Business news briefs: Peoples Natural Gas fires 36, finalizes acquisition

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Peoples Natural Gas laid off 36 employees Tuesday after finalization of a $740 million acquisition of EQT Corp's Equitable Gas pipeline business. The upper- and middle-management employees, whose responsibilities overlapped as a result of the sale, were based on the North Shore and will receive severance packages, Peoples spokesman Barry Kukovich said.

Irish Business Network hosts inaugural event

The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh has launched the Pittsburgh Irish Business Network to encourage Pittsburgh-area businesses to consider investing in Ireland. The network's first event, a presentation by the Industrial Development Authority of Ireland, will be held today at 4 p.m. at Mitchell's Restaurant, Downtown. For more information, contact the institute at 412-394-3900.

Facebook testing video advertisements

Facebook said Tuesday that it's testing video advertisements that show up in its users' news feeds, creating another potential source of advertising revenue for the social network. Under the current plan, the advertisements automatically start playing without sound when they appear. Users can click on a video to view it with sound, or scroll past it if they're not interested. Facebook said it's been testing the silent auto-playing videos for video content shared between Facebook users since September, and has seen a 10 percent increase in the number of videos watched, liked, shared and commented on.

Washington state courts Airbus amid Boeing tension

Even as they try desperately to hang on to Boeing Co., officials in Washington state have been courting the main competitor of the aerospace giant. In recent months, state officials have traveled to the U.S. headquarters of Airbus SAS in Virginia, moved to connect Airbus with Washington state suppliers, and signed a five-year confidentiality agreement to allow further exploration of business opportunities, according to records obtained by The Associated Press. Boeing, as it looks for a cheaper place to build its 777X passenger plane, has been exploring bids from 22 states, including Pennsylvania, that could send thousands of good-paying jobs elsewhere.

Cost of living in U.S. remained steady

The cost of living in the U.S. was unchanged in November from a month earlier, showing inflation is making scant progress toward the Federal Reserve's goal. No change in the consumer-price index followed a 0.1 percent decrease the prior month, a Labor Department report showed Tuesday in Washington. The median forecast of 83 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.1 percent advance. The core measure, which excludes food and fuel, rose 0.2 percent.

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