WHO CAN EXPECT STIMULUS CHECKS FIRST: If you want to be the first on your block to get your $600 economic stimulus payment, the IRS has a tip: Sign up to get your 2007 tax refund via direct deposit. Among those receiving rebate checks, people with Social Security numbers in which the last two digits are low -- say, 06 -- will get their checks first, the agency said Monday. Taxpayers who receive their refunds -- or make payments -- through direct deposit will begin receiving payments by May 2, with all such deposits expected to be made within two weeks. Then, starting by May 16, the rest of the 130 million stimulus payments will start going out as checks sent through the mail. Stimulus checks will be sent in the order of the last two digits of the Social Security number used on a tax return. For joint filers, the first Social Security number listed will determine the timing of the couple's rebate check.
CHICAGO, NEW YORK FUTURES EXCHANGES TO MERGE: The parent company of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade said Monday that it will buy the New York Mercantile Exchange in a $9.4 billion cash-and-stock deal that melds the nation's two largest futures exchanges. CME Group Inc. agreed to pay $3.4 billion in cash and about $6 billion in stock for Nymex Holdings Inc. as part of the buyout first discussed earlier this year. The combined company will continue to operate electronic and open-outcry trading platforms in New York and Chicago, as long as the New York trading floor meets certain revenue and profit requirements, executives said.
OIL PRICES FALL ON FINANCIAL FEARS: Oil prices plunged Monday, pulling back at least temporarily from record levels as investors feared that the financial crisis that forced the sale of Bear Stearns Cos. is a sign of deep economic trouble. Crude's plunge came even as diesel prices rose to a record above $4 a gallon and gas prices remained high. Diesel, used to transport the vast majority of the nation's goods, rose 1.3 cents to a national average of $4.002 a gallon Monday, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. The national average price of a gallon of gas, meanwhile, dipped slightly to $3.283 a gallon, but remains 73 cents higher than a year ago. Oil's steep decline -- falling $4.53 to settle at $105.68 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange -- came hours after futures reached a trading high of $111.80 on the Federal Reserve's move Sunday to lower a key interest rate by a quarter point.
FLYING SAUCER HOUSE SELLS AT BARGAIN PRICE: The sale price for a Chattanooga, Tenn., house shaped like a flying saucer is nothing to phone home about. The Space House sold at auction Saturday for a down-to-earth bid of $135,000. Auctioneer Terry Posey said he was surprised bidding didn't go higher. The sale of the 38-year-old, three-bedroom structure perched on six "landing gear" legs attracted worldwide attention. Posey said Pearl Johnson of Cincinnati bought the mountainside house but didn't want to discuss the transaction. The house has a retractable staircase that lowers to the ground.
BEE NEWS SERVICES
32: Percentage of U.S. workers who say drama is the type of movie genre that best describes their workplace, according to a CareerBuilder.com survey
28: Percentage of workers who said comedy
6: Percentage of workers who said a horror or war movie
JOHN MacINTYRE, UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE