By Paul Page
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Holiday hiring growth in distribution centers appears to be leveling off, but that may be because the payrolls are growing throughout the year. Amazon.com Inc. is adding 120,000 seasonal workers to help fill holiday orders this year, topping the hiring plans of other major retailers. The total is the same number of temporary workers that Amazon brought in a year ago, the WSJ's Laura Stevens writes, but it follows significant hiring the e-commerce giant has already done this year as it pushes to add 100,000 full-time and 30,000 part-time workers by the middle of next year. Seasonal hiring at United Parcel Service Inc. will also be on par with last year, with 95,000 jobs. Hiring in warehouses has been strong for several years as e-commerce demands have ramped up, however. Warehouse and storage employment rose by 35,000 to 961,000 jobs in September from a year ago. And payrolls have grown by 300,000 jobs, or roughly 46%, since September 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
U.S. auto makers are shifting production into an even lower gear as they cope with weaker demand and growing inventories. General Motors Co. is temporarily closing one Detroit factory that produces slow-selling sedans, the WSJ's Mike Colias reports, and will pare back the assembly line by some 20% even when the plant resumes operations. It's one of the steepest moves yet by a U.S. auto manufacturer as they cope both with lagging sales and demand that's shifting from sedans to sport-utility vehicles. A more-than 21% slide in sales of the Buick LaCrosse, for instance, has left left dealers with a roughly 10-month supply of the car in a field where a two-month supply is considered healthy. GM is trying to balance questions over inventory and revenue in cutting production: Car companies book revenue when they ship vehicles to dealerships, and GM has been criticized for cranking out too many cars that required steep discounts to sell.
A trade battle between the U.S. and several African countries is forming over an unlikely commodity: used clothing. Several nations -- including Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania -- are moving to restrict the imports of secondhand goods that are the primary source of clothing across much of Africa, saying the cheap items undermine their efforts to nurture domestic textile production. The New York Times reports the actions are prompting a backlash in the U.S., which has threatened to remove some East African countries from the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which is meant to foster trade and economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa. The dispute is a new challenge for countries trying to move up the supply chain ladder by producing more goods rather than just shipping out raw materials. Apparel provides the kind of light manufacturing that would help East African countries compete with Bangladesh, Vietnam and other low-cost producers, but for now the competition is coming from donated clothes.
China's impact on global commodities is expanding into a new, significant area: trading in metals futures and the critical information that goes along with it. Shanghai is encroaching on London as the hub of the metals trading world, the WSJ's Amrith Ramkumar reports, a shift that investors say threatens to erode the reliability of copper, zinc and aluminum prices as a read on the global economy. Industrial metals used in items from bridges to electric vehicles have long been used to gauge the likely course of manufacturing and shipping. Now, analysts say speculative Chinese investors risk distorting that picture by accelerating price moves, raising concerns that the prices will become severed from supply-demand dynamics around the world. The worries add a new wrinkle to commodities markets that have been in broad rebound this year, fueling a rebound upturn in bulk shipping.
IN OTHER NEWS
China's exports expanded 8.1% in September while imports soared 18.7%. (WSJ)
Eurozone industrial output surged 1.4% from July to August, and was up 3.8% from a year ago. (WSJ)
Singapore's economy, a bellwether of global trade, grew at a sharply faster 6.3% pace in the third quarter. (WSJ)
The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims fell for the second week in a row at the beginning of October. (WSJ)
Airbus SE took control of a Malaysian plane-repair company, part of the move by aircraft makers to move into the lucrative market for servicing airliners. (WSJ)
Samsung Electronics Co. forecast a $12.8 billion operating profit for the third quarter that will be the company's highest ever. (WSJ)
German regional passenger airline Air Berlin PLC is selling part of its assets to Deutsche Lufthansa AG. (WSJ)
Southwest Airlines Co. is extending its long-haul routes with plans for service to Hawaii next year. (WSJ)
A study says the U.S. auto parts industry could lose up to 50,000 jobs if Nafta is terminated. (Reuters)
High water levels closed the Ohio River to c ommercial barge traffic, the second closure in as many weeks. (Farm Journal)
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is pushing harder into emerging markets as direct competition with Amazon grows around the world. (Nikkei Asian Review)
Hong Kong-based logistics startup Lalamove raised $100 million in a funding round valuing the company at nearly $1 billion. (South China Morning Post)
Amazon has gained more than $1.2 billion in tax breaks as it has expanded its network of U.S. distribution centers. (Business Journals)
U.S. railroads' intermodal traffic soared 10.6% in the first week of October. (Progressive Railroading)
Last week's $2.09-per-mile average spot rate for U.S. truckload van transport was the highest in nearly three years, says DAT Solutions LLC. (DC Velocity)
Toyota Motor Corp. is testing its hydrogen cell-powered truck in freight operations around California's ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. (TechCrunch)
Difficulty finding warehouse workers is hindering Eastern Pennsylvania's l ogistics-industry growth. (Allentown Morning Call)
Demand for warehouse and distribution space in Houston has soared since Hurricane Harvey. (Houston Chronicle)
Furniture retailer Noble House and home accessories seller Best Choice each plan to build East Coast distribution hubs near Georgia's Port of Savannah. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Ireland-based apparel retailer Primark named David James as its supply chain director. (Logistics Manager)
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
October 13, 2017 06:49 ET (10:49 GMT)
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