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People and businesses along the U.S. southeastern seaboard are in an unprecedented retreat as Hurricane Irma bears down on the region with historic force. Shipping operations along the coast are shutting down, and the WSJ's Jon Kamp, Scott Calvert and Arian Campo-Flores report that authorities ordered 650,000 residents in the Miami area to evacuate while gas shortages frustrated those on the road and shelters prepared to protect tens of thousands of people who are staying behind. The storm, one of the most powerful ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, has disrupted shipping operations as it barreled across Caribbean islands. The storm is hitting oil tanker movements, with transshipment hubs in the Caribbean shut down. Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Co. said at least 10 vessels would drop or delay calls to several ports. The biggest ports in the southeast, Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, S.C., face shutdowns this weekend, with Savannah already set to close after Georgia's governor ordered the entire coastal region evacuated.
The CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt slipped under the Bayonne Bridge this week and into a new era in shipping and trade. The largest container ship to dock at ports along the East Coast sailed for the APM Terminal at Port Elizabeth, N.J., the WSJ's Paul Berger reports, launching a new effort for East Coast ports to lure away imports that now land mostly on the West Coast. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spent several years and more than $4 billion preparing to raise the roadway of the bridge and dredge the harbor's navigational channel. That's part of the billions of dollars that ports from Houston to New York have been investing to deepen channels, add big gantry cranes and set smoother paths inland since the newly expanded Panama Canal opened to bigger vessels. With capacity for 14,414 20-foot equivalent units, the Theodore Roosevelt is far from the largest container ship on the water, but it carries a big message for the Port Authority.
Amazon.com Inc. is sending perhaps its strongest signal yet that it plans to stay on its growing and hiring tear. The Seattle-based behemoth says it plans to open a second headquarters in North America to house up to 50,000 employees, the WSJ's Laura Stevens and Cara Lombardo report, an announcement that will send cities across the continent scrambling to piece together big incentive packages and likely trigger heartburn for Amazon competitors who wonder just how big the business can become. The company says it plans to spend as much as $5 billion on the facility. Amazon has already been on a building spree, placing its mega-distribution centers across much of the U.S., and it's gotten more than $1 billion in incentives since 2000 to back the warehouses. It already has regional offices throughout the country, but the new site will set a new scale, and potentially a record for the support that states and cities will offer to bring in those jobs.
Stronger shipping demand has trucking companies looking to build up their capacity to carry goods. New orders for heavy-duty trucks in North America accelerated for the third straight month in August, the WSJ's Jennifer Smith reports, amid growing confidence in the economy and signs that trucks on the road are hauling heavier loads. Trucking companies ordered 21,200 Class 8 trucks, according to ACT Research, up 13% from July and 49% from a year ago. The growth comes as highway shipments and rates are on the upswing. DAT Solutions LLC says pricing on the spot truckload market for dry-van transport rose 11% last month. Less-than-truckload carrier Dominion Freight Line Inc. says its demand accelerated in August, with shipments per day rising 6.6% from a year ago. Perhaps more important, a key measure of pricing was up strongly, a sign that carriers will have more to spend as they assess their fleets.
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Apple Inc.'s attempts to speed up production of its new iPhone are rippling across Asia's electronics supply chains. Apple is expected to unveil the new version of its iconic phone next week, but the WSJ's Yoko Kubota, Tripp Mickle and Takashi Mochizuki report production has been plagued by glitches early in the manufacturing process that could lead to extended supply shortfalls and shipping delays when ordering starts later this month. Apple contract manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group has been ramping up work at its factory complex with a work force of some 250,000, and has been paying bonuses to employees who can help bring in new hires. The wrinkles are part of Apple's attempt to upgrade the technology on its devices. Apple is moving to organic light-emitting diode screens similar to those used by rival Samsung Electronics Co., among other changes. Making an iPhone is more complicated than making a Samsung device, however, making wrinkles in the supply chain more troublesome.
Commercial drones are flying into new obstacles from law-enforcement and national security concerns. Industry officials say objections threaten to complicate and further postpone the already-delayed initiatives to open more U.S. airspace for drone applications, the WSJ's Andy Pasztor reports. They're concerned that Federal Aviation Administration draft rules close to being published late last year were effectively vetoed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with other agencies, for failing to adequately address how to remotely identify such airborne vehicles. The delay is frustrating an industry that expects to see some seven million drones sold in the U.S. by 2020 as the use of devices in commercial operations grows around the world. Israel-based startup Flytrex, for instance, recently started on-demand drone delivery in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik for an online marketplace. The FAA says it's trying to find the technology answer to the FBI concerns, but there's no timetable for when regulators will set rules that would allow such business take off in the U.S.
IN OTHER NEWS
The Teamsters union replaced its lead negotiator representing United Parcel Service Inc. workers ahead of contract talks to begin in October. (WSJ)
China's export growth slowed to 5.5% in August while imports jumped 13.3%. (WSJ)
Diesel futures prices on global markets are rising sharply amid refinery supply disruptions in the U.S. (WSJ)
The Federal Reserve says economic activity is growing at a measured pace across the U.S. even though employment growth slowed somewhat. (WSJ)
The number of Americans applying for new unemployment benefits soared by 62,000 because of disruptions from Hurricane Harvey. (WSJ)
The European Central Bank expects eurozone economic growth this year to reach its highest level since 2007. (WSJ)
China's yuan has strengthened this year by 7% against the dollar. (WSJ)
General Electric Co. sold the last of its stake in Penske Truck Leasing Co. to Penske Automotive Group Inc. and a Mitsui & Co. subsidiary. (WSJ)
Retailer Bon-Ton Stores Inc. hired a restructuring firm to cope with its heavy debt and prepare for a possible bankruptcy filing, (WSJ)
Volkswagen AG CEO Matthias Müller says the auto maker is working on deals for its noncore assets but talk of a possible merger with Fiat Chrysler Automotive NV is just "speculation." (WSJ)
Rockwell Collins Inc. agreed to pay a breakup fee of $695 million to United Technologies Corp. if their proposed tie-up falls apart. (WSJ)
Eli Lilly & Co. will cut its global workforce by about 8% and close several facilities, including consolidating its plants in Iowa. (WSJ)
Nestlé SA is acquiring Sweet Earth Foods, gaining a foothold in the small but promising market for "plant-based foods." (WSJ)
British shipping executives say a two-year transition after Brexit will not ensure "frictionless" trade through ports. (The Guardian)
China's Best Logistics expects to raise nearly $1 billion in its initial public offering in New York. (Financial Times)
U.S. freight rail carload shipments fell 0.3% in August. (Progressive Railroading)
Truck maker Navistar International Corp. swung to a $37 million third-quarter profit, its second quarterly profit in five years. (Commercial Carrier Journal)
Dry-bulk shipping company Mercator Lines Singapore is shutting down. (Lloyd's List)
The operator of 7-Eleven in the Philippines wants to use the convenience stores as a logistics network for online purchase pickups. (ABS-CBN)
The U.S. House rejected a proposal to delay the rollout of electronic logging devices for truckers. (Logistics Management)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 08, 2017 06:50 ET (10:50 GMT)