NEW YORK (AP) -- The main stock indexes are having trouble finding direction today. The crisis in Iraq and its impact on global oil prices have been weighing on the market, while a batch of corporate merger news has provided a boost. Traders also have been bidding up homebuilder shares following a report showing a sharp improvement in builders' confidence in the housing market. The Dow, S&P 500 and the Nasdaq have all been wavering between small gains and losses.
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia has stopped natural gas deliveries to Ukraine, rejecting Kiev's offer to pay some of its multibillion-dollar gas debt and demanding upfront payments for future supplies. The head of Ukraine's state gas company says the country has enough reserves to last until December, and the decision should not immediately affect the flow of Russian gas to Europe. But analysts say if issue is not resolved it could disrupt Europe's long-term supplies, as it has happened in the past.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- A Singapore-based tire maker is planning to build a manufacturing plant in South Carolina. State officials say Giti Tire's facility in Richburg is expected to create 1,700 new jobs over the next decade. Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt says the announcement bolsters the state's reputation as the nation's tire capital. Michelin, Bridgestone, and Continental also have announced new or expanded facilities in the past few years.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Level 3 Communications says it has agreed to buy TW Telecom in a deal worth about $5.6 billion. The Internet and telecommunications company says the acquisition will increase its local operations. Level 3 owns network and data centers around the world, while TW Telecom provides data and Internet and other services to businesses in the U.S. Level 3 will pay $40.86 for each outstanding share of TW Telecom.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Starbucks is launching a new program to help its baristas earn an online college degree. The company is working with Arizona State University to make the program available to 135,000 U.S. employees who work at least 20 hours a week. During the first two years, students will pay reduced tuition rates after factoring in a scholarship from Starbucks, ASU and other financial aid. For the junior and senior years, Starbucks will reimburse any money that workers pay out of pocket.
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