Business

Thursday AM October 18th, 2007

Capital markets to be discussed in breakfast forum…Inflation at consumer level rises at fastest pace in four months; economy experiences slower growth with troubled housing and credit markets… Houston business owners are hearing an assessment of the capital markets in a breakfast forum this morning at the Houstonian Hotel, hosted by Houston law firm Boyar […]

Capital markets to be discussed in breakfast forum…Inflation at consumer level rises at fastest pace in four months; economy experiences slower growth with troubled housing and credit markets…

Houston business owners are hearing an assessment of the capital markets in a breakfast forum this morning at the Houstonian Hotel, hosted by Houston law firm Boyar & Miller. GulfStar Group managing director Tom Hargrove is speaking on the current environment for mergers and acquisitions.

“I think it’ll be a good conference, and they have some good speakers–some of whom I know, you know, personally–to comment on different parts of business in Houston.”

Hargrove works with institutional sources to raise private funds for his clients, who may want to acquire other businesses or build a plant.

“I love dealing with the companies that we deal with because most of them are entrepreneurially-driven and you get to meet a lot of very interesting and successful people and help them, you know, accomplish what one of their goals are because a sale of a business—and I’m just going to focus on that—is one of those life events. Most people will go through that one time and one time only.”

Other panelists include Tom Fish with CBRE/Melody speaking on real estate, Rudy Garza with G-51 Capital Management discussing venture capital and J.B. Dollison with Crutchfield Capital covering private equity.


Inflation at the consumer level rose in September at the fastest pace in four months, reflecting higher energy and food costs. The Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index increased three-tenths of a percent last month. Energy costs went up after falling for three months, and food prices jumped by the largest amount since June. The CPI increase was slightly above what economists had been expecting. Core inflation, which excludes energy and food, was up a more moderate two-tenths percent, in line with expectations.


The Federal Reserve says the U.S. economy has experienced slower growth, reflecting pressures caused by the troubled housing and credit markets. The so-called beige book survey is prepared for the central bank’s policy-setting session later this month. It says consumer spending has been uneven, suggesting slower growth in the early fall. Manufacturing and service sectors continued to expand, but growth weakened, particularly for products and services related to home construction and real estate transactions. The report notes that businesses are increasingly uncertain about the economic outlook. Economists are mixed on whether the Fed will cut interest rates again at the end of the month. The next meeting is a two-day affair, wrapping up on October 31st.


Come January, social security benefits for nearly $50 million Americans are going up 2.3 percent. It will be the smallest increase in four years. The government says the cost-of-living adjustment will mean an extra $24 per month in the average check. The monthly benefit for the typical retired worker in 2008 will go from $1,055 as of now to $1,079 next year. The adjustment, announced by the Social Security Administration, will go to more than $54 million Americans. Nearly $50 million receive social security benefits and the rest get supplemental security income payments aimed at helping the poor.


American Airlines parent AMR Corporation reports its third-quarter profit surged from the year-ago period after the carrier took a $99 million charge on fuel-hedging contracts. Fort Worth-based AMR reports net quarterly income of $175 million. That’s almost 12 times the profit reported for the same period last year. That’s even accounting for a charge of $40 million, related to salary and benefit expenses. Revenue for the quarter increased almost two percent to $5.95 billion. That was just short of analysts’ forecast of $5.96 billion.


World Oil magazine announced the winners of its 2007 World Oil Awards at its sixth annual black-tie gala last night in Houston. The Innovative Thinkers Award went to Dr. Phillip D. Nguyen at Halliburton. The Health, Safety, Environment/Sustainable Development Award went to TOTAL E&P for efficient drilling waste processing in a sensitive part of Indonesia. Schlumberger was honored with the Best Production Technology Award.


Comcast has started rolling out its video-on-demand service to Digital Cable subscribers in the Houston area. Over 9,300 programs a month are being made available, with the ability for the customer to pause, fast-forward and rewind selections. Customers to subscribe to a digital level of service will receive On Demand automatically. Over 150 hours of high-definition content will be made available.


Between the Apple iPhone and other offerings, touch screens are the big new thing in cell phones ahead of the holiday season. Sprint Nextel says it is jumping into the competition by with The Touch by HTC. Like the iPhone, the smart phone has only a few buttons, designed to be controlled by touching the screen. The touch will go on sale November 4th for $250 with a two-year contract. Sprint is the third of the three largest U.S. wireless carriers to introduce a wireless phone with a large touch screen. The iPhone was launched this summer, exclusive to AT&T. Verizon Wireless said two weeks ago that it would introduce the LG Voyager in time for Thanksgiving.

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