Economic indicators worry experts
NEW YORK » Holiday spending surged this year, but Americans still have their doubts about the economy. With unemployment high and home prices falling in the nation’s largest cities, consumer confidence took an unexpected turn for the worse in December.
The decline followed two months of rising optimism. The Conference Board, a private research group, said its Consumer Confidence Index fell to 52.5 in December, down from a revised 54.3 in the November survey. It takes a reading of 90 to indicate a healthy economy. The last time the index was that high was in December 2007, just as the recession began.
Home prices fell in October
LOS ANGELES » The U.S. economy is expected to gain steam in 2011, but the housing market is sputtering again, with home prices falling in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas.
Prices of previously owned single-family homes fell 0.8 percent in October over the same time last year, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index of 20 metropolitan areas. The closely watched index fell 1.3 percent from September to October as six metro areas hit fresh lows.
"It is grim, baby. We don’t see any basis for sustained price increases in 2011," said Glenn Kelman, chief executive of online brokerage Redfin.
"Prices are going to be in the doldrums all year, and usually you look for housing to lead the overall recovery but that seems doubtful."
The year-over-year decline was the first since January and considerably worse than economists had expected.
Chinese look to increase travel
BEIJING » The number of journeys Chinese passengers are expected to take over the 40-day peak Spring Festival transport period will rise 11.6 percent from last year to 2.85 billion, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.
The country’s top economic planner told transport authorities to make sure they can cope with possible cold weather during the period, according to the statement on the NDRC’s website.
The Chinese lunar new year festival transport peak period will last for 40 days from Jan. 19 to Feb. 27, according to the statement.
Groupon gets OK to raise funding
SAN FRANCIScO » Groupon’s board has authorized the local-coupon site to raise up to $950 million in funding, a recent Delaware regulatory filing says.
Google Inc. reportedly tried to buy the Chicago company for between $5 billion and $6 billion but was rejected in early December.
In a Dec. 17 amended certificate of incorporation, which was first reported yesterday by venture capital data provider VC Experts, Groupon said it might issue up to 30 million Series G Preferred Shares at a price of $31.59 each.
Groupon’s last round of funding — $135 million — came in April from Mail.ru Group, formerly Digital Sky Technologies.
VC Experts estimates that if Groupon raises the full $950 million, the company would be worth about $6.4 billion total.
A Groupon spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.
ON THE MOVE
Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties has announced Avis Takamatsu as a Realtor-associate. She was previously a sales manager at Indich Collection.
Kaiser Permanente Hawaii has appointed Mark Mahler as senior director of sales. He has more than 20 years of sales and management experience including serving as vice president of sales and marketing and area vice president/general manager for Airgas Gaspro Inc.
UHA has hired Kevin Kim as an account representative supervisor. He has more than 15 years of training and customer service experience and was previously a training manager at Hawaiian Telcom.
Commercial Roofing and Waterproofing Hawaii has announced Richelle Thomason is its new director of business development and client relations. She will be responsible for assessing marketing opportunities and target markets, generating new business leads and creating proposals and business model designs as well as provide customer service, undertake client presentations, negotiate project contracts and respond to economic and market trends. Thomason was previously working with Tropical Roofing & Raingutters.