National news briefs: 3/10/14

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Gasoline hits 5-month high

NEW YORK -- The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. pumps gained 9.87 cents in the past two weeks to $3.5098 a gallon, the highest since Sept. 20, according to Lundberg Survey Inc.

The survey covers the period ended March 7 and is based on information obtained at about 2,500 filling stations by the Camarillo, Calif.-based company. The average retail price is almost 23 cents below year-ago levels, Lundberg said.

"It's impossible to say when gasoline prices will peak," Trilby Lundberg, the president of Lundberg Survey, said Sunday in a telephone interview. "We may see some further rises, but I expect that in the near term, we won't see increases as big as this one."

The highest price for motor fuel in the lower 48 U.S. states among the markets surveyed was in Los Angeles, at $3.94 a gallon, Lundberg said. The lowest price was in Jackson, Miss., where customers paid an average $3.18 a gallon. Regular gasoline averaged $3.71 a gallon on Long Island, N.Y., compared with $3.63 in the report period ended Feb. 21.

Inventories of gasoline across the U.S. tumbled 1.6 million barrels in the week ended Feb. 28 to 229 million, the lowest level since Jan. 3, the Energy Information Administration reported Feb. 20. Stockpiles declined as refineries carried out maintenance.

Comcast invests in tourism

PHILADELPHIA -- Comcast Corp. will invest hundreds of millions of dollars in California and Florida theme parks, stepping outside its core business of telecommunications in an effort to boost revenue and profits.

In a story Sunday, The Philadelphia Inquirer said recent moves by the Philadelphia-based, cable-TV company represent a challenge to the Walt Disney Co.'s tourism business in Orlando.

Comcast took over Universal Orlando Resorts as part of its NBCUniversal acquisition in 2011. This summer, it plans a new Harry Potter ride at a second theme park that will share the same 750-acre Universal complex.

Comcast is also financing construction of the 1,800-room Cabana Bay Beach Resort with 50-50 partner Loews Corp.

Universal executives in Orlando do not say they are targeting Disney, the tourism giant with more than 20,000 hotel rooms and four theme parks. But they believe there is additional revenue -- more room stays, more visitors, and more themed merchandise to sell them.

Privacy Paul's rallying cry?

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said the Republican Party would win more support from young voters by highlighting what he says are violations of privacy by the federal government, including the National Security Agency's surveillance programs.

Republicans are looking to improve their showing after President Barack Obama won 60 percent support among voters younger than 30 in the 2012 elections, according to a national exit poll.

School stage collapses

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A stage at a Southern California high school collapsed during a performance, sending 25 students to the hospital with mainly minor injuries, authorities said.

Police, firefighters and medics responded to a call Saturday night after the wooden stage gave way at Servite High School, an all-boys Catholic school in Anaheim.

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