Tuesday Trends sample: Summerfest rising, home sales mixed and BMO Harris falling

Below is an excerpt from the most recent edition of WisBusiness Tuesday Trends. The full version of this weekly look at the state of Wisconsin business is now available for free to anyone who signs up for the Tuesday Trends mailing list. The full product includes several items in each of the rising, mixed and falling categories plus a look at upcoming business events across the state.

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RISING

Summerfest: The world’s largest music festival posts increases in attendance and revenue, according to reports on the 2011 event that wrapped up its 11-day run July 10. Nearly 879,000 attended this year’s festival on Milwaukee’s lakefront, an increase of 22,000 — or 2.6 percent — over 2010. That’s still short of the festival’s peak attendance, which saw more than 1 million pass through the turnstiles in 2001 and 2002. In addition, revenues rose by 8 percent this year over Summerfest 2010, officials report, though they don’t disclose overall revenue totals. Officials attribute the increases to a change in the festival’s schedule — which helped them avoid a traditionally slow Monday festival day — along with good weather.

MIXED

Home sales: Sales of Wisconsin homes dropped 16 percent in June over the same month last year, while the median sales price was down 7 percent to $140,000 according to the latest monthly report from the Wisconsin Realtors Association. The WRA, however, notes that the decline was expected as a consequence of artificially high sales a year ago due to the federal tax credit program. The chairman of the WRA’s board says the numbers were actually better than expected since the federal rebate required buyers to close by the end of June 2010. John Horning says the expired rebate is expected to affect home sale data for the next couple of months.

FALLING

BMO Harris: Just weeks after the official close of the Toronto-based bank’s acquisition of Milwaukee institution M&I Bank, a company spokesman announces a cut of 400 employees over the next four months — including 100 in the Milwaukee area — stemming from that deal. BMO said most of the positions on the chopping block in Milwaukee work in corporate support functions, and that about half had been offered positions with company vendors. An additional 75 layoffs throughout the Midwest stem from 13 previously planned branch closures, including one Wisconsin location in West Bend.