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Canada weighs in on Northern Gateway pipeline plan

TORONTO – A review panel on a proposed pipeline to the Pacific Coast that would allow Canada’s oil to be shipped to Asia will issue its recommendations this week.

The report will be released Thursday in Calgary. The final decision on whether Enbridge’s controversial pipeline can go ahead, however, rests with Canada’s Conservative government.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has staunchly supported the pipeline after the United States delayed a decision to approve TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline that would take oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The Northern Gateway pipeline would be laid from Alberta’s oil sands to the Pacific to deliver oil to Asia, chiefly energy-hungry China.

There is fierce opposition in the Pacific Coast province of British Columbia, where there are fears of a tanker spill.

Falling gas prices keep inflation in check

WASHINGTON – U.S. consumer prices stayed flat in November, held down by falling gas prices. Inflation remains low across the broader economy, giving the Federal Reserve latitude to continue its extraordinary stimulus program.

The consumer price index was unchanged last month, after dropping 0.1 percent in October, the Labor Department said Tuesday.

Gas prices declined 1.6 percent in November to keep overall prices down. Over the past 12 months, consumer prices have risen just 1.2 percent. That’s well below the Fed’s 2 percent inflation target.

Excluding volatile energy and food costs, core prices rose 0.2 percent in November from October and just 1.7 percent over the past 12 months.

The November decline in energy costs was offset by higher prices for home rentals, hotels, airfare, and restaurant meals. Grocery prices edged up 0.1 percent last month, led by higher prices for bread, hot dogs, soup and milk.

Prices for new vehicles and clothing fell.

Confidence climbs among homebuilders

U.S. homebuilders’ confidence bounced back strongly this month, a sign that construction and industry hiring may pick up in coming months.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Tuesday climbed to 58. That was up from 54 in November and matched an eight-year high reached in August. Readings above 50 indicate that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor.

In addition, builders’ view of current sales conditions jumped this month to the highest level in eight years. And their outlook for sales heading into next year’s spring home-selling season also improved.

The index has stayed above 50 now for seven straight months after being below that level since May 2006. This month’s reading is 11 points higher than a year ago.

HP CEO Whitman to make $1.5 million

SAN FRANCISCO – Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman is getting a huge raise as she enters the third year of her attempt to turn around the slumping personal computer and printer maker.

Whitman’s annual salary is soaring to $1.5 million from the $1 that she settled for during her first two years on the job, according a regulatory documents filed Tuesday. The raise approved last week is retroactive to Nov. 1, the beginning of Hewlett-Packard Co.’s fiscal year.


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