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Turmoil in Iraq is pushing up US gasoline prices

Violence in Iraq is helping to make gasoline in the U.S. more expensive, depriving drivers of the usual price break between Memorial Day and July Fourth.

Global oil prices have risen 5 per cent since an insurgency took over two Iraqi cities. Any sustained increase in oil and gasoline prices can damp economic growth.

In the U.S., the average price of $3.68 per gallon is the highest price for this time of year since 2008, the year gasoline hit its all-time high. The good news is that gasoline is not likely to spike above $4 as it did six years ago, experts say. Or even cross $3.90, as in 2011 and 2012.

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New push to get girls into computer sciences

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — Diana Navarro loves to code, and she's not afraid to admit it. But the 18-year-old Rutgers University computer science major knows she's an anomaly: Writing software to run computer programs in 2014 is — more than ever — a man's world.

Less than 1 per cent of high school girls think of computer science as part of their future, even though it's one of the fastest-growing fields in the U.S. today with a projected 4.2 million jobs by 2020, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This week Google, with a driverless car and Web-surfing eyeglasses under its belt, has given The Associated Press an early look at how it's trying to change the gender disparity in its own workforce, and in the pipeline of potential workers, by launching a campaign Thursday called "Made with Code."

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Harley-Davidson introduces electric motorcycle

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Harley-Davidson has introduced its first electric motorcycle, a sleek, futuristic bike that sounds like a jet airplane taking off and can go from 0 to 60 mph in less than four seconds.

The bike isn't in production yet. Instead, the public will get its first look at handmade demonstration models at an invitation-only event Monday in New York. The company will then take the models on the road for riders to try and provide feedback. Harley will use the information to refine the bike, which might not hit the market for several more years.

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Texas gas town considers banning fracking

DENTON, Texas (AP) — Natural gas money has been good to this Texas city: It has new parks, a new golf course and miles of grassy soccer fields. The business district is getting a makeover, and the airport is bustling, too.

For more than a decade, Denton has drawn its lifeblood from the huge gas reserves that lie beneath its streets. The gas fields have produced a billion dollars in mineral wealth and pumped more than $30 million into city bank accounts.

But this former farming centre north of Dallas is considering a revolt. Unlike other communities that have embraced the lucrative drilling boom made possible by hydraulic fracturing, leaders here have temporarily halted all fracking as they consider an ordinance that could make theirs the first city in the state to permanently ban the practice.

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Review: Amazon phone watches you watch it

SEATTLE (AP) — Amazon set out to do something different with the unveiling of its first smartphone Wednesday. How about a completely new way of interacting with your phone, for starters?

As part of the showcase of its brand new "Fire Phone," Amazon.com Inc. took the wraps off a feature it calls "dynamic perspective." Turns out, it's more than just a gimmick that allows you to see in 3-D.

The feature makes use of four infrared cameras pointed at your face that help judge whether you're looking at the screen straight-on, at an angle and how close you are to the screen. The phone can then adjust the image accordingly. That gives you the ability to see depth in images, to see around objects in the foreground, to zoom in for a better look, and to toggle through websites, books and menus and even to play games by tilting the phone back and forth and up and down while you look at it.

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Minimum wage debate pits cities against states

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Dominique Mayfield makes $8.25 an hour washing dishes and busing tables at a Syracuse brewpub. Shantel Walker makes $8.50 an hour at her pizzeria in New York City, where the rent is more than double what it is in Syracuse. Two very different cities, but nearly the same wage.

The economic differences between America's big cities and elsewhere have prompted leaders in Seattle, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Oklahoma City and other cities to push to raise the minimum wage within their borders.

The efforts are running into opposition from state lawmakers from both parties and business groups who say a patchwork of minimum wages could lead to a confusing and unequal business climate in which labour costs would vary dramatically from city to city.

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Late recovery gives S&P 500 another record close

Investors remained in a record-setting mood Thursday.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed at an all-time high for the second time in two days and notched its fifth gain in five days.

The Dow Jones industrial average and Nasdaq composite ended mixed after drifting between small gains and losses for much of the day.

The three key stock indexes all opened higher, holding on to tiny gains in premarket trading as investors sized up the latest data on unemployment aid applications and an index of economic indicators.

The Labor Department reported that applications for unemployment benefits fell last week to 312,000, the lowest in more than six years. The Conference Board added to the good news, saying its index of leading indicators rose 0.5 per cent in May from the previous month.

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Survey: Number of millionaires up 2M to record

NEW YORK (AP) — Nearly 2 million people around the world became millionaires last year, a year-over-year increase of 15 per cent, as surging stock and home markets lifted the fortunes of the wealthy. The increase raised the number of millionaires to a record 13.7 million.

A report from consultant Capgemini and the Royal Bank of Canada estimated the combined net worth of millionaires at $53 trillion in 2013. That was up 14 per cent from the year earlier — the second-biggest increase since the two companies began issuing wealth reports with comparable data in 2000.

The accelerating pace of wealth accumulation among the affluent coincides with a widening gap between the rich and everyone else in many developed countries.

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Fewer Americans applying for jobless aid

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, as the number of people collecting jobless aid fell to its lowest level in more than six years.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment benefits fell 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 312,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, declined to 311,750.

There are 2.56 million people receiving benefits. That's the lowest total since October 2007, about two months before the recession began.

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Gauge of US economy gains 0.5 per cent in May

WASHINGTON (AP) — A gauge designed to predict the economy's future health increased for a fourth month in May, providing further evidence that the economy is gaining strength after a harsh winter caused activity to go into reverse.

The Conference Board said Thursday that its index of leading indicators increased 0.5 per cent last month, an improvement from a revised 0.3 per cent gain in April. The strength was broadly based with positive contributions from all the financial and labour components of the index.

The overall economy actually shrank at an annual rate of 1 per cent in the January-March quarter, the victim of a severe winter which crimped activity in a number of areas.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 16,921. The S&P 500 rose two points, or 0.1 per cent, to 1,959. The Nasdaq composite lost three points, or 0.1 per cent, to 4,359.

The price of U.S. benchmark crude for July delivery rose 46 cents to $106.43 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 80 cents to $115.06 a barrel in London, setting a fresh nine-month high. Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to $3.13 a gallon. Natural gas fell 8 cents to $4.58 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil rose 1 cent to $3.05 a gallon.

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