Gas prices likely to keep declining

Sandy’s trail of havoc in the Northeast might cause temporary price spikes and long lines at gas stations in storm-ravaged areas, but the rest of the country has decent supplies at a time of year when demand is normally low, industry analysts say. And that means a continuation of falling prices that began early in October.

Demand for gas is likely to slide even further because people in New Jersey, New York and adjoining states won’t be traveling as much.

“You’ve got cities that are shut down, people not going to work, people not moving around,” said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst for the Price Futures Group, an independent futures broker. “There’s so much demand that is not happening.”

Although Sandy hit coastal areas hard, only two of the region’s nine refineries have been knocked out, and they don’t produce enough gas to make much of a difference nationally, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service.

Icahn investment gives Netflix a boost

SAN FRANCISCO – Netflix’s slumping stock price and weakening financial performance has finally attracted an opportunistic and sometimes nettlesome investor in Carl Icahn.

In a Wednesday regulatory filing, Icahn revealed he had used some of his $14 billion fortune to accumulate a 10 percent stake in Netflix Inc.

The documents didn’t disclose why Icahn and his investment funds have been buying 5.5 million Netflix shares since early September, but investors familiar with his cage-rattling history assumed that the billionaire would press the owner of the world’s largest Internet video subscription service to make dramatic changes to boost its stock price. That hunch caused Netflix’s stock price to soar $9.66, or nearly 14 percent, on Wednesday to close at $79.24.

In a Wednesday interview, Icahn said he simply believes Netflix is worth a lot more than most investors think it is.

“I think the company is very undervalued on its own,” Icahn said. “There is a secular change in industry and they are the perfect platform for it. But I also believe that they might be a very enticing acquisition candidate. That would just be a bonus for shareholders if a large premium was paid.”

Shell ends drilling in Arctic near Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Shell Oil’s flotilla of Arctic Ocean vessels is heading for warmer waters.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC announced that it concluded exploratory drilling on Wednesday, its mandatory cutoff date before winter. It completed preliminary drilling at one well at the Burger-A Prospect 70 miles offshore in the Chukchi Sea and one at the Sivulliq Prospect 18 miles offshore in the Beaufort Sea.

“We’re looking forward to revisiting these wells as soon as we can next year,” Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith said by phone from Prudhoe Bay.

The end of drilling by Shell’s two drill ships and about 20 support vessels wraps up a tumultuous season that saw the company penetrate the ocean floor for the first time in more than two decades, finally making progress on an Arctic offshore investment of more than $4.5 billion, including $2.1 billion for Chukchi leases in 2008.


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