If you filled up your car at a gas station this weekend, you probably noticed that it cost you a bit more than it did the last time you were at the pump. The average price for a gallon of gas is about 13 cents higher than it was two weeks ago. Several factors contributed to that rise.
One of those factors -- refineries are transitioning from producing cheaper winter-blend to more expensive summer-blend gasoline. Refineries also use this time of year to do maintenance on their facilities, which means they produce less gas, lowering supply.
"Well, basically, they are cleaning their machines and making sure everything is functioning properly ahead of the high demand season," says Gregory Dacko, a senior economist at IHS. Yet another reason for the higher price at the pump, says Dacko, is cutbacks in production by OPEC.
But the single biggest factor is the price of crude oil. "The price of crude oil makes up about 66 percent of the price of a gallon of gasoline" says Avery Ash, a spokesperson for AAA.
Crude oil is up by 14 percent since mid-December. Analysts don't expect prices to rise quite as fast as they did this time last year. But last Friday did mark the first time in 2013 that the national average price of a gallon of gas was higher than that same day in 2012.
San Francisco will not be getting a Superbowl trophy, but it is the beneficiary of a PR stunt by Jell-O, which is offering the city free pudding today. And for fans that don't like Jell-O, the company is offering an app for Google Chrome that will block words and images related to Baltimore with puppies.
Debt-burdened Greece's fragile political stability is under attack. On the left, anti-government groups have bombed a series of Greek government offices, banks and other symbols of the establishment. Meanwhile, violent attacks by supporters of a neo-Nazi and anti-immigrant party are also on the rise.
This final note today, which comes with the observation that the price of a barrel of crude oil has been rising for two straight months. The Energy Department said today the average American household now spends $2,900 a year on gas. That's just under 4 percent of household income, which is, in turn, the most we've spent on gas in 30 years.
It's all about the costs of efficiency, really. Even though our cars get more miles per gallon, we're driving more.
Oh, and gas is expensive.
A group of investors wants to take Dell private. Michael Dell, the computer company's founder and chief executive, has been in talks with banks, a private equity firm and Microsoft.
"You could say Microsoft is doing this for selfish reasons," say James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research. He says Microsoft wants to survive.
"Microsoft cares about Dell because they need to have enough companies putting enough effort into making Windows-based devices."
And by investing in Dell, Microsoft could encourage that. Jayson Noland, an IT analyst with Baird, says this is Microsoft acknowledging the tech landscape has changed.
"We've seen so much innovation in consumer electronics -- specifically smart phones and tablets -- and the PC hasn't kept up."
Forrester's James McQuivey says Microsoft has begun to branch out. It used to be just a software company.
"There is a lot of risk in Microsoft putting its hand on the hardware business." But, he says, there'd be a lot more risk if it didn't.
A new documentary airs tonight on CNBC about one of the riskiest bets out there. It's not a stock, or a bond, or a startup company. It's the business of theater on Broadway.
According to Maria Bartiromo, the creator of the documentary "Betting Big on Broadway", 8 out of 10 shows lose money.
"It's tough to actually break out and make money on Broadway," says Bartiromo, "I think investors do it because they love it as opposed to doing it because they think they are going to have an overnight success."
Though Broadway has seen it's fair share of highly successful shows, such as Phantom of the Opera and The Lion King, they are the exceptions says Bartiromo.
So what makes some shows enduring classics while others fizzle out?
"I think it's important to connect with audiences, to entertain. Yes, you want to have a show that has lots of glitz and glamour and great songs, but at the same time, a story is always something that will connect with people," says Bartiromo.
Today Britain’s finance chief -- or Chancellor of the Exchequer -- George Osborne launches his new Banking Reform Bill which contains a measure to force banks to keep their retail business separate from their riskier, investment banking operations.
The idea behind this “ring-fencing” is that if an investment bank runs into trouble, the retail arm with its checking accounts, personal loans and ATM's , won’t necessarily be affected. Taxpayers may not therefore be required to bail out the whole bank because of a threat to the financial system.
Osborne said today that this measure would be given teeth. Or to use another metaphor: The ring-fence will be "electrified." If the banks try to evade the new rules, they will be broken up.
Ralph Silva, an analyst with SRN consulting says the U.S. should follow suit:
“American regulators must be given that power. They need to be the highest court in the land, they need to be the strongest policemen because the financial services is critical to the safety and secuirity of America,” claims Silva.
Britain’s planned reform will take the U.K. back to where the U.S. used to be before it repealed the Glass-Steagall Act in the late 1990s. The Act, introduced after the Depression, separated retail from investment banking.