Monthly Archives: May 2010

Tuesday Stocks Little Changed After Rise in Home Starts

Dow now at 10,580, down 44 points.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks turned lower Tuesday after the euro resumed its slide against the dollar. The Dow Jones industrial average fell about 35 points.
The euro rose and gave stocks a boost earlier after 10 European Union countries sent bailout money to Greece. The move raised confidence about Europe’s ability to prevent its debt crisis from spreading to other economies including the U.S. However, a drop in the euro in afternoon trading sapped some of the market’s strength.
The euro, the currency shared by 16 European nations, has been driving stock trading for weeks as investors interpreted its slide as a sign of continuing economic problems in Europe. It hit a four-year low on Monday.
Stock trading has been volatile for weeks. The Dow rebounded from a drop of 184 points to end the day with a gain of about 6 points after the euro regained its early losses.
While so much attention has focused on Europe in recent weeks, investors have largely ignored signs of economic growth. Stocks had been posting solid gains earlier in the year on steady signs of improvement in the U.S. economy.
But encouraging signals on the economy gave early support to stocks Tuesday. The Commerce Department said home construction jumped 5.8 percent in April, more than expected and the strongest level since late in 2008.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer and one of the stocks that makes up the Dow Jones industrials, rose 2.8 percent after reporting better-than-expected earnings.
John Merrill, chief investment officer at Tanglewood Wealth Management in Houston, said investors are doing some mental juggling. They see signs that the U.S. economy is strengthening but still have concerns that Europe’s problems will undermine the global economy’s rebound.
“There are just two alternative themes and it just depends on where the focus is,” he said.
In early afternoon trading, the Dow fell 34.69, or 0.3 percent, to 10,591.14. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 6.95, or 0.6 percent, to 1,129.99, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 20.78, or 0.9 percent, to 2,333.45.
Bond prices rose, pushing yields lower. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.41 percent from 3.50 percent late Monday.
Gold fell, while crude oil rose $1.37 to $71.45 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In other economic news, a Labor Department report indicated that inflation remains benign.
The Producer Price Index, which measures the price of goods before they reach consumers, fell 0.1 percent in April because of a drop in food and energy prices. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had forecast a jump of 0.1 percent.
Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the index fell 0.2 percent in April, just slightly higher than analysts expected.
Four stocks fell for every three that rose on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 679 million shares, compared with about 724 million traded at the same point Monday.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 4.08, or 0.6 percent, to 691.63.
Britain’s FTSE 100 index rose 0.9 percent, Germany’s DAX index gained 1.5 percent, and France’s CAC-40 rose 2.1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose 0.1 percent.

Kitsap Unemployment Drops from 8.5 Percent to 7.2 Percent

By Rachel Pritchett
rpritchett@kitsapsun.com
Kitsap County’s unemployment rate fell dramatically in April, from 8.5 percent to 7.2 percent, and 800 jobs were added locally.
Kitsap’s total nonfarm employment jumped from 81,900 in March to 82,700 in April.
Statewide, unemployment dropped for the first time in three years, from 9.5 percent to 9.2 percent, according to the Washington Employment Security Department.
The last time the statewide jobless rate fell was in March 2007. Since then, however, it’s stayed the same or risen as the recession wore on.
Since the first of the year, Washington has added 14,800 jobs. Job classifications that gained in April were leisure and hospitality, government, construction and manufacturing.
Job groups that lost ground in April were financial activities, transportation and warehousing and utilities.
“I’m pleased to see growth in the construction and manufacturing sectors, which suffered the biggest losses in the recession,” said Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee. “We need those good-paying jobs to come back.”
Look here for more soon.

KPS Laying Off 16 Percent of its Work Force, Exiting Small-Group Market

By Rachel Pritchett
rpritchett@kitsapsun.com
BREMERTON

KSP Health Plans is laying off 16 percent of its work force and will stop offering insurance coverage to small employers as it navigates rough recessionary and competitive waters.

Twenty-one of the Bremerton-based company’s 130 employees are being released between now and July. No one is saying whether the jobs of some of those remaining will be bulletproof in the future.

About half of the current layoffs result as KPS merges much of its sales-and marketing-functions with its parent company, Group Health Cooperative of Seattle. The other half is across the board.

