Today's Top Supply Chain and Logistics News From WSJ

By Paul Page Features Dow Jones Newswires

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The scale of the White House plan for infrastructure investment measured in dollars pales next to the ambitious changes it would make in U.S. public works. Top advisers crafting President Donald Trump's plan aim to upend the way highways, roads and bridges are financed, the WSJ's Ted Mann reports. The plan would shift the bulk of the decision-making and costs to states and cities while offering incentives to draw private investment, diminishing Washington's role in U.S. infrastructure. White House officials say most of the $200 billion in new federal funding would be parceled out as incentives to localities that raise their own funding for building projects, with the aim of reaching the administration's overall goal of $1 trillion. The proposed 20-80 split of federal to local contributions would dramatically change parts of the current system. The administration's approach alarms supporters of big projects, who say that local cost-sharing and private financing efforts would fall short of making up for sharply reduced federal funding.

The holiday hiring season may already be underway for logistics companies. U.S. courier and messenger companies, including the package-delivery firms that deliver online orders, boosted payrolls at a rapid pace in August, WSJ Logistics Report's Jennifer Smith writes, adding 3,900 jobs in the fifth straight monthly increase. The parcel sector, which is bulking up as demand to deliver goods to consumers' homes grows, has added 7,000 jobs in two months and more than 30,000 jobs since August 2016. Warehouse operators also added 900 jobs as key segments of the logistics world tied to online fulfillment defied weakness in the broader jobs market last month. But retailers and manufacturers are stocking up inventories, with inbound shipments at American ports growing strongly. The broader economic figures offer even brighter prospects for logistics operators. Household spending jumped in July, and the manufacturing sector added 36,000 jobs last month, signaling plans for bigger production and busier supply chains.

Kroger Co. is facing tough financial choices as the company responds to deep changes in the U.S. grocery sector. The largest supermarket chain in the U.S. is adding online ordering options and testing new delivery services, the WSJ's Heather Haddon reports, even as Kroger looks to cut costs in search of greater sales growth. The efforts are part of Kroger's response to twin threats: Amazon.com Inc.'s rapid advance in the grocery business and the expansion of deep-discounting European chains and online grocers that are looking to get into consumer wallets. Kroger's moves will need investment in technology and logistics alongside those price cuts for shoppers, but that's the cost of meeting the new competition for traditional grocers. Kroger plans to allow pickup in 1,000 of its stores for online shoppers. And the grocer is testing delivery with Shipt Inc. and Uber drivers in some markets to see if it can keep costs down through third-party services.

ECONOMY & TRADE

The new negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement only appear to be getting more contentious as they continue. The second round started in Mexico over the weekend, and the WSJ's Robbie Whelan and Jacob M. Schlesinger report it began under a dark cloud after both the U.S. and Mexico raised the stakes dramatically. President Trump has jolted the meetings with renewed calls to pull out of the 23-year-old deal linking the economies of the U.S., Canada and Mexico, while Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray has said Mexico would walk away from talks if the administration triggers the six-month process to terminate the accord. Mexico says it is already preparing for a post-Nafta world with a plan to diversify its trade away from the U.S. Canada is also displaying tough resolve in the talks, the WSJ's William Mauldin reports, pushing a series of demands in areas such as labor that would be difficult to sell in the U.S.

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QUOTABLE

IN OTHER NEWS

The White House may notify South Korea it plans to withdraw from their trade pact, a move that risks alienating a key ally as fears intensify over North Korea's advancing nuclear-weapons program. (WSJ)

Houston businesses are rebuilding even as the local authorities cope with the release of toxic chemicals as a result of Tropical Storm Harvey. (WSJ)

Manufacturing activity in the U.S. rose to a six-year high in August, with factory sales rising and hiring growing. (WSJ)

The World Trade Organization decided in a case involving Boeing Co. that local tax breaks don't violate trade rules against subsidies. (WSJ)

The Federal Aviation Administration has granted more than 100 authorizations for use of drones to assess damage and other purposes in Houston since Harvey. (WSJ)

U.S. auto sales struggled again in August, with only General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. notching relatively strong gains. (WSJ)

Greece's economy expanded 0.5% in the second quarter, keeping the country on course for growth in 2017. (WSJ)

U.S. farm incomes will rise in 2017, the government predicts, halting three consecutive years of decline. (WSJ)

Air France-KLM shareholders backed Delta Air Lines Inc. and China Eastern Airlines Corp. taking minority stakes in the airline. (WSJ)

Lululemon Athletica Inc. raised annual financial targets following a strong quarterly performance. (WSJ)

Traders are shipping jet fuel from Europe to the U.S. amid concern over shortages following Tropical Storm Harvey. (Reuters)

Deadly monsoon rains in India have closed port operations at Mumbai for several days. (Lloyd's List)

China Merchants Port Holdings will take over Brazil's second largest container terminal with its $920 million purchase of a controlling stake in TCP Participações S.A. (South China Morning Post)

IKEA International A/S and workers at its Baltimore-area distribution center averted a walkout with an agreement to extend contract talks for two weeks. (Baltimore Sun)

Nippon Express Co. will raise $912 million to consolidate warehouses and install labor-saving equipment to cope with a logistics worker shortage. (Nikkei Asian Review)

Business inventories in Australia fell at the steepest rate since 2014, dampening expectations for economic expansion. (The Australian)

Norwegian auto supplier Kongsberg Automotive will close its Easley, S.C., plant next year and move production to Mexico. (Greenville Tribune Times)

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board rejected plans to build a 261-mile freight rail bypass around Chicago called the Great Lakes Basin line. (Chicago Tribune)

Idled container ship capacity fell to a two-year low. (Journal of Commerce)

DHL will use agreements with postal authorities to expand its parcel network to Ireland, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria. (Post & Parcel)

CRST International Inc.'s expedited trucking unit and Dart Transit Co. implemented pay increases for some drivers. (Commercial Carrier Journal)

CH Robinson Worldwide Inc. acquired Canadian freight forwarder Milgram & Co for $50 million. (The Loadstar)

Scorpio Tankers Inc. closed its acquisition of Navig8 Product Tankers Inc. (Maritime Professional)

ABOUT US

Paul Page is deputy editor of WSJ Logistics Report. Follow him at @PaulPage, and follow the entire WSJ Logistics Report team: @brianjbaskin , @jensmithWSJ and @EEPhillips_WSJ. Follow the WSJ Logistics Report on Twitter at @WSJLogistics.

Write to Paul Page at paul.page@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 05, 2017 07:05 ET (11:05 GMT)