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Federal mineral lease revenues climbing at locations across state

Utah's federal mineral revenues rose to $54.4 million last year, up from $35.4 million in 2002.

Utah receives 50 percent of mineral revenues collected by the federal government from mines and wells operating at locations across the state.

The state received the fourth-largest amount of federal mineral lease revenues among the states, pointed out the latest Trendlines report released by the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

Wyoming received the most federal mineral royalty monies at $503.8 million. Wyoming was followed by New Mexico at $318.8 million and Colorado at $62.7 million.

In 2003 when the nation's exports increased a healthy 4.6 percent to $1 trillion, Utah's exports dropped 9.4 percent to $4.1 billion.

The decline in the state's exports follows years of gains, from just less than $3 billion in 1998 to approximately $4.5 billion in 2002.

Utah exports jumped nearly 30 percent during the one-year period from 2001 to 2002.

In an unrelated matter, the Utah Housing Corporation indicated that more than $31 million in federal and state low-income tax credits were awarded for 700 affordable units across the state.

The housing units are targeted to lower income families earning 36 percent to 60 percent of the area median income, explained the department of workforce services.

Rising crude oil prices and a cold winter caused a significant jump in the state's gasoline prices for the month, according to the latest survey conducted by AAA Utah.

The average price for a gallon of unleaded regular self-serve gasoline hit $1.63 in Utah for the month.

The pump price represents an 8 cent increase compared to the per gallon costs experienced by Utah motorists in January 2004 and a jump of 3 cents from February 2003, noted the department of workforce services.

Ending Feb. 14, the four-week average of unemployment insurance initial claims filed across Utah registered at 1,883.

The number represents a decrease of 14 percent from the four-week average of 2,192 unemployment insurance benefit claims filed last year.

The number of all initial claims filed during the week was 1,807.

Weeks claimed by displaced Utah workers totaled 21,346, decreasing by 13 percent compared to the 24,457 reported last year.

At the national level, the business-funded U.S. Conference Board indicated that the composite index of leading economic indicators climbed to 115.0 last month.

The increase followed gains of 0.2 percent in December and 0.3 percent in November, noted the department of workforce services.

Higher nationwide costs for gasoline and energy products pushed consumer prices up 0.5 percent in January, the largest increase in nearly a year.

Excluding energy and food prices, the core rate of inflation increased 0.2 percent, up from December's 0.1 percent increase.

Mortgage rates around the country dropped to the lowest levels in seven months. The average rate on benchmark 30-year mortgages fell to 5.58 percent from 5.66 percent last week, according Freddie Mac.

New jobless claims fell nationwide last week, indicated the U.S. Labor Department. About 344,000 Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits during the week ending Feb. 14, compared with 368,000 the prior seven-day period.

The one-month moving average of new unemployment claims filed in the U.S. rose to 352,000 from a 351,750 the prior week. The moving average irons out the volatility of weekly data, explained the department of workforce services

The federal government's debt or the accumulation of past budget shortfalls, totaled more than seven trillion dollars for the first time in history, according to a U.S. Treasury Department report.

U.S. industrial output rose in January, driven mainly by a surge in output from utilities in response to cold weather, the Federal Reserve said. Industrial production rose 0.8 percent after being flat in December, according to the Fed, which also said factories, mines and utilities ran at 76.2 percent of capacity in the month, compared with 75.6 percent in December. Much of the gain in the Fed's industrial production report was due to a 5.2 percent jump in the output of utilities, due mainly to unusually cold weather in January.

America's trade deficit ballooned to an all-time high in 2003, reflecting the hearty U.S. appetite for foreign-made cars, clothing and televisions.

The federal government's total deficit registered at $489.4 billion, 17.1 percent larger than the previous record, set in 2002, confirmed the U.S. Commerce Department. The deficit with China was close to $124 billion, also a record.

Retail gasoline prices continue to climb at U.S. pumps, rising more than 17 cents a gallon since late December. The price of retail diesel fuel was up three cents, reaching a national average of $1.69 per gallon.

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