Buoyed by retail spending news that wasn't as bad as feared, U.S.Stocks closed up on Tuesday, the second day in a row. Persistent bad news over the past 6 weeks has resultedinweeks of a declining Dow. The DJIA closed up 1.26% to 12076.11. Retail receipts had been lower earlier this year due to higher prices for food and gas which curbed consumers' enthusiasm for spending.
Ben Bernanke cautioned against using the debt ceiling limit as leverage to get spending cuts. According to the Fed chairman, any tactics which would "cast doubt on the creditworthiness of the U.S." should be avoided. Mr. Bernancke further emphasized that nothing should be done that would undermine people's faith in the ability of the government to pay its bills in a timely manner or stifle the economy while it is still recovering. Bloomberg.com reported that the Fed will most likely keep the Fed Funds rate close to zero for the remainder of 2011 after the rise in unemployment to 9.1% in May.
Arizona wildfires have consumed more that 733 square miles since Memorial Day in several blazes which have swept across the state. Portions of I-25 between Colorado and New Mexico were closed and interrupted summer travel as a wildfire, which started in Arizona, straddled the roadway over the weekend. To date, 33 homes and businesses have been destroyed. Several towns were forced to evaculate including Eagar, AZ which is in the path of the Wallowfire. As the fires advance across the landscape, they are threatening the power supply lines which serve Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. smoke from the fires has been carried all the way to central Iowa by strong winds.
Keeping in touch
For tech-challengedtravelers who want to save on international calls when they travel abroad, Apple is now selling unlocked iPhones in the U.S. The iPhones, which allow a SIM card switch-out, permit the owner to choose either AT&T or T-Mobile in the U.S. These are the only two carriers presently compatible with the iPhone. Overseas, owners can change the SIM card to a local country provider to save money on calls. Unlocked phones are more expensive than in-contract phones ($649-749 for the iPhone) because the carrier usually subsidizes phones with service contracts according to the USA Today.
Fleeing to Turkey
Syrian refugees have sought safety in Turkey from President Bashar al-Assad's forces which are crushing protests against the regime. More than 8500 Srians have fled the country for refugee camps along the Turkey-Syria border. Since the start of the unrest in March, more than 1300 Syrians have been killed. Syria has banned most foreign correspondents, according to Reuters, making news accounts of the revolt hard to come by.
Small business woes
A report from the National Federation of Independent Business paints a gloomy picture for the nation's small businesses. Their recent survey of members showed that small businesses that plan to hire workers were outnumbered by those that planned to shrink their numbers. Poor sales was revealed to be the single most important problem facing thesecompanies along with uncertainty about regulations. The New York Times noted that some economists attributed the decline in business optimism to the prolonged tax, health care and financial debates in Congress.