Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Oil up

How high is it? A 2-1/2 year high.

How high can it go? No one knows.

BUSINESS/SUMMERYEnergy Secretary Steven Chu expressed what is on many minds – that the oil price jump can hurt the economy. “We have a very delicate recovery going on and an increase in prices will make that vulnerable.”

Even with all options on the table, U.S. officials expressed great caution about imposing no-fly zones over Libya. “I think we are a long way from making that decision,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

Some Republicans saw the oil price scare as an opportunity to push again for expanding off-shore oil drilling. “To end this dangerous over-reliance on oil imports, we must find more domestic resources, improve our efficiency and improve international cooperation,” Senator Dick Lugar said.

We had the chance at the Reuters finance summit to ask CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler what a regulator does when a market takes a sharp turn, like oil has in response to Libya.

He asks the surveillance staff to do a briefing. “And I ask questions about whether there’s any concentration, and whether the surveillance staff is seeing any manipulation or trade practice violations, and get into a dialogue about what the exchanges are seeing.”

Washington Extra – Club CEO

At one point, business isn’t just about money.

President Barack Obama just assembled corporate heavyweights to advise him on the economy. OBAMA/

It was the president’s latest move to show that he is trying to get the economy rolling and is reaching out to business.

Those who made the honor list included an eclectic bunch: Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons, American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault, AOL co-founder Steve Case, DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman, Intel CEO Paul Otellini, and Kodak CEO Antonio Perez.

The First Draft, Tuesday Dec. 30

Israel’s military operations in Gaza continue to dominate front pages of major newspapers and morning talk shows. Wall Street is looking for a positive start as oil and gold prices ease back from the price spikes that followed the onset of the Israeli strikes against Hamas.USA-OBAMA/

President George W. Bush remains at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, while President-elect Barack Obama continues his vacation in Hawaii.

GMAC said it will resume financing auto loans following a $5 billion investment from the U.S. Treasury. The latest financial rescue also included a $1 billion loan to General Motors to purchase equity in GMAC.

The First Draft, Monday Dec. 29

WASHINGTON – Israeli air attacks in Gaza dominate morning talk shows and front pages of major U.S. newspapers. The attacks pushed up oil prices by more than $3 a barrel to over $40. Gold prices also moved higher. Nevertheless, U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street in what is expected to be a light trading.tanks2

President-elect Barack Obama remains in Hawaii and President George W. Bush is at his ranch in Texas.

Winter weather extremes and dismal holiday shopping season featured on morning talk shows.