Business Briefs


POSTED: Friday, April 30, 2010

Mortgage rates stay above 5%

McLEAN, Va. » Average rates for 30-year fixed mortgages slipped this week but stayed above 5 percent for the fifth straight week, Freddie Mac said yesterday.

The average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages was 5.06 percent, down a tick from 5.07 percent last week. A year ago, 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.84 percent, Freddie Mac said.

Rates had dropped to a record low of 4.71 percent in December, pushed down by a campaign by the Federal Reserve to reduce borrowing costs for consumers.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.39 percent, unchanged from last week. Rates on one-year, adjustable-rate mortgages rose to 4.25 percent from 4.22 percent.

Hoku produces first polysilicon

Hoku Materials has reached a milestone by successfully producing polysilicon at its manufacturing facility in Pocatello, Idaho.

The subsidiary of Honolulu-based Hoku Corp. said it produced the material after operating its polysilicon reactors for five days.

“;This is an historic day for Hoku,”; said Scott Paul, president and chief executive officer of Hoku Corp. “;We have completed the first step in our planned production ramp-up and successfully manufactured our first batches of polysilicon.”;

Hoku plans to deliver its first shipments to customers later this year.

Philippines money service debuts

First Hawaiian Bank said it will inaugurate its YesExpress Money Transfer Service on Monday so that customers will be able to easily send money to family and friends in the Philippines.

The bank said that First Hawaiian customers will receive favorable currency exchange rates and that the funds can be sent directly to a bank account, picked up as cash, or for a nominal fee be delivered to someone's home. YesExpress will cost $8 per transaction, but from Monday through May 29 will be free to its customers.

A&B keeps dividend at 31.5 cents

Alexander & Baldwin Inc. said yesterday it is maintaining its dividend at 31.5 cents.

The quarterly payout for the second quarter will be on June 3 for shareholders of record as of the close of business on May 13.

Yellen is tapped as No. 2 at Fed

WASHINGTON » Putting a bigger stamp on the Federal Reserve, President Barack Obama chose Janet Yellen yesterday as vice chairwoman of the central bank and filled two other vacancies on the board, which has enormous power over Americans' pocketbooks.

The nominations are subject to Senate approval. If the Senate confirms all three nominees, Obama will have appointed five of the seven members of the Federal Reserve Board.

Obama also named Sarah Bloom Raskin, Maryland's commissioner of financial regulation, and Peter Diamond, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to the seven-person board.

Exxon Mobil profit jumps 38 percent

NEW YORK » Exxon Mobil Corp. said yesterday its quarterly profit jumped 38 percent as oil prices rose in the first three months of the year.

That marks the first year-over-year increase in profits for Exxon since it posted an all-time record of $14.83 billion in the third quarter of 2008.

Still, earnings remain significantly below that level. During the first three months of this year, the Irving, Texas, oil giant had a profit of $6.3 billion, or $1.33 a share. That compares with $4.55 billion, or 92 cents a share, in the same period last year.


; Aston Kauai Beach at Makaiwa has announced the following appointments:

>> Isaac “;Ike”; Cockett as general manager. He has more than 20 years of experience in the travel and hospitality industry, including general manager of Ilikai Hotel in Waikiki and marketing and sales positions at Marriott and Hilton hotels in Hawaii.

» Rafael Camarillo as executive chef. He was previously a sous chef at St. Regis Princeville Resort and executive chef at several Marriott properties on Kauai.

» Jaye Gayagas-Youn as new director of sales. She has more than 20 years of experience in Kauai's hospitality industry, including management sales positions at Outrigger Hotels & Resorts and Hilton Kauai Beach Resort and senior sales manager for Kauai Beach Resort in Lihue.


>> Jaymes Song has been named administrative correspondent for The Associated Press in Honolulu, overseeing news and operations for the bureau covering Hawaii and other parts of the Pacific. Song joined the Honolulu bureau in November 2000 after working at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. In an interim news manager role, Song has led the bureau on major breaking news, including last year's deadly earthquake and tsunami that struck American Samoa.