Afternoon Coffee: Polar Vortex Still Causing Disruption; GE Sees Gains with New CEO’s Plan

Subbotina Anna/Adobe Stock

Disruptions from the polar vortex's record-breaking cold in the Midwest continued Thursday, including broken water mains in Detroit, power outages in places and transportation issues, the Associated Press reports.

Rail traffic and package delivery also have been affected, Supply Chain Dive reports. USPS, UPS and FedEx have all suspended service in parts of the country to keep their employees out of the cold weather.

BNSF told Supply Chain Dive that “due to these harsh conditions, we expect lower production at St. Paul and Chicago-area intermodal and automotive hubs."

In Michigan, cold weather and a fire at a natural gas facility disrupted consumers, including auto plants, The Wall Street Journal reports, saying:

“General Motors Co. said it halted production at 13 plants served by Consumers Energy Corp. in Michigan, after a fire at one of the utility’s facilities and strains on the natural gas supply. Ford Motor Co. said it reduced temperatures at some plants and halted some energy-intensive processes. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said it canceled shifts at two plants and put the next shift on hold.”

Schools were closed again Thursday in parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois and Iowa, the AP reports.

GE Improving?

General Electric, which abruptly switched CEOs in the fall amid dismal financial news, has seen an uptick in stock market performance, Bloomberg News reports.

Restructuring has gotten positive reaction, and GE settled a sub-prime mortgage case for less than expected, Bloomberg reports.

“GE jumped 15 percent to $10.49 at 11:57 a.m. in New York after climbing as much as 18 percent, the biggest intraday gain since March 2009. The shares advanced 20 percent this year through Wednesday, compared with an 11 percent gain for a Standard & Poor’s index of industrial companies,” Bloomberg reports.

Denim Heats Up as Levi’s Plans IPO

CNBC catches up with the denim market and changing apparel trends, which it says is surging, according to analysts that CNBC surveyed. Levi’s plans to go public after the first quarter.

Consumers were substituting their jeans for yoga pants and leggings, but it looks like fashion could be swinging back in favor of denim, CNBC reports.

"I think that the outlook for jeans is positive," UBS analyst Jay Soles told CNBC. "Athleisure — performance apparel — that trend has changed a lot."

Unemployment Rises, But Cause Is Debated

More people filed for unemployment benefits last week, hitting the highest jobless numbers in 18 months, Reuters reports. But experts seem wary that the figures reflect a shift from the positive unemployment numbers. Some blame the government shutdown, which put 800,000 government workers in limbo for more than a month. Many filed for unemployment, news reports at the time said.

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First Voice

  1. Taras Berezowsky:

    This consumer was personally (yet insubstantially, so far) affected by the Consumers fire by receiving a President-Trump-style alert from the utility on my phone overnight, which pleaded with residential customers to turn thermostats down to 65 degrees through Friday or else risk total system failure on their part to keep Michigan’s humanity heated. yay vortex!

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