Oil Pulls Back, Gas Prices Don't

Crude oil prices are moving lower for the second day in a row on Tuesday, with WTI just above $108 a barrel after moving above $110 on Friday, the highest level in 10 months.

Unfortunately, the move south in crude isn’t yet translating at the gas pump; AAA puts the nationwide average for a gallon of regular unleaded at $3.72, a 3-cent increase overnight and a 15-cent increase over the past week.

There may be some relief in sight for drivers, however.  Canadian company TransCanada will start building a massive portion of a pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas that will alleviate a major bottleneck at a refinery in Oklahoma, eventually bringing more oil to the market.

That pipeline is just one of two parts of the larger controversial Keystone XL Oil Pipeline project, rejected by the White House because of environmental concerns.

The first part would bring oil from the Alberta tar sands in Canada, across the border through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and then to Oklahoma.  That pipe hasn’t been green lighted yet by the Administration.

But the second portion – from Oklahoma to Texas – doesn’t need White House approval because it wouldn’t cross an international border.  It will require laying down 485 miles of pipe, at a cost of $2.3 trillion, and the creation of 4,000 jobs. The project is expected to be completed next year.

Meanwhile, water bills are getting more expensive, largely because of the major revamping of the U.S. drinking water system over the next 25 years at a cost of $1 trillion.

To pay for that, the American Water Works Association predicts that annual water bills for many Americans will double, even triple. The average household pays $335 a year for water. Rural communities are expected to see the biggest increase in their bills because there are fewer people in their communities that can foot the communal cost of fixing and updating the pipes.

Finally, the latest reading on durable goods orders showed a surprising falloff in January. Durables came in down 4%, the softest reading in three years. Stock futures have pulled back slightly on that news, with Dow futures are about 20 points now versus the 40 points before the reading.