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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 2, 2006

BUSINESS BRIEFS
32 bankruptcies filed in January

Advertiser Staff

The number of bankruptcy filings in Hawai'i fell 85 percent in January to 32, according to figures released yesterday by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Honolulu.

The statewide number of bankruptcies spiked last year in advance of a change in federal bankruptcy laws making it tougher and more expensive for people to erase debt.

Before last year, bankruptcy rates had fallen since 2001 during an economic expansion driven by strength in real estate, construction and tourism.


GAS PRICE CAP 3 CENTS LOWER

The wholesale price for regular gasoline in Honolulu will dip about 3 cents to $2.04 a gallon on Monday, according to the Public Utilities Commission.

The state caps the price that wholesalers can charge for gasoline, but retail prices remain unregulated.

The cap prices are set once each week based on Mainland prices, with adjustments for the cost of doing business in Hawai'i.


UNITED FLIES OUT OF DARKEST SKIES

United Airlines left bankruptcy protection yesterday, ending an often painful three-year restructuring that thinned the workforce, cut wages and shrank the airline's fleet.

Now, parent UAL Corp. must compete in an era when fuel prices have made it difficult for any airline to make a profit and discount carriers, such as Southwest Airlines, are even more of a threat to mainline carriers.


FLEET BUYERS LIFT AUTO SALES

The auto industry gunned its engines with a 7.6 percent sales increase in January, but much of the gain was due to domestic automakers' lower-profit sales to rental car and corporate fleets.

Without fleet sales, the combined 4.6 percent sales increase from General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler Group would have been flat or down slightly in January compared with the same month last year.


STOCKS MINDSET RECALLED AT TRIAL

Enron Corp.'s former chief contact for investors described company founder Kenneth Lay and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling yesterday as heavily involved in running the company, undermining Lay's contention that he was unaware of the problems that led to Enron's collapse in December 2001.

In the first day of testimony in Lay and Skilling's fraud and conspiracy trial, Mark Koenig said Enron's stock price was "very important" to his former bosses.

Koenig also said both disliked Wall Street analysts who weren't bullish on the stock a rarity in Enron's high-flying years before the company crashed, leaving thousands jobless and wiping out billions of dollars from investors.