Take stock – December 29

Oil prices rose above US$91 a barrel Tuesday in the final week of trading before the new year. Trading has been especially light during the holiday week.

Oil prices up in slow market

NEW YORK — Oil prices rose above US$91 a barrel Tuesday in the final week of trading before the new year. Trading has been especially light during the holiday week. It’s the time of year when most traders have solidified investments, typically leaving only those who work for oil producers and commercial refineries, companies that still need to lock in supply contracts, analyst Stephen Schork said. Benchmark crude for February delivery rose 49 cents to settle at US$91.49 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The volume of trading is expected to spike in the first few weeks of 2011. Several large investment banks have predicted that oil will hit US$100 next year as China, India and other emerging economies compete with developed countries and tighten the world’s oil supply.

OPEC has said it would not meet any time soon to discuss boosting production, but some experts say prices may still be in for a slide. China recently increased interest rates to control inflation and that could cool off its economy. “They’re trying to temper consumption, and that’s going to temper oil prices,” Schork said.


Home prices falling fast in U.S. cities

NEW YORK — Home prices are dropping in America’s largest cities and are expected to fall through next year, with the worst declines coming in areas with high numbers of foreclosures.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index fell 1.3 per cent in October from September. All cities recorded monthly price declines. Atlanta recorded the largest decline. Prices there fell 2.9 per cent from a month earlier.

Washington, which had posted increases for six straight months, dropped 0.2 per cent in October.

The 20-city index has risen 4.4 per cent from their April 2009 bottom. But it remains 29.6 per cent below its July 2006 peak.