UTILITIES

Dominion Energy Ohio

decreases SCO gas price

Dominion Energy Ohio’s monthly natural gas price for residential customers who are on the Standard Choice Offer (SCO) is going down further for February.

Beginning Feb. 14, the SCO price will be $3.02 per thousand cubic feet (mcf). That’s down from $3.72/mcf for January.

The February rate is 70 cents or 18.8 percent lower than the January rate and 61 cents or 16.8 percent lower than the price a year ago of $3.63/mcf.

The previous two months’ SCO prices have been higher than previous years, reflecting a national trend.

The average residential customer’s February bill will be be $88.61, down $9.03, or 9.2 percent, from $97.64 last February.

All customers pay a fixed $28.14 for the basic monthly charge. Customers also pay a usage-based charge to transport the gas to the home, and gross-receipts tax. That charge has increased by 12 cents/mcf to 45 cents/mcf.

Consumer columnist Betty Lin-Fisher continues to recommend the SCO.

STREAMING AUDIO

Spotify to purchase

two podcasting firms

Spotify, the world's biggest music streaming company, announced Wednesday that it is buying two acclaimed podcasting companies, Gimlet Media and Anchor, as it tries to expand its empire of ears. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but Spotify is rumored to have paid upward of $200 million for Gimlet alone, according to Recode, which first reported the news.

Already the second largest podcast platform, Spotify has said it plans to spend as much as $500 million on podcast-related deals in 2019.

AUTOS

Stronger sales in U.S.

boost GM's 2018 profit

General Motors posted an $8.1 billion net profit for 2018, fueled by better prices for vehicles sold in the United States, its most lucrative market.

It's a strong rebound from the previous year when the company lost $3.9 billion on a giant tax accounting charge.

GM made $10.8 billion before taxes in North America, down about 9 percent from 2017. But it still means big profit-sharing checks for about 46,500 union workers in the United States. They'll get $10,750 each.

The company said Wednesday that it made $5.58 per share for the year. Without $2.5 billion worth of special items largely due to restructuring, the profit was $6.54.

ECONOMY

U.S trade deficit falls

to its lowest since June

The U.S. trade deficit fell 11.5 percent in November to the lowest level since June.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday the gap between what the United States sells and what it buys from other countries dropped to $49.3 billion from a revised $55.7 billion in October. American exports fell 0.6 percent to $209.9 billion, but imports fell faster, dropping 2.9 percent to $259.2 billion.