Business Briefs – October 31, 2019

Fiat Chrysler, Peugeot to Create Fourth-Biggest Automaker

MILAN (AP) – Fiat Chrysler and France’s PSA Peugeot will merge forces to create the world’s fourth-largest automaker. Under the agreement announced Thursday, the new company would have enough scale to confront big shifts in the industry, including a race to develop electric cars and driverless technologies. Fiat Chrysler brings with it a strong footprint in North America while Peugeot is the No. 2 automaker in Europe.

Altria Writes Down Juul Investment Amid Vaping Backlash

WASHINGTON (AP) – Altria swings to a loss in the third quarter as it writes down the value of its investment in e-cigarette maker Juul. Altria had bought a stake in Juul less than a year ago, but since then Juul has been hit by new federal and state investigations into its marketing amid an explosion of underage vaping.

CEO Hints FCA May Not Want Same Contract as GM

MILAN (AP) – Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley says the three Detroit automakers are in “different conditions” in terms of labor forces, hinting that the company may seek changes to union contract deals reached with his competitors. The United Auto Workers reached a tentative contract agreement covering Ford’s 55,000 factory workers on Wednesday night, and General Motors’ 49,000 workers ratified their deal last week.

Stable Costs but More Uninsured As Obamacare Signups Open

WASHINGTON (AP) – “Obamacare’s” 2020 sign-up season is getting underway. Premiums are down slightly in many states and consumers have more health plans to pick from. Low-income people in most counties can even find a basic plan for zero premium, says a new study. But the number of uninsured Americans has been rising again and it doesn’t look like the favorable outlook for can reverse that. Open enrollment for subsidized coverage under the Affordable Care Act starts Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15.

Border Wall, Impeachment Battle Imperil Budget Progress

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate passed a long-overdue, $209 billion bundle of spending bills Thursday. But a bitter fight over funding demanded by President Trump for border fencing is imperiling broader hopes of advancing $1.4 trillion worth of annual Cabinet agency budgets. There has been little progress, if any, on the tricky trade-offs needed to balance Democratic demands for social programs with President Donald Trump’s ballooning border wall demands.

Kraft Heinz 3Q Results Mixed as Company Scrambles for Fixes

(AP) – Kraft Heinz Co. said its third-quarter net income jumped 45% to $899 million as it completed the sale of its Canadian natural cheese business. But the maker of many iconic food brands is still struggling to find its place in a rapidly changing market. Sales are faltering as consumers increasingly seeking fresh, minimally processed foods.

U.S. Long-Term Mortgage Rates Rise; 30-Year at 3.78%

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. long-term mortgage rates rose this week for the third straight week, while remaining historically low and far below their levels of a year ago. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac says the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 3.78% from 3.75% last week.

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