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POSTED: Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Home-building permits decline

WASHINGTON » Applications for home-building permits, a key gauge of future construction, fell in September by the largest amount in five months—a discouraging sign for the housing industry. A rebound in housing is needed to support a broader economic recovery.

Representatives for the industry told a congressional panel yesterday that the $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers needs to be extended and expanded to ensure the housing sector will emerge from the recession. But the Obama administration has not decided whether to support any extension.

The applications for building permits fell 1.2 percent, the second setback in the past three months and the biggest since a 2.5 percent drop in April.

Apple updates iMac line

SEATTLE » Apple Inc. updated its iMac desktop computer line yesterday and introduced a mouse that responds to the touch of fingers instead of using buttons or scroll wheels.

Those were among the finishing touches on a holiday lineup Apple hopes will help maintain the momentum of the past several quarters, in which the company has grown stronger despite the economic downturn. On Monday Apple said its net income soared 47 percent from a year ago.

The updated iMacs have bigger screens—21.5 inches and 27 inches, compared with existing models' 20 inches and 24 inches. They also have speedier processors and better graphics. The least expensive model costs $1,199, the same as the past generation, but the top-of-the-line iMac is now $200 cheaper at $1,999.

Coke's foreign sales strong

MILWAUKEE » Sales outside of Coca-Cola Co.'s home turf of North America helped profit inch higher in the third quarter, although overall sales fell as the stronger dollar continued to take a toll on revenue.

Worldwide case volume of drinks like Sprite, Coke and Powerade grew 2 percent last quarter, including 37 percent growth in India, 15 percent in China and 7 percent in Latin America. In North America, which makes up about one-fourth of the company's sales, case volume slipped 4 percent, marked by a 5 percent drop in soft drinks.

Overall, Coca-Cola earned $1.896 billion compared with $1.890 billion a year earlier.

United sees biz travel improving

United Airlines said it's seeing early signs of a recovery in business travel as it reported yesterday a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss. United parent UAL Corp. said it lost $57 million during the quarter, or 39 cents a share. Not counting fuel hedges and accounting issues, it said the loss would have been 43 cents a share. That was far better than the loss of 94 cents a share expected by analysts.

Sun cutting up to 3,000 jobs

SAN FRANCISCO » Sun Microsystems Inc. plans to cut up to 3,000 jobs, or 10 percent of its worldwide work force, as it awaits a takeover by Oracle Corp., a deal being held up by antitrust regulators in Europe. The layoffs are the latest in a series of job cuts at the world's No. 4 server maker.

Hawaii gets $12M for energy plans

The U.S. Department of Energy has delivered an additional $12 million in funding to Hawaii, bringing the state's total to $25 million, as part of the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The funds, which go to Hawaii's State Energy Program, support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, while creating jobs and reducing carbon pollution.

ON THE MOVE

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DTRIC Insurance Co. has announced the following appointments:
» Cindy Sasaki as senior accountant. She was an assurance senior for Grant Thornton as well as an audit senior for N&K CPAs.
» Scott Mackey as vice president and chief underwriting officer. He has more than 25 years' experience in the insurance industry.
» Todd Y. Takayama as commercial lines underwriting manager. He has Chartered Property Casualty Underwriting and Associate in Premium Auditing professional designations.
» Laurie Tsuhako as treasurer. She was a treasury manager at the Queen's Health Systems as well as an independent accounting consultant.