Six more states file suits over opioid crisis

Six more states on Tuesday announced lawsuits against OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, accusing the company of fueling a national opioid epidemic by deceptively marketing its prescription painkillers to generate billions of dollars in sales.

State attorneys general from Nevada, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota and Tennessee also said Purdue Pharma violated state consumer protection laws by falsely denying or playing down the addiction risk while overstating the benefits of opioids.

“It’s time the defendants pay for the pain and the destruction they’ve caused,” Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said at a news conference.

Florida also sued drugmakers Endo Pharmaceuticals; Allergan, a unit of Johnson & Johnson; Teva Pharmaceutical and Mallinckrodt, as well as drug distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson.

Lawsuits have already been filed against Purdue by 16 other U.S. states, Puerto Rico and New York City.

— Reuters

U.S. retail sales increased in April

U.S. retail sales rose in broad fashion last month as bigger after-tax paychecks helped compensate for rising fuel costs, signaling consumer demand was off to a firm start this quarter.

The value of sales increased 0.3 percent in April, after an 0.8 percent advance in February that was stronger than initially reported, Commerce Department figures showed Tuesday.

Retail-control group sales, which are used to calculate gross domestic product and exclude food services, auto dealers, building materials stores and gasoline stations, improved 0.4 percent after an upwardly revised 0.5 percent gain.

Retail sales data for February were also revised up to unchanged from a previously estimated 0.1 percent decrease.

Nine of 13 major retail categories showed advances in April since March of last year, led by the biggest jump in sales at apparel stores. Increased receipts were also evident at furniture merchants, building-materials outlets, Internet retailers and department stores.

Filling-station receipts increased 0.8 percent since March 2017, the most since January and reflecting a jump in gasoline costs that are now near the highest level since late 2014.

— Bloomberg News

Oakland coal shipment ban is struck down

A federal judge in California on Tuesday struck down the city of Oakland’s ban on coal shipments at a proposed cargo terminal, siding with a developer who wants to use the site to transport Utah coal to Asia.

U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco said the information the city relied on to conclude the coal operations would pose a substantial health or safety danger to the public was “riddled with inaccuracies, major evidentiary gaps, erroneous assumptions and faulty analyses, to the point that no reliable conclusion about health or safety dangers could be drawn from it.”

City leaders approved construction of a rail and marine terminal in 2013. The $250 million project in west Oakland was expected to bring thousands of construction and shipping jobs.

Oakland officials said coal had never been mentioned as a possibility for the site. Lawyers for the developers said city officials always knew there would be a mix of goods, including coal.

— Associated Press

Also in Business

Arlington, Tex., is "no longer moving forward" in the competition to become Amazon's second headquarters, the city announced Tuesday, releasing details of its incentive package. City spokeswoman Susan Schrock said Arlington realized it was "no longer a focus" in the process. Arlington offered incentives estimated at $921 million. Amazon asked for proposals last year, and 20 areas are still in the running. Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.

U.S. home builders are feeling more confident about their sales prospects, reflecting strong demand for newly built homes with existing homes in short supply. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Tuesday rose two points to 70 this month. That's up from a revised reading of 68 in April and snaps a four-month slide in builder confidence. Builders' view of current sales conditions rose two points to 76 this month. The outlook for sales over the next six months held at 77. A measure of buyer traffic held steady at 51.

Kellogg will discontinue operations in Venezuela immediately, the cereal maker said Tuesday, blaming the country's "economic and social deterioration." The food giant is just the latest international company to partially or completely close shop in Venezuela, following others such as Kimberly-Clark and Colgate-Palmolive. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said: "The company has been handed to the workers. It will continue to operate in the hands of the working class." Grinding food shortages and rampant inflation have put even cereal beyond the purchasing power of most families in the hungry nation.

— From news services

Coming today

8:30 a.m.: Commerce Department releases housing starts for April.
9:15 a.m.: Federal Reserve releases industrial production for April.