Afternoon Coffee: Amazon Pushes to Become a Major Hospital Supplier, Inflation Jitters Mount in Markets

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Amazon wants to turn its nascent medical products business into one of the major medical suppliers to U.S. hospitals, the Wall Street Journal reports. Key to that strategy is expanding its Amazon Business marketplace “into one where hospitals could shop to stock outpatient locations, operating suites and emergency rooms.”

What’s more, Amazon is seeking to bypass established purchasing models in the healthcare sector, which rely heavily on medical distributors. “Our goal is to be something new,” Chris Holt, leader of global health care at Amazon Business, told the WSJ. “We’ve been actively building out new capabilities and features” to simplify purchasing, he said.

Inflation Fears 

Investors are closely watching the U.S. consumer price index Wednesday for signs of faster inflation, Bloomberg reports. If inflation is growing at a rate that exceeds forecasts offered by the Federal Reserve, markets could convulse further. Rising commodity costs and wage growth have started to take a toll on corporate costs, roiling U.S. stocks over the past week.

German GDP

The German economy grew at the pace economists expected last year, cooling slightly to an annualized rate of 2.5%, MarketWatch reports. Notable in the year-end data was a jump in exports, which picked up strongly alongside a rise in employment.

Household Debt 

And finally, a U.S. economic update: household debt soared to an all-time high at the end of 2017, according to CNBC, rising an additional $193 billion to a total $13.15 trillion. The past year was the fifth consecutive one in which annual household debt increased.

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