“Irma Has Florida Bracing for Atlantic’s Strongest Storm Yet.”
Hurricane Irma, the most powerful storm to form in the open Atlantic Ocean, made landfall in the Caribbean early Wednesday and barreled toward Puerto Rico on a path that may bring it ashore in Florida and destroy so much property that damages surpass Hurricane Katrina.
Irma sent cruise lines and insurance stocks plunging, with Barclays Plc estimating insured losses in a worst-case scenario at $130 billion. Natural gas slid on speculation that the storm could wipe out demand for the power-plant fuel, orange and cotton futures surged on potential crop damage, while lumber prices jumped on expected demand for reconstruction.
Irma comes less than two weeks after Hurricane Harvey smashed ashore in Texas, knocking offline almost a quarter of U.S. oil refining capacity and causing widespread damage, power outages and flooding. While models show Irma veering away from gas and oil platforms off the coast of Texas and Louisiana, sparing Houston more devastation, it threatens to wreak havoc upon the Caribbean islands and Florida.
Were Irma to hit Miami with the same force as a Category 4 storm that struck in 1926, insured losses would reach $125 billion to $130 billion, Jay Gelb, an analyst at Barclays. Uninsured losses would be on top of that. Across the Caribbean the cost of damage could easily reach $8 billion to $10 billion, Watson said.
“U.S. trade gap edges up; deficit with China at 11-month high.”
The U.S. trade deficit increased less than expected in July as both exports and imports fell, suggesting that trade could contribute to economic growth in the third quarter. The Commerce Department said on Wednesday the trade gap rose 0.3 percent to $43.7 billion. June’s trade deficit was revised down slightly to $43.5 billion from the previously reported $43.6 billion.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade shortfall widening to $44.6 billion in July. When adjusted for inflation, the trade deficit increased to $61.6 billion from $60.8 billion in June. The so-called real goods deficit in July was below the second-quarter average of $62.4 billion.
Exports of goods and services fell 0.3 percent to $194.4 billion in July. Exports of motor vehicles and parts fell by $0.6 billion, but exports of capital goods rose by $0.9 billion. Exports to China increased 3.5 percent, while those to the European Union tumbled 9.8 percent.
Imports of goods and services slipped 0.2 percent to $238.1 billion in July. Imports of motor vehicles and parts fell by $0.8 billion and crude oil shipments declined by $1.0 billion. Imports of goods from China increased 3.1 percent. The U.S.-China trade deficit increased 3.0 percent to $33.6 billion in July, the highest level since August 2016.
“U.S. Service-Industries Rebound Underpins Third-Quarter Growth.”
The expansion in service industries in August indicates the biggest part of the U.S. economy regained its footing after a soft month, a survey from the Institute for Supply Management showed Wednesday.
During August, the ISM Non-Manufacturing Index rose to 55.3 (est. 55.6) from 11-month low of 53.9 in July; readings above 50 indicate growth. Measure of new orders advanced to 57.1 from 55.1 and employment gauge climbed to 56.2 from 53.6
While the main gauge was slightly below its average for this year, the results show the abrupt slowdown in July was temporary, and underscore sustained demand for services that account for about 90 percent of the economy and span industries such as utilities, retailing, health care, and construction.
The outlook remains one of modest but steady economic growth backed by a resilient job market, healthier household finances and low borrowing costs.
The services data from Tempe, Arizona-based ISM also are consistent with a pickup at factories. The group’s manufacturing index, released last week, surged to the highest level since 2011.
“New York to file lawsuit protecting DACA beneficiaries.”
U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to end protections and benefits for children brought into the United States illegally faces a legal challenge from New York and other states.
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman will announce a multistate lawsuit to protect beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at a news conference on Wednesday, his office said in a statement.
Trump’s decision on Tuesday to end the five-year-old program instituted by former President Barack Obama plunged the “Dreamers” into uncertainty and drew criticism from business and religious leaders, mayors, governors, Democratic lawmakers, unions and civil liberties advocates.
The Republican president delayed the end of the program until March 5 and gave a gridlocked Congress six months to decide the fate of almost 800,000 young people.
Schneiderman and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday promised to challenge any decision by Trump to end DACA. Cuomo said the move would affect roughly 42,000 New Yorkers, upending their lives and ripping families apart.