Business Briefs


POSTED: Friday, September 25, 2009

Mortgage rates flat or falling

WASHINGTON » Rates for 30-year home loans were unchanged this week and remain close to record-low levels.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 5.04 percent, the same as a week earlier, mortgage company Freddie Mac said yesterday.

Rates, while above the record low of 4.78 percent hit in the spring, are still attractive for people looking to buy a home or refinance.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.46 percent, from 4.47 percent last week. That was the lowest level on records dating to 1991.

Rates on one-year, adjustable-rate mortgages fell to 4.52 percent from 4.58 percent.

Some ag inspectors are spared the ax

The state Department of Agriculture will temporarily restore the jobs of 22 of the 50 plant quarantine branch inspectors targeted for layoff effective Nov. 13.

The department will allocate the inspectors to what it calls core inspection services at ports statewide, as follows: Hilo, to six from 10 inspectors; Kona, three from four; Kauai, two from three; Maui, 11 from 14; and Oahu, 33 from 52.

The partial restoration is being funded by the Hawaii Invasive Species Council and the Pest Inspection, Quarantine and Eradication Special Fund, which are providing $600,000 and $1.2 million, respectively.

“;The department continues to look for alternative sources of funding”; for job restoration, said Sandra Lee Kunimoto, chairwoman of the state Board of Agriculture.

Price Busters opens party store

Price Busters, a Hawaii-based retailer, opens its first Let's Party Hawaii store today at Windward Mall.

The 10,000-square-foot store—a new Price Busters concept—features thousands of items for any kind of party under one roof.

A 15-foot wall, for instance, showcases Hello Kitty products, while another aisle features nearly 20 items from the Thomas the Tank Engine series.

The opening of Let's Party Hawaii will be followed by another Price Busters opening at Kapolei Commons on Oct. 7.

Price Busters has existing stores in Kailua, Aiea, Pearl City, Kalihi, Mililani, Hawaii Kai and downtown.

Hawaii slowdown hurts Ameron

Ameron International Corp., which supplies concrete and pipes to the Hawaii construction industry, said fiscal third-quarter net income plunged 60.3 percent to $5.9 million from $15 million mainly due to lower earnings from TAMCO, Ameron's 50 percent-owned steel minimill in Southern California. TAMCO has experienced a significant decline in demand for steel rebar.

Pasadena, Calif.-based Ameron said sales fell 22.8 percent to $131.4 million from $170.1 million in the quarter ended Aug. 30.

Ameron said its Hawaii division experienced lower demand for aggregates and ready-mix on both Oahu and Maui as construction spending continued to soften due to the recession.

A123 Systems up 50% in IPO

Investors snapped up shares of A123 Systems in their debut yesterday, showing a willingness to overlook millions of dollars in losses and make a bet that next-generation battery technology will propel vehicles of the future. Founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists, A123 lost more than $40 million in the first half of this year. A123's shares gained $6.79, or 50.3 percent, to close at $20.29.


; Hawaii Community Reinvestment Corp. has appointed Gwen Yamamoto-Lau as president. She has 20 years' banking and finance experience, including president of Hawaii Central Credit Union, senior vice president/regional manager with Central Pacific Bank and assistant VP at First Hawaiian Bank.


The American College of Forensic Examiners Institute has awarded the Certified Forensic Consultant designation to Peter M. Aiello. He is president of Aiello Development Group, a residential development firm.


The National Association of Home Builders has awarded the Certified Green Professional Designation to Graham Builders' vice president of operations, Evan Fujimoto, and director of client care Bonnie Osaki.