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Business Watch – Thursday March 29, 2012

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-Gas Prices-
The national average for a gallon of gas is $3.92. In Texas, it’s $3.82 and in Houston it’s $3.87. But oil analyst Tom Kloza says, fret-not:”You may see $4.00, $4.10 and $4.15 in some of these markets, but it’s nonsense to think that we’re gonna see the $5.00 numbers that some people were talking about.”Kloza says the only way you see $5.00 gasoline is if you see $150.00 a barrel crude oil prices.

-Sen. John Cornyn-
Sen. John Cornyn is trying to block the proposed listing of the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard as an endangered species because it could bring oil and natural gas production in parts of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico to “a screeching halt.” The basin produces more than 1 million barrels of oil a day.

-A Big Shift In Big Oil-
There is a big shift is happening in Big Oil. Exxon Mobil is no longer the world’s biggest, publicly-traded producer of oil.
For the first time, that distinction belongs to a 13-year-old Chinese company called PetroChina. The company was created by the Chinese government to secure more oil for that nation’s economy.

-The Recession-
The recession and its hangover are turning bill-paying habits upside down. Paying off car loans have taken priority over paying credit card bills or making mortgage payments for many consumers. TransUnion first studied payment habits in 2006 when mortgages were the priority. For now, many consumers feel that the need for a car to get to a job or look for a job, and in a tough economy is a tremendous priority.

-The Izod Indy Car Series’ Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston-
The roar of engines and the smell of burning rubber returns to Reliant Park next year with the Izod Indy-car series’ Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston. The Houston Business Journal says past racing events contributed $35 million to the local economy.

-“Pink Slime”-
There are proponents of “Pink Slime,” including Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad who is leading a group of governers through a Beef Products, Inc. plant. According to reports, he is a huge proponent of the product: “For over 30 years people like me have been eating this along with my family, it’s 100% beef and it’s a good quality product,” says Governor Branstad.

-Labor Department-
On Thursday morning, The Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims figures. Also due on Thursday, an updated look at the fourth-quarter GDP growth.

-Wall Street-
A poorly received report from the Commerce Department turned Wall Street bearish on Wednesday.
Orders for durable goods rose 2.2% in February after falling 3.7% in January but failed to match the 3 percent growth expected by analysts. The Dow lost a half percent to close at 13,126.
The S&P 500 also dropped a half percent to close at 1,405.
The Nasdaq fell over 15 points–also good for a half percent loss to 3,104.
A surprise surge in weekly inventories pushed crude futures lower $1.92 to settle at $105.41 a barrel.
Gold swooned by $27 or 1.6% to land at $1,657.90 an ounce.
Copper down two cents at $3.77 per pound. Silver up four at $31.87 per ounce.

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