HOUSTON – The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. rose this week by eight, to 1,817.
Texas-based oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. reported Wednesday that 1,388 rigs were exploring for oil and 428 were searching for gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago, Baker Hughes counted 2,000 rigs. The tally, normally released on Friday, was advanced this week because of Thanksgiving.
Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Louisiana gained five rigs, Pennsylvania gained four, Texas gained two and Alaska and New Mexico each gained one.
California lost three rigs while Arkansas, Colorado and Oklahoma each lost one. North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming were unchanged.
The rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981 and bottomed at 488 in 1999.
Toyota recalls pickups; spare tires can drop
DETROIT – Toyota is recalling about 150,000 Tacoma midsize pickups because the spare tires can fall from beneath the trucks.
The trucks from the 2001 to 2004 model years were sold or registered in 20 cold-weather states and Washington, D.C.
Toyota says the plate used to hold the spare tire under the truck bed can rust after long exposure to road salt. In some cases, the plate can break and the tire can fall.
Dealers will inspect and may replace the plates at no cost to the owners. The company will start notifying owners by mail in December.
30-year mortgage rate hits record 3.31 percent
WASHINGTON – Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell to fresh record lows this week, a trend that is boosting home sales and aiding the housing recovery.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Wednesday that the average rate on the 30-year loan dipped to 3.31 percent, the lowest on records dating back to 1971. That’s down from 3.34 percent last week, the previous record low.
The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage also dropped, to 2.63 percent. That’s down from 2.65 percent last week and also a new record.
Top fund manager may be target of probe
NEW YORK – A financial law expert said prosecutors may be setting their sights higher than the former hedge fund portfolio manager they say helped orchestrate one of the most lucrative insider trading deals ever.
Mathew Martoma was accused Tuesday of obtaining secret results of tests on an experimental drug that netted more than $270 million for his Connecticut firm and others.
His former employer CR Intrinsic Investors LLC is an affiliate of SAC Capital Advisors. The latter firm is owned by wealthy hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen.
John Sylvia is co-chairman of the securities litigation practice at the Mintz Levin law firm in Boston. He says there’s little doubt where the government’s sights are.
Gas prices drop 7 cents over past two weeks
The average U.S. price of a gallon of gasoline has dropped 7 cents over the past two weeks.
That’s according to the Lundberg Survey of fuel prices, released Sunday, which puts the price of a gallon of regular at $3.47.
Midgrade costs an average of $3.65 a gallon, and premium is $3.78.
Diesel dipped 4 cents to $4.04 a gallon.
Of the cities surveyed in the lower 48 states, Memphis, Tenn., has the nation’s lowest average price for gas at $3.04. Long Island, N.Y., has the highest at $4.18.