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Natural-Gas Makes Its Move Onto Wall Street...
Interesting developments to come - See what made the cut...

Natural-Gas Makes Its Move Onto Wall Street...
Lately there is a swift attitude adjustment for cars that run on natural gas. Natural gas is looking more appealing as a cheaper and cleaner alternative to gasoline and diesel. A few stocks are showing up on Wall Street’s radar as a way to ride the trend for natural gas powered vehicles. The road ahead may be long, but is this the time to get on the train now. Because of a lack of places to fuel up, people are less likely to buy a car that runs on CNG or compressed natural gas. Price of a CNG pump typically costs from $1,500 to more than $5,000. In the U.S., you'll see the move toward natural gas with municipal fleets, frequently with specific locations to fuel up with CNG.

A practice that under fire from environmentalist - hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” which uses pressurized water to break up the earth far underground to free up natural gas - is the source of much of the supply of the natural gas in the USA. According to industry estimates, natural gas costs from $1.50 to $2 less per gallon to fill up compared to gasoline and CNG cost is about half the cost of diesel fuel.

Commercial truck manufacturers are gearing up CNG and liquid-natural-gas (LNG) vehicles with the prospects of saving customers tens of thousands of dollars per year in fuel costs, per vehicle. While it costs as much as $60,000 more to buy a big, long-haul CNG powered truck, a typical vehicle could save about $40,000 a year in fuel costs.

During Q1 2013, Cummins Inc. (NYSE:CMI) and Westport Innovations are rolling out an 11.9-liter engine that run on CNG, for medium-duty and regional trucks. According to industry projections, thirteen-liter engines from Navistar International (NAV)  and Volvo that run on CNG will follow by 2014. Cummins estimates a total of 10,000 heavy-duty commercial trucks in the U.S. currently use its natural-gas equipment and about 120,000 of all types of vehicles use natural gas.

Additional trends helping natural gas include plans to export it from the U.S. and Canada in the form of liquefied LPG. Power plants running on natural gas-fired power continue to gain traction. While natural gas prices may rise, the U.S.’s big supply could keep domestic price levels well-below that of Europe and Asia.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDS.A) has teamed up with TravelCenters of America (TA) to sell liquefied natural gas at 100 sites in the U.S. in a move to boost use of the LNG. Royal Dutch is building up its LNG infrastructure in Canada for truck fleets.

For investors seeking exchange-traded funds with exposure to natural gas, the United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) ranks as a top-ranked energy ETF by assets. The Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) offers access to the energy stocks in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX), while Vanguard Group, offers the Vanguard Energy ETF (VDE). Worldwide, the number of light-duty vehicles fueled by natural gas is expected to increase to more than 3 million by 2019, up from about 2 million in 2012.

Well-known figure on Wall Street, billionaire T. Boone Pickens, is huge on natural-gas vehicles as co-founder of Clean Energy Fuels, a specialist in natural-gas filling stations with a market capitalization of about $1.1 billion. Clean Energy Fuels has been addressing the lack of CNG filling stations in the U.S. According to estimates from the U.S. Department of Energy, electric vehicle-charging stations now outpace CNG stations by a score of 13,392 to 1,107 in the U.S. Clean Energy Fuels and natural-gas producer Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) are building natural-gas filling stations in an alliance with Pilot-Flying J, the largest truck-stop operator in the U.S. with 550 locations. With nearly 70 natural-gas stations expected by the end of 2012, the two companies aim to build a network that will service big trucks, especially on long-haul routes.

One of our major focuses is building the infrastructure that will enable natural gas to become a viable transportation fuel,” Clean Energy Fuels Chief Executive Andrew Littlefair told analysts last August.


Worst Week in Four Months, Are We Heading for a Rerun in the Upcoming Week...
Sluggish and frequently choppy trading activity that plagued markets last week is not something traders on Wall Street will be looking forward to, in trading sessions to come. A positive note for the markets was the rise in consumer sentiment reported last week which may indicate that Main Street America may be poised toward more purchases, in the near term. A positive view of personal finances by Americans, would obviously be a good sign for the all around economy. Last Friday, U.S. stock indexes closed for their worst week in four months with the market stalling again. Worries of the ongoing European financial crisis cannot contain, positive economic data here in the USA. For the previous week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) was off 2.1%; S&P 500 index (SPX) gave up 0.3% and Nasdaq Composite (COMP) shed 0.2%.


Microsoft Prices Windows 8 and Taking Pre Orders...
Microsoft Corp (MSFT) priced its Windows 8 Pro upgrade at $69.99 late Friday. Microsoft and several online retailers were taking reserve orders for a packaged, boxed edition of the Windows 8 Pro upgrade of the software starting October 26. Beginning October 26, PC users will be able to download Windows 8 for $39.99. After the promotional period, Windows 8 Pro upgrade will jump to $199.99 - same price as a Windows 7 Professional upgrade DVD. According to Microsoft, customers with a PC using Windows 7, that was purchased between June 2, 2012 and January 31, 2013 will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $14.99.

Microsoft "System Builder" versions, aimed at small-scale or homebrew PC makers as well as users who want to run the OS in a virtual machine or in a dual-boot configuration - formerly "OEM" label, $99.99 available either in 32- or 64-bit and $139.99 for Windows 8 Pro. The business-oriented version that comes with corporate features such as full-disk encryption and ability to connect to company networks. System Builder, unlike other boxed copies, does not come with support from Microsoft. The user is responsible for self-support or if System Builder is used on a made-to-order PC, the shop or individual who assembled the machine takes responsibility.

Also on the price list: Upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 8 Pro sold at retail price of $69.99 with no media, but only a "key card" with an activation code that turns Windows 8 into Windows 8 Pro. Microsoft's dubbed that "Windows 8 Pro Pack;" it's analogous to the in-place upgrades the company touted as "Anytime Upgrades" for Windows 7. There remains unanswered questions about the price for Windows 8, notably that of the entry-level SKU (stock-keeping unit) designated as "Windows 8." Neither Microsoft nor any of the online retailers had information about the cost of a Windows 8 upgrade one used to migrate from XP, Vista or Windows 7 as opposed to the already-announced upgrade to Windows 8 Pro. The price remains for the Windows 8 Pro online upgrade after January 31, 2013. (until then, it's $39.99.) If Microsoft sticks with Windows 7 pricing for this SKU, the upgrade will climb to $199.99 in February.

Windows 8 goes on sale Friday, October 26 - which just so happens to be the birthday of two of my sisters, born 10 years apart.


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