Pounded at the Pump
Soaring oil prices were blamed for weak sales at Wal-Mart and big spikes in inflation. At some gas stations, pump prices rose as much as 30 cents in a week, topping $3 for premium at some Washington area outlets. Including energy, consumer prices rose 0.5 percent in July, wiping out average wage gains, while prices at the producer level rose 1 percent. Despite some easing early in the week, crude prices stayed above $65 a barrel because of disruptions at refineries and political tensions in South America and the Middle East.
A Break on the Deficit
Congressional budget analysts lowered projections for the federal budget deficit to $331 billion, reflecting a strong economy and an unexplained, one-time surge in corporate tax revenue. That's down significantly from last year's record deficit of $412 billion. The news comes despite rising defense spending, a doubling in farm subsidies and a 75 percent spike in college loan funding. The budget office cautioned, however, that there was no improvement in the long-term budget outlook, which remains ominous.
Another Slice of Pi
Google, whose share price has nearly tripled since its initial public offering last year, said it would go back to the market to raise $4 billion. The company declined to say what the money would be used for, but speculation centered on acquisitions aimed at bulking up for coming head-to-head competition with Microsoft and Yahoo. Reflecting the firm's quirky humor and its disregard for the conventions of Wall Street, Google will offer 14,159,265 shares, the first eight digits after the decimal place in the value of pi.
Snyder's Six Flags Play
Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder launched what amounts to a hostile takeover for Six Flags, citing tired and unimaginative management. Snyder is offering to pay $140 million to bring his stake in the amusement park chain to a controlling 34.9 percent. Snyder's partners include Dwight C. Schar, the founder of home builder NVR, who would serve as a director, and ESPN programming chief Mark Shapiro, who would run the company if a sufficient number of shareholders accept Snyder's offer.
From the New York Daily News comes the story of the modest family reunion put together by Nasdaq chief Robert Greifeld. For a week, 16 adults and seven children stayed at Luttrellstown Castle outside Dublin, where 32 actors in period dress prepared meals of wild boar and suckling pig as diners' feet rested on satin pillows. Falconry, jousting, goose hunts, songs by Irish tenors and cross-country helicopter rides were also on the schedule. Even so, Greifeld found the $619,000 bill a bit steep. He's contesting $80,000.