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Business/Economy

  • Gates: Windows 8 Will Be "A Very Big Deal"
  • Dow sheds 100 points after Fed official's warning

    NEW YORK (AP) — A quiet day on Wall Street turned into the worst sell-off in three months after a Federal Reserve official said he doubted the bank's effort to boost economic growth would work.

    Charles Plosser, president of the Fed's Philadelphia branch, told an audience Tuesday that the Fed's effort to support the economy would likely fall short of its goals. And if the Fed looks ineffective, it could undermine future Fed action.

    The speech probably startled some investors who had faith in the Fed's latest plan, said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer Harris Private Bank. The plan includes buying $40 billion in mortgage bonds each month until the economy improves.

    "So many investors have bought into the illusion," he said. "And it was like Plosser pulled up the curtain on the Wizard of Oz."

    The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 15.30 points, its fourth straight decline, to close at 1,441.59. The 1.05 percent drop was the worst for the S&P since June 25.

  • Council OKs Trinity lease move

    In a move that puts the town’s most prized commercial frontage squarely in the hands of the nation’s largest retail grocer, the Los Alamos County Council voted 5-2 to assign the Trinity Site lease to the development arm of the Kroger Company.

    “Perhaps the third time is a charm,” Council Chair Sharon Stover said as the special council session opened Monday evening. The reference was to failed attempts by two other developers to make a financial go of the Trinity Site redevelopment which has been years in the making.

    The most recent developer to opt out was North American Development Group, which made the proposal to assign its lease to Kroger after NADG spent a six month due diligence period determining that the financial return on the project was not sufficient to continue.

    The county and the Los Alamos Public Schools have partnered in the unique lease arrangement for the land which is designed primarily to generate long-term revenue for the school district.

  • NM job growth continues on negative track

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico labor officials say the state has marked another month of negative over-the-year job growth that represents a loss of 12,400 jobs.

    The state Department of Workforce Solutions said Friday that job growth was negative 1.5 percent in August. The department says the current round of job losses started in June after 10 months of growth that averaged about 0.4 percent.

    New Mexico's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was at 6.5 percent in August. That's down from 6.6 percent in the previous month.

    Employment has increased in some industries, including educational and health services, mining and manufacturing.

    The government sector was down 5,800 jobs compared to last year. Construction was down by 3,000 jobs, while professional and business services shed 5,700 jobs.

  • Unemployment numbers paint bleak economic picture

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell only slightly last week to a seasonally adjusted 382,000. The level suggests hiring remains weak.

    The Labor Department said Thursday that applications declined by 3,000 from the previous week, which was revised up. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose for the fifth straight week to 377,750, the highest level in nearly three months.

    Applications were skewed higher two weeks ago by the fallout from Hurricane Isaac. But a Labor Department spokesman said there were no special factors last week.

    Weekly applications are a proxy for layoffs. When they consistently fall below 375,000, it typically suggests hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.

    Employers added only 96,000 jobs last month, below the 141,000 in July and much lower than the average 226,000 added in the first three months of the year. Recent job gains are barely enough to keep up with the growth of the working age population and aren't enough to rapidly drive down unemployment.

  • Tax penalty to hit nearly 6M uninsured people

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 6 million Americans — significantly more than first estimated— will face a tax penalty under President Barack Obama's health overhaul for not getting insurance, congressional analysts said Wednesday. Most would be in the middle class.

    The new estimate amounts to an inconvenient fact for the administration, a reminder of what critics see as broken promises.

    The numbers from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office are 50 percent higher than a previous projection by the same office in 2010, shortly after the law passed. The earlier estimate found 4 million people would be affected in 2016, when the penalty is fully in effect.

  • Southwest needs power lines to become solar hub

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Pick any stretch of road slicing through the American Southwest. The sun beats down on the asphalt like nowhere else and heat waves distort the landscape.

    It's here, in these open expanses, that experts say is a massive untapped source of energy that could meet the nation's growing needs. But only if developers can get it out of the desert.

    Even as renewable power projects get a boost from the federal government, a lack of transmission lines prevent states such as New Mexico — where the sun shines more than 300 days a year — from converting the obvious potential into real watts that can charge smartphones and run air conditioners thousands of miles away.

    Aside from Phoenix, the nation's sixth largest city, and Las Vegas, which glows around the clock, the region's rural stretches — the ideal places for acres of solar panels — have few energy demands. And sending solar power from there to population centers isn't as simple as loading coal into boxcars and shipping it cross country.

  • United Way Sets Ambitious Goal

    Each year, the United Way of Northern New Mexico just kept getting closer and closer. Last year, its Community Action Fund was able to fund 24 of its 31 grant requests. This year, the UWNNM is going all out and is going to try and fund the full 31.

    “Twenty four were funded and 31 people asked,” UWNNM Executive Director Kristy Ortega said to the large crowd of business people and potential donors packed into the lobby of the Los Alamos National Bank last Wednesday night. “This year, we’d like to fund them all; and in the future, we’d like to fund them all, too.”

    This year, she said, that’s going to take $1.6 million.

    “This is what our community is asking for and I encourage you all to help us get there,” she said to the crowd after unveiling the goal on a big blue board for everyone to see.

    To help meet the goal of funding every grant, the UWNNM’s strategy will be to encourage donors to give to the general fund instead of designating it to a specific cause.

  • Egan-Jones cuts US debt rating to AA- from AA

    NEW YORK (AP) — Egan-Jones, an independent credit-research firm, downgraded its rating on U.S. government debt to AA- from AA on Friday, citing the Federal Reserve's plans to try to stimulate the economy.

    The credit rating agency said the Fed's plans to buy mortgage bonds will likely hurt the economy more than help it.

    The plan will weaken the value of the dollar and push up prices for oil and other commodities, Egan-Jones said. That would leave less for consumers to spend on other things.

    But at the same time, Egan-Jones warned that the federal government's borrowing costs are likely to slowly rise as the global economy recovers.

    On Thursday, the Fed said it would buy $40 billion of mortgage bonds a month to help the economic recovery.

    It's the second time the Haverford, Pa. shop has downgraded U.S. government debt in five months. In April, Egan-Jones lowered its rating on the U.S. to AA from AA+. It stripped the U.S. of a top AAA rating in July 2011.

  • Economists Ponder Success of Latest Fed Move

    No sooner did the Federal Reserve unveil a bold plan to juice the U.S. economy than it dangled the prospect of doing even more. Investors celebrated by sending stock prices jumping. Economists were less impressed.