SC business notebook, July 18

Hood new managing member of Clawson & Staubes

Clawson & Staubes has named J. Austin Hood managing member of its new Columbia office at 1612 Marion St. The nearly 40-year-old law firm has 38 attorneys in four offices. Its attorneys, who are licensed in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia, are experienced in a variety of practices, including real estate, taxation, bankruptcy, construction, insurance defense, community associations and municipal law. The firm, which also has offices in Charleston, Greenville and Charlotte, is the 17th largest law firm in the state, according to South Carolina Lawyers Weekly. Hood, a Birmingham native, graduated from Furman University and earned his law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law.

Building starts down as building permits soar in June

U.S. builders started work on fewer homes in June, mostly because apartment construction fell sharply. But applications for permits to build single-family houses rose to the highest level in five years, suggesting the housing recovery will continue. Developers began construction at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 836,000 homes in June, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That was nearly 10 percent below May’s total of 928,000, which was revised higher, and was the fewest since August 2012. Starts fell almost 27 percent in apartments in June from May. Applications for permits to build single-family homes rose for the third straight month to 624,000, the highest since May 2008. In the Columbia area, builders got 299 permits to build new homes in June – up 11 percent from May.

Banks profit by cutting costs, not making loans

Major U.S. banks have turned in big profit gains this season, mainly by cutting costs, rather than growing their core lending businesses. A boom in mortgage refinancing looks like it’s about to peter out. And regulators are considering stricter new rules that would force the banks to shore up their cash. Bank of America reported second-quarter earnings Wednesday that leapt 70 percent, soaring past analysts’ expectations, on higher earnings from investment banking and cost-cutting. The bank earned $3.6 billion in the quarter after payments to preferred shareholders.

Kristy Eppley Rupon, The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News and The Associated Press