More coming at www.kitsapsun.com.

Monday Stocks Extend Drop, Driven By Fallen Euro

Dow now at 10,479, down 140 points.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks fell for a third day Monday on still growing concerns that Europe’s debt problems will hamper a global rebound.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell about 110 points in midday trading. It has fallen seven of the last nine days. The Dow and broader indexes slid about 1 percent.
Stocks fell after the euro, which is used by 16 countries in Europe, fell to a four-year low. Investors are questioning whether steep budget cuts in countries including Greece, Spain and Portugal will hinder an economic recovery in Europe and in turn, the U.S. Traders are also concerned that loan defaults could ripple through to banks in stronger countries like Germany and France.
The austerity measures are required under a nearly $1 trillion bailout program the European Union and International Monetary Fund agreed to last week. The rescue package provides access to cheap loans for European countries facing mounting debt problems.
The euro fell to as low as $1.2237 early Monday before moving higher. The plunging euro has been driving trading around the globe in recent days. The weakness in the euro has helped boost the value of safe-haven investments like the dollar, Treasurys and gold. It has also driven commodities like oil lower.
Oil fell below $70 a barrel for the first time since February. Oil is priced in dollars so a stronger dollar deters investment in oil. Crude oil fell $1.71 to $69.90 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That hit shares of energy companies.
Meanwhile, a disappointing report on regional manufacturing from the New York Federal Reserve weighed on sentiment. A forecast from home-improvement retailer Lowe’s Cos. also fell short of expectations.
The questions about Europe overshadowed other news and dominated trading. Investors in the U.S. who had been growing more confident about a rebound in this country now are questioning whether the problems in Europe will disrupt a recovery.
“We need to quantify how much Europe can hurt us,” said Philip Dow, managing director of equity strategy at RBC Dain Rauscher in Minneapolis. He said it could take a month or two before investors have a better sense of whether the debt problems in Europe will spread.
In midday trading, the Dow fell 111.02, or 1.1 percent, to 10,509.14. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 12.35, or 1.1 percent, to 1,123.33, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 20.84, or 0.9 percent, to 2,326.01.
Three stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 478 million shares, compared with 575 million traded at the same point Friday.
Stocks remained volatile last week as investors first cheered the European bailout program before becoming skittish about how it would affect the continent’s economy. The Dow tumbled 163 points Friday as the euro plummeted and declining oil prices hurt energy companies.
Bond prices rose Monday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.42 percent from 3.46 percent late Friday.
Gold rose $6.80 to $1,234.60 an ounce.
Investors looking for signs of an improving domestic economy received mixed data.
The Empire State manufacturing index, which measures activity in the New York region, fell to 19.11 this month from 31.86 in April. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters, on average, had forecast a reading of 30.
Lowe’s reported a better-than-expected first-quarter profit and raised its forecast for the year, but the outlook fell short of analysts’ expectations. Lowe’s fell 96 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $25.11.
Home Depot Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. also are expected to post quarterly numbers this week. Investors will be looking for any sign of growth in consumer spending. Stronger spending by consumers is considered vital to a sustained economic rebound.
Meanwhile, Universal Health Services Inc. agreed to buy Psychiatric Solutions Inc. for about $2 billion in cash. Japan’s second largest drug maker, Astellas Pharma Inc. agreed to purchase U.S. cancer drug company OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc. for $4 billion in cash.
Traders see dealmaking as a sign of economic recovery because it means businesses are more comfortable spending reserves to expand their operations.
Universal Health rose $2.67, or 6.8 percent, to $41.71 and Psychiatric Solutions fell 25 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $32.38.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 5.75, or 0.8 percent, to 688.23.
Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.1 percent, Germany’s DAX index gained 0.1 percent, and France’s CAC-40 fell 0.5 percent. Japan’s Nikkei stock average fell 2.2 percent.

