Money Minute: Beer Sales Going Flat; U.S. Energy Independence Grows

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Beer sales are going flat. That and more top money stories you need to know.

Beer consumption has been steadily declining over the past few years, with drinkers giving the cold shoulder to some very well-known brand names. According to an industry newsletter, sales of nine major brands have tumbled 25 percent over the past five years. Craft beers continue to steal market share, and consumers are increasingly switching to wine and liquors.

Beer signs in neon in liquor store window
Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images
Over that five year period, Michelob Light has been the hardest hit, losing 70 percent of its sales. Other big losers include Budweiser Select, Miller Genuine Draft, Milwaukee's Best Premium and Light, and Budweiser (BUD).

We have more signs that the U.S. is moving closer to energy independence. The government says domestic production of natural gas is at its highest level in at least four years, boosted by increased fracking. As a result, imports are likely to decline. However, that could mean natural gas prices could rise.

Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 52 points Tuesday, the (^GPSC) lost 6 and tthe Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 8 points.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC) -- the sponsor of this report -- remains bullish about stocks, despite the big run-up over the past few years. The brokerage firm's top equity analyst expects the S&P 500 to hit 2,000 next year. That's up 11 percent from current levels.

Shares of MasterCard (MA) could charge ahead. The company declared an unusual 10-for-1 stock split, raised its dividend payment by 83 percent, and said it will buy back up to $3.5 billion in stock. It's a sign of management's confidence the company will continue to grow. MasterCard trades at nearly 800 a share, up 59 percent from a year ago.

And it's the fifth anniversary of the arrest of Bernie Madoff. He later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 150 years in prison for a Ponzi scheme that bilked thousands of investors out of billions of dollars.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.


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