Unemployment rates rise in 28 states during July

Unemployment rates rose in July in more than half the states for the second straight month, evidence that job growth remains weak nationwide.

The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment increased in 28 states, fell in nine and remained unchanged in 13. Those are nearly the same figures as in June, when unemployment rose in 28 states, fell in eight and was unchanged in 14.

Nationwide, hiring picked up slightly in July. The economy added 117,000 jobs, the government reported earlier this month. That was roughly double the net jobs created in each of the previous two months. And the unemployment rate dipped to 9.1 percent in July from 9.2 percent in June.

Maine reports jobless rate dropped to 7.7 percent

The Maine Labor Department said Friday that the state’s unemployment rate dropped by 0.1 percentage point to 7.7 percent in July.

The new preliminary figure compares to June’s revised rate of 7.8 percent, and 7.8 percent a year ago.

Maine’s latest rate compares favorably to the national unemployment rate of 9.1 percent. The U.S. rate was 9.2 percent in June.

The number of unemployed people in Maine totaled 53,200 in July, down 1,000 from a year ago.

A new day, a new record: Gold hits $1,881 an ounce

Investors flocked to gold Friday, sending it to the latest of a series of records, as fears about recession in the world’s major economies infected financial markets.

The metal soared as high as $1,881.40 an ounce. It’s been on a tear this summer, rising more than 15 percent in August alone. In the same three weeks, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index has fallen about 12 percent.

Gold logged its biggest weekly gain since February 2009, according to FactSet data.

As an investment, the metal has climbed because of investors’ concern about the uncertain state of the global economy, diving stock markets and moves by central banks around the world to weaken their currencies.

Icahn files to obtain seat on Clorox directors board

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn will seek to install himself on Clorox’s board after the consumer products maker twice rejected his offer to buy the company.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, Icahn said he will nominate himself and 10 other directors to Clorox’s 11-member board.

Icahn, Clorox’s biggest shareholder, has offered twice since mid-July to buy the company, first at $76.50 per share and then at $80 per share, or about $10.7 billion.

The company has rejected both offers. Clorox CEO Don Knauss said earlier this month that Icahn’s bids were not credible and undervalued the company.

Icahn has criticized the company’s performance and suggested that it accept his bid, shop for competitive offers or take his higher bid to shareholders for a decision.

HP shares fall 20 percent amid analyst downgrades

Wall Street showed Hewlett-Packard Co. on Friday what it thought of the company’s plans for a dramatic transformation: Shares plunged 20 percent to their lowest point in more than six years.

The technology giant shed about $12 billion of its market value as more than half a dozen Wall Street analysts downgraded its stock, citing a litany of concerns over the company’s ability to reinvent itself.

Friday’s drop of $5.91, to $23.60 a share, came a day after HP said it would seek to spin off or otherwise divest itself of its personal computer division, which had made it the world’s largest PC maker and had provided 30 percent of its revenue in its latest quarter.

— From news service reports