Money Minute: Extreme Cold Grounds Flights; Heat, Food Bills Set to Soar


The extreme cold could take a bite out of your wallet.

For the big swath of the country in the grip of the cold snap, heating bills are almost certain to go up. The price of natural gas in some mid-Atlantic states has soared to record highs. And the price of some food items -- especially produce -- could jump, as crops could be ruined.

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Charles Krupa/APThousands of air travelers were affected by several airlines' decision Monday to cancel flights due to extremely cold weather.

It's also interfering with thousands of flights in and out of Chicago, New York and many other cities. And a number of businesses are telling their employees to stay home and not risk being outside in the life-threatening cold, and that could hurt profits. Even some ski resorts have been forced to close.

The cost of renting an apartment is also on the rise, but that has nothing to do with the weather. The real estate research firm Reis says the average rent per month across the country rose by nearly 1 percent in the fourth quarter to $1,083. The issue is supply and demand. More people have needed to rent rather than buy ever since the housing crisis began. But there is good news. A lot of new rental units are coming on line this year.

Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 45 points Monday, the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) lost 18 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) edged 4 points lower.
As the economy improved last year, far fewer businesses filed for bankruptcy.

The American Bankruptcy Institute says business filings fell by 24 percent from a year earlier. Personal bankruptcies declined by 13 percent.

And the business of marijuana sales in Colorado has created some murky legal issues for other businesses who work with the pot sellers. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department is working on new guidelines for banks and credit card companies that deal with these businesses. The focus will be on broader criminal activities, such as diverting pot sales to other states and using proceeds to cover other illegal activities.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.