Business Briefs: Columbia Gas rates set to go up today

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Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania residential customers will see an increase in their average monthly gas bill from $84.90 during the last quarter of 2013 to $87.31 starting today. The rate adjustment reflects the higher cost of natural gas.

Americans more confident, according to economists

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its index of consumer confidence rose to 78.1 in December, up from 72 in the previous month. November's figure was revised up from 70.4. Steady job gains and a surging stock market have made Americans more optimistic. The confidence index has averaged 73.3 this year, according to economists at Barclays Capital, the highest since 2007.

More bad news for Target: Some gift cards not activated

Target is getting hit with another lump of coal this holiday season. The retailer said Tuesday that an unidentified number of gift cards sold over the holidays were not properly activated. Holders of Target gift cards can check the balance by following instructions on the back of the card. Customers can bring faulty cards to any Target service desk or call 1-800-544-2943.

Netflix to test new monthly viewing plans

Netflix is testing new price plans for streaming video as it tries to lure more viewers. Among the plans being tested are a $6.99-a-month plan that allows only one video stream to be watched at once, and a $9.99-a-month plan that allows three streams at one time, whether on a TV, tablet or computer. Not everyone will see the test prices. Netflix's standard $7.99-a-month plan allows users to watch video on up to two screens at once.

Home prices show slight gain in 20-city S&P index

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 0.2 percent from September to October, down from a 0.7 percent increase from August to September. Monthly price gains slowed in 18 of the 20 cities tracked by the index. Pittsburgh is not included in the index.

Hewlett-Packard expects to lay off additional 5,000

Hewlett-Packard Co. has confirmed that it expects to lay off 5,000 more workers than originally planned in 2014. The company said in a securities filing that "continued market and business pressures" were behind the move. The additional cuts, on top of the 29,000 positions it planned to cut, will likely boost the accumulated restructuring charges to $4.1 billion from $3.6 billion, it said.

Revlon to cut 1,100 jobs in its plan to leave China

Revlon said it is leaving China and cutting 1,100 jobs as a cost-cutting measure. Global sales fell 1.3 percent to $1.02 billion in the nine months through September, compared with the same period in 2012. Revenue in Asia dropped 3.5 percent to $166.8 million during that time.


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