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In brief: Gottschalks seeks approval to begin liquidation

Regional department store chain Gottschalks Inc. is going out of business after failing to successfully reorganize its operations under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the Fresno, Calif.-based company said Tuesday.

The 105-year-old chain, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January, sells brand-name apparel, cosmetics, shoes, accessories and home merchandise. Most of its locations – 55 department stores and three specialty apparel stores – are in California. In this region, Gottschalks has stores in Spokane at Manito Center, Moses Lake and Lewiston.

The liquidation still needs to be approved by a Delaware bankruptcy court, which is scheduled to consider the proposal today. If approved, the liquidation sale could begin as early as Thursday and is expected to be completed by July 15.

Los Angeles Times


AmericanWest posts loss, remains short of capital

AmericanWest Bancorporation for 2008 booked a $198.2 million provision for loan losses and goodwill markdowns, blows that resulted in a $192.4 million loss for the year.

The loss broke down to $11.18 per share compared with a profit of 54 cents per share in 2007, when the Spokane bank holding company reported net income of $8.6 million.

The results were reported Tuesday in AmericanWest’s annual report for 2008.

Assets as of Dec. 31, were $2.1 billion.

The provision for loan losses was $97.2 million.

The goodwill charged off was the result of two bank acquisitions made by AmericanWest. It does not affect the bank’s capital ratios.

But AmericanWest remains short of capital. The company has obtained a non-binding commitment for $57 million in Treasury funds, but must raise an equal sum from the private sector.

Because of its capital shortage, federal and Washington state regulators have imposed some restrictions on the company, which put AmericanWest’s ability to continue as a going concern in jeopardy.

Bert Caldwell

New York

Dow has best month since October 2002

Wall Street ended a tumultuous March on a high note, managing its first winning month this year and its best monthly performance in nearly seven years.

Stocks finished off their earlier highs on Tuesday but resumed a three-week rally that has brought the Dow Jones industrials up a total of 16 percent since hitting their lowest level in 12 years on March 9.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 86.90, or 1.2 percent, to 7,608.92, after earlier rising as much as 203 points. The Dow rose 7.7 percent overall in March, its biggest monthly gain since October 2002.

Associated Press


Home price index down 19.4 percent in past year

Home prices sank by the sharpest annual rate on record in January, and the pace continues to accelerate, but there were a handful of battered metro areas where price declines slowed, according to data released Tuesday.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 major cities tumbled by a record 19 percent from January 2008. It was the largest decline since the index started in 2000. The 10-city index dropped 19.4 percent, also a record.

All 20 cities in the report showed monthly and annual price declines, with 13 posting annual records. Prices dropped by more than 10 percent in 14 cities. Faring better were Dallas, Denver and Cleveland, with annual price declines of around 5 percent.

Associated Press


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