Kitsap Business Briefs

Website Honors
Silver City Brewery
SILVERDALE
Silver City Brewery won the Reader’s Choice Award for “Best Brew Pub in America” by Luxist.com, a website that serves as a guide to luxury living. Readers nominate and vote for their favorite businesses and products and winners are chosen each month.
The brewery, which debuted in 1996 and is owned by Steve and Scott Houmes, brews its award-winning brew on premises. Some of the favorites take their names from areas near the pub. Info: Visit Luxist.com.
Boutique to Open
in Bethel Center
PORT ORCHARD
Juliana, a new boutique, will open in early June in Bethel Center, across form SK8 Town on Bethel Road and Sedgwick Avenue. The shop will carry women’s clothing and accessories, plus household decor and gift items. Reach the owner, Sheri Bogataj, at (360) 895-8542.
‘At Your Beckon
Call’ Offers
Its Services
PORT ORCHARD
At Your Beckon Call, a new Kitsap County errand and delivery service, is opening in Port Orchard. The business offers help running errands, delivering items or performing concierge services.
“Let us handle your TO-DO list,” is its motto. The firm is open from 9 a.m. top 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and by appointment after normal business hours, weekends and holidays. Reach owners Cindy Buyserie and Heather Wollam at (360) 731-0872.
United Moving
Expanding Service
BREMERTON
United Moving & Storage, 1770 NE Fuson Road in Bremerton, now offers records management and storage.
Services include open rack active file management; boxed semiactive and inactive records storage; bar code tracking for an audit trail; retention facilitation and management; confidential records destruction services; scan on demand imaging; office paper shredding; weekly, biweekly or monthly shredding; computer, data tape, microfiche and film destruction; and confidential guarantees.
The company, owned by John Loidhamer, has been in operation for 35 years. Reach them at (360) 479-4800 or at swashburn@united-moving.com.
Kitsap Safety
Opens New Office
BREMERTON
Kitsap Safety has opened a new office and showroom at 2625 NE John Carlson Road, Suite 201, in Bremerton.
Kitsap Safety offers a variety of safety products, first aid items and refill service, respiratory testing and training, defibrillators, emergency medical supplies and fire protection and more.
Kitsap Safety is owned by Marci and Jeff Wrye, and may be reached by visiting www.kitsapsafety.com, calling (360) 286-1778 or (360) 930-1577 or e-mailing kitsapsafety@yahoo.com. Business hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Silverdale IRS
Office Moving
SILVERDALE
The Silverdale IRS office is moving to the Land Title building, 9657 Levin Road. It will open there at 1:30 p.m. June 1.
The office is moving from its current location at 9833 Poplars Avenue to make way for the new Silverdale community center complex.
On the Job
• Rick Long, a custodian at Esquire Hills Elementary School, and Karen Jensen, a math teacher at Central Kitsap Junior High, have been named the Central Kitsap School District’s employees of the year. Jensen and Long are now eligible for the 2010-11 Washington state Classified Employee and Teacher of the Year awards.
• Mindy Byers has joined the Kitsap Mall management team as marketing manager. She has more than 10 years of business and marketing experience. Byers is active in a number of organizations that make significant contributions to the community, including East Bremerton Rotary, Mathis Guild, Bremerton Chamber of Commerce, and Puget Sound Naval Bases Association.
Business Calendar

May 20
What: The Port Orchard Chamber Business Showcase featuring the best of SK Awards and business after hours is planned for May 20 in Port Orchard. It is open for businesses, groups and associations to showcase their businesses before hundreds of consumers, chamber members and other business representatives.
When: 5 to 8 p.m.
Where: SK8Town Event Center in Port Orchard.
Voting: The public is encouraged to vote for their favorite SK businesses. Best of SK Ballots are available at various Port Orchard locations including the chamber office, Printing Services, Port Orchard Independent and Port Orchard Kitsap Bank branches. Ballots must be returned by April 23.
Registration: $100 for Port Orchard Chamber members; $200 for nonchamber members; to register visit www.portorchard.com or call the Chamber office at (360) 876-3505.

