Gas prices, stock market rise, fall

Published 12:01 am Saturday, March 19, 2011

Gas prices are nearing $3 per gallon throughout the county this week. | Courtesy photo

The Japanese earthquake and tsunami that impacted the country last week has had minimal impact on the U.S. economy, but has struck a huge emotional chord within the country.

“Japan is the third largest economy to measure growth domestic product,” said Bill Greenwald, a financial adviser for Edward Jones. “The world was not expecting Japan to contribute that much. So at 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent impact is very little.”

Greenwald said like with any catastrophic event the biggest impact is emotionally.

“People get upset and worried anytime a catastrophic event happens. Just like with Hurricane Katrina, but normally those declines are short-lived,” he said.

On the upside, Greenwald said the Japanese people are “resilient.”

“This event will pass, and they are going to need a lot of natural resources, raw materials and other items,” he said. “So it may help Americans in the long run.”

Greenwald said that during the last 100 years, the market has gone down 10 percent 1.1 times per year and normally decrease 5 percent three to five years a year.

“It is usually triggered by an event,” he said. “It has been almost a year since we had any major decline. Last year it was the Gulf Oil Spill. It’s always something that causes the market to correct.”

For investors, Greenwald said it’s important for them to remember the majority is not investing for tomorrow or next week, and the main focus should be what happens during retirement.

“The advice I’d give is to never let the short term events influence long-term investing decisions or goals,” he said. “Don’t get sidetracked.”

However, it’s too early to tell just how oil and gas prices will be affected by catastrophes in Japan, AAA officials said Friday.

“The initial indications are that their demand will likely decrease for a while,” said AAA Alabama spokesperson Clay Ingram. “Which could ease crude oil prices over the next few months. However, U.S. demand is growing slightly, so the impact will likely be minimal.”

Ingram said officials will know more as the Japanese situation unfolds.

“But at this point, it is difficult to say what the impact will be on oil prices,” he said.

Locally, gas prices decreased minimally over the last week.

In Andalusia and Opp the average price is $3.45 per gallon, and in Florala the price is 8 cents higher.

Currently, it costs between $51.77 and $52.99 to fuel a vehicle with a 15-gallon tank in Covington County.