Let's have a little good news at the top of our daily money roundup. Cheaper energy is a shot in the arm for the US economy. The price of crude oil closed below $100 a barrel yesterday in global wholesale markets, and one reason is strong US production. Supply is plentiful. Already energy costs are far cheaper for American businesses and consumers than they are in many nations overseas, especially Europe. That helps US firms stay more competitive. And what about consumers? A new government forecast says the average price for gasoline later this year could fall to $3.15 a gallon - the lowest since 2010. Winter home heating prices are likely to be lower than they were last year.
The Dow Jones Industrial index slipped a bit yesterday but the Standard & Poor's 500 index inched to another record high. Stock values held up surprisingly well during the government shutdown, but consumer confidence did not.
A new report out today finds nearly three in four Americans are holding back on their spending plans. "It seems that more than four years after the recession ended people are still clutching their wallets tightly," says Doug Whiteman of Bankrate.com. "Our index for October showed a drop in financial security to the lowest level since February and this was primarily because of a big dip in Americans' feelings about their job security," Whiteman told ABC News Radio. "We are pinning that to the budget feud in Washington and the federal government shutdown."
Auto testers at Consumer Reports are giving negative reviews to two new luxury sedans - the Lexus I-S 250 and Infinity Q50. "They're not cheap cars by any means, but really what they promise to deliver is kind of a big gap with what they do deliver," says Jake Fisher, director of Auto Testing at Consumer Reports. His criticism of the I-S 250 is blunt. "Not very fast, it's not fuel efficient, not very sporty, it rides bad, it's cramped inside. There's really not a whole lot going for it."
Netflix is cashing in on its popularity. The Internet video subscription service says its third-quarter earnings were four times higher than a year ago. The line of Netflix original programming helped attract 1.3 million more US subscribers. There are 31 million in all - and that's more than HBO's total.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow 212-456-5100