Home Depot hiring workers to prepare for spring traffic

Home Depot Inc. is hiring more than 60,000 temporary workers in the United States, as well as adding permanent employees for the second year in a row.

The world’s largest home improvement retailer is staffing up as it prepares for the biggest selling season of the year, March through mid-June, Craig Menear, executive vice president of merchandising, said in a telephone interview.

“It is about driving traffic,” Menear, 53, said from Home Depot’s headquarters in Atlanta. “Spring is our Christmas.” Menear declined to say how many full-timers and part-timers will be hired permanently.

The retailer had 317,000 employees, including 298,000 hourly or temporary workers, as of Jan. 31, 2010, according to an annual securities filing. About 61 percent worked full-time.


Bank of America assessing $59 fee on some customers

Bank of America is assessing a new $59 annual fee on select credit card holders.

The bank began mailing out notices of the new fee last week. The fee will be assessed on May statements and will affect about 5 percent of the bank’s credit card customers, said Betty Riess, a spokeswoman.

The fee isn’t tied to a specific type of card and is based strictly on the customer’s risk profile. For example, the selected customers may carry balances close to their credit limits, have lower-than-average FICO scores or regularly make late payments. They likely don’t have any other relationship – such as a checking account or mortgage – with the bank, Riess said.

On average, the customers who are being assessed the fee are being charged a 14 percent interest rate. Bank of America said these customers generally would not be approved for a no-fee new account today at their current rates.


Family Dollar receives bid to take company private

Discount retailer Family Dollar Stores has received a bid from investor and billionaire financier Nelson Peltz’s firm to take the company private.

The Trian Fund has offered $55 to $60 per share for Family Dollar, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday.

The fund is one of the company’s largest shareholders with approximately 8 percent of Family Dollar’s shares.

Shares of Family Dollar soared nearly 30 percent to $53.14 in after-hours trading.


Airlines’ latest fare hikes target corporate travelers

Major U.S. airlines are raising the price of some tickets favored by business travelers again, this time by up to $120 per round trip.

Fare experts said Delta started the latest increase on Monday, which was matched immediately by American and a day later by United, Continental and US Airways.

It’s the second big increase in fares in as many weeks. The airlines’ fuel prices have risen 50 percent over the past year. They eliminated many flights when they were losing money in 2008 and 2009, which has given them the power to raise fares now that planes are more crowded and travel demand is rebounding.

JP Morgan analyst Jamie Baker said it made sense for the big airlines to target corporate travelers, who are considered less sensitive to price increases. He said airlines may have raised vacation fares as high as they can without causing a loss of revenue – presumably by driving away budget-conscious customers.


Average cost of insurance for homes expected to rise

The average cost of home insurance is expected to rise again in 2011 for the third straight year.

The Insurance Information Institute expects that premiums will be up an average of 2 percent to 3 percent nationally, with coastal areas seeing the biggest increases.

Hurricane losses have been low in recent years, but damage from rain and winter weather, as well as higher prices for materials to repair homes, have driven up costs. In turn, insurance premiums have been creeping up.


After seizure errors, bank will forgive military loans

JPMorgan Chase said Tuesday it will forgive mortgages of military families whose homes were improperly seized and revamp its housing program for service members and veterans.

“This company has a great history of honoring military and veterans, and the mistakes we made on military foreclosures are a painful aberration on that track record,” CEO Jamie Dimon said Tuesday. “We deeply apologize to our military customers and their families for these mistakes.

“We ‘re going to fix this so that it doesn’t ever happen again.”