U.S. chamber awards grant toward northern Maine jobs

Gov. Paul LePage says the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has awarded $200,000 to a program designed to create jobs in northern Maine.

The governor said in a statement on Thursday that the Northern Maine Development Commission in Caribou received the grant for the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership program.

The governor’s office said the partnership is a federal program designed to help bring manufacturing jobs back to cities. In Maine, the grant will be used to advance the manufacturing of biomass heating appliances in the northern part of the state with the aim of creating jobs.

Statoil reports discovering major oil field off Canada

Norwegian energy company Statoil says drilling works off the Canadian coast have uncovered a major oil field that could contain as much as 600 million barrels of recoverable crude.

Statoil said the discovery is approximately 300 miles northeast of St. John’s, Newfoundland, and is the third largest find in the Flemish Pass region since June.

The company said oil from all three discoveries is under about 3,600 feet of water.

Statoil owns a 65 percent stake in the three discoveries, while Canada’s Husky Energy owns the rest.

Toyota CEO expects demand for new cars will taper off

Toyota’s top North American executive says the pent-up demand that’s been driving sales of new cars likely will dry up in 2014.

North American CEO Jim Lentz said that the demand came from people who kept cars through the recession. The average age of a car on U.S. roads hit a record this year at more than 11 years.

As buyers have gained confidence following the economic downturn, they’ve replaced aging cars. Lentz said that demand could be satisfied by late next year.

Accountant denies aiding Madoff in Ponzi scheme

A senior partner at a New York accounting firm has pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he aided financier Bernard Madoff in his epic fraud.

Paul Konigsberg, 77, entered the plea Thursday at an arraignment on five charges that he conspired with Madoff and helped him lie to investors.

He’s accused of participating in and helping to direct false bookkeeping.

Konigsberg has been released on $2 million bail.

Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence after admitting his fraud in 2009.

Rates on fixed mortgages fall to lowest in 2 months

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week to their lowest point in two months. The decline follows the Federal Reserve’s decision last week to hold off slowing its monthly bond purchases.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year loan dropped to 4.32 percent from 4.5 percent last week. The average on the 15-year fixed loan declined to 3.37 percent from 3.54 percent.

Both are the lowest averages since July 25.

– From staff and news services