Business Briefs: Gas prices here hold steady

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Gasoline prices in the Pittsburgh region held steady over the past week, ending up at $3.51 per gallon, according to GasBuddy.com. Nationwide, the average gas price was lower -- $3.26 per gallon, also less than a penny below last week's average. Prices have been on a slow decline since the middle of January.

U.S. Steel vote change on table

U.S. Steel will ask shareholders to vote on a plan to elect its entire board of directors annually by 2017. Shareholders of the steel producer currently elect a third of the board each year. The vote will be taken at the company's April 29 shareholder meeting.

Cold pulls auto sales down

Auto sales slid 3 percent in January as bouts of snow, ice and frigid temperatures in much of the country kept buyers snug in their homes instead of venturing out to car dealers. People bought just over 1 million vehicles last month in the U.S., about 32,000 fewer than a year ago. It was the first year-over-year monthly sales drop since August of 2010, according to Ward's Automotive -- but one that analysts said should be short-lived. General Motors, Toyota and Ford -- the top-selling companies in the U.S. -- all reported falling sales due in large part to the weather, as did Volkswagen. But Chrysler, Honda, Nissan, Subaru and Hyundai dealers were happy. Sales ran counter to the thermometer and were up for all five brands.

GM said its sales dropped 12 percent compared with the same month a year earlier, while Ford dropped 7.5 percent and Toyota declined 7 percent. Volkswagen slumped 19 percent.

Google commits to new space

It's official. Search engineer operator Google will be expanding into Bakery Square 2.0. The company will take 66,000 square feet of space in a new six-story office building being built at the site of the former Reizenstein Middle School in the East End. Todd Reidbord, president of developer Walnut Capital, said Google hopes to expand into the space in the first quarter of 2016. The building should be ready by the end of 2015. There is no word on how many new employees the expansion will bring. Google now has more than 275 workers at Bakery Square, where it leases about 160,000 square feet of space. "We're obviously very excited for Google to make this huge commitment," Mr. Reidbord said.

PPG acquiring coatings firm

PPG Industries said it has an agreement to acquire Hi-Temp Coatings Technology Co., a Massachusetts-based maker of industrial coatings. Financial terms were not disclosed. Privately held Hi-Temp produces coatings designed to resist extremely high temperatures. Its products are used in refineries, petrochemical plants, pulp and paper mills, and power plants. PPG said it expects the acquisition to close in the first quarter.

LaPrairie now under Wesco

Wesco International Inc., a distributor of electrical and other equipment headquartered in Station Square, has completed its acquisition of LaPrairie Inc. of Ontario, a company that distributes equipment to utilities and utility contractors. For 2013, Wesco reported next income of $276 million on sales of $7.5 billion.

CNB parent's income rises

Commercial National Financial in Latrobe, parent company of Commercial Bank & Trust of PA, saw net income for the fourth quarter jump 34 percent to $1.6 million, or 55 cents per share, up from $1.2 million, or 41 cents, in the final three months of 2012. For all of 2013, net income skidded 26 percent, to $5.4 million, or $1.88 per share, down from $7.3 million, or $2.54, a year earlier.

Bernanke joins Brookings

Ben Bernanke, who stepped down last week after eight momentous years as chairman of the Federal Reserve, is joining the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. Janet Yellen was sworn in Monday to succeed Mr. Bernanke at the Fed.

Manufacturing index falls

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said Monday that its index of manufacturing activity fell to 51.3 in January from 56.5 in December. It was the lowest reading since May.

From staff and wire reports


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