– March 5, 2015

AP Sources: Woods to get new sponsor for PGA event 

(AP) — The PGA Tour is closing on a deal for Detroit-based Quicken Loans to become title sponsor of Tiger Woods' tournament at Congressional, The Associated Press has learned.

Two people who have been told about the deal said Quicken Loans could begin its sponsorship before the next tournament, to be played June 26-29. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal is not completed and has not been announced.

Dan Gilbert, who owns the Cleveland Cavaliers, is the chairman and founder Quicken Loans.

It would be a big boost to the Tiger Woods Foundation, which receives the net proceeds from the event currently called the AT&T National. The foundation has created seven Tiger Woods Learning Centers, three of them in the Washington, D.C., area.

AT&T, in the final year of its contract, was not planning to renew the sponsorship. The Dallas-based company announced two years ago that it would sponsor the Byron Nelson Championship starting in 2015. AT&T already is under contract through 2024 as the title sponsor of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on the PGA Tour. It also sponsors a Champions Tour event in San Antonio.

Greg McLaughlin announced Tuesday that he is leaving after 14 years as president and CEO of the Tiger Woods Foundation. McLaughlin was the tournament director of the AT&T National and did well to keep AT&T on as title sponsor through 2014 after the upheaval in Woods' personal life.

Woods had a personal endorsement deal with AT&T — the logo was on his golf bag — for nine months until the telecommunications giant cut him loose in December 2009.

McLaughlin and PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw declined comment Thursday, saying there was nothing to announce.

The title sponsorship would expand on the sports marketing programs of Quicken Loans, the nation's largest online home lender. The company closed $70 billion of volume across 50 states in 2012, with web centers in Detroit, Cleveland and the Phoenix area.

The company sponsors NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, along with involvement in the IndyCar Series and with Team Penske. Quicken Loans is title sponsor of a Sprint Cup race in Brooklyn, Mich., on June 15, which is two weeks before the PGA Tour event at Congressional.

It announced late last year it would sponsor the Sprint Cup series race in Phoenix on Nov. 9.

The AT&T National began in 2007 with a military theme built around the Fourth of July in the nation's capital. It has been held at Congressional for all but two years, in 2010 and 2011, as the course prepared to host the U.S. Open. In those years, it was played at Aronimink outside Philadelphia.

Congressional is under contract through 2014, though discussions are underway to host the tournament every other year.

Three tournaments benefit Woods' foundation. The others are the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston, which began in 2003 and now is part of the FedEx Cup playoffs. The other is the unofficial World Challenge, which announced last year it is moving from California to Isleworth, the club near Orlando where Woods once lived.

How do you feel about Wal-Mart, others raising min. pay to $9 an hour?


