Business

Friday PM October 19th, 2007

Gasoline prices creep back up…Schlumberger profits rise 35 percent in third quarter…Texas unemployment in September rises to 4.3 percent… Rising crude oil prices began to boost retail gasoline prices across Texas this week. The AAA Texas Gas Price Survey shows regular, self serve is averaging $2.68 per gallon in the 11 Texas cities surveyed. That’s […]

Gasoline prices creep back up…Schlumberger profits rise 35 percent in third quarter…Texas unemployment in September rises to 4.3 percent…

Rising crude oil prices began to boost retail gasoline prices across Texas this week. The AAA Texas Gas Price Survey shows regular, self serve is averaging $2.68 per gallon in the 11 Texas cities surveyed. That’s two cents higher than last week. Nationally, the average price at the pump is $2.80 per gallon, up four cents from last week. Auto club spokesman Paul Flaningan says crude prices rose over the past week because of worries over oil supply disruptions in the Middle East. The state’s most expensive gas this week is in Amarillo, where the average rose 6 cents to $2.80 per gallon. The cheapest gas is in Galveston and Texas City, where the price actually fell a penny to $2.58 per gallon. Houston’s average is up a penny to $2.58.


Schlumberger says its profit rose 35 percent in the third quarter. The Houston-based oilfield services company credits strong demand in Latin America, Russia and Asia. It says that offset weakness in the Gulf of Mexico and other domestic markets. Schlumberger reports a profit of $1.35 billion. Revenue in the July-September period rose almost 20 percent to $5.93 billion. Schlumberger has benefited in recent quarters from strong demand because of high oil prices. Those prices rose this week to new records above $90 a barrel.


Texas unemployment in September rose to 4.3 percent as job growth failed to keep pace with more people looking for work. The Texas Workforce Commission says last month’s rate compares to 4.2 percent unemployment in August. Seasonally adjusted non-farm employment rose by 23,100 jobs from August, or less than one percent. But the seasonally adjusted number of unemployed people jumped 4.1 percent to about 500,000. Commission Chairwoman Diane Rath said the statewide rate is still below the national figure of 4.7 percent and shows the strength of the Texas economy. The Houston area added 18,700 jobs in September—more than double the jobs added in August, according to the TWC. Midland continued to have the lowest unemployment rate in the state, at three percent. The McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area had the highest rate at 6.2 percent. The biggest chunk of new jobs statewide came from a sector called trade, transportation and utilities, which added 10,700 jobs in September.


BP will be moving some jobs to Houston as it restructures, according to the Houston Chronicle. The company last week alerted North American employees that they may be asked to move to Houston or downtown Chicago. BP CEO Tony Hayward recently announced plans to streamline operations to recover from performance problems. Corporate functions will be consolidated in Houston. About a dozen investor relations jobs in New York will be among those relocated to Houston, which is BP’s center of exploration and production operations in the U.S. About 7,000 BP employees work at its complex in west Houston and its Texas City refinery.


The Texas Employee Confidence Index compiled by Harris Interactive for Spherion fell 0.7 points to 63.3 in September. Seventy-four percent of workers say it’s unlikely they will lose their jobs in the next 12 months, compared with 72 percent in August. Thirty-nine percent believe more jobs are available, compared with 35 percent in August.


Bolivian soldiers and police seized control of the nation’s most important airport Thursday. That’s after airport workers detained an American Airlines plane on the runway, demanding that the airline pay them landing fees in cash. Air Force troops stormed the Viru Viru Airport in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, before dawn. Officials say one soldier was wounded by gunfire, and police arrested three airport workers who were carrying firearms, officials said. Outside the airport, police used tear gas against some workers trying to enter the terminal. The communications office of the private company that runs the airport says flights are running normally. The government took over the airport after workers on Tuesday detained an American Airlines plane as it was set to take off for Miami with 140 passengers aboard. Another plane belonging to Aerolineas Argentinas was also detained. Fort Worth-based American and Brazil’s Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes suspended service to Bolivia over the airport incident.


A high-class, high-priced bankrupt resort in Texas–failed to sell at auction. Attorney Mark Petrocchi with Lajitas Resort says one bidder walked out of the sale in San Antonio. The attorney says they did not get an acceptable offer. The sale was closed to the public and media. Also no word on how many bidders attended the auction for the spread between the Big Bend state and national parks along the Rio Grande. The area is about 300 miles southeast of El Paso. Developer Stephen R. Smith’s Lajitas filed for bankruptcy early this year. The 92-room resort–with a private air strip, golf course, and a beer-swilling goat that holds the honorary title of mayor–has a taxable value of just under $17 million. Creditors are owed nearly $15 million.


The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the United States was down this week by 3 to 1,764. Houston-based Baker Hughes reported that of the rigs running nationwide, 1,438 were exploring for natural gas and 320 for oil. Six were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago, the rig count stood at 1,739. Texas each added three. 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.

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