Monthly Archives: December 2009

Big Jet Lands at Bremerton National

A 148-foot long jet visits Bremerton National Airport, becoming an aeronautical Gulliver compared to the usual Lilliputian airport users.

By Rachel Pritchett
The Big Bird has touched down.
An MD-80 series jet landed around 11:25 a.m. Monday at Bremerton National Airport in calm, sunny weather, making a south-to-north approach and slowing to a stop with 1,500 feet of runway to spare.
It was quite a change of scenery for the few Port of Bremerton staffers who watched the landing. With a length of 148 feet, wingspan of 108 feet and height of 30 feet, the modified MD-83 dwarfed the army of small recreational crafts that usually run in and out of the airport off Highway 3 between Gorst and Belfair.
“It’s parked out in front of the terminal. It’ll be here for a while,” said Fred Salisbury, director of airport operations.
Dugan Kinetics, an aeronautical engineering firm that’s been headquartered at the airport for about a year, has developed a system to save money on fuel and maintenance costs of the aging MD-80 fleet, and reduce jet noise.
The plane that landed Monday has the new system onboard. The company will use the plane as a demonstration model as it attempts to sell the device to airlines eager to cut costs.
Jack Dugan, marketing director for Dugan Kinetics, anticipates the jet will be flown both in the United States and globally.
Dugan said workers will fine-tune the system in coming days, and the plane should be at their airport two to three weeks before leaving.
The MD-80 planes, introduced in 1980, are distinguished by two rear fuselage-mounted engines, and what’s known as a T-tail.
As of July 886 were in use, according to Wikipedia.
The MD-83 is not the only bigger plane to land at Bremerton National Airport, but it doesn’t happen often.

Retailers Enjoy Slightly Higher Holiday Sales

ATLANTA (AP) — Retailers have thin inventories after coming out of Christmas with slightly better-than-expected sales.
Some retailers kept inventory so low they’ve had to bring in new merchandise to restock shelves, a rare move this soon after Christmas.
That’s good news for their bottom lines. But it means slim pickings for shoppers hoping for after-Christmas clearance sales. Shoppers looking for big sales should act quickly because there are relatively few leftovers to clear out.
“Retailers are much more nimble this year,” NPD analyst Marshal Cohen said. “Their ‘Plan B’ is to have new receipts at the ready.”
Cohen said he noticed J. Crew and Coach were two that had restocked shelves with new items last week.
Because their ordering was in line with weak demand, retailers were able to sell more items at higher prices, which is critical to profits. Last year, profits were hammered by fire-sale discounts to get rid of the excess.
“The latest holiday shopping season wasn’t a rip-roaring success, but at least it met or slightly exceeded expectations,” said John Lonski, chief economist of Moody’s Capital Markets Research Group. “Consumer spending is indeed in a recovery mode, which brightens prospects for 2010.”
Spending rose 3.6 percent from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24 compared with the same period last year, according to MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse, which estimates all forms of payment including cash. Adjusted for an extra shopping day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the number was closer to a 1 percent rise. That was still better than the flat sales analysts had predicted.
Some retail stocks rose on Monday. American Eagle Outfitters shares rose 48 cents, or 3 percent, to $16.80. Macy’s Inc. shares rose 19 cents to $17.76. J.C. Penney shares rose 36 cents to $27.38. Inc.’s shares rose 84 cents to $139.31, buoyed by SpendingPulse numbers that showed online sales rose 15.5 percent.
The Dow Jones U.S. Retail Index edged up less than 1 percent.
After-Christmas traffic also appeared to be relatively robust, though it wasn’t clear how much people were actually spending.
Roth Capital Partners analyst Elizabeth Pierce visited six malls Saturday in southern California and saw many shoppers without bags. It’s likely shoppers who went looking for bargains left without buying much, she said.
Shoppers over the weekend certainly focused on deals.
Bessie Lyles of Huntsville, Ala., arrived at Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta at 6 a.m. to hunt for deals. The 57-year-old left Macy’s with two tops, sweaters and two pairs of jeans, including one pair for $4, marked down from $34.
In order to entice shoppers like Lyles through the rest of the week and into January, retailers are expected to steeply discount what leftovers they do have.
After last year’s dismal season, when unplanned discounts 70 percent off or more began appearing well before Christmas, retailers vowed they wouldn’t get caught that way again.
This year the tight control let retailers mostly keep discounts planned, said FBR Capital Markets analyst Adrienne Tennant.
NPD’s Cohen said the season was good enough for most retailers to survive, though many could shutter underperforming stores.
“If a store didn’t generate a profit, it will really be under the microscope,” he said.
A better picture of how retailers fared during the holiday will be known Jan. 7, when many report December sales.

