Oil Prices Hit Four-Month High

Oil prices hit their highest levels in more than four months on Friday, bolstered by the Federal Reserve’s steps to strengthen the U.S. economy and by anxiety about the specter of confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program.

The global oil balance is already tighter than forecasters expected just a few months ago, because of disruptions in oil output from nations outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and by the effectiveness of sanctions against Iran, which is exporting about 750,000 to 1 million fewer barrels a day than it was a year ago.

“The story has been one of a strong stock market, a weaker dollar and continuing geopolitical events,” said Adam Sieminski, head of the federal Energy Information Administration.

He said political strife in Syria, Yemen and Sudan cut off some supplies while the latest price surge was “driven by central bank moves in both the U.S. and Europe” and by “optimism about the economy, which changes expectations about what demand will be going over the course of the next six to 12 months.”

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/oil-prices-hit-four-month-high/2012/09/14/b09829ca-fe9f-11e1-b153-218509a954e1_story.html

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Drought May Sink Mississippi River Commerce

ABOARD THE DREDGE POTTER, on the Mississippi River — This ship is making sure that the Big River, shrinking under one of the worst droughts in modern history, stays deep enough.

The Potter is scooping this stretch of the Mississippi River’s navigation channel just south of St. Louis, the ship’s 32-foot-wide head sucking up about 60,000 cubic yards of sediment each day and depositing it via a long discharge pipe a thousand feet to the side in a violent, muddy plume that smells like muck and summer.

The Army Corps of Engineers has more than a dozen dredging vessels working the Mississippi this summer.  Despite being fed by water flowing in from more than 40 percent of the United States, the river is feeling the ruinous drought affecting so much of the Midwest.  Some stretches are nearing the record low-water levels experienced in 1988, when river traffic was suspended in several spots.

That is unlikely this year, because of careful engineering work to keep the largest inland marine system in the world passable.  But tow operators are dealing with the shallower channel by hauling fewer barges, loading them lighter and running them more slowly, raising their costs.  Since May, about 60 vessels have run aground in the lower Mississippi.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/us/drought-may-sink-mississippi-river-commerce-649733/#ixzz246DvXrjq

Glum Econmic News For June

The economic recovery slowed down in June.  Consumer spending fell by .02 percent, which can be blamed in part on rising gas and food prices.  Workers saw incomes rise by only .01 percent, the smallest increase in nine months.  On a positive note, personal savings rose 5.4 percent.

Hiring in June was at the lowest level in nine months.  Only 18,000 net jobs were added and the unemployment rate rose to 9.2%.

Some economic forecasters are lowering their outlook for economic growth in the second half of the year from 2.5 percent to 2.0 percent.

Consumer Price Index Rose .5% In February

US consumer price index 1800–2007.

Image via Wikipedia

Now it is official and not just our imagination that money is not going as far as it used to!  The Consumer Price Index made its highest jump in two years last month.  Gas and food were the biggest culprits attributing to the gain.  Without those two items, there was only a .2 percent rise.

Gas prices rose 4.7 percent last month alone!  Food costs increased .6 percent.  Unfortunately, more prices increases are down the road.