Business Briefs – December 3, 2018

Where Are the Drones? Amazon’s Customers Are Still Waiting

WASHINGTON (AP) – Jeff Bezos boldly predicted five years ago that drones would be carrying Amazon packages to people’s doorsteps by now.

Amazon customers are still waiting. And it’s unclear when, if ever, this particular order by the company’s founder and CEO will arrive.

Bezos made billions of dollars by transforming the retail sector. But overcoming the regulatory hurdles and safety issues posed by drones appears to be a challenge even for the world’s wealthiest man. The result is a blown deadline on his claim to CBS’ “60 Minutes” in December 2013 that drones would be making deliveries within five years.

The day may not be far off when drones will carry medicine to people in rural or remote areas, but the marketing hype around instant delivery of consumer goods looks more and more like just that — hype. Drones have a short battery life, and privacy concerns can be a hindrance, too.

Survey: US Manufacturing Grew in November

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturers expanded at a faster pace in November as new orders surged, a positive sign for domestic economic growth heading into 2019.

The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, said Monday its manufacturing index rose to 59.3 last month from 57.7 in October. Readings above 50 point to growth and manufacturers have expanded for the past 27 months.

New orders jumped in November, while production and employment also saw gains.

Out of 18 industries, 13 reported growth last month, including computer and electronic products, textiles, food and beverages and transportation equipment.

The gains suggest solid growth for factories during the first quarter of 2019.

China Gets U.S. Tariff Delay But Movement on Tech Unclear

BEIJING (AP) — Buy more U.S. exports? Done. Tinker with technology tactics that irk Washington and other trading partners? Maybe. But scrap those plans, seen by Beijing as a path to prosperity and influence? Probably never.

The agreement by President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on a cease fire on tariffs postpones the threat of more disruption for China’s exporters and their Asian suppliers. Some economists said Xi might be ready to negotiate in earnest.

Still, Beijing gave no sign of a changed stance on technology ambitions that Washington says violate Chinese market-opening obligations and might threaten U.S. industrial leadership.

“It’s impossible for China to cancel its industry policies or major industry and technology development plans,” said economist Cui Fan of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

U.S. Construction Spending Down 0.1% in October

WASHINGTON (AP) — Spending on U.S. construction projects fell 0.1% in October, the third consecutive monthly decline, as weakness in home building and non-residential construction offset a rebound in government projects.

The October decline matched a similar 0.1% drop in September and followed a 0.4% fall in August, the Commerce Department reported Monday. Construction has been weak since peaking in May with declines in four of the five months since that time, reflecting in large part the challenging facing home builders.

Home builders have struggled all year with rising costs for lumber, land and workers. Mortgage rates are also rising, reflecting in part rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, which has boosted its benchmark rate three times this year and is expected to hike rates for a fourth time later this month.

U.K.’s May Says She’ll Still Have Her Job After Brexit Vote

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May brushed aside questions Monday about whether she will resign if her Brexit deal is rejected by Parliament next week, saying she’s confident she’ll still have a job after the crucial vote.

May is battling to persuade lawmakers to support the divorce agreement between Britain and the European Union when the House of Commons votes on Dec. 11. Opposition parties say their representatives will vote against the deal, and so have dozens of lawmakers from May’s Conservative Party.

Defeat would leave the U.K. facing a messy, economically damaging “no-deal” Brexit on March 29 and could topple the prime minister, her government, or both.