|Dow||+7.84 to 17,817.90|
|S&P 500||+5.91 to 2,069.42|
|Nasdaq||+41.88 to 4,754.85|
|10-YR Yield||-.005 to 2.31%|
|Gold||-$0.90 to $1,196.80|
|Crude Oil||-$0.78 to $75.73|
It’s official: We’re paying the lowest prices for gasoline in four years!
The long-standing Lundberg survey found that regular gas now sells for an average $2.84 a gallon, down a dime from the previous week. It hasn’t been this cheap since November 2010. Albuquerque, NM registered the lowest in the continental U.S. at $2.47, while San Francisco was the highest at $3.14.
That’s good news considering how many of us hit the nation’s highways during the Thanksgiving holiday week. AAA predicts that just over 46 million Americans will drive at least 50 miles from home for the holiday. That would be a 4.2 percent rise from a year ago, and the highest since 2007.
|Over 46 million Americans are expected to hit the road this week.|
You can thank the domestic energy renaissance for some of the relief, and slowing economic growth in other parts of the world for the rest. The first factor has driven U.S. energy production much higher, while the second force has driven global demand down.
But will the good times keep on rolling? That likely depends on the next move by the OPEC oil cartel.
Officials from the 12-nation group are meeting in Vienna on Thanksgiving Day to decide whether they should cut production to shore up crude oil prices. Analysts say a cut of at least 1 million barrels per day (BPD) is likely necessary if OPEC wants to stem recent declines. Its current quota is 30 million BPD.
The good news for us — and bad news for OPEC — is that we’re getting much more energy independent. We relied on OPEC nations like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Kuwait and Iraq for only 40 percent of our oil imports in August, the least since 1985. At the same time, our domestic production has surged to around 9 million barrels per day — the highest in three decades.
|“The good news for us is that we’re getting much more energy independent.”|
My strategy here has been to focus less on the absolute level of oil prices, and more on who is winning and losing thanks to the domestic energy boom. That means buying shares of companies that are making a killing from rising energy production, transportation, storage, and processing HERE — and shunning those reliant on the “old” energy market dominated by the likes of OPEC.
Is that working out for you? Let me know at the Money and Markets website. I’d also like to know if the break you’re getting at the pump is changing your behavior. Is it freeing up more cash for holiday spending? Are you just banking the savings for a rainy day? Were lower gas prices a factor in your deciding whether to stay put or hit the road? Again, please use the comment section to sound off!
|Our Readers Speak|
Boy does a topic like Obamacare bring out some passionate debate — with a fairly equal split among those citing its benefits as those talking about its drawbacks.
Reader Tom A. said: “My daughter had a very successful business and was a staunch Republican. But she had a medical problem and could no longer get health coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
“The business is now dissolved. But now she can get health coverage, so she now has a different opinion. It has been a blessing to her.”
“We need to have affordable health care in this country; it just needs to be fixed and easier to apply for.”
Reader Bookworm added: “Obamacare has been a godsend for our adult daughter. She has poor health, and could not get affordable coverage. She’d been on an individual plan since 2005, which went up in cost and down in coverage each year.
“Last year her policy ran $615 with a $3,000 deductible, and the list of things not covered was extensive. If Obamacare is repealed she will most likely have no coverage due to prior health issues. Our son’s work finally is covering the workers due to the Obamacare mandate. The high premiums and high deductibles are due to insurance companies raising their rates.”
On the other hand, Reader Bob said: “My insurance company told me my plan no longer qualified. I had to switch to an ‘approved’ plan costing 50 percent more (with almost triple the deductible). When I asked my agent about a cheaper plan with an even larger deductible, she told me they no longer exist. I sure hope this experiment is helping a lot of people, because it’s really p***ing me off (and I supported the idea before the real world showed up).”
Adding to that, Reader Mike said: “Prior to Obamacare, I paid approximately $780 per month for my family; me, my wife and two children. Now, fast forward to today; my rates have increased 50 percent each year over the two years.
“I even split my policies into two separate policies; previously we had a pretty standard policy with a $30 co-pay. Now, I have a policy with a deductible of $5,000; I have not seen a doctor in the two years except for a flu shot and the Shingles vaccine which I obviously paid out of my pocket.
“My family also did not require any visits over the two years. We cost the insurance companies nothing out of their pockets but we now pay a combined premium over $1,600 per month! I have significantly less insurance in place and pay 100 percent more than before.”
Bottom line: Many of you like the fact people with pre-existing conditions or less income can get coverage now. But many others note that Obamacare hasn’t brought down premiums, and in fact, appears to be helping drive up costs for Americans with traditional health insurance. If you want to add to the discussion, make sure you go here!
|Other Developments of the Day|
Negotiations related to Iran’s nuclear programs will now extend for another seven months. Iran had been talking with representatives from six countries as part of a consensus-seeking dialogue. The U.S. and Israel worry that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, while Iran insists it just wants to enrich uranium to make fuel for nuclear reactors.
It’s not very often that the CEO of a large, multinational corporation retires suddenly. You usually go through an extended period where responsibility is gradually handed off to a well-groomed successor.
But Louis Chenevert of United Technologies (UTX, Weiss Ratings: B) just took a “sudden retirement” in the words of the Wall Street Journal. No word on the reason why, though the company denied it had anything to do with recent financial performance issues for the diversified manufacturer of everything from jet engines to elevators to air conditioners.
The weather was nutty in Chicago over the past few days — around 10 degrees when we landed Thursday night, but near 50 when we left Sunday morning. Those kinds of big temperature swings are wreaking havoc on people’s nerves — particularly in the Buffalo metropolitan area! Several feet worth of snow there is now melting thanks to a rapid warm up, raising the risk of serious flooding.
Say it ain’t so! Brewer Budweiser is ditching the Clydesdale horses this holiday season in favor of advertising spots targeted at a younger demographic. The company is doing so to combat market share erosion, with more younger drinkers turning to craft beer.
Until next time,
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