The daily business briefing: September 26, 2023

Ford halts work at $3.5 billion electric-vehicle battery plant, Costco offers members basic health care services, and more

Ford chairman Bill Ford unveils EV battery plant
Ford chairman Bill Ford announces EV battery plant
(Image credit: Bill Pugliano / Getty Images)

1. Ford stops work at $3.5 billion EV battery plant

Ford on Monday halted work on a $3.5 billion electric vehicle battery plant that CEO Jim Farley and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced last year, saying it would create 2,500 jobs. Whitmer, state lawmakers and local officials promised $1.7 billion in public subsidies for the project, which aimed to produce low-cost batteries. Some local residents opposed the plan, however, and Republicans criticized it because Ford planned to use some Chinese technology. The automaker did not say why it was pausing the project, which comes as Ford, Stellantis and General Motors contend with a limited United Auto Workers strike. Ford spokesperson T.R. Reid told the Detroit Free Press the company remained "confident about our ability to competitively operate the plant." Detroit Free Press, Politico

2. Costco offers members online health care

Costco on Monday started offering members online health checkups and other outpatient care in partnership with health care marketplace Sesame. Members will be able to get an online primary care visit for $29, a checkup with a lab panel and provider follow-up for $72, or an online mental health visit for $79. Sesame doesn't accept health insurance. It caters to people without coverage or those with high deductibles who would rather pay cash for basic care. Costco is one of several major retailers, including Amazon, offering customers health care as a way to "tap into the $4.3 trillion U.S. health care market to broaden their revenue and deepen relationships with customers," according to Bloomberg. CNN, Bloomberg

3. Blue Origin replaces CEO

Jeff Bezos' space-flight company, Blue Origin, plans to replace CEO Bob Smith with outgoing Amazon executive Dave Limp, CNBC reported Monday. Smith will retire Dec. 4 and stick around during a monthlong transition period as Limp gets started, according to notes from Smith and Bezos to staff that CNBC obtained. Limp is stepping in as Blue Origin pushes to increase production of its BE-4 rocket engines, resume flights of its New Shepard space tourism rocket, and debut its next-generation New Glenn rocket. Blue Origin is also working on a recently won NASA contract to build a crewed lunar lander. Blue Origin said Limp is "a proven innovator" with "extensive experience" growing complex high-tech companies. CNBC

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4. Stock futures fall as Treasury yields hit 16-year high

U.S. stock futures dropped early Tuesday as Treasury yields reached their highest level since 2007, stoking fears about rising interest rates, and China's property crisis worried global investors. Futures tied to the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq were down 0.5% at 7 a.m. ET. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were down 0.4%. As investors brace for the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates higher for longer to fight inflation, yields on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note ticked up a couple of basis points to nearly 4.57%, a level not seen since the 2007-2008 global financial crisis. The Dow gained 0.1% Monday; the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq rose 0.4% and 0.5%, respectively. MarketWatch, Reuters

5. Evergrande shares fall for 2nd day after missed bond repayment

China Evergrande Group shares fell as much as 8% Tuesday in a second day of losses after the struggling property developer missed a bond payment. The company's main domestic unit, Hengda Real Estate Group, said in a Monday filing with the Shenzhen stock exchange it missed a principal and interest payment due Sept. 25 on a $547 million bond. Evergrande shares plummeted 22% Monday after it said over the weekend it hadn't been able to issue new debt because of an investigation targeting Hengda. The missing debt payment was the latest in a series of setbacks for Evergrande since its financial problems became public in 2021 and it defaulted on some of its debts later that year. Reuters

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