Investors skeptical about bailout plans

NEW YORK — Investors took scant comfort Wednesday from the government's plans to revive the housing market and overall economy. Wall Street ended with only modest changes after a steep sell-off Tuesday.

The caution Wednesday followed another round of downbeat economic news. The government said construction of homes and apartments tumbled by 16.8 percent in January to a record low annual rate. Building permit applications also dropped to a record low.

The Federal Reserve slashed its projections for the nation's economic performance this year, predicting the economy will shrink. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke reiterated that he would do everything possible to loosen the recession's grip.

Buyers aim to keep Hard Rock's name

COLUMBIA — One of the new owners of Hard Rock Park said Wednesday he wants to keep the rock 'n' roll theme park's famous name and hire 750 employees to reopen the Myrtle Beach venture by summer.

A federal bankruptcy judge on Tuesday approved the sale of Hard Rock Park for $25 million to a group of investors, including Baker Leisure Group, which has done work for The Walt Disney Co. and Six Flags.

"The park's in great shape," Steve Baker, president of Baker Leisure, said Wednesday. "It's a big effort, but we'll make it."

Baker's company wants to get the park reopened by Memorial Day and is "very desirous of keeping the name," he said. "We think that's it's a very strong brand and has instant recognition almost on a worldwide basis."

Bi-Lo taps industry veteran as CEO

GREENVILLE — Bi-Lo has named Michael Byars, a 30-year veteran of the supermarket industry, its new president and chief executive officer. He takes over from Randall Onstead, interim chief executive, who remains chairman, The Greenville News reported.

Previously, Byars was president and CEO of Minyard Food Stores in the Dallas area.

Mauldin-based Bi-Lo has 216 supermarkets in the Carolinas, Georgia and Tennessee. It employs about 17,200 workers.

HP's profits slump, sales edge up by 1%

SAN FRANCISCO — Hewlett-Packard's quarterly profit dropped 13 percent to $1.85 billion, and sales ticked up by 1 percent, as even the company's cash-cow printer ink business was hobbled by the recession. HP's sales of $28.8 billion fell short of Wall Street's forecast by more than $3 billion.

GE's CEO declines bonus, other pay

WASHINGTON — General Electric Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt declined a 2008 bonus and performance awards, saying Wednesday the company's falling profits and plummeting share price prompted him to forgo the payments.

The conglomerate, which makes everything from locomotives to appliances, said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Immelt will not receive his $11.7 million long-term performance award. Immelt's base salary of $3.3 million was even with his 2007 pay.