JP Pritchard

Business Watch – April 6, 2012

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(Credit: Miguel Villagran/Getty Images)

Good news and not so good news from The Labor Department:

Unemployment is calculated to have dropped a tenth to 8.2 percent.

But job creation was off in March, estimated at only 120,000, for the smallest increase in five months.

Why a lower unemployment rate with few jobs added? Labor says more people just dropped out of the market.

A decline of 34,000 retail jobs are blamed for today’s lower number.

A new survey finds hiring plans nearly back to pre-recession levels
…one-third of employers adding full-time workers in the first quarter of this year. In a surprising turn, those being hired first: Older workers.

Gautam Godhwani, co-founder of says, “If an employer has a choice to get somebody with 10 or 15 years of experience, instead of a new grad or somebody with less experience, they’re definitely going to hire them.”

Flying under the radar: The price of Diesel.

The average price of diesel at the pump yesterday at $4.16-6 a gallon, up 8 cents from a month ago and 16 cents above a year ago, according to AAA data.

That’s going to affect everything from milk and eggs at the grocery store, to beer at the liquor store, and the newest PlayStation games at Best Buy. The all get to their destination somehow — usually by truck.

Prices for the fuel have only topped $4 during two other periods, in 2008 and 2011.

IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman is warning of a potentially disastrous tax-filing season next year if Congress puts off dealing with tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of this year or have already expired.

Shulman says if Congress waits until the end of the year, or acts retroactively on expired tax laws, there could be a “real disaster” in the filing season amid “total confusion.”

Major League Baseball is starting to spread the wealth.

The Texas Rangers are among teams boosting payrolls during the off-season.

A survey of MLB contracts by the Associated Press shows the average salary jumped 4.1 percent to $3.4 million. Texas’ spending is up 27 percent after the team won its second pennant.

The highest-paid ball player – for the 12th season in a row – is Alex Rodriguez at $30 million per year.
Odwalla is voluntarily recalling its Chocolate Protein Monster beverage because four customers with peanut allergies experienced severe allergic reactions after drinking it.

Odwalla is working with the FDA to investigate the cause of the allergic reactions, since the drink contains no peanut or tree nut ingredients.

Facebook is planning to list its shares with Nasdaq, a huge coup for the exchange, which competes fiercely with NYSE Euronext Inc., especially for an initial public offering as large as Facebook’s, pegged at $5 billion.

Facebook will begin trading under the ticker “FB” in either May or June.

Mac Users: This had to happen, sooner or later. There’s a Mac virus making the rounds, according to a Russian antivirus company, Dr. Web.

It’s called Flashback, and though Apple has issued a patch for it, security expert Mark Wuergler, of Immunity, Inc. says from here on, its eyes wide open.

“The Apple users are finally starting to realize that they are not immune to attacks, and that they’re just as vulnerable as the rest of the world,” says Wuergler.

Chrysler is recalling about 17-hundred  20-12 Jeep Compass and Patriot SUVs because faulty gas tank valves can cause fires.

The valves were damaged during safety testing. The recall is expected to start in June. Dealers will replace the fuel tanks free of charge.

As you’re filling your car for the Easter Parade, you’re noticing what we all know:
Triple-A Texas shows gas prices are up again this week.

News 92 FM’s Martha Martinez conducted a pump price survey, where a few retailers are selling regular unleaded as low as $3.70, but the Houston average is $3.88. The cheapest gas in Texas is in Amarillo at $3.65.

Natural gas is seeing lower and lower prices, as supplies continue to grow. Natural gas futures fell more than 2 percent yesterday to $2.09–the lowest price in more than a decade. Natural gas has tumbled 30 percent this year.

Wall Street closed the holiday-shortened week with a mixed-finish:

The Dow fell 14-points to 13,060.
The S&P 500 lost a fraction of a point to 1,398.
The Nasdaq managed a 12-point gain to 3,080.
Oil jumped $1.84 to $103.31/barrel.
Gold added $16 at $1,630.10/ounce, but lost 2-point-5 percent for the week.
Markets are closed for Good Friday.

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