Overnight Finance

On the Money — Gas price projections problematic for Biden

AP-Noah Berger

Happy New Year’s Eve Eve and welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Today’s Big Deal: Analysts are predicting a rise in U.S. gasoline prices in the coming months, ​​exacerbating problems for President Biden and Democrats ahead of midterm elections. We’ll also look at the ongoing flight cancellations by major airlines amid a spike in coronavirus cases.

There is no newsletter for tomorrow, but On the Money will return on Monday. Have a Happy New Year.

For The Hill, I’m Aris Folley. Write me at afolley@thehill.com or @ArisFolley. You can reach my colleagues on the Finance team Naomi Jagoda at njagoda@thehill.com or @NJagoda and Sylvan Lane at slane@thehill.com or @SylvanLane

Let’s get to it.

Rising gas prices complicate Biden’s horizons 

Analysts expect U.S. gasoline prices to rise as high as $4 per gallon by this summer, putting a pinch on drivers and exacerbating problems for President Biden.

The White House has seen Biden’s approval ratings fall due to a mix of problems, including inflation and higher prices at the pump. In the last several weeks, administration officials have touted a slight drop in prices, claiming the fall is linked to various Biden policies.

But a new forecast from fuel price app GasBuddy said fuel prices this June could climb to anywhere between $3.43 and $4.13 per gallon.

  • The same forecast predicts prices will then fall later in the year, which could provide some relief, with gasoline prices expected to drop to about $3.16 per gallon in October.
  • They’re forecasted to be lower in the fall, with prices ranging from between $3.09 and $3.52 in September, $2.96 and $3.35 in October and $2.87 and $3.24 in November.
  • GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, Patrick De Haan, noted that the “potential outcomes vary widely,” and said that a lot of uncertainty is caused by the pandemic.

The Hill’s Rachel Frazin has more here.

 

LEADING THE DAY

Major airlines continue to cancel flights amid COVID-19 spike

JetBlue Airways announced on Thursday that it would cancel more than 1,200 flights stretching into mid-January amid a spike in coronavirus cases driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant.

The airline is canceling 1,280 flights, or roughly 10 percent of its bookings, until Jan. 13 in an effort “to get even further ahead of the expected increase in Omicron cases,” executives wrote in a note to employees.

“This past week has been one of our most difficult operating periods during the pandemic,” three JetBlue department leaders wrote in the Tuesday note. “The exponential growth in Omicron cases over just a couple of days is at a level that no one could reasonably prepare for.”

  • Major airlines from Spirit to United continue to cancel flights as they struggle with staffing shortages as case numbers rise. More than 1,000 flights were canceled in the U.S. on Thursday, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware.
  • Meanwhile, millions of people are still traveling through the holidays and into the new year. According to checkpoint data from the Transportation Security Administration, roughly 2 million travelers have been screened at U.S. airports each day since Christmas.
  • To address staffing shortages, JetBlue joined Delta Air Lines last week in urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to drop the isolation period for infected or exposed individuals from 10 days to five days, which the agency did earlier this week.

Read more from The Hill’s Brad Drees here.

BY HULL OR HIGH WATER

CDC says to avoid cruise ships regardless of vaccine status

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised Americans to avoid traveling by cruise ships regardless of their vaccination status amid a global surge of coronavirus cases. 

In a statement released Thursday, the health agency’s COVID-19 Travel Health Notice updated the warning from level 3 to level 4, which is the health agency’s highest level of warning. 

The agency stated that vaccinated and boosted individuals are at risk of spreading the virus onboard. 

The Hill’s Olafimihan Oshin has more here.

FROM MUSK TIL DAWN

Tesla recalls nearly 500K US vehicles over safety issues

Tesla has recalled nearly 500,000 U.S.-based vehicles due to safety concerns. 

In a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) this week, Tesla said it plans to recall 356,309 Model 3 vehicles made between 2017 and 2020 over concerns that the car’s rearview camera cable harness may be damaged by the opening and closing of the trunk, which the company said could prevent the rearview camera image from displaying. 

The company is also recalling up to 119,909 Model S cars made between 2014 and 2021 due to the car’s front trunk latch being misaligned, which Tesla said could prevent the secondary hood latch from engaging and result in the hood opening unexpectedly, according to another Wednesday letter to the NHTSA. 

Read more from Olafimihan here.

Good to Know 

Amazon updated its Alexa artificial intelligence (AI) after a user posted that an Amazon device told their child to do what is known as the “penny challenge,” a company spokesperson said Thursday.

Here’s what else have our eye on:

  • Tesla says it’s planning to recall nearly 500,000 U.S.-based vehicles due to safety concerns.

 

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. 

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