Entries in Prices (47)


Gas Up 3 Cents; Odd Price Drop in Oil Markets

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The weekly average price of a gallon of regular gas is $3.88, up three cents compared to a week ago, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.  This price is up 28 cents from a year ago.

Gas prices are still expected to move lower in coming weeks, but protests in oil producing countries have pushed the price of crude oil higher, which contributes to higher gas prices.

The Fed’s QE3 announcement last week is another factor that could keep prices higher.

In the crude oil market Monday, prices dropped $3 in less than a minute in New York trading.  Brent crude, a separate crude oil market also saw a similar price plunge.

It was not immediately clear what caused the sharp drop, absent any concrete reason there is speculation that this was the result of a high frequency trade -- a massive computer trade.

Oil settled at $96.62 a barrel in New York trading Monday, down $2.38.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NFL's Average Ticket Prices Up 2.5 Percent

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The New York Jets can at least call themselves champions in one category: ticket prices.

The Jets have the highest average, non-premium ticket price in the league at $117.94, according to Team Marketing Report's Fan Cost Index, which was released Thursday afternoon.

The Jets topped the Patriots, who have sold out every game since 1994, by 10 cents ($117.84).

In its annual survey, Team Marketing Report (TMR) found that the average NFL ticket, purchased from a team, will cost $78.38 this season, up 2.5 percent from last year. The average cost to bring a family to the game and buy four regular tickets (not suite or club), two beers, four hot dogs, parking, a program and two adult size hats is $443.93, up 3.9 percent from last year.

Besides the Jets and Patriots, three other teams have non-suite tickets that are selling for more than $100: the New York Giants ($111.69), the Chicago Bears ($110.91) and the Dallas Cowboys ($110.20).

The teams with the cheapest average tickets are the Cleveland Browns ($54.20), the Buffalo Bills ($58.36) and the Jacksonville Jaguars ($59.54).

TMR says that 10 teams raised ticket prices by at least one percent this year, that up from the nine that dared to make increases coming into the lockout last season. The largest increase? The Chicago Bears at 9.3 percent. The average cost of a beer at a game is up 15 cents from last year to $7.28, the study found.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Average Gas Prices Fall Lower

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The average price of a gallon of regular gas is now at $3.67, down nearly 5 cents from a week ago, according to the Department of Energy.  This price is also down about 13 cents from this time a year ago.
Even prices on the West Coast are now coming down.  The most expensive gas in the country at an average of $4.23 a gallon, the price is down nearly 2 cents from a week ago.

Still, there appears to be an unprecedented amount of diversity between regions and within regions across the country, according to Oil Price Information Service chief oil analyst Tom Kloza.

Kloza says the diverse range in prices won't last for long.

"I expect the diversity will narrow and prices will tend to get toward a closer relationship," he said.  But, we will see numbers that are pretty close to what we're seeing right now between now and July 4th week."

Kloza says he is keeping his eye on Iran, though.  He does not expect any big changes in the next few weeks, but says Iran is the "one fly-in-ointment that could send crude oil prices back higher in the second half of the year -- hopefully, not in the first half." Still, he says, "it's something to keep in mind in the next few months."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Vanilla Shortage: Rocky Road for Ice Cream Prices

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Could you survive a summer without vanilla ice cream?

If you can’t, be prepared to pay more:  the cost of a scoop of vanilla ice cream could go up 10 percent this summer amid a shortage of vanilla pods, Mintec analysts say.

A poor harvest in vanilla-producing countries, Mexico and India, have caused more users to buy beans from Madagascar.  Production of the beans fell 90 percent in Mexico and Indonesia last year.  The monopoly in Madagascar has resulted in an increase of wholesale prices from $25 per kilogram to $35 to $40 in two months.

The Telegraph reported that about 40 percent of the world’s supply was shipped out of Madagascar due to an increase in orders.

“The stocks in the world are being run down and we are getting to a point now where we are likely to see the price suddenly shoot upwards,” Mintec business development director Nick Peksa said.

The labor intensive process of vanilla harvesting makes it the second most expensive spice, next to saffron, which sells for an average of $5 per gram.  Vanilla beans are harvested once a year but the cultivation process from planting to storefront can take up to six years.

“It is the most expensive ingredient in ice cream production per kilogram, so it is highly likely that some producers will not be able to absorb the extra cost,” Peksa said. “It could push the price of ice cream up by around 10 percent.”

Ice cream isn’t the only product expecting a price increase: medicines, perfumes and food production will also be affected by the shortage.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gas Prices Rise Again: Average Price Now $3.59

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Gas prices continued an upward climb, settling at an average price of $3.59 a gallon, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

In some places, consumers are already seeing gas prices over $4. The weekly gas price average, released Tuesday, was up 40 cents from a year ago, and up by 7 cents from last week.

"I'm expecting the national average to float dangerously close to $4 a gallon," Patrick DeHaan,'s senior petroleum analyst, told ABC News. DeHaan said that following last week's average price per gallon of $3.53, gas prices are very close to "that psychological $4 mark."

