Monthly Archives: August 2010

Park-and-ride spaces decrease in Kitsap

By Rachel Pritchett

Spaces in park-and-ride lots are expanding in absolutely every corner of Puget Sound — except for Kitsap County.
So says the Puget Sound Regional Council in a recent report.
The number of permanent park-and-ride spaces increased 10 percent between 2006 and 2009 to 37,953 in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties combined. But it declined 6 percent for Kitsap County alone, with only 726 counted in 2009.
The most unused park-and-ride lot in Kitsap County was at George’s Corner in North Kitsap, which was filled less than 50 percent, on average.
The most used park-and-rides in Kitsap County were at Mullinex Road, Poulsbo Junction (that’s the Christ Memorial lot) and at the Port Orchard Armory.
Speaking of Christ Memorial, I wish evening commuters getting off the buses from the Bainbridge ferry in Poulsbo would refrain from dashing across Highway 305 to get to their cars. A couple have nearly landed on my hood a few times, and it scared me to death. Use the light.

Monday stocks reverse course, rise modestly

Dow at 10,322, up 29 points at week’s start.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks fluctuated Monday as investors did a little buying after four days of heavy selling.
The Dow Jones industrial average erased its early losses and was up 11 points. Other major stock indexes rose slightly. Interest rates dropped as investors looking for safe investments bought U.S. Treasury notes and bonds.
The market initially pulled back after a regional manufacturing report fell short of forecasts and Japan became the latest country to show signs of slowing growth. Both reports raised investors’ concerns about the pace of the global economic recovery. Analysts said Monday’s trading was just a pause following four days of losses that sent the Dow down almost 400 points.
“The market is really being controlled by (short-term) traders,” said Mike Rubino, CEO at Rubino Financial Group in Troy, Mich. “The long-term investor doesn’t appear to be anywhere in sight.”

Friday stocks fluctuate after retail sales rise modestly

Dow at 10,326 this morning, up 6 points.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks fluctuated Friday after a mixed batch of readings on consumer spending contributed to a muddled picture of the economy.
The major stock indexes alternately rose and fell in very light trading. Many traders were away on vacation, and those who were working had little reason to make any major moves because of economic data that remains confusing.
The Commerce Department said that retail sales rose 0.4 percent in July. That was an improvement after two months of sales declines. But the number was just below economists’ forecast of a gain of 0.5 percent. The report did show strength in auto sales, but it also showed that consumers are shying away from other purchases.

