– September 2, 2014

Mexican airlines mark one year at FYI

Aeromexico is one of two airlines that fly out of Fresno Yosemite International Airport to Guadalajara, Mexico.Aeromexico is one of two airlines that fly out of Fresno Yosemite International Airport to Guadalajara, Mexico.The Consulate of Mexico in Fresno announced that it is celebrating the one-year anniversary of Volaris and Aeromexico airlines carrying passengers from Fresno to Guadalajara, Mexico.

To honor the year of service, a special presentation about Mexico will be held Wednesday, April 18, at 6 p.m. at Fresno Yosemite International Airport. Travel agencies, airline representatives, members of the tourism sector and elected officials are invited to attend the event.

Those who attend will receive special information about Mexico as well as learning how to expand their business by promoting Mexico as a tourism destination. Nearly 135,000 passengers flew to Mexico from FYI in the last year, which had an extremely positive effect on the Central Valley.

Attendees are asked to RSVP, as seating is limited. Light food and beverages will be provided and parking will be validated.

For more information, contact Daniel Alvarez Mendoza at 233-3065 ex. 108 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Written on 09/02/2014, 11:41 am by 
JOAN LOWY, Associated Press
(AP) — New York teenager Joseph Beer smoked marijuana, climbed into a Subaru Impreza with four friends and drove more than 100 mph before losing control....
Written on 09/02/2014, 11:16 am by Business Journal staff
The Visalia Chamber has found its new CEO in former area tourism official Gail Zurek. The chamber has been looking for a new leader since Glenn Morris left the position in June for a similar job in Santa Maria. Morris had served as CEO since 2009, coming to the chamber after working for three years as executive director of the Visalia Convention and Visitors Bureau. Zurek, who begins her new position on Sept. 22, also hails from the Visalia Convention and Visitors Bureau, where she worked as tourism and marketing manager. Before joining the tourism marketing organization in November 2013, Zurek was president of Arrowhead Communications of Saint John, Indiana providing marketing and public relations consulting to businesses and nonprofits. She was also the area director for the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana. Prior to that, Zurek worked with the University of Chicago in various capacities for eight years, leading to her final position as the executive director for career development with the Harris School of Public Policy Studies. Zurek holds a bachelor of arts in communications from California Lutheran University.
Written on 09/02/2014, 11:10 am by Business Journal staff
Fresno Pacific University ranked among the top ten most affordable private universities in the West, according to a new list by the college information service Great Value Colleges. Great Value Colleges considered all four-year universities with a net price below $22,000 when compiling its "50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West" list. Net price is equal to the total cost of attendance minus the average financial aid package. Out of the top 25 most affordable private universities in the list, Fresno Pacific University ranked at No. 7 with a net price of $15,742. To help college hopeful in their search, Great Value Colleges also ranked each university on the list by how well they met eight quality indicators such as 6-year graduation rate, freshmen retention rate, student-to-faculty-ratio, number of academic programs and average entrance ACT score Fresno Pacific University placed 9th among private universities in the quality ranking. The latest rating follows another list put out by Christian Universities Online in August naming Fresno Pacific as the ninth most affordable Christian universities in the country. Founded in 1944 by the Pacific District Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, Fresno Pacific University now enrolls around 3,461 students at its main campus in southeast Fresno as well as regional centers in north Fresno, Merced, Visalia and Bakersfield.
Written on 09/02/2014, 9:28 am by Business Journal staff
Home prices in Fresno were up 7.6 percent in July compared to last year, according to a new report from CoreLogic. Month over month, home prices decreased by 0.6 percent in Fresno. Excluding distressed sales in Fresno, year-over-year prices increased by 7.9 percent, while they dipped month-over-month by 0.3 percent. In Madera in July, home prices increased by 10 percent. Month over month, prices increased by 0.7 percent. Excluding distressed sales, year-over-year prices increased by 15.8 percent, while they increased by 6.1 percent month over month. In the Hanford-Corcoran area, home prices for July increased by 6.5 percent, while month-over-month prices fell by 0.2 percent. Excluding distressed sales, year-over-year prices rose by 13.6 percent, while month-over-month prices increased by 0.3 percent. In the Visalia-Porterville area, home prices increased by 11.5 percent in July, while month-over-month prices increased by 1.4 percent. Excluding distressed sales, year-over-year prices increased by 13.2 percent, while month-over-month prices increased by 2.5 percent. Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased 7.4 percent in July 2014 compared to July 2013. In California, prices increased by 10.5 percent in July, or 8.7 percent excluding distressed properties.
Written on 09/02/2014, 8:52 am by 
MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP Technology Writer
