Monthly Archives: April 2011

Kitsap home sales undergo 4.6 percent drop

The median closing price of a home in Kitsap County fell to $229,000 in March, a 4.6 percent drop from March 2010, according to fresh figures from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
The steep springtime drop was accompanied by other indicators suggesting a super-slow market.
The volume of closed sales in March was down 10 percent from the same time last year. Only 225 homes — condos and free-standing ones combined — closed in Kitsap County in March.
Inventory — the number of homes available for sale — dropped 14 percent from a year ago.
Some 1,573 homes were for sale in March.
More detail will come.
— Rachel Pritchett

Slow start to spring projected for retailers

NEW YORK (AP) — A late Easter, lingering cold weather and rising gas prices are squeezing discretionary spending this spring, according to data being released Wednesday.
Figures from MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse show sales growth slowed in some categories last month. But consumers spent more on clothing — and most other items from electronics to luxury goods — than they did in March 2010.
SpendingPulse tracks spending across all payments including cash.
Growth in online sales, still less than 10 percent of all retail sales, accelerated last month as shoppers tried to save on gas, according to Michael McNamara, vice president of research and analysis for SpendingPulse.
Online spending in all categories rose 16.1 percent, compared with lower rates in January and February and a 15.9 percent increase in March 2010.
“March wasn’t too bad; the momentum is continuing,” McNamara said. “But gas prices could have a bigger effect (on spending) if they continue to rise.”

Technology companies push Wednesday slightly higher

Dow up 13 points so far today, now at 12,407

NEW YORK (AP) — Technology companies led stocks higher Wednesday after the CEO of Cisco promised to take “bold steps” to narrow the company’s focus.
Cisco Systems Inc. rose 4.2 percent. CEO John Chambers said in a memo to employees that recent missteps were “unacceptable.” Analysts say the company is overly reliant on revenues from state and local governments. Chambers promised that major changes were coming, although he offered few specifics.
Other technology companies including Microsoft Corp. and Qualcomm Inc. rose about 1 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 17, or 0.1 percent, to 12,411 in midday trading.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose less than a point to 1,333. The Nasdaq composite index rose 1 point to 2,792.

Want to get snatched up in Boeing hiring blitz?

The state Employment Security department is offering a series of free workshops to help jobseekers make the cut at Boeing. Here’s more in a Employment Security statement that came out today:

FEVERETT – More aerospace jobs are concentrated in Snohomish County than anywhere in the world, and the number is growing. But getting the attention of Boeing and other aerospace companies can be daunting for some jobseekers.
“For every 100 applicants, Boeing screens out about 75 of them, often because they didn’t know how to accurately describe their skills,” said Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause. “WorkSource is turning that trend around by teaching job seekers how to develop résumés and applications that get screeners’ attention.”
As recruiting ramps up, WorkSource is expanding its unique partnership with Boeing to teach applicants the résumé and interview skills needed to get noticed. WorkSource centers in Everett and Auburn are increasing the number of free workshops to once a week or more. Boeing-trained job coaches will be on hand to help applicants navigate the hiring process.
The program is already working. Some 250 who applied at Boeing but never heard back were all offered jobs after seeking help from Everett WorkSource.
“They were instrumental in getting me the chance I needed,” said Michael Iacono of Everett, who got help with his résumé and learned about training opportunities.
Michael doesn’t own a computer, but he used the free computers at Everett WorkSource to apply at Boeing, which takes applications only on-line. He was offered a job as an assembler-installer at the 737 plant in Renton.
Without WorkSource, he said, “I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today.”
The next aerospace workshop orientation session for jobseekers will be April 15, from 1 to 4 p.m., at Everett WorkSource, 3201 Smith Ave., Suite 413. Similar workshops continue every other week at the WorkSource centers in Mount Vernon and Tacoma.
WorkSource is a statewide partnership of Employment Security, other state agencies, local governments, colleges and nonprofit organizations that work together to provide free employment and training services to job seekers and employers. WorkSource can also help employers recruit and screen for qualified workers, apply for employment tax breaks and qualify for subsidized employee training.
Addresses and phone numbers are posted on along with thousands of job listings, job-search tips and other valuable information.

