Business news in brief

Lufthansa ground personnel at Frankfurt airport during a strike. Germany's biggest airline canceled almost all of its 1,700 flights after airline technicians and service personnel staged a one-day strike. The company wants to cut 3,500 jobs, Bloomberg News reports. The union is seeking a 5.2 percent pay increase.
Lufthansa ground personnel at Frankfurt airport during a strike. Germany's biggest airline canceled almost all of its 1,700 flights after airline technicians and service personnel staged a one-day strike. The company wants to cut 3,500 jobs, Bloomberg News reports. The union is seeking a 5.2 percent pay increase. (MICHAEL PROBST / AP)
Posted: April 23, 2013

In the Region

Economy slows health spending

A relatively slow rate of growth in U.S. health-care spending over the last four years has led to some hope that broad-based reforms by the industry are having an impact, but a new study found that three-quarters of the decline can be attributed to recent economic turns. The researchers behind the Kaiser Family Foundation study, including Thomas Getzen of Temple University's Fox School of Business, analyzed national health-care spending from 1965 through 2011 and concluded that inflation and gross domestic product adjusted for inflation accounted for most of the fluctuation in the growth rates of health-care spending. The impact of economic factors can stretch over six years, which helps explain why the effects of the recession that officially ended in June 2009 are still being felt. - Harold Brubaker

Met-Pro acquired for $210M

Officials of CECO Environmental Corp., the Ohio-based company that has agreed to buy Harleysville-based pump-maker Met-Pro Corp. for $210 million, or $13.75 a share, haven't said what they plan to do with Met-Pro's Harleysville office or its two local plants, which employ a total of 337 people. "There is some redundancy" with other CECO plants, said analyst Gerard Sweeney, at Boenning & Scattergood in West Conshohocken. Jeff Lang, CECO's chief executive, "told us he was still deciding," Sweeney added. Sweeney said CECO under Lang has done an effective job choosing profitable businesses to build and less-profitable lines to exit. Still, "there will be some bumps in the road," he predicted. The price of $13.75 per share represents a 43 percent premium over Met-Pro's Friday closing stock price of $9.60. Met-Pro shares rose $3.78, or 39.4 percent, to $13.38. CECO shares slipped 26 cents to $10.86. - Joseph N. DiStefano

CDI awarded up to $36M Navy work

CDI Corp., an engineering and technology services company based in Philadelphia, said it was awarded a new task order from the U.S. Navy to continue supporting its Combatant Craft Division. The order has a maximum value over two years of $36 million. CDI said it has provided the same services to the Navy over the last nine years. - Reid Kanaley

City Ave. wins traffic-signal grant

The City Avenue Special Services District has been approved for a $250,000 grant from the PA Automated Red Light Enforcement funding program. The money will fund signal work at five intersections from St. Asaph's Road and Presidential Boulevard to Conshohocken State Road. Work on the other 17 planned intersection signal improvements along the commercial corridor, on the border of Philadelphia and Lower Merion, is being paid for with an $800,000 grant from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission via the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality program. The signals will provide variable green time for each intersection based on actual traffic volume, thus better enabling reduction of long backups. - Diane Mastrull

Elsewhere

TSA reconsiders allowing knives

The Transportation Security Administration delayed a decision to allow small pocket knives on airliners, according to an internal e-mail sent to agency employees. TSA Administrator John Pistole said in the e-mail the agency wanted to further consult with the airline industry before making the change, which had been set to take effect Thursday, according to a person familiar with its contents who wasn't authorized to speak on the record. The plan had provoked protests from flight attendants, air marshals, executives of the largest airlines, and the union representing airport screeners. - Bloomberg News

Bernanke to miss key meeting

Ben Bernanke is intensifying speculation that this year will be his last as Federal Reserve chairman by deciding to skip the Fed's annual August conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Since taking over the Fed in 2006, Bernanke has been the marquee speaker each year. His second four-year term will end in January, and neither he nor President Obama has signaled whether Bernanke will serve a third term. The yearly retreat, sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, will be held Aug. 22-24. A Fed spokesman said Bernanke won't attend because of a "personal scheduling conflict." - AP

Netflix adds two million subscribers

Numbers released Monday showed Netflix Inc. added two million U.S. subscribers to its video streaming service during the first three months of the year. Through March, Netflix had 29.2 million U.S. streaming subscribers. Those first-quarter gains, coupled with signs that Netflix's profit margins are widening, delighted investors. The company's stock soared after the results came out. - AP

Settlement in News Corp. lawsuit

News Corp. said the insurers backing its board of directors will pay the company $139 million to settle shareholder lawsuits over the British phone hacking scandal and the controversial purchase of an entertainment company run by founder Rupert Murdoch's daughter. News Corp. also agreed to corporate governance reforms including a whistle-blower hotline and an annual review of the independence of current and prospective board members. The case is in Delaware Chancery Court. - AP

Oil and gasoline prices fall

A sharp decline in the price of oil this month is making gasoline cheaper at a time of year when it typically gets more expensive. It's a relief to motorists and business owners and a positive development for the economy. Over the last three weeks, the price of oil has fallen 9 percent to $88 a barrel. That has helped extend a slide in gasoline prices that began in late February. Nationwide, average retail prices have fallen 28 cents per gallon, or 7 percent, since Feb. 27, to $3.51 per gallon. Analysts say pump prices could fall an additional 20 cents over the next two months. - AP

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