Gas prices fall again, down 25 cents from last month

Maine motorists are continuing to enjoy decreasing gasoline prices, which are 25 cents per gallon lower than they were a month ago but still higher than a year ago.

According to the price-watching website MaineGasPrices.com, the average retail gasoline price in Maine fell 4.6 cents per gallon in the past week to $3.73 as of Sunday.

With a few consecutive weeks of decreases, the average price in Maine is 25.1 cents per gallon lower than it was a month ago. But Mainegasprices.com said it’s also 98.9 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago.

The trend is consistent with the national average.

 

Stock market has slight gain, but still under 12,000

A round of corporate deals Monday helped the broad stock market eke out only its second day of gains this month.

Wendy’s/Arby’s Group Inc. rose nearly 1 percent after it said it would sell control of its Arby’s restaurants to a private equity firm that owns several other quick-service franchises.

And clothing maker VF Corp., whose brands include Wrangler and North Face, jumped 10 percent after agreeing to buy boot maker Timberland for more than $2.2 billion.

When big companies use their cash to make an acquisition, it signals a belief that there are values in the market, said Ryan Detrick, of Schaeffer’s Investment Research.

“That’s a good sign of confidence when we desperately need some,” Detrick said.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 1.06 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to close at 11,952.97. The Standard and Poor’s 500 inched up 0.85 point, less than 0.1 percent, to 1,271.83.

 

Bag fees big reason airlines post first profit in four years

Passengers hate them, but airlines can’t afford to give them up – those aggravating bag fees.

U.S. airlines collected $3.4 billion for checked luggage last year, according to a government report issued Monday. That’s up 24 percent from 2009 and a big reason the industry made money again after three years of losses.

In 2010, the major airlines made a combined $2.6 billion in profits, less than they collected in bag fees. The fees – typically $50 round-trip for the first piece of checked luggage and $70 for the second – allow the industry to navigate between rising fuel costs and customers who expect rock-bottom airfares.

“If it weren’t for the fees, the airlines would most likely be losing money,” said Jim Corridore, airline analyst with Standard & Poor’s.

Delta generated the most revenue from bag fees – $952 million – followed by the combined United and Continental at nearly $655 million. American collected $580 million and US Airways $513 million. None of those fees are subject to taxes.