The daily business briefing: August 29, 2017
Stocks poised to plunge after North Korea fires missile over Japan, Amazon slashes some prices at Whole Foods, and more
Stocks headed for opening losses after North Korea missile launch
U.S. stock futures fell early Tuesday after North Korea launched a missile that flew over Japan, sending investors seeking safe assets. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures dropped by 0.6 percent, while S&P 500 futures lost 0.8 percent and Nasdaq-100 futures fell by 1 percent. Wall Street held steady on Monday despite concerns over possible effects on the economy from Tropical Storm Harvey. The storm has disrupted oil and gas industry operations along the Gulf Coast in Texas and flooding has ravaged Houston, the nation's fourth largest city, but market analysts say spending on rebuilding should offset the immediate financial harm. Gasoline prices rose but U.S. crude futures fell by 2.5 percent due to fears that refinery shutdowns could cause crude inventories to rise.
Amazon slashes some prices as it takes over Whole Foods
Amazon.com cut prices on a selection of items at Whole Foods on Monday, the online retail giant's first day as owner of the specialty and organic grocery chain. The discounts included a 43 percent price cut on Fuji apples, 30 percent to 38 percent on bananas, and 33 percent reductions on "responsibly-farmed" Atlantic salmon and tilapia. Many Whole Foods stores also started selling Amazon Echo and Echo Dot voice-activated home assistants at a reduced price. Amazon's purchase and integration of Whole Foods — once mocked for high prices with the nickname "Whole Paycheck" — could upend grocery shopping. Amazon also plans to offer special deals for subscribers to its Prime service.
Homeowners could see $30 billion in damages from Harvey
Damages for homeowners from Tropical Storm Harvey could reach $30 billion to $35 billion, according to preliminary estimates. Only 40 percent of the final tally is expected to be covered by insurance, however, and most of that will be picked up by the federal government through the National Flood Insurance Program. Many people in flood-prone areas don't keep their coverage current, even in areas where it is mandatory. In Harris County, where Houston is, only 15 percent of homes are covered by flood insurance. "All these people taken out in boats, they have a second problem: They have no insurance," said Robert Hunter, director of insurance at the Consumer Federation of America.
Ford and Domino's team up to test driverless pizza deliveries
Ford and Domino's are partnering on a trial project using self-driving Ford cars to deliver pizzas. In the test, the companies will send autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrids equipped with self-driving tech delivering pizzas to Domino's regular customers in Ann Arbor, Michigan. "We're interested to learn what people think about this type of delivery," Russell Weiner, president of Domino's USA, said in a statement. "The majority of our questions are about the last 50 feet of the delivery experience. For instance, how will customers react to coming outside to get their food?"
HBO: Game of Thrones Season 7 finale set ratings record
The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale set an HBO ratings record with 16.5 million viewers, including those who watched on cable as well as HBO Go and the stand-alone HBO Now app. The show has been HBO's most popular show for years, but its audience is still growing as it heads toward its final season. Last year's finale had 8.9 million viewers, and this season's premiere in July had 10.1 million. With delayed viewing, the numbers are far higher. HBO said each episode this season had more than 30 million viewers across platforms. There is plenty of time for anticipation to build for the six-episode final season, which might not premiere until 2019.