Tag Archives: Gas Prices

Consumer Prices Driven Higher by Jump in Gas Prices

By Reuters

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WASHINGTON — U.S. consumer prices rose more than expected in June as gasoline prices jumped, but underlying inflation pressure remain benign against the backdrop of lukewarm domestic demand.

The Labor Department said Tuesday its Consumer Price Index increased 0.5 percent, the largest increase since February, after nudging up 0.1 percent in May. Gasoline prices accounted for about two thirds of the increase in the CPI.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected consumer inflation to increase 0.3 percent last month.

In the 12-months through June, consumer prices advanced 1.8 percent after rising 1.4 percent in May. It was also the largest increase since February.

Stripping out volatile energy and food, consumer prices increased 0.2 percent for a second straight month. That took the increase over the 12 months to June to 1.6 percent, the smallest increase since June 2011. The so-called core CPI had increased 1.7 percent in May.

While both inflation measures remain below the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target, details of the report suggested the recent disinflation trend had probably run its course, with medical care costs rising.

There were also increases in the prices for new motor vehicles, apparel and household furnishings. That could keep on track expectations the U.S. central bank will start scaling back its massive monetary stimulus in September.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who last month said the central bank would start cutting back the $85 billion in bonds it is purchasing each month to keep borrowing costs low, has viewed the low inflation as temporary and expects prices to push higher.


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AOL Readers' Secret for Buying Electric Cars: Don't!

By Bruce Watson

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Rick Diamond/Getty Images for NPG

A little while back, I asked DailyFinance’s readers for their stories about buying vs. leasing cars. While many of their responses focused on fairly common concerns — financing, mileage, long-term value, and so forth — another trend quickly emerged. Many readers were traditionally car buyers, but switched to leasing because of another consideration entirely: rapid changes in technology. Several readers offered suggestions of ways to get the best technology — and the best price — through a lease

Stable vs. Unstable Technology

While nobody wants to get stuck with an outmoded car, the danger of driving last year’s technology is increased when it comes to electric vehicles. With improvements in batteries and electrics constantly on the horizon, there is a very real possibility that this year’s technological marvel will be next year’s Betamax on wheels.

This concern definitely played a large part in “Mary’s” decision to go with a lease. She wrote that “We always bought our cars new,” but that she switched to leasing when got her electric Nissan Leaf. “Electric car technology is changing and so fast that we didn’t want to be tied to soon-to-be-obsolete technology for the long term,” she wrote. She has a three-year lease, and expects electric car technology to be “greatly improved” by the time it runs out. Next time around, though, plans to buy a hybrid crossover, based on the idea that the technology is “stable” and less likely to change as rapidly.

Getting Help From Car Companies

Future shock is nothing new when it comes to consumer purchases: Apple, for example, often finds itself on the sharp end of furious screeds about their incredibly short product cycle, which takes roughly six months to transform the hot new thing into an outmoded dinosaur. But, unlike Apple, car companies often have a hard time selling their unique value proposition. Put another way, electric car manufacturers can’t rely on customer loyalty; they need to find some way to help car buyers overcome their worries.

It’s not surprising, then, that so many car companies seem to be working around this technology concern. As “DElia3630” notes, she got a special deal on her electric car: “The deal was a special factory lease with a low out of pocket expense and a low monthly payment.” Like Mary, DElia is wary of getting stuck with outdated technology. On the other hand, if electric car technology proves relatively stable, she explains, “I can buy the car at the end of the lease and take advantage of its popularity.”

Gas Prices: The Real Payoff

“John” also got a good deal on a Nissan Leaf lease. Because of a friend, he was able to get his car at $1,000 below invoice, and an added $7,500 government tax incentive helped seal the deal. The …read more

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Walmart Offers 15¢-a-Gallon Gas Discounts to Cardholders

By Matt Brownell

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Victoria Arocho, Getty Images

If you’re looking to take some of the edge off high gas prices, your local Walmart (WMT) may be able to help.

The retailer announced Monday that drivers in 21 states will be able to get 15 cents per gallon off their gas purchase when they pay with a Walmart credit card or MoneyCard; those using a Walmart gift card will get 10 cents off. The discount is effective immediately at more than a thousand Murphy USA and Walmart gas stations.

The program is a revival of last fall’s “Great Gas Rollback” program, which offered an identical discount in 20 states. This iteration of the promotion will run through July 7.

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Walmart isn’t the only company offering a gas discount that depends on your payment method. As we’ve previously noted, mini-market chain Cumberland Farms offers a 10-cents-per-gallon discount when you pay using a smartphone app with a linked checking account. Walmart competitor Costco (COST), meanwhile, has an American Express (AXP) card that gives you 3% cash-back on all gas purchases. A few other credit cards likewise offer big cash-back bonuses for gas purchases, though those rates may vary by quarter.

As of this writing, the national average cost of a gallon of gas is $3.63. For the full list of states where you can get the discount, see Walmart’s announcement.

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.


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Crackdown on Sulfur Could Boost Gas Prices 9 Cents a Gallon

By The Associated Press

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Steven Senne/AP


WASHINGTON — Reducing sulfur in gasoline and tightening emissions standards on cars beginning in 2017, as the Obama administration is proposing, would come with costs as well as rewards. The cost at the pump for cleaner air across the country could be less than a penny or as high as 9 cents a gallon, depending on who is providing the estimate.

An oil industry study says the proposed rule being unveiled Friday by the administration could increase gasoline prices by 6 cents to 9 cents a gallon. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates an increase of less than a penny and an additional $130 to the cost of a vehicle in 2025.

