Financial 411: Oil Prices Rise, Obama's Approval Rating Falls

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Housing Prices Still Falling

News that housing prices in most large American cities fell for a seventh straight month has analysts worried about the effect on other sectors of the housing industry.

Patrick Newport, an analyst at IHS Global Insight, said the construction industry doesn't stand much of a chance in the current climate: "Builders just aren't building homes anymore because they just can't make a profit when homes are selling at distressed prices in so many places," he said.

The S&P's/Case-Shiller 20-city index found that 19 of 20 cities showed a month-to-month decline in prices. Detroit was the only city to register a gain, although the market there has been depressed for so long, homes now sell at prices below those recorded in 2000.

Ford Posts $33.1 Billion Profit

Ford posted its best first-quarter profit in 13 years: $33.1 billion. That's much better than analysts had expected.

John Stoll, a Ford spokesman, said there are three reasons for the strong results: "Fuel efficient new products, continued investment in global growth and just an overall strengthening of our core global business," he said.

The company saw especially robust growth in Asia, where revenues jumped 31 percent. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan have had little effect on Ford's supply chain.   


Ford's good news was enough to lift stock markets. The Dow added 115 points Tuesday, closing at 12,595. The Nasdaq rose 22 points, ending at 2,848. And the S&P 500 settled at 1,347 — up 12 points — its highest level since June 2008.

Rising Gas Prices Prompt Creation of Federal Task Force

In recent weeks, gas prices have gone in only one direction and that's up. At the same time, President Barack Obama's approval ratings have gone in the opposite direction. With gas prices approaching $4 a gallon nationwide, the president is asking the Attorney General to lead a task force to investigate fraud in the energy markets — from gasoline to oil trading.

This isn't the first time a president or an administration or Congress has announced an investigation into price gouging. John Kingston, director of news at Platts, talks about what — if anything — we can expect from this task force.