Morning Business Memo:
Finally… Gas prices are coming down in most parts of the country and the near future looks brighter for motorists. “I think it’s good news for folks that are traveling on Halloween but particularly good news for Thanksgiving time,” says Tom Kloza with The Oil Price Information Service. He says gas will drop by about 35 cents a gallon by Thanksgiving, and other analysts agree. “Supply is expected to begin increasing, coupled with an expected drop in demand which we’re already seeing. Equals lower prices,” says Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst at Gasbuddy.com. “We should see relatively smooth sailing with the national average in the low to perhaps the mid $3 a gallon range.” The Energy Department’s weekly survey is expected to show another drop when the numbers are released today. However, AAA says gas prices remain 25 cents above year-ago prices, and 39 cents below the record high set back in July 2008.
If you’re planning to fly to see friends or family this Thanksgiving prepare to pay more. On many routes air fares are higher than they were last year and well above prices paid in 2010. Holiday flights are filling up fast, says Jeanenne Tornatore with Orbitz Travel. “I would suggest booking by at least the end of October for your Thanksgiving, and Christmas should be soon after that.” Peak travel days, with the highest fares, are the day before Thanksgiving plus Sunday and Monday after. “Over Christmas the busiest and most expensive travel days will be Sunday December 23 and Wednesday December 26.”
The stock market may have another roller coaster week after share prices on Friday had their biggest one day drop in four months. Poor earnings news was the cause with disappointments from Google, IBM, Microsoft and General Electric. This will be another busy week for corporate earnings with more than one fourth of the S & P 500 announcing their profits and sales for the most recent quarter. Today’s numbers include reports from Caterpillar, Yahoo and Texas Instruments. Apple will release its quarterly report later in the week. Many corporations – especially those with a large share of overseas sales – have seen their sales drop for the first time since the recession. Yet despite the gloom over earning, 2012 has been a very good year for most 401(k) plans. The benchmark S & P index is up 14 percent.
Japan’s trade deficit widened in September as exports plunged 10.3 percent from a year earlier, weighed down by Europe’s debt crisis and a surge in antagonisms with China that have damaged close economic ties. Central bank governor Masaaki Shirakawa told a quarterly meeting of the bank’s regional managers that the world’s third-largest economy is “leveling off.”
Remember those acts of piracy on the high seas? The International Maritime Bureau says ocean piracy worldwide fell to its lowest level since 2008 over the first nine months of this year as navies and shipping companies cracked down on attacks off the coast of Somalia. The report says 233 attacks were recorded worldwide in the first nine months of this year, down from 352 in the same period last year.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc