Global oil prices closed in on $102 a barrel for the first time since last May. But motorists shouldn't be too worried about a sudden spike in gas prices. That's the word from Tom Kloza of the respected Oil Price Information Service. "I don't think we're looking at any sort of explosive move in oil prices. The US is going to be producing more crude oil than we're importing probably within the next six weeks or so." Stock futures fell with worries that higher oil prices could push up energy costs for businesses and consumers. But Kloza says the worries about oil could be overblown. "We're using less as a country. We're producing more as a country and our refining is in good shape so the headlines tend to get the financial community a little bit more excited than the American consumer."
The Egypt crisis is not the only concern for financial markets. The government crisis in Portugal threatens to undermine a recent bailout plan. Two key ministers resigned. Portuguese bank share values plunged today.
A federal judge has approved a deal that will allow HSBC to pay a record $1.9 billion penalty. The agreement would settle accusations the global bank helped Mexican drug traffickers, Iran, Libya and others under US suspicion or sanctions move money around the world. The settlement, originally announced in December, is the largest penalty ever imposed on a bank. The Justice Department's case maintained that HSBC's failure to monitor itself allowed criminals and suspect countries like Cuba, Myanmar and Sudan to move hundreds of millions in prohibited transactions through US financial institutions from the mid-1990s through 2006.
The auto industry turned in its best performance in six years. June sales were stronger than expected, thanks in part to the comeback for housing and construction sales of Ford F-150's and other pickups. "Full-sized pickup trucks are selling like crazy after a long downward spiral," says Michelle Krebs of Edmunds. Car loans are also helping to boost sales. "Credit is widely available and it's very cheap." Karl Brower at Kelly Bluebook says rising consumer confidence is also a plus: "Slow but sure confidence that people are gaining in the economy at least that's going to hold steady and is not going to backslide."
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesabc