Money Matters - Simplified

Prices

Producer prices up 0.4 percent in month

Washington -- U.S. producers paid 0.4 percent more for finished goods in October compared to September due to rising energy prices, the U.S. Labor Department said Tuesday.

On a 12-month basis prices are up 4.3 percent, up from 4 percent a month ago and 3.1 percent in August.

For producers, core prices in June -- prices excluding food and energy costs -- fell 0.6 percent, while energy prices rose 3.7 percent, the highest since January.

Prices for finished food fell 0.1 percent, falling fifth time in the past seven months, the report said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

Crude oil prices hold near $82

New York -- Crude oil prices held close to $82 per barrel in New York after the U.S. Energy Information Administration said supplies rose in the week ending Oct. 22.

Crude oil inventories gained 5 million barrels to 366.2 million barrels, while gasoline stockpiles dropped 4.4 million barrels to 214.9 million.

December delivery crude oil prices traded in a narrow range, most recently adding 4 cents on the New York Mercantile Exchange overnight to $81.98 per barrel. Heating oil prices shed 0.07 cents from a recent settlement to $2.2555 per gallon.

Reformulated gasoline prices dropped 0.02 cents to $2.0752 per gallon. Henry Hub natural gas prices added 2 cents to $3.783 per million British thermal units.

Crude oil supplies up, gas stock down

Washington -- U.S. crude oil inventories rose by 5 million barrels in the week ending Oct. 22, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday.

The agency said crude inventories increased to 366.2 million barrels during the week, with supplies remaining above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Gasoline inventories fell by 4.4 million barrels to 214.9 million barrels. Gasoline stockpiles are listed as above the upper limit of the average range.
Supplies of distillate fuels, which include heating oil, fell by 1.7 million barrels to 168.4 million barrels.

Inventories of finished gasoline and stocks of gasoline blending components fell during the week, the energy agency reported.

Crude oil prices head higher

New York -- Crude oil prices started the week making gains on the New York Mercantile Exchange, as prices solidified at a new plateau above $83 per barrel.

November delivery light, sweet crude added $2.17 to reach $83.63 per barrel, as the dollar index slide 0.09 percent.

Last week, oil ministers from the OPEC cartel met in Vienna, electing to keep production steady, citing the uncertainty of the global economic recovery. In its latest prediction, OPEC said demand would rise by 100,000 barrels per day in 2010 to 1.1 million barrels a day, enough to jar prices from a previous plateau of about $76 per barrel.

Home prices tumble in Britain

London -- Home values in Britain plummeted in September, the nation's largest lending group, Halifax, said Friday.

The value of homes fell on average by $9,561, Halifax said. The Daily Telegraph reported that the average home price fell from $267,926 in August to $258,320, the largest month-to-month drop since Halifax began tracking the data in 1983.

The price drop is expected to ripple though the economy, as home owners have considerably less collateral to bank on when applying for a home equity loan. Government fees and taxes based on property values will also decline. Refinancing also becomes more difficult when homeowners find equity in the current contract fails to match their expectations.

British food prices escalating

London -- Inflation could drive the cost of most food staples up as much as seven percent, Britain's Food and Agriculture Organization said.

The price of meat, dairy and sugar rose 1.7 percent in June, and is likely to continue escalating if global food commodity prices continue to rise, The Daily Telegraph reported.

"Such an increase (in food prices) would hit consumer spending and recovery prospects and could destabilize inflationary expectations," said economist Simon Ward.

Rising food prices could delay or cancel Britain's plan to impose a value-added tax this year, the report said.

The organization said its monthly food index said prices in August climbed at the fastest rate since September 2008.

Price for used cars jumped in July

New York -- Online automobile marketplace Edmunds.com said prices for used cars in the United States are on the rise and supplies have diminished.

In July, the average price of a 2007 model car rose to $19,248, up 10.3 percent compared to the average price of a 3-year-old car in July 2009.

The Detroit News reported Monday that car companies turned off the tap on leasing programs during the prolonged recession, which brought the supply of used cars down.

At the same time, with a 9.5 percent unemployment rate, U.S. consumers have become less willing to spend.

Crude oil prices steady Monday

New York -- Crude oil prices held steady in New York through the weekend after a week of declines that cut prices about 2.5 percent.

Economic data have not been supportive of late. Last week brought a resurgence in first-time jobless claims and weak reports on U.S. manufacturing.

Light, sweet crude oil prices, closing at $73.95 Friday, added 9 cents through the weekend to $74.04 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Heating oil prices climbed 0.007 cents from a previous settlement to $1.978 per gallon. Reformulated blendstock gasoline prices shed 0.0005 cents to $1.867 per gallon. Henry Hub natural gas prices dropped 0.071 cents to $4.066 per million British thermal units.

U.S. oil falls below $77 on forecast fears

New York -- U.S. crude oil futures fell Wednesday to settle below $77 a barrel after the U.S. Federal Reserve reduced its U.S. economic growth outlook.

Light, sweet crude for August delivery settled down 28 cents, or 0.36 percent, at $76.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after rising as high as $78.15. Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange settled down 27 cents, or 0.36 percent, at $75.66 a barrel.

The Fed projected the U.S. gross domestic product would rise 3 percent to 3.5 percent this year, down from the central bank's 3.2 percent to 3.7 percent spring projection.

Grain prices romp Wednesday

Chicago -- Grain futures roared into higher ground Wednesday, following equity markets and crude oil prices, all of which staged rebounds.

Corn was up 9 1/2 to up 10 3/4, soybeans were up 27 1/4 to up 32 1/2, wheat was up 23 to up 25 3/4 and oats were up 5 3/4 to up 6 3/4.

Corn prices found support in a U.S. Department of Agriculture report that said 71 percent of the crop was in good to excellent shape, down from 75 percent two weeks ago. Wheat futures turned higher with traders attentive to crop conditions in Europe. Soybean prices jumped with concerns over recent rains and South Korea's announced purchase of 25,000 metric tons.

The prices: