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November 15, 2005

Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills rose in Monday's auction to the highest levels since the spring of 2001.

The Treasury Department auctioned $18 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 3.91 percent, up from 3.87 last week. Another $16 billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 4.195 percent, up from 4.155 percent last week.

The three-month rate was the highest since 4.05 percent on April 16, 2001. The six-month rate was the highest since 4.22 percent on March 19, 2001.

Diebold rises $1.73 on KeyBanc upgrade

Diebold Inc. of Green closed up $1.73 to $39.12 on Monday after KeyBanc Capital Markets upgraded the maker of ATMs and voting machines. KeyBanc listed the 12-month price target for Diebold stock at $44 a share.

Sky Financial gets OK to buy Falls Bank

Sky Financial Group has received approval from the Federal Reserve System to acquire Falls Bank.

The Bowling Green-based bank-holding company said it intends to change the name of Falls Bank to Sky Bank and move its headquarters to Salineville.

In September, Inner City Press filed an objection with the Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland to Sky's purchase, alleging discrepancies in lending rates to minorities.

The Federal Reserve found that Sky usually acquired rural community banks and has only recently gone into urban areas with significant minority populations. It said Sky has started initiatives to increase lending to minorities.

Weather prediction lifts crude futures

Crude oil futures rose slightly Monday on predictions that a cold snap was headed for the northeastern United States.

Light, sweet crude for December delivery rose 16 cents to settle at $57.69 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after rising as high as $58.20 earlier in the day.

Heating oil rose 0.69 cent to settle at $1.73 a gallon, while gasoline rose 1.11 cents to settle at $1.50 a gallon.

Hurricane Katrina sent oil prices soaring to $70.85 a barrel Aug. 30, but they have since fallen about 20 percent.

Host Marriott to buy 38 Starwood hotels

Host Marriott Corp. will buy 38 hotels from Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. for roughly $3.4 billion in a deal that will free Starwood to build its luxury brands and will boost Host's upscale and overseas hotel and resort holdings.

The deal announced Monday calls for Host, based in Bethesda, Md.. to give Starwood shareholders $2.33 billion of Host stock and pay $1.06 billion in cash.

Host will also take on $700 million of debt.

Starwood, headquartered in White Plains, N.Y., owns and operates brand names like Sheraton, Westin, St. Regis and W hotels.

Hurricane repairs boost Lowe's 26%

Lowe's Cos. shares climbed nearly 5 percent Monday after the nation's second largest home improvement retailer said its earnings rose nearly 26 percent in the third quarter, as residents of the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast and others fixed up their houses.

The North Carolina retailer earned $649 million, or 81 cents a share, for the quarter that ended Oct. 28, compared with $516 million, or 65 cents a share, a year ago.

Sales increased 16.9 percent to $10.6 billion from $9.1 billion in the third quarter of 2004.

Lowe's shares rose $2.92, or 4.7 percent, to close at $64.89 Monday on the New York Stock Exchange, where they have traded between $50.72 and $68.95 over the past 52 weeks.

Crash sensors may be faulty

The government is investigating Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans after receiving complaints about failure of front air bag crash sensors.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on its Web site that it had received five complaints alleging failure in 2005 models of the front air bag crash sensors, located behind the front bumper.

The preliminary investigation involves about 410,000 vehicles.

Delta says strike would be `suicide'

Delta Air Lines Inc. said Monday that if its pilots strike because their contract is rejected in bankruptcy court, it would be ``murder-suicide'' and would in effect put the nation's third-largest carrier out of business.

The comments by the Atlanta-based airline in a court filing came two days before a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in New York will hold a hearing to discuss Delta's request to reject its pilots' collective bargaining agreement and impose $325 million in concessions.

The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents Delta's 6,000 pilots, has raised the prospect of a strike.

US Airways reduces Pittsburgh presence

US Airways intends to eliminate 13 more nonstop departures from Pittsburgh after the holidays, including routes to Dallas and Detroit, and drop the airline's Pittsburgh presence below 200 daily flights for the first time in recent memory.

``When a market is underperforming, we simply can't afford to keep it,'' said US Airways spokesman Phil Gee.

What are people saying about mortgages today:

Rates on 30-year mortgages edged down last week to a seven-month low. Mortgage-giant Freddie Mac reported Thursday that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages fell to 6.3 percent, down slightly from 6.31 percent two weeks ago. It put rates at the lowest level since they were at 6.24 percent the first week of March.

Bank of Hawaii, Central Pacific Bank, Territorial Savings Bank and Wells Fargo Home Mortgages all cut their 30-year mortgage rates to 5.75 percent this week.

Most people think of a mortgage as a means to an end. After all, you buy a house, not a home loan. But a mortgage is much more than the path to homeownership. It is a financial instrument that must be managed, just like any other financial investment.