Business news briefs: UPMC, Highmark won't have separate contract in Erie

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UPMC, Highmark won't have separate contract in Erie

UPMC and Highmark won't be negotiating a separate contract for UPMC Hamot Hospital in Erie. Highmark has said it wants Hamot to be part of a comprehensive agreement that extends in-network coverage for all of its customers past the Dec. 31, 2014, contract expiration. UPMC says it would support a separate agreement for any hospital not in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Fiat shares soar after news of Chrysler acquisition

Shares in Fiat soared on Thursday on the news the Italian automaker will take full ownership of Chrysler. Fiat Spa said it could complete its acquisition of Chrysler without having to raise new capital through a rights issue. Fiat will buy a 41.5 percent stake held by a United Auto Workers union trust fund for $1.75 billion in cash and another $1.9 billion in extraordinary dividends. The deal is due to close by Jan. 20.

Macy's settles suit with Martha Stewart's company

Macy's and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia say they have settled a breach-of-contract lawsuit involving J.C. Penney. But Macy's said the settlement does not impact its lawsuit against J.C. Penney Co., which is still ongoing. The settlement terms are confidential. Macy's has had an exclusive merchandising contract with Martha Stewart since 2006. Ms. Stewart's company and Penney signed a merchandising deal in December 2011 to develop mini Martha Stewart shops. That prompted Macy's to sue both companies for violating its exclusive agreement.

Factory activity remains solid at record levels

Factory activity in December stayed near a 2 ½ -year high. The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said Thursday that its index of manufacturing activity slipped to 57 in December from 57.3 the previous month. But that's still the second-highest reading since April 2011. And any reading above 50 signals growth.

Construction spending increasing at fast rate

The Commerce Department said construction spending increased 1 percent in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $934.4 billion. That's the fastest rate since March 2009. Residential construction rose 1.9 percent in November, after falling in October. Commercial projects increased 2.7 percent but government construction spending fell 1.8 percent.

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