Safe-haven stocks drag down Wall Street

NEW YORK — Wall Street is now worrying about the companies usually seen as safe havens. After an early rally Wednesday, investors succumbed to concerns about disappointing earnings and the market ended the day with a loss.

The market had rallied early in the day after a better-than-expected reading on the service sector. The Institute for Supply Management said the sector shrank for the fourth straight month in January but at a slower pace than in December.

KB Home to build to EPA guidelines

KB Home said Wednesday all of the Charleston-area homes it completes in 2009 will meet the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program guidelines.

Homes that meet those guidelines are said to be 20 percent to 30 percent more energy efficient than standard homes.

Los Angeles-based KB builds homes locally in the Eagle Run, Gardens at Tanner Plantation, Fairlawn at Foxbank Plantation, Preserve at Charleston Park and Pines at Charleston Park communities.

Bank of America selling off aircraft

CHARLOTTE —Bank of America Corp. said Wednesday it is selling some of its corporate aircraft as the bank looks to scale back costs.

The move comes as many financial firms are giving up private jet travel as scrutiny mounts over spending after the companies received billions of dollars in rescue funds. Since October, Bank of America has received $45 billion in government assistance.

The bank owns nine planes, including four Gulfstreams, FAA records show.

Costco: Profits are due to disappoint

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Costco Wholesale said Wednesday its profits for the quarter ending in February will "substantially" miss Wall Street estimates because of poor sales and margins.

January sales in stores open at least a year declined 2 percent, comprising flat domestic sales and a 9 percent decline overseas, hurt by the strengthening dollar. Total sales for the month slipped slightly to $5.1 billion.

Costco operates 550 warehouses, including one in Charleston. The company will report earnings March 4.

Mauldin employer might hire 1,000

GREENVILLE — A unit of South Korea's Samsung Group is expected to employ 1,000 over time at a new customer service center that is scheduled to open in May in Mauldin, Greenville County's top business recruiter told The Greenville News on Wednesday.

Most of the employees will be customer service representatives making an average of $14.40 an hour, said Jerry Howard, president and chief executive officer of the Greenville Area Development Corp.

Howard said Samsung Networks America Inc. also plans to eventually add 78 administrative and executive positions paying between $32,000 and $110,000 a year.

The company will establish the customer service center in an 80,000-square-foot building off Interstate 385 in Mauldin. Howard said Samsung plans to hire 300 at first and up to 1,000 over five years if business conditions are favorable.