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Isle insurance firms make U.S. list

Island Insurance and First Insurance Co. of Hawaii have been named two of the nation’s top 50 property and casualty insurance companies by the Ward Group.

It was the third consecutive year that Island Insurance made the list and the second in row for First Insurance Co.

Ward Group is a consulting firm specializing in the insurance industry. Its top-50 list recognizes companies that have achieved "superior performance" over a five-year period in the areas of safety, consistency and performance.

Goldman to pay $550M for fraud

WASHINGTON » Goldman Sachs & Co. has agreed to pay $550 million to settle civil fraud charges that accused the Wall Street giant of misleading buyers of mortgage-related investments.

The settlement came on the same day that the Senate passed the stiffest restrictions on banks and Wall Street since the Great Depression. The fine was the largest against a financial company in SEC history. The deal calls for Goldman to pay the Securities and Exchange Commission fines of $300 million. The rest of the money will go to compensate those who lost money on their investments.

Judge dismisses verdict against Dole

Dole Food Co., the world’s biggest producer of fresh fruit and vegetables, won dismissal of $2.3 million in damages a California jury awarded in 2007 to Nicaraguan banana workers who claimed exposure to pesticides.

California Court of Appeal Judge Victoria Chaney, at a hearing yesterday in Los Angeles, threw out the verdict and the underlying lawsuit, after hearing arguments by Dole lawyers that the plaintiffs had lied about becoming sterile because of pesticides used at Dole’s banana farms in Nicaragua in the late 1970s. Chaney’s ruling follows her order last year dismissing two related cases by groups of purported banana workers before they had gone to trial. She found that the lawsuits were the result of a pattern of "deliberate and egregious misconduct" by lawyers in Nicaragua who had recruited the plaintiffs.

Mortgage rates stay at record lows

WASHINGTON » Mortgage rates were unchanged this week at the lowest point in decades, but it hasn’t been enough to jump-start the housing market.

Government-sponsored mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said yesterday the average rate for 30-year fixed loans this week was 4.57 percent. That’s the same as a week earlier and the lowest since Freddie Mac began tracking rates in 1971.

The last time home loan rates were lower was the 1950s, when most mortgages lasted just 20 or 25 years.

Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to an average of 4.06 percent, down from 4.07 percent last week. Rates on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages fell to an average of 3.74 percent from 3.75 percent.

JPMorgan earns $4.8 billion

NEW YORK » JPMorgan Chase & Co. said yesterday its second-quarter net income soared 77 percent to $4.8 billion as a slowdown in losses from failed loans helped offset a difficult spring in trading and investment banking. The strong results offered hope that loan losses at the nation’s big banks may have peaked in the first half of 2010, a critical step before banks can become stronger and boost lending to consumers and small businesses.

JPMorgan Chase, the first of the big banks to report earnings for the April-June period, easily surpassed analysts’ expectations as it earned $1.09 a share, up 28 cents a share from a year earlier. Analysts had forecast a profit of 67 cents per share in the just-ended quarter. Net revenue, however, fell nearly 8 percent from a year ago to $25.6 billion.

ON THE MOVE

The Hawai’i Convention Center has named Ai Matsuda Chung as its international sales and service manager. She has more than 10 years’ experience in sales and marketing in the hospitality industry and was previously a guest relations manager at the Waikiki Parc Hotel.

Properties of the Pacific has awarded the following as their top sales award winners:

» Sandra M. Mann is top listor for the second quarter of 2010 as well as top listor, top salesperson and top producer for June 2010.

» Gaylien Hall is the top salesperson and top producer for the second quarter.

Current Affairs has named Niki Libarios as sales and event manager assistant. She was previously associate director of residence life at Hawaii Pacific University.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has awarded more than $66,000 to five agricultural producers through the Conservation Stewardship Program. The five Hawaii recipients have enrolled more than 5,500 acres of crop and pastureland in the stewardship program and will maintain their existing "high-level" conservation activities.

 

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