Tuesday PM April 3rd, 2007

National gas price averages continue climbing...President bush calls for passage of mandatory fuel standards...Halliburton says response to its offer to exchange its shares for those of KBR was overwhelming...

A government report says drivers paid an average of nearly $2.71 a gallon for regular gasoline last week, up almost ten cents from the week before. That's the ninth straight week where the national average price for gasoline has risen. The report shows that retail gasoline prices are up nearly 12 cents from a year ago at this time. Prices have risen more than 54 cents over the past nine weeks, following a previous five-week decline. The pump price rose most notably in the Gulf Coast region, where average prices climbed more than 12 from the prior week. However, drivers on the west coast paid the highest average price of $3.10 a gallon.

President Bush is calling on Congress to pass the mandatory fuel standards he's proposing, claiming they will reduce the use of gasoline by 20 percent over the next ten years. At a Rose Garden news conference this morning, Bush was asked about the price of a gallon of gas, why it's going up so fast, and when it will go back down. He answered that it was about $2.60 and up for a gallon of gas. It's actually averaging about $2.70 at the moment. Bush blamed instability in oil regions for the jump, along with taxes and regulations that vary state by state. He says "this country ought to work hard to get off our addiction to oil.''

Halliburton says there's just not enough of its KBR engineering and contracting subsidiary to go around. Halliburton says the response to its offer to exchange its shares for those of KBR was so overwhelming, it would be able to accept only about 40 percent of the tendered stock. The offer expired at midnight last night. It's part of Houston-based Halliburton's ongoing bid to separate itself from KBR, which is a major U.S. military contractor. Halliburton said nearly 211 million shares have been tendered since March 2nd as part of its offer to exchange one share of Halliburton stock for just over one-and-a-half shares of KBR. Halliburton had offered to accept just over 85 million shares. The oilfield services company says it'll accept only a portion of the tendered shares on a prorated basis. The split of Halliburton and KBR began in November when KBR held an initial public offering that netted about a half-billion dollars.

Pending sales of previously-owned homes rose slightly during February. The National Association of Realtors says its index for pending sales--an industry forecasting tool--was up seven-tenths percent, but down eight and a-half percent from the same time last year. The best showings--by region--came in the south and midwest, which had increases of 4.5 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively. The poorest performances were in the west, where the index was down six percent, and the northeast—which posted a drop of 1.3 percent. The NAR index is based on pending sales of existing homes. A home sale is pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction hasn't closed.

Three Houston-area master-planned communities are on an annual list of top-selling, master-planned communities. Cinco Ranch, Eagle Springs and The Woodlands made the list, according to the Houston Business Journal. They were the only Texas projects ranked by the list compilers RCLCO, a real estate advisory firm. The Woodlands is ranked as the nation's third-best-selling community. Cinco Ranch placed fourth in 2006 and Eagle springs in northeast Houston ranked tenth.

Tags: News


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