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Boost sought in workers’ comp

Thu., Sept. 18, 2008

A Washington state agency has proposed a 3 percent boost in workers’ compensation rates, although officials say inflation indicates that the increase should be bigger.

Under the Department of Labor & Industries proposal Wednesday, average premiums would rise by nearly 2 cents for each hour worked next year. That would raise an additional $57 million.

Director Judy Schurke says there are signs a bigger increase might be needed. She notes that wages rose 5 percent last year, and health care costs are expected to go up by 5.5 percent in 2009.

A final decision is set for late November.


Soaring gold sets one-day record

Gold prices exploded Wednesday – posting the biggest one-day gain ever in dollar terms – as fears of more credit market turmoil unnerved investors and triggered a flood of safe-haven buying.

Gold for December delivery rose as much as $90.40, or 11.6 percent, to $870.90 an ounce in after-hours trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after jumping $70 to settle at $850.50 in the regular session. That was the biggest one-day price jump ever; gold’s previous single-day record was a $64 gain on Jan. 29, 1980. In percentage terms, it was gold’s largest one-day advance since 1999.

Investors began dumping stocks and socking money into gold, silver and other safe-haven commodities.


Housing construction off sharply

Construction of new homes and apartments fell to the weakest pace in 17 years in August, far more than expected, but lower mortgage rates and tax credits have given builders some glimmer of hope of a possible rebound.

Housing construction dropped a surprising 6.2 percent last month, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday, far larger than the 1.6 percent decline analysts had been expecting.

It was the slowest building pace since January 1991, but that should help clear out bloated inventories of unsold homes.

Building activity is on track to slide below the 1 million-mark for the whole year, the first time that has happened in more than six decades.

From wire reports


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