Business news in brief

Susan Paul, who recently completed a master's program in occupational therapy, shakes hands with a recruiter at a health-care job fair in New York City. Fewer Americans sought unemployment aid last week, reducing the average number of weekly applications last month to a five-year low. The drop shows a stronger job market.
Susan Paul, who recently completed a master's program in occupational therapy, shakes hands with a recruiter at a health-care job fair in New York City. Fewer Americans sought unemployment aid last week, reducing the average number of weekly applications last month to a five-year low. The drop shows a stronger job market. (MARK LENNIHAN / AP)
Posted: March 15, 2013

In the Region

Green discharge costs Teva $2.25M

Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., of North Wales, agreed to pay a $2.25 million penalty for violations that included a fluorescent green discharge into a river at its plant in northeast Missouri. Details of the settlement were announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster. Teva makes antibiotics at a plant outside of Mexico, Mo. Koster said the green discharge flowed into the Salt River from a wastewater treatment plant in 2008. Inspections disclosed violations of state and federal environmental laws and violations in the way the company handled waste management. Teva said in a statement that the issues leading to the penalty had been addressed and the facility was now operating in compliance with environmental laws. - AP

Penn State suspends Adidas pact

Pennsylvania State University said it suspended its licensing contract with the apparel company Adidas over 2,600 laid-off workers in an Indonesian clothing factory who are owed severance pay, the university said. University officials said that the suspension would last 60 days and that they would terminate the contract altogether if Adidas does not comply during that period. An anti-sweatshop student group gave Penn State officials until Wednesday to act. Penn State president Rodney Erickson informed Adidas of the suspension in a letter to Bob Leuenberger of Adidas Team Sport in Iowa. Leuenberger did not respond to an e-mail message seeking comment. - Centre Daily Times

Trenton airport gets $2.5M

New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno announced a $2.5 million state grant for Trenton-Mercer Airport to upgrade a taxiway, part of a $12 million project that will include paving, grading, installing lights, and other improvements. Mercer County will contribute $132,000 and is seeking grants from the Federal Aviation Administration for the balance. Denver-based Frontier Airlines has been adding service at Trenton as it makes the airport its Northeast base. - Linda Loyd

Elsewhere

CFPB seeks more loan oversight

The government's consumer finance watchdog wants stricter oversight of companies that collect and log student loan payments. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed that it supervise the activities of nonbank student loan companies - a more stringent form of regulation than these companies have faced. The bureau says the scrutiny is needed to ensure borrowers are not mistreated as the industry grows and more people fall behind on their payments. Nonbank loan servicers like Sallie Mae collect payments for both private and government-backed student loans. - AP

Software glitch delays tax refunds

The IRS said 660,000 taxpayers will have their refunds delayed by up to six weeks because of a problem with the software they used to file their tax returns. The delay affects people claiming education tax credits who filed returns between Feb. 14 and 22. H&R Block, the tax-preparing giant, said that some of its customers were affected but that the company had resolved the problem. A limited number of other software companies have also had problems, but IRS spokeswoman Michelle Eldridge declined to name them. Turbo Tax customers were not affected, spokeswoman Julie Miller said. - AP

CBS launches app for reruns

CBS Corp. launched an app for iPhones and iPads that allows viewers to watch full episodes of prime-time TV shows like NCIS, Survivor, and The Good Wife on the eighth day after their debut on air. The app, released Thursday, allows users to catch up on their favorite shows in the hope they'll return to TV when new episodes air. It also helps CBS earn advertising revenue, since mobile episodes will contain just as many commercials as regular TV. The launch brings CBS more in line with other broadcasters that also stream recent shows on mobile devices free. ABC and NBC offer apps that provide next-day viewing. A Fox app offers new episodes on the eighth day after airing on TV. - AP

Repossessions fall to 2007 level

Foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac said the number of U.S. homes repossessed by lenders fell last month to the lowest level since September 2007. The national decline comes amid a resurgent housing market, rising home prices, and efforts by some states to buy homeowners more time to avoid foreclosure. About 45,038 homes completed the foreclosure process in February, down 11 percent from January and 29 percent from February 2012. The number of homes that entered the foreclosure process in February declined 25 percent from February 2012. - AP

Buffett's salary still a cool $100,000

Warren Buffett's total compensation declined 14 percent last year to $423,923 as Berkshire Hathaway spent less on his security, but his salary remained unchanged at $100,000. Buffett's salary for leading Berkshire as chairman and chief executive hasn't changed in more than 25 years. The $323,923 for security was the only other element of Buffett's 2012 compensation because the billionaire forgoes typical executive perks. Buffett again paid Berkshire $50,000 for any personal costs. - AP

Mortgage rate up

The average U.S. rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage rose this week to its highest level in seven months but remains near historic lows. Low mortgage rates have helped support the gradually recovering housing market. Freddie Mac said the average rate for the 30-year fixed loan rose to 3.63 percent from 3.52 percent last week. It's the highest rate since August. But it's still near the 3.31 percent reached in November, which was the lowest on records going back to 1971. - AP

Fannie Mae to miss SEC deadline

Fannie Mae will miss a Monday   deadline for reporting its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2012 while it analyzes how to handle some deferred tax assets, the company told the Securities and Exchange Commission. Fannie Mae expects to report "significant net income" for both the last quarter of 2012 and the full year, the company said. Mortgage backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have received almost $190 billion in taxpayer assistance since 2008. - Bloomberg News

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