The man appointed to replace Antigua’s disgraced financial regulator is stepping aside to avoid a possible conflict of interest. Everett Christian was tapped for the job last week, after officials fired his predecessor Leroy King for alleged ties to a $7 billion ponzi scheme by Texas businessman R. Allen Stanford. Christian says his wife works for an offshore bank and the “last thing” the Caribbean nation needs is another financial controversy. Acting Prime Minister Harold Lovell said the government would soon name a new chief financial regulator. He says the oversight commission will also hire a public relations firm to repair its image after U.S. allegations that King accepted bribes to ignore Stanford’s fraud.
Retail gasoline prices are falling this week heading into the July 4th holiday. The weekly AAA Texas gasoline price survey shows the average price of regular unleaded self-serve fell by four cents this week to $2.49 per gallon. It also fell four cents nationally to an average of $2.63. Auto club spokeswoman Sara Schimmer says July 4th is the time of year when gasoline prices often peak. If so, they’ve peaked at a level nearly $1.50 per gallon below last summer’s high. Texarkana has the cheapest gasoline in this week’s survey at $2.43, seven cents below last week. The highest was in El Paso, where the average price fell three cents to $2.58 per gallon.
As the unemployment rate climbs, some job seekers are looking for help at church. Church-related unemployment support groups have formed all over the country as the jobless rate climbed to 9.5 per cent in June, the worst in 26 years. The groups offer practical guidance, such as resume reviews and networking tips. But members say the groups are also about refining their faith during a difficult time. Hospitality industry worker Debbie Trainor, who’s a member of a support group in Beverly, Massachusetts, says she sees God as a partner when preparing for a job interview. University of Richmond professor Doug Hicks says faith communities have real relevance to the unemployed. He says being jobless affects a sense of meaning and contribution, things that have a spiritual dimension.
The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the united states rose by 11 this week to 928. That’s the third consecutive week for an uptick after months of declines. Houston-based, Baker Hughes, reports that of the rigs running nationwide, 688 were exploring for natural gas and 229 for oil. Eleven were listed as miscellaneous. The report was released a day early because of the July 4th holiday. A year ago, the rig count stood at 1,921. The number of active rigs has increased by 52 in the past few weeks, but the U.S. count is still down 54 per cent since the end of August as weak energy demand has hampered oilfield activity. Baker Hughes has tracked rig counts since 1944. The tally peaked at 4,530 in 1981, during the height of the oil boom. The industry posted several record lows in 1999, bottoming out at 488.