Oil: OPEC scrambles to push up prices
Saudi Arabia announced plans to cut its oil production in December, after oil prices fell more than 20 percent, said Zahraa Alkhalisi in CNNBusiness.com. The Saudi energy minister said this week that the cut would amount to 500,000 barrels a day; OPEC members could slash production by a total of 1.2 million barrels. Oil prices spiked earlier this year, but “fear of a global economic slowdown and a decision by the United States to allow some countries to keep buying Iranian crude oil” have turned the market around and worried oil producers.
E-cigarettes: Flavored vaping goes up in smoke
Juul, the country’s most popular e-cigarette maker, will stop selling most of its flavored pods in retail stores, said Sheila Kaplan and Jan Hoffman in The New York Times. The move this week comes ahead of an expected crackdown by the FDA on e-cigarette sales. The company, which holds a whopping 70 percent of the market, will also halt its social media advertising. Juul stopped filling retail orders for its mango, fruit, crème, and cucumber pods, but will restart sales if stores show they are taking steps to verify the buyer is 21. Some say it may be “too little, too late.” The product has already become “all but irresistible to teenagers.”
Energy: The spark that lit California’s fire?
Shares of the Northern California utility PG&E plummeted this week, after the utility company revealed an equipment malfunction might be responsible for California’s Camp Fire—and its insurance wouldn’t cover the damage, said Thomas Franck in CNBC.com. The massive fire—which has left least 48 dead—started just 15 minutes after PG&E had a power failure on a transmission line. The fire’s cause is still under investigation, but the damage is estimated at $15 billion. If PG&E were found responsible, “the cost of the damage would exceed its insurance coverage and harm its financial health.”
Retail: Walmart tries to fix employee hours
Walmart is rolling out a new system that will schedule employee shifts for 13 weeks in advance, said Sarah Nassauer in The Wall Street Journal. The giant chain and other retailers have for years “faced criticism that irregular and last-minute scheduling wreaks havoc on workers’ lives.” Walmart had experimented earlier with six-month schedules, but executives wanted more data. More recently, however, Walmart has instituted improvements in working conditions, including an increase in its starting wage to $11 an hour.