Stocks are bumbling along this year after a gangbuster 2013. The upward grind is underscored by the S&P 500 index, which closed above 1,900 for the first time yesterday and is up 2.8 percent for the year. That compares with a 16 percent increase over the same period last year. The Dow and Nasdaq are barely in positive territory for 2014.
- The price of oil is climbing. It ended the week up $2.33 a barrel. It rose above $104 a barrel yesterday ahead of the holiday weekend and elections in Ukraine on Sunday. Benchmark U.S. crude for July delivery gained 61 cents to $104.35 a barrel in New York. Meanwhile, drivers are paying an average of $3.66 for a gallon of gasoline, about the same as this time last year.
- Visa and MasterCard are renewing a push to speed the adoption of microchips in U.S. credit and debit cards in the wake of recent high-profile data breaches. Card-processing companies argue that a move away from the black magnetic strips on the backs of credit cards would eliminate a substantial amount of U.S. credit card fraud.
- A new private-sector job for a former Air Force official is raising questions about a major contract for military rocket launches. Roger "Scott" Correll was a key figure in the decision to award the contract to a joint venture controlled by Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Now Correll has taken a job with Aerojet Rocketdyne, which supplies the engines. The company says the hiring was reviewed and cleared by the Air Force.
- A Colorado-based grocery store chain has announced it will carry only dairy products from farms where cows graze in pastures. Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage claims grazing improves the health of cows, consumers and the environment. But Cornell University professor Tom Overton, an expert in dairy cow nutrition, sees Natural Grocers' push for pasture-raised dairy as mostly a marketing tool. He says grazing doesn't significantly change the nutritional value of milk and that animals in barns can be just as healthy as those outdoors.