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Money Matters - Simplified


Gulf cleanup costs cut into BP profits

London -- British petroleum giant BP said Tuesday the Gulf of Mexico oil spill cost $7.7 billion more than expected, cutting sharply into its third quarter profits.

Profits dropped from $5.34 billion in the third quarter of 2009 to $1.79 billion in the third quarter this year, The New York Times reported. Costs from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill had already cost the company $32.2 billion.

The extra charges were a "stark reminder that the fallout from the spill will follow BP for some considerable time to come," said Richard Hunter, the head of British equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers.

BP has not paid shareholder dividends since the oil spill erupted after an April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon surface platform killed 11 workers.

Winter heating bills expected to rise

Washington -- The U.S. Energy Information Administration said heating bills are expected to rise 3 percent this year over last year, depending somewhat on Mother Nature.

In the South, heating bills from October through March could drop, as winter is expected to be milder than last year in southern states, the agency said in a statement.

In the Northeast, don't forget your overcoat. "Expected colder weather than last winter … will also contribute to more fuel use," the EIA predicted.

EIA Administrator Richard Newell said to expect "the average household spending $986 October through March … an increase of $24 from last winter."

Whale-watchers get more than expected

Mobile, Newfoundland -- Tourists in Canada got more than they bargained for -- close-up seats for the spectacle of orcas hunting and killing a minke whale, a tour boat operator says.

On a boat tour of the Newfoundland coast Thursday, they witnessed a pod or orcas, or killer whales, attack and kill the minke whale, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News reported.

Humpback and minke whales are common in the area south of Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula, a tour operator says, but orca whales are rarely seen.

"They were in hot pursuit of a minke whale," Chris Shortall, who runs the Molly Bawn boat tours out of Mobile on the peninsula, said. "They were attacking and biting into it."

With the tourists watching, the orcas killed and ate the minke.

Portia de Rossi to take wife Ellen DeGeneres' last name

Officially married to talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, 'Arrested Development' star Portia de Rossi is making her marriage even more official- by changing her last name to match her wife of two years, according to several published reports.

LiLo secretly freed from jail, goes directly to rehab

Jailbird Lindsay Lohan is a free woman now! She finally walked free from a Lynwood, Calif., jail in the wee hours of Monday morning, after serving 13 full days in a solitary cell, according to People.com.

Rapper T.I. marries longtime sweetheart

Rap superstar T.I. is officially off the market! He has wed his longtime girlfriend Tameka 'Tiny' Cottle Friday (July 30th) in Miami Beach.

Financial reform vote expected next week

Washington -- A vote on sweeping reforms to the U.S. financial system will take place next week, Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., the bill's sponsor, said Friday.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Dodd, the Banking Committee chairman, said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said it was his intention "to come in every day and stay late every day" to vote on amendments the bill.

Dodd said no vote on the bill would be taken until at least Tuesday so senators can debate and vote on amendments beginning Monday.

"Obviously we want to get this bill done if we can," Dodd said after several hours of debate and introduction of amendments Friday. "It's an emotional issue, given what country has gone through in the last two years."