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Dow soars 400 points, led by rally in tech sector

NEW YORK (AP) — The Dow Jones industrial average had its biggest day in three years, soaring more than 400 points as the stock market extended a rally into a second day.

  • icon Updated: Yesterday

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Tuesday 12/16/2014
AAA: 98.6 million Americans travelling this holiday season
Posted: December 16, 2014

TAMPA, Fla.  – The year-end holiday season should see the highest travel volume on record (AAA travel data dates back to 2001). AAA projects 98.6 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holiday season, an increase of four percent from the 94.8 million people who traveled last year. The year-end holiday period is defined as Tuesday, December 23 to Sunday, January 4.

Aragon Florist and Gifts closing after 15 years
Posted: December 16, 2014

Aragon Florist and Gifts is closing after 15 years, according to Diane Abernathy, owner.

Oil price plunge creates economic winners, losers
Posted: December 16, 2014

MILWAUKEE — The pain at the pump is gone for now, but could we begin to feel it elsewhere?

Monday 12/15/2014
Why oil is down by half, what it means for you
Posted: December 15, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil has fallen by nearly half in just six months, a surprising and steep plunge that has consumers cheering, producers howling and economists wringing their hands over whether this is a good or bad thing.

The price of a barrel of oil is just under $56, down from a summer high of $107, and lower than at any time since the U.S. was still in recession in the spring of 2009.

So what's going on? A global imbalance of supply and demand that is rippling across the world economy, for better and worse.

SUPPLIES GO BOOM

Years of high oil prices, interrupted briefly by the recession, inspired drillers around the world to scour the earth's crust for more oil.

They found it.

Since 2008 oil companies in the U.S., for example, have increased production by 70 percent, or 3.5 million barrels of oil per day. To put that in perspective, that increase alone is more than the production of any OPEC member other than Saudi Arabia.

As U.S. production was ramping up, turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa reduced supplies from Libya, Iran and elsewhere. A balance was struck: Increasing supplies from outside of OPEC and from Iraq's recovering oil industry helped meet rising demand around the world as other OPEC supplies waivered.

But now those OPEC supplies look more certain despite continuing turmoil, and those non-OPEC supplies have swamped the market. OPEC estimated last week that the world would need 28.9 million barrels of its oil per day next year, the lowest in more than a decade. At the same time, OPEC countries plan to produce 30 million barrels of oil per day next year. That supply surplus is sending global prices lower.

DEMAND GOES BUST

Global demand is still expected to grow next year, but by far less than many thought earlier this year. The economies of China, Japan and Western Europe — the top oil consumers after the United States — all appear to be weakening. Oil demand falls when economic growth stalls.

The U.S. is still the world's largest consumer, but more fuel-efficient cars and changing demographics mean demand for oil and gasoline is not increasing. The Energy Department predicts a slight decrease in gasoline demand next year even though the price is expected to be sharply lower and the economy is expected to grow.

THE HAPPY CONSUMERS

For drivers, shippers, airlines and other consumers of fuel, there's nothing not to like about the drop in oil prices.

The national average gasoline price has fallen for 81 straight days to $2.55 a gallon, its lowest level since October of 2009, according to AAA. It's $1.15 a gallon cheaper than its high for the year, saving U.S. households $100 a month as they shop for holiday presents. "Any time gas prices go down that is a good thing," said Randy Daniels, 30, who was shopping recently at the Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta. "An extra 20 or 30 bucks in my pocket goes far."

Diesel and jet fuel prices have also plunged, helping boost the profits and share prices of airlines and shippers. Heating oil is the cheapest it has been in four years, reducing home heating prices just in time for winter for many in the chilly Northeast.

THE WORRIED ECONOMISTS

Falling fuel prices act like a tax cut and help boost consumer spending, which in turn accounts for 70 percent of the U.S. economy. But economists are growing concerned that there are other, more troublesome forces at play.

