- - Tuesday, July 26, 2011

COMMERCE

Survey: Consumer confidence rises in July

NEW YORK — Americans’ confidence in the economy continues its roller-coaster ride.

As their short-term outlook on jobs and income eased somewhat, U.S. consumers’ confidence rose slightly in July, according to a monthly survey out on Tuesday, but confidence levels still remain weak overall.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index edged up to 59.5 in July, from a revised 57.6 in June that marked a seven-month low in the measure. Economists had expected the July figure to fall to 56.

A reading of 90 indicates a healthy economy on the index, which measures how Americans feel about business conditions, the job market and the next six months. It hasn’t approached that level since the recession began in December 2007, and a shift of less than five points is generally discarded by economists as insignificant.

REAL ESTATE

Spring buying gives housing market a boost

Home prices rose for the second straight month in most major U.S. cities and are stabilizing after years of declines. But analysts say the trend in prices hardly signals a rebound for the troubled housing market.

A flurry of spring buyers is helping boost sales. At the same time, millions of foreclosures are in limbo, awaiting the results of a government investigation into improper practices by mortgage lenders. Once that probe is complete, banks will resume seizing homes, and prices will likely fall again.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home-price index released Tuesday showed that prices rose in May in 16 of the 20 cities tracked.

Boston, Minneapolis and Washington posted the biggest monthly increases. Prices in Detroit, Las Vegas and Tampa, Fla. — three cities hit hardest by the housing crisis — fell to their lowest points since the recession began.

NEW YORK

Gay nuptials unveil financial boon for services

NEW YORK — A lot of people are happy to see same-sex marriage legal in New York: lawyers, marriage counselors and insurance agents.

The effect of New York becoming the sixth state to allow gay marriage is expected to ripple beyond the couples tying the knot to the professionals who offer marriage-related services, with some saying it could bring in a significant new stream of people looking to use what they offer.

“I’ve been practicing since 1988 … I’ve never seen the kind of an influx of potential new clients like this,” said Lois Liberman, a matrimonial lawyer in New York City.

Census figures put the number of same-sex couples in New York at more than 65,000. Hundreds of couples got married starting Sunday, in ceremonies all over the state.

WASHINGTON

7 arrested in dispute at port

LONGVIEW — Authorities have arrested seven people during a union protest at a new grain terminal at the Port of Longview, escalating a labor dispute that has interrupted rail shipments there.

The protesters on Monday were more aggressive than in the past, the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office said.

Local 21 President Dan Coffman said the arrests were for minor offenses, such as blocking traffic while helping other members who had fallen.

Members of Longview-based Local 21 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union are trying to force the company that runs the new $200 million export terminal, EGT, to use their workers, the Daily News of Longview reported.

They claim they’re entitled to the work through a contract with the Port of Longview and by long-standing union jurisdiction; the union operates every other grain terminal on the West Coast.

The company sued the port in federal court in January, claiming it is not bound by the port’s agreement with the longshoremen. A trial is scheduled for next year.

AIRLINES

Hawaiian to make Honolulu-Sydney route daily

HONOLULU — Hawaiian Airlines says it will begin flying between Honolulu and Sydney, Australia, on a daily basis year-round to meet higher demand for the service.

The Honolulu-based airline said Monday the year-round daily flights are due to begin on Dec. 14.

The company currently flies five flights a week between the two cities.

Hawaiian Flight 452 is due to depart Sydney at 9:20 p.m. each day and arrive in Honolulu at 10:10 a.m. the same day. Return Flight 451 will depart Honolulu daily at 11:50 a.m. and arrive in Sydney at 7:20 p.m. the following day.

Honolulu is 20 hours behind Sydney.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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