Archive for December, 2007

31
Dec

   Posted by: RobPatton   in Money

LONDON (Reuters) — Gold posted its biggest yearly gain since 1979 in 2007, even though prices dipped Monday.

Gold futures for February on NYMEX’s COMEX metals division closed down $4.70 at $838 an ounce. For the year, gold was up 24%.

The spot price of gold bullion rose around 30% on the year, its biggest annual gain since 1979, and was less than $20 from hitting record highs. Spot price is what it wold cost to buy an ounce of gold right now.

“For gold, this marks the sixth consecutive year of positive returns and consequently represents the longest gold price rally in history,” Deutsche Bank said.

In the past days, the metal gained on speculative buying driven by dollar weakness and tensions in Pakistan following the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

“Certainly we are looking for a test of $850 very early in 2008. All the supportive factors are still there. The dollar is very much under pressure and we have got geopolitical tensions,” said James Moore, precious metals analyst at TheBullionDesk.com.

“There is going to be some reallocation of money next year and certainly gold is going to get a favor, as a market to move 30% in one direction is going to raise attention.”

Gold was fixed at a record high of $850 in January 1980 on high inflation linked to strong oil, Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the effects of the Iranian revolution.

After adjusting for inflation, that level was equal to $2,079 at 2006 prices, according to industry estimates.

The latest safe-haven buying was sparked by Bhutto’s killing last week, which plunged Pakistan into crisis.

“Gold spiked to fresh highs on escalating geopolitical tensions, tightening oil supplies and a weakening dollar, which seem to stack the deck in favor of further upward movement,” said Pradeep Unni, analyst at Vision Commodities in Dubai.

The dollar fell vs. a basket of major currencies, keeping it on track for its worst annual performance in four years, as investors speculated that 2008 could bring slower U.S. economic growth and lower interest rates.

A weaker dollar makes gold cheaper for holders of other currencies and often lifts bullion demand. The metal is also generally seen as a hedge against oil-led inflation.

Other commodities from energy to metals to agriculture saw their largest annual gains in at least a decade.

U.S. copper for March settled down 3.10 cents at $3.0410 a lb on COMEX. For the year, it was up about 8%.

In agricultural products on the Chicago Board of Trade, soybeans for January were down 8-3/4 cents at $11.99 a bushel. On the year, the market showed a gain of more than 60%.

Analysts said early indications for 2008 are that growth in China and other emerging markets will keep demand for raw materials bubbling, while trouble in nuclear-capable states like Pakistan could send oil and gold to record highs.

Copyright 2008 Reuters Limited.

31
Dec

   Posted by: RobPatton   in Food!, Life Stuff

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Today (Sunday) we took a lunch tour on the Rivership Romance for a day-time tour of the river. We were married on this boat just over a year ago, and figgured we would give it a try while it was light outside. Your trip starts with a breakfast buffet, then you have an hour to go outside and watch the world go by. At 12:30 you are presented with your pre-ordered lunch.

Well worth getting up early on a Sunday am.

31
Dec

   Posted by: RobPatton   in Solar Power, Tech

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North America’s largest solar photovoltaic system is now running and generating power — about 30 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. The 14 megawatt power plant is at the Nellis Air Force Base in the sunny desert of southern Nevada. It’s expected to save about $1 million in power costs annually, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 24,000 tons each year.

The plant, which cost $100 million to construct, covers 140 acres of land at the western edge of the Nellis base. The company that owns the panels is leasing the land at no cost, and Nellis is agreeing to buy the power for 20 years at about 2.2 cents/kWh, instead of the 9 cents they are paying to Nevada Power, saving the Air Force $1 million each year. None of the $100 million cost came from the Air Force.

The photovoltaic system is made up of 72,000 solar panels. It’s enough to provide 30% of the electric needs on the base, where 12,000 people work and 7,215 people live. But at 14 megawatts the power output of this system is modest, compared to the solar thermal Nevada One project which generates 64 megawatts of power.

SunPower designed and built the photovoltaic power plant using its proprietary single-axis solar tracking system which follows the sun throughout the day and delivers “up to 30 percent more energy than traditional fixed-tilt ground systems,” the company says.

Article courtest of

30
Dec

   Posted by: RobPatton   in Money

’08 forecasts: food at least 3% higher; gas up 10.7%

By Karen Robinson-Jacobs – The Dallas Morning News

 

For cash-strapped consumers already beset by higher gasoline prices and escalating mortgage rates, the hits just keep on coming. This time, it’s food.

The sharp rise in food prices seen in 2007 is expected to be followed by another higher-than-normal jump next year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said last week. And 2008’s punch will be to the breadbasket.

Items made with wheat (breads and crackers) and soybean oil (cooking oil and fried foods) are expected to rise so much next year that they’ll boost the cost of cooking at home by up to 4.5 percent — half a percentage point more than predicted just a month ago.

So pinched consumers thinking they can cut back by eating at home more will find little relief there. Home cooking remains less expensive than eating out, but the gap is closing.

This year is expected to go on record as having one of the largest increases in food prices since 1990 — a jump of 4 percent, according to USDA economists. And 2008 will bring an additional rise of at least 3 percent, according to the USDA forecast. Both rates are substantially higher than the 2.4 percent gains seen each year in 2005 and 2006 and the 1.8 percent rise in 2002.

