NAHB Holds Out Hope for Housing Market; Copper Golden for Chile; Lowe’s Sales Up; BHP Reports Record Annual Profit; Japan Bank Sweetens Bid; Airlines’ Labor Day Decline; Nymex’s Temporary Seat Sale Halt; Golden Gate’s Restaurant Order
- The National Association of Home Builders /Wells Fargo Housing Market index held at 16 in August for a second straight month, the group said yesterday (Monday) in a statement. Despite the weak reading, the NAHB said its members hope a recently enacted homebuyer tax credit would help the housing market regain some traction. "Builders are anticipating the stimulative effects of this legislation and are optimistic that the tax credit will give those buyers who've been sitting on the fence the reason they need to jump back into the market," NAHB President Sandy Dunn said in a statement.
- Copper sales surged 8.8% in the first seven months of the year over the same period a year prior, in Chile – the world’s largest copper producer. Chile’s central bank said copper sales totaled $25.06 billion through the end of July. , The Associated Press reported.
- Lowe's Cos. Inc. (LOW) reported fourth straight quarterly profit decline yesterday (Monday) as earnings fell 8% to $938 million. However, total sales actually rose 2.4% to $14.5 billion. The company said it now expects a full-year profit of $1.48 to $1.56 a share, compared to the $1.45 to $1.55 a share it forecast in May.
- BHP Billiton Ltd. (ADR: BHP), the world's largest mining company, yesterday (Monday) reported record annual profit and said it expects demand for commodities to remain strong. Net profit for the year ended June 30 climbed 14.7% to $15.39 billion, from $13.42 billion in the previous year. Earnings before interest and tax, was $24.28 billion, up 21%.
- Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (ADR: MTU) yesterday (Monday) announced it had raised its bid for UnionBanCal Corp. (UB) to $73.50 per share, a total of $3.5 billion for the remaining minority stake. The sweetened offer represents a 17% increase from the initial $63 per share bid, which UnionBanCal advisors dismissed as too low, Reuters reported.
- The Air Transport Association of America predicted yesterday (Monday) that a combination of high rates and schedule cutbacks will combine to keep more travelers at home over the coming Labor Day holiday, BusinessWeek reported. The airline trade group estimates a 5.7% decline in airline passengers from Aug. 23 – Sept. 3 for the same period a year ago.
- The New York Mercantile Exchange, owned by Nymex Holdings Inc. (NMX), declared a temporary halt in the sale of seats (or trading rights) as its members meet to vote on a proposed merger with CME Group Inc. (CME). Sale of seats will be suspended between 3 p.m. EDT yesterday (Monday) and 9 a.m. EDT tomorrow (Wednesday), MarketWatch reported.
- Brinker International Inc. (EAT), parent company of Romano’s Macaroni Grill announced it would sell a majority stake to private-equity firm Golden Gate Capital Inc., The Phoenix Business Journal reported. "Golden Gate is well-known for partnering with corporations to help grow established consumer and retail brands," Brinker Chairman and CEO Doug Brooks said in a release.