Business briefing

The daily business briefing: October 6, 2017

Hurricanes caused economy to shed jobs last month, Netflix shares surge as it raises subscription rates, and more

1

The economy lost 33,000 jobs last month

The U.S. economy lost 33,000 jobs in September due to the impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the Labor Department reported Friday. It was the first monthly employment decline in seven years. Economists had expected employment to take a temporary hit from the storms, but they still expected a gain of about 75,000 non-farm jobs, down from 169,000 in August. The unemployment rate was not affected by the hurricanes, and dropped from 4.4 percent to 4.2 percent, the lowest level since December 2000. Average wages edged up by 12 cents to $26.55 an hour, while the average work week remained unchanged at 34.4 hours.

2

Netflix raises subscription rates ahead of new season of Stranger Things

Netflix shares jumped by 4 percent to an all-time high on Thursday after the video-streaming company announced that it was hiking its monthly subscription fee by $1 to $10.99. New customers will take the hit right away, and existing customers will see their fee rise over the next few months. Netflix's premium, four-stream "family plan," which also offers some content in Ultra HD 4K format, also will go up, from $11.99 to $13.99 per month. Hikes have been expected as Netflix increases its spending on programming, which will rise by $1 billion to $7 billion in the coming year. The second season of Netflix hit Stranger Things debuts later this month.

3

Amazon steps up testing of its own delivery service

UPS and FedEx stocks fell on Thursday after Bloomberg reported that Amazon.com was testing its own new rival delivery service. Both stocks pared early losses of about 2 percent but still closed down by less than 1 percent. Amazon is aiming to use its new service, Seller Flex, to make more products available for free two-day delivery and to ease crowding at its warehouses. The service started two years ago in India but Amazon is now testing it on the West Coast of the U.S. with plans for a wider rollout next year, Bloomberg reported.

4

Stocks hover near record levels

U.S. stock futures edged down but held close to record highs early Friday immediately after the September jobs report showed that the U.S. lost 33,000 jobs last month due to the impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 futures edged down, while Nasdaq-100 futures rose slightly. The Dow rose by 0.5 percent on Thursday and the S&P 500 gained 0.6 percent, lifted by news of a budget resolution passing Congress. It was the 46th record close of the year for the Dow, and the 43rd for the S&P 500. The Nasdaq Composite rose by 0.8 percent on Thursday.

5

Harvey Weinstein takes leave of absence after harassment reports

Film studio executive Harvey Weinstein has paid at least eight settlements to women who accused him of sexual harassment, The New York Times reported Thursday. The allegations against him span nearly three decades. Women, including actress Ashley Judd and former Weinstein employees, say he invited them to hotel rooms and made unwanted advances, sometimes appearing naked in front of them. One former employee said he promised to advance her career if she had sex with him. Judd said he asked her to watch him shower or let him massage her, which Weinstein denied. In a statement, Weinstein said he "came of age … when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different" and that he is "trying to do better." He will take a leave of absence from his company.

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