Dollars & Sense

Why are you going?

Are you moving back to the Bay Area? The Modesto Bee would like to talk to Stanislaus County residents who plan to leave or to those who already have left and their reasons for moving: Was the commute too grueling? Gas prices too high? Did you lose your dream home? Couldn't find a job? If you're willing to share your story about why you're leaving, please call reporter J.N. Sbranti at 578-2196, or e-mail

Oil prices decline

Oil prices tumbled more than $2 a barrel Tuesday, finishing at their lowest level in seven weeks as a stronger dollar and beliefs that record prices are eroding the world's thirst for energy sparked another dramatic sell-off. The drop, which surpassed $4 a barrel at one point during the day, was a throwback to oil's nose dive over the past two weeks and outweighed supply concerns touched off by a militant attack Monday on two Nigerian crude pipelines. It was oil's seventh decline in the past 10 sessions. Light, sweet crude for September delivery fell $2.54 to settle at $122.19 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was the lowest settlement price for a front-month contract since June 10. Earlier, prices fell to $120.42, also the lowest level since June 10. Oil has fallen more than $25 from its trading high of $147.27, reached July 11.

Sprint takes a hit

The fees that cell phone carriers charge customers who break service contracts took a big hit in a California courtroom when a judge said such charges by Sprint Nextel Corp. likely violate state law. The judge, in a tentative ruling issued late Monday, said Sprint will have to pay $18.3 million to customers who sued over the fees and credit $54.8 million to those who were charged but did not pay the fees. The same judge is considering other lawsuits against telecommunications companies over their so-called early termination fees, which can range from $150 to $225. This month, Verizon Wireless agreed to pay $21 million to settle an identical lawsuit just as trial was starting.

Coming Thursday

The tiny diode lights of a half-dozen gadgets can be useful indicators of what state a gadget is in, or where it is, but they also bug people who'd rather not have lights shining in their faces when they're trying to sleep or watch movies.