Manatee Economic Breakfast slated for Jan. 24

December 28, 2012 

BRADENTON -- Economist Henry Fishkind will give his forecast of the local economy for 2013 at the Jan. 24 Economic Forecast Breakfast hosted by the Manatee Economic Development Corp.

Fishkind, with Fishkind and Associates in Orlando, will give the presentation at the 7:30-9:30 a.m. event at the Bradenton Auditorium, 1005 Barcarrota Blvd.

Cost is $45 for EDC members and $55 for others. A full buffet breakfast will be served.

For those who just want to attend the presentation, balcony seating is $30. For more information, visit ManateeEDC.com or for reservations, call 941-748-4842, ext. 126.

Grand opening of health, wellness store

SARASOTA -- ReVive, a health and wellness store, has opened in the Westfield Sarasota Square Mall.

Items such as organic teas, lotions and massage equipment are sold along with candles and gourmet foods.

Store hours are from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit www.ReViveMindBodySpirit.com.

Free health care seminar offered in Sarasota

SARASOTA -- Author Jonathan Fleece will lead a free health-care seminar at the Sarasota Yacht Club, 1100 Ringling Blvd. on Jan. 15.

Fleece will discuss the future of health care in American, which he outlines in his newest book, "The New Health Age."

The seminar, sponsored by Bouchard Insurance, is geared towards safety managers, plant managers, supervisors, safety committee members, human resources specialists, workers compensation administrators, chief executive officers, and chief financial officers.

Those interested should call 727-451-3105 or email barbdean@bouchardinsurance.com.

Church buys large commercial building

BRADENTON -- Maranatha Christian Church of America recently purchased a 2,812-square-foot commercial building at 2411 57th Ave. W., Bradenton.

The sellers were James B. and Carol L. Chapman. Purchase price was $180,000. Michael Gallatin and Diane Lawson, CCIM, both with Sperry Van Ness Commercial Advisory Group, handled the transaction. Gallatin sold the property to the Chapmans in April 2012 for $128,000.

Chowder Challenge to benefit Relay for Life

BRADENTON BEACH -- The Bridge Street Merchants, the Bridge Street Market and Sea-renity Spa & Boutique are sponsoring a chowder cook-off competition and live music by the Tangled Mangos from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 6.

There will be traditional and inventive chowder recipes from local chefs and culinary aficionados from Anna Maria Island.

All proceeds from the Chowder Challenge will benefit the American Cancer Society's 2013 Relay for Life team sponsored by Bridge Street business.

Tickets are $5 per person. Entry to the Bridge Street Market and the Tangled Mangoes music jam are free. Visitors will sample each food entry and vote for their favorite chowder recipe.

For more information on the Bridge Street Merchants or the Bridge Street Market visit www.bridgestreetmerchants.com.

U.S. jobless aid applications fall to 5-year low

WASHINGTON -- The average number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits over the past month fell to the lowest level since March 2008, a sign that the job market is healing.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 350,000 in the week ended Dec. 22. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to a nearly five-year low of 356,750.

Still, the Christmas holiday may have distorted the figures. A department spokesman said many state unemployment offices were closed Monday and Tuesday and could not provide exact data. That forced the government to rely on estimates. Normally, the government might estimate application data for one or two states. Last week, it had to use estimates for 19.

The estimates are usually fairly accurate, the spokesman said.

Weekly applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have mostly fluctuated this year between 360,000 and 390,000. At the same time, employers have added an average of 151,000 jobs a month in the first 11 months of 2012. That's just enough to slowly reduce the unemployment rate.

U.S. new home sales jump to fastest rate in 2½ years

WASHINGTON -- Americans bought new homes last month at the fastest pace in more than two and a half years, further evidence of a sustained housing recovery.

Sales of new homes rose 4.4 percent in November from October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 377,000, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That's the fastest pace since April 2010, when a federal tax credit boosted sales.

New-home sales have also increased 15.3 percent over the past year, although the improvement comes from depressed levels. Sales remain below the 700,000 that economists consider healthy.

Toyota plans to sell 9.7 million vehicles in 2012

TOKYO -- Toyota expects to sell a record 9.7 million vehicles this year, bouncing back by 22 percent from a disaster-struck 2011. It has set an even higher target of 9.91 million vehicles for 2013.

The numbers released this week underline Toyota Motor Corp.'s solid turnaround from supply disruptions caused by the earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan in 2011 that had hurt global production and sales.

They also underline the Japanese automaker's ambitions to move past the woes from massive recalls that began in 2009, especially in North America.

U.S. consumers lose confidence as fiscal cliff nears

WASHINGTON -- U.S. consumers peering over the "fiscal cliff" don't like what they see.

Fears of sharp tax increases and government spending cuts set to take effect next week sent consumer confidence tumbling in December to its lowest level since August.

The Conference Board said Thursday that its consumer confidence index fell for the second straight month in December to 65.1, down from 71.5 in November.

Fiscal cliff whipsaws stocks; confidence dims

NEW YORK -- The "fiscal cliff" took the stock market on a roller coaster Thursday. Small developments in the tense budget standoff yanked stocks back and forth throughout the day.

In the end, U.S. stocks closed lower for the fourth day in a row, sending the unwelcome message that the budget standoff is still far from solved, the economy still far from healed.

The erratic performance underscored how the "fiscal cliff" can yank the market back and forth. The term refers to automatic tax increases and government spending cuts that will kick in next week if Republicans and Democrats can't reach a budget agreement by Monday.

-- Herald staff, wire reports

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