Oil prices weigh heavily on stocks | SummitDaily.com

Oil prices weigh heavily on stocks

NEW YORK – A surge in oil prices sent the major stock indexes to their lowest levels of the year Friday as investors overlooked a strong earnings report and a bullish outlook from General Electric Co. All three indexes fell for the third straight week.Frigid weather in the Northeast and concerns over possible OPEC production cuts pushed crude futures substantially higher. A barrel of light crude settled at $48.53, up $1.22, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.Oil prices, a weak dollar, concern over interest rates and the upcoming Iraqi election have all been cited as potential problems that have kept investors on the sidelines.

WASHINGTON – Turbulence created by a larger aircraft may have caused the crash of a Colorado-owned medical helicopter on Jan. 10, federal investigators concluded in a preliminary report produced Friday.The chopper plunged into the icy waters of the Potomac River, a half mile south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, after dropping a patient off at the Washington Hospital Center. Pilot Joseph Schaefer and paramedic Nicole Kielar were killed. The lone survivor, flight nurse Jonathan Godfrey, is expected to recover from broken bones and bruises.Friday’s findings by the National Transportation Safety Board stated that a 70-passenger, Canadair CRJ-7 jet passed over the Wilson Bridge at about a minute and 45 seconds before the helicopter and at a higher altitude.The report found that the aircraft had no mechanical or instrument malfunctions during the flight and that it had been properly maintained.The chopper was owned by LifeNet/Air Methods Corp. of Englewood.

WASHINGTON – President Bush is readying a new budget that would carve savings from Medicaid and other benefit programs, congressional aides and lobbyists say, but it is unclear if he will be able to push the plan through the Republican-run Congress.White House officials are not saying what Bush’s $2.5 trillion 2006 budget will propose saving from such programs, which comprise the biggest and fastest growing part.But lobbyists and lawmakers’ aides, speaking on condition of anonymity, say he will focus on Medicaid, the health-care program for low-income and disabled people. Medicaid costs are split between Washington and the states.Many expect him to propose giving states more flexibility in using the $180 billion in federal Medicaid funds each year, but to limit the program’s growth on a per-patient basis – in effect forcing the states to find ways to save money.

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