Average price of Maine heating oil rises 4 cents

A weekly Maine survey has found that the average price of home heating fuel has climbed to $3.81 a gallon, up 4 cents from last week.

Prices are climbing in the wake of winter storms, power outages and very low temperatures.

The Governor’s Energy Office said Tuesday that kerosene prices also rose 4 cents, to $4.20 a gallon. Propane prices were up 11 cents to $3.17 per gallon.

The office said propane supplies continue to be very tight in Maine because rail bottlenecks have delayed shipments and demand has increased. Additional supplies are arriving in the state this week.

Around the state, the heating oil prices ranged from a high of $4.06 in central Maine to a low of $3.62 in eastern Maine.

U.S. trade gap falls to lowest level in four years

The U.S. trade deficit fell in November to its lowest level in four years, an encouraging sign that economic growth in the final three months of the year was stronger than analysts had forecast.

Gains in energy production and stronger sales of American-made airplanes, autos and machinery lifted exports to an all-time high.

The trade gap dropped 12.9 percent in November to $34.3 billion, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That’s the lowest monthly trade deficit since October 2009.

Stocks rally, breaking three-day slump

Stocks rallied Tuesday, ending the slump that ushered in the new year.

The Standard and Poor’s 500 index climbed the most in three weeks, led by gains for health care stocks. After three straight declines, the S&P 500 would have matched its worst opening of a year since 1978 had it closed lower for a fourth day.

The S&P 500 rose 11.11 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,837.88, its biggest gain since Dec. 18.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 105.84 points, or 0.6 percent, to 16,530.94 The Nasdaq composite gained 39.50 points, or 1 percent, to 4,153.18.

Velveeta lovers may have trouble finding it in stores

Playoff parties may have one fewer dip option this year.

Kraft Foods says some customers may not be able to find Velveeta cheese over the next few weeks. A representative for the company, Jody Moore, didn’t give any reasons for the apparent shortage, saying only that they happen from time to time given the “nature of manufacturing.”

She noted that the lack of availability is more noticeable because of seasonal demand during the NFL playoffs. Moore says it should be a short-term situation and that Kraft hasn’t yet heard from any customers who are having problem finding the product.