Kitsap gas price at $3.84 Tuesday

That’s up from $3.81 per gallon of unleaded from a week ago, says AAA. A month ago, Kitsap gas was at $3.62. Here’s some of what’s going on internationally with oil:

Oil slides as China raises interest rates
NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil fell Tuesday after China said it will raise interest rates again to help control inflation.
Benchmark crude gave up 38 cents at $108.09 per barrel in morning trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In London, Brent crude rose 84 cents to $121.50 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
Analysts are still concerned about uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, which supplies about 27 percent of the world’s oil. But higher interest rates could slow China’s economy and shrink its appetite for oil. China, which trails only the U.S. in oil consumption, should still drive world oil demand this year, though it might not increase consumption as much as previously expected, analysts said. China has hiked interest rates four times since October.
“With higher interest rates, it’s tougher to raise money,” PFGBest analyst Phil Flynn said. “Businesses won’t be able to hire as much. People will buy (fewer) cars and they’ll drive less.”

Tuesday stocks gain ahead of release of Fed minutes

Dow at 12,421 today, up 21 points so far.

NEW YORK (AP) — Concerns about inflation pushed materials companies higher Tuesday as investors waited for the release of the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last meeting. The report is expected to give details into the central bank’s views regarding possible interest rate increases.
Stocks had edged lower in early trading, following most world markets, after China raised a key lending rate and the rating agency Moody’s lowered Portugal’s credit rating. A survey from the Institute for Supply Management reported growth at service companies last month but at a slower rate than analysts were expecting.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 27 points, or 0.2 percent, to 12,428 in midday trading. The S&P 500 index gained 4, or 0.3 percent, to 1,336. The Nasdaq composite rose 12, or 0.4 percent, to 2,801.
Materials companies rose 1.2 percent, the most of the 10 company groups that make up the S&P index. Health care companies were the only group in the index to lose ground.
Gold gained 1.2 percent to $1,450 an ounce. Silver, copper, and zinc also rose.
“I think the market is concerned that Chairman Bernanke doesn’t share the same level of concern regarding inflation that it might wish him to, and that is leading to stronger commodity prices,” said Howard Ward, the chief investment officer for GAMCO Investors.

How long will it take for adequate investment in Internet infrastructure?


It’s been a couple weeks now that her Internet service has been slow, Lori Weber of Suquamish told me Friday. The CenturyLink customer and computer specialist at Keyport said she called CenturyLink on Tuesday and said she was told that some in her area were experiencing slow speeds and technicians were working on it.
But according to Weber, there’s been no improvement since.
I do some telecommuting so obviously that is a huge issue,” she told me.
I contacted CenturyLink spokesman Tony Timmons on Friday, who could find no outage. He suggested customers call the CenturyLink service line.
Poulsbo City Councilman Ed Stern said he hopes the merger between CenturyLink and Qwest results in significant investment toward improving Internet networks, especially in geographically isolated places like North Kitsap.
At some point, it has be considered as essential as electricity, and not just telecommunication add-on’s.
“When are we going to grapple with that?” Stern asked.

Rachel Pritchett

Friday Dow reaches 2011 high as employment picture brightens

Midday Dow at 12,403, up 83 points and still heading that way.

NEW YORK (AP) — A drop in the unemployment rate to a two-year low sent the Dow Jones industrial average to a new 2011 high Friday.
The Labor Department said the unemployment rate fell to 8.8 percent, the lowest since March 2009, as companies added workers at the fastest two-month pace since before the recession began. Approximately 216,000 new jobs were added to the economy last month, offsetting layoffs by local governments. Economists had expected the unemployment rate to remain at 8.9 percent.
“We are clearly seeing a breakout in the labor market,” said Paul Zemsky, the head of asset allocation at ING Investment Management. “The jobless recovery is ending and we are moving into a job expansion stage of the economy.”
Stocks rose across the market. Nine of the 10 company groups that make up the S&P 500 index moved higher, led by a 1.3 percent rise in industrials shares.
The Dow rose 75 points, or 0.6 percent, to 12,395. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 9, or 0.7 percent, to 1,335. The Nasdaq composite rose 15, or 0.5 percent, to 2,796.