Business briefs: State tax increases gas cost

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New state taxes helped drive up the cost of gasoline this past week. Pittsburgh-area drivers paid an average of $3.53 per gallon Sunday, a 9.7 cent increase from the prior week, as most retailers passed along a nearly 10-cent tax increase, according to GasBuddy.com. The national average remained stagnant at $3.30 per gallon.

Denver firm, Shenhua partner

Denver-based Energy Corp. of America has signed a joint venture agreement with Shenhua America Holdings Corp. a subsidiary of China's largest coal company, to develop 25 natural gas wells in Greene County in the next year and a half. Shenhua will contribute the first $90 million for ECA to drill the wells, and future expenses will be split evenly between the two partners.

T-Mobile set to buy licenses

T-Mobile said Monday that it has reached deals to buy spectrum licenses from Verizon Wireless for $2.37 billion in cash, allowing it to improve certain kinds of cellular service in markets across the U.S. T-Mobile USA, the No. 4 U.S. carrier, is owned by Germany's Deutsche Telekom AG.

Wearhouse submits new bid

Men's Wearhouse disclosed Monday that it is raising its offer for Jos. A. Bank Clothiers to about $1.61 billion and taking the bid directly to its rival's shareholders. It also plans to nominate two people to the Jos. A. Bank board. Jos. A. Bank, which rejected the previous offer in late December, said it will consider the bid and that shareholders should take no action before it makes a recommendation to them by Jan. 17.

Zynga news boosts Bitcoin

The price of Bitcoin surpassed $1,000 again after Zynga Inc. said it would start accepting the virtual currency for some of its online social games. Bitcoins, which exist as software and aren't controlled by any country or banking authority, surged to about $1,045 on the Mt.Gox online exchange. Bitcoins reached a record at $1,238 on Mt.Gox on Dec. 4, then plummeted to as low as $640 after China's largest online market for the virtual currency stopped accepting deposits.

Service index dips amid woes

The Institute for Supply Management said Monday that its service-sector index fell to 53 in December, down from 53.9 in November, as sales dipped and new orders plunged to a four-year low.

Factory orders jump in Nov.

Factory orders rose 1.8 percent in November to a seasonally adjusted $497.8 billion, the Commerce Department said Monday. Orders have increased 2.5 percent over the past 12 months. Core capital goods rose 1 percent. Economists watch this category because it excludes volatile orders for aircraft and defense equipment.

Science equipment firms sold

General Electric Co. agreed to buy businesses making equipment used to grow cell lines and purify DNA from Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. for about $1.06 billion. Thermo Fisher agreed to sell the businesses in November to help get European regulatory approval for its $13.6 billion deal to buy Life Technologies Corp., which makes genetic testing and mapping equipment.

Also in business ...

PPG Industries named Shelley Bausch vice president, global industrial coatings, effective Jan. 16. She was most recently business vice president, finished products, for Dow Corning in Midland, Mich.


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