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Latest Local News

Written on 03/05/2015, 11:16 am by KAREN MATTHEWS, Associated Press
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Written on 03/05/2015, 10:23 am by Business Journal staff
Valley foreclosure rates mostly continued their year-over-year descent in December, according to new data from real estate information firm CoreLogic. In Fresno, foreclosures among outstanding mortgage loans were 0.75 percent in December, down from 0.99 percent in December 2013. The rate of mortgages delinquent more than 90 days in Fresno also ticked down to 2.76 percent, compared to 3.75 percent for the same period in 2013. In the Visalia-Porterville region, the December foreclosure rate was 0.82 percent, compared to 1.03 percent in December 2013. The delinquency rate also fell to 3.02 percent compared to 3.98 percent in the same period of 2013. In Madera, the foreclosure rate was 0.89 percent in December, down from 1.03 percent in December 2013. The mortgage delinquency rate was 3.21 percent, down from 4 percent the year prior. In the Hanford-Corcoran area, the December foreclosure rate was 1.01 percent, unchanged from December 2013. The mortgage delinquency rate was 3.52 percent, compared to 4.59 percent the year prior.
Written on 03/05/2015, 10:05 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Shania Twain will launch her final tour this summer. Twain announced Wednesday that she would kick off her Rock This Country Tour on June 5 in Seattle. She will perform 48 shows and wrap the tour on Aug. 23 in Fresno, California. It is her first North American tour in over a decade. Twain will perform in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. She will also visit Canada for shows in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. Twain completed a two-year residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The singer, whose hits include "You're Still the One" and "That Don't Impress Me Much," is one of the top-selling acts in music.
Written on 03/05/2015, 9:38 am by JONATHAN LEMIRE, Associated Press
(AP) — Mayor Bill de Blasio, promoting his message of income equality and empowering the less fortunate, pressed influential New York City business leaders on Thursday to raise their workers' starting pay to $13 an hour. The liberal mayor made his call in front of a group that broadly supported his predecessor, billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg, and at times had been skeptical of de Blasio's agenda: a gathering of the well-heeled and powerful known as The Association for a Better New York. "I want to call on you, the business leaders gathered in this room, to do your part," the mayor, a Democrat, said. "I need you, we all need you, to take responsibility for providing the great people in this city with the opportunities, the better wages, the chances for advancement that they need and deserve." De Blasio has repeatedly asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature to raise New York's minimum wage to $13. Albany, to this point, has balked, leading the mayor to make his case to the private sector to do more for those at the margins of society. "It means raising wages for your workers," de Blasio said. "This is the crucial need for our times. Companies across our city should move as quickly as possible to raise their minimum wage to over $13 an hour." The mayor's request was met with polite applause and a few audible chuckles from the crowd gathered in the opulent ballroom of The Pierre Hotel just off Fifth Avenue. The state's current minimum wage, $8.75, is slated to go to $9 at year's end. The governor, who has frequently thwarted or co-opted elements of de Blasio's agenda, has unveiled a budget plan that would raise it to $11.50 in New York City and $10.50 outside the city. Kathy Wylde, head of the business coalition Partnership for New York City, said she supported a raise in wages but signaled that the more gradual approach may be preferable for many business leaders gathered in the room. She also suggested that the jobs that many companies are trying to fill are higher-paying posts for employees who need more enhanced training than what is currently being offered. But she said that the business community would be a "full partner" in battling the city's affordability crisis. "The business community of New York looked to Mayor Michael Bloomberg as one of their own and that was easy," Wylde said. "They are getting to know Mayor de Blasio. And I think that relationship is going in a very positive direction." De Blasio urged the business group to support his plan to develop or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing by 2024 and back his overhaul of New York's workforce-training program. The mayor also announced other smaller policy initiatives, including a $150 million investment to revitalize the Hunts Point Market in the Bronx, through which much of the city's food supply passes. He received warm applause from the group when he discussed his idea to expand commuter ferry service and when he touted his effort to expand pre-kindergarten. But the crowd was quiet for most of this speech, the clinking of silverware often the only sounds heard from the audience during the mayors' nearly hour-long remarks. "Think of the all the success stories in this room that wouldn't have even been possible without something paying off, a reward for those who struggle with a singular sense of purpose," de Blasio said. "That idea — one that has paid huge dividends for so many here today — is now at risk." The association holds a significant place in the story of de Blasio's political rise. In 2012, he was an overlooked, long-shot mayoral candidate when he used a speech to the group to announce his plan to raise taxes on the rich to fund the pre-kindergarten expansion, a proposal that became the centerpiece of his campaign. Many opposed the tax, which later died in Albany. The program was instead funded by money in the state budget. A year later, he returned to address the association again just days before he became mayor. Thursday marked his first remarks to the group as mayor. Though de Blasio's relations with Wall Street executives and other business leaders could hardly be considered cozy, they have improved somewhat, in part due to the mayor's outreach. He recently hosted several industry heavyweights for meetings at City Hall and worked with several business leaders during the city's ill-fated bid to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
Written on 03/05/2015, 9:36 am by TOM MURPHY, AP Business Writer
