Money Minute: Watchdog Pushes for Free Credit Scores; Adios, Quiznos?

The sandwich chain Quiznos is running out of dough.

Quiznos reportedly is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection, partly because of declining sales. The Wall Street Journal says the sandwich chain has been struggling with a heavy debt load for years, and has been forced to close thousands of stores. It now has about 2,100 stores, down from a peak nearly 5,000 back in 2008.

In its latest push to help consumers gain more control, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is pushing credit card companies to provide users with free copies of their credit scores. Consumers are already entitled to a free credit report once a year, %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%but this would provide another tool to understand all sorts of decisions that affect their financial lives -- everything from the rates they pay on loans to whether or not they land a certain job.

Presidents Day is long gone, but the big deals on new cars may last for another month. General Motors (GM) and Ford (F) are extending some of their best deals through the end of March. The really bad weather this year has hurt sales and led to an inventory build-up on dealer lots.

Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 74 points Thursday, but the focus was on the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC), which rose 9 points to close at a record high. The Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose 27 points. It's at the highest level in nearly 14 years, but still well below its all-time high.

Finally, despite the boom in shale oil production in North Dakota, the U.S. still has a long way to go before it can achieve energy independence. Bloomberg reports the extraction of oil and gas from those fields in North Dakota is very expensive. In addition, output from these shale oil fields drops faster than it does from conventional drilling methods. The International Energy Agency says it will take 2,500 new wells a year just to maintain current production levels.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.