Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire



Home sales fall but activity brisk

WASHINGTON >> Sales of previously owned homes fell by 3.5 percent in November, but even with the decline sales racked up the sixth highest monthly level on record and are on track for the best-ever year for all of 2002.

Existing-home sales slipped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.56 million in November, the National Association of Realtors reported today. The 3.5 percent decline followed a brisk 5.9 percent sales increase in October.

Even with the drop in November, sales are running 5.9 percent higher than for the same month last year.

The housing market performed extremely well during the recession and has been doing well this year, thanks to low mortgage rates.

Sales of both existing homes and new homes are expected to register their best year in 2002, surpassing previous records set in 2001, economists said.

United's mechanics hold out

CHICAGO >> United Airlines mechanics and cleaners, the only employee group to reject pay cuts before the carrier filed for bankruptcy, are again among the holdouts as the company tries to reorganize under court protection, Bloomberg News reported.

The world's second-biggest airline on Friday asked a U.S. bankruptcy judge to order the Machinists to accept temporary pay reductions similar to those negotiated with four other unions during reorganization efforts. The union said it will fight the request at a court hearing today.

Leaders of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers rejected what they called United's "take it or leave it" measures and will object in court to the company's request, said Scotty Ford, president of the district that represents United's 13,000 mechanics and cleaners, in a letter to members posted on the union's Web site Friday.

U.S. Bancorp settles research probe

NEW YORK >> U.S. Bancorp today said its Piper Jaffray securities arm has agreed to pay $32.5 million to settle a wide-ranging probe into Wall Street business practices.

Piper Jaffray said it will pay a fine of $25 million and will also pay $7.5 million over the next five years to support independent research options.

The agreement comes on the heels of an unprecedented $1.4 billion settlement between regulators and 10 of the world's largest investment banks.

Top resolution: Finding new job

If you still make a list of yearly resolutions, finding a new job might rank up there with losing weight, drinking less and quitting smoking.

More than a third of 2,200 workers polled this month plan to hunt for a new job in the new year, and 32 percent said their prospects of finding one were strong.

What prompts the search for greener career pastures?

Most, 59 percent, said they want to leave because they were unhappy with promotion prospects in their current positions. And 58 percent said they didn't like the pay. Half the job hunters said they were under too much stress at work.

Federated sees sales below earlier view

NEW YORK >> Federated Department Stores Inc. said today it expects sales for the critical holiday shopping period to be down about 4.5 percent, below its previous forecast.

For the month of December, the retailer expects same-store sales to fall 2.5 percent. Federated's December sales period ends Jan. 4.

In a recorded sales update covering results through Dec. 28, the parent of Macy's and Bloomingdale's said sales at stores open at least a year for the November-December period would be down about 4.5 percent, missing its previous target of flat to down 2.5 percent for the period.

J.C. Penney outshines U.S. retail sector

CHICAGO >> Retailer J.C. Penney Co. Inc. outstripped even mighty Wal-Mart Stores Inc. today, reporting better-than-expected holiday sales as its aggressive advertising and discounts resonated with frugal shoppers in an otherwise lackluster holiday season.

From discounter Wal-Mart to upscale department stores such as Bloomingdale's, U.S. retailers gave an overall gloomy view of post-Christmas sales, raising questions about profit prospects in the critical fourth quarter.

But J.C. Penney stood out with its forecast that December sales at its department stores open at least one year would be up about 4.5 percent, above its original expectations, as it drew more shoppers in the days before Christmas.

"Penney was the only one of the national retailers who was giving consumers what they wanted -- a discount," said Britt Beemer, head of America's Research Group, which tracks U.S. consumer trends.


[Hawaii Inc.]


>> Tiki's Grill and Bar has promoted six employees to managerial positions: Manager Mark Sasaki, Manager Tina Wresinski, Office Manager Slade Neeley, Floor Manager Kaeo Gouveia, Merchandising Manager Nani Morita and Supervisor Shane Pizzalato. Sasaki has more than 25 years of food and beverage experience, most recently with Service Systems Associates. Wresinski has held positions at Duke's Canoe Club, Chart House and Scott's Seafood. Neeley previously served as a general manager of Red Lobster and has more than 17 years of food and beverage experience. Pizzalato was most recently bartender and manager at Cha-Cha-Cha Salsaria in Waikiki.

>> Atsuko Ann Jonokuchi-Au has joined The Rainbow Collection at Ala Moana Center as a sales associate. She was previously a sales associateat the Precious Jewels Salon at Neiman Marcus.


>> Aston Hotels & Resorts Hawaii recently promoted Patty Maher to general manger of Aston at the Waikiki Banyan and Roland Ruiz to general manager of Aston Kaha Lani.

Maher was formally assistant general manager of Aston at the Waikiki Banyan.

She joined the company in 1987 as a secretary.

Ruiz, formally rooms division manager of Aston at Poipu Kai, joined Aston in 1991.

Aston Hawaii is owned by ResortQuest International Co. and operates 33 condominium resorts and hotels in the state.

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