(AP) — Netflix is giving its Internet video subscribers a more discreet way to recommend movies and TV shows to their Facebook friends after realizing most people don't want to share their viewing habits with large audiences. Until now, Netflix subscribers linking the service to their Facebook accounts automatically disclosed everything they were watching with a potentially wide-reaching range of people. The company believes the open-ended approach discouraged most Netflix subscribers from connecting their accounts with their Facebook profiles. The automatic disclosures will end Tuesday as Netflix Inc. embraces a new system that empowers subscribers to select which friends will receive their video recommendations. A menu of friends culled from Facebook will appear after Netflix subscribers finish watching a video if they have turned on the sharing feature. The move reflects Facebook's evolution into a service where people have allowed passing acquaintances into their networks, along with close friends and family. "There are a lot of people on Facebook that you don't really know that well," said Cameron Johnson, Netflix's director of product development. Netflix believes people will share their viewing experiences if they are given more control over who sees what they've been watching. The Los Gatos, California, company, in turn, hopes the recommendations will deepen subscriber loyalty and attract new customers. "If you are really moved by a piece of content and you know someone in your life that would like it, you are going to want them to watch it too, so you can talk about it and get excited about it together," Johnson said. Netflix began offering the Facebook sharing option to subscribers outside the U.S. in 2011. U.S. subscribers got that option 18 months ago. The Facebook recommendations are limited to subscribers of Netflix' video-streaming service, which costs $8 or $9 per month in the U.S. The streaming service has 50 million subscribers worldwide. There are no plans to extend the Facebook recommendations to the DVD-by-mail service, which is steadily shrinking. Netflix ended June with 6.3 million DVD subscribers, less than half the number it had three years ago. The recommendations made under the new sharing system will appear in a few ways.If both people are Netflix subscribers who have connected to Facebook, the recommendation will appear as a marquee attraction at the top of the recipient's Netflix page. The Facebook profile picture of the person touting the video also will appear alongside the recommendation. A subscriber's recommendation will be sent as a Facebook message if the recipient isn't a Netflix subscriber or hasn't connected a Netflix account to Facebook. The recommendations will no longer appear on the customers' Facebook profile page or the news feeds that their friends see. To make it possible for its U.S. subscribers to share what they're watching, Netflix had to persuade lawmakers last year to revise a 1988 law that banned the disclosure of video rental records without a customer's written consent.
Written on 09/02/2014, 8:49 am by 
(AP) — Dollar General upped its bid for the rival Family Dollar chain and addressed an earlier roadblock, saying that it will more than double the number of stores it would shed to ease the antitrust concerns of its takeover target. The newest bid is worth $9.1 billion, or $80 per share, up from $78.50 per share in the previous offer. Family Dollar, based in Matthews, North Carolina, rejected the earlier bid in favor of a lower offer of $8.5 billion from Dollar Tree Inc., saying that regulators were less likely to stand in the way. Family Dollar said Tuesday that it has received Dollar General's latest bid and will review it. Dollar General, the country's largest dollar-store chain, says it would now divest as many as 1,500 stores, well above the 700 that it had originally agreed to, in order to sidestep any anti-monopoly actions that regulators might pursue. The Goodlettsville, Tennessee, company has also said it will pay a $500 million reverse break-up fee to Family Dollar Stores Inc. if the deal hits antitrust roadblocks. Dollar General Chairman and CEO Rick Dreiling said that a second antitrust review supported its prior bid, but that its offer was revised "to demonstrate the seriousness of our commitment." The businesses of Family Dollar and Dollar General are more similar than Dollar Tree's. The first two sell items at a variety of prices while at Dollar Tree, all items are a buck. Family Dollar has been looking for a lifeline after running into some financial stress, shuttering stores and cutting prices. In June one big shareholder, Carl Icahn, urged the company to put itself up for sale. Family Dollar acted one month later, accepting an offer from Chesapeake, Virginia-based Dollar Tree Inc. of $59.60 in cash and the equivalent of $14.90 in shares of Dollar Tree for each share held. The companies valued the transaction at $74.50 per share at the time. Including debt and other costs, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree estimated the deal to be worth approximately $9.2 billion. Family Dollar said its board is still supportive of a deal with Dollar Tree and that it won't comment further on Dollar General's revised offer until the board has completed its review. Shares of Family Dollar added 54 cents to $80.37 in premarket trading, while Dollar General's stock gained 86 cents to $64.85.
Written on 09/02/2014, 8:47 am by CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer
