Fuel Prices Becoming Favorite Excuse for U.S. Company Losses

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Fuel Prices Becoming Favorite Excuse for U.S. Company Losses

NEW YORK -- When it comes to weak financial results, rising fuel prices is an ideal excuse for corporate America, reported Reuters.

"Companies tend to latch onto whatever they can. It's not just fuel costs," said Anthony Chan, chief economist for Banc One Investment Advisors.

In the last month, the fuel blame has indeed flung from several business sectors. It's the gas-blaming retail companies that he's skeptical of, Chan said.

The National Association of Convenience Stores and the Food Marketing Institute warned in recent weeks that pump prices would impact sales. Department store J.C. Penney Co. Inc. and Furniture Brands International Inc. offered similar warnings.

True, exorbitant gasoline is an issue for retailers, as shipping costs are passed down and car-owning consumers are left with less in their pocket, said Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics, an economic forecasting firm based in Pepper Pike, Ohio. But with the record-high national gasoline price hovering around $1.84, Mayland said pump costs still aren't enough to transform consumer habits.

"I'm really skeptical of the fuel cost excuse," Mayland said. "Believe it or not, gasoline is still relatively cheap."

The price of crude oil would have to be $80 per barrel to become truly "burdensome" to the consumer, his research shows.