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Business Briefs

For Wednesday, January 26, 2011

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 2:25 a.m. HST, Jan 26, 2011

Housing bust hammers more cities

A second wave of falling home prices is battering some cities that had escaped the worst of the housing market bust.

Prices in Seattle, Charlotte, N.C., and Portland, Ore., have hit their lowest points since peaking in 2006 and 2007. Denver and Minneapolis are nearing record lows. High unemployment and rising foreclosures are taking a toll even on markets that never overheated during the boom years.

Home values are dwindling in nearly every American market. Prices fell in November in all but one of the 20 cities in the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index released yesterday. Eight of those markets hit their lowest point since the housing bubble burst.

Honolulu is not included in the index.

Consumer confidence keeps rising

WASHINGTON » Consumer confidence hit an eight-month high in January. The increase suggests the rising spirits that fueled a holiday shopping boom are carrying over into the new year as people feel better about the job market.

The Conference Board said yesterday its Consumer Confidence Index climbed to 60.6 this month from 53.3 in December.

While confidence is still far from the 90 that signals a healthy consumer mindset, the January improvement was better than expected. Some economists said the big tax relief package Congress passed in late December may have helped.

Google to hire at least 6,000 workers

SAN FRANCISCO » Google Inc., owner of the world's most popular search engine, plans to hire at least 6,000 people this year as the company fights off rivals such as Facebook Inc.

The hiring pace should make 2011 the biggest year for employee growth in company history. Google, which had 24,400 people at the end of 2010, hired more than 4,500 last year, making that year second only to 2007, when the company added more than 6,000.

Yahoo net doubles but revenue falls

SAN FRANCISCO » Yahoo Inc.'s fourth-quarter earnings more than doubled, but the Internet company's crumbling revenue made it clear that it's still struggling to cash in on the online advertising boom.

The results announced yesterday show why many investors are wondering whether Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz is the right person for the job as she enters the second half of a four-year contract she signed in January 2009.

Although Bartz has boosted Yahoo's earnings through layoffs and other cost-cutting measures, the company's revenue has fallen from its levels before her arrival.

The financial pressure has prompted Yahoo to lay off more than 700 workers in the past two months. In the latest cutbacks yesterday, Yahoo is laying off 100 to 150 employees, roughly 1 percent from a work force that totaled 13,600 people at the end of December.

Yahoo earned $312 million last quarter compared with $153 million a year earlier. Revenue fell 12 percent to $1.53 billion from $1.73 billion.


» Kaiser Permanente Hawaii has appointed Liza Villanueva as executive director and administrator for continuing care and ancillary services. She has more than 30 years of health care leadership and management experience and was previously an assistant medical center administrator of operations at Kaiser Permanente's Southern California Region.


» Kiewit Building Group has relocated to the shops at Dole Cannery, 650 Iwilei Road, Suite 202, from 55 Merchant St. in downtown Honolulu. The new office space will accommodate about 30 employees.


» Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties has announced Bob Schmieg as Realtor-associate at its King Street office. He was previously chief financial officer for Hydration Technologies in Oregon and has extensive experience as the treasurer of C. Brewer & Co. and vice president of funds management for Bank of Hawaii.

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