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Originally published August 8, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 8, 2007 at 2:04 AM

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Business Digest

Personal income per capita grows

Pacific Northwest Per-capita personal income in the Seattle metropolitan area grew 6. 3 percent last year, to $44,228, according to figures...

Pacific Northwest

Economy

Per-capita personal income in the Seattle metropolitan area grew 6.3 percent last year, to $44,228, according to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Seattle ranked 17th out of 363 metro areas studied in terms of income per person, and 51st in terms of 2005-06 growth rate.

For the country as a whole, per capita personal income last year was $36,307, a 5.3 percent increase over 2005.

Nationally, the fastest income growth was concentrated in metro areas along the Gulf Coast. Those areas were ravaged by the 2005 hurricanes, causing incomes to plunge that year.

Among Northwest metro areas, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, experienced the fastest growth in per-capita personal income in 2006. Per-person income in the resort city grew 6.7 percent last year, to $28,765.

Blue Nile

Profitable quarter sends shares flying

Blue Nile's stock soared $13, or 15.9 percent, to an all-time high of $95 Tuesday after the online jewelry retailer posted second-quarter profit and revenue that surpassed analyst forecasts.

Its third-quarter and full-year sales forecasts, issued Monday when it released its financial results, also exceeded expectations.

Blue Nile's second-quarter profit rose 20.7 percent to $3.8 million, and its revenue climbed 26.7 percent to $72.1 million.

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Pacific Northwest

Microsoft

Slim tops Gates as richest — Fortune

Carlos Slim, who has created the biggest telecom companies in Latin America, has edged out Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to become the world's richest individual, Fortune magazine reported in its latest issue.

Slim, 67, is worth $59 billion, based on the value of his public holdings at the end of July, according to Fortune's calculations. Gates, who co-founded Redmond-based Microsoft, is worth at least $58 billion, Fortune said.

Boeing

Cathay Pacific buys 5 more 777-300s

Cathay Pacific Airways said Tuesday it will buy five more Boeing 777-300 Extended Range planes, bringing its total order for the model to 23.

The airline didn't say how much it will pay for the planes, but said it got a significant discount from Boeing off the total list price of $1.4 billion. The new planes are for delivery in 2011.

Washington Mutual

Bank tightens rules for some mortgages

Washington Mutual raised its requirements for accepting so-called low-documentation mortgages as banks reel in their lending practices to avoid losses.

Washington Mutual told brokers last week it will no longer accept mortgages unaccompanied by traditional documentation of income or assets if the loan exceeds 65 percent of the home's value and the borrower's credit score is below 680, said Sara Gaugl, a spokeswoman for the Seattle-based bank.

A score of at least 660 is now needed for low-documentation mortgages with loan-to-value ratios below 65 percent, the company told brokers Monday.

Pope & Talbot

Portland pulp firm offers itself for sale

Portland lumber and pulp company Pope & Talbot will put itself up for sale, the latest casualty in the shrinking timber industry.

The company had outlined its financial problems with lenders earlier this year. And Monday, after the market closed, the company made it clear the problems had not eased.

The company said because it had broken agreements with lenders, it was forced to accept bids for all or parts of the company. Pope & Talbot has about 280 Oregon employees and 2,400 employees in North America.

Starbucks

Oral-history work to be next offering

A year after adding books to its growing entertainment lineup, Starbucks said Tuesday it will soon begin selling its third pick, a collection of 50 stories in an oral-history project compiled on book and CD.

Edited by Peabody Award winner Dave Isay, "Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Lives From the StoryCorps Project" will go on sale at Starbucks' more than 6,500 company-operated U.S. stores beginning Nov. 8, the company said.

Nation and World

Sun Microsystems

Company to chop additional jobs

Server and software maker Sun Microsystems plans to cut an unspecified number of jobs as part of a new restructuring plan, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Sun said it expects to incur total charges of about $100 million to $150 million over the next several quarters, primarily related to cash severance costs.

The company expects to book most of the charges in the first half of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008. The Silicon Valley company did not disclose how many jobs would be cut.

General Motors

Transmission-unit sale completed

General Motors said Tuesday it has completed the sale of its Allison Transmission commercial and military business to The Carlyle Group and Onex for $5.6 billion.

The sale, announced in June, includes seven manufacturing plants in Indianapolis and its global-distribution network and sales offices.

A production facility in Baltimore, which produces conventional and hybrid transmissions for trucks and sport-utility vehicles, will remain with GM.

Detroit-based GM said in a statement that it would use the money to strengthen its liquidity and support investments in new products and technology.

Indianapolis-based Allison designs and builds commercial-duty automatic transmissions, hybrid propulsion systems and parts for trucks and buses, off-highway equipment and military vehicles.

The company boasts an 80 percent market share of all medium- and heavy-duty commercial transmissions, with annual revenue of more than $2 billion.

Economy

Consumer credit, productivity rise

The productivity of American workers rebounded in the spring while wage pressures eased, favorable economic developments that analysts worried might prove only temporary.

The Labor Department reported Tuesday that worker efficiency rose at an annual rate of 1.8 percent in the April-June quarter, more than double the 0.7 percent pace of the first three months of the year.

Separately, consumers boosted their borrowing more than expected in June, reflecting another hefty jump in credit-card debt.

The Federal Reserve reported Tuesday that consumer credit rose at an annual rate of 6.5 percent in June. It marked the second straight sizable gain.

Total consumer credit rose by $13.2 billion in June to a record $2.459 trillion.

The increase was double what economists had been expecting.

Compiled from Seattle Times staff , The Associated Press and Bloomberg News

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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