Gasoline prices down sharply for the month
NEW YORK - A sharp decline in the price of oil this month is making gasoline cheaper at a time of year when it typically gets more expensive. It's a relief to motorists and business owners, and a positive development for the economy.
Over the past three weeks, the price of oil has fallen by 9 percent to $89 a barrel. That has helped extend a slide in gasoline prices that began in late February. Nationwide, average retail prices have fallen by 27 cents per gallon, or 7 percent, since Feb. 27, to $3.52 per gallon (Tucson's average is $3.32, AAA says). Analysts say pump prices could fall another 20 cents over the next two months.
The price of oil is being driven lower by rising global supplies and lower-than-expected demand in the world's two largest economies, the United States and China. As oil and gasoline become more affordable, the economy benefits because goods become less expensive to transport and motorists have more money to spend on other things. Over the course of a year, a decline of 10 cents per gallon translates to $13 billion in savings at the pump.
Bernanke will miss high-profile forum
WASHINGTON - Ben Bernanke is intensifying speculation that this year will be his last as Federal Reserve chairman by deciding to skip the Fed's annual August conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo., citing an unspecified "personal scheduling conflict."
Jackson Hole has long been a high-profile platform for speeches by Fed chairmen. Since taking over the Fed in 2006, Bernanke has been the marquee speaker each year. In 2010, he used his speech to signal that the Fed could launch another bond-buying program. Stock prices jumped in response to his remarks.
His second four-year term will end in January, and neither he nor President Obama has signaled whether Bernanke will serve a third term.
Existing-home sales dip but still higher than 2012
WASHINGTON - Sales of previously occupied U.S. homes dipped in March as the supply remained tight. But the sales pace remained ahead of last year's.
The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales dipped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million, from 4.95 million in February. February's figure was revised lower.
Sales in March were 10.3 percent higher than a year earlier.
Halliburton in talks over BP blast, spill
NEW ORLEANS - BP's cement contractor on the drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 announced Monday that it is trying to negotiate a settlement over its role in the disaster, a focus of trial testimony that ended last week.
Halliburton Chief Financial Officer Mark McCollum said during a conference call to discuss first-quarter earnings that talks were at an advanced stage.
The Houston-based company says it hopes court-facilitated negotiations will resolve a substantial portion of private claims it has faced since the Deepwater Horizon rig blast spawned the nation's worst offshore oil spill.
Caterpillar profit takes hit as mining sector slows
A slowdown in the mining business is digging a hole in Caterpillar's profits.
First-quarter profit shrank 45 percent, and Caterpillar has lowered its expectations for full-year sales and profit because its mining business is slowing. Sales of Caterpillar-branded mining machines such as large trucks and bulldozers will drop by half this year, the company said Monday.
Caterpillar, based in Peoria, Ill., said mining customers placed big orders for equipment last year, but then mining profits fell, so now those customers are cutting back.
Nike yanks T-shirts in bombing's aftermath
NEW YORK - Nike Inc. says it immediately pulled from the market T-shirts emblazoned with the words "Boston Massacre" in the aftermath of last week's bombing during the Boston Marathon that killed three people and left dozens injured.
The shirts, which featured blood-splattered lettering, were designed for New York Yankees fans. The "Boston Massacre" phrase has been used to describe a pivotal late-season sweep by the Yankees of the rival Boston Red Sox in 1978. That season culminated in a World Series championship for the Yankees.
Netflix sees big leap in Net video subscribers
SAN FRANCISCO - Netflix's decision to feature original programming on its Internet video service appears to be pulling in more customers.
Numbers released Monday showed Netflix Inc. added 2 million U.S. subscribers to its video streaming service during the first three months of the year. Through March, Netflix had 29.2 million U.S. streaming subscribers.
The Associated Press