Gas, oil climb on
Gasoline and crude oil jumped to new records Thursday, with gas rising 3 cents to an average national price of nearly $3.65 a gallon and oil crossing $124 a barrel for the first time. At the pump, the average price of a gallon of regular gas nationwide rose 2.7 cents to a record $3.645, according to a survey of stations by AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. Diesel prices also rose, adding 0.9 cent to match a record national average of $4.251 a gallon. The average gas price Thursday in Modesto was $3.885, according to gasprices.com.
Mortgages dip a bit
Rates on 30-year mortgages edged down slightly this week, but remained above 6 percent for the third consecutive week. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported Thursday that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 6.05 percent this week, compared with 6.06 percent last week. It marked the third week that 30-year rates have been above 6 percent. Analysts said rates for all mortgages didn't change much this week as the housing industry continues to confront the worst downturn in more than 20 years.
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Caught in the maelstrom of higher gas and food prices, Americans -- even more affluent ones -- are seeking shelter in wholesale clubs and discount apparel chains. Low-price operators Costco Wholesale Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and TJX Cos. reported better-than-expected sales Thursday, while traditional apparel chains J.C. Penney Co. and Limited Brands Inc. struggled. To lure financially challenged customers, analysts said apparel chains are discounting more merchandise.
Toyota profit plunge
Toyota said the strong yen and weaker U.S. sales took a bite out of January-March earnings and projected worse was to come -- a 27 percent plunge in its full-year profit. It would be the first drop in full-year profit in seven years for the automaker. The results and outlook released Thursday highlight how the tough North American auto market is hammering profits.
A late cold snap puts a chill on some California vineyards, raising questions about the quality and quantity of the wine grape harvest this fall.