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Alliant Energy to cut more than 150 jobs, close four generators

Madison (AP) — Alliant Energy Corp. is cutting more than 150 jobs and shutting down four generators at its Rock River plant as it looks for ways to reduce costs.

The cuts include 125 management and nonunion employees.

Alliant spokesman Rob Crain said the positions eliminated include about 30 percent of the company’s highest-ranking managers.

Another 34 job cuts are at the Rock River plant near Beloit. Four workers will remain there to operate the remaining five generators. The power plant job losses involve union employees.

Meanwhile, voting results are expected Friday on Alliant’s request to more than 1,300 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to take a one-week furlough and accept a suspension of the company’s matching 401K contributions.

Entrants sought for Concrete Design Awards; deadline in December

The Wisconsin Ready Mixed Concrete Association is seeking entries to the 30th annual Concrete
Design Awards.

The awards showcase best uses of ready-mixed concrete in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The program recognizes excellence in the ready-mixed concrete industry in the following categories:
agricultural, commercial, decorative, education, health care and public, environmental management, ICF
commercial, ICF residential, industrial, municipal facilities, municipal/infrastructure, parking lot, pervious, residential, site cast tilt-up and other projects.

Projects completed in 2007-09 are eligible. The deadline to enter is Dec. 4.

For information, contact Cherish Schwenn at 800-242-6298 or [email protected]

More state banks profitable in first quarter

Milwaukee (AP) — More Wisconsin banks were profitable in the first quarter, an improvement attributed to mortgage refinancing and first-time home buyers taking advantage of a federal tax credit.

Figures from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. show about one in every 10 banks lost money in the quarter ending March 31. That compares with one in five in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Wisconsin Bankers Association chief executive Kurt Bauer said even though there has been improvement, it’s expected to be a tough year for bank earnings.

A total of 254 of Wisconsin’s banks showed a profit in the quarter, together making about $75 million. That compares with a collective loss of nearly $2 billion in the fourth quarter.

Nationally, banks had a profit of $7.6 billion in the first quarter, a notable improvement from the record loss of nearly $37 billion in the fourth quarter of last year.

April new home sales inch upward; obtaining loans still difficult

Washington (AP) — New U.S. home sales were almost flat last month, indicating that the housing market’s recovery likely will be a slow and gradual process.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that sales rose 0.3 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 352,000. But the increase came from a downwardly revised rate of 351,000 in March.

April’s results missed the expectations of economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters, who expected a sales pace of 360,000 units.

The median sales price fell to $209,700, a 14.9 percent drop from a year earlier, but up 3.7 percent from March. Prices are likely to remain weak for months as builders try to price their stock of unsold homes against bargain-priced foreclosures.

There were 297,000 new homes for sale at the end of April, down 4.2 percent from 310,000 in March. At the current sluggish sales pace, it would take more than 10 months to exhaust the supply of new homes on the market.

Homebuilders have scaled back operations to weather the bust, but in recent weeks companies have grown more optimistic, but both builders and homebuyers face challenges getting loans from banks.

Sale of Trump Marina Hotel to N.Y. developer not imminent

Atlantic City, NJ (AP) — The company that owns the Trump Marina Hotel Casino said Wednesday that its planned sale to a New York developer and former protégé of Donald Trump will not happen soon.

Trump Entertainment Resorts said Thursday’s deadline to sell the struggling Atlantic City casino-hotel to Richard Fields will come and go.

Company spokesman Tom Hickey said both sides still are interested in making it happen but couldn’t give an estimate as to when that might be.

A spokesman for Fields’ company, Coastal Development LLC, which is based in Manhattan, declined comment Wednesday evening.

Fields announced plans a year ago to buy the casino and rebrand it as Margaritaville in partnership with the business operation of singer Jimmy Buffett.

The casino’s price already has been cut from $316 million to $270 million. It’s unclear whether a further price reduction might be made to facilitate the deal.

Trump Marina is the smallest and worst-performing of the three Atlantic City casinos owned by Trump Entertainment Resorts, which is in bankruptcy court following a February Chapter 11 filing.

German unemployment falls in May with usual spring hiring boom

Berlin (AP) — Germany’s jobless rate dropped in May thanks to a regular spring boost to employment, but showed no signs of a lasting recovery from the recession in the jobs market, the Federal Labor Agency said Thursday.

The number of jobless dropped 127,000 in May to 3.458 million for a 0.4 percentage point decline in the unemployment rate to 8.2 percent, the Nuremberg-based agency said.

Unadjusted figures, the headline number in Germany, usually improve in spring as more seasonal and construction workers are taken on.

The rate had stagnated at 8.6 percent in April — when spring effects usually kick in.

“The spring revival in the labor market arrived late this year and brings a clear decline in the unemployment rate,” said Frank-Juergen Weise, chairman of the Labor Agency. “But taking into account all other indicators of the labor market, we cannot, in any case, speak of a turnaround.”

Seasonally adjusted figures showed a decline in the unemployment rate to 8.2 percent in May from 8.3 percent in April.

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