(AP) — U.S. manufacturing grew in August at the strongest pace in more than three years as factories cranked out more goods and new orders rose. The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index rose to 59 from 57.1 in July, the ISM said Tuesday. That was the highest reading since March 2011. Any measure above 50 signals that manufacturing is growing. Tuesday's ISM report coincides with other signs that manufacturing is helping drive the U.S. economy's improvement. Factories are benefiting from strong demand for aircraft, furniture, and steel and other metals. The boost from manufacturing has helped offset slower homebuilding, a slowdown in consumer purchases and weaker spending on utilities and other services. "The U.S. economy is on a notably firmer growth track this summer, even if consumers are riding in the caboose," Sal Guatieri, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a research note. The ISM's gauge of production rose to the highest level in four years, and a measure of new orders reached its highest point in 10 years. That suggests that the sector should grow further in coming months. Factories also added jobs last month, though at a slightly slower pace than in July. U.S. manufacturers face some challenges overseas. A measure of export orders rose, but comments from several respondents to ISM's survey said turmoil in Ukraine and slower growth in China were weighing on business. A European manufacturing index fell to 50.7 in August, a 13-month low, according to a report Monday. And two surveys in China showed that manufacturing growth also slowed in August. Bradley Holcomb, chair of the ISM's manufacturing survey committee, said a big jump in orders for aircraft reported by Boeing in July could be feeding through to its suppliers and boosting the ISM's index of new orders. Still, the strength in new orders is "broad-based at this time," Holcomb said on a conference call with reporters. The Federal Reserve has reported that factory output rose 1 percent in July, the sixth straight monthly gain. Production of autos, furniture, textiles and metals all rose. Orders for big-ticket factory goods such as autos and appliances also soared in July, though the gain reflected mainly a jump in demand for Boeing's commercial aircraft. Such orders tend to be volatile from month to month. Excluding the transportation category, orders actually slipped last month. And a key category that serves as a proxy for business investment plans fell 0.5 percent. But that dip followed a big 5.4 percent gain the previous month. Greater consumer spending may be needed to keep driving factory growth. Consumers cut back their spending 0.1 percent in July, the government said, the first decline since January. The decline was led by lower spending on autos. The U.S. economy grew at a 4.2 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter, the government said last week. That was much better than the 2.1 percent contraction in the first three months of the year.
Written on 09/02/2014, 8:45 am by 
(AP) — Big discounts. Six- or seven-year loans, in some cases to buyers who would have been turned down in the past. As the auto industry strives to sustain its post-recession comeback, car companies are resorting to tactics that some experts warn will lead to trouble down the road. Vehicle discounts have risen 5.5 percent from a year ago. More than a quarter of new buyers are choosing to lease, a historically high percentage. Auto company lending arms are making more loans to people with low credit scores. The industry is adding factory capacity. And the average price of a car keeps rising, forcing some customers to borrow for longer terms to keep payments down. Annual auto sales in the U.S. should top 16 million for the first time in seven years. But the pent-up consumer demand that has driven sales is ebbing. Sales are predicted to grow 5.5 percent this year, the slowest pace since the financial crisis. The big discounts and other steps eventually should help push sales above 17 million, most experts say. But Honda Motor Co. U.S. sales chief John Mendel last week scolded competitors for using "short-term" tactics such as subprime loans, 72-month terms and increased sales to rental car companies to pad their sales. "We have no desire to go there," said Mendel, whose company's sales through July have fallen 1.3 percent, trailing the industry. Some on Wall Street see a price to pay. "It could be a disaster later on," says Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas. "We're clearly robbing Peter to pay Paul." He sees sales growing to an annual rate of 18 million in 2017 — then sinking to 14 million a year later. That will mean factory closings, restructurings, and thousands of job cuts just for companies to break even. Not all forecasts are that dire and on one — not even Jonas — is predicting a repeat of billion-dollar losses and cars piling up on dealer lots. Automakers have cut costs and are better positioned to handle a downturn than they were in 2008 and 2009. Still, easier credit brings back not-so-fond memories for at least one auto dealer. "It just seems like 2007 all over again," said veteran Toyota dealer Earl Stewart of North Palm Beach, Florida. "The credit ease with which people are financed is as liberal and loose as it ever was." Among the numbers that concern some experts: — $2,702: Average discount per new car through July. They're heaviest in two segments: Midsize cars (up almost 21 percent through July) and compacts (up 10 percent). Automakers need to move the cars because a lot of factory space is committed to building them. — 12.7 percent: The year-over-year increase last quarter in auto loans to "Deep Subprime" buyers — those with credit scores lower than 550. Loans to "subprime" buyers (credit score lower than 620) rose 5.3 percent, according to Experian. Combined, both are just over 12 percent of all auto loans. Those with lower credit scores generally have a higher default risk. — 32 percent: Percentage of auto loans that are 72 months or longer, up from 23 percent in 2008, according to LMC Automotive. Longer loans keep buyers out of the market because it takes longer to build equity for a trade-in. — 26 percent: Percentage of sales that are leases, up from 18 percent in 2008, according to LMC. A flood of expiring leases in three years could depress used-car prices, hurting new car sales. — 70 percent: The increase last quarter in auto repossessions, according