"We are on course to break through $4 nationally," he said. "Some of these major metro areas could hit $4.50 or even higher. This year we may have a run for the money in knocking down the record from 2008."

The peak national average retail price of regular grade gasoline hit $4.114 per gallon on July 7, 2008, according to the EIA.

In 2011, the real annual average for a gallon of regular gas reached $3.56, which was up more than a $1.00 from the 2010 average of $2.90, according to the EIA. The EIA, which has compiled data since 1919, has the previous record high as $3.45 for 1981.

"We may set a new record," said DeHaan. "I'm still expecting 2012 to be the highest yearly average we have ever paid."

One of the reasons for the climb is Iran.

"Iran continues to make threats, and we continue to hear rhetoric about how they will cut off shipments to the U.S. or cut off access through the Strait of Hormuz," DeHaan said.

On Monday, Iran's oil ministry announced it had halted crude shipments to British and French companies.

"They're using oil as a weapon," DeHaan said. "The situation is tied to Iran's nuclear ambitions and the United States and European Union seem hell bent on making sure they drop their nuclear ambitions -- placing them on a collision course with who will act first."

Iran holds the world's fourth-largest proven oil reserves and the world's second-largest natural gas reserves, according to the EIA.

"The price that affects the price you pay at the pump has gone up just as much and that's why you're starting to see retail prices rise," said Ben Brockwell of Oil Price Information Service.

Brockwell said the situation in Iran and the EU may be one reason that the futures market is higher, but said he does not believe the reasoning is completely "justifiable."

"There's more to this than Iran and Europe," he said. "It's something else that is piling on.

"I think demand in oil consumption is growing at a rapid pace in developing countries like China and India," Brockwell said. "There's also sense that the U.S. economy is improving, and with that oil demand will be improving."

Regardless of whether the U.S. economy is improving, analysts don't expect gas prices to come down any time soon.

"This is somewhat a big game of chess and U.S. motorists are held victim," DeHaan said. "In fact, motorists all over the world are held victim."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bumpy Ride Ahead: Gas Prices May Soon Hit $4 a Gallon

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Gasoline prices could soon hit $4 a gallon, a threshold they haven't flirted with since last spring.

The average price paid by U.S. drivers for a gallon of regular now stands at $3.52, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which released its latest figures Monday afternoon. That price represents an increase of 0.04 percent from a week ago and 0.38 percent from a year ago.

Experts expect prices to spike another 60 cents or more, with the $4 mark being touched -- or exceeded -- sometime this summer, probably by Memorial Day weekend, the peak of the summer driving season. The last time the U.S. saw $4 gasoline was back in the summer of 2008.

"I think it's going to be a chaotic spring," says Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service. He expects average prices to peak at $4.05, though he and other industry trackers say prices could be sharply higher in some markets.

Historically, $4 a gallon has been the upper limit of what consumers have been willing to pay. Last April, national prices peaked at about $3.98 a gallon before receding. "It's going to be tough to sustain that level," thinks Brian Milne of energy tracker Televent DTN. "People will drive less."

Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston, says where prices will go long-term is anybody's guess. He has been following gas prices one way or another for more than 30 years. He distinguishes between those forces affecting prices that are predictable, and others that are not.

Chief among the unknowns is war in the Middle East -- or, if not war, increased tensions. It's such worries, he says, that are most responsible now for the run-up in prices at the pump. Also boosting prices is the higher seasonal demand that comes with summer vacations, plus a federally mandated switch from winter gas formulations to costlier ones for summer. The summer ones, designed to reduce emissions, require further refining steps.

Where could gas be by year's end? "It depends if the Middle East blows up in a war or not," says Lipow. "That's really the big headline out there: Whether or not geopolitical events disrupt supply. We see that affect already."

U.S. inventories have been rising. Demand has fallen as U.S. consumers have adjusted to driving less. The reason prices aren't falling comes down to increased uncertainty.

Prices, he says, are being buoyed by homegrown uncertainties as well. The market is waiting to see if Sunoco will shut down its Philadelphia refinery, which, if it happens, would be the third refinery closure in Pennsylvania in the last six months. "If you're in the Northeast," he says, "you need to be concerned, especially if you're in the Philadelphia region."

Sunoco, he says, has been closing its refining capacity in response to factors that include reduced demand, the displacement of gasoline by renewable fuels, and competition from cheaper imported gasoline. "Over the past two years, they've shut just over one-third of the Northeast's refining capacity. If they shut this next one, it will be half."

Once shuttered, refineries aren't easy to restart. "They're not coming back," he says of Sunoco's. The company has announced it will decide by July 1 whether to sell or close its Philadelphia facility.

Iraq announced on Sunday the opening of a new oil export terminal in the Persian Gulf, able to increase by some 200,000 to 300,000 barrels per day the amount of crude it pumps into holds of the world's tankers. The country's total oil exports currently stand at around 1.7 million barrels a day.