Smart-Grid Firm Seeks to Introduce Efficiencies

By Rachel Pritchett
Some very sharp minds behind a new Bremerton company have developed software to help both electricity customers and utilities get the most bang for their buck.
Distributed Energy Management (DEM) is less than a year old, but already co-founders Jimmy Jia and brothers Jason and Peter Crabtree have developed two sets of “smart grid” software they say can help commercial customers use electricity more efficiently, and help utilities better manage it.
Already, software from the company is running systems at the new Sixth Street and Pacific Avenue building in downtown Bremerton, as well as at the South Kitsap Medical Center in Port Orchard, where Harrison Medical Center’s new Urgent Care is located.
Both buildings are owned by Tim Ryan Properties. Ryan is the grandfather of the Crabtree brothers. The Crabtrees and Jia hope the two facilities will serve as models to demonstrate their better mousetrap.
DEM joins other very new smart-grid companies in the nation, each supplying a piece of the puzzle to transform today’s aging electrical grid into one that will ebb and flow with demand and reduce the risk of blackouts, while giving customers more say over use and cost.
The Crabtree brothers and Jia recently described the software that runs the Sixth and Pacific building for as much as 7 percent cheaper than traditional systems.
With it, data from the buildings for things like temperature readings is gathered on the Internet and analyzed. Then, commands are sent back to the building to automatically do new things to optimize performance.
“It’s a Web site; it’s the simplest thing you can do,” Jia said.
Say, for example, the thermostat in a suite in the building is set at 70 degrees, but tomorrow’s weather forecast is for warming.
The software automatically adjusts the heat setting for tomorrow, based on preferences previously given by the building tenant. It also demonstrates how much money is saved.
“We come up with an expected profile of what the building should look like the next day,” Jason Crabtree said.
Or say one building tenant is a heavy electricity user and another is not. The software can measure that out, allowing the building manager to charge accordingly.
The software can also make it so that the heaters and fans in a building kick on at different times, cutting demand on the grid at peak times.
The second software package developed by DEM is to help utilities better manage the flow of electricity.
DEM would collect data from many buildings and pass it onto the utility, which would use it in its demand forecasts for electricity.
Then, it would be able to allocate power when it’s cheapest to points on the grid where it’s needed most.
“So we can show them exactly what it costs at each point on the grid,” Peter Crabtree said.
Say commercial buildings on Bainbridge Island all turn on their lights and heat between 6 and 8 a.m., creating too much demand on the grid. The utility then can create financial incentives for some of them to automatically turn on lights and heat earlier, when power is cheaper, creating cost savings for the business and utility, Peter Crabtree explained.
DEM founders hope their new technology will capture interest from utilities.
“That’s the next step for us,” Jason Crabtree said.
Jason Crabtree is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and right now is in Great Britain doing graduate work at the University of Oxford. He is a 2008 Rhodes scholar and an Army officer.
Peter Crabtree studied at Seattle University.
Jia is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and also studied at Oxford.
All are in their 20s. Peter Crabtree and Jia live in Kingston.

Monday Stocks Edge Up on Positive Retail Report

Dow now at 10,532, up 11 points.

