Patrick Osborn

Business Watch- Monday March 26, 2012

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Brent Clanton

-Harris County Tax Bills-
Harris County Property Tax Bills are in the mail if not already in your mailbox. County Appraisal District Chief, Jim Robinson, says more than 900,000 notices have been dispatched, and it’s up to you to make sure yours is correct–the deadline for doing so is the end of May. “Once the (Tax) Roll is certified, then those Jurisdictions set their tax rate, and then send out their tax bills,” Robinson says.Your actual tax burden depends on not only the value, but the rate set in your jurisdiction. Robinson says make sure your Homestead Exemption is in place, too: “The exemption, probably, is the number-one tax-saver for people,” says Robinson.You can visit the Harris County Appraisal District website by CLICKING HERE.

-Gas Prices-
What did it cost you to fill up this weekend? Gasoline is up another 11 cents over the past two weeks. The Lundberg Survey pegs the average price of regular at $3.93 nationwide. In Texas, AAA pegs the average price at $3.78. In Houston it’s $3.85. But oil industry analyst Trilby Lundberg says it may not go much higher. “If they would kindly stay where they are with West Texas Intermediate at about $106 per barrel, then it would all be up to gasoline,’ she says. “And, in the case of gasoline, we have more than we need, and a lot of excess refining-capacity,” says Lundberg.

-Cupcake ATM-
Remember that cupcake-ATM we reported about a few weeks back? The Sprinkles ATM is on its way to H-town, according to the Houston Business Journal. The vending machine holds 600 cupcakes at a time–and will charge you $4 a piece for the fresh cupcakes.

-Federal Railroad Administration-
The Federal Railroad Administration is considering a Nevada company’s request for a $4.9 billion loan from the Obama administration to build a high-speed train that would rocket tourists from Victorville. On the edge of the Mohave Desert and into Las Vegas.

-Cameras And Cellphones-
Cell phones are becoming less-phone and more camera. HTC is marketing a new smart phone that can take four digital photos per second. IT is called the One X.The quad core phone with a 4.7 inch screen runs on Android’s latest “Ice Cream Sandwich” operating system and sells for $705.

-The CEO of Zynga-
The people who bring you “Words with Friends”and other insiders at the online games company plan to sell $43 million shares of stock in a public offering that will boost the amount of stock available for general trading by 35 percent. Zynga, which had its initial public offering of stock in December, disclosed the latest plans in a regulatory filing Friday. It says proceeds from the sale will go to the individuals, not the company.

-General Motors-
General Motors is recalling more than 6,000 big vans and SUVs because their steering can fail. The recall affects certain 2012 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans and Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL SUVs.

-Wall Street-
Wall Street was subjected to another round of hot and cold U.S. housing data, reflecting the stop and start state of the U.S. recovery. On Friday, the Commerce Department reported that new home sales unexpectedly fell by 1.6 percent in February, but the median price for a new home rose by 8.3 percent to $233,000.
The Dow added 34 points to 13,080, but gave back over one percent for the week.
The S&P 500 added 4 points to 1,397, but lost a half-percent in value.
The Nasdaq Composite also rose 4-points to 3,067 and added four tenths percent.
Crude-oil closed up $1.52, or 1.4%, at $106.87 per barrel.
Gold jumped $19.90 to close at $1,662.40 an ounce.

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