May 25 & Oct. 19
What: A workshop, “Business Success When Times are Tough,” sponsored by the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance. It is designed for small business owners and managers who need answers on how to best navigate the current economy.
When: 7:30 a.m. to noon.
Where: Oxford Suites in Silverdale on May 25, and Port Orchard Pavilion Event Center in Port Orchard on Oct. 19.
Registration: $20; visit www.kitsapeda.org.
Info: Call Kathy Cocus at (360) 377-0180 or e-mail cocus@kitsapeda.org

May 26
What: Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce will host a morning seminar, “Small Business Retirement Planning,” May 26. Leading the seminar will be Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce board members Pam Piper of Edward Jones Investments and Dawn Jake of Peterson & Jake CPAs.
When: 8 a.m.
Where: Purple Fig Catering, 322 Cline Ave. in Port Orchard. Cost: Free to Port Orchard Chamber members.
Reservations: Not required but appreciated; e-mail to office@portorchard.com
Kitsap Sun staff

U.S. Foreclosures Down from Last Year

WASHINGTON (AP) — Millions of Americans are still likely to lose their homes in the coming years, but the foreclosure crisis is finally showing signs of subsiding.
The number of households facing foreclosure in April fell 2 percent from a year ago, the first annual decline in five years, RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.
But the data aren’t all sunny. While the number of new delinquencies is dropping, the number of borrowers losing their homes is still rising. Banks seized a record 92,000 homes last month.
And there are millions more potential foreclosures ahead. Nearly 7.4 million borrowers, or 12 percent of all households with a mortgage, had missed at least one month of payments or were in foreclosure as of March, according to Lender Processing Services Inc., a mortgage data research firm.
RealtyTrac, a foreclosure listing firm in Irvine, Calif., reported that nearly 334,000 households, or one in every 387 homes, received a foreclosure-related notice in April. That was down more than 9 percent from March.
Economic woes, such as unemployment or reduced income, are the main catalysts for foreclosures this year. Initially, lax lending standards were the culprit, but homeowners with good credit who took out conventional, fixed-rate loans are now the fastest growing group of foreclosures.
As the economy turns around, “you will see an improvement in housing markets and in foreclosure activity,” said Rick Sharga, a RealtyTrac senior vice president. “The problem is that there’s such a backlog right now.”
Lenders are offering a variety of programs to help homeowners modify their loans, but their success rates vary. Hundreds of thousands of homeowners can’t qualify or fall back into default.
The Obama administration is managing a $75 billion program that so far has helped about 231,000 homeowners with permanent reductions to their monthly mortgage bills. That’s about 20 percent of the 1.2 million borrowers who started the program over the past year.
Foreclosed homes are typically sold at steep discounts, lowering the value of surrounding properties. Cities lose property tax dollars from homes that sit empty and lower property values.
Among states, Nevada posted the highest foreclosure rate in April, with one in every 69 households receiving a foreclosure notice. Foreclosures there were up 10 percent from March, but unchanged from a year earlier. Next on the list were Arizona, Florida, California and Michigan.
Las Vegas continued to be the city with the nation’s highest foreclosure rate, but activity there was down 3 percent from a year earlier. And in another sign the problem is receding, nine out of the top 10 cities with the highest foreclosure rates posted annual declines. The exception was Reno, Nev., where foreclosures were up 16 percent from a year ago.

Thursday Stocks in Tight Range after Jobs Report

Dow at 10,871 this morning, down 24 points.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are trading in a tight range following a report that signals gains in the job market are proceeding slowly.
Major stock indexes were mixed Thursday in a sign that traders are uncertain about where the market is heading. Stocks jumped Wednesday after investors’ attention returned to the U.S. economy from Europe’s struggles to contain a debt crisis.
The Labor Department says first-time claims for jobless benefits dipped to 444,000 last week from an upwardly revised 448,000 the previous week. Economists had expected claims to drop to 440,000.
At midday, the Dow Jones industrial average is down 8 at 10,884. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index is down 3 at 1,169. The Nasdaq composite index is down 7 at 2,418.

Expect Lower Gas Prices this Summer

Unleaded in Bremerton is selling for $3.06 on average, says the

This from AP:
SAY THAT AGAIN: Gasoline prices have peaked below a national average of $3 per gallon and are heading lower as the summer driving season approaches.
WHAT GIVES: A 12 percent drop in oil prices has pushed wholesale gasoline prices down by 25 cents. That’s gradually bringing lower prices to the gas pump.
THE REASONS: Ample fuel supplies, the European debt crisis and muted political unrest have helped check oil prices heading into summer.