Heating oil prices in Maine climb 5 cents in one week

Maine energy officials say the statewide average price of No. 2 heating oil has risen by 5 cents per gallon to $3.56 in a weekly survey.

Monday’s announcement came as residents in parts of the state continued cleaning up after the season’s first major snowstorm, with winter still six weeks away.

Ken Fletcher, director of the Governor’s Office of Energy Independence and Security, said both fuel dealers and customers face uncertainty about the coming winter and world energy markets.

He said Mainers should do what they can to cut costs, through maintenance, insulation and programmable thermostats.

The energy office said heating oil costs varied from a low of $3.30 per gallon in southern Maine to a high of $3.84 in the eastern region.

Gas drops 2 cents per gallon to average of $3.51 statewide

The price of a gallon of gas in Maine dropped nearly 2 cents in the past week to an average of $3.51.

The price monitoring website MaineGasprices.com reported Monday that the cost is about a nickel higher than the national average.

The cost in Maine remains about 63 cents per gallon higher than a year ago and 2 cents lower than a month ago.

Vermont, FairPoint OK deal on potential service problems

The state of Vermont and FairPoint Communications say they believe a $1.6 million settlement will be a good way to resolve future service quality issues.

James Porter of the Vermont Public Service Department said FairPoint has fixed many of the service problems experienced after the company took over the land-line telephone system from Verizon in 2009.

Earlier this year, FairPoint agreed to a nearly $7 million settlement for past service problems, a deal it hopes to use to expand broadband services.

The $1.6 million would be the maximum the company could be liable for if there are service problems this year.

FairPoint’s Vermont president, Michael Smith, told Vermont Public Radio that the settlement should allow FairPoint to compete successfully against other telecom providers.

Price of benchmark oil soars nearly 18 percent in October

The price of oil soared 17.7 percent in October on the expectation that the world’s thirst for petroleum would keep growing despite economic struggles in the West.

West Texas Intermediate, the benchmark oil in the United States, jumped from about $79 to $93 per barrel during the month as fears of another U.S. recession subsided while Europe struck a landmark deal to reduce Greece’s debt. Demand from emerging markets remains strong. And a strategy calling for traders to buy WTI futures contracts while selling another variety, Brent crude, also boosted the price of WTI.

On Monday, WTI slipped 13 cents to end the month at $93.19 per barrel, while Brent crude gave up 35 cents to close at $109.56 in London.

Spending on home movies rises for first time since 2008

Americans’ spending on home movies has finally emerged from the recession, helped by more purchases of higher-priced Blu-ray discs and greater outlays on cut-rate rentals from Netflix and Redbox.

For the three months through September, home movie spending rose nearly 5 percent from a year earlier to $3.9 billion, the first increase since early 2008, according to the Digital Entertainment Group.

Buying digital copies of movies and ordering them from video-on-demand services also rose.

People bought fewer DVDs and made fewer trips to brick-and-mortar video rental stores.