business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  The Associated Press reports that "the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose for the third straight week, a sign that the highly contagious Delta variant may be slowing the job market’s recovery.

"Claims rose by 11,000 last week to 362,000, the US Labor Department said Thursday. Since topping 900,000 in early January, applications had fallen fairly steadily as the economy bounced back from last year’s shutdowns. But they’ve risen along with coronavirus infections.

"The numbers, which are a proxy for layoffs, remain elevated: Before the pandemic hit the United States hard in March 2020, they were typically coming in at around 220,000 a week."

•  From the Wall Street Journal this morning:

"Consumer spending picked up in August, a sign the U.S. economic recovery is gaining steam heading into the fall.

"Personal outlays on goods and services rose 0.8% in August from the month before, after a 0.1% decrease in July, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

"Personal income increased 0.2% in August. The federal government’s distribution of enhanced tax breaks for parents had helped push up income by 1.1% in July.

"The highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus triggered a summer slowdown in spending on meals out, hotels and airline tickets. Still, consumers remain in a strong position to help power the economic recovery. They have accumulated high levels of savings and are benefiting from an abundance of job openings and rising wages."

•  CNBC reports that Target will begin its end-of-year holiday shopping season in about a week.

According to the story, "The discount retailer announced Wednesday that from Oct. 10 through Dec. 24, shoppers for the first time will be able to request a price adjustment on any item purchased at Target if the company drops the price later in the season.

"Target said it will continue to match select competitors’ pricing within 14 days of a customer’s purchase, as it has in holidays past."

•  The Seattle Times reports that Washington State's ban on single-use plastic bags goes into effect today, with the goal being to " reduce contamination in recycling and compost systems and promote the use of recycled goods.  The ban is intended to encourage customers to bring and reuse their own bags when shopping."

The story says that "certain carryout bags will be permitted, such as large paper bags and thick reusable plastic bags, but will cost customers an 8-cent fee per bag. The bags must be made with a certain amount of recycled content, and green or brown compostable bags are also allowed for use."

The Times notes that "local bans are already in place in cities in Washington, including Seattle, Olympia, Tacoma and Edmonds. The new state requirements will override local laws, to create consistent policy and fees across the state."

•  Reuters reports that a one-day auction tomorrow in the UK will determine the future ownership of supermarket chain Morrisons, the nation's fourth largest supermarket chain.

According to the story, "The shoot out will pit U.S. private equity group Clayton, Dubilier and Rice (CD&R), whose 285 pence a share bid was recommended by Morrisons' board in August, against a consortium led by the Softbank-owned Fortress Investment Group.

"CD&R is being advised by Terry Leahy, who was CEO of Tesco for 14 years to 2011."

If CD&R wins the auction, I hope Leahy doesn't recommend that Morrisons should open a US division called Easy & Fresh.