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The daily business briefing: July 12, 2019

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Harold Maass
An Amazon fulfilment center
ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images
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1.

Amazon to spend $700 million to retrain workers

Amazon said Thursday that it would spend $700 million to retrain a third of its U.S. workers and help them learn more high-tech tasks as automation technology changes their workplace. Amazon called the program one of the world's biggest efforts to retrain employees. Amazon will retrain all kinds of workers, from corporate employees to warehouse staff. About 100,000 people will be retrained by 2025, out of Amazon's 300,000 U.S. employees. The effort reflects the need for tech companies to adapt to fast-developing technology and keep scarce workers in a time of low unemployment. [The New York Times]

2.

Dow closes above 27,000 for 1st time, futures rise further

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 27,000 Thursday for the first time ever, rising by 0.9 percent led by health-care shares after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell signaled that the central bank was likely to cut interest rates soon to boost the economy. "This week solidified the fact that the market doesn't need, it doesn't want, it's demanding a rate cut from Powell," said Jeff Kilburg, CEO of KKM Financial. UnitedHealth shares jumped by more than 5 percent after the White House scrapped a proposal to end drug rebates. CVS Health and Cigna rose by 4.7 percent and 9.2 percent, respectively. Delta Airlines gained 1.1 percent after reporting earnings that beat expectations. Futures for the Dow, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq rose by roughly 0.3 percent early Friday. [CNBC]

3.

Gulf oil production cut by half due to threat of Tropical Storm Barry

Oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was cut by more than half as of late Thursday as energy companies evacuated drilling platforms ahead of Tropical Storm Barry's looming landfall on the Louisiana coast. Authorities issued a hurricane warning Thursday for parts of the Louisiana coast as the strengthening storm approached. It is expected to hit Friday night. Forecasters say the storm could drench some areas with 20 inches of rain and potentially life-threatening storm surge. The storm is moving slowly, which increases the threat of flooding from rain. "There are three ways Louisiana floods — storm surge, high rivers, and rain," Gov. John Bel Edwards said. "We're going to have all three." [NBC News, MarketWatch]

4.

Trump holds social media summit excluding Facebook and Twitter

President Trump on Thursday held what he called a "very important" social media summit at the White House, praising controversial right-wing personalities while acknowledging some go too far. "Some of you guys are out there," Trump said. "I mean it's genius, but it's bad." Representatives for Facebook and Twitter were not invited. Trump, who has repeatedly accused social media companies like Twitter of alleged suppression of conservative speech, claimed users were blocked from following him on Twitter, complained that media outlets decline to report on so-called "shadow-banning" of conservative thought leaders, and promised to direct his administration to enact some sort of regulation to end alleged bias against conservatives on major platforms. [The Associated Press, Politico]

5.

Report: Ford kept selling Focus, Fiesta despite flaws

Ford Motors reportedly continued to sell Focus and Fiesta models even after knowing of safety issues with the transmissions. The Detroit Free Press reports that thousands of consumers complained about the models suddenly losing power while driving on freeways and unexpectedly accelerating into intersections. Ford reportedly ignored early questions about safety issues, opting not to make an expensive change to the transmission's technology despite concerns from engineers. The company reportedly told customers to try and fix the transmission despite internal knowledge of faulty technology. At least 1.5 million of the cars remain on the road. Ford said the internal concerns were "challenges common to innovative new technology" and said the company "acted quickly and determinedly to investigate the problems." [Detroit Free Press]