Consumers spent warily last month
WASHINGTON -- Consumers don't appear confident enough in the economy to open their wallets more freely.
Their spending stalled in April. Without stronger job creation and higher pay, people are less likely to up their spending in the months ahead and invigorate the recovery.
The flat level for consumer spending was the weakest showing in seven months, according to the Commerce Department report. Personal incomes rose 0.4 percent, in line with expectations but not fast enough to help generate real growth.
Falling gas prices and cheaper utility bills could make people feel better about spending more over the summer, as could historically low mortgage rates. That would lead more people to refinance and leave them with more disposable income.
3 banks in Florida shut down by FDIC
WASHINGTON -- Regulators have shut down three affiliated banks in Florida, bringing the number of U.S. bank failures this year to 76.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Friday took over the banks, all owned by holding company Bank of Florida Corp. They are Bank of Florida-Southeast, based in Fort Lauderdale, with $595.3 million in assets; Bank of Florida-Southwest, based in Naples, with $640.9 million in assets; and Bank of Florida-Tampa Bay, based in Tampa, with $245.2 million in assets.
EverBank, based in Jacksonville, agreed to assume the assets and deposits of the failed banks.
Reynolds to close 2 tobacco factories
RICHMOND, Va. -- Tobacco maker Reynolds American said Friday it will close two cigarette plants -- one in its headquarters city in Winston-Salem, N.C., and another in Puerto Rico -- as it adjusts to declining demand for cigarettes.
The nation's second-largest cigarette maker said production of cigarettes such as Camel and Pall Mall will start to shift to its largest facility in nearby Tobaccoville, N.C., this summer. Workers at the Winston-Salem plant will transition to the other facility.
In December, Reynolds offered buyouts to about 1,800 workers at the North Carolina manufacturing plants to cut costs. About 400 workers opted to take the offer. Most of the reductions were scheduled to take place in 2010 and begin as early as January, and others will have release dates in early 2011.
Report: S.C. hotel chain being sold
CHICAGO -- A group of investors led by Centerbridge Partners has won an auction to buy the South Carolina-based Extended Stay Hotels out of bankruptcy-court protection for nearly $4 billion, according to a report published Friday.
Citing "people familiar with the matter," The Wall Street Journal said Centerbridge and other investors bid $3.93 billion for the struggling chain of 680 properties, including two in the Charleston area.
Messages left with Centerbridge and Extended Stay were not returned Friday.
Extended Stay, based in Spartanburg, filed for bankruptcy protection last summer. It blamed debt from its 2007 acquisition by the Lightstone Group and a drop in business travel during the recession.