Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Oil prices crash below $70

In Uncategorized on November 28, 2014 at 5:29 am
oil opec prices
OPEC has decided it will keep oil production levels steady at roughly 30 million barrels a day.

Oil prices came crashing down Thursday to trade below $70 per barrel after OPEC announced it was leaving oil production levels unchanged.

WTI crude trading in the U.S. fell by roughly 7% to just below $69 — a level not seen since May 2010.

In Europe, Brent crude prices also fell by about 7% to trade just below $73.

Many had expected OPEC to agree on a cut to oil production in a bid to boost prices.

But the organization of major oil producing nations refused to budge after six hours of negotiations. Specifically, Saudia Arabia, which has the most clout among the OPEC members, wanted production levels to stay put.

This lack of action is bad news for certain oil-producing countries like Russia, Nigeria and Venezuela, which depend on prices of at least $90 a barrel to meet their economic targets.

Lower oil prices could also halt the U.S. shale oil boom, which depends on higher prices.

oil prices November 27
Oil prices have fallen by roughly 30% since June, and they kept pushing lower Thursday.

Meanwhile, some OPEC members including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates can afford to be less concerned about falling prices because they have built up a deep financial cushion of $2.5 trillion dollars in combined savings.

“The Gulf authorities may see a period of lower oil prices as working in their favor over the longer-term, particularly if it squeezes the shale industry in the U.S.,” said Jason Tuvey, a Middle East economist at Capital Economics.

Shares in major oil companies, including BP (BP) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB), were dropping on the London stock exchange after the OPEC decision was released.

Stock markets in the U.S. were closed for the Thanksgiving holiday.

– CNNMoney’s Ivana Kottasova contributed to this report.

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Shoppers rejoice! Black Friday is here

In Uncategorized on November 28, 2014 at 5:29 am

Black Friday is turning grey 

The doors are open. The sales are here. It’s Black Friday.

Black Friday faithful are already scooping up deals at malls and department stores across America.

A few stores — like Kmart and Radio Shack (RSH) — opened Thursday morning, but most — including Macy’s (M), Best Buy (BBY), Target (TGT), Kohl’s (KSS), Toys R Us, J.C. Penney (JCP) and Sears (SHLD) — waited until after Thanksgiving dinner was served.

Manhattan’s bustling Times Square was packed with deal hunters — some from as far away as Sweden and Florida.

“My God, it’s crazy down here!” a mother exclaimed inside Toys R Us as she trailed three children past a robotic Tyrannosaurus Rex. Nearby, a worker wearing an elf hat pumped up the crowd: “I guar-an-TEE it’s $24.95!” he crooned.

Walmart (WMT), the nation’s largest retailer, kicked off its sales at 6 p.m. At the chain’s location in Neptune, N.J., shoppers braved long lines in order to secure deeply discounted items.

Lola Stoball had her niece stand in line for a 50″ LED TV on sale for $218 while she was waited for an iPad mini. Stoball shops every year on Thanksgiving, and was also planning to hit Target and Toys R Us.

“I just love shopping,” she said. “I come because it’s fun and for the deals.”

Electronics were among the most sought after sale items at the Walmart, and some shoppers were buying for themselves. Hassan Mehdaoui picked up an Xbox 360 for $99.

“You can’t go wrong with that price, it’s awesome,” Mehdaoui said. “I love getting stuff like this, it’s what I live for.”

Other shoppers held out for a Black Friday midnight or morning opening, like Costco, which said its workers “deserve” Thanksgiving off.

Some customers were discovering they don’t need to leave home — or even the dinner table — to get deals. Many retailers launched their first holiday discounts several days ago across their sites and mobile apps. That could mean Cyber Monday isn’t the one-day event it once was.

The mobile experience carries into the store, too. Retailers realize many customers decided what to buy based on online listings, and will whip out their smartphones to check out deals, availability of items and store maps at the mall.

All of that adds up to opportunities to spend more money, retailers hope. The National Retail Federation projected holiday season spending would grow 4.1% more than last year to $616.9 billion. Online spending is expected to grow even faster, with various estimates projecting a spike between 8% and 15%.

Stores are competing against each other to grow their slice of that pie, which is why opening times are getting earlier and earlier. But maybe the joke’s on them: A CNNMoney analysis found Thanksgiving openings did little to boost sales.

– CNNMoney’s Aaron Smith and Katie Lobosco contributed reporting.

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Weekly Address: Happy Thanksgiving from the Obama Family

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2014 at 5:26 pm

President Obama Tapes the Thanksgiving Weekly Address

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

November 26, 2014.

(Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

In this week’s address, the President wished everyone a happy Thanksgiving and reflected on the history of our country and its celebration of diversity. He gave thanks for the many Americans who sacrifice every day, from volunteer workers who serve their communities, to men and women in unform who serve us all.

On Thanksgiving, a holiday that is uniquely American, he reminded us to focus on what unites — our commitment to American ideals like justice and equality and our gratitud and love for our country.

Transcript | mp4 | mp3

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8 best Etsy gifts for a ‘money guy’

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2014 at 5:25 pm
bstreetshoes toms

It’s that time of year again: lights, cheer and the pressure to get the perfect gift.

Or, at least, to get something people don’t already own dozens of. The task gets exponentially harder once your friends and loved ones grow out of the toy store phase.

But fear not. Etsy, the online craft marketplace founded in 2005, is unique gift central.

Based out of Brooklyn, Etsy has long been popular with women seeking hand crafted jewelery and artistic clothing, but it’s expanded a lot and now offers creative takes on just about everything … even Wall Street.

So forget buying another golf trinket or button down shirt. CNNMoney has selected the 8 best gifts from Etsy for the “money guru” in your family or office.

1. Age-old investing wisdom on your cuffs ($29.95)

smk2014 cufflinks

2. How to ensure you dream of riches ($30)

veedubz wall street pillow

3. Add a ‘folksy’ touch to your office ($15.32)

xostitch dice

4. Get a 5-star rating with this bow tie ($20.95)

chatterbox bowtie

5. Even the best investors need a little luck … or voodoo. Time for Wall Street oil? ($7.75)

honoring mother earth wall street oil

6. Bull vs. Bear: Your call which arm you want to highlight with these cuff links ($40)

avantgarde design bull bear

7. George Soros or Elon Musk? Both are available in the iconic “Hope” poster style ($14.11)

quoteartisan soros

8. Statement shoes: Get a pair of Toms hand painted with a bull and bear ($159)

There’s just once catch…they only come in women’s sizes.

bstreetshoes toms

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OPEC: No cut in oil production and prices keep falling

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2014 at 5:25 pm

OPEC not ready to reverse oil price slide 

OPEC countries failed Thursday to agree to a cut in oil production that was desperately sought by some member states worried about the recent drop in prices.

Officials met for six hours of negotiations in Vienna. It would have been the first cut in production since 2008.

But Saudia Arabia, the largest among OPEC members, was against the cut in output — in a bid to retain market share and hold off competition from U.S. shale production.

Brent crude, the European benchmark, was down more than 6% at $72.60 after it was announced that production will remain around 30 million barrels a day. The price of light crude, the U.S. benchmark, plunged 7% to $68.90 per barrel.

Analysts say a cut of around 1.5 million barrels a day would be needed to support oil prices.

The lack of action is bad news for oil-producing countries like Russia, Nigeria and Venezuela, which depend on prices of at least $90 a barrel to meet their economic targets.

The Russian ruble took a 2.5% plunge after the announcement. The country is not a member of OPEC, but asked the group for solidarity ahead of the meeting. Over half of the government’s revenue comes from oil and gas and low prices are putting extra pressure on its economy.

oil prices 27 11 2014

Related: Russia losing $140 billion from sanctions and low oil prices

Crude oil is down 30% since June and analysts warn prices could fall even more now that OPEC countries decided not to cut output.

Lower oil prices could also halt the U.S. shale oil boom, as analysts indicated that 40% of the production scheduled for 2015 would be “uneconomic” if prices drop below $80 a barrel.

In the past, OPEC has stepped in to cut production to support the prices during times of turmoil.

But with Russia and the U.S. each producing around 10 million barrels a day, OPEC is now playing geopolitical hardball to see who can stand up to the pressure of lower prices.

–CNN’s John Defterios and Anna Stewart contributed to this report.

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European Parliament votes for Google breakup

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2014 at 5:25 pm
google logo hand
European politicians have grown increasingly hostile towards Google’s business practices.

The European Parliament has voted to break up Google and weaken its dominance across the region.

Google (GOOGL, Tech30) controls about 90% of all Web searches in Europe, and politicians have grown increasingly concerned about its power.

But Thursday’s vote on its own won’t mean a dismantling of the search engine giant.

Instead, it’s a recommendation to the European Commission, another branch of government with final authority over the matter.

“This was a clear political message from the European Parliament,” said a spokesperson for Ramon Tremosa, a member of parliament who authored the anti-Google proposal.

“This is against a monopolistic situation which is damaging the European consumer,” he said.

European politicians are concerned that Google wields too much control over online search results and promotes its own products and services over competitors.

Google is in the midst of a long-running antitrust case in Europe, where it is offering to change its search results to give more prominence to competitors such as Microsoft (MSFT) and Expedia (EXPE).

