– May 22, 2015

Stocks edge higher; Dow boosted by McDonald's

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 15 points with a strong report from McDonald’s. The S&P was flat; the Nasdaq rose 9 points. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 15 points with a strong report from McDonald’s. The S&P was flat; the Nasdaq rose 9 points. (AP) — Stocks edged higher Monday on Wall Street after a strong sales report from McDonald's offset concerns about the surprise resignation of Italy's prime minister. Investors also waited for developments in crucial U.S. budget talks.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14.75 points to 13,169.88. The index traded within a narrow range of just 56 points throughout the day. The Standard and Poor's 500 finished 0.48 point higher at 1,418.55. The Nasdaq composite ended up 8.92 points at 2,986.96.

McDonald's rose 93 cents to $89.41. A key sales figure rose in November as U.S. customers bought more breakfast offerings and limited-time Cheddar Bacon Onion sandwiches.

Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Palm Beach, Fla.-based Banyan Partners, said the company's strength was encouraging. McDonald's, one of the 30 stocks in the Dow, was trading as high as $100 at the beginning of 2012.

The pickup in McDonald's sales, he said, gave investors something positive to focus on as Italy's sudden political turmoil sent a jolt through European markets.

Hewlett-Packard rose 36 cents to $14.16 and also helped push the Dow higher. The company's stock has been battered the past two months following a weak earnings forecast and a public spat with the founder of Autonomy, a company it acquired for $10 billion last year.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, who has been credited with restoring confidence in the nation's economy, announced that he would step down after former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's party dropped its support for his government.

Italian government bond yields, a critical measure of how much the country has to pay to borrow, jumped. Concern that the European debt crisis was enveloping Italy, one of the euro region's largest economies, helped stymie markets around the world earlier in the year.

Investors were also following developments in budget talks in Washington. Tax increases and federal spending cuts start Jan. 1 unless a deal is reached to reduce the U.S. budget deficit. Economists say the measures, if implemented, could eventually push the economy back into recession.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell 1 basis point to 1.62 percent.

President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met at the White House on Sunday while rank-and-file Republicans stepped forward with what they called pragmatic ideas to break the stalemate. The Obama-Boehner meeting was the first between just the two leaders since Election Day.

"There's a pretty good belief that the 'fiscal cliff' can be avoided," said Craig Johnson, a technical market strategist at Piper Jaffray. "Anytime somebody is talking, it's a good thing."

Other stocks making big moves:

— fell $33.14, or 5 percent, to $625.96 after Deutsche Bank cut its recommendation on the stock to "hold" from "buy" and lowered its price target to $710 from $800.

— Phillips 66, the refining and pipeline company, gained $1.24, or 2.4 percent, to $53.58 after saying late Friday that it was raising its quarterly dividend to 31.25 cents per share from 25 cents. The company also said it had approved the repurchase of another $1 billion in company stock, after approving the repurchase of $1 billion during the first quarter.

— Intermec, a maker of barcode printers and radio frequency identification products, jumped $1.85, or 23.2 percent, to $9.83 after it agreed to be acquired by Honeywell for about $603.4 million in cash.

— AIG fell 74 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $33.36 after the insurer said late Friday that it will take $1.3 billion in losses related to Superstorm Sandy, more than other major insurance companies have reported so far. UBS said in a client note that AIG's Sandy-related losses were above his estimate and cut his price target to $35 from $36.