The EPA is quick to add that the change aimed at cleaning up gasoline and automobile emissions would yield billions of dollars in health benefits by 2030 by slashing smog- and soot-forming pollution. Still, the oil industry, Republicans and some Democrats have pressed the EPA to delay the rule, citing higher costs.

Environmentalists hailed the proposal as potentially the most significant in President Barack Obama‘s second term.

The so-called Tier 3 standards would reduce sulfur in gasoline by more than 60 percent and reduce nitrogen oxides by 80 percent, by expanding across the country a standard already in place in California. For states, the regulation would make it easier to comply with health-based standards for the main ingredient in smog and soot. For automakers, the regulation allows them to sell the same autos in all 50 states.

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The Obama administration already has moved to clean up motor vehicles by adopting rules that will double fuel efficiency and putting in place the first standards to reduce the pollution from cars and trucks blamed for global warming.

“We know of no other air pollution control strategy that can achieve such substantial, cost-effective and immediate emission reductions,” said Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. Becker said the rule would reduce pollution equal to taking 33 million cars off the road.

But the head of American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, Charles Drevna, said in an interview Thursday that the refiners’ group was still unclear on the motives behind the agency’s regulation, since refining companies already have spent $10 billion to reduce sulfur by 90 percent. The additional cuts, while smaller, will cost just as much, Drevna said, and the energy needed for the additional refining actually could increase carbon pollution by 1 percent to 2 percent.

“I haven’t seen an EPA rule on fuels that has come out since 1995 that hasn’t said it would cost only a penny or two more,” Drevna said.

A study commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute estimated that lowering the sulfur in gasoline would add 6 cents to …read more
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10 Reasons You're Not Feeling Better About the Economy Yet

By Rich Smith

Woman riding a metro to work.  10 Reasons Why You're Not Feeling Better About the Economy

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(Melanie Stetson Freeman, The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) capped a historic run last week, closing at new highs all five days, and ending just shy of 14,400. Meanwhile, the Department of Labor reported that 236,000 jobs were created in February, another recent high.

So, America, are you happy now?

The economic experts and the Wall Street analysts all say you should be. Consumer confidence levels are up more than 11 points since January, and judging from the surveys, most people think things are only getting better. The Wall Street Journal says consumers are “freshly flush” from stock market gains, and starting to feel confident enough to take on debt again. The fourth quarter of 2012 saw consumers taking out new loans at their fastest rate since the economy crashed in 2008.

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In short, things are going great, and now that the stock market is up nearly 10 percent in the past two months, everyone would really appreciate it if you’d stop worrying so much, buy some stuff, invest in some stocks, and help keep this rally going.

Your 10-point reality check

And yet, if you’re feeling somehow left out of the party, and wondering if you’re missing something — that somehow, someway, you are the crazy one.

Well, perhaps not. Turns out, once you remove the pink glasses, and don some green eye-shades instead, not everything looks quite so rosy.

What follows are just 10 examples of why you might be feeling down in the dumps when everyone else acts like you should be living high on the hog.


Motley Fool contributor Rich Smith owns shares of Bankrate.com.

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Consumers Spent Cautiously in February, Report Expected to Show

By The Associated Press

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Shoppers push their carts at the Costco store in Nashua, N.H., earlier this month. A government report Wednesday is expected to show consumers spent cautiously in February (Charles Krupa/AP).

WASHINGTON — Americans likely spent cautiously in February at retail businesses, balancing a surge in hiring against higher taxes and gas prices.

Economists forecast that retail sales rose 0.2 percent in February from January, according to a survey by FactSet. That would be only slightly better than January’s 0.1 percent increase.

The Commerce Department will release the report at 8:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday.

The retail sales report is the government‘s first look at consumer spending, which drives about 70 percent of economic activity. A private survey of major retailers released last week suggests that consumers boosted spending last month but at a slower pace than January.

Some of the anticipated increase likely went to cover higher gas prices. The national average price for a gallon of gas went from $3.42 on Jan. 31 to $3.78 on Feb. 28.

Still, any gain would indicate that Americans kept spending in February despite an increase in Social Security taxes that has lowered take-home pay this year for anyone collecting a paycheck. Someone earning $50,000 has about $1,000 less to spend in 2013. A household with two high-paid workers has up to $4,500 less.

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Consumers may be able to absorb higher taxes if employers continue hiring and increasing wages.

The economy added 236,000 jobs in February, driving the unemployment rate down to 7.7 percent, its lowest level in more than four years. The gains signal that companies are confident enough in the economy to intensify hiring even in the face of tax increases and government spending cuts.

Since November, employers have added an average of 205,000 jobs a month, up from 154,000 a month in the previous four months. The hiring spree has been fueled by steady improvement in housing, auto sales, manufacturing and corporate profits, along with record-low borrowing rates.

An improving in job market has also helped lift consumer confidence. And if it continues, it could provide a spark to growth after a dismal fourth quarter of 2012.

Many analysts believe the U.S. economy will grow a modest 2 percent this year. While job gains should help provide some momentum, growth will likely be held back by uncertainty about the federal budget, higher Social Security taxes and across-the-board government spending cuts that kicked in March 1.

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Want to Save on Gas? It's All About How You Pay

By Matt Brownell

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Drivers are once again feeling the sting of high gas prices, with the average price of regular gas rising by 15 cents a gallon in the last week alone. While you can always drive around town looking for the cheapest gallon in your area, it’s also important to remember that your method of payment can make a big difference.

We were reminded of this fact when Cumberland Farms, a chain of convenience stores and gas stations in the Northeast, announced that customers could get 10 cents a gallon off…

Want to Save on Gas? It’s All About How You Pay originally appeared on DailyFinance.com on 2013-02-22T05:00:00Z.

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