Thursday, November 27, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Business news in brief

Marie Buzard of New Bethlehem, Pa., becomes emotional as she and her 6-year-old son, Trenton, listen during a news conference in Washington regarding the GM recall on faulty vehicles. Trenton was permanently paralyzed in a crash of a faulty GM vehicle when he was a a year old. In the fourth congressional hearing into GM´s slow recall of fatally flawed ignition switches, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) said GM should have dismissed to lawyer Mike Millikin. Mary Barra, GM´s CEO, defended Millikin as a man of integrity. "I need the right team," Barra said, adding that the problems with the switch and the potential for punitive damages weren´t brought to Millikin´s attention.
Marie Buzard of New Bethlehem, Pa., becomes emotional as she and her 6-year-old son, Trenton, listen during a news conference in Washington regarding the GM recall on faulty vehicles. Trenton was permanently paralyzed in a crash of a faulty GM vehicle when he was a a year old. In the fourth congressional hearing into GM's slow recall of fatally flawed ignition switches, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) said GM should have dismissed to lawyer Mike Millikin. Mary Barra, GM's CEO, defended Millikin as a man of integrity. "I need the right team," Barra said, adding that the problems with the switch and the potential for punitive damages weren't brought to Millikin's attention. ALEX WONG / Getty Images
Marie Buzard of New Bethlehem, Pa., becomes emotional as she and her 6-year-old son, Trenton, listen during a news conference in Washington regarding the GM recall on faulty vehicles. Trenton was permanently paralyzed in a crash of a faulty GM vehicle when he was a a year old. In the fourth congressional hearing into GM´s slow recall of fatally flawed ignition switches, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) said GM should have dismissed to lawyer Mike Millikin. Mary Barra, GM´s CEO, defended Millikin as a man of integrity. "I need the right team," Barra said, adding that the problems with the switch and the potential for punitive damages weren´t brought to Millikin´s attention. Gallery: Business news in brief

In the Region

Helicopter contractor charged

Kenneth Narzikul, 59, the president and 85 percent owner of NP Precision Inc., based in Folcroft, Delaware County, was charged Thursday with fraud and other crimes related to billing the federal government for components used in military helicopters and other aircraft. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia said in a statement that as early as 2007, Narzikul began misusing progress payments on government contracts, by failing to pay subcontractors and requesting progress payments for costs that NP Precision had not actually incurred. NP Precision was contracted to make drive shaft couplings for the Army's CH-47, commonly known as a Chinook helicopter. The Chinook is assembled at Boeing's Ridley Park facility. The statement said Narzikul's scheme involved approximately $1.2 million in fraudulent payments. A phone message left for Narzikul at NP Precision was not returned. - David Sell

N.J. wind farm auction

The U.S. Department of the Interior plans to auction about 344,000 acres off the coast of New Jersey for offshore wind energy development. A fully developed New Jersey Wind Energy Area may provide as much as 3.4 gigawatts of power, enough for 1.2 million homes, the department said a statement. A 60-day public comment period on the proposed sale will end Sept. 19, the same day as the deadline for companies to submit applications. There are no offshore wind farms in U.S. waters, and the agency is seeking to encourage development. Efforts to install turbines at sea are moving slowly in the U.S. and in other regions. - Bloomberg News

20-day decline in gas prices

Here's a losing streak that many motorists will embrace: The national average gasoline price has fallen for 20 consecutive days, to $3.583 a gallon, 9.7 cents below the price three weeks ago, according to GasBuddy.com. The current price is the lowest since April 8, when it was $3.580 per gallon. The average gallon price in the Philadelphia region was $3.718 Thursday afternoon, and $3.466 in South Jersey, according to prices posted on the GasBuddy site. Crude oil prices soared last month to $107 a barrel amid supply concerns caused by the Iraq conflicts, but the price has drifted lower as unrest subsided and oil exports remained unaffected. The gasoline pump price losing streak may soon be broken. The price of oil surged to near $103 a barrel Thursday after a report showed a larger-than-expected drop in U.S. crude-oil inventories. - Andrew Maykuth

Salem glass plant closing

The last bottle manufacturer in Salem is set to close this fall, eliminating 290 jobs and ending a 150-year tradition of making glass in the southern New Jersey city, the South Jersey Times reported. Ardagh Glass announced the decision Wednesday to its employees and city officials. The facility is to be shut down on Oct. 15. Ardagh's 15 other North American plants are to remain open. Ardagh took over the plant two years ago when it bought Anchor Glass. - Associated Press

Elsewhere

Home construction drops

U.S. home construction fell in June to the slowest pace in nine months, a setback to hopes that housing is regaining momentum and will boost economic growth this year. Construction fell 9.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 893,000 homes, the Commerce Department said. That was the slowest pace since last September and followed a 7.3 percent drop in May, a decline even worse than initially reported. Applications for building permits, considered a good indicator of future activity, were also down in June, dropping 4.2 percent to a rate of 963,000 after a 5.1 percent decline in May. - AP

Unemployment applications

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits fell last week, a steady decline that suggests a strengthening job market. Weekly applications for unemployment aid dipped 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 302,000, the Labor Department said. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, dropped 3,000 to 309,000, the level since June 2007, about five months before the start of the Great Recession. - AP

UnitedHealth profit slips

UnitedHealth Group's second-quarter earnings slipped 2 percent on a rise in taxes and other expenses. UnitedHealth said revenue gains, particularly in its Medicaid business, helped counter the expenses during the quarter that ended June 30. Medicaid is the state-federal program that covers the poor and the elderly. UnitedHealth's enrollment in that segment jumped nearly 19 percent to about 4.7 million people compared with last year's quarter, as the insurer expanded its business and reaped gains from the health-care overhaul. - AP

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