Latest Local News

Written on 05/22/2015, 10:14 am by BRANDON BAILEY, AP Technology Writer
(AP) — As PayPal prepares to split from its corporate parent, its new chief executive is promising to expand the popular online payment system, adding a...
Written on 05/22/2015, 10:00 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — The FBI says two Southern California men have been arrested on suspicion of conspiring to provide material support to a terrorism organization. Bureau spokeswoman Laura Eimiller says one man was taken into custody at Los Angeles International Airport and another was arrested in Anaheim on Thursday. Eimiller says the men are 24-year-olds Muhanad Budawi and Nader Elhuzayel, both of Anaheim. They are expected to be charged Friday in federal court in Santa Ana. She declined to give further details about the men and why they were arrested. The arrests came after an investigation by a joint terrorism task force made up of federal and local authorities. The task force includes the FBI, the Anaheim Police Department and the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Written on 05/22/2015, 9:59 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — A salmonella outbreak likely linked to raw tuna has sickened 53 people in nine states, health officials said Thursday. Most of the cases — 31 — are in California, officials at the California Department of Public Health said. Other affected states include Arizona, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. Ten people have been hospitalized but no deaths have been reported, according to state and federal officials. The source of the outbreak is unknown, but most who fell ill reported eating sushi containing raw tuna. "At this time, a common brand or supplier of raw tuna has not been identified," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on its website. Salmonella is a bacteria and the most common source of food poisoning in the U.S. Symptoms include diarrhea, cramping and fever. Health officials said the elderly, young children, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems should not eat raw fish or raw shellfish. "This is a good reminder to Californians that there are sometimes risks when eating raw or undercooked meats, fish or poultry," Dr. Karen Smith, director of the California Department of Public Health, said in a statement.
Written on 05/22/2015, 9:54 am by BRIAN MELLEY, Associated Press
(AP) — The operator of an oil pipeline that broke and spilled thousands of gallons of crude across a scenic California shoreline says it could take weeks or even months before investigators find what caused the disaster. Bad weather slowed cleanup efforts early Friday at the spill site in Santa Barbara County, where gusty winds whipped up waves as high as 4 feet, the National Weather Service said. Several days of calm seas had helped crews, but oil skimming vessels were brought in late Thursday, Santa Barbara news station KEYT-TV reported. An estimated 105,000 gallons of crude spilled Tuesday, and about 21,000 gallons is believed to have made it to the sea and split into slicks that stretched 9 miles along the coast. As of Thursday, more than 9,000 gallons had been raked, skimmed and vacuumed up, officials said. The thick, powerful-smelling crude covered rocks and sand, and six oil-coated pelicans and one juvenile sea lion had been rescued. Crews have yet to excavate the broken piece of pipeline, which under the law must be done in the presence of federal regulators and a third party, officials with Plains All American Pipeline LP said at a Thursday news conference. "We have not even uncovered the pipe yet," said Patrick Hodgins, the company's senior director of safety. The company would not yet say whether part of the cause was two malfunctions that occurred shortly before the spill was discovered. "We were having some pump problems on the pipeline," said Rick McMichael, another Plains All American representative. "Whether it led to the leak or not is part of our investigation." The 24-inch pipe, built in 1987, had no previous problems and was thoroughly inspected in 2012, according to the company. The pipe underwent similar tests about two weeks ago, though the results had not been analyzed yet. After the spill, which closed a 23-by-7-mile area to fishing, many volunteers offered to help sop up oil and clean off animals, but they were being turned away and encouraged not to act on their own. "We just don't have enough positions," U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Jennifer Williams said. The latest spill is a drop in the bucket compared with a catastrophic blowout on the same stretch of coast in 1969, when a Union Oil platform blew out and spewed an estimated 3 million gallons of crude along 30 miles of coast. Some 9,000 birds died, new regulations were passed and a new era of environmental activism began in the U.S. Nevertheless, the new spill is being held up as another reason to oppose such things as fracking, the Keystone XL pipeline that would run from Canada to Texas, the moving of crude by train, and drilling in far-flung places. "What we see from this event is that the industry still poses enormous risks to an area we cannot afford to lose," said