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Stocks Tumble on Weak Dollar and Oil Prices

Michael M. Grynbaum,, New York Times
Stocks dropped sharply today, erasing yesterday’s gains as investors grew skittish on a weak dollar, record-breaking oil prices and warning signs from the corporate sector.

…Investors were alarmed by a report this morning that a top Chinese government official said China would shift its foreign currency reserves away from the “weak” United States dollar, further eroding confidence in the currency and sending it to a new low against the euro.

That sent the price of crude oil futures up to another record, above $98. American stockpiles dropped last week by 821,000 barrels, the Energy Department said, a smaller decline than expected but still enough to reinforce fears of a supply shortage. Oil prices fell back by early afternoon, and were trading at $95.43, down $1.27 a barrel, shortly after 2 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
(8 November 2007)

7 Countries Considering Abandoning the US Dollar (and what it means)

Jessica Hupp,
It’s no secret that the dollar is on a downward spiral. Its value is dropping, and the Fed isn’t doing a whole lot to change that. As a result, a number of countries are considering a shift away from the dollar to preserve their assets. These are seven of the countries currently considering a move from the dollar, and how they’ll have an effect on its value and the US economy.

1. Saudi Arabia: The Telegraph reports that for the first time, Saudi Arabia has refused to cut interest rates along with the US Federal Reserve. This is seen as a signal that a break from the dollar currency peg is imminent. The kingdom is taking “appropriate measures” to protect itself from letting the dollar cause problems for their own economy. They’re concerned about the threat of inflation and don’t want to deal with “recessionary conditions” in the US. Hans Redeker of BNP Paribas believes this creates a “very dangerous situation for the dollar,” as Saudi Arabia alone has management of $800 billion. Experts fear that a break from the dollar in Saudi Arabia could set off a “stampede” from the dollar in the Middle East, a region that manages $3,500 billion.
(6 November 2007)
Other countries mentioned are South Korea, China, Venezuela, Sudan, Iran, Russia.

In big U.S. energy bill, who will pay?

Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor
Conservation measures may lead to most fuel savings since 1970s.

If the last energy bill was about squeezing remaining drops of oil from US soil, the newest is still a nascent, muddy legislative donnybrook over one question: Who will pay to shift the US energy mix to green and lean?

Energy-conservation measures in House and Senate bills approved earlier this year could by 2030 save the US twice as much oil as it now imports from the Persian Gulf, slash greenhouse-gas emissions by 40 percent, and reduce electricity use by at least 10 percent.

If key elements of the two bills now being reconciled behind closed doors make it into the final version, the result would be the biggest shift in US energy use since the 1970s – and underpin larger greenhouse-gas cuts in future legislation, observers say.

“We haven’t seen any plan this significant in terms of oil savings since the 1970s,” says Bill Prindle, deputy director of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy in Washington. While electric-efficiency gains would be more modest, they would save consumers billions of dollars on utility bills and eliminate the need for dozens of new power plants.
(7 November 2007)

The Carbon Calculus

Matthew L. Wald, New York Times
… A change is in the works that could go a long way toward making alternative energy less alternative, and more attractive to consumers and businesses.

It’s not a technological fix from some solar-cell laboratory in Silicon Valley or wind-turbine researcher in Colorado or the development of some superbug to turn wood waste into ethanol.

Rather, the change would come from Washington, if Congress does what it has talked about and puts a price tag on greenhouse-gas emissions. Suddenly the carbon content of fuel, or how much carbon dioxide is produced per unit of energy, would be as important as what the fuel costs. In fact, it might largely define what the fuel costs.

That could shake up the economics of energy, handicapping some fuels and favoring others. Those that produce hefty emissions, like coal and oil, would likely look much worse. And some — sunlight, wind, uranium, even corn stalks and trash as well as natural gas — would probably look much better.
(7 November 2007)

Higher Pump Prices Could Take $15 Billion out of U.S. Shoppers’ Wallets By Christmas Day

Energy Tech Stocks
Americans will hit the shopping malls this holiday season with up to $15 billion less to spend due to higher gas prices compared with a year ago. That could put a real crimp in the critical holiday selling season, which in turn could put a major dent in the consumer-driven U.S. economy.

As of this Saturday, there will be approximately 45 shopping days left until Christmas. The price of a gallon of regular gasoline in the United States is now about 85 cents higher than it was one year ago, with pump prices still rising as marketers try to recoup their higher crude costs. America’s estimated 100 million households reportedly use, on average, about four gallons of gas per day. As a result, Americans are now spending roughly $340 million more per day on gas than they did at this time last year.
(8 November 2007)