Target suffers another computer glitch, World Cup social media levels at record highs.
Stock Index Futures Fall Amid Geopolitical Concerns
The U.S. stock indexes fell Monday morning as weekend reports on international problems have their effect. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 47 points by 8 a.m. Eastern time. Also, S&P futures dipped 5.3 points and Nasdaq 100 futures dropped 8.2 points. The continuing escalation of conflict in Iraq sent crude oil prices climbing, as the benchmark U.S. contract rose 12 cents a barrel, and was trading at a six-month high. Gold, seen as the safe haven to protect investors over volatility elsewhere, jumped $7.10 to $1,282 a troy ounce.
Russia Cuts Off Gas To Ukraine
Although initial indications showed that everything is still operating normally in the Ukraine, Russia announced Monday it has cut off gas supplies to the Ukraine as the two countries failed to come to an agreement on a payment plan. Early Monday a source at Russia’s state-backed gas company Gazprom said it had reduced gas supplies to Ukraine as soon as news broke that overnight negotiations on a payment scheme had failed. Gazprom is now initiating a pre-payment plan for Ukraine shipments, and said it would continue contracted shipments to its European customers. The gas company says it is owed $4.5 billion from Ukraine. The Ukraine national gas and oil company Naftogaz says it is owed $6 billion from Gazprom for overpayment. The Ukrainians say they can lost until December without Russian gas supplies.
Target Hit Again
It wasn’t credit card hackers this time, but the giant retailer Target was hit by another computer-related problem Sunday, causing long lines in its stores. Reports all across social media told of big backups and closed cash registers at Target due to a computer glitch in the checkout systems. The problem occurred in at least five different states and in New York City, and customers used social media to voice their complaints. Debit card payments weren’t working at the checkout lines, causing most of the problems.
Starbucks Giving Employees a (College) Major Boost
Starbucks is partnering with Arizona State University’s online studies program to offer its full- and part-time employees a tuition reimbursement benefit that would cover two full years of classes, CNN reports. Employees will be able to choose any of more than 40 undergraduate degrees, and aren't limited to only business classes. Starbucks did not release an estimate for how much the program would cost, in part because it does not know how many employees will sign up. The benefit is equal to about $30,000 per employee, Starbucks spokesman Jim Olson said. Most of the company's 135,000 U.S. employees are eligible. About seven-in-ten of them do not have undergraduate degrees. Those currently pursuing studies at another institution can apply to transfer their credits to Arizona State University. Employees will not be required to stay with Starbucks after earning their degree. The university will provide enrollment, financial aid and academic advisers to help students stay with the program, Starbucks said.
Medtronic Announces Deal to Buy Covidien
U.S. medical device maker Meditronic Inc. announced Sunday it had agreed to buy Covidien Plc for $42.9 billion in cash and stock and relocate its executive base from Minneapolis to Ireland, Reuters reports. The deal will allow Medtronic to reduce its overall global tax burden but the company said the deal was driven by creating medical technology synergies with Covidien, a maker of devices used in surgery. Medtronic is the world’s largest stand-along medical device maker. The merger will create a strong competitor to Johnson & Johnson Co., Reuters notes. Medtronic said it would keep its operational headquarters in Minneapolis and pledged $10 billion in U.S. technology investments over the next 10 years. Medtronic's deal with Covidien is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2014 or early 2015, Medtronic said. Acquisitions of companies aimed at lowering corporate tax rates, known as inversions, have raised concern among U.S. lawmakers that that they erode government revenue.
World Cup Reaches Goal of Social Media Domination
The 2014 World Cup will be the most social sporting event ever, according to projections from the Adobe (ADBE) Digital Index, a study of online marketing. The month-long soccer championship is already outpacing the Sochi Olympics and 2014 Super Bowl, CNN reports. The most famous athletes, such as Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, are getting millions of social media mentions each. The World Cup has been mentioned 19 million times across the blogs and social outlets Adobe tracks, which include Facebook, Google, Reddit, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. The matches are also expected to set television-viewing records. Experts project the worldwide audience could reach 3.6 billion people. Japan most “likes” the World Cup with that country’s people posting nearly two of every five mentions. The U.S. contributes about 8 percent of World Cup social media mentions.