Is superfast internet coming your way?

The internet is about to shift into higher gear. Drones taking off in droves. State-of-the-art speech recognition technology. A fix for a security flaw on iPhones. A game plan for managing identity theft.

Faster Web Service

Superfast wireless home internet service for homes and businesses is on the way. Verizon plans to roll out high-speed wireless internet to some of its customers in 2017 as part of a trial run. The service hits fiberlike speeds by tapping a largely unused section of airwaves, known as millimeter waves, to send data from a cell antenna to a rooftop- or window-mounted antenna. The second antenna then feeds into a regular home or business modem and Wi-Fi router. This technology will usher in more broadband competition in coming years as it becomes faster and easier to bring high-speed networks to more homes and businesses. Plus, it will give many customers access to far faster speeds then they’d be able to purchase today.

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Will an autumn cool snap hike energy prices?

With much of the United States baking from a hotter-than-normal summer, odds are that not many people are worrying about what the coming winter holds. But the beginning of autumn is less than a month away, and an early cool snap across the northern tier of the country could be just around the corner. So now seems like a good time to check in on stockpiles of heating oil, propane and natural gas, and to hazard an educated guess about prices.

The Supply Picture

Here’s one forecast you can count on: There will be plenty of heating fuel to go around this winter. Stocks of heating oil, propane and natural gas are all higher than average, in part because last winter ended up milder than normal and left storage facilities well stocked when spring arrived.

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These cool new technologies will disrupt the smartphone market … again

This week, we’ll take a deep dive into the coming transformation of smartphones.

Smartphone innovation is far from over. A slew of amazing new features will be unveiled over the next five years. Packed with new chips, sensors and software, smartphones will take on new tasks and unleash a wave of money-making opportunities. The phones will do everything from serving as walkie-talkies to running advanced artificial intelligence apps.

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Trade Deficit Increases in Listless World Economy

Widening 4% in ’16, after a 6.2% increase in ’15

Weak global growth combined with a relatively strong U.S. dollar will drive the U.S. trade deficit up 4% this year, as American exporters struggle to stay competitive in key trading nations. The drag on exports is likely to continue into next year. Continue reading “Trade Deficit Increases in Listless World Economy”

Consumers Rev Up Spending

4% growth in ’16, compared with 4.8% in ’15 (excluding gas)

Feeling more confident about the economy, the job market and their own financial stability, shoppers dialed up spending in June. The third consecutive month of gains marks a strong end to the second quarter of 2016, though challenges remain as retailers grapple with changing industry trends—more online shopping, free shipping demands, etc. Continue reading “Consumers Rev Up Spending”

Price Drops at the Gas Pump to Continue

Crude oil trading from $40 to $45 per barrel in Sept.

Another wild week for the oil market, but prices wound up near where they started, at about $42 per barrel for benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI).

Oversupply fears continue to weigh on markets, with stockpiles of gasoline and other fuels well above normal, and oil output on the rise from Iran to Libya.

Don’t rule out further declines in oil sometime in coming weeks. WTI has already slipped from $50 per barrel in late June to under $40 in early August, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the price dip as low as $35 or so. But we think any such sell-off would be relatively brief and expect WTI to trade from $40 to $45 in September.

The continued weakness in oil means gasoline prices should keep coming down. The national average price of regular unleaded fell a few pennies this week, hitting $2.12 per gallon. By the time summer ends, we look for gas to reach $2 per gallon or less, a big bargain for drivers. Diesel should also come down a bit more from its current average of $2.30 per gallon.

Natural gas prices are weakening, too, with the benchmark gas futures contract slipping to $2.77 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) this week, from $2.90 a week ago. Gas demand is robust, thanks to record consumption by gas-fired power plants that are working hard to keep the nation’s air conditioners running. But even that strong demand hasn’t been enough to push natural gas prices any higher. If the summer heat starts to moderate in coming weeks, demand will pull back and prices could slip to about $2.50 per MMBtu.

Brexit Vote Puts Damper on Interest Rates

10-year T-notes at 1.4% by end ’16

The vote by Britain to leave the European Union has completely changed the outlook for interest rates. Rates should stay low for an extended period of time as U.S. Treasury notes and bonds remain important safe haven investments in the face of uncertainty over growth in Europe and Japan.
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