Connecticut Senate passes bill helping Jackson Lab deal

Connecticut lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday aimed at giving a boost to the state’s emerging bio-sciences industry by borrowing nearly $291 million to help build a $1.1 billion genetics laboratory at the University of Connecticut Health Center, in conjunction with The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine.

While the measure passed the Senate on a 21-14 vote, Republicans opposed the deal.

Members of the minority party questioned whether the project is worth the investment.

“We have to be very, very careful about making a decision to put this many resources into something that has somewhat of an unclear outcome,” warned Sen. Scott Frantz, R-Greenwich.

Jackson, a nonprofit, independent organization, has promised 320 jobs over 10 years. An estimated 6,900 long-term and indirect jobs are projected.

Frantz and other Republicans said they didn’t know enough about the deal reached between Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and The Jackson Laboratory and felt it was being rushed through the General Assembly. Frantz said he didn’t believe the state has done its due diligence to make sure taxpayers are protected and urged Malloy to restructure the agreement, which turns the facility over to the private Jackson Labs.

Catherine Smith, the state’s economic development commissioner, said many of those concerns will be addressed during the second phase of talks with Jackson, when the state finalizes a definitive agreement with the lab.

Ford stock drops 6 percent despite 10th straight profit

Ford has generated big profits for so long that investors were bound to get spoiled.

The company reported its 10th straight quarterly profit Wednesday but its stock price fell 6 percent, in large part because the carmaker decided to hold off on reinstating a dividend to stockholders. Investors were also irked by slowing growth and rising costs in the company’s third quarter.

Even though Ford earned $1.6 billion and beat expectations, investors wanted to see more of the huge gains from 2010, said David Silver, an analyst with Wall Street Strategies. Ford’s profit jumped 70 percent in the third quarter last year, as sales rose sharply from historic lows in 2009.

New home sales increase as builders reduce prices

Sales of new homes rose in September after four straight monthly declines, largely because builders cut their prices in the face of depressed demand.

Analysts say the modest increase on the back of reduced prices suggests the struggling housing market is years away from a turnaround.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that sales increased 5.7 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 313,000 homes.

Still, sales rose after hitting a six-month low in August. And the annual pace remains less than half the 700,000 that economists say must be sold to sustain a healthy housing market.

Excluding transportation, durable goods orders rise

Companies ordered more heavy machinery, computers and other long-lasting manufactured goods in September, a positive sign for the slumping economy.

An increase in demand for those types of durable goods suggests businesses are sticking with investment plans, despite slow growth and dismal consumer confidence.

Orders for so-called core capital goods rose 2.4 percent, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. It was the second straight monthly increase and the largest gain in six months.

Overall demand for durable goods fell 0.8 percent, but that was largely because of a huge decline in volatile commercial aircraft orders. Excluding transportation, orders rose 1.7 percent.

– From news service reports