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The daily business briefing: June 14, 2019

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Harold Maass
The Target sign
Alex Wong/Getty Images
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1.

Stocks fall, oil rises as U.S. blames Iran for tanker attacks

U.S. stock index futures retreated early Friday as attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman increased concerns over tensions in the Middle East. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down by 0.2 percent, while those of the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq fell by 0.3 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively. The U.S. has blamed Iran for the explosions that disabled the tankers, which were carrying petrochemicals through waters critical to oil exports from the region. Iran denies responsibility. The incident has sent oil prices climbing. Brent crude rose by 0.4 percent while the U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, rose by 0.1 percent.

2.

Target to expand same-day deliveries as shipping wars escalate

Target on Thursday expanded its same-day delivery options for online shoppers, the latest move in a battle by retail giants to get goods to customers faster. Target said shoppers in 47 states will be able to order about 65,000 items for delivery the same day for a $9.99 fee per order. Target is sending the goods using Shipt, the membership-based grocery delivery platform it bought in 2017 for $550 million. Before, Target only offered same-day delivery for Shipt subscribers, who pay $99 per year. Target's push came after Amazon in April said it would offer members of its $119-per-year Prime service free same-day delivery of 3 million-plus products. Walmart later said it would offer free same-day grocery deliveries on orders over $35 from some of its markets. [USA Today, Reuters]

3.

Trump administration to expand employer health-care options

Trump administration officials said Thursday that they would expand employers' options for using special accounts to help workers buy their own health insurance, or choose better or cheaper job-based coverage. Starting next year, employees will be able to use tax-free individual accounts called "health reimbursement arrangements" — or HRAs — to buy individual health insurance plans. Employers offering regular workplace coverage also will be able to set up another type of HRA account letting workers access additional benefits, including dental and vision care. This second type of HRA, limited to $1,800 per year, also could be used to buy lower-cost insurance with limited benefits and no coverage for pre-existing conditions. [The Associated Press]

4.

Companies urge Trump to settle trade fight with China

More than 600 companies, including Walmart and Target, on Thursday urged President Trump in a letter to end his trade war with China. "We remain concerned about the escalation of tit-for-tat tariffs," the letter said. "Broadly applied tariffs are not an effective tool to change China's unfair trade practices. Tariffs are taxes paid directly by U.S. companies ... not China." The letter was the latest in a series of communications from Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, an anti-tariff campaign backed by agriculture, manufacturing, retail, and tech trade groups. The latest message came as U.S.-China trade tensions escalate. Trump has threatened to raise tariffs on another $300 billion in imports from China unless Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with him at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, in late June.

5.

Broadcom report triggers selloff of chip makers

Broadcom shares plunged by 10.2 percent in pre-market trading on Friday after the chip maker reported mixed quarterly results late Thursday, and lowered its full-year outlook. Broadcom said its sales would take a $2 billion hit due to the U.S. ban on exports to Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies. The Broadcom report triggered a broad selloff that affected all 22 PHLX Semiconductor Index components trading ahead of the open. Eighteen of them fell by more than 2 percent, including Advanced Micro Devices, down 3.3 percent, and Intel, which fell by 2.5 percent. [MarketWatch, The Wall Street Journal]