The depth of oil's plunge could be a signal that the global economy is struggling even more than economists think. A weak global economy could hurt the U.S. economy by reducing exports, employment and spending, which together could outweigh the economic benefits of cheaper fuel.

THE PRODUCERS' PAIN

For oil companies, oil-producing states, and oil-exporting countries, the oil price collapse is painful.

Oil companies generally keep producing oil from wells they've already drilled, but lower prices sharply reduce revenue and force them to cut back spending on new exploration projects. BP announced last week it would try to trim $1 billion in spending next year in a move that analysts say could result in thousands of job cuts.

States that rely on taxes from energy production such as Alaska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas will see lower revenues and some have already had to trim budgets.

Major oil exporters such as Iran, Iraq, Russia and Venezuela rely heavily on revenues from state-owned oil companies to run their governments and are struggling under major budget shortfalls. For example, Bank of America estimates that every $1 drop in the global price of oil costs Venezuela $770 million in annual revenue. Current prices are now $46 below last year's average, putting the country on pace for a $36 billion reduction in revenue.

___

AP Business Writer Mae Anderson contributed to this story from Atlanta. Jonathan Fahey can be reached at http://twitter.com/JonathanFahey .

Friday 12/12/2014
Dow drops more than 300 as oil continues to plunge
Posted: December 12, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — The Dow Jones industrial average is closing more than 300 points lower, its worst loss in two months.

Traders were discouraged Friday by another slump in the price of oil and more signs of weakness in China.

The Dow dropped 315 points, or 1.8 percent, to 17,280. The Dow had its first losing week since October.

The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 33 points, or 1.6 percent, to 2,002. The Nasdaq slid 54 points, or 1.2 percent, to 4,653.

Oil prices sank again after the International Energy Agency said global demand will grow less than previously forecast next year.

Crude tumbled $2.14, or 3.6 percent, to $57.81 a barrel. It's down 47 percent since June.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.09 percent.

United Safety Apparatus looking at move to Cedartown
Posted: December 12, 2014

What was formerly the home of a car dealership and local ministry will now be getting a new lease on life as a light manufacturer in the coming months.

Thursday 12/11/2014
Holiday shopping boosts US retail sales
Posted: December 11, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. retail sales perked up in November, as cheaper gas and an improving job market fueled a promising start to the holiday shopping season.

An early stock market rally fizzles as oil drops to $59.95 a barrel
Updated: December 11, 2014 - 4:17 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — A rally on the stock market fizzled toward the end of trading as the price of oil sank.

New strategies planned for economic development
Posted: December 11, 2014

A new strategy for economic development is planned for 2015 in Polk County.

Wednesday 12/10/2014
Stocks slump as oil price drop sinks energy sector
Posted: December 10, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are closing sharply slower as another plunge in the price of oil dragged down the energy sector.

Exxon Mobil and Chevron were among the biggest decliners in the Dow Jones industrial average Wednesday.

The Dow lost 268 points, or 1.5 percent, to 17,533. That was its worst drop in two months.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 33 points, or 1.6 percent, to 2,026. The Nasdaq composite fell 82 points, or 1.7 percent, to 4,684.

The price of crude oil sank $2.88, or 4.5 percent, to $60.94 a barrel in New York. That's a five-year low.

Oil fell after the U.S. Energy Department reported an increase in domestic inventories and OPEC projected that demand would sink next year to levels not seen in more than a decade.

Tuesday 12/09/2014
Washington Gas Energy Systems to Evaluate Battery Storage System for solar in Cedartown
Posted: December 09, 2014

Cedartown, Ga., and McLean, Va.— WGL Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: WGL), through its subsidiary, Washington Gas Energy Systems (WGESystems), announced an agreement with Southern Company and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to test and evaluate a battery storage system at a 1-megawatt (MW) solar array in Cedartown.

Georgia Economic Outlook series opens Dec. 12 in Atlanta
Posted: December 09, 2014

Athens, Ga. - The 2015 Georgia Economic Outlook, hosted by the University of Georgia Terry College of Business, will take place Dec. 12 at noon at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta.

