Have Gas Prices Peaked? Morning Business Memo

Mar 12, 2012 8:05am

The soaring price of gas is making some people angry while others are taking action to cut costs. The American Public Transportation Association says more people are using buses and trains to get to work. Ridership rose 2.31 percent last year to the highest level since 2008, when gas prices soared to an average of around $4.10 a gallon. One survey says today’s average for regular is $3.81 — and the trend is likely to be confirmed when the official gas price is released later today by the US Energy Department. Some analysts say the recent rise is likely to peak soon. Global oil futures fell last week. West Texas crude futures are now close to $107 after peaking at $110.

If you want to buy one of those new iPads get in line. Late last week Apple reported demand “is off the charts.” The US Apple store now advises customers they will have to wait at least two to three weeks for their new gadgets to arrive.

Feeling better about the economy? New surveys of consumer confidence find more Americans are positive about the state of their personal finances. Retailers have been reporting solid gains as mild weather encouraged spending by shoppers. The Commerce Department survey on February retail spending will come out tomorrow and is expected to show a solid gain. Industrial Production and Consumer Price reports are due out on Friday. The Federal Reserve is to release results of its latest stress tests at the banks. They’re expected to show signs of progress as the financial industry continues to recover from its worst crisis since the Great Depression.

European finance minister are expected to agree to a second massive bailout for Greece, preventing a messy bankruptcy. Through a bond swap agreement with private creditors $138 billion will be shaved off Greece’s enormous debt mountain. But even this may not be enough to prevent future bailouts. Greece has seen its economic output shrink by 20 percent  since 2008. The next candidate for serious help may be Portugal, which is also struggling with its debt.

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