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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Lumber sales up, but industry still cautious

Lumber production at Western sawmills rose 9.2 percent during the first nine months of 2010, compared with the same period last year.

Although the increased production is a hopeful sign, “we’re not out of the doldrums yet,” said Butch Bernhardt, a spokesman for the Western Wood Products Association, which tracks mill activity in 12 Western states.

New home starts, a driver of lumber sales, remain weak nationally, he said.

In 2009, lumber output at Western sawmills dropped to the lowest level since the trade association began keeping records in the late 1940s, Bernhardt said. Since 2005, output from Western lumber mills has fallen by nearly 50 percent,

Through Sept. 30, Western mills produced 8.6 billion board feet of lumber this year, compared with 7.9 billion board feet for the same period in 2009.

Becky Kramer

General Growth finishes restructuring

CHICAGO – Shopping mall owner General Growth Properties Inc. on Tuesday emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, bringing to a close the largest real estate bankruptcy case in U.S. history.

The Chicago-based company said it has completed the final steps of its financial restructuring, 19 months after it turned to the courts under the weight of nearly $28 billion in debt.

“Today marks the successful end of one chapter in (General Growth’s) history and the beginning of another,” CEO Adam Metz said in a statement.

During the bankruptcy process, the company lined up $6.8 billion in equity commitments and restructured and extended $15 billion in debt. It also worked out a way to pay all creditors in full – a rare outcome in bankruptcy cases.

As part of the restructuring, General Growth split into two separate companies: General Growth Properties and The Howard Hughes Corp., which owns General Growth’s portfolio of planned communities and other real estate development opportunities.

Associated Press

Goldman Sachs fined for disclosure failure

Washington – Industry regulators have fined Goldman Sachs $650,000 for failing to disclose that two of its brokers, including the executive accused of leading the mortgage securities deal that brought civil fraud charges against the firm, were under investigation by the government.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority announced the fine Tuesday, saying Goldman lacked adequate procedures to ensure that the required disclosure was made for Fabrice Tourre, a Goldman vice president. Goldman made that report last May, more than seven months after Tourre received a notice from the Securities and Exchange Commission that it was considering filing charges against him, FINRA said.

Goldman’s disclosure on Tourre also came after the SEC filed fraud charges against the Wall Street powerhouse and Tourre in April. Goldman settled the charges in July, paying a record $550 million.

Associated Press

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