Does this increase mean good news at the pump for U.S. drivers?

No, says Lipow. World demand for oil is rising. So, Iraq's increase in exports means good news for oil-thirsty nations in Asia, Africa and South America. But in the U.S., where demand is falling, it will have no affect on retail gas prices.

What would lower U.S. gas prices, he says, is the ability to pipe crude from newly discovered fields in North Dakota to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico, home to 40 percent of U.S. refining capacity. That increase in domestic gasoline production would lessen U.S. dependency on more expensive imported fuel. By the end of this year, North Dakota will be producing more oil than Alaska. But the pipeline, for now, remains, he says, "a political football."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Average Cost of New Car Rises to over $28K, Report Finds

Comstock/Thinkstock(WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.) -- Consumers are now forking over more dough than ever to buy a car, an indication that the auto industry is steering back onto the road after swerving off four years ago.

J.D. Power and Associates' 2012 annual automotive industry outlook reports that it now costs on average $28,341 to buy a new car -- an 11 percent jump from 2008.

The increase in price is partly attributed to in-vehicle entertainment features that now come standard in many models.

Another reason consumers are digging deeper in their pockets than in the recent past is due to cash rebates and other incentives falling by $400 from years ago.

Naturally, the huge profits automakers are enjoying after languishing for years come with a caveat from National Automobile Dealers Association executive John Humphrey, who says, "We see increasing optimism but the auto maker discipline in production must remain."

J.D. Power also warns that the industry must be wary of consumers with dicey credit histories being given loans they can't afford.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


What to Expect from J.C. Penney’s New Pricing Strategy

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- J.C. Penney is betting that its new “Fair and Square” pricing strategy, which takes effect on Wednesday, will lure customers into the store year-round instead of only at sale and promotion times.

The strategy, announced last week, will feature an "Every Day" low pricing policy, along with "Monthly Value" discounts on select items and "Best Price" discounts twice a month.

Peter Wahlstrom, a senior analyst with investment research firm Morninstar Inc., called J.C. Penney’s three-tier pricing strategy a “dramatic undertaking.”

The company, based in Plano, Texas, will first offer its lowest or “best” prices on the first and third Fridays of every month.

“What the company figured out is customers aren’t coming into the store frequently enough,” Wahlstrom said.  “They’ve been conditioned to only look at things at a discount.”

Informing customers that items will be on sale starting on two specific days a month may help manage shoppers’ expectations and provide some information as to whether prices will be marked down further, Wahlstrom said.

The company will also offer “month-long values” on specific items, which will also help shift the customer mentality of waiting for additional price drops.

Wahlstrom said the month-long pricing strategy could open a can of worms, however, if customers delay making purchases in the hope that items will go on sale later.

Third, other items will be priced in red, indicating everyday, low prices without coupons or weekend sales.  Wahlstrom said the monthly and clearance sale items could be loss-leaders, which means the department store will not make much or any money on them.  But J.C. Penney is counting on customers’ also purchasing products from well-known national brands, such as Martha Stewart and Liz Claiborne.

Wahlstrom said the new pricing strategy “makes sense” for the company’s goals, but the company still has a tough road ahead in proving itself to customers.

“It’s not going to be a straight line.  It’s going to be fairly choppy.  There will be growing pains along the way,” said Wahlstrom.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gas Prices Continue to Rise

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Gas prices are continuing to move upward with a gallon of regular at $3.38, up 8 cents from a week ago, the Energy Department’s U.S. Energy Information Administration said Monday.

The weekly national average increased almost 30 cents from a year ago and rose for the third consecutive week, adding to predictions that 2012 might be an uncomfortably expensive year for drivers across the country.

Last year was a record year for gas prices, but 2012 is forecasted to surpass its annual average. The real annual average for a gallon of regular gas last year hit $3.56, up from $2.90 in 2010, according to the EIA. From its data that begins in 1919, the previous record high was in 1981, at $3.45.

Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy’s senior petroleum analyst, forecasts that by Memorial Day, the national average will range between $3.86 and $4.13 per gallon. He also predicts that prices in 2012 will come close to or set new all-time highs. If prices soar this year, drivers could spend $200 to $300 more for gas in 2012.

At the end of the day, light, sweet crude for February delivery settled at $101.31 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 25 cents, or 0.3 percent, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Consumer Spending Rises in October; Wholesale Prices Drop

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In what could be a good precursor to the holiday shopping season, retail sales rose in October for the fifth month in a row, according to a government report released Tuesday.

The Commerce Department says last month's increase was 0.5 percent -- a fairly strong showing. The figure is the first indicator of fourth quarter growth.

Meanwhile, another report released by the Labor Department on Tuesday shows that wholesale prices dropped 0.3 percent in October, with companies paying less for gas and new cars, among other goods.  The drop in the Producer Price Index is a sign of less inflation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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