Utah Supreme Court supports referendum in store dispute
The Utah Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that residents opposing a Wal-Mart store in Sandy won the right to conduct a citywide referendum on the dispute.
The state's high court indicated that the group of local residents fighting the development collected an adequate number signatures from Sandy citizens to force a referendum on a zoning change that would allow locating a Wal-Mart on a 107-acre former gravel pit at 1000 East and 9400 South.
The court's five to zero decision apparently means that registered voters residing at locations across the state should have an easier time getting issues placed on election ballots, potentially bolstering grassroots efforts, pointed out the latest Trendlines report compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
Addressing a second matter of local interest, the report confirmed that Zions has announced that the Salt Lake based company has agreed to buy Houston-based Amegy Bancorp in a deal valued at $1.7 billion in cash and stock.
The acquisition, Zions' largest single purchase, will give the company entry into the rapidly growing Texas market.
According to the agreement, the transaction includes $600 million in cash and approximately 14.25 million Zions stock shares.
Ending July 2, the four-week average of initial unemployment insurance claims filed by Utahns registered at 1,155.
The 2005 filings represent a decrease of 1 percent from the four-week average of 1,170 claims reported last year. The number of all initial claims filed during the week totaled 1,229.
At the national level, hiring across the country picked up slightly in June with employers adding 146,000 jobs helping to push the United States unemployment rate down to 5 percent, the lowest level posted in nearly four years, indicated the Trendlines report.
The modest payroll gain of 146,000 jobs created at locations throughout the U.S. in June was up from 104,000 employment positions created in May, noted the Trendlines report.
However, economists had forecast an increase of around 195,000 jobs nationwide during the last month.
On a negative note, the number of displaced American workers signing up for unemployment benefits climbed last week.
The increase was primarily a reflection of layoffs related to temporary shutdowns at auto plants and school closings.
Even with the rise, the latest report on unemployment claims completed by the U.S. Labor Department suggested that the American labor market continues to post improvements.
New applications filed for unemployment insurance increased by 7,000 to reach 319,000 for the week.
On the positive side of the spectrum, the dollar rose against the euro to the highest level witnessed in nearly 14 months and hit multi-month highs against other currencies, including the Japanese yen.
The dollar was up 10 percent against a basket of major currencies in 2005, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The main factor driving the dollar's gain continues to be the comparative strength of the U.S. economy, particularly in relation to the much weaker European economy.
The average retail price for gasoline climbed to within a few pennies of the all-time high, while the cost for diesel fuel hit a new record, the government reported.