Monthly Archives: September 2010

Thursday stocks edge higher

Dow at 10,292, up 22 points.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks edged higher Thursday after reports on housing, manufacturing and jobs indicated the economy continues to grow, albeit slowly.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 8 points in late afternoon trading. Broader indexes also rose.
Even though the latest economic data pointed to modest improvements, Thursday’s moves were muted because traders are cautious ahead of the government’s monthly report on employment due out Friday. Traders often limit big moves before the jobs data because it is considered so vital to determining the health of the economy.
“We’re treading water,” said Dan Genter, CEO of RNC Genter Capital. Traders are waiting to see if Friday’s jobs data “provides more of a rescue or a shark attack.”
The monthly report is likely to provide further evidence that the jobs market remains weak. The Labor Department’s monthly data is expected to indicate employers are still not hiring workers in large numbers. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predict the unemployment rate inched up to 9.6 percent last month from 9.5 percent in July as private employers hired just 41,000 workers last month.
With little broad conviction about the health of the economy, investors chose to target specific stocks following monthly retail sales reports and the latest acquisition activity.
“It’s a trader’s market,” said Kenneth Polcari, managing director at ICAP Equities.
Burger King Holdings Inc. and data storage provider 3Par Inc. both rose after agreeing to be acquired. Costco Wholesale Corp. and Limited Brands Inc., which operates Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, got a lift from strong August sales.
The Dow rose 7.65, or 0.1 percent, to 10,277.49 in afternoon trading. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 4.94, or 0.5 percent, to 1,085.23, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 14.03, or 0.6 percent, to 2,190.87.
The Labor Department said first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell slightly last week, but remain well above levels that indicate a healthy economy. Claims dipped for the second straight week. They fell slightly below the level economists had forecast, which was somewhat encouraging ahead of Friday’s monthly employment report.
The number of buyers who signed contracts to purchase homes rose 5.2 percent in July after hitting a record low in June, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales plummeted in the months following the expiration of the government’s home buyer tax credit in April and economists were expecting that trend to continue for a third straight month.
Factory orders also climbed, rising 0.1 percent in July. The rise in orders backs up a report Wednesday showing the manufacturing sector continues to expand. Major indexes jumped more than 2 percent Wednesday after a surprising rise in manufacturing activity.
Bond prices dipped after the economic reports. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 2.63 percent from 2.58 percent late Wednesday. Its often used as a gauge to set interest rates on mortgages and other consumer loans.
About three stocks rose for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 430.4 million shares.
Costco shares rose 25 cents to $58.04 after it said sales were helped by higher gas prices and improved international revenue. Limited jumped $1.28, or 5.3 percent, to $25.55.
Shares of 3Par rose 76 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $32.84 after Hewlett-Packard Co. won a bidding war for the data storage provider. Hewlett-Packard raised its bid to $33 per share after competitor Dell Inc. offered $32 per share.
Hewlett-Packard shares climbed 19 cents to $38.40. Dell shares actually rose after it said it would not match HP’s bid. They rose 32 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $12.44.
Burger King jumped $4.59, or 24.3 percent, to $23.45. It is being taken private for $3.26 billion, or $24 per share.
Mariner Energy Inc. shares dropped after an oil rig it owns exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. The rig was not currently producing oil. Its shares fell 75 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $22.60

Fogarty no longer with Liberty Bay Bank

By Rachel Pritchett
Liberty Bay Bank, scarcely more than a year old, has already lost its president and chief executive officer, Bill Fogarty.
According to local businessman Eric Anderson, a member of the bank’s board of directors, Fogarty met with board chairman Bill Parnell on Tuesday and was off the job shortly thereafter.
Parnell and Fogarty did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Said another board member, real-estate seller Joe Michelsen: “It was just a feeling that it was time to make a change.”
No interim president and CEO was in place Wednesday, board members and a bank staffer said.
Board member and groceryman Jeff Uberuaga said that the board was scheduled to meet Friday. He said he had “no idea” why Fogarty was released.
Uberuaga and other board members expressed confidence in the bank.
According to FDIC filings, the bank lost $949,000 during the first half of 2010. Fogarty had raised $11.8 million from about 300 investors to open the bank, but that amount has steadily declined as the bank supported a staff of 15 and funded big opening costs like computer systems and offices at 19917 Seventh Ave. NE in Poulsbo.
As of June 30, that initial $11.8 million had shrunk to $8.2 million, according to FDIC reports.
Fogarty, equipped with an ambitious business plan, organized the bank in 2008 and 2009 as an institution to serve local businesses.
But the recession was bearing down strong on community banks’ ability to lend. It continued to worsen as the bank’s opening was delayed. Regulators weren’t coming through with permission to open as fast as bank leaders had hoped.
Nonetheless, in June 2009 when the bank opened, Fogarty said it was a great time to jump in. The new bank wasn’t saddled with non-performing loans like other banks and had money to lend, he said at the time.
But toughening lending standards seemed to dampen that optimism. A year later, Fogarty’s tune had changed.
“We have money to lend, but finding qualified borrowers has been difficult,” he said as Liberty Bay celebrated its first anniversary.
Goals in the bank’s business plan were not being met as far as loans, although deposits were said to be on target.
As of the end of the first half of this year, the bank had $14.2 million in net loans and leases. Its total deposits were $25.4 million, according to the FDIC. Assets were $33.6 million.
Before coming to Liberty Bay Bank, Fogarty was a commercial loan officer and executive for several other banks here and in Arizona.

Stock market kicks off September with strong gains

Dow at 10,244, up 266 points this morning.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks jumped Wednesday after surprisingly strong growth in U.S. and Chinese manufacturing allayed some of the worries that had been building over the global economy in recent weeks.
The new reports snapped a string of disappointing economic data that sent stocks slumping in August. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, the benchmark most widely used by professional investors, lost 4.7 percent in the month, its worst performance for the month since 2001.
The Dow Jones industrial average jumped nearly 250 points on the first day of September. Broader indexes also rose more than 2 percent. With investors pouring into stocks, Treasury prices fell and interest rates rose.
The Institute for Supply Management said manufacturing activity in the U.S. rose in August, in contrast to regional reports from recent weeks that pointed to a slowdown in growth. Economists had expected a decline.
“It gives up hope th