Money Minute: Gas Prices Hold Steady; Cost of Food Heads Up

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A mixed outlook for the cost of some key consumer products.

Gasoline prices are expected to hold steady through the summer driving season, compared to last year. The Energy Department forecasts the average price nationally for a gallon of regular will be $3.57 this summer -- right about where it is now. Prices at the pump usually go up in the spring and early summer as demand increases and as refineries switch to a more expensive blend.

Meanwhile, snow has melted in most areas but the damage to crops from the severe winter is just beginning to be felt. Food prices are expected to increase by as much as 3.5 percent this year, and the cost of fruit from California, wheat from the southern Plains, and wine grapes from New York and Ohio could be much higher than that.

A hearing on Capitol Hill today could have implications for millions of American consumers. Comcast (CMCSA) executives are expected to tell a Senate panel that the company's planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable (TWC) won't limit competition for cable or Internet service.
But critics of the $45 billion deal say the lack of choice for high speed Internet access is the key issue for consumers.

Here on Wall Street on Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) added 10 points, the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose 33 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) gained 7 points -- snapping a three session losing streak.

General Motors (GM) reportedly wants to give a charge to sales of the slow selling Volt hybrid by offering two new, cheaper models. Reuters says production will begin in the second half of 2015. The company sold fewer than 40,000 Volts in more than three years on the market.

And just days before the start of the Jewish holiday of Passover, the biggest maker of matzo and other holiday foods has agreed to sell itself to a private-equity firm. The buyer believes the 126-year old Manischewitz Co. can broaden its appeal by promoting its kosher products as high-quality, pure and healthy.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.


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