Oil below $78 on stronger dollar, demand doubts
Oil prices fell below $78 a barrel Tuesday amid the strengthening dollar and continued doubts about global demand for crude.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for February delivery was down 23 cents to $77.77 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
There was no floor trading on the Nymex on Monday due to the Martin Luther King holiday. The February contract closed at $78 a barrel on Friday.
Victor Shum, an energy analyst with consultancy Purvin & Gertz in Singapore, said oil prices were likely to stay in a range as investors waited for cues from fourth quarter corporate earnings reports in the U.S.
So far, earnings have been mixed, with better-than-expected results from the likes of Intel Corp. offset by disappointments elsewhere, most notably Alcoa Inc.
Citigroup loses $7.6B in 4Q as it repays TARP
NEW YORK (AP) — Citigroup said Tuesday it lost $7.58 billion during the final three months of 2009 as consumers still struggled to repay loans and the bank repaid its government bailout money.
Citigroup on Tuesday said $6.2 billion of the loss was tied to paying back $20 billion in money it received from the government.
The New York-based bank set aside $8.18 billion to cover soured loans during the quarter. However, in an encouraging sign, Citigroup’s provision for loan losses declined 10 percent from the previous quarter and 36 percent from the year-ago period when the credit crisis peaked.
Still, the bank’s chief financial officer, John Gerspach, said in a statement, “the environment continues to be challenging.” And the company noted in its news release that it had cut 100,000 jobs during the past year.
FDA debates tougher cancer warning on tanning beds
WASHINGTON (AP) — Just as millions head to tanning beds to prepare for spring break, the Food and Drug Administration will be debating how to toughen warnings that those sunlamps pose a cancer risk.
Yes, sunburns are particularly dangerous. But there’s increasing scientific consensus that there’s no such thing as a safe tan, either.
This is a message that Katie Donnar, 18, dismissed until a year ago when, preparing for the Miss Indiana pageant, she discovered a growth on her leg — an early-stage melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
She can’t prove tanning beds are to blame, but started using them as a sixth-grade cheerleader, says she stepped under the bulbs about every other day during parts of high school, and at one point even owned one. No more.
- Contract for video surveillance at state schools DALLAS (AP) — A Dallas company has won a $12 million contract to install a high-definition surveillance system at Texas residential facilities for the developmentally disabled.
Inflation tame in 2009, but consumers are squeezed
WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumer inflation was tame in 2009, with prices rising 2.7 percent. Yet families felt squeezed as their spending power sank in the face of falling wages, job losses and higher prices for energy, medical care and education.
A surge in energy prices last year offset the biggest drop in food costs in nearly a half century.
The Labor Department said Friday its Consumer Price Index rose a modest 0.1 percent in December. Excluding food and energy, prices were also up just 0.1 percent last month.
IRS: Online tax filers can get refunds in 10 days
WASHINGTON (AP) — Want a quick tax refund? File your federal return online and have the refund deposited directly into your bank account.
The Internal Revenue Service launched its online filing system Friday with a promise that people who do their taxes electronically will get refunds in as few as 10 days.
For those who file paper returns, refunds are expected to take four weeks to six weeks, said David R. Williams, the agency’s director of electronic tax administration.
Health talks in overdrive with Obama pushing
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats rushed to strike final deals on historic health care legislation Friday as they nervously eyed next week’s special Senate election in Massachusetts that could doom the bill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she hoped lawmakers could send the tax and spending provisions of the package to the Congressional Budget Office later in the day for a cost estimate, a necessary step before votes are cast.
Still unresolved would be controversial policy issues, such as financing for abortions, and participants said it could easily take days to reach agreement.
2 groceries closing in Jackson
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Texas-based Brookshire’s is closing two of its four supermarkets in the metropolitan Jackson area.
Company spokesman Sam Anderson says the stores in north and south Jackson will close Feb. 11.
He wouldn’t say why the stores are closing other than it was a business decision.
Brookshire’s locations in Brandon and Ridgeland were sold to Kroger, says Kroger spokesman Joe Bell. Bell says the purchase should be completed in May.
AP Sources: Tentative deal on health bill tax
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House reached a tentative agreement with union leaders early Thursday to tax high-cost insurance plans, officials said, removing one of the major stumbling blocks in the way of a final compromise on comprehensive health care legislation sought by President Barack Obama.
Details were not available of the tentative deal, which the White House was expected to present to senior lawmakers later in the day.
The agreement came as the White House sought fresh concessions from drugmakers and other health care providers as they looked for funds to sweeten subsidies the bill provides for lower-income families who cannot afford coverage.
Senior Democratic lawmakers who spent hours at the White House on Wednesday rearranged their schedules to return at mid-afternoon, and Obama planned to address a closed-door meeting of the House Democratic rank and file in late afternoon.
Natural gas tumbles after supply report
NEW YORK (AP) — Natural gas prices tumbled Thursday after a government report showed that even after a frigid two-week winter blast, U.S. stockpiles are still well above average for this time of year.
Since March, natural gas held in underground caverns has remained at the high end of the five-year average. That’s because some of the biggest energy consumers, industrial plants and manufacturers, have been in a recession-fueled funk.
Even as people turn up the heat at home to battle the elements and utilities use more natural gas because prices have fallen so far, it hasn’t been enough to offset weak industrial demand.
That’s been a big break for consumers who have had a relatively cheap winter to date. Natural gas futures remain about where they were to begin the year.
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- Oil below $78 on stronger dollar, demand doubts Oil prices fell below $78 a barrel Tuesday amid the strengthening dollar and continued doubts about global demand for crude.