Money in a Minute: Headlines for March 3, 2011

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Today in the news: The Fed agrees the economy is expanding, Congress agrees with Obama to avoid a government shutdown, oil prices rise to a two-year high, the iPad 2 debuts, and the post office is running out of cash.

ECONOMY: Fed survey: Economy expands throughout U.S.

While many indicators point to a growing economy, it’s always nice when the Federal Reserve makes it official. “The economy expanded in January and early February in all parts of the country,” USA Today reports, “but businesses are under pressure to raise their prices.” Are those businesses hiring more employees? The monthly jobs report is due out Friday.

GOVERNMENT: Congress approves temporary U.S. budget bill, avoids shutdown

Congress and President Obama agreed to cut federal spending by $4 billion in a budget compromise to prevent the government from running out of money – for now. The compromise bill will “prevent a government shutdown for two weeks while lawmakers negotiate over Republican demands to further cut federal spending this year,” Bloomberg reports.

OIL: Oil prices pass $102

Fighting in Libya and increasing demand here at home drove oil prices to their highest level since September 2008. Libya produces 1.6 million barrels per day. “That’s only about 2 percent of global demand,” MSNBC reports, “but experts say the disruption is putting pressure on world supplies at a time when demand is picking up.”

TECH: The iPad 2 makes its debut

Apple CEO and tech star Steve Jobs debuted the second generation of the iPad computer tablet to rave reviews. “The device is 9.5 inches high, 7.3 inches wide, and 0.34 inches deep,” CNET reports. “And it weighs just 1.33 pounds.” Prices range from $399 to $829.

POST OFFICE: Postal Service on path to be broke by October

The U.S. Postal Service cut $3 billion from its budget last year and expects another $2 billion cut this year – but it won’t be enough. “Unless things change, the post office will run out of money by the end of the fiscal year in October,” MSNBC reports. ‘The agency is also seeking to cut costs by closing or consolidating offices and has proposed eliminating deliveries on Saturdays, while offices would remain open six days.”

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