– September 16, 2014

Price of lumber higher on storm's devastation

Lumber prices increased on expectations that demand will go up because of the need to repair or rebuild damaged structures. Lumber prices increased on expectations that demand will go up because of the need to repair or rebuild damaged structures. The price of lumber rose 3.2 percent Wednesday as residents of the Northeast evaluated the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy.

Lumber for January delivery increased $10 to end at $331.20 per 1,000 board feet on expectations that demand will pick up because of the need to repair or rebuild houses and other structures. The process could take months.

"There may be some emotion in (the) futures market resulting from damage from Hurricane Sandy, emphasis on emotional," said Jon Anderson, president of Random Lengths, which tracks cash prices, other market data and issues in the lumber industry. "Any immediate effect on actual consumption is minimal."

Cash prices in the lumber market have increased as the housing market has shown signs of recovery, he said. There has been some tightness in supply. That's typical for this time of year in part because construction slows during the winter.

In other trading, platinum and palladium prices posted gains after General Motors said it sold about 70,000 more vehicles worldwide in the third quarter than it did a year ago. The two metals are used in automobile catalytic converters.

Platinum for January delivery gained $23.40 to finish at $1,577 per ounce and December palladium increased $13.65 to $609.80 per ounce.

Other commodities were mostly higher as floor trading reopened. Investors were limited to electronic trading of commodities during the past two days when the exchanges closed their floors because of the massive storm.

In December contracts, gold rose $7 to end at $1,719.10 per ounce, silver rose 50 cents to $32.316 per ounce and copper gained 1.15 cents to $3.5175 per pound.

Benchmark oil rose 56 cents to finish at $86.24 per barrel, heating oil fell 1.84 cents to $3.0682 per gallon, wholesale gasoline rose 3.3 cents to $2.7618 per gallon and natural gas gained 0.1 cent to $3.692 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In agricultural contracts, December wheat increased 7.75 cents to $8.645 per bushel, December corn gained 14 cents to $7.5575 per bushel and January soybeans ended up 12.25 cents at $15.4875 per bushel.

Can Fresno State still win the Mountain West Conference?


