Business In Brief - September 15, 2007

Springs Global workers offered computer classes

Panorama Computer Learning will conduct Microsoft Word and Excel classes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 22 and Sept. 29 at the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel.

The Microsoft Word class is Sept. 22 and the Microsoft Excel class Sept. 29.

The classes are free for Springs Global employees, $20 for unemployed people and $40 for employed people. Call Susan Woods at 324-3783 to register.

Wendy Hall joins First National Bank

Wendy Hall has joined First National Bank of the South as assistant vice president and relationship officer for the loan production office in Rock Hill.

She previously worked for Southern Community Bank & Trust in Winston-Salem, N.C., as assistant vice president in construction lending. Hall is a graduate of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and has more than nine years of experience.

August economic gains weaker than expected

WASHINGTON -- Consumers kept spending in August and factories kept producing, but the gains were weaker than expected as financial market turbulence and a slumping housing market continued to weigh on the economy.

Analysts said the new economic reports released Friday give the Federal Reserve more reasons to cut a key interest rate when policymakers meet next week.

The Commerce Department said retail sales increased 0.3 percent in August with the strength led by a 2.8 percent jump in auto sales, the biggest increase in this category in more than a year.

Separately, the Federal Reserve said industrial output edged up by 0.2 percent in August with all of the strength coming from a big jump in utility production in response to an August heat wave. Manufacturing dropped for the first time since February.

China raises interest rates for fifth time in '07

BEIJING -- China raised interest rates Friday for the fifth time this year amid signs that repeated attempts to cool the sizzling economy so far have had little effect.

The interest rate on a one-year loan will rise by 0.27 percent, to 7.29 percent, as of today, the Central Bank said. Rates paid on bank deposits also will rise by a similar margin, to 3.87 percent.

A rate hike was widely expected after the government said this week that inflation rose to an 11-year high of 6.5 percent in August, driven by a surge in politically sensitive food prices.

Chinese leaders want to maintain high growth to reduce poverty but worry that the current boom, fueled by exports and investment, could push inflation to dangerous levels or ignite a financial crisis.

The economy has powered ahead despite repeated rate hikes, investment curbs and measures to shrink credit, as well as global worries about the U.S. economy.