What Is Important: Royal Caribbean Cruise Fire, Average U.S. Gas Price Drop

TS Sandy Image from NOAA
TS Sandy Image from NOAA

Low Gasoline Prices

Oil dropped below $94 a barrel, and gasoline prices have been falling as well. The ongoing decline in gas prices in the United States may be helped by low travel levels over the Memorial Day weekend. If the trend continues into the July 4 weekend, it is safe to assume that prices will stay down until Labor Day. Along with the drop in travel, gas supplies have been abundant, and there have been no major refinery closings or huge storms that might undermine production. The AAA Fuel Gauge shows price levels for a gallon of regular are about the same as a year ago. Yesterday the price was $3.626, against $3.641 the same day last year. However, the recent trend is downward. A week ago, the price per gallon was $3.654. If low gas prices tend to help disposable consumer income, then consumer spending in the second and third quarters could be moderately strong.

Car Company Calls It Quits

For every Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) success, there is at least one failure in the electric car industry. One company just went under, less than a week after Tesla paid off U.S. government loans. Reuters reports on the end of Better Place:

Electric car company Better Place said on Sunday it had filed a motion in an Israeli court to wind up the company, bringing an end to a venture whose battery charging network had aimed to boost electric car sales.

Better Place partnered with Renault in 2008 to create an electric car system combining charging terminals with battery swap stations to increase the range of electric cars and put an end to drivers' worries about running out of power.

It raised more than $850 million from top-tier investors and just two years ago said it was valued at $2.25 billion.

But sales never took off, with only just over a thousand cars on the road in Israel and Denmark, the first two countries where it began operating.

Cruise Ship Fire

Another black eye for the cruise industry, which over the past year has been dogged by a ship that ran aground and killed passengers, a number of cases of food poisoning and a ship that lost engine power and drifted without ready aid. Reuters said of the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL) cruise ship fire:

Fire aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship forced it to dock at Freeport, Bahamas, on Monday, with all passengers and crew safe but the rest of the trip canceled, the cruise company reported.

Grandeur of the Seas, operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, was on a seven-night trip that left Baltimore on Friday. The 916-foot-long (280-metre) ship was en route to CocoCay, Bahamas, when a fire occurred in its mooring area early on Monday, the company said in a statement.

The fire was extinguished in about two hours and the 17-year-old vessel was redirected to Freeport, the company said. As a result of the damage, the rest of the trip was canceled and passengers were refunded their fares and offered a free cruise in the future.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Market Open Tagged: RCL, TSLA