Joel Reynolds of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Plains All American and its subsidiaries operate more than 6,000 miles of hazardous liquid pipelines in at least 20 states, according to company reports. Those companies handle more than 4 million barrels of crude and other liquid fuels daily. Since 2006, the companies have reported 199 accidents and been subject to 22 enforcement actions by federal regulators. The accidents resulted in a combined 725,500 gallons of hazardous liquids spilled and damage topping $25 million. Corrosion was determined to be the cause in more than 80 of those accidents. Failures in materials, welds and other equipment were cited more than 70 times. Enforcement cases against the companies resulted in the collection of $154,000 in penalties, according to a federal database. Hodgins, of Plains All American, said the company has spent more than $1.3 billion since 2007 on maintenance, repair and enhancement of its equipment. He also defended the company's safety record, saying accidental releases have decreased as the number of miles of pipelines has increased.
Written on 05/22/2015, 9:50 am by DON THOMPSON, Associated Press
(AP) — An unusual confluence of events means it could be months before a transgender California inmate knows if she will have the sex reassignment surgery that she says is critical to her mental health. Within hours on Thursday, a state panel recommended that convicted killer Michelle-Lael Norsworthy be paroled, and a federal appeals court delayed the surgery that had been set for July 1. The separate decisions make it less likely that Norsworthy will receive the prison-funded procedure before she is released. Norsworthy, 51, has lived as a woman since the 1990s and was scheduled for the surgery after a lower court judge ordered the state to provide it as soon as possible. The state, however, contested the ruling and the appellate court delayed the surgery while it considers the case — a process that could take months. "We are disappointed that the stay was granted, as delays like this cause Michelle serious harm every single day," Ilona Turner, legal director of the Oakland-based Transgender Law Center, said in a statement. Still, Norsworthy could undergo the surgery after she is paroled because she would be eligible for Medi-Cal, which covers medically necessary sex reassignment surgeries, Turner said. The state Board of Parole Hearings has 120 days to review the commissioners' recommendation that Norsworthy be freed. If it is upheld, Gov. Jerry Brown will have another 30 days to intervene. The three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said nothing about the parole decision in its brief ruling and instead noted that the case raises serious legal questions about whether the state's resistance to the surgery violates Norsworthy's constitutional rights. Lawyers for Norsworthy have argued that denying the operation would amount to cruel and unusual punishment. The state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation countered that it has met all of its requirements by providing counseling and hormone therapy. "Also weighing in favor of a stay here is the likelihood that, absent a stay, this litigation would become moot before receiving full appellate consideration," the appeals panel said as it set a hearing on Norsworthy's case in August. The stay came the same day that two parole commissioners decided Norsworthy is no longer dangerous and should be freed after serving 28 years in prison for a second-degree murder conviction. Senior Deputy District Attorney Ray Armstrong opposed her release, arguing that she has not taken responsibility for the murder of 26-year-old Franklin Gordon Liefer Jr. after an argument in a Fullerton bar in November 1985. Armstrong said Norsworthy initially claimed the weapon fired accidentally and later contended that she had not intended to kill Liefer. Armstrong also cited 16 prison rule violations by Norsworthy for fights, threats and possession of contraband, though she has had a clean record since 2009. Norsworthy is being held at Mule Creek State Prison, a men's prison in Ione, near Sacramento. Prison records still refer to her by her birth name of Jeffrey Bryan Norsworthy. Corrections officials said in a statement that they were pleased that the delay will let the appeals court review the merits of the state's appeal.
Written on 05/22/2015, 9:40 am by Business Journal staff
