The daily business briefing: March 9, 2017
RadioShack files for bankruptcy again, payroll processor ADP finds U.S. businesses added more jobs than expected, and more
RadioShack files for bankruptcy for second time in 2 years
RadioShack filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday for the second time in two years. The troubled electronics retailer said it would close 200 stores and review options for the remaining 1,300. RadioShack's president and CEO, Dene Rogers, said in a statement that the company had cut operating expenses by 23 percent since 2015, when it first filed for bankruptcy, but faced a setback when a partnership with Sprint failed to yield the profits expected. RadioShack was founded in 1921 and was long a popular source for batteries and electronics parts, but recently has tried to remake itself as a provider of wireless devices as it contended with competition from online and discount rivals.
Payroll processor ADP says employers added 298,000 jobs last month
U.S. businesses added 298,000 jobs last month in the latest sign that the employment market is gaining strength, payroll processor ADP said Wednesday. The February figure was significantly stronger than the 189,000 new private-sector jobs forecast. The numbers "indicate that the U.S. job market is in very good shape at the beginning of 2017," PNC Financial Services Group economist Gus Faucher said in a note to clients. "The tighter job market will support income gains and consumer spending this year." The federal government's February jobs report is due on Friday.
GOP starts push to replace ObamaCare in House
The Republican proposal to replace ObamaCare cleared its first hurdle early Thursday when the House Ways and Means Committee approved the legislation in an 18-hour session. House Speaker Paul Ryan tried to mollify resistance from fellow Republicans, saying the legislation is "what good, conservative health care reform looks like." Democrats, in the minority on committees in the GOP-led Congress, fought the plan in meetings of two committees by offering doomed amendments that would have kept the bill from raising deficits or stripping anyone of health insurance coverage. Opposition grew on Wednesday, with the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, and the AARP coming out against the Republican proposal, saying it would hurt vulnerable Americans. The proposal would end fines for those who don't buy insurance, and replace income-based subsidies with age-based tax credits to help people pay for coverage.
Oil prices hit new 2017 low as U.S. supply increases
Oil prices dropped below $49 a barrel for the first time in 2017 early Thursday, with the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude falling by 2.8 percent to $48.88 a barrel. Oil traders said there was not a clear reason for the decline, other than that the "market psychology" had changed as buyers stopped betting that oil prices would push higher. The fall came after supply data in the U.S., the world's biggest oil consumer, showed inventories rose sharply to a fresh record as domestic crude supplies climbed for the ninth straight week. "U.S. oil stockpiles have gained around 50 million barrels since the start of the year, raising some doubts over the effectiveness of OPEC cuts," said Hamza Khan, head of commodities strategy at ING Bank in Amsterdam.
Activists mark International Women's Day with strike
Many women skipped school or work on Wednesday in a strike marking International Women's Day. The "Day Without Women" event was organized by leaders of the women's marches that drew more than a million participants in Washington, D.C., and other cities on the day after President Trump's inauguration, although the crowds were far smaller on Wednesday, numbering in the hundreds in some places. The aim was to show the economic power of women in the U.S. A crowd of about 1,000 people, mostly women, gathered near Trump Tower in New York City, waving signs with slogans such as "Misogyny out of the White House now" and "Resist like a girl." First lady Melania Trump hosted a luncheon at the White House to mark the day. "As an immigrant myself, having grown up in a communist society, I know all too well the value and importance of freedom and equal opportunity," she said.