First Financial plans stock sale


First Financial Holdings Inc., of Charleston, SC, is looking to raise $50 million, saying it might use some of the money to acquire struggling institutions.

First Financial, the parent of Federal Savings and Loan Association, said Monday it launched an offering of its common stock. It is offering more than 2.8 million shares at $17.59 each, according to information filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company said the proceeds will be used “for general corporate purposes, which may include providing capital to support the growth of our subsidiaries and other strategic business opportunities including FDIC-assisted transactions,” according to The Charleston Post and Courier.

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Vermeer masterpiece returns to NY


For the first time in 70 years, Johannes Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid” is back in North America, part of a modest show of paintings by the artist and other Dutch Masters lent to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

The exhibit marks the founding of New Amsterdam 400 years ago by Henry Hudson.

The choice of the “The Milkmaid” is an interesting one, according to The Economist.

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Cotton on edge as season winds down


Uncertainty remains regarding cotton prices as the 2009 growing season winds down, Southeast Farm Press reports.

Weathers concerns, a world production shortfall and a debt-ridden US economy are primary factors that will likely impact the cotton market over the next few months, according to Peter Egli, a cotton market analyst with Plexus Cotton Ltd, the publication reported.

Cotton prices have been on the rise of late, thanks in part to adverse weather in India, the world’s second largest cotton producer, according to Bloomberg. Cotton prices recently enjoyed their longest rally in 36 years, with futures jumping to 64 cents last week.

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