Thursday, December 13, 2007

U.S. producer prices surge in November

U.S. producer prices surge in November

Biggest jump in 34 years due to record rise in gasoline prices

The Associated Press
updated 8:44 a.m. PT, Thurs., Dec. 13, 2007

WASHINGTON - Wholesale prices shot up 3.2 percent in November, the biggest jump in 34 years, propelled by a record rise in gasoline prices.
The big inflation pickup in the Producer Price Index, which measures the costs of goods before they reach stores shelves, came after wholesale prices inched up by just 0.1 percent in October, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
When volatile energy and food prices are removed, all other prices rose by 0.4 percent in November, after being flat the month before. The last time this price barometer registered a bigger increase was one year ago. The pickup in “core” prices suggested inflation may be seeping into a wider range of goods.
The inflation figures were worse than economists were expecting. They were forecasting overall wholesale prices to go up by 1.5 percent, and core prices to increase 0.2 percent.
Soaring energy prices were mostly to blame. (NOTE: No, its the Fed)
They leaped by a record 14.1 percent in November.
Gasoline prices posted an all-time high increase of 34.8 percent last month. Diesel fuel prices jumped 35.8 percent and home heating oil soared 31.5 percent.
In another report, new applications filed last week for unemployment benefits dropped by 7,000 to 333,000, the lowest level since the middle of November. It was an encouraging sign that the employers aren’t resorting to large-scale layoffs as they cope with an economy whose growth has been slowed by housing and credit troubles.
The figures were close to analysts’ forecasts for claims to dip to 335,000.
Still, new-job creation has clearly lost speed this year as construction companies, factories, mortgage companies and others slash jobs because of the housing collapse and credit crunch.
Rising inflation could complicate the Federal Reserve’s job of trying to keep the fragile economy expanding and inflation low.
The Fed on Tuesday sliced a key interest rate to 4.25 percent, the third reduction this year, in an effort to prevent the country from falling into a recession. Rate reductions are a bracing tonic for weak economic growth, while rate increases are used to combat inflation.
Oil prices, which had neared $100 a barrel, have moderated. But they are still high. High energy prices can slow economic activity and spread inflation if they cause the prices of lots of other goods and services to rise.
“Elevated energy and commodity prices, among other factors, may put upward pressure on inflation,” the Fed warned on Tuesday. The Fed pledged to continue to “monitor inflation developments carefully.”
Some bright spots in the inflation report: food costs were flat in November, after rising by a sharp 1 percent in October. And, costs for electronic computers dropped 2.4 percent.
But prices for many other goods moved higher. Light motor truck prices rose 2.3 percent, the most in one year. Passenger car prices went up 0.6 percent and platinum and gold jewelry rose 2 percent.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Oil Min: Iran Has Halted Oil Transactions In Dollars -AFP

Oil Min: Iran Has Halted Oil Transactions In Dollars -AFP

Sat, Dec 8 2007, 09:40 GMT

Oil Min: Iran Has Halted Oil Transactions In Dollars -AFP

TEHRAN (AFP)--Major crude producer Iran has completely stopped carrying out its oil transactions in dollars, Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari said on Saturday, labeling the greenback an "unreliable" currency.

"At the moment selling oil in dollars has been completely halted, in line with the policy of selling crude in non-dollar currencies," Nozari was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.

"The dollar is an unreliable currency, considering its devaluation and the oil exporters' losses," he added.

The world's fourth-largest oil exporter, Iran has massively reduced its dependence on the dollar over the past year in the face of U.S. pressures on its financial system.

The U.S. has successfully encouraged major European and Asian banks to cut their dealings with Iran in a bid to make the Islamic republic give way on its controversial nuclear program.

Washington has also blacklisted major Iranian banks for alleged support of terrorism and seeking nuclear weapons, charges denied by Tehran.

Iran has reduced its assets in dollars held in foreign banks and urged OPEC to take collective action to price oil in other currencies such as the euro, instead of the U.S. currency which is used across the world at present.

The decline of the dollar, which has weakened considerably against the euro and other currencies in the past 12 months, has affected the revenues of OPEC members because most of them price and sell their oil exports in the U.S. currency.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Anheuser-Busch to increase the price of beer

Anheuser-Busch to increase the price of beer
Rising ingredient costs will continued to be passed along to consumersupdated 2:48 p.m. PT, Thurs., Nov. 29, 2007ST. LOUIS - Anheuser-Busch Cos. thinks consumers are more than willing to pay a little extra for beer.
The nation’s biggest brewer will continue raising prices to counter a rise in the cost of ingredients, Chief Financial Officer W. Randolph Baker told a group of stock analysts at a conference in New York Thursday.
Baker said consumers have accepted price increases on most products in 2007, sustaining profits for the maker of Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob.
“Our object for the year was to find a way to cover (cost increases), and we did — but just barely,” Baker said. The cost of agricultural commodities like hops and barley has risen steeply, Baker said.
Baker highlighted a bright spot for Anheuser-Busch — an apparent increase in consumer interest for domestic beers. Last year, beer industry shipment volume grew 2.1 percent, he said, the best annual performance since 1990. he said beer industry growth in 2007 has continued to exceed expectations, up 1.8 percent to date.
“We see the resurgence in interest in beer. With the momentum there, it’s likely you’re going to have strong demand for beer,” Baker said.
Anheuser-Busch will boost advertising spending next year to strengthen demand for its flagship brands, Baker said. Much of the spending will be made on national television ads, with spending increasing by double digits in 2008, he said.
U.S. beer sales have lagged in recent years with the growing popularity of wine and cocktails. A report released Thursday by Goldman Sachs analysts Andrew Sawyer and Judy Hong said they’re concerned the trend will be difficult to reverse.
“We are encouraged by the strategy to increase (Anheuser-Busch’s) focus behind the core brands, but it remains to be seen whether these efforts will lead to stronger volume growth anytime soon,” the report said.
International beer sales have outpaced domestic sales, and Anheuser-Busch has been disappointed in its mainstay brand Bud Light, Baker said.
In the third quarter this year, revenue for the U.S. beer segment rose 2 percent, while revenue from international markets jumped 8 percent.
“The biggest priority is accelerating the growth of Bud Light, with a focus on improving our domestic beer profitability and performance,” Baker said.
Anheuser-Busch shares fell 63 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $51.26 Thursday.