What's Important in the Financial World (11/19/2012)

Gasoline Prices Drop Again

Gasoline prices have fallen again, based on the two most important measures, and the drop continues to accelerate. The famous Lundberg Survey reported a drop of 7.26 cents in the past two weeks to $3.4728. The cut off date for the data was November 16. The most carefully watched daily report from AAA Fuel Gauge showed a one-day drop to $3.416 from $3.418. The price for a gallon of regular a month ago was $3.692. Except for Hawaii, not a single state still has regular above $4. The price drop may still figure in the consumer's year-end activity. The fiscal cliff may cause consumer holiday spending caution. But for Americans who drive a great deal, the drop in gas prices could save several hundreds of dollars a year. And a price increase is unlikely for now. Trouble with Iran has moved off the front pages. More and more analysts believe that the shale boom in the United States and Canada could make America energy independent in a decade. And demand for oil has slackened because of economic slowdowns in China, Japan and Europe.

A Bump in Holiday Traffic

The American Automobile Association expects a very small increase in holiday traffic over Thanksgiving, which it defines as Wednesday to Sunday. AAA estimates 43.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, which is an increase of 0.7% over total nationwide travelers in 2011. The other forecasts about consumer activity for Thanksgiving are much less positive. AAA reports:

  • Median spending expected to drop 10 percent to $498, compared to $554 last year. Spending remains consistent with historic averages as Americans continue to prioritize travel while finding ways to economize
  • Average distance traveled to decline to 588 miles from 706 miles, due in part to a decrease in the number of air travelers and Americans desire to economize budgets

The reports cannot be based on any forecast of the weather because it was made too early. But cold and snow could be factors. There will be considerable snow across the Plains and northern Midwest, and a great deal of rain in the West and Texas. And some people hit by Hurricane Sandy will not travel at all.

Cisco Pushes Further into the Cloud

Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) continues to push further into cloud computing, along with almost every other large tech company in the world. It announced it would by start-up Meraki Inc. for $1.6 billion. Cisco reported:

Meraki technology offers customers Wi-Fi, switching, security and mobile device management centrally managed from the cloud. Meraki solutions support BYOD, guest networking, application control, WAN optimization, application firewall and other advanced networking services.

Meraki was founded by members of MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science. Meraki combines a high-velocity software development methodology with a tightly linked inside sales and channel model that will form the new Cloud Networking Group.

Douglas A. McIntyre


Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Market Open Tagged: CSCO

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