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In brief: Several Hollywood Video stores slated for closure

Three area Hollywood Video stores will close in several weeks, the company has announced on its Web site. They are:

•University City, 10614 E. Sprague.

•Airway Heights, 12622 W. Sunset Highway.

•Coeur d’Alene, 560 W. Kathleen St.

Parent company Hollywood Entertainment Corp., based in Wilsonville, Ore., is restructuring operations following a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing earlier this year.

The company has not established closing dates for the three video-rental stores. Five other Hollywood Video stores are not closing, according to the company Web site.

Tom Sowa

Official: Low rates still needed

WASHINGTON – Record-low interest rates are still needed to foster the economic recovery and to relieve high unemployment, a Federal Reserve official said Monday.

Janet Yellen, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, is the latest Fed official in recent days to stress that the central bank isn’t in any rush to boost borrowing costs for millions of Americans. The remarks come after the Fed took a surprise step Thursday and bumped up the rate banks pay for emergency loans.

Despite a big growth spurt at the end of last year, the economic rebound is likely to slow later this year as benefits from the government stimulus plan fade, Yellen pointed out in a speech in San Diego.

Associated Press

Employer health care costs up

INDIANAPOLIS – A new study says health care costs for large employers will rise more than 6 percent this year, and more companies are thinking about revamping their benefits.

The study from benefits consultant Towers Watson says this year’s increase in the cost companies pay to administer health plans and pay claims is down slightly from 2009’s 7 percent hike.

A total of 83 percent of companies surveyed say they have either revamped their health care strategy or expect to do so in the next two years. This can mean switching plan designs or increasing employee payments among other big changes.

Associated Press

Lowe’s reports profit gain

NEW YORK – Consumers responded to Lowe’s rebates for higher-priced items such as cabinets and countertops, a sign homeowners are starting to consider bigger remodeling projects as the economy stabilizes.

Modestly higher sales and cost cutting helped Lowe’s fourth-quarter profit rise 27 percent, the first quarterly increase since 2007, the company reported Monday.

The No. 2 home-improvement chain also said Monday that it expects sales to rise this year as the long-suffering housing market and broader economy recover. Still, a snowy February kept Lowe’s cautious about the first-quarter outlook.

Associated Press