Money Minute: Gas Prices May Head Even Lower; Are Vitamins a Bad Investment?

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A new report indicates that consumers are wasting billions of dollars on the purchase of multivitamins.

An editorial in a prominent medical journal says there is no evidence that multivitamins prevent death or heart attack, or ward off memory loss. This could hurt sales of Nature Made, One A Day, and Centrum, which is made by Pfizer (PFE), as well as at retailers such as GNC (GNC), Walgreens (WAG), CVS (CVS) and Rite Aid (RAD).

Gas Price oil energy production
Michael Conroy/AP
The Energy Department says domestic production of oil is increasing so quickly that it will push global prices lower over the next few years, which could bring down prices at the pump. The report also says the U.S. will need to import just 25 percent of the oil we use by 2016, down from about half just a few years ago.

Global auto sales are expected to rise by about 3.7 percent next year. The business research firm IHS forecasts total sales of 85 million vehicles next year, and 100 million by 2018. It says the U.S. market will continue to grow, but the main driver will come from emerging markets, where wealth is on the rise.

Meanwhile, General Motors (GM) says it plans to spend $1.3 billion to upgrade five factories in the Midwest.

Boeing (BA) has agreed to give billions of dollars back to shareholders. The aerospace giant is boosting its dividend by 50 percent, and it's planning to buy back up to $10 billion of stock.

Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) jumped 129 points Monday, the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose 28 points and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) and gained 11 -- snapping a four-day losing streak.

Discount retail chain Loehmann's has filed for bankruptcy and plans to close all of its stores next month if it doesn't find a buyer. Several other discount chains have gone out of business in the past few years, including Syms, Daffy's and Filene's Basement. They've all been hurt by competition from chains such as T.J. Maxx (TJX), Ross Stores (ROST) and Burlington Coat Factory (BURL).

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

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Money Minute: Gas Prices May Head Even Lower; Are Vitamins a Bad Investment?
In the South Pacific, where it grows naturally, kava kava is a popular sedative that often shows up in religious and social rituals. Yogi Tea's "Calming" blend mixes the herb with lemongrass, chamomile and gotu kola to produce a tasty, mildly sedative brew. If you're having a difficult time adjusting your sleep cycle to daylight savings, or just can't quite get to sleep, it's a delicious, healthy alternative to sleeping pills, melatonin, or other over-the-counter sleep aids.
Numerous studies have suggested that zinc boosts the immune system, and that supplements, taken at the beginning of a cold, can help reduce its duration. Concerns still persist that zinc-based nasal sprays can permanently damage a cold sufferer's sense of smell, but zinc lozenges, placed under the tongue, remain a safe and effective supplement. Best of all, many retailers offer them for under $2!
For anybody who spends a lot of time in sunlight, vitamin D isn't a problem. In fact, according to WebMD, six days of casual sunlight exposure without sunscreen will pretty much do it. Even so, huge portions of the country, particularly in the north, are vitamin D deficient. In addition to contributing to seasonal affective disorder, the lack of vitamin D can cause immune problems, skin problems, osteoporosis, and a host of other problems. Luckily, supplements start at about $2 per bottle.
While it doesn't seem to have much affect on the immune system, fish oil is a must-have when it comes to general health. Often cited for its affect on high blood pressure, its effectiveness in reducing heart attacks and strokes, and its general benefits for cardiovascular wellness, fish oil is cheap, convenient and easy to find. Admittedly, the best fish oils tend to cost a bit more, but entry-level brands generally run $3 or less.
If you watch The Office, you might remember the secret Santa episode, in which Dwight announced his plans to use Jim's gift to Pam to clear out his sinuses. While the notion of nasal irrigation is a little uncomfortable (yes, the end of the little teapot really DOES go in your nostril!), doctors widely acknowledge that it's a great treatment for sinus problems associated with allergies and colds. An entry-level model costs just under $4.
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