Your cell phone company’s dirty little secret and A seasonal guide to home maintenance

Mobile phone companies have been lauded for slashing the cost of unlimited voice plans, but many wireless customers’ monthly bills are actually going to get a bit more expensive.

Last month, both Verizon (VZ, Fortune 500) and AT&T (T, Fortune 500) lowered their unlimited voice plans by $30 to $70 per month. Sprint (S, Fortune 500) recently unveiled a plan that allows unlimited calls to any mobile device for $60 per month. That brought the three biggest mobile carriers’ prices closer to rival T-Mobile, which offers a $60 per month unlimited plan, and in line with a slew of low-cost carriers that offer similar plans for about $40 per month.

But as the wireless giants go around touting their lower voice prices, data plan costs have been quietly moving higher for some non-smartphone customers.

It began with Verizon Wireless. [Read the full article]

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You know that your house needs regular upkeep in order to stay in good condition. Not only can little maintenance issues become expensive and turn into major repairs, but nowadays problems that boom-time buyers might have overlooked can be huge liabilities when it comes time to sell, says James Carey, author of Home Maintenance for Dummies." Good thing that most crucial maintenance tasks can be done just once a year at a certain time. Read on for the right dates to mark in your calendar.

Clean the vents behind your dryer in the beginning of winter; you’re drying heavier clothes now, and they generate more lint. Clean vents will help your machine dry clothes more quickly, last longer, and you’ll lower the risk of fires. Hardware stores carry kits that can help.

Check your furnace filter once a month during the heating season for excess dust; you’ll want to change it once or twice a year so the unit operates more efficiently. [Read the full article]

U.S. stocks were set to move higher Wednesday amid ongoing optimism over a potential rescue plan for Europe’s debt-ridden nations.

Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance and offer an indication of how markets may open when trading begins in New York.

Wall Street surged Tuesday, lifted by reports that Germany may offer aid to Greece to manage its mounting debt problems.

Hopes that such a rescue would keep the debt crisis in Europe from spilling over and putting the brakes on the global economic recovery helped the Dow gain 150 points, or 1.5%.

"I think the story of the day remains the prospects of the bailout for Greece," said Peter Carillo, chief market economist for Avalon Partners. "It might not be as vivacious as yesterday, but for the moment we’re still on the rescue plan rally."

Economy: The Commerce Department is due to release the December trade balance. [Read the full article]

Oil prices rose for a third consecutive session Wednesday amid optimism that a rescue plan for Greece and other debt-challenged European nations may be near.

What prices are doing: Crude oil for March delivery rose 12 cents, or 0.2%, to $73.87 a barrel, extending Tuesday’s 3% gain to $73.75 a barrel.

What’s moving the market: Prices rose modestly on hopes that Europe would help Greece and other countries risking default cut their debt.

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Reports on Tuesday indicated the German government may be involved in a rescue of Greece. The issue will also be a major topic at a meeting of European Union leaders scheduled for Thursday.

The release of a weekly government report on crude inventories due Wednesday morning has been delayed until Friday due to winter snow storms along the East Coast, including the nation’s capital, where government offices remain closed. [Read the full article]

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