Stocks edge higher following retail sales data
NEW YORK (AP) — Better holiday sales and rising commodities prices pushed stocks to new 2009 highs.
Major indexes edged higher in midday trading Monday after data showed shoppers spent more freely this holiday season, a good sign that consumers are feeling better about the economy.
Figures from MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse, which track all forms of payment, show retail sales rose 3.6 percent from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24, compared with a 2.3 percent drop a year ago. Adjusting for an extra shopping day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the number was closer to a 1 percent gain.
Consumer spending is one of the biggest drivers of economic growth and is vital to a sustained recovery.
Meanwhile, commodities prices rose as the dollar fell, giving a boost to energy and materials stocks.
Airline stocks fell, helping to keep the rest of the market in check, after two security incidents on Northwest flights this weekend.
With fewer traders in the market due to the holidays, and in the absence of any bad news, analysts say stocks are likely to drift higher during the final days of 2009.
“What’s going to stop this is a question on a lot of people’s minds,” said Lawrence Creatura, portfolio manager at Federated Clover Investment Advisors. “And the answer so far is nothing.”
Markets were closed on Friday for Christmas and will be closed again this Friday for New Year’s Day.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 10.65, or 0.1 percent, to 10,530.75. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.32, or 0.03 percent, to 1,126.80, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 4.72, or 0.2 percent, to 2,290.41.
Major stock indexes ended a holiday-shortened session Thursday at new highs for the year following upbeat reports on unemployment and durable goods orders. This week, readings on home prices and consumer confidence are among the few economic reports expected.
Stocks have managed to grind higher this month despite lingering concerns about the economic recovery. But the gains have been more subdued than in recent months as investors have held back on taking risks heading into the end of the year. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index is up 66.5 percent since hitting 12-year lows in March.
Jeff Buetow, managing partner at Innealta Portfolio Advisors, said he’s been pruning his portfolios in recent weeks and preparing for the coming year by adding higher dividend-yielding stocks in industries like utilities, telecommunications and consumer staples.
“I’m trying to figure out where in equities … is there some opportunity,” he said.
Bond prices fell, pushing yields higher ahead of a fresh round of government auctions. The Treasury Department will issue $44 billion of two-year notes later Monday, followed by $42 billion of five-year notes on Tuesday and $32 billion of seven-year notes on Wednesday. Investors often sell bonds heading into auctions in an effort to command higher yields.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.84 percent from 3.80 percent Thursday.
Commodities prices rose as the dollar fell. Commodities are priced in U.S. dollars, so when the greenback is weak they become more attractive to foreign buyers.
The ICE Futures U.S. dollar index, which measures the dollar against other major currencies, slipped 0.1 percent. Oil prices gained 62 cents to $78.67 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold prices also rose.
Shares of Delta Air Lines Inc., which owns Northwest, fell 53 cents, or 4.5 percent, to $11.24. A failed attack on a Northwest flight on Christmas Day and another incident on the same flight to Detroit from Amsterdam on Sunday raised security concerns over the weekend.
Advancing stocks just barely outnumbered decliners on the New York Stock Exchange where volume came to a low 259.3 million shares.
In other trading, the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 0.49, or 0.1 percent, to 633.58.
Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose 1.3 percent to its highest close since late August, boosted by encouraging news on factory production. In afternoon trading, Germany’s DAX index rose 0.7 percent, while France’s CAC-40 rose 0.8 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 was closed for a holiday.

