December 7, 2007 in Business

Business in brief: All area ski resorts open this weekend

The Spokesman-Review
File photo

Local ski resorts are opening for limited operations.
(Full-size photo)

By this weekend, skiers and snowboarders can head to any of the five regional ski resorts in the Inland Northwest, all of which will operate under “limited, early season conditions.”

Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg opens today; Schweitzer Mountain Resort in Sandpoint opened Thursday. And Mount Spokane opens this weekend for skiing Saturday and Sunday.

Last week, Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area opened with 14 of 32 runs operating, said spokesman Jim Schreiber. Earlier this week, 49 Degrees North in Chewelah opened, and plans to operate Friday through Tuesday.

Most resorts plan to discount lift tickets to encourage business until conditions improve.

Silver Mountain marketing manager Cathi Jerome said skiing conditions there are acceptable but far from ideal, due to warmer weather melting off the first big dump of snow.

“We’ll be open this weekend,” close Monday and wait and see what happens from there, Jerome said.


Boeing will have plan to replace 737 by 2012

Boeing Co. will decide on a plan to replace its popular 737 aircraft by 2012 at the latest, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

Last year, the company started seriously considering a successor for the 737, for which Boeing has won more than 6,000 orders since its 1967 debut.

Sandy Anger, a Boeing spokeswoman, said the company “must ensure it has the right set of breakthrough technologies in engines, aerodynamics, materials and other systems” to top the 737’s efficiency.

Anger said Boeing estimates it will be ready with a replacement for the 737 “sometime in the middle of the next decade – give or take a couple of years.”

The 737 competes with Airbus’ hot-selling A320, which went into service in 1988. Toulouse, France-based Airbus says it has sold more than 5,500 A320s.


Homeowner equity down to record low

The amount of equity homeowners hold in their homes slipped in the third quarter to the lowest level on record, just above 50 percent, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Thursday.

In its quarterly U.S. Flow of Funds Accounts, the central bank reported that homeowners’ percentage of equity dipped to 50.4 percent from 51.1 percent from the previous quarter. On average, housing is Americans’ single largest asset.

Economists expect this figure, equal to the percentage of a home’s market value minus mortgage-related debt, to tumble even further as falling home prices eat into equity. It could easily drop below 50 percent by the end of next year, some experts say, marking the first time homeowners will owe more than they own since the Fed started recording the data in 1945.

Home equity has steadily decreased even as home prices jumped earlier this decade due to a surge in cash-out refinances, home equity loans and lines of credit and an increase in 100 percent or more home financing.

This decline could curb retail spending as homeowners stop tapping home equity and, instead, save money.

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