That Sound Could Be Oil Hitting Bottom
Has the price of oil finally hit bottom? After seven straight months of falling costs, concerns about production cuts could lead the market to do a U-turn. That may mean higher gasoline prices in the coming months. The national average may rise as much as 10 cents a gallon by Valentine's Day, says Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum Analyst at GasBuddy. Oil companies stopped production at nearly 100 U.S. rigs last month, and "major producers such as Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips have slashed billions of dollars from their investment programs," reports The Financial Times. West Texas and Brent crude have bounced back nearly 1 percent since last Thursday. The price of oil may have halved since its high last year, but it has bounced so strongly over the past two days that it has technically climbed into bull market territory, often classified as a jump of 20 percent from the cyclical low.
The United Steelworkers Union is calling for a strike of 3,800 workers at nine oil refineries mostly in Texas and California after it says negotiations with Shell Oil broke down. The union says Shell representatives left the bargaining table after United Steelworkers rejected an offer from the company. Shell officials did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment. Shell is serving as the lead company in national oil bargaining talks with the union. United Steelworkers represents about 30,000 workers at refineries, terminals, petrochemical plans and pipelines across the country.
More than 2 million Toyota, Chrysler and Honda vehicles are being recalled for faulty air bags that may inflate while the car is running. The recall includes some Acura MDX, Dodge Viper, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Honda Odyssey, Pontiac Vibe, Toyota Corolla and Toyota Avalon models made in the early 2000s. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the recall is going ahead after automakers' attempts to fix the defects didn't work in some vehicles. Regulators say about 1 million Toyota and Honda vehicles involved in the new recalls are also subject to a separate recall related to defective Takata air bags that could deploy with enough force to cause injury or death. There have been no reports of death or injuries related to the additional models being recalled.
European nations are split over what to do about Greek government debt. France is offering support for Greece's effort to win debt forgiveness. But Germany has rejected proposals that Greece should be forgiven part of its rescue loans. Greece's new finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, met with French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron and Finance Minister Michel Sapin in Paris Sunday. He plans to travel to London and Rome for more discussions this week.