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NEWS FROM THE REGION
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Last ’11 quarter
best in 18 mos.
WASHINGTON — The U.S.
economy grew at an annual rate
of 3 percent in the final three
months of 2011, the best pace in a
year and a half.
But that growth has likely
slowed in the current quarter.
Businesses have been restocking shelves more slowly and ship-
ping fewer durable manufactured goods.
And Europe’s debt crisis and
weaker growth in Asia have
slowed demand for U.S. exports.
Stronger hiring in the first two
months of 2012 likely hasn’t offset those weaknesses. That’s because Americans’ pay has barely
kept pace with inflation even as
gas prices have spiked. So consumer spending, which drives
about 70 percent of economic activity, probably hasn’t increased
much from the end of last year.
growth to pick up later this year
as more hiring lifts the economy.
The Commerce Department
reported no change Thursday in
its previous growth estimate for
the October-December quarter.
The 3 percent annual rate was the
most robust since spring 2010.
Slower growth in exports than
previously estimated was offset
by stronger business investment.
growth has probably slowed to 2
percent or less in the current January-March quarter.
A key reason for that is businesses haven’t been restocking
shelves as fast as they did at the
Wild Turkey starts
on packaging facility
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear joined community leaders and officials from Gruppo
Campari at the company's Wild
Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg on Thursday to break
ground on a 125,000-squarefoot packaging facility.
The facility will allow Wild
Turkey to have full control of
its entire production, from distilling to aging to bottling.
The project will create up to
62 new jobs, a news release
— From staff and wire reports
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when someone says a credit card has a fixed APR?
A: A fixed or fixed-rate APR
sets an annual percentage rate
— the amount you pay in
interest when you borrow on
the credit card — that does
not fluctuate with changes to
an index. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says
this does not mean that the
interest rate will never change,
but the issuer generally must
notify you before the change
occurs and in most circumstances can apply the higher
rate only to transactions you
make after you get the notice.
MARCH 30, 2012
end of 2011. Many had cut inventories in the summer, fearing that
the economy was on the verge of
another recession. When that
didn’t happen, many boosted restocking. Inventory building was
a key driver of growth in the October-December quarter.
One bright spot is that hiring
has picked up. The economy has
added an average of 245,000 jobs
per month from December
through February. The jobless
rate has fallen by nearly a full
percentage point since the summer to 8.3 percent, its lowest level in three years.
A subsidiary of Seattlebased Amazon.com is considering putting a customer service
center that would employ 550
people in Winchester, Ky.,
about 20 miles east of Lexington.
Kentucky is offering AMZN
wacs Inc. $10.25 million in tax
incentives from the state and
Clark County if Amazon follows through. Amazon would
also get a $250,000 economic
development bond grant to help
offset the $20 million cost of
The grant is contingent on
Amazon creating the 550 jobs
within three years and paying
employees at least $15 an hour
on average, according to the
Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority, which
approved the awards Thursday.
The 70,000-square-foot center would house a customer service call center and email operations, as well as technical support.
Researchers at the University of Louisville have developed a way to track regional activity in logistics and distribution — an increasingly important part of Louisville’s
The Logistics and Distribution Index signals whether activity in the sector is expanding
The index was developed by
Sunderesh Heragu, director of
U of L’s Logistics and Distribution Institute; industrial engineering professor Gail DePuy;
and doctoral student Erin Gerber of Louisville.
Eventually, the researchers
plan to gauge logistics activity
Market news on your cell
eyes Winchester, Ky.
Index to track regional
Report: Economy grew 3%
By Martin Crutsinger
21:11 User: mstollhaus
small is better
By Michelle Chapman
A worker operates the pump at a PetroChina gas station in China’s Sichuan province. PetroChina,
formed just 13 years ago by the Chinese government, now outranks Exxon Mobil in oil output. AP
Chinese firm tops
Exxon in oil output
PetroChina pumps 2.4 million barrels a day
By Chris Kahn
NEW YORK — A big shift is
happening in Big Oil: An
American giant now ranks behind a Chinese upstart.
Exxon Mobil is no longer
the world’s biggest publicly
traded producer of oil. For the
first time, that distinction belongs to a 13-year-old Chinese
company called PetroChina.
The Beijing company was
created by the Chinese government to secure more oil
for that nation’s booming
Thursday that it pumped 2.4
million barrels a day last year,
surpassing Exxon by 100,000.
The company has grown rapidly over the past decade by
squeezing more from China’s
aging oil fields and outspending Western companies to acquire more petroleum reserves in places like Canada,
Iraq and Qatar. It’s motivated
by a need to lock up as much
oil as possible.
The company’s output increased 3.3 percent in 2011
while Exxon’s fell 5 percent.
Exxon’s oil production also
fell behind Rosneft, the Russian energy company.