But regulators have not yet been able to hammer our a final antitrust agreement with Google.

The parliamentary vote for a breakup specifically recommends that Google’s search business in Europe be split from the rest of its commercial operations.

Google declined to comment on the vote.

Inside Google's billion dollar airfield 

European authorities have also voiced concerns about Google’s privacy policy and the way Google controls the mobile market with its Android smartphone software.

This year, Google was forced to adhere to Europe’s new “right to be forgotten” rule, which lets Europeans request that search engines remove certain search results about them that are outdated or inappropriate. All it takes is filling out a form.

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Being Biden Vol. 17: Standing with Ukraine

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2014 at 5:19 am

The audio series Being Biden is an opportunity for the Vice President to give you a window into his daily life, and share some of his most memorable experiences.

In this episode, Vice President Biden talks about what it was like on his recent trip to Ukraine to visit a memorial that honored those who were killed during protests in Kyiv last year. The woman with the Vice President is reporter and activist Myroslava Gongadze, who lost her husband more than a decade ago because he spoke out against a then-undemocratic government. Today, she stands with those calling for a free, whole, and prosperous Ukraine. Listen to this edition of Being Biden:

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Thankful for Healthcare: The Impact of the ACA Lives in Stories Like These

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2014 at 5:19 am

Over the past year, we’ve seen 10 million additional Americans gain health insurance, leading to a 26 percent drop in adults living without health coverage. This is progress which can’t be adequately quantified by the numbers, and as we approach the third week of our second Open Enrollment period this Thanksgiving weekend, we fully expect hundreds of thousands of families to use part of their time together to gather around their laptops, tablets and computers to make sure everyone has the health coverage they need to stay healthy in the new year.  

Of the millions of Americans who are newly covered thanks to the ACA, many saw doctors for the first time in years, many caught or prevented conditions before they became life threatening, and millions more slept soundly with the peace of mind that they weren’t living just one accident or unexpected illness away from losing everything. Every day, the President hears from hundreds or thousands of these folks who write the President and share their story. As we kick off the holiday season here at the White House, we reached out to handful of these folks to let them know the President appreciated reading their letters, and to hear a little more about their stories in hopes that their experiences may compel others to also visit this holiday season. 

Regina Moran had already battled cancer twice by the time she turned 25. A social worker in Philadelphia, she was paying nearly $700 per month for insurance and costly medications not covered under her plan. She was working multiple jobs and was forced to put vacations, graduate school, and even her wedding on hold to pay for health coverage for the medicine she needed. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, that has all changed.

Regina was able to cut her monthly costs by more than half through the plan she enrolled in through the marketplace. In her email to President Obama, she described what it felt like when she learned the news and realized what it meant for her life.

“I remember breaking down in tears because no longer was I going to be punished for a disease I never asked for,” Regina wrote. Because of the ACA, Regina says she’s able to “breathe and relax for the first time since 2009.” And with the money she’s now saving, Regina is now looking seriously at going back to school to attain her master’s degree, and she is finally planning her wedding. She was even able to take a vacation.

Regina caught us up last week, letting us know she is still in remission, she intends to renew her coverage during the current Open Enrollment period, and she is still feeling thankful for her health insurance.

Anthony Cutrone is a husband and father of three in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. He owned his own mortgage company for decades, but when the housing crisis and a decline in brokerage opportunities squeezed him out of business, he took on jobs at a series of large banks, in part, to keep his family secure with health insurance. His hope was to eventually get back to more client-centered work at a smaller institution, to help people secure effective loans and push through mortgages. But for years, Anthony was stuck on a career path that was less than satisfying out of fear that a gap or lack of coverage could cost his family dearly. Through COBRA, he would have had to pay $1700 per month for health insurance for his family. But because of the Affordable Care Act, he was able to obtain coverage for just $259 per month.

Anthony described the relief he felt being able to change direction in his career without worrying that he was putting his kids’ health at risk. The Affordable Care Act gave Anthony the security he needed to change careers, pursue his passion, and care for his loved ones.

David Hershey from Elkins Park, Pa., hadn’t had health insurance since 2003. He was a photographer and website designer with a fluctuating income that made purchasing insurance just out of reach. But through the Affordable Care Act, he enrolled and gained insurance by May 2014. With a strong family history of cancer in mind, he put his new coverage to good use right away, scheduling a long overdue screening and colonoscopy. 

Unfortunately, the procedure revealed four abnormal polyps, three of which were removed during that procedure. The fourth was fused to his colon, and was removed in September. According to his doctor, one or all of them would have likely metastasized within a year, and according to David, if it hadn’t been for the Affordable Care Act, he would not have had that colonoscopy.  

