TODAY

– July 24, 2014

LinkedIn tool shares user info on iPhone email

(AP) — LinkedIn just gave its users another reason to ensure their resumes are up to date. The online professional network has introduced a mobile feature that shows information about people's careers in emails being read on iPhones.

The tool, called Intro, pulls details from the profiles of LinkedIn's more than 238 million users so the recipient of an email can learn more about the sender.

The information will be limited to what the email senders already allow anyone to be seen on their LinkedIn accounts, unless they already have granted the recipient broader access through a connection on the service.

The feature released Wednesday works with Gmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL Mail and Apple Inc.'s iCloud when any of them are plugged into the iPhone's built-in email app. LinkedIn Corp. plans to update the feature so it also works with Microsoft Corp.'s Outlook.com and Exchange email. It's available at https://intro.linkedin.com/ .

Intro also works on Apple Inc.'s iPad, although the feature isn't tailored for that device. LinkedIn eventually will release a version of Intro designed especially for the tablet format.

LinkedIn imported the technology powering the Intro feature from its acquisition last year of Rapportive, a startup that had already been mining online social networks to include personal information in correspondence sent to Gmail accounts.

Intro is part of LinkedIn's push to make its network indispensable on mobile devices as more people manage their personal and professional lives on smartphones and tablets.

LinkedIn says about 38 percent of the traffic to it networking services now comes through mobile devices, up from just 8 percent in early 2011. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner predicted Wednesday that mobile devices would be reeling in more than half the service's traffic at some point next year.

As part of its effort to make its network more alluring on mobile, LinkedIn also released a new version of its service's app for the iPad.

LinkedIn's strategy has been paying off since the company went public nearly two-and-half years ago. The Mountain View, Calif. company has consistently been delivering earnings that exceed analyst projections, helping to lift its stock by more than five-fold from its initial public offering price of $45.

The shares shed $3.60 to $241.35 in Wednesday afternoon trading, as the broader markets ticked down..

