New England economists predicting modest growth

Modest economic growth is expected in New England over the next three years, with the region as a whole returning to pre-recession employment levels by 2015.

That’s according to a new economic forecast being released this week by the New England Economic Partnership.

Forecast manager Ross Gittell predicts that economic growth in the region will average 3.3 percent per year through 2016, while employment climbs by 1.4 percent per year.

Economists warn the recovery could be slowed by the automatic federal budget cuts and continued economic uncertainty in Europe.

Forecasters expect the strongest growth in Massachusetts and Vermont.

NEEP will release its full forecast and state breakdowns Wednesday.

Two firms acquiring control of Madawaka mill’s owner

Two New York-based private investment firms have agreed to buy a controlling interest in Twin Rivers Paper Co. Inc. for an undisclosed price.

Blue Wolf Capital Partners and Atlas Holdings said they have experience working with forest products companies in North America. They agreed to acquire the controlling stake from Brookfield Asset Management Inc. The deal is expected to close in three weeks.

Twin Rivers, which has facilities in Madawaska and New Brunswick, produces specialty papers and lumber.

Portland-based Elite airline will fly out of Baton Rouge

Elite Airways, a Portland-based airline company that has operated as a charter service since 2006, will begin offering passenger service out of Baton Rouge Metro Airport beginning in July.

Jim Caldwell, an airport spokesman, told local news sources that Elite Airways will get a standard incentive package, including two-year waiver on landing fees and rent. The airport also will help support advertising for the startup airline and could put up as much as $100,000 a year for two years.

Even though the airport won’t collect landing fees or rent, Caldwell said the airport will see a financial benefit from Elite’s entry into the market.

Elite Airways will make a formal announcement in mid-June on destinations out of Baton Rouge.

Best Buy has quarterly loss as it works on restructuring

Best Buy Co. is reporting a loss in its fiscal first quarter as it sold its stake in Best Buy Europe and works on a turnaround plan that includes cutting costs and closing stores.

The electronics retailer said net loss for the three months ended May 4 after paying preferred dividends totaled $81 million, or 24 cents per share. That compares with net income of $158 million, or 46 cents per share, last year.

Excluding restructuring costs and costs related to selling its stake in Best Buy Europe, net income from continuing operations totaled 32 cents per share. Analysts expected 24 cents per share.

Revenue fell nearly 10 percent to $9.38 billion, short of expectations of $10.67 billion.

Fed official’s reassurance, earnings reports lift stocks

Reassuring comments from a Federal Reserve official and better earnings from two big retailers helped push the market higher Tuesday.

Stock indexes wobbled between gains and losses in early trading, then took a turn higher just before noon. That’s when news crossed that James Bullard, head of the Fed’s St. Louis branch, told an audience in Germany that the Fed ought to stick with its bond-buying effort to bolster the economic recovery.

Meanwhile, Home Depot reported an 18 percent increase in quarterly income as the housing market continues to recover.

AutoZone jumped 5 percent. Better sales and shrinking costs helped the company beat analysts’ forecasts.

The Dow closed at another record high, up 52 points to 15,387.

- From staff and news services