Business news briefs: First Niagara sites closing

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First Niagara sites closing

Buffalo, N.Y.-based First Niagara Financial Group plans to close two area branches in Irwin and Murrysville and eliminate 20 jobs in this region, as part of an overall shift to reduce in-branch services as more customers use online and mobile banking. The company said it will be cutting 170 administrative positions across its four-state operation.

Macy's cuts 2,500 jobs

Macy's Inc. is cutting 2,500 jobs as part of a reorganization to sustain its profitability. The announcement comes on the heels of a strong holiday shopping season for the department store chain, which also runs the higher-end Bloomingdale's chain. The Cincinnati-based company plans to close five stores and open eight others.

Buchanan, law firm in talks

Pittsburgh law firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney is in discussions with Florida law firm Fowler White Boggs about a possible merger. Buchanan Ingersoll has 450 lawyers in 15 offices, and Tampa-based Fowler White has 97 lawyers, all based in Florida.

Aquion completes offering

Lawrenceville-based Aquion Energy Inc., maker of aqueous hybrid ion batteries, completed a $55 million funding round Wednesday, with investors ranging from Bill Gates and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to Russian venture capital firm Bright Capital. The company expects to deliver its first commercial battery to clients in the first half of the year.

Casey awarded for river work

A group representing barge operators, shippers and other river interests has awarded its Leadership Service award to U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., for his efforts to promote funding for lock and dam improvements.

Howard Hanna acquires Wood

Howard Hanna Real Estate Services has expanded its footprint to Virginia and North Carolina with the acquisition of Virginia Beach-based William E. Wood and Associates Realtors, and its subsidiaries Heritage Title and Towne Mortgage. William E. Wood and Associates is the No. 1 real estate company in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina with 17 offices and nearly 700 sales associates and employees.

Free tax preparation offered

Free tax preparation for low-income individuals and families will be available at 14 sites in Allegheny County from Jan. 20 through April 15. The tax assistance is sponsored by United Way of Allegheny County and the Money in Your Pocket Coalition. To qualify, family income cannot exceed $40,000 annually and individual income cannot exceed $20,000 per year. Appointments can be scheduled beginning today by calling 2-1-1, the United Way hotline.

Office firm opens here

BusinesSuites opened on the 29th floor of BNY Mellon Center, Downtown. The Austin, Texas-based operator of office space for short-term or small space users was co-founded by Luci Baines Johnson and has 24 locations in the U.S.

Holiday sales see gains

ShopperTrak, which tracks data at 40,000 stores in the U.S., said that sales for the November and December months combined rose 2.7 percent to $265.9 billion. That was better than the data service's 2.4 percent forecast for the season, but below the 3.0 percent gain in 2012.

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