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June 30, 2008 at 11:30 AM
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U.S. markets up slightly Monday morning

NEW YORK, June 30 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes opened with slight gains Monday but inflation fears remained as oil prices reached a record of more than $143 per barrel in New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 5.46 points, or 0.05 percent, in midmorning trading at 11,351.97. The Standard and Poor's 500 index gained 3.21 points to 1,281.59, up 0.25 percent. The Nasdaq composite index rose 2.34 points to 2,317.97, up 0.1 percent.

The 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell 4/32 to yield 3.985 percent.

The dollar was mixed. The euro traded at $1.5773 from Friday's $1.579, while the dollar traded at 105.88 yen from Friday's 106.16 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei index lost 62.98 points to 13,481.38, off 0.46 percent.

Food export bans feeds problems, some say

GENEVA, Switzerland, June 30 (UPI) -- Grain export bans enacted by India, Vietnam, China, Bolivia and other countries are only partly effective in holding down prices, experts said.

The export bans help steady prices in the countries that enact them but "fuel the fire of price increases" for importing nations, Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Trade Organization told The New York Times.

With food prices rising, 14 countries have restricted or banned rice exports. Fifteen have done the same with wheat exports and more than a dozen have clamped down on corn exports, the Times reported Monday.

The hoarding has triggered panic buying and disrupted supply lines for relief organizations, the Times reported.

The World Food Program had to find a new supplier for wheat when Pakistan began a ban of wheat exports, causing temporary disruption of supplies increases intended for Somalia and Afghanistan, the Times said.

"We're having trouble buying the stocks we need for emergency operations," Executive Director of the World Food Program Josette Sheeran told the Times.

"One country's act to promote food security is another country's food insecurity," U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab told the Times.

NASA awards Kennedy space center contract

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., June 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. space agency has given a Chevy Chase, Md., firm a contract to provide information and communications support at the Kennedy Space Center.

The Abacus Technology Corp.'s cost-plus-award-fee contract commences Oct. 1, with a five-year base period and four one-year options to extend performance. If all options are exercised and the maximum amount of work is ordered, officials said the potential value of the contract would be approximately $898 million.

Abacus will furnish resources, including management, personnel, equipment and supplies to support Kennedy's work, including voice communications, visual imaging and timing, transmission and cable systems, administrative phones, institutional computer networks, network IT security, publications, library and computer services, NASA said, with some services also provided to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base.

Bottled water taps fears, some say

MIAMI, June 30 (UPI) -- The bottled water industry has convenience, fashion and fear on its side, industry observers and U.S. mayors have said.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution in Miami last week urging that bottled water be limited to emergency situations, The Washington Post reported.

Drinking bottled water started as a fashion statement, drunk "because it was chic," said environmental author Elizabeth Royte. "But then it went from fashion to fear."

U.S. mayors passed the resolution in part because "the subtext of the bottled-water industry is the suggestion that tap water is unsafe or unhealthy," Mayor Martin Chavez of Albuquerque told the Post.

"America's mayors have no problem with the industry marketing the convenience," Chavez said.

But, Chavez had concerns about the pricing of a product that is already cheap in developed countries.

"It has a 1,000- to 10,000-percent markup over tap water. Most taxpayers would be outraged if we paid $1,000 for a pen when it is available for a dollar," he told the Post.

The International Bottled Water Association responded with a statement, saying the non-binding resolution could turn consumers away from a "safe, healthy, conveniently available food product," the Post reported.

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