Thursday Stock Rise on Upbeat Jobs, Factory Orders Reports

Dow now at 10,513, up 46 points.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rose Thursday after positive reports on unemployment and durable goods orders showed the economy is continuing to recover. Major indexes all touched new 2009 highs in morning trading.
A decline in the dollar also helped push energy and materials stocks higher. Trading was extremely light ahead of the Christmas holiday on Friday.
The encouraging signs on the labor market and consumer demand helped assuage investors, who were disappointed the day before by an unexpected plunge in new home sales last month.
Overseas markets also rose, led by a rally in Asia on expectations that China will maintain a loose monetary policy.
New claims for unemployment benefits fell 28,000 to 452,000 last week, the Labor Department reported, the latest sign of improvement in the job market. It was the best figure since September 2008, just before the credit crisis peaked. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had predicted a smaller decline in new claims, to 470,000.
Separately, the Commerce Department reported that orders to U.S. factories for durable goods excluding the volatile transportation sector jumped 2 percent last month, double what analysts were expecting.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 45.57, or 0.4 percent, to 10,512.01. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index increased 4.76, or 0.4 percent, to 1,125.35, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 13.97, or 0.6 percent, to 2,283.61.
The market will close at 1 p.m. EST Thursday and remain closed Friday for Christmas. Trading has been light throughout the week heading into the holiday, which can exaggerate swings in stock prices.
Rising shares outnumbered decliners by about 5 to 2 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 183.8 million shares, compared with 306 million traded at the same point Wednesday.
In industry news, investors will be keeping a close eye on the health care shares after landmark health care reform legislation cleared the Senate, although some analysts think the sector could’ve fared worse in the bill.
“It’s come off fairly toothless from what it could’ve been,” Mitch Schlesinger, managing partner at FBB Capital Partners, said of the Senate’s version of the health bill. He said many big health insurers are still trading near their highs for the year.
A closely watched fund that tracks health care stocks in the S&P 500 fell about 0.2 percent in morning trading.
The ICE Futures U.S. dollar index, which measures the dollar against other currencies, fell 0.1 percent. Gold prices climbed back above $1,100 an ounce, rising $11.00 to $1,105.00.
Commodities prices often rise as the dollar weakens because they become more attractive to foreign investors. Stocks rising as the dollar falls has been a consistent theme that has helped keep the stock market churning higher in recent months.
Bond prices fell modestly, sending their yields higher. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.79 percent from 3.75 percent late Wednesday. The yield on the three-month T-bill was unchanged at 0.05 percent.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 2.49, or 0.4 percent, to 633.47.
Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose 1.5 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.6 percent and France’s CAC-40 rose 0.1 percent. Germany’s market was closed for Christmas.

Hey, You Procrastinating Shoppers …

I’m working on the Christmas-shopping story, and for the first time ever, Kitsap Mall has set up a procrastination station with freebies, ideas and motivation for you last-minute shoppers.

But beware, retailers aren’t carrying a lot of inventory this year, and sell-outs of popular items bound.

Plus, don’t expect many last-minute markdowns, this year.

What you see is what you get, probably at the price posted today.

Look for my story soon.

Rachel Pritchett, 475-3783

Wednesday Stocks Marginally Up

Dow now at 10,471, up a mere 6 points.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks were marginally higher Wednesday as rising commodity prices offset losses that followed a disappointing report on housing.
Major stock indexes edged higher in midafternoon trading as gains in commodities drove the shares of energy and materials-producing companies higher. Gold, oil and other commodities rose as the dollar dropped.
The dollar snapped a four-day winning streak as new data on housing and consumer spending reinforced investors’ belief that the recovery will be slow.
The Commerce Department said sales of new homes plunged 11.3 percent in November to their lowest level since March.
The slump in new home sales was disappointing for two reasons — economists had forecast an increase, and the news came a day after stocks climbed higher on a separate report showing a better-than-expected gain in sales of existing homes last month.
“I’m surprised the market isn’t down more,” said Thomas Villalta, co-portfolio manager of the Jones Villalta Opportunity Fund. “I was thinking this would be a good excuse for a sell-off.”
Villalta noted that existing home sales have been cannibalizing the sales of new homes somewhat as steep discounts on distressed and foreclosed properties ramp up sales volume.
Positive signs of recovery in the housing industry have been one of the most encouraging factors for investors in recent months, and the market is quick to respond when the news turns bad.
The weakness in housing followed news that personal spending and income both rose in November. However, economists say the growth remains too weak to sustain a strong economic recovery.
In afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 7.55, or 0.1 percent, to 10,472.48. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 2.66, or 0.2 percent to 1,120.68, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 16.06, or 0.7 percent, to 2,268.73.
The ICE Futures U.S. dollar index, which measures the dollar against other currencies, tumbled 0.5 percent after four days of gains. The decline in the dollar made commodities cheaper for foreign buyers. Gold added $6 to $1,092 an ounce, while oil surged nearly 3 percent, rising $2.07 to $76.47 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Earlier Wednesday, the Commerce Department reported that personal income rose at the fastest rate in four months, allowing them to increase their spending for the second straight month. Personal incomes rose 0.4 percent, helped by higher wages, while spending rose 0.5 percent. Both figures fell slightly short of the expectations of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.
The rise in wages reflects a decline in the unemployment rate last month to 10 percent. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that it is reasonable to expect employers will start adding jobs by the spring.
Wall Street’s mild reaction to Wednesday’s economic data could also be due to the fact there are few alternatives for investors right now.
Tim Courtney, chief investment officer at Burns Advisory Group, said other investments like bonds and commodities are “extremely expensive” when compared to stocks.
The cost of buying a 10-year Treasury note to lock in yearly gains just above 3.5 percent does not provide as much value as stocks whose gains could be sharply higher, he said. Gains on Treasurys could be further eroded if inflation starts to pick up as the economy recovers as well.
Bond prices were mostly higher Wednesday following three days of declines. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, dipped to 3.75 percent from 3.76 percent late Tuesday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.07 percent from 0.06 percent.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by about 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 475.1 million shares, compared with 546.4 million traded at the same point Tuesday.
Trading volume on the New York Stock Exchange has been especially light throughout the month, which can exaggerate price swings. Volume has eclipsed its 200-day moving average only three times so far in December.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 7.85, or 1.3 percent, to 631.45.
Overseas, Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.8 percent, Germany’s DAX index gained 0.2 percent, and France’s CAC-40 rose 0.3 percent. The DAX and CAC-40 both hit highs for the year earlier in the day. Markets in Japan were closed for a holiday.