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Written on 07/24/2014, 8:59 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Rep. Paul Ryan proposed a new plan Thursday to merge up to 11 anti-poverty programs into a single grant program for states that he said would allow...
Written on 07/24/2014, 8:57 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits fell last week to its lowest level in more than eight years. Weekly applications for unemployment aid dropped 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 284,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's the lowest reading since February 2006, nearly two years before the Great Recession began. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, declined 7,250 to 302,000. Claims for jobless aid have been falling for the past three months. Recent reports have coincided with the temporary summer shutdowns of auto plants, yet the impact of those closures is addressed through seasonal adjustments. Applications are a proxy for layoffs. When employers hold onto their workers, it's a sign of potential income gains, increased hiring and confidence that the economy will grow. The recent drop-off in unemployment benefit applications point to a substantial number of jobs added in July, raising expectations for the monthly employment report to be released August 1. "All in, it looks like we may be in for another solid payroll report," said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets. The decline in people applying for benefits buttresses other reports that the economy is improving. Employers added 288,000 jobs in June, the fifth straight month of job gains above 200,000. That's the first such stretch since 1999, during the height of the dot-com boom. The unemployment rate has fallen to 6.1 percent, the lowest since September 2008. Total layoffs in May dropped below pre-recession levels, the government said in a separate report. Job openings are at their highest level in seven years, while more workers are quitting their jobs. Workers usually quit when they have an offer for a better position or confidence that they can find one. Still, the job growth has done little to lift wages significantly. Wage growth has barely matched inflation during the economic recovery. But more people with jobs increases the total number of paychecks, which could boost consumer spending and growth. After a sharp contraction in the economy in the first three months of the year, most economists expect growth to return in the April-June quarter and exceed 3 percent at an annual pace in the second half of 2014.
Written on 07/24/2014, 8:55 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration has lifted its ban on U.S. flights in and out of Israel. The end of the ban, which the agency had imposed out of concern for the risk of planes being hit by Hamas rockets, was effective at 11:45 p.m. EDT Wednesday. "Before making this decision, the FAA worked with its U.S. government counterparts to assess the security situation in Israel and carefully reviewed both significant new information and measures the government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation," the FAA said. "The agency will continue to closely monitor the very fluid situation around Ben Gurion Airport and will take additional actions as necessary." The FAA instituted a 24-hour prohibition Tuesday in response to a rocket strike that landed about a mile from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. The directive, which was extended Wednesday, applied only to U.S. carriers. United Airlines, which has two daily flights from Newark, New Jersey, to Tel Aviv, said Thursday: "We intend to resume service. We're now reviewing when we can do so." American Airlines — parent company of US Airways, which has one daily flight from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv — said: "We are in the process of assessing the situation and will make a decision as soon as possible on when to resume service. Other factors will be considered before we resume — the most important being the safety of our crew and our passengers." The FAA has no authority over foreign airlines operating in Israel, although the European Aviation Safety Agency recommended Tuesday that airlines refrain from operating flights to and from Tel Aviv. EASA lifted that advisory Thursday, recommending that national authorities base decisions on flying to Ben Gurion "on thorough risk assessments, in particular using risk analysis made by operators." The FAA's flight ban was criticized by the Israeli government and by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who questioned whether President Barack Obama used a federal agency to impose an economic boycott on Israel. Delta Air Lines, which diverted a jumbo jet away from Tel Aviv before Tuesday's ban by the FAA, will not necessarily resume flights to Israel even if U.S. authorities declare the area safe, the airline's CEO said before the FAA lifted the ban. CEO Richard Anderson said Delta would of course obey FAA orders but would continue to make its own decisions about safety. "We appreciate the advice and consent and the intelligence we get, but we have a duty and an obligation above and beyond that to independently make the right decisions for our employees and passengers," Anderson said on a conference call with reporters. "Even if they lift" the prohibition on flying in and out of Ben Gurion Airport, "we still may not go in depending on what the facts and circumstances are."Anderson declined to discuss specifically how the airline would make the decision to resume the flights and spoke only in general terms. He said the airline decides whether flights are safe to operate "on an independent basis, so we will evaluate the information we have and we will make the judgment that our passengers and employees rely on us to make for them every day." The CEO of Middle East carrier Emirates said after the shoot-down in Ukraine of a Malaysia Airlines jet last week that global airlines need better risk assessment from international aviation authorities. Delta, however, seemed more inclined to go it alone. "We have a broad and deep security network around the world," Anderson said. "We have security directors that work for Delta in all the regions of the world, and we have a very sophisticated capability and methodology to manage these kinds of risks, whether it's this or a volcano or a hurricane."
