Gas Prices Up as Mideast Turmoil Threatens US Economy
U.S. motorists are already paying more for gasoline as the turmoil spreads in Iraq. Prices may continue to rise in the coming weeks. West Texas Crude reached $107 a barrel this morning on futures markets. Iraq is the world's second largest oil producer, but output has fallen this year. The main pipeline from Iraq to Turkey has been closed since March because of the insurgency. The jihadist group ISIS surrounded the large Baiji refinery, which is responsible for domestic production. Large Shiite-controlled oilfields in southern Iraq are not threatened by the Sunni insurgency, but the fighting has led to jitters on financial markets.
Starbucks is announcing a plan to provide free college education to tens of thousands of workers. About 135,000 employees who work at least 20 hours a week are eligible to sign up for online courses as long as they have the grades and test scores to gain admission to Arizona State University. The university offers a broad range of online courses from business and engineering to liberal arts. A barista with at least two years of college credit can sign up for free courses. And many other employees could also get a college degree for little or no money. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is announcing the program in New York City today, with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and about 340 workers and their family members.
Twitter and other social media sites lit up as Target customers complained about long delays at checkout lines. Many cash registers were not working. The retailer apologized for the glitch but said it was not related to any hacking or security issues. Target was hit late last year by a big security breach. Thieves stole personal data from tens of millions of customers' credit and debit cards.
The debate over U.S. business tax rates may grow after an announcement by Medtronic. The large medical device manufacturer says it has agreed to buy Ireland-based competitor Covidien for $42.9 billion in cash and stock. The combined company would have its executive offices in Dublin, where it could benefit from Ireland's lower corporate tax rates. But a statement says the merged company would continue to operate in Minneapolis, where Medtronic employs more than 8,000 workers. The deal is the latest in a series of acquisitions by medical-device manufacturers. The companies are seeking to expand their offerings and contain costs in response to price curbs forced by the nation's new health care law. Zimmer Holdings, an orthopedic device maker, announced in April that it was buying Biomet in a $13 billion deal. Medtronic makes pacemakers and insulin pumps, among other products. Covidien specializes in surgical equipment. Covidien's share price jumped 34 percent this morning after the deal was announced.
KFC is apologizing and donating more than $30,000 to help pay for a little girl's medical expenses after the child and her family were kicked out of a restaurant in Mississippi. A pit bull attack left 3-year-old Victoria Wilcher with scars on her face and neck. The girl's grandmother says an employee asked the family to leave because Victoria's scars apparently were disturbing other customers.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow