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Today's Top Supply Chain and Logistics News From WSJ

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09/14/2017 | 01:01pm CET
By Paul Page 

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The holiday hiring season is underway and it looks like it's getting bigger. Target Corp. says it will boost its hiring of temporary seasonal workers by 40% this year, adding about 100,000 jobs, the WSJ's Khadeeja Safdar reports, in the latest sign of growing confidence in the retail sector. Target's hiring in its logistics operations won't be as strong as last year -- 4,500 more workers are coming in after adding 7,500 to its distribution centers in the 2016 season -- but Target had opened three fulfillment centers a year ago that it was staffing up. The scramble for holiday-season workers has been intensifying steadily in recent years, fueled by the growth of online shopping and by what companies say is trouble filling the warehouse positions and getting new workers trained. Retailers have been pushing more goods into those distribution centers: The National Retail Federation says imports into the biggest U.S. ports jumped 5% from June to July and 9.2% from a year ago.

Seadrill Ltd. is looking for a swift pass through a bankruptcy to make way for new money to save the fleet of one of the world's biggest offshore drilling companies. The business controlled by Norwegian shipping magnate John Fredriksen filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Texas, the WSJ's Peg Brickley reports, in the latest fallout from falling oil prices and an upheaval in energy markets. The company operates 68 rigs and drillships for customers including Total SA, TOT Petrobras Brasileiro SA and Exxon Mobil Corp. The company is looking to exit bankruptcy in less than a year, with a longer timeline on $5.7 billion in bank loans and more than $1 billion in new financing to see it through the current downturn. A Texas court was due to review a bankruptcy plan that would leave shareholders with 2% of the business while giving Mr. Fredriksen and his allied Centerbridge Partners generous slices of the new business.

The European Union's top executive thinks President Donald Trump's "America First" policies could open trade opportunities around the world for Europe. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says countries around the world "are knocking at our door in order to sign trade agreements with us," the WSJ's Valentina Pop and Emre Peker report, and that trade deals with Mexico and South America's Mercosur countries are in the works. Those talks and Mr. Juncker's confident outlook reflect a transition in the tenor of world-wide trade as the White House advances a new American agenda while the EU looks for stronger economic links from Asia to Latin America. The EU is being helped by more positive economic data and growing popularity after a decade of economic and political crises. But the bloc's toughest negotiation may come with China over foreign investment, and any pact on thorny issues of corporate ownership will likely have to involve the U.S.

ECONOMY & TRADE

A big American solar-panel manufacturer is hoping the U.S. takes action soon to protect the business from Chinese competition. Lawyers for Suniva Inc. told a bankruptcy judge that a decision could come this month on whether U.S. solar manufacturing has been hurt by an onslaught of low-cost imported panels, mostly from Asia, the WSJ's Peg Brickley reports. That could bring tariffs on the foreign shipments and requirements for pricing of the panels. The dispute is part of the fast-changing business of manufacturing photovoltaic solar cells, a sector that's been marked by rapid growth and quick-moving competition from Asia. The wrinkle is that Shunfeng International Clean Energy Ltd., a Chinese company, owns most of Suniva, which has staked its future on getting President Trump to sign off on protections that others in the industry say will hurt solar power. The Solar Energy Industries Association says cheap panels shipped from abroad have kept costs down and installers busy.

QUOTABLE

IN OTHER NEWS

U.S. producer prices rose a modest 0.2% from July to August. (WSJ)

Supplies are being ferried to the storm-battered U.S. Virgin Islands as federal officials ramp up relief efforts. (WSJ)

President Trump blocked on national security grounds a Beijing-backed fund's bid to buy American chip maker Lattice Semiconductor Corp. (WSJ)

Boeing Co. will boost monthly output of its 787 Dreamliner passenger jet. (WSJ)

Oil exports from OPEC member countries have declined at a slower rate than production, mitigating efforts to curb crude supplies. (WSJ)

Financial experts say brick-and-mortar retailers will face ongoing distress and likely bankruptcies from online competition. (WSJ)

Private-equity firm Bain Capital is leading a group that wants to buy Toshiba Corp.'s semiconductor business. (WSJ)

Brazil arrested the head of JBS SA for allegedly using insider trading to profit from a plea deal the meatpacking giant set this year over a corruption probe. (WSJ)

Amazon.com Inc. is accelerating expansion in Mexico with plans for a large distribution center north of Mexico City. (Reuters)

Foxconn Technology Co. Ltd. will open a smartphone factory in Nanjing in a $5.74 billion investment in the Chinese city. (Nikkei Asian Review)

More multinationals are setting stronger standards for the health and safety of workers in their supply chains. (Financial Times)

Apparel retailer Zara will start selling its goods online in India. (Retail Gazette)

Genesee & Wyoming Inc. formed a joint venture with SEACOR Holdings to operate of railcar ferry service between Mobile, Ala., and Mexico.

XPO Logistics Inc. plans to double the number of U.S. service hubs dedicated to "last-mile" deliveries. (Post & Parcel)

Crude tanker owners expect freight rates to rebound by the end of next year on increased shipping from the U.S. to China and India. (Lloyd's List)

U.S. exports of whiskeys and other spirits rose 10.6% in the first half of 2017. (American Shipper)

A study shows diesel emissions from ships trigger more lightning strikes in busy shipping lanes. (Port Technology)

ABOUT US

Paul Page is deputy editor of WSJ Logistics Report. Follow him at @PaulPage, and follow the entire WSJ Logistics Report team: @brianjbaskin , @jensmithWSJ and @EEPhillips_WSJ. Follow the WSJ Logistics Report on Twitter at @WSJLogistics.

Write to Paul Page at [email protected]

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