to Experian Automotive. Sixty-day delinquencies are up 7 percent. Still, both are below 1 percent of all auto loans. Karl Brauer, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, sees trouble in the juicy discounts. In 2007, spending on incentives was just under 9 percent of the average sales price for a vehicle. That dropped to around 8 percent in 2012 and 2013. It's back up to 8.4 percent and likely will rise toward 9 percent later in the year, he says. Based on an average sales price of just over $32,000, the additional discounts would cost the industry almost $5.2 billion per year. "This was the trap that got everyone in trouble before the recession," Brauer says. Others are more sanguine. Melinda Zabritski, senior director of auto finance for Experian, says repossessions and delinquencies still are extremely low. And longer loan terms keep payments down, reducing late payments and defaults. Former Hyundai U.S. CEO John Krafcik, now head of the auto pricing site, says used-car values should fall from current record highs, will fall to a normal level as leased cars enter the market. Those who lease will be shopping again every three years. All automakers report sales on Wednesday, and most analysts are predicting the numbers will be flat compared to 2013. That's still a strong month, with an annual sales rate of 16.5 million or more.
Written on 09/02/2014, 8:42 am by CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer
(AP) — U.S. home prices rose in July but at a slower rate compared with earlier this year. The moderating price increases could help support sales. Real estate data provider CoreLogic said Tuesday that prices rose 7.4 percent in July from July 2013. That was slightly below June's year-over-year increase of 7.5 percent and far below a recent peak of 11.9 percent in February. Prices rose 1.2 percent in July from June. But CoreLogic's monthly figures aren't adjusted for seasonality, such as increased buying that occurs in warm weather. The smaller price gains should make homes more affordable. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 4.1 percent last week, the lowest in a year. And the number of available homes rose 3.5 percent in July to the most in nearly two years. A greater supply tends to limit the bidding wars that inflate prices. Greater affordability has helped housing recover over the spring and summer after sales and construction fell earlier this year. Sales of existing homes rose for a fourth straight month in July to their strongest pace in nine months. And a measure of signed contracts also increased in July, suggesting that final sales will rise further in coming months. Home prices rose in 49 states in July from the previous year but fell in Arkansas, CoreLogic said. Michigan experienced the biggest price gain, at 11.4 percent. It was followed by Maine, at 10.6 percent; Nevada, 10.6 percent; Hawaii 10.5 percent; and California, at 10.5 percent. Prices in 11 states and Washington, D.C., have now completely rebounded from the housing bust and reached new highs. Those states are: Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Vermont. Some mixed signals have emerged about the housing market. Home construction jumped 15.7 percent in July to an eight-month high as developers broke ground on more single-family homes and apartment buildings. But sales of new homes fell that month, which could limit future construction. Housing helped boost the economy in the April-June quarter, when growth reached an annual rate of 4.2 percent. Housing had subtracted from growth in the previous two quarters.
Written on 09/02/2014, 8:40 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — A bank refused to offer mortgages to African-Americans living in Buffalo, New York's attorney general said in a lawsuit that he said was part of a wider investigation into an illegal practice known as redlining. Evans Bank violated fair housing and discrimination laws by intentionally denying services and products to Buffalo's east side, home to more than 75 percent of the city's African-American population, the federal lawsuit alleges. The bank's president, David Nasca, called the accusations "meritless." He said Evans, which has 13 branches in western New York, will vigorously defend itself. "We remain confident that our residential lending practices meet all applicable laws and regulations," Nasca said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's lawsuit alleges that Evans used a map to define its lending area that excluded the city's east side. The company is also accused of refusing to market its loan products or locate its branches in the area. Schneiderman said the lawsuit is part of a wider investigation by his office into redlining, in which a lender denies access to mortgages or charges more in certain neighborhoods based on race. "Redlining is illegal and it's discriminatory — and must, once and for all, be made a thing of the past," Schneiderman said. "It is crucial that all New Yorkers, regardless of the color of their skin or the racial composition of their neighborhood, be afforded an equal opportunity to obtain credit."

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Written on 09/02/2014, 8:52 am by 
MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP Technology Writer
(AP) — Netflix is giving its Internet...
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Written on 08/29/2014, 9:01 am by 
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Latest National News

Written on 09/02/2014, 11:41 am by 
JOAN LOWY, Associated Press
(AP) — New York teenager Joseph Beer...
Written on 09/02/2014, 8:49 am by 
(AP) — Dollar General upped its bid for...
Written on 09/02/2014, 8:47 am by CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer
(AP) — U.S. manufacturing grew in...
Written on 09/02/2014, 8:45 am by 
(AP) — Big discounts. Six- or...