Top Business Stories
When Washington residents voted in 1998 to raise the state's minimum wage and link it to the cost of living, opponents warned the measure would be a job-killer. In the 15 years that followed, the state's minimum wage climbed to $9.32 -- the highest in the country. Payrolls at Washington's restaurants and bars, portrayed as particularly vulnerable to higher wage costs, expanded by 21 percent. The debate is replaying on a national scale as Democrats led by President Barack Obama push for an increase in the $7.25-an-hour federal minimum, while opponents argue a raise would hurt those it's intended to help by axing jobs for the lowest-skilled.
NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) - A semblance of calm returned to world markets on Wednesday after two days of intense volatility, with the United States and Russia set to hold talks on easing East-West tension in Ukraine. An index of global equity shares was modestly higher, currency and bond markets stabilized and oil prices dipped again as the West stepped up efforts to persuade Moscow to pull its forces back in Crimea and avert the risk of a war. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that military force would only be used as a last resort. "Things are indeed calming down in Ukraine," said Steen Groendahl, head of global research at Nordea in Helsinki.
2014 has hardly been a banner year for stocks so far but the S&P500 (^GSPC) overcame a terrible January to post new record highs last week. After closing at 1,741 on February 3rd the S&P roared back for the balance of the month and despite some Russia-related upsets it closed Tuesday at 1,873, its 2014 high.