State gas prices hold steady, but higher than U.S. average

Maine gas prices have held steady in the past week.

Price-monitoring website MaineGasPrices.com reported Monday that the average retail gasoline price in the state remains at $3.38 per gallon, the same as last week.

The cost in Maine is about a dime above the national average, which was also largely unchanged in the past week.

The current price is more than 27 cents higher than at the same time last year and about 12 cents lower than a month ago.

A company analyst is predicting slightly higher prices in the near future.

 

Past home sales figures being revised downward

National home sales figures dating to 2007 will be lowered after the private trade group that collects them said the numbers were too high.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday it will release the downward revisions for previously occupied homes on Dec. 21.

Among the reasons for the inflated figures, the Realtors group said: changes in the way the Census Bureau collects data, population shifts and some sales being counted twice. Last year’s total sales figure of 4.91 million was the worst in 13 years.

The Realtors consulted with the Federal Reserve, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Home Builders, mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and CoreLogic, the California-based data firm that first raised doubts about the annual numbers earlier this year.

CoreLogic estimated that the Realtors group overstated sales in 2010 by at least 15 percent.

The changing numbers could affect how economists view data from the trade group. It could also affect companies who use the figures for hiring and expansion plans.

 

AT&T exploring ‘all options’ in attempt to buy T-Mobile

AT&T Inc. is now exploring “all options” regarding its troubled effort to acquire T-Mobile USA, the Dallas-based company said Monday after requesting a postponement of an antitrust trial slated for February.

U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle approved the motion from AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, which owns T-Mobile, and the U.S. Department of Justice, which filed the antitrust complaint against the $39 billion merger in August.

Previously, AT&T and Deutsche Telekom withdrew the merger application from the Federal Communications Commission. Both the FCC and the Department of Justice must approve any deal.

Separately, Joseph Clayton, the CEO of Dish Network, told Bloomberg that Dish is ready to buy spectrum and customers from AT&T and T-Mobile if they need to divest assets to get approval for the merger. Dish has opposed the merger.

 

Gay rights group gives top marks to more companies

The corporate world is a much better place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees than it was a decade ago, according to a new report from LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign.

When the Corporate Equality Index was first calculated in 2002 to check major American companies for policies mandating equal treatment of workers regardless of sexual orientation, just 13 businesses of 319 had a perfect score. This year, with even more criteria, 190 companies out of 636 participants landed a 100 percent rating.

That included 55 law firms and 22 banks and financial services companies such as Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup.

Consulting companies did well, as did retailers and those in the food-beverage-grocery sector. Other companies with 100 percent ratings included AT&T and Ford.

Transportation and travel businesses had few perfect scorers. Oil and gas companies, as well as mining and metal firms, also did not have many scorers at the top. Walmart Stores had a 60 percent rating, as did General Electric. Exxon Mobil scored a negative-25 percent.

The majority of participants scored above 80 percent.

Human Rights Campaign invited publicly traded Fortune 1000 companies as well as firms in the top 200 of American Lawyer magazine’s rankings. Any private employer with at least 500 full-time U.S. employees could also ask to be included.