IN BRIEF

Labor board’s case against
Station Casinos gets hearing

The National Labor Relations Board began to present its case Tuesday to an administrative law judge in downtown Las Vegas against Station Casinos, alleging unfair practices related to organizing efforts by Culinary Local 226.

The complaint against Station Casinos accuses the third-largest private employer in Las Vegas of being too aggressive in preventing workers from organizing.

Those tactics allegedly included threats, interrogation, surveillance, bribery, discrimination and physical assault against employees engaged in union activities, according to the complaint.

“We certainly hope Station Casinos will not retaliate against any of the workers who … testify against the company during the NLRB hearing,” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, president of Culinary Local 226.

Station Casinos spokeswoman Lori Nelson declined to comment. Nelson told the Review-Journal in June after the NLRB issued the complaint that the company will vigorously defend against the allegations.

The union expects the hearing to last about two weeks.

LV home prices rise slightly
in August but down for year

Las Vegas home prices rose slightly in August, but prices continued to drop in U.S. cities, according to a Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home index released Tuesday.

But Las Vegas also showed the biggest 12-month drop at 4.5 percent. San Francisco had the biggest increase at 7.8 percent, the report showed.

Fifteen of the 20 cities saw prices decline in August from the prior month, led by a 1.3 percent decline in Phoenix and a 1.1 percent drop in Dallas. Detroit led gainers with a 0.5 percent increase, Bloomberg News reported on its website.

Marketwatch reported on its website that it was the first drop in the index after four straight monthly gains as demand spiked because of the homebuyer tax credit that expired at the end of April.

Moody’s has upbeat response
to move by MGM Resorts

The latest move by MGM Resorts International to address the company’s liquidity concerns drew a positive recommendation Tuesday from Moody’s Investors Service.

The ratings agency raised its opinion of the Las Vegas-based casino operator after the company said it hoped to raise about $500 million in unsecured notes due in 2016.

Moody’s changed its outlook on MGM Resorts to “positive” from “stable.”

“The outlook revision to positive reflects the favorable impact on MGM’s liquidity,” Moody’s gaming analyst Keith Foley said in a report.

The company plans to use the funds, along with $511 million raised from a stock offering last week, to retire about $1.2 billion of debt that matures in October 2011.

MGM Resorts has about $13 billion in long-term debt.

“Moody’s anticipates that MGM will now have sufficient revolver capacity to meet its 2011 and 2012 required debt amortizations and guaranty funding obligations for CityCenter,” Foley said.

The analyst said MGM Resorts continues to need further deleveraging transactions.

DEARBORN, Mich.

Ford keeps rolling: Profit
increases and debt eases

Ford is on a roll. Its popular new cars and trucks are grabbing a bigger share of the U.S. market. It’s about to erase a big chunk of its health care debt. And it’s adding a significant number of jobs for the first time in five years.

On Tuesday, the automaker said it made $1.7 billion from July through September, a jump of nearly 70 percent from a year earlier and its sixth consecutive quarter in the black.

The news puts Ford further ahead of its rivals as the U.S. auto industry slowly turns around. Chrysler has yet to make a profit after a stay in bankruptcy last year. General Motors is making money but losing market share — and is still partly government-owned.

NEW YORK

Consumer confidence rises,
tops analysts expectation

Confidence among U.S. consumers rose in October from a seven-month low, indicating the biggest part of the economy will take time to recover, Bloomberg News reported on its website.

The Conference Board’s confidence index increased to 50.2 from a revised 48.6 in September, while the proportion of people who said jobs were plentiful fell to the lowest level this year and income expectations were the weakest since April 2009, Bloomberg News reported.

Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected 49.2.

September’s reading was the index’s lowest point since February. An index of 90 indicates a healthy economy.

DETROIT

Toyota, Honda lead quality
rankings; Ford, GM post gains

The most problem-free cars and trucks are made by Honda and Toyota, but Ford is closing in fast and General Motors is making big quality improvements, according to Consumer Reports magazine’s 2010 reliability rankings.

Ford and GM continue to narrow the major quality gap that once separated Toyota and other Asian automakers from their Detroit rivals.

Large, dramatic overhauls of American car companies in the last few years have resulted in fewer brands and better vehicles from Detroit. General Motors recently eliminated the Pontiac brand.

This year’s rankings, based on a survey of about 960,000 magazine subscribers, also restored recommended ratings for several recalled Toyota models and bumped up a pair of Korean brands.

Chrysler, however, continued to languish.

NEW YORK

Kimberly-Clark says quarterly
profit tumbles; forecast cut

Consumer products maker Kimberly-Clark Corp. said Tuesday that its third-quarter net income fell 19 percent as making its top-selling tissues and diapers got more expensive, and the company cut its forecast for the full year.

The results fell short of analysts’ expectations, and shares of the
maker of Huggies diapers and
Kleenex tissues fell $3.86, or nearly
6 percent, Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Costs for key materials such as pulp, polymer resin and oil-based materials rose $265 million in the quarter, the highest quarterly increase the company has ever seen.

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