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Apple Inc. is aiming to rejuvenate its signature smartphone with a trio of new handsets while sellers and suppliers hope the products revitalize the electronics supply chain. The company unveiled its new iPhone X, the WSJ's Tripp Mickle reports, in a highly anticipated rollout that Apple's backers hope will revive iPhone sales in China and trigger upgrades across the U.S. and Europe. Apple is trying to generate excitement with a phone packed with new features and a $999 price tag while selling versions at lower price points. Apple won't start shipping the iPhone X until Nov. 3, however, later than its usual shipments and perhaps the result of problems matching production to new technology. Despite the hoopla, the impact on Apple's suppliers is problematic, the WSJ's Jacky Wong reports, with many finding that investor interest lags once a new phone rolls out. The phones are shipping into a lackluster market: Research group Gartner says the global smartphone market grew 6.7% in the second quarter, boosted mostly by emerging markets, and that Apple's sales slipped 0.2%.
U.S. southeast ports are returning to normal operations as recovery supply lines into Florida pick up speed and urgency. State utilities are going block by block, city by city, in one of the largest power restoration challenges in U.S. history, the WSJ's Cameron McWhirter, Erin Ailworth and Arian Campo-Flores report, as they bring back electricity to more than 15 million people following Hurricane Irma. France launched a massive airlift to bring supplies to St. Martin, the island that took a direct and devastating hit in the storm. In the U.S., more than 50,000 utility workers from the U.S. and Canada are descending on Florida and other states hit by the storm, part of a long stream of trucks joining returning residents on highways with loads of water, generators, food and construction materials. The region's ports started to reopen: Port Tampa Bay was expecting 10 crude tankers, South Carolina's Port of Charleston resumed operations with no reported damage and Georgia's Port of Savannah set today to handle nine waiting cargo ships.
Washington is starting to move on self-driving vehicles. The Department of Transportation issued updated guidelines on regulating autonomous road technology, the WSJ's John D. McKinnon reports, even as Congress steps closer to writing legislation on self-driving trucks. The new federal guidelines follow a light touch the automotive technology industry wants so that it can develop and test new systems without having to meet cumbersome federal safety rules. The approach so far has allowed several states to work with companies advancing autonomous technology in trucking. A Colorado State Police officer tells a Senate panel in prepared testimony for a hearing today on autonomous trucks that "it's time to begin planning in earnest for the deployment of semi- and fully-automated commercial motor vehicles." The officer describes a state-supervised test in which a truck traveled 120 miles on Interstate 25 on autonomous technology before a driver took over for the final turns. The test highlights the potential, but also raises new questions for regulators, manufacturers and trucking companies.
The long slump for dry-bulk shipping companies may be ending. The Baltic Dry Index, the key measure for the cost of moving commodities like coal and iron ore, is hovering near its highest point in nearly three years, the WSJ's Costas Paris reports, and ship brokers say an improving global economy along with China's moves to limit its own production of industrial materials are fueling the upturn. That's welcome news to carriers that have sold and scrapped ships at heavy discounts to ride out a downturn that's devastated many fleets. The growth will likely continue because China's industrial limitations come even as the country steps up infrastructure spending, boosting demand for seaborne imports. Broader economic growth is also building up shipments of grain, lumber and other goods. The shipping rates are rising after years of downsizing that has left capacity relatively tight, but the stronger demand is sure to tempt carriers to bulk up fleets again.
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The market-share battle among smartphone makers is triggering changes in the expansive supply chains for the devices' smallest components. Japan's Murata Manufacturing Co. completed its roughly $160 million acquisition of Sony Corp.'s battery division, the WSJ's Takashi Mochizuki reports, a move likely to increase competition among the companies that power smartphones from Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Murata is already a big supplier of tiny parts to smartphone makers, with 24 factories shipping components. The company's move to get a bigger piece of the business is part an upheaval underway in the electronic-components world as the big manufacturers look for more power and longer life from the devices. The manufacturing scramble has helped boost airfreight volumes this year, and the competition for space inside the phones could restructure some factory supply chains. Murata faces competition in its drive for more battery business from Amperex Technology Ltd. and South Korea's LG Chem Ltd.
IN OTHER NEWS
Income for the average American household reached a new high last year for the first time this century. (WSJ)
Offshore driller Seadrill filed for bankruptcy protection in Texas. (WSJ)
Grain and soybean futures fell after forecasters increased expectations for this year's harvest, setting up farmers for another year of large crops and low prices. (WSJ)
The British pound hit a one-year high against the dollar after figures showed inflation accelerated in August. (WSJ)
Retailer Vitamin World Inc. filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing "significant supply chain and ingredient availability disruptions." (WSJ)
California officials say they have been sidelined in discussions between the Trump administration and auto makers over car fuel-economy standards. (WSJ)
DowDuPont Inc. is altering its plan to splinter into three companies as it seeks to end the threat of a fight with activist investors. (WSJ)
Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. will cut its workforce by 20%, move its headquarters and close offices and manufacturing sites. (WSJ)
A court approved apparel retailer rue21's plan to exit bankruptcy with about 780 stores still operating. (WSJ)
U.S. auto inventories rose 0.2% in July after a 1.1% increase in June. (Reuters)
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May asked President Donald Trump to intervene in a dispute between Boeing Co. and Canada's Bombardier Inc. over state aid. (BBC)
The impact of the Irma and Harvey hurricanes renewed calls for eliminating the Jones Act protections for U.S.-flagged ships. (Washington Post)
Amazon.com Inc. is on a hiring binge in China as it seeks to compete more with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (South China Morning Post)
Logistics software provider WiseTech Global brought ocean freight-rate specialist CargoSphere and airfreight rate company Cargoguide for $5.5 million. (American Shipper)
Spot prices for mid-sized crude tankers are at a three-month high amid stronger demand at storm-hit U.S. ports. (Lloyd's List)
The Dutch government is set to sharply reduce slots for freighters at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. (The Loadstar)
Cargo throughput at India's 12 major ports increased 3.3% in the April-August reporting period. (Port Technology)
Chinese online luxury retailer Secoo Holding Ltd. expect to raise about $100 million in an initial public offering in the U.S. (Internet Retailer)
Authorities are investigating the death of a worker in an accident at a YRC Freight yard in Nashville, Tenn. (WSMV)
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 email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 13, 2017 06:35 ET (10:35 GMT)