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in brief

Allegiant Air will spend up to $90 million to buy six planes

Allegiant Air will spend up to $90 million through 2012 to acquire six Boeing 757-200 aircraft, which will enable the Las Vegas-based company to offer nonstop service into Hawaii.

A spokeswoman for the airline said it was uncertain if any of the service would originate from Las Vegas. The plan is to service Hawaii from small market destinations that do not offer nonstop service.

Allegiant plans to have two of the 757s in service by the end of the year, two more in place by the first half of 2011 and the final two planes operating by the first half of 2012.

In a statement, the company said it will finance some portion of the purchase. The company plans to launch service to Hawaii once regulatory requirements are met.

FALLON

Commercial Metals will close plant in Fallon, cut work force

Commercial Metals Co. is closing its Fallon plant, and scores of employees will lose their jobs.

Officials for the Irving, Texas-based company are blaming the sluggish economy for the closure, set for April 29. But they declined to release the number of affected employees.

According to figures compiled last fall by the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, the plant was Churchill County’s 15th-largest employer with 90 to 99 employees.

The plant makes joists for use in big buildings, including both the Fallon and Fernley Wal-Marts.

Local officials say the closure will have a huge impact on the town about 60 miles east of Reno.

County Comptroller Alan Kalt estimates the plant’s payroll is between $3.5 million and $5 million.

BOSTON

Nine more U.S. airports will
get body-scanning technology

The Transportation Security Administration on Friday announced nine more U.S. airports that will receive body-scanning technology, as the U.S. heightens its effort to detect hidden explosives and other weapons following an attempted bombing on Christmas Day.

TSA security director Lee Kair said units will be fielded in the coming months at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; San Jose, Calif.; Columbus, Ohio; San Diego; Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati; Los Angeles; Oakland, Calif.; and Kansas City, Mo.

They will join three machines going online Monday at Boston’s Logan International Airport, and one being deployed next week at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

All are among 150 machines bought with money from the federal stimulus package signed by President Barack Obama last year. They join 40 machines already in use at 19 airports nationwide, including McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

Government report on jobs pushes energy prices higher

The government jobs report for February issued Friday raised hopes that the economy may slowly be healing and raised oil and wholesale gasoline prices closer to their highs for the year.

Benchmark crude for April delivery rose $1.29 to settle at $81.50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The 2010 high for oil was $83.95 on Jan. 11, about the same time that retail gasoline prices reached a high for the year of $2.7583 per gallon.

Crude has bumped around the $80 mark time and again over the past few months, only to be pushed back on conflicting signals about the recovery from the Great Recession.

Retail gasoline prices rose 1.4 cents overnight to a national average of $2.72 per gallon, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. Price are 3.83 cents shy of the high for the year.

In Las Vegas, the price of a gallon of regular, self-serve unleaded averaged $2.746 on Friday, AAA said in its Daily Fuel Gauge Report. That’s down 1 percent from $2.771 a month ago, but up 25 percent from $2.197 a year ago, AAA said.

PALO ALTO, Calif.

Lawsuit in United Kingdom hurts Hewlett-Packard profits

Hewlett-Packard Co. trimmed the net income it reported on Friday for its fiscal first quarter, saying it has to set aside more money than expected to deal with a lawsuit against it in the United Kingdom.

HP, the world’s biggest computer maker, now says it earned $2.25 billion, or 93 cents per share, in the three months ended in January. That’s down from the $2.32 billion, or 96 cents per share, it reported last month.

HP said the revision was prompted by a ruling that could force subsidiary Electronic Data Systems to pay out an additional $112 million to the U.K.’s British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC. EDS, which HP acquired in 2008, had already made a voluntary payment in the case of $320 million, the company said. BSkyB filed suit against EDS, a technology services provider, in 2004 over a dispute related to a customer management contract.

HP said it is looking to appeal the ruling.

NEW YORK

Bulk-shipping companies will go public, may draw attention

Two bulk shipping companies will be competing for investors’ attention next week when they are expected to go public, but analysts are questioning their ability to nab much cash.

The first company, Baltic Trading Ltd., was formed by drybulk shipper Genco Shipping & Trading Ltd., based in New York. The second, Crude Carriers Corp., of Greece, is managed by Capital Maritime & Trading Corp. Crude Carriers plans to buy and operate a fleet of oil tankers, while Baltic Trading will ship dry goods.

It may not be the best time for a shipping company to ask investors to go public. The industry has been hurt by sluggish global demand for commodities like oil, cement and iron ore and coal. Making matters worse, the IPO market has been difficult all year as concerns about the pace of the global economic recovery has dulled investors’ taste for new companies.

WASHINGTON

Official pushes to cut amount mortgage borrowers owe

A key lawmaker is working with banks, regulators and the Obama administration on a way to boost the government’s struggling foreclosure prevention effort by encouraging banks to reduce the amount borrowers owe.

Rep. Barney Frank, D.-Mass, said Friday he is in talks with several major lenders in an effort to remove a key obstacle: lenders who hold second mortgages. During the housing boom, business boomed for so-called “piggyback” mortgages — second loans that allowed consumers to make a little or no down payment.

Those loans, in many cases, are now worthless, but banks are reluctant to release their claims or reduce the value of those loans on their books. Those lenders can block loan modifications.

NEW YORK

Rollout of Apple iPad will come later than first planned

The much-anticipated iPad tablet computer from Apple Inc. will start hitting U.S. stores on April 3, slightly later than originally planned.

When Apple unveiled the touch-screen device Jan. 27, the company said the first iPads would reach the market in “late March” worldwide, not just in the U.S. Now international releases are planned for later in April.

Investors shrugged off the delay and instead seemed reassured that the tablet wouldn’t slip even later. Apple shares hit a record high of $219.70 and closed up $8.24, or 3.9 percent, to their highest settling price of $218.95.

The company did not specify Friday why the tablet is not coming out until April, and Apple spokeswoman Natalie Harrison would not elaborate.

 

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