Starbucks will offer Teavana Chai Tea, a former Microsoft employee was allegedly giving away company secrets, and Wal-Mart hopes to create a spring version of Black Friday.
Stocks Tumble Following Fed Announcements
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell Wednesday 11 points to close at 1,860. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 114 points to 16,222 while the NASDAQ composite fell 25 points to 4,307. The downturn followed the Federal Reserve’s announcement it would further dial back its stimulus program by an additional $10 billion per month and updated its guidance on when the central bank might start raising short-term interest rates, USA TODAY reports. Federal Reserve officials now project the U.S. economy to grow at 2.8 percent to 3 percent, which is down from its December projection of between 2.8 percent and 3.2 percent. The Fed’s first policymaking meeting under new Chair Janet Yellen ended Wednesday and she addressed reporters in a press conference afterwards.
IRS Has $760 Million in Unclaimed Tax Refunds—and May Get to Keep It
The Internal Revenue Service may get to keep nearly $760 million in unclaimed tax refunds if tardy taxpayers don’t claim their share, CNN reports. The money belongs to 918,600 taxpayers who have yet to file their 2010 tax returns, the IRS announced. The deadline to file these returns is April 15, or the IRS gets to keep it. The agency estimates that half of the unclaimed refunds total more than $571. Taxpayers in Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming are missing out on the most money -- with unclaimed refunds in those states topping a median of $620.
You Get Tea, and You Get Tea; Everybody Gets Tea
Beginning April 29, Starbucks and Teavana stores in the United States and Canada will offer Teavana Oprah Chai Tea. Starbucks will make a donation to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation for each product sold. CEO Howard Schultz told shareholders Wednesday that Starbucks has a long-term target of doubling its market cap to $100 billion. Time will tell if Teavana Oprah Chai Tea will be among customers’ favorite things. Tea is a $90 billion global market. The only thing that people globally drink more of than tea is water, USA TODAY reports.
Jobless Claims Up, But Not Much
The U.S. Labor Department Thursday announced that the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose just 5,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted total of 320,000. There were also no revisions to the totals for the week that ended March 8. Economists had predicted that first-time applications would go up 10,000 to 325,000. The four-week moving average for new claims fell 3,500 to 327,000, the lowest level since November. That number is considered a better measure of underlying labor market conditions, which means conditions are improving. Claims fell 14,000 between February and March survey periods, according to the Labor Department, another suggestion that job growth is improving.
Former Microsoft Employee Faces Criminal Charges
Alex Kibkalo, a former Microsoft employee in Lebanon and Russia, faces criminal charges for allegedly passing trade secrets on to a French blogger. U.S. court documents say Kibkalo admitted to Microsoft investigators that he gave to the unidentified blogger confidential company documents and information. The blogger reportedly was well known in the Microsoft blogging community for posting screenshots of pre-release versions of Microsoft’s Windows Operating system. An internal investigation by Microsoft revealed unauthorized transmissions of proprietary and confidential trade secrets, and an email from Kibkalo was found in the blogger’s Hotmail account. “We take protection of our intellectual property very seriously, including cooperating with law-enforcement agencies who are investigating potential criminal actions by our employees or others," a Microsoft spokesman said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
Wal-Mart Presents Black Friday, Spring Edition
Wal-Mart announces plans for a Black Friday sales on outdoor living and lawn and garden items for March 21, hoping to create a consumer buzz in the spring similar to what the post-Thanksgiving Black Friday offers in the fall. The move follows the discount retailer’s poor fourth-quarter report of U.S. same store sales, with losses that have caused some analysts to question whether Wal-Mart will continue to see profit down the line. Wal-Mart is making the sales cut for Friday because it is considered the biggest sales day for spring items. “Nobody does Black Friday better than Wal-Mart, and we're bringing that same philosophy to our new outdoor living, lawn and garden event," said Michelle Gloeckler, senior vice president of the retailer's U.S. home division. Business analysts are watching to see if competitors Home Depot and Lowes will follow suit. Until March 29, Wal-Mart is offering 30 to 50 percent discounts on lawnmowers, patio furniture, charcoal grills and flowers. It says it will also match competitor’s published prices.