State gas prices flat; Tucson's up 2.5 cents

Gas prices remained virtually flat this week in Arizona, though Tucson's average price rose more than the national average.

Arizona's average price for regular gas was $3.46 per gallon Thursday, up a fraction of a penny, says AAA Arizona.

Nationally, prices rose a penny to $3.63 per gallon.

Tucson has the lowest average price in the state, at $3.24, up 2.5 cents from last week. Flagstaff had the highest average price among the surveyed metro areas at $3.67 per gallon.

With stable crude costs and refineries fully operational, AAA expects prices to move lower this month.


US regains wealth - but not equally

America as a whole has regained all the household wealth it lost to the Great Recession and then some, thanks to higher stock and home prices.

The average household still has a long way to go.

U.S. household wealth jumped $3 trillion to $70 trillion in the January-March quarter this year, the Federal Reserve said Thursday. That topped the previous peak of $68 trillion in 2007's third quarter, just before the recession began.

Yet because of inflation and a rising population, the average household has recovered only about 63 percent of the wealth it lost, finds a separate calculations by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Most of the recovered wealth has come from higher stock prices, and the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans own about 80 percent of stocks.

Average household wealth, adjusted for inflation, was $539,500 at the end of last year, says the St. Louis Fed. Yet most households own and have recovered far less than the average, which is skewed by how much wealth belongs to the most affluent.

Household wealth, or net worth, reflects the value of assets like homes, stocks and bank accounts minus debts like mortgages and credit cards.

Most economists see no bubble in stocks

A debate is raging among investors and analysts: Has the Federal Reserve inflated a stock market bubble by driving interest rates to record lows?

The answer, according to economists surveyed by The Associated Press: No.

Three-quarters of the economists say stocks, which are near their lowest point in a month but are up 19 percent since November, aren't overvalued. Many point to strong corporate profits as justifying the surge in stock prices, which have more than doubled since bottoming in 2009.

Applications drop for jobless benefits

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 11,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 346,000, a level consistent with steady job growth, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday.

Mortgage rates rise on 15-, 30-year loans

The average U.S. rate on a 15-year fixed mortgage rose above 3 percent this week for the first time in a year, while the rate on the 30-year fixed loan approached 4 percent, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday.

Chrysler to recall 630,000 SUVs

Just two days after refusing a government request to recall 2.7 million older-model Jeeps, Chrysler has decided to do two other recalls totaling 630,000 vehicles worldwide.

The automaker will recall more than 409,000 Jeep Patriot and Compass small SUVs from the 2010 and 2012 model years to fix air- bag and seat-belt problems. It's also recalling 221,000 Jeep Wranglers from 2012 and 2013 to fix transmission-fluid leaks.

In the Patriots and Compasses, a software error could cause late deployment of side air bags and seat-belt tightening mechanisms, and that could cause injuries in rollover crashes. Dealers will repair the software at no charge starting in July.

Retailers report May-over-May gains

Stores across the country had a pickup in May sales.

Revenue at stores open at least a year rose 3.4 percent in May compared with the previous May, says a preliminary tally of 13 retailers by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Staff and wire reports