Business Briefs: Settlement credits sent to e-book buyers

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Settlement credits sent to e-book buyers

Some Amazon e-book customers received credits Tuesday as part of the $166 million price-fixing settlement five book publishers reached with the U.S. Department of Justice and attorneys general from 33 states. The payments — which vary depending on how many e-books consumers bought between April 1, 2010, and May 21, 2012 — stem from an antitrust suit filed in April 2012 that accused the publishers of conspiring to raise prices to undermine Amazon’s grip on the e-book business. Details can be found at Pennsylvania's share of the settlement is $6.7 million.

State extends deadline for LIHEAP grant

Consumers applying for help with their home heating bills will have extra time to seek out aid from the state. Citing a harsh winter, the state extended the deadline to apply for assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program to April 18. The federally funded program was slated to end April 4. Individuals can apply for a LIHEAP grant online at, or in person at county assistance offices. For more information, visit or call toll free 1-866-857-7095.

Four Loko maker settles violation allegations

The makers of Four Loko have agreed to halt a number of behaviors, including promoting mixing their flavored malt beverages with caffeinated products, to settle allegations that they violated consumer protection and other laws. Phusion Projects reached agreement with attorneys general from Pennsylvania and 19 other states as well as San Francisco's city attorney. The company faced allegations of promoting the fruit flavored drinks to underage drinkers and promoting dangerous and excessive consumption. 

Wexford firm to build cancer centers in India

Wexford-based Cancer Treatment Services International is teaming with GE Healthcare to build a $120 million network of 25 cancer centers in India over the next five years. The company announcement Tuesday said the centers "will offer latest technology for diagnosing and treating cancer and will follow the same standards of care found at the world's top cancer hospitals delivered at Indian price standards."

Sales of new homes fell 3.3 percent in February

Sales of new homes declined 3.3 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 440,000, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That was down from a revised rate of 455,000 in January. New-home sales have declined 1.1 percent over the past 12 months. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index on Tuesday reported a decline of 0.1 percent from December to January. That figure is not adjusted for seasonal variations, so the dip partly reflects weaker winter sales. The index does not include Pittsburgh.

Consumer confidence rebounds in sign of optimism

The Conference Board says its consumer confidence index rose to 82.3 in March from a February reading of 78.3. It marked the first time the index has been above the 82 level since last June, when it stood at 82.1. Consumers are moderately more upbeat about future job prospects and the overall economy, though less optimistic about income growth.

Bitcoin is ruled property not currency by IRS

The U.S. government will treat bitcoin as property for tax purposes, applying rules it uses to govern stocks and barter transactions, the Internal Revenue Service said in its first substantive ruling on the issue. Under Tuesday's ruling, purchasing a $2 cup of coffee with bitcoins bought for $1 would trigger $1 in capital gains for the coffee drinker and $2 of income for the coffee shop.

Also in business ...

Spotify is wooing U.S. college students with a $5-a-month premium music deal, half off the regular rate. ... Italian eyewear maker Luxottica will make frames for Google’s Internet-connected eyewear, Google Glass.

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