Business news briefs: Federal health insurance exchange enrollment quickens

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Exchange enrollment quickens

Health insurer Highmark Inc. says it has seen "incremental improvement" in the pace of new customers enrolling for coverage through the troubled federal health insurance exchange. Through Monday, Highmark has 10,112 new Pennsylvania customers, plus 1,237 in West Virginia and 651 enrollees in Delaware. Highmark's most popular plans in Pennsylvania are its Community Blue plans, which do not provide in-network access to UPMC hospitals and doctors.

New Heinz Field scoreboard OK'd

The Steelers won approval from the city planning commission Tuesday to install a 35-by-73-foot scoreboard in the northwest end of Heinz Field. Construction is contingent on negotiating a deal with the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority to pay for that project and the addition of 3,000 seats to the stadium. The Steelers hope to have the scoreboard in place for the 2014 season.

LFG settles in Death Master File case

Pennsylvania-based Lincoln Financial Group and affiliate companies have agreed to a $12.6 million multistate settlement over their use of the Social Security Administration's Death Master File. State insurance departments are investigating top insurance companies to make sure they regularly use the database to search for beneficiaries of a life insurance policy who may be owed benefits.

Lululemon founder on his way out

Upscale yoga clothing maker Lululemon Athletica Inc. announced that founder Chip Wilson is stepping down as chairman after saying that some women's bodies "just don't actually work" for Lululemon pants. He will retain his board seat and lead director Michael Casey will become chairman. The Vancouver, Canada, company also announced that Christine Day, who had been CEO since 2008 but announced her intentions to leave in June, will be succeeded by Laurent Potdevin, former CEO of Toms Shoes.

FedEx raising rates for shipping

FedEx Corp. announced it is raising shipping rates for FedEx Ground, based in Moon, and FedEx Home Delivery. The Memphis, Tenn.-based shipping company said the increases for FedEx Ground rates will average about 4.9 percent.

Sales growth boosts stockpiles

U.S. wholesale businesses boosted their stockpiles in October by the most in two years as their sales rose sharply. Wholesale inventories grew 1.4 percent in October, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. Sales at the wholesale level increased 1 percent in October.

Job openings grow in Oct.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that job openings rose 1 percent in October to a seasonally adjusted 3.93 million. That is the highest figure since May 2008, three months after the Great Recession began. Total hiring, though, slipped 2.6 percent to 4.5 million.

Lucky Brand Jeans being sold

Fifth & Pacific is selling its Lucky Brand Jeans for $225 million to an affiliate of private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners LP so that it can focus on its Kate Spade brand. The New York company, formerly known as Liz Claiborne, has been selling off parts of its business over the past few years. The sale of Lucky Brand is expected to close early next year.

Aspartame risks ruled out

The European Food Safety Authority has found that the artificial sweetener aspartame is safe for people to consume at the levels currently used in diet soft drinks. The agency said Tuesday it has ruled out any "potential risk of aspartame causing damage to genes and inducing cancer." The ESFA is the European Union's food risk assessment agency.


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