Thursday stocks fall after Cisco earnings, jobless data

Dow down 37 points this morning, at 10,341.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks fell for a third day Thursday as more disappointing earnings and economic news flowed in.
Trading was quiet after the previous day’s big drop. The Dow Jones industrial average, down more than 100 points in the first few minutes of Thursday’s trading, recovered to a loss of about 55. But analysts, noting that the market has entered the dog days of summer, weren’t attaching much significance to the partial comeback.
Stocks fell after the Labor Department reported that the number of people filing for unemployment benefits for the first time rose last week to 484,000. The gain was small at 2,000, but economists had expected the number to drop. The news pointed to continuing weakness in the labor market, yet another sign that the economic recovery is weakening.
The latest earnings reports added to the market’s darkening view of the economy. Cisco Systems Inc.’s revenue from its latest quarter and its forecast for future revenue both fell short of analysts’ expectations. The company’s stock fell almost 10 percent and other tech stocks also fell.
Investors have been focused on revenue since companies began reporting second-quarter earnings almost a month ago. They’re concerned by the connection between revenue and the economy — if revenue is down, it’s a sign that consumers’ reluctance to spend is starting to affect companies’ sales and profits. Investors see the revenue shortfalls as another sign of a weakening recovery.
Sara Lee Corp.’s revenue also missed analysts’ forecasts. And retailer Kohl’s Corp. disappointed the market by lowering its earnings outlook because it expects sales to slow during the second half. That period includes the holiday season, when retailers hope to make a large part of their profits.
Stocks extended their losses from Wednesday, when the Dow fell 265 points as investors reacted to the Federal Reserve’s lowering of its assessment of the recovery on Tuesday. Economic data from several countries including the U.S. contributed to the heavy selling.
Investors don’t have a sense of whether the recovery will hold. The uncertainty has led to big losses, but many traders are staying out of the market and not making any moves. That has made trading volume even lighter than usual during July and August, when vacations leave trading desks thinly staffed.
Charlie Smith, chief investment officer with Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh, predicted few major market moves for the rest of the month because so many key market players are away.
Smith said the market’s drop over the past few months was due more to investors’ more negative outlook rather than a fundamental change in the economy.
“We had a weak recovery back in March and April,” Smith said. At that point, the market was moving toward its post-financial crisis high. Stocks began falling after the major indexes peaked in late April.
At midday Thursday, the Dow fell 56.53, or 0.5 percent, to 10,322.30. The Dow fell almost 320 points over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 6.34, or 0.6 percent, to 1,083.13. The Nasdaq composite index fell 18.37, or 0.8 percent, to 2,190.26.
Losing stocks were ahead of gainers by about 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 410 million shares.
Interest rates rose in the Treasury market after falling sharply Wednesday, when investors were seeking the safety of government securities. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which rises as its price falls, was 2.74 percent, up from late Wednesday’s 2.69 percent.
Markets in Europe fell after the U.S. unemployment news, then regained ground. In London, the FTSE-100 index was up 0.4 percent. Germany’s DAX index was down 0.3 percent, while the CAC-40 index in Paris was down 0.2 percent. Earlier, Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 0.9 percent.
In other earnings news, General Motors Co. reported net income of $1.33 billion in the April-June quarter, its second straight quarterly profit. The company, which is 61 percent owned by the federal government, is moving toward a public offering of its shares. The company also announced that CEO Ed Whitacre will step down Sept. 1 and be replaced by GM board member Daniel Akerson, the managing director and head of global buyout for The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm.
Cisco fell $2.36, or almost 10 percent, to $21.37. Microsoft Corp. was off 40 cents, or 1.6 percent, at $24.46.
Sara Lee fell 28 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $14.19, while Kohl’s fell $1.73, or 3.6 percent, to $46.05.

U.S. homes lost to foreclosure up 6 percent from last year

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The number of U.S. homes lost to foreclosure surged in July, as lenders take back more properties from homeowners who have been in default for months on end.
Lenders repossessed 92,858 properties last month, up 9 percent from June and an increase of 6 percent from July 2009, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.
Banks have stepped up repossessions this year to clear out the backlog of bad loans. July makes the eighth month in a row that the pace of homes lost to foreclosure has increased on an annual basis.
Still, the number of homeowners who have fallen behind on their payments remains high, and these borrowers are being allowed to stay in their homes longer. That’s partly because lenders are reluctant to add to the glut of foreclosed homes on the market. They also are swamped with an unprecedented number of defaulting properties and have been overwhelmed by the volume.
The number of properties receiving an initial default notice — the first step in the foreclosure process — rose 1 percent last month from June, but was down 28 percent versus July last year, RealtyTrac said.
Initial defaults have fallen on an annual basis the past six months.
The latest data reflect a foreclosure crisis that continues to drag on as many homeowners struggle to make their monthly payments amid high unemployment, slow job growth and an uneven rebound in home prices.
Economic woes, such as unemployment or reduced income, are now the main catalysts for foreclosures. 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.
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 has rolled out numerous attempts to tackle the foreclosure crisis but has made only a small dent in the problem. More than 40 percent, or about 530,000 homeowners, have fallen out of the administration’s main effort to assist those facing foreclosure.
That program, known as Making Home Affordable, has provided permanent help to about 390,000 homeowners, or 30 percent of the 1.3 million who have enrolled since March 2009.
Still, RealtyTrac estimates more than 1 million American households are likely to lose their homes to foreclosure this year.
In all, 325,229 properties received a foreclosure-related warning in July, up 4 percent from June, but down 10 percent from the same month last year, RealtyTrac said. That translates to one in 397 U.S. homes.
The firm tracks notices for defaults, scheduled home auctions and home repossessions — warnings that can lead up to a home eventually being lost to foreclosure.
Among states, Nevada posted the highest foreclosure rate in July, with one in every 82 households receiving a foreclosure notice. The number of properties in Nevada receiving a foreclosure warning last month rose nearly 7 percent from June, but fell nearly 30 percent from the same month last year.
Rounding out the top 10 states with the highest foreclosure rate last month were: Arizona, Florida, California, Idaho, Michigan, Utah, Illinois, Georgia and Maryland.
Las Vegas continued to be the city with the highest foreclosure rate in the U.S., with one in every 71 homes receiving a foreclosure notice in July — more than five times the national average.

