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POSTED: Friday, October 30, 2009

Mortgage rates rise to 5.03%

WASHINGTON » Rates for 30-year home loans climbed to 5.03 percent this week, the third consecutive weekly increase.

The average rate inched up from 5 percent a week earlier, mortgage company Freddie Mac said yesterday. The last time the average was higher was the week of Sept. 24, when rates averaged 5.04 percent.

Rates had hovered below 5 percent for a month until last week. They hit a record low of 4.78 percent in the spring but are still attractive for people looking to buy a home or refinance. The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.46 percent from 4.43 percent last week. Rates on one-year, adjustable-rate mortgages rose to 4.57 percent from 4.54 percent.

GM will extend refund campaign

MILWAUKEE » General Motors Co. says its money-back guarantee—key to its revival—is going so well it will extend the program into early 2010.

The automaker launched its “;May the Best Car Win”; campaign in September as a way to get consumers to try GM cars and trucks with minimal risk. The program, which offers refunds within 31 to 60 days of purchase, was slated to last two months and end Nov. 30, but it will now last until Jan. 4.

Geothermal tests to be held on Maui

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced up to $338 million in funding to accelerate domestic geothermal energy.

The department said yesterday that close to $5 million will go to ORMAT Nevada Inc. to use a combination of technologies to locate fault zones within geothermal reservoirs, with initial tests on Maui.

The grants will support 123 projects in 39 states.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu says the grant money will fund the exploration and development of new geothermal fields and research into advanced geothermal technologies.

Geothermal power is already used in Hawaii.

Puna Geothermal Venture taps the might of Kilauea volcano to generate electricity, providing nearly one-fifth of the Big Island's power.

Garden Island publisher selected

Lee Enterprises has named Randy Kozerski publisher and editor of The Garden Island newspaper, as well as president of Kauai Publishing Co. Kozerski has served as interim publisher since publisher Mark Lewis left the newspaper on Kauai in September to become publisher of The Journal Times, a Lee newspaper in Racine, Wis. Kozerski joined The Garden Island in 2007 as controller after serving three years as controller at The Journal Times.

United ends Mesa turboprop service

PHOENIX » Mesa Air Group Inc., the 75 percent owner of interisland carrier go! Mokulele Airlines, said yesterday that United Airlines has exercised its early termination rights for Mesa's operation of 10 Dash-8 turboprop aircraft under Mesa's code-share agreement with United. Mesa plans to work with United on an orderly transition plan, but, in any event, the date of exit from service is expected to be no later than April 30.

“;We face a challenging period during the next few quarters and will strive to mitigate the impact of the termination of aircraft under our code-share agreement with United Airlines,”; Mesa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Ornstein said. “;The lease terms covering four of these aircraft expire on April 30, 2010; the remaining six aircraft have lease terms beyond April 30, 2010. We are exploring a number of opportunities for the remaining six aircraft, including other code-share opportunities, our independent operations or subleasing the aircraft to other operators.”;

Oil firms post lower earnings

NEW YORK » Exxon Mobil Corp. said yesterday that net income slumped 68 percent to $4.73 billion, or 98 cents a share, when compared with the same July-September period in 2008, the most lucrative ever for the oil industry. Last year, crude spiked to near $150 a barrel, helping Exxon break its own profit records.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Europe's largest oil company, said its profit was more than halved to $3.25 billion, and sales tumbled 43 percent. The bad year for major producers has led to thousands of job cuts from the Gulf of Mexico to Amsterdam. Shell said yesterday it would cut 5,000 jobs and that 15,000 employees must reapply for employment. Those cuts come on top of 500 executive layoffs earlier this year.

ConocoPhillips said Wednesday that it was selling off $10 billion in assets and becoming a smaller company.

ON THE MOVE

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Three Starn O'Toole Marcus and Fisher attorneys have been named in the Best Lawyers in America 2010 edition:

» Terence J. O'Toole was named in three categories: bet-the-company litigation, commercial litigation and construction law. He is the director, heading the law firm's litigation team.

» Kenneth B. Marcus was named as one of the top real estate law attorneys and has earned this distinction since 2003. He is director of the firm and has extensive experience in formation of partnerships and limited-liability companies.

» Peter Starn was named as one of the top real estate law attorneys. He is founder and president of the firm.