Gas prices rise in Chattanooga

Chattanooga gas prices rose an average 4.1 cents per gallon in the past week but remained 51.3 cents a gallon lower than a year ago heading into the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 170 local stations.

The average price of regular gas in Chattanooga rose to $1.72 a gallon, or 40 cents a gallon below the U.S. average of $2.12 per gallon, said Monday.

"For the first time in seven weeks, GasBuddy data showed average gas prices rose last week, unsurprising given the previous 18% jump in the price of crude oil on promising vaccine news," said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. "This year has been anything but normal and such news of promising vaccine results will likely rekindle gas prices for a short while. We're likely to see prices inch up slightly again this week as gas stations continue to try to pass along the rise from last week to retail, but ahead of Thanksgiving, prices should be mostly stable."


Trump open way for drilling in the Arctic

The Trump administration is taking steps toward a lease sale within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an area President-elect Joe Biden has said he would move to protect from oil and gas drilling.

Chad Padgett, state director for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for Alaska, said hearing from industry on which tracts to make available "is vital in conducting a successful lease sale." The agency plans to make a formal call for nominations Tuesday.

It said it also will seek comments on whether tract sizes should be reduced and whether any should receive special considerations.

The deadline for submitting nominations and comments will be Dec. 17, the agency said.

Alaska political leaders, including the state's Republican congressional delegation, celebrated in 2017 the passage of legislation allowing for drilling within the refuge's roughly 1.5 million-acre coastal plain, seeing it as a way to boost oil production, create jobs and generate royalties. Oil has long been Alaska's economic lifeblood, though production is a fraction of what it was at its peak in the late 1980s.


Home Depot to buy HD Supply for $8 billion

Home Depot is buying HD Supply Holdings Co. in a deal valued at about $8 billion.

A subsidiary of Home Depot Inc. will pay $56 per share for HD Supply's common stock.

HD Supply is a distributor of maintenance, repair and operations products in the multifamily and hospitality end markets.

Home Depot Chairman and CEO Craig Menear said in a statement that the acquisition will give it access to HD Supply's extensive, maintenance, repair and operations-specific distribution network throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The transaction is expected to close during Home Depot's fiscal fourth quarter.


Walmart sells most of Japan supermarket

U.S. retailer Walmart is selling off 85% of its wholly owned Japanese supermarket subsidiary Seiyu, while retaining a 15% stake, in a deal valued at 172.5 billion ($1.6 billion), the companies said Monday.

KKR & Co., a global investment firm, will purchase a 65% stake, while Japanese online retailer Rakuten will acquire a 20% stake from Walmart, they said in a statement.

KKR and Rakuten will bring their expertise in e-commerce and global digital marketing to strengthen Seiyu in the increasingly digital shopping age, according to the statement.

Seiyu Chief Lionel Desclee will continue to lead in the transition period, after which he will take on a new role at Walmart, the world's biggest retailer.

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart, which also runs stores in Europe and other parts of Asia, entered the Japanese market with its purchase of a small stake in Seiyu in 2002, promising to bring its "every day low price" to Japan. Seiyu became Walmart's group company in 2008.


Armaco seeks cash infusion

Saudi Arabia's oil giant Aramco announced Monday it will issue international bonds as it seeks a cash infusion to help pay for billions of dollars in dividends the company promised shareholders before the global coronavirus pandemic sent oil prices plummeting.

In a statement posted on the Saudi Tadawul stock exchange, the company said it plans to issue U.S.-dollar denominated bonds but did not specify the size of the issuance. The bonds, which range from three to 50 years, are targeted to institutional investors with a minimum subscription of $200,000. The amount issued and the returns are subject to market conditions, the company said.

Aramco floated a sliver of the company last year as part of an ambitious plan by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to divert those earnings toward investments that can help fuel the kingdom's growth as he tries to steer the economy away from its dependence on oil revenue for survival.

Prince Mohammed sought to encourage Saudi citizens and investors to buy Aramco shares and push up the company's valuation for its stock market debut by promising an annual payout of at least $75 billion.

Even so, almost all of this dividend money goes to the company's majority owner, the Saudi government, to help cover state spending.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner