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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, January 14, 2010

BUSINESS BRIEFS
Economic recovery spreads, but jobs scarce

Advertiser Staff and News Services

WASHINGTON The economic recovery is spreading to more parts of the country even as a growing number of people can't find full-time jobs.

The duality of the recovery is underscored in a Federal Reserve survey released yesterday: The economy is growing, and the recovery is extending its reach geographically. Yet 27 million people are unemployed, only able to find part-time jobs or so discouraged that they've stopped looking for work.

The Fed said that while the economy is still sluggish, conditions have improved modestly. But it also said the job market in most of the Fed's 12 regions remained "soft" as the new year began.

HERSHEY PLANS TO BID FOR CADBURY

HARRISBURG, Pa. The Hershey Co. is assembling a bid to acquire British candy maker Cadbury PLC without the help of Italian candy maker Ferrero International, a person familiar with Hershey's plans told The Associated Press yesterday.

Meanwhile, the company that bid first, U.S. food giant Kraft Foods Inc., continued to defend its offer and issued an earnings forecast that may have been intended to show off its strength.

Hershey has been working on two parallel bids for Cadbury one with Ferrero and one on its own. But Ferrero reportedly has withdrawn. Hershey is still crafting its own potential bid, one designed to top the $16.5 billion hostile offer from Kraft, the source said.

FEDERAL DEFICIT SETS RECORD IN DECEMBER

WASHINGTON The federal budget deficit hit a record high for the month of December, and the red ink for the first three months of the current budget year is rising at a more rapid pace than last year's record clip.

The massive tide of red ink, reflecting the continued fallout from a deep recession and a severe financial crisis, highlights the challenge facing President Obama as he tries to get control of runaway deficits.

The Treasury Department said yesterday that the deficit last month totaled $91.85 billion, the largest December deficit on record and a bigger imbalance than the $92 billion that economists had expected.

TYCOON CHOSEN TO HEAD JAPAN AIRLINES

Japanese tycoon Kazuo Inamori was named the next chief executive officer of Japan Airlines Corp. after the carrier suffered a 90 percent, two-day stock plunge on speculation it will file for bankruptcy.

"I'm a total novice when it comes to the transportation industry," Inamori, the 77-year-old founder of electronics company Kyocera Corp., said yesterday in Tokyo. "I've decided to accept because the government and the turnaround body want to prevent JAL's failure by any means."

Inamori, Japan's 28th-richest man (according to Forbes) and a Buddhist priest, takes on the challenge of overhauling a carrier that was unprofitable in three of the past four years. Asia's biggest airline by sales has lost about $6 billion of market value since March amid a global travel slump and growing concerns the government will support bankruptcy as part of a turnaround.

UNITED AIRLINES RAISES BAGGAGE FEES

MINNEAPOLIS United Airlines yesterday joined the latest round of baggage-fee increases.

The move follows hikes by Delta and Continental.

United said it will now charge $25 to check the first bag and $35 for the second. That's $5 more than it charged previously. That takes effect on tickets bought beginning today for travel after Jan. 21.

The new fees are the same at Continental and Delta. Airlines discount the fees by a few dollars for travelers who pay online in advance instead of at the airport.

The Delta fee began Tuesday on tickets purchased Jan. 5 or later. Continental's higher fee takes effect for tickets purchased Jan. 9 or later for travel Saturday or later.

HAITI DAMAGE NOT HITTING U.S. INSURERS

CHARLOTTE, N.C. U.S. insurers may have very little exposure to the massive losses caused by the Haiti earthquake.

Haiti is one of the smallest insurance markets in the Americas, with a total non-life-insurance premium income of just under $20 million, figures "which reflect the country's poverty," according to a report yesterday by Risk Management Solutions Inc. By comparison, the net premiums for property and casualty coverage in the U.S. totaled nearly $441 billion in 2008, the most recent figure available.

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