Business Notebook

January 8, 2013 

Nation & World

Gas prices do not repeat 2012 first-week surge

U.S. drivers are hoping 2013 doesn’t start off like 2012 at the gas pump. So far, so good. Gasoline now averages $3.30 a gallon, up about half a penny since Jan. 1. A year ago, gas rose about 10 cents in the first week or so because of a jump in oil prices. Oil prices should dictate what happens next with pump prices. The economic drivers for oil are mixed – economies in the U.S. and China are showing modest improvement, while Europe remains in recession. In the past two years, threats to shipments of oil from the Middle East drove crude prices higher during the winter – and gas prices higher by spring.

Hybrid, electric vehicles deemed too quiet

Federal regulators say it may be time for hybrid and electric vehicles to pump up the volume. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday that it is proposing minimum sound standards for hybrid and electric vehicles as a way to make pedestrians more aware of them as they approach. Because those vehicles don’t rely on traditional gas or diesel-powered engines at low speeds, they tend to be much quieter, making them hard to hear amid ambient street noise. The proposed standard — mandated in the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act — would require that the vehicles are audible among a wide range of street noises whenever traveling under 18 miles per hour. The agency is sending its proposal to be listed in the Federal Register and the public will have 60 days to comment. If the proposed rule is finalized in a timely fashion, a 3-year phase-in could begin in September 2015.

Apple: 40 billion apps sold, most were in 2012

Apple says people have downloaded more than 40 billion apps on for the iPhone, iPad and the iPod Touch, nearly half of them in 2012. Apple Inc. said Monday that December saw record downloads of more than 2 billion apps. There are 775,000 individual applications available in the app store. Apple says it has paid app developers more than $7 billion. Apple launched its app store in 2008. The store hit the 10 billion downloads mark in early 2011. In March 2012, Apple announced that more than 25 billion apps have been downloaded. The 40 billion milestone does not include updates or re-downloads.

Stocks close lower after S&P 500’s surge last week

Investors started the week on a cautious note, pulling the Standard & Poor’s 500 index down from the five-year high it reached Friday. The move lower on Monday is likely the result of traders taking some winnings off the table after the stock market’s surge last week, said Sam Stovall, chief equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ. The S&P 500 fell 4.58 points to close at 1,461.89. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 50.92 points to 13,384.29, while the Nasdaq composite dropped 2.84 points to 3,098.81.

The Associated Press contributed.

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