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Morning Market Roundup: Gas Pushes Prices, Citigroup CEO Exits, Soc. Security Benefits to Increase 1.7 Percent

Here’s what’s important in the business world this morning:

Gas & Prices: Higher gas costs drove up U.S. consumer prices in September for the second straight month. The Labor Department said Tuesday that the consumer price index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent in September, matching the August increase. In the past 12 months, prices have increased 2 percent. That's in line with the Federal Reserve's inflation target.

Food prices rose only 0.1 percent. The cost of meat, chicken and eggs fell. Dairy prices rose.

Gas prices rose sharply over the summer and into September, but have since come down. The average price for a gallon of gas nationwide was $3.77 on Tuesday, about 9 cents below last month's level.

Citigroup: Vikram Pandit stepped down as CEO of Citigroup on Tuesday after steering the bank through 2008 financial crisis and the choppy years that followed.

Pandit's replacement as CEO is Michael Corbat, the current CEO of Citigroup's Europe, Middle East and Africa division, the bank said. Corbat has worked at Citigroup and its predecessors since he graduated from Harvard in 1983, it said.

Pandit will also relinquish his seat on Citi's board of directors. And a second top executive also resigned as part of the shake-up: President and Chief Operating Officer John Havens, who also serves as CEO of Citi's Institutional Client Group.

The change is effective immediately. The bank offered no explanation for the sudden departure of its two top executives.

Social Security: More than 56 million Social Security recipients will see their monthly payments go up by 1.7 percent next year.

This year, Social Security recipients received a 3.6 percent increase in benefits after getting none the previous two years.

About 8 million people who receive Supplemental Security Income will also receive the cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, meaning the announcement will affect about 1 in 5 U.S. residents.

Social Security payments for retired workers average $1,237 a month, or about $14,800 a year. A 1.7 percent increase will amount to about $21 a month, or $252 a year, on average.

The amount of wages subjected to Social Security taxes is going up, too. Social Security is supported by a 12.4 percent tax on wages up to $110,100. That threshold will increase to $113,700 next year, resulting in higher taxes for nearly 10 million workers and their employers, according to the Social Security Administration.

Markets: Following a run of slightly better figures about the U.S. economy, investors were cheered this week by news that retail sales in the world's largest economy rose by a forecast-busting 1.1 percent in September.

The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.5 percent at 5,836 while Germany's DAX rose 0.7 percent to 7,308. The CAC-40 in France was 0.5 percent higher at 3,436.

Wall Street was poised for a firm opening after Monday's gains, with both Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures expected to open 0.1 percent higher.

The improvement in investors' confidence also helped boost the euro, which often rises along with market sentiment. It was trading 0.4 percent higher at $1.3009.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.3 percent to 21,207.07 but mainland China's Shanghai Composite Index ended the day almost unchanged at 2,098.81. The smaller Shenzhen Composite Index closed 0.3 percent higher at 862.14.

Oil prices were flat, with benchmark crude for November delivery up 2 cents to $91.87 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

One last thing…
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