Money Minute: Propane Shortage Heats Up Prices; Small Cars Prove Less Crashworthy


The current round of extreme winter weather is once again threatening to bust the budget of many consumers.

Natural gas prices are soaring and propane is in short supply in some areas -- meaning the cost to heat our homes is spiking higher. In the futures market, natural gas prices soared 10 percent on Tuesday. As for propane, more than two dozen states are facing supply shortages. That's sent prices soaring by as much as 50 percent in some areas. About 12 million households use propane to heat their homes.

Meanwhile, crude oil prices are also on the rise as stockpiles decline at the same time that worldwide demand is beginning to pick up.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is giving a failing grade to many of the smallest cars on the market. Ten of the 11 subcompact and minicars tested received poor or marginal ratings. Only General Motor's (GM) Chevrolet Spark earned an "acceptable" rating.
This test involved sending the cars into a barrier at 40 miles an hour, with the driver's side bumper making direct compact. (AMZN) is denying a report that it wants to significantly expand its online video operation. The Wall Street Journal says the company is seeking deals with television channels to distribute their programs on a new Amazon pay TV service. The Journal says Amazon would like to offer a virtual cable TV channel. But up until now, TV channels have not been willing to share their content with web partners.

Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 44 points Tuesday, but the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rallied 28 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) gained 5 points.

And March Madness -- the NCAA basketball tournament -- may create even more madness than usual this year. Quicken Loans is teaming up with Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) (BRK-B) to pay $1 billion to anyone who correctly picks all of the tournament's 63 games. It's free to enter, but the odds of winning are much less than hitting the Powerball lottery.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

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Propane has frequently been an issue in winter months in the Northeast States, BUT this is further evidence of the continuing Obama EPA fraud on their War on Coal, and coal fied electric power plants. Wise up, Americans. Impeach, try for treason and hang the Muslim communist.

January 25 2014 at 10:35 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

These are artifical shortages created by the companies that sell the product. Nothing but GREED.

January 25 2014 at 10:26 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Yep, gas, oil, propane seem to always have a shortage when people need them the most. It goes beyone supply and demand into greed and avarice. We already know that, this year, around July 4th, there\'ll be a shortage of gas and prices will go up for summer vacations. Predictable.

January 25 2014 at 10:08 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

The beauty of capitalism, the govt gives the corporations the leeway to rape the public whenever they get a chance to.... manipulate at will. I guess the answer is if you can afford it, is to own their stocks so you can get in on their disgraceful action.

January 25 2014 at 9:01 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

lmao are you kidding? why shortage didnt them ceo ******** get a big enough bonus and people actually believe this wake up people another gov bullchit

January 25 2014 at 7:43 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

This one really pisses me off. Another lie and manipulation of the market. We knew back in the late summer or early fall of the winter prediction. They predicted then, the possibility of a snow bowl Super Bowl and a harsh winter. Plain and simple this is nothing more than a manipulation of the market.

The on hand supply ready for delivery by the propane retailer may be short, but propane itself is not. It’s total BS. I live within an hour of an underground storage facility for propane. It’s been there forever. It’s shipped in by rail and pumped into a salt dome. I guarantee you it isn’t empty. There are gazillion gallons there right now and rail cars are probably sitting idle on the side tracks.

For those who don’t know, propane is a byproduct of the refining of oil. It comes from every barrel of oil that is refined. Have we quite refining oil and out of gasoline, No. My guess is that this situation has been caused by the propane industry on purpose because they knew this weather was coming and they could gouge the public and make tons more money.

Rail cars could be sitting loaded in the areas mentioned and there would be backup for the on ground storage tanks. I don’t think it was for lack of planning with the early predicted harsh winter. It was perpetrated from the beginning of the early winter forecast.

Why am I pissed? I also use propane, although I’m not in the “two dozen states” mentioned it will affect everybody. I live within one hour in three directions of the refineries and as mentioned one hour of the propane storage facility.

America you have been screwed again by the oil companies and Wall Street. They manipulated the market again, only on propane this time.

January 25 2014 at 7:18 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to b2ran's comment

And, unfortunately, because we\'ve become a nation of sheep following the shepard, nothing will ever get done about it. It\'s past time that the people stood up to this government as we did with England for our freedom. And, back then, it was only because taxes on tea were raised! When will the people in this country learn.

January 25 2014 at 10:11 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I like how k4jlp made this about politics. This is about profit. Head to texas and watch the ships full of propane heading to asia and points overseas. No shortage there. Just more profit to be had.

January 25 2014 at 6:34 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

when cold lp and nat gas goes up,when hot fuel and gas goes up.always the same each year,no control ,shell, ect.and lp gas companys get rich off of us all.

January 25 2014 at 6:15 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

This figures right, happens every time the temps fall. Of course we all know who'll get the blame for this, right?

January 25 2014 at 1:32 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I just received a propane bill at my rural 1500 sq foot house and for last month it was $1023 and for the prior month it was $760. No I do not set the thermostat at 75 degrees etc. It was below 0 last night and is 15 degrees right now. Looking forward to next month's bill. My supplier just tacked on a 12 month fee for nothing and gave himself a $120 year raise. They are so cheap they stopped mailing bills and now (illegally) hang a little plastic bag with the bill in it from my mail box (you are not supposed to use a postal delivery mail box unless you have sent stamped mail) which can easily blow away....since hurricane Katrina the price of propane here has quadrupled. prior to hurricane Katrina my heating costs and entire propane use costs were about $1600 per year which included a gas hot water heater, gas stove, gas outdoor grill and gas furnace. Now these costs are in the 5k+ range per year. I am confident there is price fixing going on around here, propane is one of the least regulated fuels as the article states only about 12 million households use it for fuel and so it is unlike electricity, natural gas and oil which many more millions of households use.

January 24 2014 at 8:43 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply