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Consumer Price Watch for the Week of April 15

Contributed by: Heath Combs

Gas_Pump_StoryLast week, a friend of mine returned from a trip to New York City. While many things are more expensive in NYC, visitors on foot and riding subways don’t see many gas stations in Manhattan. 

So he was a little surprised when he went out grocery shopping in Winston-Salem this morning to find the local price for regular gas at $2.75 a gallon. It was $2.45 when he left.

In looking as www.gasbuddy.com, $2.75 seems to be the norm for many gas stations in our area. But there are a few stations in the $2.55-$2.59 range. 

The U.S. price for crude oil is $64 a barrel as of April 10. The price increases are largely the result on output cutbacks by OPEC, specifically Saudia Arabia. Saudia Arabia has reduced its output by 324,000 barrels a day. 

Price pressure is also coming from the U.S. sanctions against Venezuela and Iran. Venezuela’s output is down by 289,000 barrels a day. Additionally, rain is also a problem in Iran. Parts of Iran have seen the worst flooding in 70 years, which is also hurting oil production.

With energy prices up 3.5% in March, the gas-price picture is likely to get worse before it gets better. As noted before, www.gasbuddy.com is one of the best resources for finding the lowest prices in your area. And it’s particularly useful on vacation. It’s a good idea to chart your driving route and see when and where you can get the best prices. 

When taking multi-state vacations, it’s a good idea to look ahead on www.gasbuddy.com and try to plan when and where gas should be purchased at the lowest price. Because of differing state-gas taxes, there are significant differences in gas prices between neighboring states.

‘Whole Paycheck’?

Last week Amazon and Whole Foods Market announced price cuts on hundreds of items. The primary focus will be on produce. 

The price decreases, averaging about 20%, may help Whole Foods begin to “shed the persistent “Whole Paycheck” nickname.

Prime members will also find “double the number of exclusive weekly Prime member deals and deeper discounts,” according to a statement from Amazon and Whole Foods. 

Natural gas increase request

Piedmont Natural Gas has made a request for a 9% rate increase with the N.C. Utilities Commission.

If approved, this would be the first rate increase since 2013. It would go into effect by the end of 2019 – just in time for the winter-heating season.

According to the utility, the increase would mean an average increase of $6 a month.

Prices increased in March

U.S. consumer prices in March increased by 0.41% from February. But if you exclude oil prices and food, the jump was only 0.15% from February. The consumer-price index in the U.S. measures the costs of household items like clothes and services.

From the previous year, the consumer-price index for March is up 1.9%.

Truliant can help

If your budget is headed for trouble or if you have trouble developing a budget, Truliant can sit down with you at one of our branches and suggest some simple strategies to manage the one thing that rarely goes down: prices. Please call 800.822.0382 for more details.

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