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Latest Local News

Written on 09/15/2014, 2:26 pm by DEEPTI HAJELA, Associated Press
(AP) — Sometimes a woman can be hard to find — if you're looking for one behind the wheel of a taxi in New York City.
Written on 09/15/2014, 2:00 pm by STEVE ROTHWELL, AP Business Writer
(AP) — Investors played it safe on Monday ahead of a potentially pivotal Federal Reserve meeting. While large company stocks ended the day little changed, smaller, riskier stocks slumped. Fed policy makers start a two-day meeting on Tuesday and many investors expect the central bank to indicate that it is moving closer to raising its key interest rate as the economy continues to strengthen. The Fed has held the rate close to zero for more than five years, and stocks have surged against that backdrop. "Reading the tea leaves, it seems that investors are trying to position themselves for a more aggressive Fed," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 43.63 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,031.14. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 1.41, or 0.1 percent, to 1,984.13. The Nasdaq composite fell 48.70 points, or 1.1 percent, to 4,518.90. The Russell 2000 index, an index of small company stocks, slipped 14.09 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,146.52. Among individual stocks, Molson Coors was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500. The brewer's stock rose $4.20, or 5.8 percent, to $76, after touching an all-time high. The brewer's stock jumped on merger news in the beer industry. Heineken said late Sunday that it has rejected a takeover bid by rival SABMiller, the world's second-largest brewer. Reports said that SABMiller tried to buy Heineken as a defense against an acquisition bid from Anheuser-Busch InBev, the industry leader. The news on the economy on Monday was mixed. U.S. manufacturing output declined in August for the first time in seven months, reflecting a sharp fall in production at auto plants. Output at manufacturing plants fell 0.4 percent in August after a 0.7 percent rise in July, the Federal Reserve reported. On the other hand, a gauge of manufacturing in New York state jumped to 27.5 in August from 14.7 in July. Some strategists say that investors shouldn't focus too much about the upcoming Fed meeting, because policy makers will keep rates low until they are convinced that the economic recovery is entrenched. Any sell-off caused by Fed worries may even present investors with a buying opportunity, said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Banyan Partners. "It's not going to be the first time that interest rates have moved up, and it hasn't stagnated the economy," said Pavlik. "The market does well if interest rates move up gradually." In government bond trading, prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which falls when prices rise, dropped to 2.59 percent from 2.61 percent late Friday, when it reached a two-month high. Another big event that traders are watching this week is Thursday's independence referendum in Scotland. With opinion polls showing the vote too close to call, there's potential for some sizeable move in U.K. markets. The pound has turned volatile in recent weeks as opinion polls have narrowed. On Monday, the pound was 0.2 percent lower at $1.6231. In other currency trading, the dollar gained against the euro, but fell against the Japanese yen. The dollar rose 0.2 percent to $1.29 per euro. It fell 0.1 percent to 107.2 against the yen. Oil reversed an early decline and finished with a gain amid forecasts that the latest Energy Department report on U.S. oil supplies, due Wednesday, will show a decline. Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 65 cents to $92.92 a barrel. Brent crude, a benchmark for international crude oils imported by many U.S. refineries, slipped 2 cents to $96.65. In other energy futures trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, wholesale gasoline rose 1.2 cents to $2.531 a gallon. Heating oil was flat at $2.74 a gallon and natural gas rose 7.4 cents to $3.931 per 1,000 cubic feet. In metals trading, gold rose $3.6, or 0.3 percent, to $1,253.10. Silver gained 1.4 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $18.62. Copper fell 2.1 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $3.09 a pound.
Written on 09/15/2014, 1:57 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — The highest court in Massachusetts has thrown out a lawsuit aimed at blocking Tesla Motors from selling its electric cars directly to consumers. The Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association had sought to prevent the direct sales, citing a state law designed to block car dealers from abuses by car manufacturers. The Supreme Judicial Court unanimously ruled Monday that the association and two dealers — Herb Connolly Chevrolet and Fisker Norwood — didn't have legal standing to bring the case. The court said Natick has since given Tesla a license to operate a sales office at the Natick Mall.
Written on 09/15/2014, 1:56 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — Video-streaming giant Netflix has launched in France as part of a push to tap six new European markets. Founder and CEO Reed Hastings formally inaugurated the Gallic wing Monday with a red carpet event in Paris. He said he was proud that Netflix was in France because filmmaking was an "integral part of French culture." Netflix hopes to reach a third of French homes in the next five to 10 years. It is already producing a French-language drama called "Marseille" to be aired in 2015. Hastings hopes the show, which deals with political intrigue and violence in France's crime-ridden southern city, will mirror the success of Netflix's Emmy award-winning "House of Cards" drama about Washington that stars Kevin Spacey. Netflix already has more than 50 million subscribers in 40 countries.
Written on 09/15/2014, 1:47 pm by Associated Press
(AP) — The University of Southern California has brought out the Trojan Marching Band to beat the drum for a $650 million expansion that school officials say will transform both the Los Angeles campus and the surrounding neighborhood.The band played at Monday's official groundbreaking for USC Village. When completed in 2017, officials say the 15-acre village will contain on-campus housing for 2,700 students and numerous other amenities. Those other amenities include a grocery store, fitness center, salons, boutiques, restaurants and other facilities open to students and the public. There will also be walkways and plazas and other campus facilities. They are all going on a site that was once was an aging shopping center adjacent to campus. Officials say the project is the most ambitious expansion in USC's 134-year history.
