Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Bare Necessities

The global financial storm, like the tornado-laden storms crossing the United States in recent days, is wreaking previously unexperienced levels of havoc on the consumer. Prices of various commodities are headed to the stratosphere, led by gas and by coffee:

Gas prices across the country have jumped about 40% since last fall, to more than $3.80 a gallon nationwide — more than $4.00 here in New York.

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia is uneasy with high oil prices and concerned about their impact on the global economy, the chief executive of state oil firm Aramco said Tuesday.

Oil prices recovered from early losses on Tuesday, with Brent crude LCOc1 trading up 16 cents at $123.82 a barrel at 1059 GMT. Aramco Chief Executive Khalid al-Falih's comments at an industry event in South Korea had weighed on sentiment earlier, when prices fell amid a wider decline in commodities.

"We are not comfortable with oil prices where they are today...I am concerned about the impact it could have on the global economy," Falih told an industry gathering in South Korea.

Amid higher oil prices and government spending cuts, the US economy now appears to be slowing. The euro struck a 16-month high against the dollar and the Swiss franc notched a record high versus the US unit Tuesday, while the dollar tumbled to an all-time low point of 0.8745 Swiss francs. Markets are keenly awaiting Fed chairman Ben Bernanke's first news conference on Wednesday. With billions of dollars riding on Bernanke's comments, the conference is expected to be a cautious affair.

Investors pushed the price of gold, a hedge against inflation, above $1,500 an ounce for the first time last week.

They can't give houses away either - er- I should say banks WON'T extend credit to otherwise qualified buyers - prices for new homes have tumbled 11% since the end of last year. Existing home prices slid 5% in the same time period. Vacancies dot neighborhoods across the Capital Region.

Cars are available - and being purchased - even though some consumers are waiting it out to see if Ford brings out an electric and/or hybrid model. FoMoCo is doing well right now... "In 2010, Ford rebounded from the recession that helped send its cross-town rivals into bankruptcy protection, earning a total of $6.6 billion. Ford said it expects profit to be even higher for 2011." ~ NY Times
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