Business Briefs


POSTED: Saturday, November 29, 2008


Isle gas prices continue downward

Gasoline prices fell for the ninth straight week throughout Hawaii, according to AAA.

Statewide prices for a gallon of unleaded gasoline fell 74 cents to $2.77 in the past month and 65 cents from a year ago. That's a penny less than the fall in the national average in the past month to $1.83. In the past year, national prices have fallen $1.26.

Honolulu's average was $2.66 yesterday, 75 cents less than a month ago and 65 cents less than a year earlier. In Wailuku, the average was $3.15, 79 cents less than a month ago and 57 cents less than last year. In Hilo, the average price fell 85 cents to $2.83 from a month ago and 66 cents from a year ago.



Company bonds post high returns

NEW YORK » Corporate bonds in the U.S. and Europe gave investors the biggest returns since 2003 in November, as yields widened to a record relative to government debt.

Investment-grade U.S. bonds returned 3.6 percent this month, after losing 7.4 percent in October, as Treasury yields declined on concern the recession is deepening, according to Merrill Lynch & Co. indexes.

European notes returned 1.5 percent, the most since September 2003. The positive returns were the first since August, before the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. sent company debt tumbling.

The extra yield on investment-grade debt over government bonds in the U.S. rose by 0.33 percentage point to an average 6.39 percentage points, the highest since Merrill started collecting the data in 1996.


Fed’s program increases activity

WASHINGTON » The Federal Reserve boosted its lending to commercial banks and investment firms over the past week, indicating that a severe credit crisis was still squeezing the financial system.

The Fed released a report yesterday saying commercial banks averaged $93.6 billion in daily borrowing for the week ending Wednesday. That was up from an average of $91.6 billion for the week ending Nov. 19.

The report also said investment firms borrowed an average of $52.4 billion from the Fed's emergency loan program over the week ending Wednesday, up from an average of $50.2 billion the previous week.



Government to take over RBS

LONDON » The British government will take over Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC with a majority stake of almost 60 percent after the shareholders of the nation's second-largest bank shunned an emergency share issue.

The $31 billion rescue takeover, the result of a plan announced last month, means that dividends on common shares will be scrapped and top executives' bonuses will be canceled. Chief Executive Fred Goodwin has resigned and Chairman Tom McKillop, who last week personally apologized to shareholders for the 85 percent fall in the bank's share value, has said he will retire next year.


OPEC struggles to find balance

CAIRO, Egypt » OPEC oil ministers yesterday downplayed expectations of, but didn't dismiss outright, an immediate output cut as they faced a third test in as many months of their ability to engineer a rebound in oil prices.

The outcome of the hastily convened Cairo meeting today, billed as a consultative gathering to assess the impact of earlier production cuts, likely hinges on a key issue with which the cartel has had a checkered past: unity.