Friday 12/05/2014
Hiring this year has ranged across many industries
Posted: December 05, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — This year's hiring boom hasn't been just about a couple of standout industries. All major sectors have posted impressive gains, reflecting the broad strength of the U.S. economy.

Job gains put US on pace for best growth since '99
Posted: December 05, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — The resurgence in U.S. hiring accelerated in November and put 2014 on track to be the healthiest year for job growth since 1999.

Thursday 12/04/2014
Customer service is a priority at Knight’s Ace Hardware
Posted: December 04, 2014

A visitor to Knight’s Ace Hardware in Cedartown will discover an old fashioned store remembered from an era when customer service was a priority.

Hospital Authority announces big profits for year at final meeting
Posted: December 04, 2014

New hospital to have first surgery on Dec. 16

Wednesday 12/03/2014
Wendy's in Cedartown closes doors
Updated: December 03, 2014 - 3:03 pm

The Wendy's in Cedartown is no more after the restaurant closed its doors this week. 

Tuesday 12/02/2014
Cyber Monday deals get stretched, crimping sales
Posted: December 02, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — Cyber Monday deals are being stretched out this holiday season, crimping sales on the day itself.

Retailers from Target to Amazon have been offering online deals since the beginning of November, and are promising "cyber" deals all week. That seems to have put a dent in Cyber Monday sales. Sales were up, according to estimates. But they weren't as strong as some were expecting.

IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark reported that online sales rose 8.5 percent compared to 2013. That still makes it the busiest U.S. online shopping day of the year so far — a title the date has held since 2010. But it was less stellar growth than last year's Cyber Monday, when online sales jumped more than 20 percent.

"As the holiday shopping season becomes less concentrated on a single day, retailers and marketers took advantage by making it easier for consumers to find the best deals on the go, whenever and wherever they chose to shop," said Jay Henderson, director of IBM Smarter Commerce.

One bright spot was mobile shopping: shopping on a tablet or smartphone accounted for 41.2 percent of all online traffic, up from 30.1 percent last year. Mobile sales reached 22 percent of total Cyber Monday online sales.

Sterne Agee's chief economist Lindsey Piegza said the 8 percent rise fell short of projected expectations of a 13 percent to 15 percent gain.

"With gasoline prices down markedly over the past few months leaving consumers with extra cash in their pockets, many retailers are befuddled over such disappointing spending numbers," she said. The sales figures highlight how fragile the U.S. economy remains, particularly the consumer sector, she said.

A clearer picture of how Cyber Monday sales fared will emerge when research firm comScore reports sales results later Tuesday.

The name Cyber Monday was coined in 2005 by the National Retail Federation's online arm, called Shop.org, to encourage people to shop online. After retailers revved up deals for the day, it became the busiest online shopping day in 2010.

The name was also a nod to online shopping being done at work where faster connections made it easier to browse.

Some retailers painted a rosy picture of the day. Walmart.com said it received the most online orders in its history on Cyber Monday. It added that mobile made up about 70 percent of the traffic to its website between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.

But some shoppers were disappointed by the deals. Preston Neill, 28, from Philadelphia, took advantage of early online deals over the weekend like 40 percent off board games from Amazon and clothing that was 40 percent off from Banana Republic, over the holiday weekend. But he said the deals on Cyber Monday seemed similar to what he had already seen earlier.

"I haven't seen anything that jumps out at me," he said. "I feel like (Cyber Monday) is the Super Bowl of shopping, there is a lot of hype, then it doesn't quite live up."

Japan’s Consul General visits Polk for plant tours
Posted: December 02, 2014

Hopes are high for at least one local leader in Polk County that existing relationships with foreign investment will help fill the new spec building.

Monday 12/01/2014
Knucklehead Cafe opens Wednesday
Updated: December 02, 2014 - 2:43 pm

Be one of the first to enjoy fine dining at the Knucklehead Café, located at 217 West Elm Street in Rockmart.

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