By Paul Page
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Trucking companies are braking hard on their fleet plans. Orders for heavy-duty commercial trucks in North America plummeted 46% in October from the same month last year, the WSJ's Bob Tita and Loretta Chao report, providing a grim outlook for truck manufacturers in the coming year. The latest order reports from ACT Research and FTR were largely like the weak September snapshot of the market, but the new figures carry outsize weight because they signal plans for fleet upgrades and expansion for the coming year. That suggests a tough 2017 for truck makers unless carriers see a sharp turnaround in industrial shipping demand -- an unlikely prospect for the coming winter months. Still, analysts at FTR point to recent stability in domestic freight markets and say orders may pick up once uncertainty surrounding the elections recedes.
Amazon.com Inc. doesn't want your stuffed Easter bunnies right now. In a tough holiday logistics message, the online giant is telling third-party merchants that use its warehouses to keep out-of-season goods from cluttering the racks. The WSJ's Laura Stevens reports Amazon is backing up the message by raising prices for use of its distribution centers through the end of the year. The changes are part of a broad overhaul of its logistics network the e-commerce company has undertaken amid the explosive growth in e-commerce that has strained logistics operations for many businesses. Amazon has bulked up its warehouse capacity, but it also wants to keep inventory moving rather than sitting. That means that while charging more for storage, Amazon will lower its fulfillment prices to prod customers to look harder at their own logistics strategies. Some smaller retailers say they're adjusting by shipping to Amazon's sites in smaller batches but more frequently.
The last, frustrating legacy of Hanjin Shipping Co.'s bankruptcy may soon disappear from Southern California. The Port of Long Beach and Total Terminals International LLC are together chartering a ship that will clear away thousands of empty shipping containers that have clogged logistics operations at a key gateway during the port's busiest season. WSJ Logistics Report's Erica E. Phillips writes the effort will pull some 4,300 boxesfrom freight yards, docks and even nearby empty lots and send them back to Seoul. More significant to many cargo operators in the region, the plan also will put hundreds of truck trailers known as chassis back into service. Some Hanjin containers have been spotted hundreds of miles from ports, and most of those are unlikely to catch the last ship to Seoul.
ECONOMY & TRADE
The auto parts supply chain is bringing manufacturing life backto some Rust Belt cities, but it looks different from the auto business that faded following the financial crisis. Companies like Fuyao Glass Industry Group, China's biggest auto-glass supplier, are among the new suppliers adding jobs and restoring distribution channels to car assembly plants, the WSJ's John D. Stoll reports. Some are filling holes left by auto suppliers that went out of business or were snapped up by private-equity companies during the financial crisis. Fuyao's opening in Moraine, for instance, added needed auto-glass capacity in the U.S. and joined suppliers like Tesla Motors Inc., China's Yangfeng Automotive Trim Systems Co. and Spain's Gestamp, as well as warehouse and logistics operators in restoring jobs to the region. The new jobs pay far less than the auto suppliers used to, however, leaving prosperity there lagging behind pre-crisis levels.
The White House isn't going to let the Trans-Pacific Partnership go down without a fight. On the cusp of an election marked by sharp criticism of the ambitious Pacific trade agreement, the Obama administration is making a new push by arguing that failure to approve the multi-nation pact could leave U.S. exporters losing critical business to China. The White House says in a report that the death of TPP would bolster China's big industrial and commodities businesses, the WSJ's William Mauldin reports, allowing them to muscle in on U.S. companies' exports to Japan. Export-oriented businesses from cattle ranching to medical equipment would be endangered, particularly if Beijing finishes its own competing Pacific Rim trade pact. The report argues 35 American industries that export a combined $5.3 billion to Japan would see their market positions erode as Chinese competitors move in.
IN OTHER NEWS
The South Korean court handling STX Offshore & Shipbuilding Co.'s bankruptcy has received bids from four foreign shipbuilders for the shipyard and its profitable French unit. (WSJ)
Growth in U.S. service-sector activity cooled slightly in October, but remained in expansionary territory. (WSJ)
Canada plans to raise the limitation on foreign ownership of domestic airlines from 25% to 49%. (WSJ)
Air-France-KLM SA cargo revenue fell 16.6% as Europe's largest passenger airline sharply reduced its freighter capacity from a year ago. (WSJ)
CF Industries Holdings Inc. is seeing an uptickin fertilizer demand as the agriculture field copes with a global glut. (WSJ)
Detroit-based auto parts maker American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. will buy engine and transmission components company Metaldyne Performance Group Inc. (WSJ)
TreeHouse Foods Inc. will shut a plant in Canada and trim manufacturing capacity in Michigan as it manages its acquisition of ConAgra Foods Inc.'s private-label business. (WSJ)
Members of container shipping's Ocean Alliance plan to deploy 350 vessels when they begin operations that will include 20 trans-Pacific services. (Seatrade Maritime)
The U.K Road Haulers Association plans to sue truck makers now that the European Union has fined the manufacturers for price fixing. (Logistics Manager)
Amazon will build a 540,000-square-foot distribution center in Germany's Rhineland region. (Europe Business Review)
Canada's government will propose reciprocal penalties for shippersand railroads under new terms for grain transport. (Western Producer)
Teekay Tankers Ltd. swung to a $5.5 million loss in the third quarter. (Associated Press)
Roadrunner Transportation Services Inc. withdrew its guidance for the year as the trucker reported poor results in key segments. (BizTimes)
A developer wants to convert a former Bethlehem Steel site in Pennsylvania into a 1.2 million-square-foot distribution center. (Allentown Morning Call)
Online pet-goods retailer Chewey Inc. is adding a 663,000-square-foot distribution center in Dallas. (Dallas Morning News)
Dubai-based online retailer Souq.com is seeking to sell a 30% stake and Amazon may be an investor. (Internet Retailer)
Icelandic shipping firm Eimskip will acquire Norwegian shipping and logistics company Nor Lines. (Splash 24/7)
Orders for industrial robots increased 7% in the first nine months of the year, including a 40% increase in thefood and consumer goods industry. (Supply Chain 247)
Baseball-cap maker New Era began a frantic but highly coordinated logistics effort to make and ship Chicago Cubs championship hats as the team won the World Series. (Bloomberg)
Paul Page is deputy editor of WSJ Logistics Report. Follow him at @PaulPage, and follow the entire WSJ Logistics Report team: @brianjbaskin, @lorettachao and @EEPhillips_WSJ, and follow the WSJ Logistics Report on Twitter at @WSJLogistics.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 04, 2016 06:47 ET (10:47 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2016 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.