David credits the Affordable Care Act with saving his life. He knows the importance of preventative care and is grateful for that surgery every day. 

Regina, Anthony and David are just three of the millions of Americans who were able to sign up for quality, affordable health insurance last year—and millions more are expected to enroll this year between now and the February 15 deadline. But don’t wait! To gain coverage by January 1, you’ve got to log on to and select a plan by December 15. 

For the millions who bought last year, I encourage you to return to to update your information and shop around. You may be able to find an even better deal for you and your family! The average person selecting a plan with tax credits paid $82 per month for coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplaces in 2014, and there are even more affordable plans available this year.

This holiday season, help the people close to you get the coverage they need and deserve.

For more information on deadlines or to compare plans, please visit  

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The Faces of Health Care: Ann C.

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2014 at 5:19 am

“I was finally able to have a physical and a gynecological check-up, which included a mammogram. The mammogram showed an irregularity … The cancer has been detected at a very early stage, which, with a 98% survival rate, has saved my life!”

Ann, a 51-year old mother of three, is a licensed massage therapist from Westport, CT who is dedicated to healing others. As a self-employed single mother, she could not afford health insurance. But when the Health Care Marketplace opened for all Americans last year, she found out that she qualified for Medicaid in her state. That coverage finally gave her the opportunity to see a doctor — and catch her breast cancer very early.

She will have minor surgery to remove the irregularity and now has an almost 100% chance of survival. What’s more, the cost of the screening and minor procedure will be far less than treating a more developed cancer down the line. 

Thanks to, she got the care she needed when she needed it most. 

Find out how you can get covered at Already insured? Commit to get your friends and family the insurance they need here

Read more stories about Americans whose lives are being made better by health reform.

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Five Things to Know About How President Obama’s Executive Action Impacts Undocumented Immigrants

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2014 at 5:19 am

Last week, the President took action to fix as much of our broken immigration system as possible within the scope of his existing legal authority. The President’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions are an important step to fix our broken immigration system. Millions of undocumented immigrants who live in the shadows want to play by the rules, pay their fair share of taxes, and get right with the law. The President is taking action to fix as much of the problem as he can, while continuing to work with Congress to pass a comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform bill.

The President has been clear that he can’t fix the immigration system entirely on his own; whatever action he takes will not be a substitute for long-lasting solutions that only comprehensive immigration legislation can provide.

Here are the five things that you should know about the President’s initiatives impacting undocumented immigrants in the United States.

1. You must meet strict requirements to qualify for relief from deportation.

Eligible immigrants will have the opportunity to request temporary relief from deportation if they come forward and pass criminal and national security background checks and pay a fee. They will also be eligible for work authorization and must start paying their fair share of taxes. To qualify, individuals must show that they are:

  • A parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident as of the date of the announcement (regardless of the age of the child), have been in the United States for at least five years (starting on January 1, 2010), are not an enforcement priority, and present no other factors that would make a grant of deferred action inappropriate, or
  • An individual who arrived in the U.S. before turning 16 years old and has been continuously present for at least five years (starting on January 1, 2010) regardless of how old they are today, and present no other factors that would make a grant of deferred action inappropriate.

2. You cannot apply for several months.

The U.S. government—and specifically USCIS—will not begin accepting applications until early to mid-2015, depending on the program.  But while the government is not accepting applications now, if you believe you are eligible for one or more of the initiatives, you can prepare by gathering documents that establish your identity, relationship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (if applying on that basis) and show that you have continuously lived in the United States for at least five years. To receive updates when new information is available, subscribe to this page.

3. Recent border crossers will be a priority for deportation.

You must have been in the United States for at least five years to qualify for these programs. These executive actions will not benefit immigrants who recently crossed the border, who may cross the border in the future, or who help those who cross in the future, but rather immigrants who have been living in the United States for years.  By refocusing our border security, the President’s actions have increased the chances that anyone attempting to cross the border illegally today will be caught and then sent back. 

4. If you commit fraud, you will not qualify.

USCIS will carefully review each case. As with other immigration requests, knowingly misrepresenting or failing to disclose facts will subject applicants to potential criminal prosecution or removal from the United States—so it is critical to provide truthful and accurate information and documentation.

5. Beware of immigration scams.

Many people offer help with immigration services. Unfortunately, not all are authorized to do so. While many of these unauthorized practitioners mean well, all too many of them are out to rip you off. So please be mindful of scams and potential fraud out there. Learn tips on how to avoid them here.

Make sure you remain informed and know when the application process starts and visit will be the authoritative source of information about eligibility and you can subscribe to get updates here

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