Monday PM October 8th, 2007

Gasoline prices drop four cents in two weeks...Former Dynegy executive asking federal court to set aside convictions...BASF inaugurates two new manufacturing plants at Freeport site...

The average price for gasoline in the U.S. dropped about four cents over the last two weeks. According to the Lundberg Survey of 7,000 stations nationwide, the average price of regular gasoline on Friday was $2.75 a gallon. Mid-grade was $2.87 and premium was $2.99. Oil industry analyst Trilby Lundberg says the nation's lowest average price was in Newark, New Jersey, where a gallon of regular cost $2.52. The highest was in Honolulu at $3.09.


A former mid-level Dynegy executive serving six years for his role in a fraudulent accounting scheme is asking a federal court to set aside his convictions and free him. Jamie Olis says federal prosecutors deprived him of the proper funding to defend himself in the complex case, which led to his conviction in 2003. In a new petition, Olis also claims his convictions were based on false and misleading testimony. After receiving an original sentence of 24 years, Olis was resentenced a year ago after a successful appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.


BASF has inaugurated two new manufacturing plants at its Freeport site—a production line for polyamide 6, or nylon, and a plant for superabsorbent polymers, or SAP. The nylon production line replaces a facility in Enka, North Carolina. The SAP plant replaces existing facilities in Aberdeen, Mississippi and Portsmouth, Virginia. Polyamide 6 is used in the production of engineering plastics for the automobile, electric and electronics, furniture and leisure industries. Its polymers are used to produce fibers for carpets, textiles, packaging and industrial applications. Superabsorbent polymers, which absorb and retain many times their weight in water, are used in disposable diapers.


In an agreement with the Public Utility Commission, an arm of TXU says it has agreed to give $72 million in credits to electricity customers. The credits are to settle issues in a regulatory review of the $32 billion sale of TXU. The deal also would dismiss a pending rate case involving Oncor Electric Delivery, TXU's distribution arm. TXU is the largest power generator in Texas.


Devon Energy sponsored a rock concert at the Hyatt Regency on Louisiana to kick off the company's "United Way Rocks" campaign. The bands consist of executives who can play instruments or sing. Devon says employee contributions have shot up by more than 80 percent since it began getting more creative in its United Way campaign. The company matches every dollar. Devon Energy hopes to raise $600,000 this year for United Way from its Houston office.


Readings on the economy due in the week ahead include looks at retail sales and wholesale inflation. The government reports on September retail sales on Friday. Analysts look for a rise of 0.4 percent, helped by surging auto sales. Also on Friday, the Labor Department releases the Producer Price Index. The gauge of wholesale prices is seen surging 0.5 percent. The core rate, which excludes food and energy, was up 0.2 percent. Tuesday, the minutes from the Federal Reserve's September 18th meeting will be released. That will give some more insight on the decision to cut interest rates by a half point.


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