Dwyer named president of Great Northern Paper

EAST MILLINOCKET – Ned Dwyer, a papermaking executive with experience at several paper companies, has been named president of Great Northern Paper, taking over responsibility for day-to-day management and long-term business growth.

Richard Cyr, who has served as acting president, will remain the company’s CEO.

The company says Dwyer will lead a company that’s committed to retaining 257 jobs and possibly creating another 50 jobs this year. He began his duties this week.

Cate Street Capital of Portsmouth, N.H., bought two closed paper mills, in East Millinocket and Millinocket, in September 2011, relaunching the historic Great Northern Paper brand.

The East Millinocket site manufactures paper. In addition, Cate Street is developing a facility that manufactures a type of wood pellets called torrefied wood, in Millinocket.

Jobless aid applications plummet to five-year low

WASHINGTON – The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid plummeted to a five-year low last week, a hopeful sign that the job market may be improving. But much of the decline reflects seasonal volatility in the data.

Weekly unemployment benefit applications fell 37,000 to a seasonally adjusted 335,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s the lowest level since January 2008, just after the recession began.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to 359,250.

The applications data can be uneven in January. Job cuts typically spike in the second week of the month as retailers, restaurants and other companies lay off temporary workers hired for the winter holidays.

Last week, the layoffs weren’t as large as expected, a department spokesman said.

S&P 500 index reaches another five-year high

NEW YORK – The Standard and Poor’s 500 index climbed to another five-year high after strong reports on housing starts and unemployment claims made investors more optimistic about the U.S. economy.

The S&P 500 gained 8.31 points to close at 1,480.94, its highest level since December 2007. The Dow Jones industrial average also rose, climbing to a five-year high during the day, before falling back to finish 84.79 points higher at 13,596.02. The Nasdaq composite climbed 18.46 points to 3,136.

Homebuilder stocks rose broadly. The S&P 500’s homebuilding index climbed 3.8 percent, its biggest gain in almost a month.

The housing and jobless reports helped offset disappointment over the fourth-quarter earnings report of two of the nation’s biggest banks, Citigroup and Bank of America, said JJ Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist at TD Ameritrade.

Intel reports net income down from previous year

NEW YORK – Intel Corp., the world’s largest chipmaker, said Thursday its fourth-quarter net income fell 27 percent from the previous year, as PC sales continued to weaken.

Net income was $2.47 billion, or 48 cents per share, for the October to December period. That was down from $3.36 billion, or 64 cents per share, a year ago.

Intel still beat earnings expectations for the quarter by 3 cents per share relative to the average of analysts polled by FactSet. That was due to slightly higher-than-expected prices for its chips and lower-than-expected costs for starting up new production lines.

Revenue fell 3 percent to $13.5 billion, matching analyst expectations.

Intel is challenged by a shift in consumer spending from PCs — most of which use Intel chips — to smartphones and tablets, which don’t.

— From news service reports