NEW YORK - Wall Street shot higher Wednesday after investors shrugged off a mixed reading on the housing sector and focused on the positives: a jump in industrial output, a retreat in crude oil prices and new cash pouring into the stock market. The Dow rose 103.69, or 0.77 percent, to 13,487.53, to its 23rd record close of the year. It also hit a new trading high, 13,489.57. Broader stock indicators advanced. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 12.95, or 0.86 percent, to 1,514.14, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 22.13, or 0.88 percent, to 2,547.42. Bonds showed little change despite the economic readings. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note remained flat at 4.71 percent from late Tuesday. The dollar was mostly higher against other major currencies, while gold prices fell. Light, sweet crude fell 62 cents to $62.55 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 6.02, or 0.74 percent, to 820.20. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by about 5 to 3 on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume came to 2.82 billion shares, down from 3.09 billion on Tuesday.
Eastman CIO retiring, successor named
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KINGSPORT - Eastman Chemical Co. has announced the retirement of Jerry Hale, vice president and chief information officer, effective July 1. Hale will be succeeded by Keith Sturgill, currently director of Eastman's Information Technology Program Office. Hale, 55, began his career with Eastman in 1973 as a programmer analyst. During his 34-year career, he has served in Eastman's human resources, manufacturing and treasury organizations. In 1983, he returned to Eastman IT serving in various supervisory and management positions. Sturgill, 44, joined Eastman in 1986 as a systems analyst. In 1999 he became supervisor of the IT Data Services organization, and in 2001 he became manager of Application Technical Services. He was promoted to director of Global IT Business Systems in 2004. In his new role, Sturgill will be responsible for Eastman's global information technology. Eastman manufactures and markets chemicals, fibers and plastics worldwide. Founded in 1920 and headquartered in Kingsport, Eastman is a Fortune 500 company with 2006 sales of $7.5 billion and approximately 11,000 employees. For more information about Eastman and its products visit www.eastman.com.
Embarq celebrates first anniversary
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Embarq on May 17 celebrated its first year as a stand-alone, publicly held company. Kansas-based Embarq is the fourth-largest communications company in the United States and local phone provider for much of the Tri-Cities. It has almost 20,000 employees and serves 18 states with local and long distance voice, data, wireless, high-speed Internet and entertainment services. It was a spin-off from Sprint. "We set out to take telecommunications innovations and combine them with common sense, because we know that's what customers want - leading-edge communication technology that's practical and easy to use," said Dan Hesse, Embarq's chairman and chief executive officer. "The proof that we have the right strategy is in our results. Customer satisfaction ratings are up, employee satisfaction scores exceeded our benchmark, and we have a strong share price." The company's stock hovered around $40 to $45 in the first three months but has steadily grown to almost $65. Embarq stock prices closed Wednesday at $64.39 on the New York Stock Exchange. To help mark the one-year milestone, employees are engaging in a variety of celebrations, and the company will kick off a nationwide food drive. The company has 50 retail stores, an increase of 18 stores since June 2006.
Greene County Bancshares to pay dividend
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GREENEVILLE - Greene County Bancshares, Inc. recently announced that its board of directors has declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of 13 cents per share. The dividend is payable on June 19 to shareholders of record as of June 6. Greeneville-based Greene County Bancshares Inc., with total assets of approximately $1.8 billion, is the holding company for GreenBank. GreenBank, which traces its origin to 1890, has 49 branches throughout East and Middle Tennessee, one branch each in Bristol, Va., and Hot Springs, N.C., and a wealth management office in Gallatin, Tenn. In addition, GreenBank also conducts separate businesses through three wholly owned subsidiaries: Superior Financial Services Inc., a consumer finance company; GCB Acceptance Corp., a consumer finance company specializing in automobile lending; and Fairway Title Co., a title insurance company.