislative Exchange Council, a lobbying group bankrolled by fossil fuel companies, following a disagreement over climate-change policy. The oil giant won't be renewing its membership after it expired in June, spokesman Scott Silvestri said. Exxon had a public spat with ALEC in December when some members backed by climate skeptics moved to convince the federal government to drop its claim that climate change is a risk to human health.

Coming today

Before market opens: Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo report quarterly financial results.

— From news services