PetroChina’s rise highlights a fundamental difference in how the largest petroleum companies plan to supply the world as new deposits
become tougher to find and
more expensive to produce.
Every major oil company
has aggressively pursued
new finds to replace their current wells. But analysts say
Western oil firms like Exxon
Mobil have been more conservative than the Chinese,
mindful of their bottom line
and investor returns. With oil
prices up 19 percent in 2011,
they still made money without increasing production.
PetroChina Co. Ltd. has a
different mission. The Chinese government owns 86
percent of its stock and the
nation uses nearly every drop
of oil PetroChina pumps. Its
appetite for gasoline and other petroleum products is projected to double between 2010
“There’s a lot of anxiety in
China about the energy question,” says energy historian
Dan Yergin. “It’s just growing
While PetroChina sits atop
other publicly traded companies in oil production, it falls
well short of national oil companies like Saudi Aramco,
which produces nearly 8 million barrels a day.
And Exxon is still the biggest publicly traded energy
company when counting combined output of oil and natural
gas. PetroChina ranks third
behind Exxon and BP in total
output of oil and natural gas.
MINNEAPOLIS — In order to
grow, Best Buy is shrinking.
The largest U.S. specialty
electronics retailer for years expanded quickly by opening bigbox stores across the country.
But shoppers have started using
the hulking stores as showrooms
where they can test out products
before buying them cheaper elsewhere.
To revamp the struggling
chain, Best Buy said Thursday it
plans to close 50 of its U.S. big box
stores, cut 400 corporate jobs and
trim $800 million in costs. The
company, which has about 1,400
U.S. locations, also plans to open
100 smaller and more profitable
Best Buy Mobile stores throughout the country.
“How do we position the company so we’re where our customers need us to be?” chief executive Brian Dunn asked Thursday
in a call with analysts. “We’re
clearly going to have more doors
and less square footage.”
Best Buy said it would announce details about specific
store locations and timing for
closings once they are finalized.
To better compete, Best Buy is
shaking up its business. In addition to closing some of its big box
stores, the company said it will
focus on what sets it apart from
its rivals: Trained sales staff that
can help shoppers get the most
out of their tablets, TVs and other
electronic devices, including
tech support from its “Geek
Squad” service and repair unit.
But even as the Best Buy announced its changes Thursday,
the Minneapolis-based company
also posted a $1.7 billion fiscal
fourth-quarter loss that’s partly
due to restructuring charges. Despite the loss, Best Buy’s adjusted results for the quarter topped
Wall Street’s expectations.
But as investors worried that
Best Buy’s restructuring didn’t
go far enough, its shares slid
nearly 7 percent to close Thursday at $24.77.
Buckner food maker considers expansion
By Chris Otts
The Carriage House Companies, a food industry manufacturer in Buckner, is considering a
$96.8 million expansion to add
and upgrade production lines — a
move projected to result in 225
If it follows through with the
expansion, Carriage House —
owned by RH Financial Corp. of
St. Louis — could collect up to
$10 million in tax incentives over
10 years from the state and Oldham County.
The company makes “wet
goods” such as pancake and waffle syrups, barbeque sauce and
salsa, according to documents
from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority,
which approved the award on
The new jobs are projected to
pay an average wage of $22.97 an
hour, a figure including the value
of employee benefits.
The finance authority on
Thursday approved awards for
four other local companies considering expansions. Like Carriage House, the companies will
not get the money unless they follow through with their plans.
According to state documents
and Greater Louisville Inc., the
metro chamber of commerce, the
» Atlas Machine and Supply, a
century-old Louisville manufacturer, is considering a $1.2 mil-
lion expansion that would create
18 jobs paying an average of $30
an hour, including benefits. Atlas,
owned entirely by Rich Gimmel,
could collect up to $270,000 from
the state and Louisville metro
» Cinetic Sorting Corp., which
designs and builds material handling systems, is considering a
$385,135 expansion that would
mean 10 new jobs paying an average of $43 an hour, including
benefits. Cinetic could collect up
to $200,000 from the state and
» LINAK makes electric linear actuators used in hospital
beds, adjustable desks and other
motorized devices. The company,
based in Denmark, is considering
a $2.9 million expansion that
would mean 30 new jobs paying
an average of $21 an hour, including benefits. LINAK could collect
up to $300,000 from the state and
metro government. LINAK was
also approved for $36,000 in sales
tax rebates for construction materials and building fixtures.
» Vogt Power International,
which designs and makes heat recovery steam generators, is looking to hire 45 engineers at its
Louisville headquarters and invest more than $500,000 in equipment. The jobs would pay an average hourly wage of $43, including benefits. Vogt Power could
collect $550,000 from the state
and metro government.
Reporter Chris Otts can be reached
at (502) 582-4589.