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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 5, 2010

BUSINESS BRIEFS
Increase in U.S. retail sales biggest since November 2007


Associated Press

WASHINGTON The economy is showing renewed strength as retail sales surged last month and factory orders also increased. Such gains could lead to more hiring if they can be sustained.

Retailers said yesterday store sales rose in February by the largest amount since November 2007, while orders to U.S. factories in January posted their sharpest rise in four months.

The upbeat reports followed other encouraging signs this week: The service sector grew last month at its fastest pace in more than two years, according to a private survey of purchasing executives released Wednesday. And a similar survey on Monday found that manufacturers are also growing.

"We're going from a narrow recovery" led by manufacturing "to something much broader," said Brian Bethune, chief U.S. financial economist at IHS Global Insight.

BOND ISSUE RAISES CASH FOR DEBT-RIDDEN GREECE

ATHENS, Greece Greece says it has raised badly needed cash with a new bond issue, passing a key test of its ability to avoid a disastrous debt default and dig out of a financial crisis that has shaken the European Union.

A Finance Ministry statement said yesterday the bond has been three times oversubscribed, with 15 billion euros ($20.5 billion) in offers received. The government took 5 billion euros ($6.8 billion), offering a 6.3 percent yield.

BOA WARRANT SALE EARNS TREASURY $1.54 BILLION

WASHINGTON The Treasury Department has received a record $1.54 billion from the sale of warrants it received from Bank of America as part of the support it provided during the financial crisis.

The Treasury said yesterday it sold 272.17 million warrants in an auction held because Bank of America and the government could not agree upon an acceptable price. Warrants are financial instruments that allow the holder to buy stock in the future at a fixed price.

BUDWEISER MAKER POSTS $1.28B 4TH-QUARTER PROFIT

BRUSSELS The world's largest brewer and maker of Budweiser reported yesterday a fourth-quarter profit of $1.28 billion, helped by cost cuts and price hikes, but said global beer sales were stagnant and forecast no rebound in 2010.

Anheuser-Busch InBev SA sold 0.7 percent less beer and soft drinks in 2009 during the economic downturn. Other brewers Heineken and SABMiller have also reported flat or falling beer sales for some or all of last year.