Business Stories of the Week: Friday, April 20, 2018

by April 20, 2018

Domestic oil is approaching $70 a barrel thanks to sanctions on OPEC nations and unrest in Venezuela. (Photo Credit: flickr user “johngiez-” Photo “Oil well” by Maarten Heerlien, Creative Commons Flickr user under the 2.0 Generic CC BY 2.0 license)

Lyft offering 4/20 discounts in marijuana states

In states with legal recreational marijuana, Lyft is offering a sizeable discount on rides to encourage marijuana users not to drive stoned, Forbes reported. On the unofficial pot-smoking holiday, riders in those cities will get up to $4.20 off their trips. This is part of a partnership Lyft joined with the film Super Troopers II to educate people on the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana — they even appeared in a YouTube video together. As marijuana continues to gain cultural acceptance and more jurisdictions legalize recreational marijuana, look for other businesses to explicitly market to that audience.

Tesla’s workplace safety reporting under investigation

The California Division of Occupational Safety has opened an investigation into Tesla’s workplace conditions, according to Bloomberg. The Fremont plant — the company’s only auto manufacturing plant in the state — is accused of underreporting workplace injuries and illnesses. The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal reported that the plant “failed to report serious injuries…to make its numbers appear better than they actually were.” The company claims this is an attack by the United Auto Workers over UAW’s unsuccessful unionization efforts at the plant.

Oil approaches $70 a barrel

As supplies dwindle and demand skyrockets, U.S. crude prices are poised to hit $70 per barrel soon, CNBC reported. They topped out at $69.56 this week — the highest since November 2014, when they reached $73.56. Contributing to the decreased supply is the Trump Administration’s sanctions on OPEC countries boosting reliance on domestic oil supplies and a long-running economic crisis in Venezuela, where oil workers have been “resigning in droves” since their state oil company was taken over by a military leader. “The production there could go to near zero,” energy hedge fund manager John Kilduff told CNBC. “The majority of their refineries are shutting down.”

Changing plastic surgery trends

Americans spent $6.5 billion on cosmetic surgery in 2017 — a more than 11% increase over 2016, MarketWatch reported. Part of this uptick is attributed the “constant need to be selfie ready” as Instagram and other social media becomes more ingrained in our society. Middle-aged adults seeking employment are also getting work done, believing that if they’re competing with a 30-year-old, they shouldn’t look “old.” What’s popular now? Eyelifts, facelifts, breast reductions (both male and female) and necklifts. Losing popularity are breast augmentation and chin implants.

Home prices see biggest annual increase in 4 years

Up 8.9% in March, the median home price in the U.S. has seen its biggest annual increase since 2014, according to CNBC. This seems to be a case of supply and demand, since the supply of homes available for sale dropped almost 12% the same month. Single family construction and permit applications (which signal future growth) are both down, signaling a possible crunch in the future. “A ‘perfect storm’ of market conditions is compounding an ongoing inventory crunch,” Larry Foster, president of Long & Foster Real Estate, told CNBC. “Builders’ margins are squeezed by rising labor and materials prices, so they are not meeting demand for entry-level and move-up homes.”