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Consumer confidence up

Americans’ confidence in the economy rose to a five-month high in November, showing increased optimism for the first half of next year. The report offered some comfort to the nation’s retailers during the holiday shopping season, but shoppers still remain downbeat as they grapple with a high unemployment rate. The Conference Board said yesterday that its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 54.1 in November, up from a revised 49.9 in October.

Small-biz startup workshop offered

The how-to’s of starting a small business will be detailed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, SCORE, formerly known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives, and the state of Hawaii Business Action Center.

The workshop from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Dec. 15 will cover resources available for business plan development, sources for free business counseling, evaluating the viability of a business idea, obtaining a general excise tax (GET) license, registering a business name, selecting the type of business to create, and tips on financing a startup.

The workshop will be in the SBA offices in Building 1, Room 306 at Waterfront Plaza, 500 Ala Moana Blvd. Registration is required by phone at 541-2990, ext. 211, or online at www.sba.gov/hi.

Home prices off in most metro areas

NEW YORK » Millions of foreclosures and weak demand from buyers are forcing home prices down in most major U.S. cities.

Prices are falling even in places like San Francisco and San Diego, which had posted strong increases just a few months ago.

Analysts say many markets won’t improve until they see fewer foreclosures and more job gains.

A report yesterday underscored the weakness. Home prices declined in 18 of the 20 cities, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index. Prices fell 0.7 percent in September from August, marking the second straight monthly drop.

The biggest weight on prices going forward is foreclosures, which sell at steep discounts and lower nearby property values.

Honolulu is not included in the index.

GM, Chrysler to hire 2,000 engineers

HAMTRAMCK, Mich. » General Motors and Chrysler, two companies that nearly died last year before getting government bailouts, showed further signs of recovery yesterday as each announced plans to hire 1,000 engineers and researchers.

GM’s hiring will begin immediately and run through the next two years as it adds staff to work on the next generation of electric vehicles.

Chrysler said it will hire during the next four months to help handle global growth as well as expansion of its lineup of small and midsize vehicles.

The moves are a sign of confidence as the automakers come back from stays in bankruptcy protection last year. GM is making money and Chrysler has narrowed its losses, both operating with far less debt and lower labor costs than when they were near to the brink of financial ruin.

On the Move

First insurance Co. of Hawaii’s board of directors has elected Isaac Kosasa to assistant vice president of litigation. His experience includes work as claims manager overseeing the litigation unit, senior adjuster, technical specialist and senior technical specialist for FICOH.

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Hawaii Forest & Trail has been honored as the Rotary Club of Kona Business of the Year. The award recognizes Hawaii Forest & Trail for its commitment to environmental education, including the conservation of Hawaii’s natural resources through corporate giving, stewardship and sustainable business practices.

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Communications Pacific has hired the following communications veterans:

» Travis Taylor as account supervisor. His experience includes being senior adviser of communications in the office of Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona.
» Shauna Goya as senior account executive. She was previously a copy editor at The Honolulu Advertiser.

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