Car prices have risen quickly and quietly in the last few weeks. According to auto industry research firm Edmunds, the average amount buyers are paying for cars or light trucks is up $350 since Japan's earthquake and tsunami in March -- and the price of Japanese vehicles is up even more.
Toyota's recent recall woes may have pushed its U.S. sales lower during the past year, but they haven't stopped one popular model from setting a new milestone: The fuel-efficient Toyota Prius hybrid recently surpassed 1 million sales in the U.S.
Cnooc, China's most visible offshore oil producer, announced record-high net profits for 2010, helping to send Asian oil shares higher.
If you're in the market to buy a new vehicle, particularly popular models from Honda and Toyota, be prepared to pay more. Many dealers, bracing for shortages of cars imported from Japan, are already adjusting prices. One expert expects the increases to "last weeks, if not months."
Japan's markets got a slight reprieve today as the yen slipped a bit after hitting a record high yesterday. While the lower value helped exporters recover from severe losses earlier in the trading session, the country has a long way to go before confidence in its economy's resilience is restored.
The Japanese automaker has extended its halt on vehicle production at its plants in Japan through March 22, as the country continues to reel from the devastation of last week's massive 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami.
Toyota, Nissan and Honda, among other companies, have shut down plants temporarily in Japan in the wake of Friday's earthquake and tsunami. While many of their factories were undamaged, crippled nuclear plants are causing power shortages, and there has been damage to parts makers and transportation infrastructure.
Japanese shares plummeted in the aftermath of what Prime Minister Naoto Kan describes as Japan's worst disaster since 1945. The Nikkei 225 Index plunged 6.2%, wiping out this year's gains and hitting its lowest level in four months.
Three top automakers are recalling vehicles for items ranging from steering problems to stalling engines to faulty tire-pressure monitoring systems. The largest involves 35,000 Honda Civic hybrid models to fix electrical components that could cause headlights to shut off or the engine to stall.
It was a good month for auto sales despite inclement weather across much of the country and surging oil prices. Cars sold near an annual pace of 13 million vehicles. That would make February the best on record since the "cash for clunkers" rebate program in 2009.
Major automakers are set to release February sales figures on Tuesday, and analysts expect the reports will show sales improved 20% compared to a year ago. Consumers continued to warm to the slowly improving economy -- so far, despite surging oil prices.
There are warning signs that Hong Kong property prices have hit their peak, and today real estate firms dragged the Hang Seng index lower. Despite the drum beats of the lion dancers specially booked to celebrate Chinese New Year and "guaranteed" to bring prosperity to every business they visit, this year may prove a tough one for Hong Kong developers.