Business briefing

The daily business briefing: October 26, 2017

Amazon unveils a service letting couriers leave packages inside homes, a study says ObamaCare premiums will rise 34 percent, and more

1

Amazon Key to let couriers drop Prime customers' packages inside the house

Amazon on Wednesday announced that it would launch a new program called Amazon Key to leave packages for Prime members inside their homes. Amazon Key works with the online retail giant's new internet-connected security camera, Amazon Cloud Cam, paired with a "smart" lock customers can use to let delivery people enter their home. A courier will scan the barcode on a package. If the package is at the correct home, the door will unlock and the Cloud Cam will start recording. The Prime customer will then receive a message confirming that the package was delivered, plus a video of the delivery taking place. With a launch date of Nov. 8, a Cloud Cam, smart lock, and free installation bundle will cost $249.99, with individual cameras running $120.

2

Study estimates most popular ObamaCare plan premiums will rise by 34 percent

Most ObamaCare silver-plan premiums will rise by 34 percent, on average, next year as uncertainty over health policy compounds underlying problems with the health law's marketplaces, the consulting firm Avalere Health reported Wednesday. Open enrollment for 2018 coverage starts Nov. 1. President Trump has blamed all of the program's problems on a flawed design. Experts say Trump's decision to end cost-sharing payments to insurers to help lower out-of-pocket costs for low-income Americans is causing health plans to stop selling coverage or hike rates by an estimated 20 percent to cover the lost payments. A federal judge on Wednesday ruled against 18 states trying to force the Trump administration to restore the payments while their challenge to Trump's decision works its way through court.

3

Trump and leading House Republican reopen talks on 401(k) change

President Trump and the top House Republican tax-law writer on Wednesday renewed consideration of changes to the 401(k) retirement program rules to help pay for $1.5 trillion in proposed tax cuts over a decade. Just days after Trump ruled out reducing the amount of pre-tax earnings Americans can contribute to 401(k)s, Rep. Kevin Brady, the Republican chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means committee, said lawmakers still were negotiating with Trump on how to handle the issue. "No decision's yet been made on if there will be any changes," Brady said. Trump reaffirmed his desire to protect the popular tax-deferred savings program, but said it might be part of the negotiations over tax cuts and how to pay for them, after all.

4

Stocks hold steady after Wednesday plunge as tech earnings roll in

U.S. stock futures held steady, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ticking up, early Thursday after the Dow and the S&P 500 posted their biggest one-day declines in more than seven weeks on Wednesday. Investors are awaiting a flurry of quarterly earnings reports from major tech companies — Alphabet, Amazon, and Microsoft report third quarter results after the market closes. A number of big companies report earnings before trading starts, including Ford, which blasted past Wall Street's expectations. The European Central Bank on Thursday announced it would slow the pace of its economy-boosting bond purchases to 30 billion euros a month in January, down from the current pace of 60 billion euros.

5

Saudi crown prince backs extension of oil production cuts

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is publicly backing extending OPEC production cuts past March 2018, bolstering expectations that the oil producing cartel and allied producers, including Russia, will continue the deal at a November meeting. "We need to continue stabilizing the market," the prince told Bloomberg News in an interview. Saudi officials previously expressed support for prolonging the cuts to ease global oversupply, but stopped short of formally committing. Russian President Vladimir Putin also has said he thought the cuts should continue as oil producers try to boost oil prices.

Recommended

Internal report blames Johnson, senior leadership for lockdown parties
Boris Johnson
partygate

Internal report blames Johnson, senior leadership for lockdown parties

Biden's promise to defend Taiwan
President Biden.
Picture of Harold MaassHarold Maass

Biden's promise to defend Taiwan

No time to evacuate as Russian forces close in on a pair of Ukrainian cities
Ukrainian tank in Sievierodonetsk
encirclement in luhansk

No time to evacuate as Russian forces close in on a pair of Ukrainian cities

Would the U.S. really defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion?
President Biden and Xi Jinping.
Briefing

Would the U.S. really defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion?

Most Popular

Trump loses his grip on a Trumpified GOP
Donald Trump.
Opinion

Trump loses his grip on a Trumpified GOP

21 dead in shooting at Texas elementary school
A Texas State Police officer at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
tragedy strikes

21 dead in shooting at Texas elementary school

'Why are we willing to live with this carnage?'
Uvalde, Texas.
Briefing

'Why are we willing to live with this carnage?'