HARI SREENIVASAN: The price of oil spiked today, as Egypt’s changing political situation unfolded. For the first time in more than a year, the cost of a barrel of oil passed the $102 dollar mark. It ended the day in New York, trading up more than a dollar and a half to close above $101 dollars.
Oil markets weren’t the only ones in turmoil. European financial markets were jolted by a deepening political crisis in Portugal. Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho refused to step down, even though two top ministers resigned this week in protest of new austerity measures. Coelho told reporters in Berlin he was hopeful his center-right coalition government would be able to find a solution to avoid collapse.
PRIME MINISTER PEDRO PASSOS COELHO, Portugal: I will not resign because I don’t have any reason to resign. I don’t see an important reason to lose majority in the parliament, because there is no big issue in political terms justifying a fall of the government.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The crisis could also jeopardize Portugal’s international bailout at a time when the country is suffering its worst recession since the 1970s with 18 percent unemployment.
The financial turmoil in Europe and the crisis in Egypt were not enough to dampen stocks on Wall Street. They climbed higher, in a shortened day of trading, on encouraging news about the American job market. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 56 points to close above 14,988. The Nasdaq rose above 10 points to close above 3,443.
France called today for a two-week suspension of free trade talks between the U.S. and the European Union. It ordered the temporary delay in the wake of recent claims the U.S. spied on its European allies’ offices. So far, the E.U. Commission has yet to agree to postpone the trade negotiations scheduled to begin Monday in Washington.
In Pakistan, at least 16 suspected militants died in a pre-dawn U.S. drone strike today, according to Pakistani intelligence officials. The raid happened in the North Waziristan tribal region. It was believed to target members of the Haqqani Network from neighboring Afghanistan. The Pakistani government denounced the attack as a violation of its sovereignty.
The first decade of this millennium saw record high temperatures around the world and a faster warming trend. The report from the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization found every year of the past decade, except 2008, was among the 10 warmest since records started in the 1850s. Climate experts also found the decade was unprecedented in its extremes: heat waves in Europe and Russia, droughts in the Amazon Basin and several huge hurricanes.
Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Gwen.