Business briefing

The daily business briefing: September 1, 2017

Texas motorists line up as gas prices rise, jobs report shows hiring slowed in August, and more

1

Fearing gasoline shortage, Texas drivers line up at pumps

Texas motorists lined up to fill up at gas stations on Thursday as prices shot higher and potentially weeks-long shortages loomed due to former Hurricane Harvey. Higher prices and scattered shortages also are hitting other regions heading into the Labor Day holiday weekend. The storm's record rains caused devastating flooding across the Gulf Coast in Texas and southwestern Louisiana, forcing the temporary closure of 30 of the nation's 114 oil refineries and a major pipeline to the East Coast. Some gas stations in north Texas ran out of gas, and those that still had it pushed prices above $3 per gallon. Gasoline futures shot up by another 10 percent on Thursday. "This is going to go on for a couple of weeks," said Allison Mac, a petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, a gas price tracking service. "Once the refineries do dry out and get back up and functioning, we do see prices going back down."

2

U.S. added 156,000 jobs in August, fewer than expected

The U.S. economy added 156,000 new jobs in August, falling short of the 170,000 or greater increase in non-farm jobs predicted by economists polled by MarketWatch and other news outlets. The unemployment rate edged up from 4.3 percent to 4.4 percent, according to the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics report. The hiring figures marked a slowdown from July, although the latest report cut the estimate of jobs created that month to 189,000 from 209,000. The June gain was reduced from 231,000 to 210,000. The August figures don't include any impact from Hurricane Harvey. Average wages increased by 3 cents to $26.39 an hour.

3

Mnuchin says tax reform package coming soon

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that the Trump administration has a very detailed tax reform package that Congress should pass this year. He also said that spending on the federal response to Hurricane Harvey could speed up the deadline for Congress to raise the debt ceiling by a few days. "We obviously have now the hurricane spending, which is an issue," Mnuchin told CNBC. "So that's going to have some impact on our September spending." Mnuchin told lawmakers in July that they had until Sept. 29 to increase the debt limit before the government would start to run short of money needed to cover its immediate obligations, potentially forcing a partial shutdown of the federal government.

4

Wells Fargo reveals 1.4 million more bogus accounts

Wells Fargo revealed Thursday that an independent review found that company employees had opened 1.4 million more potentially unauthorized accounts than previously believed. The review, ordered after the fake account scandal erupted last year, found that workers struggling to meet aggressive sales goals opened a total of nearly 3.5 million bogus accounts. The period examined — 2009 to 2016 — was longer than the one in original estimates. The outside firm also found that 190,000 of those fake accounts incurred fees and damages, and that 528,000 customers were signed up for online bill payment without their permission. The bank will refund customers in both cases.

5

Mexico and Canada will remain in NAFTA even if U.S. leaves, minister says

Mexico and Canada will stay in NAFTA even if the Trump administration leaves, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said Thursday, a day before representatives from the three nations start a second round of talks to renegotiate the trade accord. "NAFTA will continue to regulate the relationship between Mexico and Canada," Guajardo said ahead of five days of talks starting Friday in Mexico City. President Trump has said the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement has killed U.S. jobs, and threatened to abandon it if he cannot change it to his satisfaction.

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