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POSTED: Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Economic forecast rises

NEW YORK >>

A private forecast of economic activity rose in August for the fifth straight month, the latest sign the recession has ended. The Conference's Board leading indicators point to an economy on solid ground early next year, though some analysts caution that a rising unemployment rate will restrain growth.

The board said yesterday its index of leading indicators rose 0.6 percent in August. That follows a 0.9 percent gain in July, revised up from 0.6 percent. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected an 0.7 percent gain last month.

The indicators are designed to project economic activity in the next three to six months.

Bailout revamp talk boosts AIG stock 21%

WASHINGTON >>

Shares of American International Group Inc. jumped more than 20 percent yesterday after the head of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said the panel will examine a plan to reduce the company's massive bailout package.

The stock surge occurred despite a report from congressional investigators that cast doubt on whether efforts by AIG to restructure its operations and fully repay the government the billions it received will ever prove successful.

Its shares jumped $8.49, or 21.3 percent, to $48.40.

Hawaiian Air sees lower margins

Hawaiian Airlines expects passenger revenue per available seat mile in the third quarter to be flat to 2.5 percent higher than the second quarter but down 15.5 to 18 percent from the year-earlier period, the airline said yesterday in an investor update filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The outlook is consistent with the high end of management's expectations that were disclosed during Hawaiian's second-quarter earnings call on July 27.

Hawaiian said it anticipates its capacity in the quarter ending Sept. 30 to increase 2.5 to 3 percent compared with the year-earlier period.

In addition, Hawaiian said it expects its operating expenses per available seat mile—excluding fuel—for the third quarter to increase by about 0.5 to 3 percent from the second quarter and by about 14.5 to 17 percent from the third quarter of 2008 due to higher-than-expected maintenance expenses.

SEC going to trial against BofA

WASHINGTON » The Securities and Exchange Commission said yesterday it will go to trial against Bank of America Corp. over billions of dollars in bonuses paid at Merrill Lynch, which the bank acquired in a hastily arranged deal a year ago at the height of the financial crisis.

The SEC said it will “;vigorously pursue”; its case against Bank of America, opening the possibility that bank executives also could face charges. The bank said it will “;vigorously defend”; itself. The announcement by the SEC came after a federal judge threw out a $33 million proposed settlement of the case last week.

The agency has accused BofA of failing to disclose to shareholders that it had authorized Merrill to pay up to $5.8 billion in bonuses to its employees in 2008 even though the investment bank lost $27.6 billion that year.

David's Bridal opens first isle store


David's Bridal opened its first Hawaii store at Pearl City Gateway over the weekend. It is the national bridal retailer's first store in Hawaii and its 307th store nationwide.

Pearl City Gateway, at Acacia Road and Kuala Street, is a new 150,000-square-foot retail center being developed by Robertson Properties Group of Los Angeles. Other tenants that have opened at Pearl City Gateway include Petco and Babies “;R”; Us, while Longs Drugs is expected to open soon.

Central Pacific helps supply schools


Central Pacific Bank said it helped prepare 2,200 Hawaii schoolchildren for the new academic year by collecting basic school supplies and $15,000 in monetary donations through its four-week Ready to Learn campaign this summer.

As part of the campaign, Central Pacific donated $5,000 to the program and $500 to three different public schools—Lihikai Elementary, Manana Elementary and Waipahu Elementary—that were selected by the Kahului Branch, Pearl Highlands Branch and Waipahu Branch, respectively, after they won an employee's collection box decoration contest.

ON THE MOVE

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Belt Collins Hawaii has announced the following promotions:

» Cheryl Palesh to chairwoman and chief engineer from vice president and chief engineer. Her experience includes civil and environmental engineering.

» Michael Terry to president and chief executive officer. He has expertise in landscape design, environmental planning, entitlements permitting, land management, and resort and recreation area design.

» Gene Yong to vice president and senior project manager from project manager.