Business news briefs: Sharon Regional sold

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Sharon Regional Health System said Thursday it has reached a definitive agreement to be sold to Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems Inc. The sales price was not revealed, but the hospital said in a news release that for-profit Community Health will invest at least $75 million in the hospital in the next five years. Sharon Regional has 1,800 workers, making it the largest employer in Mercer County. Community Health owns, leases or operates 206 other hospitals in 29 states, including hospitals just across the border from Sharon in and around Youngstown and Warren, Ohio. The state attorney general's office and the county's Orphan's Court must approve the sale.

Children's picked for program

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC is one of 73 hospitals and medical facilities selected for the Southwest Airlines 2014 Medical Transportation Grant Program, which allows the hospital to provide airline tickets to patients who need to travel to receive treatment. This is the sixth time Children's has been chosen for the program.

Comcast Foundation grants

The Comcast Foundation awarded $591,000 in grants to 30 nonprofits in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio including Big Brothers & Sisters agencies, Boys & Girls Clubs, and others that support youth programming and community service.

U.S. productivity slows

U.S. productivity growth slowed in the fourth quarter while labor costs kept falling. Productivity grew at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the October-December period, down slightly from a 3.6 percent growth rate in the third quarter, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Labor costs fell at a 1.6 percent rate in the fourth quarter. For the year, productivity rose a slight 0.6 percent, down from a 1.5 percent increase in 2012. Labor costs edged up a slight 1 percent in 2013.

Trade deficit grows in Dec.

The U.S. trade deficit widened in December after hitting a four-year low in November. But for 2013, the gap reached its lowest point since 2009 as exports rose to a record. The trade deficit rose to $38.7 billion in December, a 12 percent increase over November, the Commerce Department said Thursday. For all of 2013, the deficit dropped 11.8 percent to $471.5 billion.

Russia to build reactors

Hungary's parliament on Thursday authorized a deal with Russia to build two reactors at the country's only nuclear power plant in the southern city of Paks. The city currently has four Soviet-built reactors that began operation in the 1980s.

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