Clovis News

Business briefs: Home sales soar in state, Fresno County

Home sales increased almost 64% last month in California from a year ago, thanks in large part to falling prices.

Statewide, the median price tumbled 39% from March 2008, although values rose slightly from February.

All regions in the state experienced increases in month-to-month sales, with the smallest gain being 9.7% in Sacramento and the greatest at 32.2% in Riverside/San Bernardino, the California Association of Realtors said.

Fresno County reported a 23.3% boost in sales from February to March.

Statewide, prices edged up 2.2% in March from February. In Fresno County, the increase was 9.6%. That was the first price gain in California since August 2007, but association economist Leslie Appleton-Young said it's too early to declare price stabilization.

MDA DataQuick released March median prices for Central California cities, with percentage decrease from March 2008:

* Fresno, $138,000, 40.3%

* Clovis, $240,000, 25%

* Selma, $148,500, 25%

* Visalia, $168,000, 21.9%

* San Luis Obispo, $522,500, 3.6%

Deal puts Chrysler closer to avoiding bankruptcy

WASHINGTON -- With just two days left before a government-imposed restructuring deadline, Chrysler LLC took a step away from the brink of bankruptcy Tuesday when its biggest lenders reached a deal with the Treasury Department to slash the teetering automaker's debt.

Yet Chrysler's fate remains far from assured. If the company's smaller creditors don't get on board, a bankruptcy filing remains a possibility.

But now that Chrysler has a tentative agreement with the United Auto Workers and is closing in on a pact with Italian automaker Fiat Group SpA, Chrysler has cleared nearly all the hurdles ahead of its Thursday deadline.

Tests show Citigroup, BofA still stressed

WASHINGTON -- Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc., which have each received $45 billion in government bailout funds, have been told by regulators that "stress test" results show they may need to raise additional capital, The Wall Street Journal said.

BofA is looking at a shortfall in the billions of dollars, the paper said, citing people familiar with the situation. Both banks plan to rebut the preliminary findings, according to the paper.

Also ...

* CalPERS (California Public Employees' Retirement System), the largest U.S. public pension fund, said it will vote against re-electing all 18 Bank of America Corp.'s board members, including Chairman and Chief Executive Ken Lewis, at today's annual meeting.

* Pfizer reported lower first-quarter profit as sales suffered for drugs including the blockbuster Lipitor, while rival Bristol-Myers Squibb was a rare bright spot among drugmakers this quarter, posting an increase in sales. Still, both companies saw their profits dip in the quarter, Pfizer because heavy cost-cutting wasn't enough to offset an 8% drop in revenue and a higher tax rate, Bristol-Myers because of higher taxes on top of a sizable litigation charge.

* Office Depot reported that, excluding its cost-cutting efforts and other one-time events, its first-quarter profit of $27 million was much better than expected. The office supplies chain recorded a net loss of $54.7 million.

* Honda, Japan's second-largest automaker, said it overcame a large quarterly loss to book a fiscal year profit that was well above forecasts, and vowed to stay in the black for the current fiscal year.

* Sun Microsystems' loss ballooned in the latest quarter as restructuring charges and a 20% drop in sales compounded the financial woes Oracle Corp. is set to inherit by acquiring Sun for $7.4 billion.