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Ukulele concert

Farmers Insurance Hawaii, which recently hired ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro as its spokesman, will host a free concert with him today from noon to 12:30 p.m. at the courtyard at Restaurant Row, 500 Ala Moana Blvd. Shimabukuro will appear in Farmers advertisements and compose a version of the company’s national jingle.

BofA resolving claims on bad loans

CHARLOTTE, N.C. » Bank of America Corp. is settling some buyback claims on bad home loans sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as it attempts to separate itself further from one of the of the housing downturn’s biggest headaches.

The nation’s largest bank also said yesterday that the Federal Reserve has confirmed it no longer has any obligations under the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, as it made good on a promise to increase equity by $3 billion.

Bank of America’s deal with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are linked to Countrywide Financial Corp. residential mortgage loans. The Charlotte, N.C.-based bank bought Countrywide in July 2008. But Calabasas, Calif.-based Countrywide spiraled downward during the financial crisis when it became clear many of its borrowers wouldn’t be able to repay mortgages that had required no proof of income or down payment, and contained adjustable rates that quickly made monthly payments unaffordable.

Growth reported in goods and orders

WASHINGTON » Manufacturers produced more goods and booked more orders last month, leading to the fastest growth in factory activity since May.

The Institute for Supply Management said yesterday that its index of manufacturing activity rose to 57 in December from 56.6 in the previous month. Any reading over 50 indicates growth. The latest is well above the recession’s low of 32.5, hit in December 2008. But it is below the reading of 60.4 in April, the highest level since June 2004.

The report shows that manufacturers carried considerable momentum into the new year. Automakers, computer and electronics companies, and industrial machinery firms showed particular strength, the Tempe, Ariz.-based ISM said.

A separate report yesterday showed that construction spending rose 0.4 percent in November, the third straight monthly increase. Builders began work on more homes and the government boosted its investment in construction projects to lift spending to $810.2 billion, the Commerce Department said. Still, that’s only 2.3 percent above August’s figure, which was the lowest level in a decade.

Motorola becomes 2 companies today

NEW YORK » Motorola Inc.’s formal split into two companies today marks the final step in the years-long breakup of a consumer electronics industry pioneer.

Motorola is splitting its consumer-oriented side, which makes cell phone and cable set-top boxes, from the professional business of selling police radios and bar code scanners to government agencies and large companies. The new companies will be called Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions.

The two companies will trade on the New York Stock Exchange today, allowing new investors to buy shares. 

Fiat’s split zeros in on making cars

MILAN » Italy’s Fiat is edging closer to becoming a global car manufacturer. It has split off its farm equipment and truck business to focus on automobiles, and says it could take control of Chrysler this year.

The transformation at Fiat comes as Chrysler boosts sales, introduces new cars and prepares to take its stock public again after last year’s bankruptcy.

The split with Fiat Industrial — which includes CNH agriculture and construction vehicles and Iveco trucks — is a key step toward achieving a goal of creating a global automotive player with Chrysler to build 6 million cars a year by 2014.

ON THE MOVE

Chef Mavro restaurant has announced Randy Ching as restaurant director/sommelier. His experience includes 22 years as a sommelier at Halekulani.

Prudential Locations has hired Michael DeMello and Andrew Leskowitz as experienced agents.

State Farm Insurance has appointed Rex Bui as a new agent, located at McCully Shopping Center in Honolulu. Bui was previously a sales manager at Servco Pacific Lexus of Honolulu for 12 years.

Vistage International has named Nina Cherry as a Vistage chair. She will be responsible for facilitating and building groups of CEOs who meet monthly to share expertise, discuss business issues and provide one another confidential help in critical situations. Cherry has 14 years’ experience leading communication training and coaching business clients for professionals internationally and nationally.

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