National and world business briefs for July 7

National and world business briefs for July 7
Published: July 7, 2012
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In brief

NATION

Global woes top Iran oil threat

— Iran's ability to rattle oil markets has been greatly diminished by growing concerns about the world economy. The price of oil fell this week even though Iran staged missile tests and renewed threats to block key oil shipments out of the Persian Gulf. Benchmark U.S. crude dropped by $2.77, or 3.2 percent, Friday to end the week at $84.45 per barrel in New York. Fears about Iran's nuclear program drove benchmark oil to near $110 per barrel in February. The jump helped push U.S. gasoline prices close to $4 per gallon. Five months later, Iran still refuses to comply. The difference, experts say, is that investors are now focusing on growing evidence that the global economy is slowing. “Iran is still trash talking, but what's even more frightening is the bigger picture,” said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service. “The economy just hasn't looked good. There's a sense that this malaise will march on.” At the pump, gasoline prices rose for the fourth straight day, adding 2 cents to a national average of $3.358 per gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. Experts say the national average likely will range from $3.30 to $3.50 per gallon until Labor Day.

Rig count in U.S. increases

— The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. is up by six this week to 1,965. Houston-based oil field services company Baker Hughes Inc. reported Friday that 1,419 rigs were exploring for oil and 542 for gas. Four were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago, Baker Hughes reported 1,887 rigs. Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, North Dakota gained four rigs, Pennsylvania added three, and West Virginia, Oklahoma and Colorado were up one each. Texas declined by two rigs, and Alaska, Arkansas and New Mexico lost one each. California, Louisiana, New Mexico and Wyoming were unchanged. The rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981 and bottomed out at 488 in 1999.

Ga. bank fails; is 32nd in U.S. in '12

— Federal regulators have closed a small bank in Georgia, bringing the number of U.S. banks that have failed so far this year to 32. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Friday that it seized Montgomery Bank & Trust, based in Ailey. The bank, which had two branches, had about $173.6 million in assets and $164.4 million in deposits as of March 31. Montgomery Bank & Trust is the sixth FDIC-insured institution in Georgia to fail this year. Ameris Bank of Moultrie, Ga., agreed to take over the failed bank's deposits and purchase $12.4 million of its assets. The FDIC said it will retain Montgomery's remaining assets for later sale. Regulators estimate the bank's failure will cost the insurance fund $75.2 million.

Heinz CEO's pay package drops

— H.J. Heinz Co., the world's biggest ketchup maker, says it gave its CEO a pay package worth $14.4 million in its 2012 fiscal year, down 8 percent from the year before, according to an Associated Press analysis of a regulatory filing. The drop in pay for William Johnson, 63, chief executive since 2000, was largely the result of lower performance-based bonus pay. The company's net income for the fiscal year ending April 29 declined 7 percent from the previous year. Johnson also serves as chairman and president, and received a $1.3 million salary, up 4 percent from the previous year. He got stock and options worth $4.1 million, compared with $4 million the previous year. His bonus pay was $7.7 million, down 13 percent from $8.9 million, and all other compensation such as car allowances and contributions to retirement plans amounted to $1.3 million.

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