Single-family home sales rise significantly in Maine

Realtors say sales of single-family homes in Maine rose by 21 percent from January 2012 to January 2013.

Statistics released by a statewide multiple listing service show that 664 homes changed hands last month, compared with 547 in January 2012.

The median sales price for those homes reached $162,000, a rise of 3 percent from a year earlier.

Maine Association of Realtors President Bart Stevens said Maine is shifting from a strong buyer’s market to a more balanced market.

Wood pellet manufacturer will build plant in Eastport

Maine’s easternmost city will get a manufacturing plant for a special type of wood pellet that will be shipped overseas as an alternative, cleaner-burning fuel for coal-fired power plants.

Thermogen Industries, a subsidiary of Portsmouth, N.H.-based Cate Street Capital, said Friday that it has signed a letter of intent with the Eastport Port Authority to build the plant next to the port’s Estes Head Terminal.

Thermogen wants to produce as much as 300,000 tons of torrefied wood pellets annually — a more fuel-efficient pellet. The company is already working on a production facility in Millinocket.

Former Senate President Kevin Raye called the development “a monumental moment for Eastport and for Washington County” that will create jobs. He said it was helped by a $4.5 million bond issue in 2009.

Dow Jones gains 119 points, S&P still posts a weekly loss

Strong earnings from big U.S. companies pushed the Dow Jones industrial average to a rare triple-digit gain Friday, but the S&P 500 index still posted its first weekly loss of the year.

Hewlett-Packard had the biggest gain in the Dow and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. It posted fiscal first-quarter earnings late Thursday that beat all forecasts, a relief after months of bad news for the computer maker. HP rose $2.10, or 12.3 percent, to $19.20.

The Dow closed up 119.95 points, or 0.9 percent, at 14,000.57 — its third-biggest gain this year. The S&P 500 rose 13.18 points, also 0.9 percent, to 1,515.60. The Nasdaq index rose 30.33, or 1 percent, to 3,161.82.

Judge blocks Apple’s plan to package four proposals

A federal judge is blocking Apple from conducting a shareholder vote on a package of governance proposals, handing a victory to a rebel investor who is trying to persuade the company to share more of its cash with its investors.

U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan in New York ruled Friday that Apple was wrong to bundle four amendments to its corporate charter into one proposal for a vote at next Wednesday’s annual meeting. Shareholders should get to vote on the amendments separately, he said.

Greenlight Capital, a hedge fund run by Wall Street maverick David Einhorn, sued Apple over the proposal because it would remove the board’s ability to issue preferred stock without shareholder authorization. Einhorn wants Apple to issue “iPrefs,” preferred shares with a guaranteed dividend, as a way of committing the company to sharing its massive profits with shareholders.

— From staff and news services