Business Briefs: 5/28/14

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Manufacturing resources website launches

Alcoa Foundation and Discovery Education partnered to launch an online site, “Manufacture Your Future,” that provides resources on manufacturing careers for students in grades 6-12. The site includes lesson plans for the so-called STEM areas of science, technology, engineering and math; a virtual field trip; and materials for teachers, guidance counselors and families. Alcoa Foundation declined to disclose how much it invested in the project. The site is available at

Region future contracts pushed by building gains

The value of future contracts in the Pittsburgh region rose by more than 100 percent in April as a result of strong gains in the residential and nonresidential building sectors. The value of contracts totaled $267.9 million, up from $120.6 million in April 2013, McGraw-Hill Construction said. Future residential contracts for the month increased by 79 percent to $166.9 million,  and nonresidential contracts jumped by more than 200 percent to $101 million. For the first four months of 2014, contracts totaled $657.7 million, 14 percent higher than a total $577.6 million in the same period of 2013.

Home prices rose at slower rate in March

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 12.4 percent in March compared with 12 months earlier. While healthy, the rate of growth has slowed from both February and January. Pittsburgh is not part of the survey. 

Consumer confidence moved up in May

Consumers were slightly more confident in the economy in May than in April, partly because they are more optimistic about future hiring and income gains. The Conference Board says that its confidence index rose to 83 from 81.7 in April.

Durable goods orders up in April

Orders for durable manufactured goods rose 0.8 percent from the previous month after a 3.6 percent gain in March, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. The April strength stemmed from a big jump in demand for defense goods. Excluding defense, orders would have fallen 0.8 percent in April. 

Pilgrim's Pride in takeover bid for Hillshire

Pilgrim’s Pride launched a takeover bid for Hillshire Brands on Tuesday. The $5.58 billion offer could derail Hillshire’s plans to buy Pinnacle Foods. Hillshire had announced that $4.23 billion deal earlier this month.

Unpaid debts problem for Russia-Ukraine gas deal

Guenther Oettinger, European Union energy commissioner, says Ukraine’s debt for gas Russia delivered between November and May remains a hurdle to reaching a deal on energy supplies between the two countries.

From staff and wire reports

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