Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire




Northwest to resume Honolulu-L.A. flights

Northwest Airlines said yesterday that it will resume daily nonstop service between Los Angeles International Airport and Honolulu beginning July 1.

The airline suspended service to Honolulu last month for financial reasons, but can now offer the service using the more economical 757-300 aircraft, said Mary Stanik, spokeswoman for Northwest Airlines.

Tickets for the daily flights are on sale through, Northwest Airlines Reservations at 1-800-225-2525 or through travel agencies.

Maui cultural center gets grant

The Bank of Hawaii Charitable Foundation announced today that it will donate $60,000 to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului.

The grant will enable the center to continue to provide Maui residents and visitors with an important venue for creativity, culture and community, said Kevin Baptist, Bank of Hawaii senior vice president.

Opened in 1994, the center serves more than 225,000 people annually through about 1,700 events. The complex is comprised of two theaters, an amphitheater, an art gallery, a hula area, classrooms and meeting facilities.

The donation will be used to upgrade facilities and strengthen educational endowments, said Christina Cowan, president and chief executive officer of the cultural center.


General Growth earnings jump

General Growth Properties Inc., owner of Ala Moana Center and Victoria Ward Centers, said fourth-quarter earnings gained 21 percent, helped by property purchases and a rise in income at retail stores during the holiday season.

Net income climbed to $99.4 million, or 46 cents a share, from $74.2 million, or 38 cents, a year earlier, a company statement said. Revenue for the Chicago-based real estate investment trust, including its share of sales derived from joint ventures, increased 17 percent to $475.6 million.

Retailers from discounter Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to department store chain Nordstrom Inc. last quarter posted their biggest holiday season gains in four years, boosting business at malls, which have agreements to get a cut of tenants' revenue. General Growth's fourth-quarter earnings also benefited from the company's purchase of 100 percent interests in 10 regional malls and stakes in seven other malls last year.

National home resales set record

The National Association of Realtors reported yesterday that existing-home sales totaled 6.1 million last year, shattering the previous record of 5.57 million set in 2002. Last year's sales represented a 9.6 percent increase from 2002's level.

Yesterday's report provided vivid evidence of the red-hot strength of the housing market, which played a main role in keeping the economy going throughout last year. In December, existing-home sales jumped by 6.9 percent from the month before, ending the year on a high note.

White-meat McNuggets a boost

McDonald's Corp., the world's largest chain of hamburger restaurants, had fourth-quarter net income of $125.7 million after new menu offerings such as white-meat Chicken McNuggets spurred the biggest sales gain in more than eight years.

Net income of 10 cents a share compares with a year-earlier loss, the company's first ever, of $343.8 million, or 27 cents, McDonald's said in a statement. Revenue surged 17 percent to $4.56 billion from $3.9 billion.

McDonald's has posted four-straight quarterly profits under Chief Executive James Cantalupo, who was brought out of retirement a year ago.

Star witness readies for Stewart trial

Martha Stewart's criminal trial for obstruction of justice and stock fraud begins in earnest today, with opening arguments by lawyers and a possible appearance by the government's star witness.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Patton Seymour said in Manhattan federal court yesterday that prosecutors would summon Douglas Faneuil, a former Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. employee, as their third witness.

Faneuil was an assistant to Stewart's broker and co- defendant, Peter Bacanovic. Stewart and Bacanovic are accused of obstructing justice by lying to investigators about why she sold about 4,000 shares of ImClone Systems Inc. stock on Dec. 27, 2001. Stewart said she had a pre-existing sell order. Faneuil is expected to say he told Stewart that her friend, ImClone Chief Executive Sam Waksal, was selling his family's stake in the company, prompting Stewart to sell hers.

Soros says dollar could keep dropping

George Soros, who once made a billion dollars betting on a drop in the British pound, said the U.S. dollar may extend its decline in 2004 even as stocks rise.

When currencies drop they "tend to actually pick up speed," Soros said in a televised interview with Bloomberg News at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. "Since the decline of the dollar in the short term is beneficial for the U.S. economy, the authorities actually like it."

The dollar has dropped 14 percent against the European common currency in the past 12 months and 9 percent against the yen, buoying U.S. exports while posing a threat to the economic recovery in Europe and Japan.


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