Trade war casualty in US: cheap prices for everyday goods

2018-07-29 18:03

The US economy may be roaring ahead, but American consumers face the prospect of paying more for everyday goods, due in part to trade tariffs.

Big companies reporting earnings over the last week or so described price hikes on everything from soda to airplane tickets to household paint and tools.

Some of the price hikes are still in the planning stages and not all companies are sure they will be able to make higher prices stick due to competitive pressures.

"We have implemented price increases for these implemented tariffs," said Donald Allan, chief financial officer at Stanley Black & Decker, whose products include hammers, saws and power tools.

The 175-year old Stanley expects to generate $190m more in revenues in 2018 from price hikes, Allan said on a conference call this month.

Retailers not thrilled

Soda giant Coca-Cola also recently enacted price hikes in North America, in part because of tariffs on steel and aluminium that raised costs of cans and some production processes.

Coca-Cola chief executive James Quincey acknowledged that retailers were not thrilled with the development.

"Clearly these conversations are difficult, I think it's working its way through," he told analysts this week.

"Ultimately the beverage industry is not the only industry that is facing pressure from changing imports and the need to take pricing," he said. "That's just partly the general environment."

At paint company Sherwin-Williams, executives hinted at price hikes due to inflation in petroleum-linked commodities.

"Our historic practice has always been to talk with our customers first and then the investment community," chief executive John Morikis told Wall Street analysts.

"We are going to protect our margins and we're going to talk to consumers first. And you can connect the dots from there."

Analysts see a number of factors behind higher commodity prices, with US tariffs on steel and aluminium imports a frequently-cited catalyst.

But while trade actions by US President Donald Trump received much of the attention, analysts note that prices of many goods - including steel and oil - were already elevated before the trade war took centre stage.

Inflation

Higher inflation also typically accompanies increased macroeconomic growth, which was estimated on Friday at 4.1% in the second quarter by the US government, the fastest level in six years.

Inflation also surfaced as a concern in the first- quarter earnings season, but more companies are now discussing price hikes and some companies said the problem has worsened as Trump has expanded the attack to more countries and regions and as the steel and aluminium tariffs moved from threat to reality.

JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade, said it was still premature to view inflation as a major worry.

"What makes me hesitant on inflation is not how it starts but that it can rise really quickly," he said.

Economists fear that a sudden surge in prices could spark more aggressive interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve, which could itself derail growth.

For companies, the issue of how to respond to elevated commodity prices has compelled difficult choices between accepting lower profits, cutting other spending and lifting retail prices.

General Motors suggested this week that it expects to eat at least some of the hit from $2bn in higher costs due to metals tariffs and the strong dollar. GM trimmed its 2018 profit forecast, a move that sent shares diving.

GM has managed to offset about half the $2bn through negotiations with suppliers and hopes consumers will shoulder at least some of the rest, said chief financial officer Chuck Stevens.

"To the extent we can, we're recovering that through pricing," Stevens said. "Obviously the market in the United States is challenging."

American Airlines responded to $2bn in additional fuel costs this year by cutting some planned additional capacity and defer deliveries of new planes.

These moves will trim $1.2bn in capital spending over the next three years.

Executives said they also hoped to lift prices on tickets.

"We see a strong demand for the product, and so we're optimistic that there's the chance to recover some of the cost of the increase in the price of jet fuel," said president Robert Isom.

"But over the long run, it depends on the economy and it depends on how much supply is out in the marketplace."

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    us

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

IT Manager (contract)

Cape Town CBD
Communicate Cape Town IT
R330 000.00 - R458 000.00 Per Year

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

HSE Manager

Cape Town
Tumaini Consulting
R550 000.00 - R650 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.