Written on 09/15/2014, 1:46 pm by Chuck Harvey
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation will likely ban some chemicals that are high in volatile organic compounds, including pesticides used on almonds, pistachios, walnuts, citrus, grapes, alfalfa and cotton. The ban would take effect from May to October 2015 and 2016 in parts of the San Joaquin Valley. The specific areas affected include San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, and Tulare counties and parts of Kern County. Almonds — a highly valued-crop planted heavily in recent years — could be hardest hit by the restrictions. Already weakened somewhat by drought and water shortages, almonds and other nuts could face an onslaught of destructive spider mites without the pesticides. Grapes could also be hard hit by spider mites. Cotton could be damaged by whiteflies. Dan Munk, University of California farm advisor based in Fresno and specializing in cotton, said it will be difficult changing formulations and products and getting the same results. “It is a concern,” he said. Munk said it is likely some products will be banned. “And for some we don’t have information on new formulations,” he said. Munk added that it could lead to a population explosion of pests in cotton, grapes and almonds.It could be a serious problem both from a crop and economic standpoint, Munk said. Almonds alone had a statewide gross value of $4.8 billion in 2012-13. Gurreet Brar, Fresno-Madera cooperative extension advisor for University of California, specializing in nut crops, said almonds are more prone to problems in drought years. He said that spider mites have been a serious problem in some groves this season. However, he pointed out that growers will not be totally empty handed in the fight against spider mites. “Spider mites can be kept low through biological control,” he said. He said another kind of mite actually feeds on spider mites. The Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) reports that the volatile organic compounds restrictions are needed in order to comply with the Clean Air Act. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are gases that can combine with other substances in the air to form ground-level ozone. Ozone can damage lung tissue, cause respiratory illness and harm farm crops. Statewide, pesticides account for about 2 percent of all VOCs. DPR has preliminary data that shows that the VOC emissions in 2013 slightly increased.  Consequently, more restrictions are likely to ensure growers don’t exceed goals for next year. The restrictions are mandated by regulations that are part of the State Implementation Plan under the Clean Air Act.  The restrictions will likely mean that pest control advisers cannot recommend and growers cannot use high-VOC products containing abamectin, chlorpyrifos, gibberellins, or oxyfluorfen. Abamectin helps control insect and mite pests in fruit, nut, vegetable and ornamental crops. Trade names include Zephyr, Abba, Abathor, Affirm, Agri-Mek, Avid, Dynamec and Epi-Mek. Chlorpyrifos is a pesticide used around the world to control insect pests. It helps to control aphids, whiteflies and other pests in row crops and nut orchards. Gibberellins are plant hormones that regulate growth and influence developmental processes in plants. The hormones are important in improving size of table grapes. Finally, oxyfluorfen is a selective pre- and post-emergent herbicide used to control certain annual broadleaf and grassy weeds in vegetables, fruit, cotton and ornamentals. It comes in concentrated and granular formulations. All of the products are considered VOCs in their current formulations. As part of the State Implementation Plan for the Clean Air Act, DPR is required to publish an inventory of VOC emissions from pesticide products each year and achieve specified emissions levels. DPR’s preliminary 2013 data for the San Joaquin Valley shows that pesticide VOC emissions were above 17.2 tons per day or 95 percent of the required limit. Therefore the State Implementation Plan requires that certain uses of designated high-VOC products are prohibited for the upcoming year.
Written on 09/15/2014, 12:17 pm by Business Journal staff
Visalia's first El Pollo Loco restaurant will be officially welcomed to the city with a ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled from 9 to 10 a.m. on Sept. 23. Although the restaurant opened in early August, El Pollo Loco staff and management will be present during the ceremony to offer city leaders and media a tour of the chain's newest location at 3704 S. Mooney Blvd. The restaurant is best-known for it's signature citrus-marinated, fire-grilled chicken and has several locations throughout the Valley, including Fresno and Hanford.  In a prepared statement about the opening, El Pollo Loco communication staff said the restaurant is committed to giving back to the local community and will host fundraisers contributing to local schools and non-profit organizations. 
Written on 09/15/2014, 11:10 am by Business Journal staff
Students and staff from the Academy for Civic and Entrepreneurial Leadership (ACEL) were honored over the weekend with the Civic Learning Award of Distinction at the Reagan Library in Southern California.The award, co-sponsored by Chief Justice of California Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, went to 13 high schools in the state this year to recognize exemplary civic learning and service. Five schools were recognized in the award's merit category while three earned the award of excellence. ACEL, which is the first high school in Fresno County to receive the civic learning award, was one of three high schools this year to earn the award of distinction. As part of the award, ACEL received a visit from an appellate court justice and a plaque, which 35 students and staff accepted this weekend at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. The selection was based on ACEL's project-based learning program that has students gaining academic knowledge through service projects that improve the community.Some of those projects have included:• Students volunteering with Fresno Habitat for Humanity to support community events and build a playground in Southwest Fresno. • Students volunteering for Green 360 Careers, a partnership with WestEd and PG&E. Students map and share information on emerging green jobs, using a graphic information system. • Physics class students working with PG&E advisors to learn to do energy audits. • Students working with the Tribal Chair of the North Fork Mono Tribe on watershed restoration projects on the San Joaquin River. • Students building a vegetable garden in Chukchansi Stadium and giving tours to demonstrate how fans can grow their own food at home. • The ACEL Save Your Life team produced videos to inform teenagers about the dangers of depression, alcohol and drugs. ACEL, housed in the former Met Museum building at 1913 Tulare St. in Fresno, is beginning its 7th year of giving students an alternative to traditional education.The free public charter high school operates under the Fresno Unified School District.