Written on 07/24/2014, 8:51 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Sales of new U.S. homes plunged in June, a sign that real estate continues to be a weak spot in the economy. New home sales fell 8.1 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 406,000, the Commerce Department said Thursday. The report also revised down the May sales rate to 442,000 from 504,000. Buying of new homes fell 20 percent in the Northeast, followed by less extreme declines in the Midwest, South and West. The modest sales caused the inventory of new homes on the market to increase to 5.8 months, the highest since October 2011. The median sales price was $273,500, up 5.3 percent over the past 12 months. "Today's report underscores" Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's "observation in testimony last week that housing sector data still are 'disappointing,'" said Dana Saporta, director of economic research at the bank Credit Suisse. Home sales had been improving through the middle of 2013, only to stumble over the past 12 months due to a mix of rising prices, higher mortgage rates and meager wage growth. The pressures from mortgage rates have eased since the start of 2014 and the pace of price increases have slowed. Still, other indicators suggest that home-buying has stalled after rebounding from lows reached during the Great Recession. The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes increased 2.6 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million homes. It marked the first time that sales have been above the 5 million-mark since October. Economists were encouraged by the second straight monthly gain in existing home sales, though those sales are still hovering below the recent peak of 5.38 million sales hit last July. Nasty winter storms weighed on sales of both existing and new homes in late 2013 and early 2014, making it unlikely that sales can match last year's pace. Sales of existing homes are expected to be below the 5.1 million homes bought last year and the 5.5 million annual sales that would be consistent with a healthy housing market. Still, there are indications that sales could pick up. Along with the arrival of spring, average mortgage rates have dropped to 4.13 percent, from 4.53 percent at the beginning of this year, according to Freddie Mac. The rate of price gains has slowed as the inventory of homes for sale has improved. But wage growth has barely kept pace with inflation, reducing how much income people have to spend and save for down payments.
Written on 07/24/2014, 8:49 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Wal-Mart U.S. chief Bill Simon is stepping down after being in the role since June 2010, the company said Thursday. The world's largest retailer named the head of its Asian business as his replacement.The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer said Greg Foran, 53, who was promoted to president and CEO of Wal-Mart Asia earlier this year, will succeed Simon. The changes will take effect Aug. 9. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Simon will be available on a consulting basis for the next six months to ensure a seamless transition. U.S. Wal-Mart stores have suffered five straight quarters of sales declines at stores open at least a year, hurting from a tough economy and fierce competition from dollar stores and Amazon.com. The measure is considered a key indicator of a retailer's health because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed. Thursday's announcement marks the company's biggest management shakeup since Doug McMillon took over as president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in February. Foran will report to McMillon, who had been head of Wal-Mart's international business before taking over the top job at the company. Simon, who joined Wal-Mart in 2006, was the chief operating officer for Wal-Mart's U.S. division from 2007 to 2010 and created and launched Wal-Mart's successful $4 prescription drug program. When Simon took over as CEO of Wal-Mart's U.S. division, he led the turnaround of Wal-Mart's business right after the recession by focusing on the company's roots of offering everyday low prices. He also helped restore thousands of popular items that the company had stopped selling in an overzealous attempt to declutter the stores. That helped Wal-Mart get out of a two-year slump in late 2011. Simon also led the company's campaign to revitalize U.S. manufacturing and helped to spearhead the company's move to accelerate its plans for small-store formats. But Wal-Mart, like many of its store rivals, is facing seismic changes in the retail landscape as shoppers are increasingly going to small stores or buying and researching on their mobile devices for convenience. The move to name Foran indicates Wal-Mart is looking to further shake up its strategy. "Greg is one of the most talented retailers I've ever met," McMillon said in a statement. "His depth of knowledge and global experience will bring a fresh perspective to our business. His passion for fresh food, experience in general merchandise and commitment to e-commerce will help us serve our customers even more effectively for years to come." Foran, a 35-year retail industry veteran, joined Wal-Mart in October 2011 and became president and CEO of Wal-Mart China in March 2012. He was promoted to president and CEO of Wal-Mart Asia earlier this year. Before joining Wal-Mart, Foran held a number of roles with Woolworths, the leading retailer in Australia and New Zealand.
Written on 07/24/2014, 8:48 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Union Pacific Corp. says its quarterly profit climbed 17 percent as the railroad hauled 8 percent more freight and raised shipping rates. The Omaha, Nebraska-based company said Thursday that profit increased to $1.29 billion, or $1.43 per share, in the second quarter. That's up from $1.11 billion, or $1.18 per share, a year ago. The analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research expected profit of $1.42 per share on average. Union Pacific's earnings per share were helped by the railroad's purchase of 8.3 million shares of its own stock for $806 million during the quarter. The railroad said revenue rose 10 percent to $6.02 billion from $5.47 billion in the same quarter a year earlier, and beat Wall Street forecasts. Analysts expected $5.98 billion, according to Zacks. Union Pacific shares gained $19.31, or 23 percent, to $102.51 since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has climbed 7.5 percent. Union Pacific operates 32,400 miles of track in 23 states from the Midwest to the West and Gulf coasts.