Tent cities push continues


Talk of possible sites for a tent city continues in our community, led by members of a committee of the Kitsap Continuum of Care Coalition.
Faced with sharply rising numbers of homelessness, the group wants to set up one or two tent cities by fall here along the lines of Camp Quixote in Olympia.
At a Tuesday meeting, member Walt LeCouteur said a pastor from Hillcrest Assembly on Highway 303 expressed interest in perhaps participating in some way. His board hasn’t met on it yet, but LeCouteur and the pastor are to meet Thursday.
Also, members agreed to contact leaders at Harrison Medical Center to see if the hospital would be interested in allowing a tent city at its former helicopter-landing space near Sheridan Road in East Bremerton.
Another spot mentioned was in the vicinity Tibardis near the fairgrounds.
Nothing’s been decided.
Pastors weigh in on tent cities next week.
Rachel Pritchett

Millie’s consolidates

CHICO — An economy with no fizzle left in it has caused Millie’s Tux & Bridal Shop to consolidate its two locations.
Owner Mary Flanagan said the business at 9345 Silverdale Way NW has been folded into the Millie’s location at 2850 Chico Way in Bremerton.
“People have basically cut back,” Flanagan said, who said she has reduced prices to accommodate the needs of her customers.
The phone number remains the same: (360) 692-6310.