Tuesday Stocks Jump at Home-Sales Report

Dow now at 10,456, up 41 points.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks pushed higher for a third straight day Tuesday after a report that home sales were surprisingly strong last month.
The National Association of Realtors said home resales jumped 7.4 percent in November, much more than the 2.5 percent increase expected. Sales were 44 percent above last year’s levels and at their highest level in nearly three years. The government has been giving major support to home buyers through tax breaks.
The report offered the latest evidence that the economic recovery is picking up pace.
Stocks had been rising modestly prior to the report after the Commerce Department’s new reading on gross domestic product showed a growth rate of 2.2 percent in the third quarter. While that was lower than a previous estimate of 2.8 percent, the economy still grew during the period after a record four straight quarters of decline.
Analysts said investors were able to shrug off the revision to the GDP number because they are focusing instead on fourth quarter growth. With economic data continuing to show improvement, many analysts believe the economy is on track for a better finish in the current quarter.
“My guess is people want to stay invested and be optimistic going in to the release of the fourth-quarter numbers in mid-January,” said Nick Kalivas, vice president of financial research at MF Global.
In late morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 42.55, or 0.4 percent, to 10,456.69. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 2.69, or 0.2 percent, to 1,116.74, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 8.95, or 0.4 percent, to 2,246.61.
About four stocks rose for every three that fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume was low at 335.1 million shares, compared with 391.8 million at the same time on Monday.
Trading is expected to be light throughout the holiday-shortened week, which can exaggerate price swings. The market is open a half day on Thursday and closed Friday for Christmas.
Stocks moved sharply higher on Monday as a wave of acquisitions and a push toward health care overhaul on Capitol Hill stoked investors’ confidence in the economy. Major indexes rose about 1 percent.
Corporate deals continued Tuesday, as Boston-based State Street Corp. agreed to buy the securities services business of Italian banking group Intesa Sanpaolo for $1.87 billion.
Bond prices fell further as optimism over the recovery grew. Investors typically sell long-term bonds during a rebound because of fears inflation will increase during that time. Inflation is bad for bonds because it eats into their fixed returns.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, hovered at levels not seen since August, rising to 3.75 percent from 3.68 percent late Monday.
The yield on the three-month T-bill rose to 0.08 percent from 0.05 percent. Short-term rates remain low because they are closely tied to interest rates set by the Federal Reserve. The Fed has said it has no plans to alter rates in the coming months. The growing gap between short- and long-term bonds provides further evidence investors are becoming more confident in the economy’s strength.
The dollar moved higher against other major currencies making commodities more expensive to foreign buyers. Gold prices fell to their lowest level since early November and oil prices lost 33 cents to $73.39 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In other trading, the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 2.55, or 0.4 percent, to 621.15.
Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average jumped 1.9 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.8 percent, Germany’s DAX index gained 0.4 percent, and France’s CAC-40 rose 0.7 percent.