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Business news briefs — July 30

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LOCAL BUSINESS

Goodyear names executive

Goodyear announced that Tom Kaczynski has joined the company as vice president of investor relations. He will report to Darren R.Wells, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

Kaczynski joins Goodyear from Affinia Group Inc., where he had been vice president and corporate treasurer. At Affinia, Kaczynski established the company’s treasury office and led financing and investor relations activities.

Kaczynski formerly was a design engineer at Caterpillar. He joined Ford in 1992 as a financial analyst and later held positions of increased responsibility in marketing and finance, including project manager for relationship marketing and international financing manager. In 2000, he became part of the team responsible for the spin-off of Visteon Corp. from Ford, joining Visteon as director of affiliate financing. He joined Affinia in 2005.

Kaczynski holds degrees from Michigan State, Oklahoma State and the University of Chicago.

REAL ESTATE

Home prices show increase

Home prices jumped 12.2 percent in May compared with a year ago, the biggest annual gain since March 2006. The increase shows the housing recovery is strengthening.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index released Tuesday also surged 2.4 percent in May from April. The month-over-month gain nearly matched the 2.6 percent increase in April from March — the highest on record.

The price increases were widespread. All 20 cities showed gains in May from April and compared with a year ago.

In the Cleveland metro area, the median price of homes sold in May was up 1.2 percent from the April median price and 3.4 percent from the May 2012 median.

ECONOMY

Confidence falls slightly

Americans’ confidence in the economy fell only slightly in July, remaining close to the highest level in more than five years.

The Conference Board, a New York-based private research group, says that its consumer confidence index dipped to 80.3 in July. That’s down from a reading of 82.1 in June.

Despite the slight drop, confidence remains well above year-ago levels. And while the hiring outlook for the short-term declined, consumers were more upbeat about the job market’s potential in the coming months.

Dow has slight drop

The Dow Jones industrial average ended off 1.38 points in Tuesday trading at 15,520.59.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index advanced nearly 1 point to 1,685.96. The Nasdaq composite climbed 17.33 points, or 0.5 percent, to 3,616.47.

BANKING

Chase pays, settles dispute

JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to pay $410 million in penalties to settle accusations by U.S. energy regulators that it manipulated electricity prices.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said the bank used improper bidding strategies to squeeze excessive payments from the agencies that run the power grids in California and Midwest in 2010 and 2011.

The penalty includes $285 million for the federal government, and $125 million for ratepayers.

FERC’s enforcement staff said its investigation had found improper trading practices were used at Houston-based JPMorgan Ventures Energy Corp.

JPMorgan said in a written statement that it’s “pleased to have reached an agreement with FERC to put this matter behind it.” JPMorgan didn’t admit or deny any violations.

FERC recently levied a $453 million penalty on Barclays, Britain’s second-largest bank, for manipulating electricity prices in California and other Western states. Barclays is disputing the allegations.

ENERGY

Hess makes sale

Hess is selling its energy marketing business to a subsidiary of Centrica PLC for approximately $1.03 billion. The sale is part of Hess’ plan to focus on its exploration and production activities.

The energy marketing business supplies natural gas and electricity to 23,000 commercial, industrial and small business customers in the eastern U.S. Hess Corp., which has Ohio operations, has been working on reshaping its business. In May the company said that it planned to split the roles of chairman and CEO. This transaction brings year-to-date asset sales to $4.5 billion. The company said that selling the energy marketing business to Direct Energy, Centrica’s North American subsidiary, will now allow it to start buying back shares.

Compiled from staff and wire reports


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