Sustainability is one of the buzzwords at spoga+gafa
Spoga+gafa is coming back to Cologne, Germany, Sept. 2 to 4, creating a global marketplace for outdoor living buyers and sellers.
One of the buzzwords at this year’s event is sustainability, which will play a more prominent role in the event’s “Boulevard of Ideas.” The trade fair for the lawn and garden sector — named for the German words for sports/leisure and garden — is organized by Koelnmesse and held in Cologne.
Organizers are expecting about 2,000 suppliers from 52 countries. In segments for garden creation, garden living, garden care, garden unique and garden basic, the garden trade fair delivers a comprehensive overview of the full spectrum of the international market.
“No other event offers such broad coverage of the garden market or brings every domestic and international market player together in such a concentrated format,” reported Katharina C. Hamma, chief operating officer of Koelnmesse. “Our multifaceted program also highlights current trends and issues.”
The “boulevard of ideas” showcases concepts for POS displays in real-life contexts — with a particular focus on sustainability. The plant park alongside the international garden center day serves as a central communication forum for the event, while “furniture acts” and the grill zone provide an eye-catching parade of new products in the furniture and barbecue segments.
Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index
A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for May 11, 2012
*Western – regional species perimeter foundation; Southern – regional species slab construction.
Crow’s Market Recap — A condensed recap of the market conditions for the major North American softwood lumber and panel products as reported in Crow’s Weekly Market Report.
Lumber: After a strong couple of weeks of sales, trading in the SPF lumber market slowed. Price increases attained the Friday prior made up much of the gains. Price levels not achieved since January 2011 generated an air of cautiousness among buyers. The perception that Southern Pine lumber buyers were exercising more caution as prices again moved higher was prevalent. Despite buyers’ approach, demand and mill order files were strong enough to maintain upward price pressure. Coastal species lumber mills experienced a quieter week of sales, but there was enough momentum in the market to edge prices higher. Any weakness in dry was found at the secondary level, where wholesalers sold quicker shipping volumes below replacement costs. Sales volumes were lighter than last week at Inland species lumber mills, but that was less a product of demand than a lack of random tallies and two to three week or longer order files. As available tallies at mills became scarcer, buyers turned to secondaries for their needs. Limited supplies of Idaho White Pine boards kept that market strong. A change in that situation does not appear as if it will happen soon. Good order files for Eastern White Pine, along with good sales, kept prices firm. Order files out two weeks kept ESLP prices solid or moving slightly higher. In Moulding and Shop, Radiata Pine lumber prices remained firm. Ponderosa Pine price levels remained strong but unchanged, with #3 Shop and P99 showing a little more strength than the rest of the field. Demand was uneven yet steady overall for Western Red Cedar. Producers tended to note significantly better sales volumes than a year ago but lamented price levels.
Panels: OSB producers maintained the momentum in spite of a slower start to begin the week. By week’s end, eastern markets had participated and prices increased, as order files were extended. The North Central and Southwest remained active, as did the Far West. Eroding rated sheathing order files at Southern Pine plywood mills on the Eastside generated moderate discounting early. Increased sales late helped firm those prices. Western Fir plywood traders experienced what was sometimes described as "a fairly uneventful week." A lack of volumes owned by wholesalers and some mill order files extending into at least the week of May 21 enabled mills with shorter lead times to sell more readily. Canadian plywood markets continue to maintain a steady upward trend. The Prairies have been steady throughout the run, and now eastern markets are beginning to improve. Particleboard and MDF sales were solid. Mill order files were sometimes reported all the way out until the latter half of June. Some higher prices were used to manage order files.
Employers expected to receive millions in health insurance rebates
By August 2012, U.S. businesses that sponsor fully insured group health plans could share millions of dollars in rebates from health insurers who spent more on administrative expenses and profits than allowed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), finds an analysis from the not-for-profit Kaiser Family Foundation.
The PPACA requires insurance plans to pay out a minimum percentage of premium dollars toward health care expenses and quality improvement activities, limiting the amount spent on administrative and marketing costs and profit. Under the law, large group plans are required to spend at least 85% of premium dollars on health care and quality improvement, while small group plans must spend at least 80%. These percentages are known as the medical loss ratio (MLR). If an insurer fails to meet the MLR within a market segment in a state, it must issue a refund to consumers and employers. For group plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), insurers generally will provide rebate amounts to the group policyholder, which often will be an employer or plan established by an employer. Self-funded plans are not subject to the MLR regulations.
The Kaiser Family Foundation report, "Insurer Rebates under the Medical Loss Ratio: 2012 Estimates", finds that estimated rebates include $541 million in the large employer market, $377 million in the small business market and $426 million for those buying insurance on their own.
Among employers, 28% of the small group market and 19% of the large group market are projected to receive rebates.
The largest rebates overall are projected to go to consumers and businesses in Texas (total $186 million) and Florida ($149 million); Hawaii is the only state where no insurer is expected to issue a rebate.
The data for the insurance rebates are based on estimates provided by insurers in filings to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2011. Actual rebates will be based on reports insurers submit to the federal government in 2012.
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