INFLATION KICKS CAMPBELL’S IN THE CAN

by The Chicago Times Staff

June 10, 2021

CAMDEN, NJ — Campbell’s, which is known for soups, pasta sauces, and snacks from brands like Pepperidge Farms and Prego, saw increased demand during the early days of the pandemic, but sales of snacks fell 8% in the third quarter, while sales of soups and jarred pasta sauces fell 14%, according to the company’s third-quarter earnings report.

As more Americans are vaccinated against COVID-19 and spend more meals outside the home, it is a hint that fewer individuals are continuing to stock up on shelf-stable foods and packaged products with eateries reopening.  Campbell’s net sales fell 11% in the third quarter compared to the same period last year, when the pandemic was at its peak and stay-at-home orders were plentiful.

Mark Clouse, CEO of Campbell Soup, said the company’s prices for suppliers such as raw materials, as well as freight and labor, have risen.  The corporation is “putting pricing in place” for the upcoming fiscal year due to inflation.

Following its earnings release on Wednesday afternoon, Campbell’s Soup’s stock dropped 6%.

GENERAL MOTORS BREAKS GROUND ON CHARLOTTE TECHNICAL CENTER

General Motors

June 3, 2021

CONCORD, N.C. – General Motors broke ground today on the new Charlotte Technical Center, a 130,000-square-foot facility that will expand GM’s performance and racing capabilities. Additionally, the center will accelerate strategic knowledge transfer between motorsports and production vehicle development.

Representatives of Chip Ganassi Racing, Richard Childress Racing and Hendrick Motorsports joined GM for the groundbreaking at the complex in Concord. The site was selected for its proximity to partner racing teams and major technical suppliers. The new technical center will support racing efforts across all series in which GM competes.

The facility is a $45 million investment for GM and is scheduled to open in early 2022.

“After more than a year of unprecedented challenges for everyone, we reevaluated our plans and found we could expand the footprint and scope for the Charlotte Technical Center to make it an even greater resource,” said Jim Campbell, GM U.S. vice president of Performance and Motorsports. “This new location and larger facility is a clean-sheet design, tailored for technology development and collaboration with our racing teams and technical partners.”

Construction has begun on the new facility. A previously announced site was repurposed by GM Defense for production of the new Infantry Squad Vehicle, a light and agile troop carrier developed for the U.S. Army.

The center’s location, in the heart of one of the nation’s racing hubs and near colleges and universities, will provide more opportunities for GM to recruit top talent in the fields of software engineering, computational science, electrical engineering and other technical skill sets.

“The new Charlotte Technical Center will expand GM’s engineering footprint in the epicenter of racing in the United States, and will improve our engineering speed and capability in both the racing and production environments,” said Jim Danahy, GM vice president of Global Safety, Systems and Integration. “It will be a strong hub for the racing and production engineering teams to collaborate, share resources and learn together, delivering better results more quickly both on the racetrack and in our production vehicles.”

Development technologies often make their way from the racing world to production vehicles. A combination of virtual simulation and physical testing is used to meet the quick development time frames for motorsports teams. The testing methods used in racing, along with frequent competition, provide valuable training experiences for GM production vehicle engineers.

The new technical center will feature advanced virtual tools, including three state-of-the-art Driver-in-the-Loop simulators, aero development and other software-enabled vehicle modeling technology that will enable faster analysis and iteration. The facility will expand GM’s capacity to process, analyze and leverage vast amounts of data, allowing its racing and engineering teams to optimize designs earlier in the development process while simultaneously delivering greater first-time quality.

General Motors (NYSE:GM) is a global company focused on advancing an all-electric future that is inclusive and accessible to all. At the heart of this strategy is the Ultium battery platform, which powers everything from mass-market to high-performance vehicles. General Motors, its subsidiaries and its joint venture entities sell vehicles under  Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, CadillacBaojun and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety and security services, can be found at https://www.gm.com.

