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POSTED: Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Pending home sales rise 6.7 percent

WASHINGTON » The number of U.S. homebuyers who agreed to buy a previously occupied home took the largest monthly jump in nearly eight years in April, but there are still plenty of danger signs for the U.S. housing market.

Home sales appear likely to head upward this summer, potentially to levels not seen since the stock market collapsed last autumn, but prices are expected to keep falling well into next year. Layoffs, which are causing foreclosures to soar, coupled with rising mortgage rates could dampen any real estate recovery.

The National Association of Realtors said yesterday its seasonally adjusted index of sales contracts signed in April surged 6.7 percent to 90.3, far exceeding analysts' forecasts. It was the biggest monthly jump since October 2001, when pending sales rose 9.2 percent.

Kona rehab facility goes private

REHAB at Kailua-Kona, the outpatient clinic of Honolulu-based Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific, will close Friday and reopen on June 15 as Kona Rehab.

Staff members of REHAB will be assuming the ownership and management of the clinic and will operate it as a private rehabilitation clinic. The hospital, however, will continue to operate its outpatient clinic in Hilo.

Teamsters OK Ameron Hawaii pact

Members of the Hawaii Teamsters & Allied Workers Union Local 996 have voted to accept Ameron Hawaii's final offer on a five-year contract, which will increase hourly pension contributions by 70 percent.

The contract, retroactive to Jan. 1, requires the ready-mix concrete manufacturer's contribution to employees' pension plans to increase from the current rate of $5 per hour to $8.50 per hour in the fifth year.

Ameron also agreed to replace workers' personal safety equipment and tools, and increase weekly payments for workers on temporary disability leave, meal allowances for overtime work and mileage reimbursement for work travel.

Best Bridal Hawaii gets exclusive agent

Starting next year, Best Bridal Hawaii Inc. will have Japanese-based Kuraudia Co. as its exclusive wholesale agent, said Karen Mukai, Best Bridal Hawaii vice president.

Kuraudia will sell Hawaii weddings to JTB and other travel agencies and will “;be able to purchase our chapel time at our locations,”; she said.

The arrangement simplifies Best Bridal's operations, but it will not reduce its staff of 60, who still will be needed to provide individualized service to its direct customers, Mukai said.

On the move

Premier Physical Therapy has hired the following three physical therapists:

» Malia Kimura as manager. She was previously an inpatient physical therapist and outpatient clinic supervisor of Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific in Honolulu and Kihei.

» Andrew L. Stamp as physical therapist. He previously worked with REHAB Kihei clinic team.

» Lisa Gregoire as physical therapist. She previously worked for REHAB Kihei Clinic as well as Hale Makua.

Clara Pratte has been appointed national director for the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Native American Affairs. As national director, Pratte will help to ensure that American Indians, native Alaskans and native Hawaiians seeking to create, develop and expand small businesses have full access to the necessary tools available through the SBA's programs.