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Business/Economy

  • Talking fuel pumps new to LA

    If the normally quiet pumps at your favorite gas station have started spouting advertisements at you recently, chances are the station is one of three locations now under longterm lease to Western Refining.

    In an agreement signed June 6, Western Refining acquired longterm leases from Polk Oil on 12 stations throughout Northern New Mexico. The Chevron on Trinity Drive, the Shell station on Diamond Drive and the Conoco Quik Stop in White Rock are part of that group.

    Although Western Refining operates 222 stores throughout New Mexico, Arizona, Southern Colorado and West Texas — known as Giant Convenience Centers — this is the company’s first venture into Los Alamos County.

    “The transition has gone well,” said Gary Hanson, vice president of corporate communications. “We’ve completed rebranding and the office systems have been converted. And we’re very pleased with the performance of those stations.”

    “Our retail stores help us as a business. They give us an outlet for the oil and gas we produce at our refineries. So it’s good to add these stores to our mix,” Hanson continued. The company has refineries in El Paso and Gallup.

  • Gas Prices Could Rise As Isaac Hits Gulf
  • NM forecasts 4% revenue growth in next budget year

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A new financial forecast estimates more than $270 million will be available to lawmakers and Gov. Susana Martinez for budget increases next year.

    Top officials in the Martinez administration outlined the revenue projections on Wednesday to the Legislative Finance Committee during a meeting in Angel Fire.

    The state expects to collect $5.9 billion during the 2014 fiscal year, which starts next July. That's $272 million more than the state will spend this year. That's also the pool of so-called new money available for spending increases on public education and other government programs as well as to offset any tax cuts that may be enacted.

    Lawmakers estimate that several obligations in current law, such as higher public employee pension payments by the state, will require $74 million of the money.

  • Preparation will spur economic growth

    When Economic Vitality Administrator Greg Fisher asked for council’s approval of his Economic Development Fund program priorities and budget two weeks ago, he painted a grim picture of the current situation.

    Although some needs — such as replacing an aging county infrastructure — are being addressed, critical pieces of a sound foundation are missing.

    A shortage of desirable commercial sites and blight are two issues that have been identified.

    “We had a national retailer that we met at the International Conference of Shopping Centers who came into town last week looking for 4,000 square feet for a national sporting goods store. He couldn’t find anything that suited him,” Fisher said. “We’re pushing real hard to get him into something now, but the point is, having a good quality commercial product available is half the battle of getting economic development in the community.”

    “We have a lot of aging commercial properties. It comes with the territory when you have a community that was built about the same time. Many of the buildings are 50 and 60 and 70 years old now, and that’s just the time when they either get renovated or fall apart,” Fisher said.

    Fisher acknowledged the county’s limitations in cleaning up blight.

  • Summertime blues for drivers: Gas at August record

    You may pay more than ever for a late-summer drive.

    U.S. drivers paid an average of $3.72 per gallon on Monday. That's the highest price ever on this date, according to auto club AAA, a shade above the $3.717 average on Aug. 20, 2008. A year ago, the average was $3.578.

    More daily records are likely over the next few weeks. The national average could increase to $3.75 per gallon by Labor Day, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service. By comparison, gas prices stayed below $3.70 in late August and early September in both 2008 and 2011.

    Retail gasoline prices have gone up about 39 cents per gallon, or 12 percent, since hitting a low of $3.326 on July 2, according to AAA, OPIS and Wright Express. Kloza estimates that U.S. drivers are paying $149 million more each day for gas than in early July. That isn't what the sluggish economy needs, since any extra money that goes to fill gas tanks doesn't get spent at movie theaters or restaurants.

  • US economic recovery is weakest since World War II

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The recession that ended three years ago this summer has been followed by the feeblest economic recovery since the Great Depression.

    Since World War II, 10 U.S. recessions have been followed by a recovery that lasted at least three years. An Associated Press analysis shows that by just about any measure, the one that began in June 2009 is the weakest.

    The ugliness goes well beyond unemployment, which at 8.3 percent is the highest this long after a recession ended.

    Economic growth has never been weaker in a postwar recovery. Consumer spending has never been so slack. Only once has job growth been slower.

    More than in any other post-World War II recovery, people who have jobs are hurting: Their paychecks have fallen behind inflation.

    Many economists say the agonizing recovery from the Great Recession, which began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009, is the predictable consequence of a housing bust and a grave financial crisis.

  • New Mexico's chile harvest underway

    LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The chile harvest has begun as grocery stores in Las Cruces are starting to roll out roasters in preparation for green chile sales.

    The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that this year's crop is being sold at roadside stands in the Hatch area.

    A U.S. Department of Agriculture report says that last week the New Mexico chile harvest was 11 percent complete.

    Retailers and canneries this year are subject to a new law that prevents falsely advertising that chile is New Mexico-grown, if it's from elsewhere.

    Katie Goetz, spokeswoman for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, says inspectors have already found some violators and will be on the lookout as the season continues.

  • Delay in scientific ghost town stirs skepticism

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Pegasus Global Holdings' surprise announcement that it was pulling out of plans to build a $1 billion scientific ghost town in eastern New Mexico is stirring skepticism of the private firm's grandiose plans for transforming 15 square miles of this largely rural state into a next-generation research center.

    Lea County had been working closely with the company after winning the bid to house the Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation. But "when we started pressing for details, that's when they decided to look elsewhere," county manager Mike Gallagher said.

  • US economy adds 163K jobs, rate rises to 8.3 pct.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added 163,000 jobs in July, a sign that the economy and hiring remains sluggish.

    The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate rose to 8.3 percent from 8.2 percent in June.

    July's hiring was the best since February. Still, the economy has added an average of 151,000 jobs a month this year — enough to keep up with population growth but not enough to drive down the unemployment rate.

  • Fed: No New Steps Despite Slowing Economy