General Motors

AMAZON LOOKING TO DUMP JP MORGAN CHASE & CO AS CREDIT CARD PARTNER

by The Chicago Times Staff

June 9, 2021

NEW YORK – Amazon.com Inc is seeking bids to replace JP Morgan Chase & Co as the issuer on its co-branded credit card portfolio.  The portfolio has received a ‘request for proposal,’ according to an unnamed source.

American Express Co and Synchrony Financial are among those bidding on the portfolio.  Requests for response from the financial firms were not immediately returned.  Amazon and JP Morgan launched their first joint card in 2002, and their services have long been available through the Visa Inc network.

JP Morgan declined to comment.

BIDEN JOBS REPORT MISSES ESTIMATES

by The Chicago Times Staff

June 4, 2021

WASHINGTON — Last month, employers added fewer jobs than predicted, as extended unemployment benefits encouraged workers to stay at home.  Employers added 559,000 jobs in May, according to the Labor Department, falling short of the 650,000 expected by analysts.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell 0.3 percentage point to 5.8 percent, the lowest since the epidemic forced firms to close in March 2020.

Despite the increase in employment, the US economy has 7.6 million, or 5%, fewer jobs than it did in February 2020 before the epidemic.

Meanwhile, the resumption of in-person learning in more sections of the country has increased employment in both public and private education, with 144,000 job gains in the education sector.

Employers in the United States have had difficulty recruiting workers because supplemental unemployment payments of $300 a week has encouraged many to stay at home.  At least 25 states have declared plans to terminate the benefits before their September expiration date.

The labor force participation rate remained stable at 61.6 percent, having hovered between 61.4 percent and 61.7 percent since last June.  The reading was 1.7 percentage points lower than it had been in February of 2020.  The average hourly wage increased by 15 cents to $30.33, while the average workweek remained unchanged at 34.9 hours for the third month in a row.

According to economists, the labor market recovery may continue to fall short of its potential until the benefits are phased off in September.

STELLANTIS “FIAT CHRYSLER” TO LAYOFF 1,600 ILLINOIS WORKERS AT BELVIDERE PLANT

Consolidated Press News File

May 15, 2021

BELVIDERE, IL — As automakers continue to be troubled by a global shortage of semiconductors, 1,600 jobs are being cut at a Jeep Cherokee factory in Belvidere Illinois.

Stellantis, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler, announced on Friday that one of the two work shifts at its Belvidere Assembly Plant would be eliminated as of July 26.  The Belvidere plant has been closed since late March, with Stellantis constantly delaying its reopening, which is now scheduled to take place later this month at the earliest.

The recent chip shortage, which was triggered by semiconductor makers moving their factories to more lucrative consumer-electronics processors has forced the closure of a number of other auto plants, including those operated by General Motors and Ford Motor Company in recent months.

INFLATION ON THE RISE: APRIL WHOLESALE PRICES SURGE 0.6% IN APRIL

Consolidated Press News File

May 15, 2021

WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices rose 0.6 percent in April, shocking economists and providing more proof that inflation pressures are beginning to mount as the world emerges from a pandemic-induced recession.

The increase in the producer price index, which tracks inflationary pressures before they hit customers, was more than twice the 0.3 percent increase expected by economists.  The rise came after a significant 1% increase in March, according to the Labor Department.

Wholesale prices have increased by 6.2 percent in the last year, the highest increase since the data was first collected in 2010.

Food prices increased by 2.1 percent in April, the largest monthly rise since a similar increase in October last year.  The cost of airline services and food retailing services increased by 0.6 percent.  The rise in the total cost was responsible for two-thirds of the increase in wholesale prices.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, increased by 0.7 percent in April, indicating widespread price pressures as demand rises with the economy’s reopening.  Core wholesale inflation has increased by 4.1 percent in the last year.

Officials from the Federal Reserve, including Chairman Jerome Powell, argue that recent price rises are only temporary as the economy reopens and are not a warning of out-of-control inflation.

However, rising prices have jolted Wall Street, which has now dropped three days in a row and seen the largest one-day decline in the S&P 500 since February.