Business Notes


Jim Beam gets approval for tax refunds for distillery improvements

The state Tourism Development Authority on Wednesday approved the Jim Beam Distillery to potentially receive $1.2 million in tax refunds over a 10-year period after completing a new visitor center. The distillery in Clermont plans to spend $15 million to create a new entrance road, expanded visitor center and gift shop, and a new interpretive center. The improvements are expected to be completed by 2012.


More homeowners can qualify

The government will let more borrowers qualify for a new $300 billion program that lets troubled homeowners swap risky loans for more affordable ones, a Bush administration official said Wednesday. Launched Oct. 1, the program is off to a slow start, with the government receiving just 111 applications during the first month. Under the new rules, lenders would be allowed to take a smaller loss. New loans can be made for 96.5 percent of the home's value, rather than the previous level of 90 percent. "Few lenders have actually signed up and few borrowers have submitted applications," said Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Steve Preston. "Clearly meaningful changes are needed."

Mortgage applications fall

Mortgage application volume fell 6.2 percent during the week ended Nov. 14, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly application survey. The trade group's application index slipped to 398.6 during the week, down from 425 a week earlier. The index peaked at 1,856.7 during the week ending May 30, 2003, at the height of the housing boom. An index value of 100 is equal to the application volume on March 16, 1990, the first week the MBA tracked application volume.

Oil falls to January '07 levels

Oil slipped below $54 a barrel Wednesday, with light, sweet crude for December delivery falling 77 cents to settle at $53.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That's about where prices were in January of 2007. The Labor Department reported Wednesday that energy prices fell by a record 8.6 percent in October, led by a 14.2 percent drop in gasoline prices, also a record. With no definitive signs that the economy is stabilizing, industry analysts expect that energy prices will continue to fall.

Compiled from Staff, wire reports