(AP) — AbbVie will spend about $21 billion to buy fellow drugmaker Pharmacyclics in a bid to add another major revenue producer to a product portfolio that already includes the world's top-selling drug, the anti-inflammatory Humira. The deal will net the North Chicago, Illinois, drugmaker the blood cancer treatment Imbruvica, which Pharmacyclics makes and then markets with Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Biotech. AbbVie executives told analysts Thursday morning that their company could reap more than $7 million in annual sales from Imbruvica in a few years. Imbruvica is approved in more than 40 countries and treats three different types of blood cancers including chronic lymphocytic leukemia, which is the most common leukemia in adults. The once-a-day capsule works by blocking a protein that allows the cancer to multiply and spread. AbbVie Chairman and CEO Richard Gonzalez told analysts Thursday morning that the drug comes with "vast potential." AbbVie plans to increase sales for Imbruvica's already approved uses, add new uses and make it more of a first-line treatment, which basically means it's the initial thing doctors try when treating a patient. That represents a bigger revenue opportunity. While AbbVie touted the potential benefits of its latest acquisition attempt, several analysts said the deal price surprised them, and investors pushed the price of AbbVie stock down Thursday. In contrast, shares of Sunnyvale, California-based Pharmacyclics jumped in midday trading while broader indexes were nearly flat. Gonzalez told investors that AbbVie outbid two other companies to pull off the Pharmacyclics deal, which was announced late Wednesday. He didn't name the other two. Shares of Pharmacyclics had surged earlier Wednesday after London's Financial Times, citing unnamed sources, reported that J&J was close to buying Pharmacyclics. That report also cautioned that the J&J deal might unravel. A J&J spokeswoman said in an email that her company was looking forward to continuing its Imbruvica collaboration with AbbVie. AbbVie's winning bid amounted to an offer of $261.25 for each Pharmacyclics share. That represents a premium of about 21 percent to the closing price of Pharmacyclics shares on Tuesday. AbbVie will offer a mix of cash and stock to Pharmacyclics shareholders, who will be able to choose either option or a combination of the two. The offer comes a few months after AbbVie scuttled a $55 billion deal to buy another drugmaker, Shire, after the U.S. government created new limitations on the tax benefits of reincorporating overseas. AbbVie would have reincorporated on the British island of Jersey, where Shire is incorporated. Gonzalez said in a statement Wednesday that the latest deal represented a "strategically compelling opportunity" for AbbVie to complement its own pipeline of cancer drugs. Pharmacyclics also has several potential treatments under development. Imbruvica brought in $548 million in total global revenue during its first full year of sales in 2014. In contrast, Humira notched more than $12 billion in sales last year for AbbVie. But it could eventually face competition from Amgen Inc., which is developing a biosimilar version of the drug. Biosimilars are similar, but not identical to, brand-name biologic drugs, which are grown in living cells, rather than made by mixing chemicals. AbbVie also makes a new hepatitis C treatment, Viekira Pak. Company executives have said that treatment could reach annual sales of $3 billion by the end of 2015. The Pharmacyclics deal shows that acquisitions are becoming the only short-term means of growth for drugmakers, as opposed to raising prices or expanding the use of products they've developed, said Steve Brozak, president of WBB Securities. "We're now seeing drug companies trade like commodities," he said. Shares of Pharmacyclics Inc. were up more than 10 percent, or $24,37, to $254.85 in midday trading Thursday, slightly below the new, all-time high they reached earlier in the session. AbbVie Inc., meanwhile, fell 3.3 percent, or $2.01, to $58.26.
Written on 03/05/2015, 8:58 am by DERRIK J. LANG, AP Entertainment Writer
AP) — Microsoft is attempting to break down the walls surrounding console gaming. Phil Spencer, head of the company's video game division, detailed Microsoft's plan for game makers to create universal apps that can run on both Xbox One consoles and PCs with Windows 10, as well as smartphones, tablets and other devices running the forthcoming version of Windows. That includes HoloLens, Microsoft's wearable headset that gives wearers the ability to interact with three-dimensional images. "Our goal with gaming at Microsoft is to allow people to play games wherever they are," Spencer told game makers Wednesday at the Game Developers Conference. "We know for developers that it's critically important for you to reach those gamers wherever they are." Spencer said the marriage of Xbox One and Windows 10 would allow creators to make their games easily accessible to consumers, regardless of whether they switch between devices or where they buy apps. "We know there are billions of people that play games across all devices," Spencer said. "Today, the world is segmented. You don't have linkage really between the places that your customers are playing your games." Microsoft Corp. first revealed its plans to bring Xbox and Windows closer together at the Jan. 21 unveiling of HoloLens and Windows 10, when Spencer demonstrated the upcoming Xbox One game "Fable Legends" running on a PC. At the annual gathering of game developers on Wednesday, Spencer demonstrated the cross-play functionality on stage with a pair of players on Xbox One seamlessly facing off against another duo on PC in a match of the competitive multiplayer indie game "#IDARB." Spencer also teased that Microsoft will release an adapter later this year that will allow PCs to use wireless Xbox One controllers. No price was announced.In a private demo after Spencer's talk, Xbox director of program management Michael Ybarra showed off other functionality, including the abilities to record and edit game clips in Windows, find Xbox Live friends across multiple platforms and stream the Xbox One title "Sunset Overdrive" on a Microsoft Surface tablet. Ybarra said game streaming will initially only be available on devices connected to the same network, but the company was looking into making it available across the Internet. Microsoft is investing heavily in training developers on how to create games that work across its platforms this week by sponsoring such GDC sessions as "Developing with Xbox Live for Windows 10" and "Gaming Consumer Experience on Windows 10." The move is part of Microsoft's bid to win back a larger audience after losing ground in the mobile computing boom. Windows has long been the dominant operating software for desktop and laptop computers, but business has suffered with more people using smartphones and tablets.