Investors feeling bleak about economy send Wednesday markets tumbling

Dow now at 10,275, down 108 points.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks and interest rates tumbled Wednesday as investors around the world took a bleaker view of the U.S. economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 240 points and all the major indexes fell more than 2 percent. The yield on the Treasury’s 10-year note fell to its lowest level since March 2009 as investors sought the safety of government securities.
Companies across a wide range of industries dropped Wednesday. Only 348 stocks rose on the New York Stock Exchange, while 2,639 fell, a sign that investors expect all businesses to suffer if the economy continues to weaken.
Investors’ gloom deepened a day after the Federal Reserve said it would begin buying government bonds as a way to stimulate the economy. Stocks began their plunge in Japan, where the Nikkei stock average fell 2.7 percent, and heavy selling followed in Europe and then the U.S.
Stock traders tend to buy and sell based on their expectations for what business will be like in six to nine months. The problem for investors is that economic data has been so muddled lately that they have no sense of whether the recovery will hold.
“Uncertainty, uncertainty, uncertainty,” was the way that Javier Perez-Santalla, managing director for futures and foreign exchange at the institutional brokerage firm Dinosaur Group, described the mood in the market.
“Everyone is scratching their heads, saying ‘which way?”’ Perez-Santalla said. “We’re kind of stuck in this no man’s land, where we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t.”
The Fed said Tuesday it will start buying government bonds with money it gets from the maturing mortgage-backed bonds that it bought during the recession. The goal is to try to cut interest rates on mortgages and corporate loans and in turn increase lending and help the economy grow faster.
But the Fed’s moves were expected to be quite small in comparison to what the economy needs. And many investors were selling because the debt purchases would have only a limited impact on the economy.
In afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 246.34, or 2.3 percent, to 10,397.91. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 31.12, or 2.8 percent, to 1,089.94.
The S&P 500 slipped below 1,100, a key psychological level. Falling and holding below that level could lead to more selling as computer-driven trading sets in.
The Nasdaq composite index fell 71.66, or 3.2 percent, to 2,205.51. The Nasdaq tends to have the biggest losses when stocks are falling sharply because many of its component companies are smaller businesses that struggle the most in a weak economy.
Trading volume was again light on the NYSE, at 478.6 million shares. Trading has been particularly slow, even by summer standards in recent days as uncertainty about the economy led many investors to exit the market completely. Low volume also can exaggerate swings in the market.
The Chicago Board Options Exchange’s Volatility Index rose 14.9 percent. The VIX is known as the market’s fear gauge because a rise signals traders are expecting more drops in stocks.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 2.71 percent from 2.77 percent late Tuesday. Interest rates are often set based on the yield of 10-year Treasurys.
The 10-year yield is at levels not touched since late March 2009 just weeks after recession worries sent the stock market to a 12-year low.
Investors were willing to take a lower return from Treasurys in exchange for the safety of government debt.
“In this environment of uncertainty, you’re looking at increasing and decreasing risk,” said David Roda, CEO of Road Asset Management. “When people get scared, they buy safer assets.”
Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 2.4 percent, Germany’s DAX index dropped 2.1 percent, and France’s CAC-40 fell 2.7 percent. Japan’s Nikkei stock average dropped 2.7 percent.
Economic reports in recent months, including key measures on gross domestic product and employment, have pointed to a slowing recovery in the U.S. Opinions are mixed about whether the economy could fall back into recession. A report Wednesday showed the U.S. trade deficit widened in June to its highest level in 20 months as exports dipped. Falling exports are discouraging because they mean U.S. manufacturers could be slowing down. Early this year, manufacturing showed the most consistent signs of recovery.
Stocks will struggle to rally further until some of the uncertainty is removed about the strength of the economy and how government policy could affect companies, said Duncan Richardson, chief equity investment officer of Eaton Vance.
“What’s lacking is confidence and no one can have confidence in an uncertain world,” Richardson said. There has been a “huge reluctance to reinvest in businesses because of uncertainty.”
Companies are hesitant to hire new workers, buy new equipment or acquire new businesses to grow operations until there is more confidence, he said.
Weak economic reports have stood in contrast to upbeat earnings, which powered stocks higher throughout July. Strong earnings and optimistic outlooks from companies have continued in recent weeks. Yet much of those profits have been driven higher because companies have slashed their work forces. That may not be sustainable.
On Wednesday, the healthy earnings reports continued.
Walt Disney Co. was helped by its ESPN television station and its movie studio, which produced hits like “Toy Story 3” during the quarter. Macy’s Inc. raised its profit outlook as it carves out new 78 cents, or 4 percent, to $20.16. Disney fell $1.02, or 2.9 percent, to $34.27.

Port communications has new look

Look for a new and updated Port of Bremerton website in coming weeks, as well as a new e-newsletter.
New marketing staffer Chris Case on Tuesday gave an overview of the port’s new marketing plan that also will include more use of Facebook and less reliance on snail-mail newsletters.
Commission President Bill Mahan said the port has to directly reach people in the street who aren’t getting the port’s message now. He complained of “negative news” about the port in the newspaper.
The port has a marketing budget of about $124,000 a year.

Port of Bremerton puts in two funding requests for parking garage, road

By Rachel Pritchett
The Port of Bremerton has two big new funding requests pending in Washington, D.C., one for a garage on the Bremerton waterfront and the other for another section of road into the South Kitsap Industrial Area.
The port has a request for $5 million in with U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, to design and construct a parking garage on port property between Washington Avenue and the Bremerton Marina.
The plan for a garage is in its very early stages, but one vision would have the port partnering with any private commercial developer that would step forth. The port would do the parking, and the developer would put commercial space above.
The port also has put in a $4.5 million request to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray to build the next section of the road that when finished will provide access into the undeveloped South Kitsap Industrial Area.
If gotten, the road, which has been started, could be extended south past Bremerton MotorSports Park. Eventually, it is to go to Lake Flora and Old Clifton roads.
Both requests could become part of upcoming congressional transportation budgets.