NEW YORK (AP) — As the week went along, Americans' commutes got cheaper.
The average price for a gallon of gasoline fell by 6 cents from Monday through Friday, to a two-month low of $3.51 per gallon. The average fell at least a penny in 48 states, with only Hawaii prices gaining a fraction and Idaho's staying flat. The steepest declines were in Indiana (15 cents) and Michigan (14 cents).
A number of refineries that suffered outages in the Midwest in the past month or so returned to operation, easing a shortage of gasoline and dropping prices. The average price has fallen 40 cents in both Michigan and Wisconsin since June 1.
Meanwhile, the price of oil fell Friday for the first time this week, and it finished the second quarter of the year with a slight loss.
Benchmark oil for August delivery fell 49 cents to end at $96.56 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. For the April-June quarter, oil slipped 67 cents, although it rose 11 percent from a low of $86.68 on April 17.
The decline at the gas pump is good news for drivers as the July Fourth holiday approaches. Most should pay less than on Memorial Day, when gas averaged about $3.65. But this year's June swoon isn't as large as last year's — by Independence Day in 2012, the average price was $3.34.
Brent crude, which is used to set prices for oil used by many U.S. refineries to make gasoline, fell 66 cents to $102.16 a barrel.
In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:
— Heating oil fell 1 cent to $2.88 a gallon.
— Natural gas fell 2 cents to $3.57 per 1,000 cubic feet.
— Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $2.75 a gallon.
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks were flitting between small gains and losses on Friday, a calm end to the most volatile trading month in nearly two years.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 39 points, or 0.3 percent, to 14,986 at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index was up less than one point to 1,614.
Investors seemed unsure how to react to recent statements by Federal Reserve officials about the central bank support's for the economy. Mixed economic news Friday added to investor uncertainty after big stock gains so far this year.
"It's a dull Friday," said Gary Flam, a stock manager at Bel Air Investment Advisors. A bull market, he added, is "rarely a straight march up."
The S&P 500 index is still on track to end its best first half of a year since 1998, when it gained 17.7 percent, including dividends. The index has gained 14.3 percent so far this year.
On Friday, consumer confidence was up but a key gauge of business activity in the Chicago area plunged.
"Investors don't know what to make of the news," said John Toohey, vice president of stock investment at USAA Investments. "I wouldn't be surprised to see more ups and downs."
The University of Michigan said its index of consumer sentiment dipped to 84.1 in June from 84.5 the previous month. But that was still relatively high. May's reading was the highest since July 2007.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Business Barometer sank to 51.6 from a 14-month high of 58.7 in May. That was well below the level of 55 that economists polled by FactSet were expecting.
The Dow gained 365 points over the previous three days this week as investors jumped back into the market following a slump last week. That's when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the central bank could begin scaling back on its economic stimulus program later this year, providing the economy continues to recover. Since then, other top Fed officials have stressed that the Fed wouldn't pull back its support too soon.
The Dow has had 15 triple-digit moves in June, the most since October 2011.
The Nasdaq composite index was up 13 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,414.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.49 percent from 2.47 percent late Thursday. Last month, the yield fell as low as 1.63 percent. Treasury yields help set borrowing costs for a range of consumer and business loans.
In commodities trading, gold gained $12.10 to $1,223.70 an ounce. The price of crude oil fell 49 cents to $96.56 a barrel. The dollar rose against the euro and the Japanese yen.
Among stocks making big moves:
— BlackBerry maker Research In Motion plunged $3.97, or 26 percent, to $11.08 after the company posted a surprise loss in the first quarter and warned of future losses despite releasing its make-or-break smartphones this year. The company also discontinued making new versions of its slow-selling tablet device, The Playbook.
— Accenture fell $8.22, or 10 percent, to $72. The consulting firm cut its revenue and profit outlook for its fiscal year ending in August. Revenue was hurt by lower demand in Europe as well as its communications, media and technology division.
In overseas trading, Japanese stocks rose on news that a key consumer price index stopped falling for the first time in seven months, a sign that the world's third-largest economy is making progress in its battle against deflation. The government also reported that industrial production rose 2 percent, a fourth straight monthly increase. The benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 3.5 percent.
LONDON (Reuters) - Starbucks, whose thin tax payments in Britain provoked a backlash against corporate tax avoidance when revealed by Reuters, paid no tax for the year to September 30, 2012.
The coffee giant's main UK subsidiary reported its 15th straight annual loss at its UK stores in accounts filed on Friday.
Reuters revealed in October that Starbucks reported consistent UK losses while telling investors the British unit was profitable and promoting managers of the unit within the group.
Friday's accounts showed a UK loss of 30 million pounds ($46 million), down from the 32 million pounds loss it reported for the previous year, helped by a 4 percent rise in turnover to 413 million pounds.
The company cited challenging economic conditions and a competitive UK coffee market, although the accounts show profits were also undermined by a royalty for the use of the Starbucks brand of 26 million pounds.
This is paid to an affiliate in the Netherlands, where Starbucks has negotiated what it said was a very low tax rate.
The UK unit also paid 2 million pounds in interest to affiliated companies, the accounts showed.
Following widespread criticism from politicians and the picketing of stores, Starbucks said it would pay or pre-pay around 10 million pounds a year in taxes in 2013 and 2014.
The company said it would not take tax deductions for certain intercompany payments such as the royalty fee, interest payments and the 25 percent mark up on coffee beans that is paid to a Swiss-based Starbucks coffee purchasing unit.
Starbucks recently paid 5 million pounds to the UK tax authority as the first installment of its 2013 tax bill, British media reported earlier this month.
Starbucks declined immediate comment.
($1 = 0.6593 British pounds)
(Reporting by Tom Bergin; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)