Written on 09/15/2014, 10:35 am by Associated Press
(AP) — German automotive transmission maker ZF Friedrichshafen AG is buying Michigan-based TRW Automotive for $11.74 billion, a move that creates the world's second-largest auto supplier.The deal, with a total value of about $13.5 billion including the assumption of TRW's debt, gives ZF access to TRW's portfolio of advanced driver assistance and safety products, including air bags and radar-activated cruise control that automatically stops cars if something is in their path. Government regulations and consumer buying preferences are moving toward cars that take on more driving tasks such as automatic emergency braking. "It does help ZF start to transform their business and expand their business to what industry is frankly moving toward," said Mike Wall, an analyst with IHS Automotive. "We're going to see the mainstream adoption of more and more of this technology in everyday vehicles." ZF will pay $105.60 per TRW share, a 2 percent premium to its Friday closing price of $103.85 and a 16 percent premium to its closing price on July 9, before ZF confirmed it was working on the deal. TRW Automotive Holdings Corp., based in Livonia, Michigan, will be a separate division within ZF, which is based in Friedrichshafen, Germany. ZF said in a statement that the Detroit area would remain a "major business center" for the merged company. The deal will create an automotive supplier business with combined sales of approximately $41 billion and 138,000 employees. That would be second only to German supplier Robert Bosch GmbH, according to rankings compiled by the industry publication Automotive News. Bosch had sales of $59 billion in 2013 and has 281,381 employees worldwide. Earlier Monday, ZF announced plans to sell its share of a steering system joint venture to Bosch. The decade-old venture between Bosch and ZF had sales of $5 billion in 2013. Terms of the sale weren't disclosed. Last week, TRW Automotive announced the sale of its engine valve business to Federal-Mogul Holdings Corp. for $385 million, apparently clearing the way for the ZF deal. Both actions will likely ease European and U.S. regulatory approval of the ZF and TRW merger. Both companies' boards approved the transaction, which will be financed with available cash and debt financing. There's no financing condition. The deal is targeted to close in the first half of 2015. It still needs approval from TRW shareholders. TRW's stock declined 84 cents, or just under 1 percent, to $103.01 in midday trading Monday.
Written on 09/15/2014, 10:34 am by Candice Choi, AP Writer
(AP) — Olive Garden is defending its practice of giving customers as many breadsticks as they want, saying the policy conveys "Italian generosity."The remark is part of a response by the chain's parent company, Darden Restaurants Inc., to a nearly 300-page criticism released by hedge fund Starboard Value last week. Starboard took Olive Garden and its management to task for a litany of issues, including its liberal distribution of breadsticks, its failure to salt the water used to boil its pasta and even the length of the asparagus it serves. Darden's 24-page response doesn't specifically address each of Starboard's criticisms, but states that the company is already implementing a variety of strategies to improve Olive Garden's performance. The company says it has introduced new menu items to underscore value, for instance, and is testing ordering technologies using table-top tablets. Starboard is lobbying to gain control of Darden's board of directors at the company's annual meeting Oct. 10. Darden, which is based in Orlando, Florida, has struggled to boost sales at Olive Garden with the growing popularity of chains such as Chipotle, where people feel they can get food similar in quality to a sit-down restaurant for less money. Under pressure to boost results, Darden recently sold off Red Lobster, which was doing even worse than Olive Garden. But Starboard and others took issue with the sale and wanted the company's breakup structured differently. As for its breadsticks, Starboard said last week that Olive Garden was being wasteful because servers weren't sticking to the policy of providing one breadstick per customer, plus an extra for the table. The investor said servers lacked "training and discipline" and were bringing out too many breadsticks at a time, which also led to cold breadsticks. Starboard noted that it wasn't calling for Olive Garden to stop giving away unlimited breadsticks, but simply exercise more control in how they're distributed. Starboard also said servers were overfilling salad bowls and using too much dressing, which it said drives up costs. In its response Monday, Darden said that "Olive Garden's salad and breadsticks have been an icon of brand equity since 1982." The company didn't say whether it would change the way salad and breadsticks are brought out, however.

Latest State News

Written on 09/15/2014, 1:57 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — The highest court in...
Written on 09/15/2014, 1:56 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — Video-streaming giant Netflix...
Written on 09/15/2014, 1:47 pm by Associated Press
(AP) — The University of Southern...
Written on 09/15/2014, 10:29 am by Associated Press
(AP) — Apple had more than 4 million...

Latest National News

Written on 09/15/2014, 2:26 pm by DEEPTI HAJELA, Associated Press
(AP) — Sometimes a woman can be hard to...
Written on 09/15/2014, 2:00 pm by STEVE ROTHWELL, AP Business Writer
(AP) — Investors played it safe on...
Written on 09/15/2014, 10:35 am by Associated Press
(AP) — German automotive transmission...
Written on 09/15/2014, 10:34 am by Candice Choi, AP Writer
(AP) — Olive Garden is defending its...