Written on 03/05/2015, 8:54 am by Associated Press
(AP) — Student protesters are blocking all entrances to the University of California, Santa Cruz, campus as part of an ongoing demonstration against tuition hikes and police violence. The university issued an online alert telling people not to come to campus Thursday because access is blocked. According to the campus website, students and other protesters blocked the west entrance to campus. Protesters then showed up at the main gate. On Tuesday, police arrested six protesters who shut down a highway for several hours by chaining themselves to bins filled with concrete placed in lanes. The California Highway Patrol used jackhammers, saws and crowbars to unwind the tangle of chains and concrete. The suspects were arrested on suspicion of creating a public nuisance, failure to obey an officer and conspiracy.
Written on 03/05/2015, 8:51 am by MICHAEL R. BLOOD, AP Political Writer
(AP) — A California legislator who has sought to broaden the appeal of the Republican Party with Hispanics has launched an uphill campaign for U.S. Senate. Assemblyman Rocky Chavez entered the 2016 race Thursday as a longshot in a state where Democrats hold every statewide office. The 63-year-old retired Marine Corps colonel from San Diego County joins a contest in which the only major candidate in the field has been state Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat. Chavez's election to the Legislature in 2012 was seen as a success story for a Republican Party often faulted for being too slow to adapt. The Hispanic grandfather has been calling for immigration reform and has said the national health care overhaul should not be repealed. Chavez says he'll also stress foreign affairs and jobs.
Written on 03/05/2015, 8:44 am by MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer
(AP) — U.S. worker productivity was even weaker than first thought from October through December while labor costs rose at a faster rate. Productivity declined at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter, weaker than the 1.8 percent drop that was estimated a month ago, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Labor costs rose at a 4.1 percent rate, faster than the 2.7 percent increase first estimated. Weaker productivity and higher labor costs could spell inflation troubles for the economy. But analysts say that the changes in the fourth quarter are temporary and not an indication that inflation is about to be a problem. Analysts had expected the revision for productivity would be weaker than the first estimate, reflecting the fact that the government last week revised its estimate for economic growth, as measured by the gross domestic product. The GDP, the nation's total output of goods and services, was revised down to growth of just 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter, slower than the initial estimate of 2.6 percent. Productivity is the amount of output per hour of work and with less output in the fourth quarter, productivity was revised lower as well. The Federal Reserve closely watches developments in productivity and labor costs for any signs that wage pressures are rising to unwanted levels. But at the moment, the Fed is more worried that wages are not rising fast enough rather than rising too quickly. Since the recession ended in mid-2009, labor gains have been weak as millions of people who lost their jobs during the recession have struggled to find new employment. However, job growth picked up significantly last year and unemployment stood at 5.7 percent in January, a significant improvement from the high of 10 percent hit in late 2009. Even with the labor market improving, economists expect it will be some time before labor costs accelerate to a rate that will be a problem. For all of 2014, labor costs were up a modest 1.8 percent after a slight 0.2 percent gain in 2013. Productivity for all of 2014 was up just 0.7 percent, similar to the 0.9 percent gain in 2013.
Written on 03/05/2015, 8:41 am by Associated Press
(AP) — Average long-term mortgage rates have fallen for the first time in four weeks and remain near historic lows reached in May 2013. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday that the national average for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.75 percent from 3.80 percent last week. The rate for a 15-year mortgage, popular with homeowners who refinance, fell to 3.03 percent from 3.07 percent last week. A year ago, the average 30-year mortgage stood at 4.28 percent and the 15-year mortgage at 3.32 percent. Mortgage rates have remained low even though the Federal Reserve in October ended its monthly bond purchases, which were meant to hold down long-term rates. Economic weakness around the world has lured global investors to the relatively strong U.S. economy. They've bought Treasurys and pushed the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note down to 2.11 percent from 2.79 percent a year ago. The Fed continues to keep short-term rates near zero. Fed Chair Janet Yellen delivered the central bank's semiannual economic report to Congress last week and indicated that the Fed is still willing to be "patient" before raising short-term rates. The Fed is worried about weak wage growth and inflation well below its 2 percent target. To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country at the beginning of each week. The average doesn't include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount. The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was 0.6 point, unchanged from last week. The fee for a 15-year mortgage also remained at 0.6 point. The average rate on a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage fell to 2.96 from 2.99 percent. The fee was stable at 0.5 point. For a one-year ARM, the average rate was unchanged at 2.44 percent. The fee remained at 0.4 point.

Latest State News

Written on 03/05/2015, 8:58 am by DERRIK J. LANG, AP Entertainment Writer
AP) — Microsoft is attempting to break...
Written on 03/05/2015, 8:54 am by Associated Press
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Written on 03/05/2015, 8:51 am by MICHAEL R. BLOOD, AP Political Writer
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