Money Minute: Yearly Rise in College Costs Eases; Is Panera Stock Toast?


The rapid rise in college tuition is moderating. That's one of five money stories you need to know Wednesday.

In-state tuition at four-year public colleges increased by just 2.9 percent in the current school year. The College Board says that's the smallest increase since 1975. The average tuition is $8,900. Add in room and board, books and other costs, and the bill rises to $22,800 a year. Tuition increases at private collages and universities has also moderated -- up 3.8 percent to an average of more than $30,000 a year. A full-ride at those private schools now averages $44,750.

Another day, another record high for the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC). It rose 10 points Tuesday, to its fourth straight all-time high. The closely followed index is now up 23 percent for the year, and if it ends the year with that gain, it would be the best performance in a decade. The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 75 points and the Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) gained 9.

A Panera Bread Restaurant Ahead Of Earnings Figures
Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Panera Bread (PNRA) is making more bread -- the green kind -- but its stock may be toast. Panera's quarterly profit rose 17 percent from a year ago, but investors were disappointed by lackluster sales growth and a tepid forecast for the rest of the year.

President Obama's chief economic adviser says the partial government shutdown earlier this month cost the U.S. at least 120,000 jobs. Jason Furman also says it cut the nation's GDP in the current quarter by a quarter of a point. He says a lot of the loss came from a decline in consumer and business confidence. That slowed down retail purchases and made a lot of employers delay hiring.

And great news for drivers. AAA says the average price for a gallon of regular is now $3.34. That's down 30 cents from this time a year ago, and it's a big drop from early this summer when prices spiked to more than $4 in many areas. This follows a sharp drop in crude oil prices, which fell Tuesday to their lowest level since June. A lot of that is the result of higher supplies because of a jump in domestic production.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.