Morning Business Memo:
If you plan to hit the road for a long drive to see relatives over Thanksgiving, expect a little budgeting help from falling gas prices. In some parts of the US, prices have dropped as much as 50 cents a gallon in recent weeks, and the trend isn't over. "Definitely gas prices are already falling and they're going to continue to fall through the end of the year," analyst Ben Brockwell with the Oil Price Information Service tells ABC News Radio. "The US average which was $3.80 just a few weeks ago is on track to go to below $3.50 here shortly."
The Midwest and Plains states may see the most price relief, to perhaps under $3 a gallon, he added. The trend is getting some help from the drop in the global price of oil and concerns about global economic weakness. Light sweet crude has fallen to $86 a barrel, a 15 percent drop in recent weeks. In some states on both coasts, however, a refinery shortage keeps gas prices well above the national average.
Is Halloween being hijacked by adults? Spending on costumes, candies, decoration and parties is expected to hit a record high. Much of the money is spent by adults - for adults. USA Today reports seven years ago, when the National Retail Federation asked adults if they, themselves, planned to celebrate Halloween, 52.5 percent said yes. This year, it's 71.5 percent. Some costume and party stores may have gone overboard with blood-soaked machetes, severed heads and chopped-off hands. Some parents are upset at what they've been seeing as they shop with their kids. One example is Party City's "Boy Skinned Alive" costume that's described as a "ripped-open tattered shirt that exposes a gory scene of internal blood and guts." Suitable, the company website says, for "most children over 4."
Five years after the housing bubble popped, Federal prosecutors filed a civil lawsuit against Bank of America, alleging its Countrywide Financial unit misrepresented the quality of home loans it sold to mortgage finance firms Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. In the latest in a series of lawsuits linked to the mortgage mess, the government says Countrywide and Bank of America knew that speeding up the process for approving mortgages by eliminating quality controls would have "catastrophic consequences." The defective loans left Fannie and Freddie with a billion dollars in losses. Bank of America says it has "acted responsibly" to resolve troubled loans.
Apple may have won big in a major US patent infringement suit against Samsung, but in Europe, the outcome has been different. A Dutch court has ruled that Samsung's Galaxy tablet computers don't infringe on an Apple patent for touch screen interfaces. British and German courts have also rebuffed Apple. Apple's release of quarterly earnings later today will be closely watched by investors. Now valued at more than $570 billion, the market rates Apple as the world's most valuable company. Despite recent investor euphoria, Apple shares are down 13 percent from their peak of $702 last month.
More problems for Best Buy, which says its US president and another top executive are leaving the company. The struggling consumer electronics chain is forecasting a third-quarter drop in store sales. The executive moves are the latest by CEO Hubert Joly, who was hired in August to help reverse slumping sales. Best Buy is facing increasing competition from online retailers and discounters.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc
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