Meanwhile, the Energy Information Administration forecasts a 17.7 percent jump in crude-oil prices next year, with a corresponding 10.7 percent boost in the price of a gallon of regular gasoline.

So just driving to the grocery will cost more.

While consumers watch grocery and gas costs increase, economists chart the rise of the pain inducers.

Ephraim Leibtag, an economist with the Economic Research Service of the USDA, spent Monday morning bumping up estimates for 2008 price increases for grocery items such as fats, cooking oils, cereals and bakery products.

The growth rate escalated beyond estimates made just a month ago after the USDA looked at November’s consumer prices. Not everything is getting more expensive. The price of eggs, for example, is expected to drop next year by at least 2 percent after running up 28 percent in 2007.

But elsewhere, 2008 will be a worse year than most. With an anticipated gain of between 5.5 percent and 6.5 percent, cereals and baked goods are expected to see the biggest jump of any single food category, according to the Economic Research Service.

The 2008 price rise for the category comes on top of the 4.3 percent increase expected this year.

Leibtag said wheat costs have gone up as supplies have gone down, due in large part to a drought in Australia, a major supplier of America’s wheat. (The Australian drought was earlier blamed for this year’s expected 7.4 percent rise in dairy prices.)

Sara Lee Corp. has raised prices three times, for a total of 15 percent, since December 2006. The most recent increase, 5 percent, was announced Monday but may not show up on grocery goods until next year, said Mark Goldman, company spokesman.

“We’re talking about prices [for wheat products] that are double, in some cases triple a year and a half ago,” Goldman said. Inflation is hitting the whole-grain breads health-conscious consumers have been favoring.

Meanwhile, the price for oils, especially soybean oil, is expected to climb 5 percent to 6 percent as soybean farmers — seeking ample waves of gain — switch to corn.

Corn farmers are reaping higher prices as more corn is diverted from animal feed to fuel.

But the ethanol infusion is not enough to keep gas prices from rising.

The Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration is looking for the benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil to average $84.83 a barrel in 2008, up from the $72.05 it averaged this year and 50 percent above the 2005 level.

Crude counts for an increasing share of the price of a gallon of gasoline. It translated to 59 percent of the cost of a gallon of regular gas in 2005, when the average price per gallon was $2.27. In 2008, a gallon of regular gas is expected to average $3.11, with the cost of crude making up 65 percent of the cost, according to Energy Department figures.

The balance of the cost of gasoline is tied to such factors as refining and taxes.

While consumers can’t go out and drill for oil, Rayola Dougher, a senior economist with the American Petroleum Institute, notes that measures such as keeping tires properly inflated, not carrying extra weight and slowing down can save fuel.

“If you stack these things up, it can make a difference at the pump,” she said.

And those changes won’t affect your life as much as cutting out food.

Dallas Morning News staff writer Pamela Yip contributed to this article.

29
Dec

   Posted by: RobPatton   in Life Stuff, Money, Rants, Tech

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Often called Circuit Shitty, or Circus Circus for their lack of skills, lack of stock, and lack of organization they may finally be done… Circuit City Stores , which laid off 3,400 workers and is now paying the price. Holiday sales suffered, and Circuit City shares hit a 52-week low in the days after Christmas, closing Friday at $4.15, down from $22.02 on Feb. 9.
Comp – Gone

Sears – Been gone.

Walmart – Don’t sell anything worth getting.

BestBuy – Might be all thats left.

29
Dec

   Posted by: RobPatton   in Humor, Just plain weird, Tech

I was pointed in the direction of a company Mimoco that produces designer USB flash drives, and their new line is something that can only be described as being “From a Galaxy far, far away.” Seen in the pictures below, these Star Wars character flash drives are probably bring to life your favorite characters from the greatest movie franchise of all time. So then, would it be safe to say that these could be the greatest flash drives of all-time? I think so. Take a look.

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8
Dec

   Posted by: RobPatton   in Money, Tech

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Computer and electronics retailer CompUSA announced on Friday that it would start winding down its retail operations after being acquired by an investment firm, which is looking to sell the company’s business and assets.

The big deals are not happening yet, though, so don’t make a mad rush out to your local CompUSA. They do not expect the liquidation pricing to start before Monday; however, Monday looked like a good possibility.
Expect the pricing to hit all parts of CompUSA, including the Apple store

7
Dec

   Posted by: RobPatton   in Life Stuff, Money

First week was good. The results are:

Rob 329.4 – 8.1 – 2.40%

Blake 274.4 – 3.3 – 1.19%

It looks like I did VERY well, but this was just the first week, and people start loosing at different rates, so its possible week 2 I will hit a wall. We’ll hope. Indian food for lunch did NOT help anyone. My personal goal of beeing under 300 by the end of the year is possible, though will be a rough road.

3
Dec

   Posted by: RobPatton   in Biggest Looser, Food!, Just plain weird, Life Stuff, Money

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Well Monday at 11am was the Weigh-in for our own little in house biggest looser contest. This month its just Blake and myself. I’m sure Jan will bring more folks in.

So the starting numbers are:

Rob 337.0

Blake 277.8

Let the games begin,