Written on 07/24/2014, 8:10 am by Business Journal Staff
Johnson Capital, a national real estate capital advisory firm in Sacramento, has arranged a $6.67 million loan for a buyer to purchase the 192-unit Willow Lakes Apartment Homes in Corcoran. The loan is secured by the apartment complex. Housing Solutions LLC of Martinez, Calif. is the buyer. Lanford Tobe, senior vice president of Johnson Capital, hooked up with Streamline Realty Funding in New York, which provided the loan under its bridge loan program. The seller, Willow Lakes RECA LLC, which purchased the complex from the bank after it was foreclosed on, refurbished the apartment complex before putting it up for sale. The apartments remained open during the transition. The purchase was made possible by a three-year, interest-only, non-recourse loan that includes two one-year extension options. The loan amount represents 85 percent of the purchase price and has an interest rate in the low 5 percent range. "This 85 percent loan-to-value loan is a great example of the low-cost, short-term bridge loans that we can now arrange for multifamily investors,” Tobe said. “Since 25 percent to 30 percent down is the norm and financing in the Central Valley towns near Fresno is limited, we are very pleased to arrange a purchase transaction that required only a 15 percent down payment.” The property, Willow Lakes Apartment Homes, was built in 1987 and is a townhome apartment community situated on 16.87 gated acres in a private park-like setting. The property consists of one-story flats, two-story townhome-style buildings and a central one-story clubhouse with a new fitness room. Willow Lakes features three lakes with fountains as well as many willow trees throughout the property. The unit mix is comprised of 37 one-bedroom units, 117 two-bedroom units and 36 three-bedroom units. The complex includes two swimming pools and a spa.
Written on 07/23/2014, 4:06 pm by Business Journal staff
The Riverbend Golf Club in Madera County has changed its name to the Dragonfly Golf Club as part of a major expansion and upgrade that also includes new golf carts and membership opportunities. Located east of Highway 41 on Avenue 12, the golf club has been undergoing several changes in the last few months under President of Operations Gene Gabelmann. "Golf is an activity for all ages and skill levels," said Gabelmann, in a release. "We want Dragonfly to be a place where enjoyment goes beyond the score of the day." Among the changes are 75 new golf carts with onboard GPS touch screens, improvement to golf course conditions, water feature renovations and a remodel of the clubhouse. Members are also benefiting from new reduced golf cart fees, up to seven-day advance reservation for walking and riding rates and Monday-through-Friday play for weekday members. As well, there are new new men's, ladies, twilight and corporate leagues and a new golf performance institute for all ages to learn and excel at the game. The Super Monday summer play deal charges a fee of just $35 to play, including the golf cart. Golfers can even get food prepared for them or on the links when they order through the touch screen display on the golf cart. Future plans include a major expansion of existing facilities, a monumental entry structure, a way-finding system and grounds upgrades.
Written on 07/23/2014, 3:18 pm by Business Journal staff
Poindexter Nut Company will hold a job fair July 28 in Reedley as the company looks to fill around 75 positions in advance of the harvest season. The job fair, being held in partnership with the Economic Development Corporation serving Fresno County, will last from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Reedley Workforce Connection office at 1680 E. Manning Ave. Applicants are asked to bring a resume or other information to fill out an application. Poindexter Nut Company is seeking more than 75 seasonal and full-time workers. Positions available include sanitation, sorters, forklift operators, material handlers and stackers and truck drivers. Those hired following the event will work at the company's newly expanded walnut processing plant located at 5414 E. Floral Ave. in Selma. More information about the company or the recruitment fair can be found by calling the Fresno County EDC at (559) 464-5550. Established in the 1969, Poindexter Nut Company now employs more than 400 employees seasonally and process some 45 million pounds of walnuts a year that are exported to more than 45 countries.
Written on 07/23/2014, 2:09 pm by Business Journal staff
IFCO Systems, a Florida-based supplier of reusable plastic containers and pallets, will join Fresno's manufacturing sector when it moves into a 204,000 square-foot building on Elm Avenue this summer. Headquartered in Tampa, Fla., IFCO Systems supplies and sanitizes reusable plastic containers for the fresh food industry from more than 210 locations worldwide. Having operated in Fresno once before, the company will rejoin the Central Valley's fresh food sector, leasing a facility at 2855 S. Elm Ave. from Fresno Investments LLC, a division of The Buzz Oates Group of Companies based in Sacramento. Representing Fresno Investments, Nick Audino, senior vice president with Newmark Grubb Pearson Commercial, said IFCO Systems plans to be in the building some time in September or October, employing around 50 workers. With more than 180 million reusable plastic containers in circulation, IFCO Systems is the leading provider of reusable plastic containers to the fresh food sector worldwide. Established around 20 years ago, IFCO Systems is owned by supply-chain logistics company Brambles Limited based in Sydney, Australia.

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