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Business in brief: Gas prices still setting records

Gasoline and oil prices extended their record-setting streaks Wednesday, with gas at the pump reaching a new high of nearly $3.25 and crude surpassing $110 for the first time.

The national average price of a gallon of regular gas rose by 1.9 cents overnight to a record $3.246 a gallon, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. Pump prices are following crude’s recent surge and could rise as high as $3.75 a gallon this spring, analysts say.

Meanwhile, light, sweet crude for April delivery rose $1.17 to settle at a record $109.92 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after earlier rising to a trading record of $110.20.


Avista customers may get credit

Avista Corp.’s electric customers could get a small credit on their monthly bills beginning this spring.

The utility filed requests Wednesday with regulatory agencies in Washington and Idaho to pass a proposed, $9.6 million payment from the Bonneville Power Administration on to their customers.

Residential and small-farm customers would benefit from the credit. A typical Washington household would receive a 4.1 percent, or $2.90, credit on its monthly bill. In Idaho, a typical household would receive a 9.9 percent, or $6.98, credit on its monthly bill.

The credit would run from April 11 through Oct. 31.

The anticipated payment comes from the “residential exchange” program, which ensures that all Northwest residents receive a financial benefit from federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

New York

AOL launches digital coupons

AOL wants you to stop clipping coupons or even printing them out.

The company is launching a new service, Shortcuts, for manufacturers to distribute coupons on the Internet.

Instead of clipping them out of your newspaper insert, you can simply choose the ones you want online and add them to an account tied to a grocery store’s loyalty program. To redeem those coupons, you simply present your loyalty card at the register.

The program is free for consumers and retail chains, while manufacturers pay to have their coupons listed. Charges will be based on how many get selected and redeemed.


Wrigley makes changes to gum

Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. will overhaul the packaging and flavor of its ubiquitous stick gums – including Doublemint, Juicy Fruit, Big Red and Extra brands – as part of an effort to revive sagging U.S. sales.

The confectioner announced the makeover Wednesday during its annual shareholders meeting in Chicago, saying the change would help boost the gum’s profile among store shoppers.

Stick gum sales account for about a third of the company’s gum revenue.

The company says it will transform the bulky packs of foil-wrapped stick gum to a sleek and slim 15-stick envelope. It also intends to boost the gum’s flavor.


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