Central Valley unemployment rates inched lower in April as harvest activities geared up on some area farms, according to new data from the state Employment Development Department. Fresno County's April unemployment rate was 10.2 percent, down from 11.1 percent in March and below 12 percent a year ago. Farm employment grew month-over-month by 8,200 jobs as harvest activity ramped up for crops including, blueberries, strawberries and tree fruit. Nonfarm employment fell by 100 jobs in the period. On a year-over basis, nonfarm employment rose by 12,900 jobs while farm employment fell by 1,100 jobs. The professional and business services category reported the largest year-over jump with 4,100 jobs. The unemployment rate in Tulare County was 11.5 percent in April, down from 13.2 percent month-over-month and below 13.3 percent a year ago. Farms in the county added 6,900 jobs last month, while nonfarm industry gained 700 jobs. On a year-over basis, Tulare County farms shed 300 jobs while nonfarm industries added 3,100 positions. Madera County's April unemployment rate was 10.4 percent, down from 11.4 percent in March and 11.4 percent a year ago. Farms in the county added 600 jobs in April, while nonfarm employment remained unchanged. Compared to last year, the farm sector shed 1,100 jobs while nonfarm employment was static. In Kings County, the April unemployment rate was 10.8 percent, down from 11.9 percent in March and below 12.5 percent a year ago. Farms added 700 jobs in the month, while nonfarm employment was unchanged. Compared to April 2014, Kings County farms lost 300 jobs last month, while the nonfarm sector gained 600 positions.
Written on 05/21/2015, 4:48 pm by Business Journal staff
Central Valley Community Bancorp, parent company of Central Valley Community Bank, has declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of 6 cents per share. The dividend is payable on June 26 to shareholders of record as of June 12. Central Valley Community Bancorp trades on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the symbol CVCY.
Written on 05/21/2015, 4:44 pm by Business Journal staff
Community Regional Medical Center (CRMC) has received a $1 million gift to help remodel its outpatient burn center to be more child-friendly.  The donation was announced today during a press conference at the hospital’s outpatient burn center recognizing the contributions of local donors. The Bush family of Hanford donated $500,000 towards the project, with other donors matching the figure for a total of $1 million.  The funding will enable CRMC to convert its outpatient center for pediatric burn care. The hospital is home to one of the only comprehensive, round-the-clock burn centers in the San Joaquin Valley. The facility handles more than 11,000 burn procedures each year, half of which involve children. 
Written on 05/21/2015, 3:47 pm by Business Journal staff
The California Transportation Commission (CTC), San Joaquin Valley Regional Transportation Agencies (RTPAs), Fresno Chamber of Commerce and the Fresno Economic Development Corporation will be hosting a public forum to solicit information from San Joaquin Valley residents regarding current highway and road conditions as well as proposals to stabilize funding for transportation-system repairs and maintenance. The public forum will be held May 27 from 2 – 4 p.m. at the Double Tree Hotel in downtown Fresno. Topics to be covered include the local, regional and state roles in funding road projects and maintenance, the impacts of and reasons for California’s and the San Joaquin Valley’s deteriorating transportation system and proposed solutions to stabilize road repair and maintenance funding over the longer term. CTC Commissioner Darius Assemi; CTC Executive Director Will Kempton; San Joaquin Valley RTPAs Chair Ahron Hakimi; Fresno Council of Governments Executive Director Tony Boren; Fresno Chamber of Commerce Board Member and President/Owner of Alert-O-Lite, Inc. Debbie Hunsaker and Fresno Economic Development Corporation President/CEO Lee Ann Eager are scheduled to speak at the event. Issues related to the state high-speed rail system will not be addressed.  The Double Tree Hotel is located at 2233 Ventura Street.  More information is available at
Written on 05/21/2015, 1:25 pm by Associated Press
(AP) — U.S. stocks are closing slightly higher, led by an advance in energy stocks as the price of oil climbs. was among the big gainers Thursday after reporting results that beat analysts' forecasts. Best Buy was also up after reporting strong earnings. The Dow Jones industrial average edged up a fraction of point to 18,285. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose five points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,130. The Nasdaq composite climbed 19 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,090. Oil rose $1.74, or 3 percent, to $60.72 a barrel following reports that U.S. storage levels are falling. That sent energy stocks higher. Rig operator Transocean gained 4 percent. Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.19 percent.  

Latest State News

Written on 05/22/2015, 10:14 am by BRANDON BAILEY, AP Technology Writer
(AP) — As PayPal prepares to split from...
Written on 05/22/2015, 10:00 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — The FBI says two Southern...
Written on 05/22/2015, 9:59 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — A salmonella outbreak likely...
Written on 05/22/2015, 9:54 am by BRIAN MELLEY, Associated Press
(AP) — The operator of an oil pipeline...

Latest National News

Written on 05/21/2015, 1:25 pm by Associated Press
(AP) — U.S. stocks are closing slightly...
Written on 05/21/2015, 10:18 am by CANDICE CHOI, AP Food Industry Writer
(AP) — McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook...
Written on 05/21/2015, 8:45 am by Associated Press
 (AP) — Dollar Tree expects to reach a...
Written on 05/21/2015, 8:43 am by MICHELLE CHAPMAN, AP Business Writer
(AP) — Lumber Liquidators CEO Robert...