Business Briefs: Region construction contracts up $62M

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Region construction contracts up $62M

Contracts for future construction in the Pittsburgh region rose by 29 percent in July, McGraw Hill Construction reported. The value of all contracts for the month was $275.7 million, up from $213.8 million in July 2013. Contracts for nonresidential buildings jumped by 53 percent while residential contracts edged up by 8 percent. For the year to date, contracts were 17 percent higher than the first seven months of 2013, McGraw Hill said. The region includes Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

Robinson eatery cited for 13 critical violations

Golden Corral on Park Manor Boulevard in Robinson was hit with a Consumer Alert by the Allegheny Health Department on Monday after an inspector noted 13 critical violations, including holding food at unsafe temperatures and problems with sanitation and cross-contamination. Inspection reports for Allegheny County restaurants are available online at​Restaurant/.

Four Rivers Software Systems to join Accruent

Wilkins-based maintenance management software company Four Rivers Software Systems Inc. has been acquired by Austin, Texas-based digital industry suite creator Accruent for an undisclosed figure. Accruent, which specializes in real estate and facilities management solutions, will use Four Rivers Systems health care facilities management capabilities to boost its range of services. Four Rivers 90 employees will be integrated into Accruent’s new health care team.

Industry group reports steel imports rise 6%

Steel imports jumped 6 percent in July to 3.8 million tons, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. The industry group said year-to-date imports are up 37 percent to 24.9 million tons.

Debt relief operation targeted by FTC

The Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint against an operation that allegedly duped consumers into paying hundreds of dollars for phony debt relief and credit repair services and falsely claimed to be backed by the federal government. According to the complaint, the Web-based operation known as Bill Payment Government Assistance Program offered to pay consumers’ debts for an advance fee of $900 to $1,100 after arranging bogus electronic payments that gave victims the impression that their debts were being paid. After consumers paid the fee, typically through Western Union or MoneyGram, the operators reversed the payments made to the consumers’ bills.

MarkWest to expand Butler County processing complex

Denver-based MarkWest Energy Partners said it will expand its Keystone complex in Evans City to handle growing production from the Marcellus Shale. The project is backed by agreements with Rex Energy, a driller based in State College, and EdgeMarc Energy, a driller based in Canonsburg. MarkWest plans to build Bluestone III and Bluestone IV, both of which are 200 million cubic feet per day plants that are expected to begin operations in late 2015 and early 2016, respectively. In addition, MarkWest will build 40,000 barrels per day (b/​d) of additional de-ethanization capacity and more than 20,000 b/​d of additional propane and heavier natural gas liquid fractionation capacity.

Consumer confidence near 7-year high

The Conference Board says its confidence index rose for a fourth straight month in August to 92.4 from 90.3 in July. The August reading is the highest since October 2007, two months before the Great Recession officially began.

Durable goods orders surge 22.6 percent

Orders for durable goods in July rose 22.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. The strength came from a 318 percent increase in orders for civilian aircraft. Outside of transportation, orders dipped 0.8 percent.

Burger King confirms seeking Tim Hortons deal

Burger King said Tuesday it will buy Tim Hortons in an $11 billion deal that would create the world’s third-largest fast-food chain. The corporate headquarters will be in Canada, but Burger King will still be operated out of Miami. 3G Capital will own about 51 percent of the new company. Last year, the firm also teamed up with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway to buy ketchup maker H.J. Heinz Co. Berkshire Hathaway is also helping finance the Tim Hortons deal with $3 billion of preferred equity financing, but will not have a role in managing operations.

Credit card late payments down in quarter

The rate of U.S. credit card payments at least 90 days overdue fell to 1.16 percent in the April-June quarter — the lowest level in at least seven years, credit reporting agency TransUnion said Tuesday. The late-payment rate peaked in the first quarter of 2009 at 3.12 percent, TransUnion said. The firm’s data set goes back to 2007.

NHTSA opens one probe, closes another

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating a complaint that front brake hoses can fail on some Ford Explorer Police Interceptor SUVs from the 2013 model year. Meanwhile, the agency has closed an eight-month investigation into brake problems with 2007 and 2008 Toyota Camry gas-electric hybrids without a recall.

WHO says e-cigarettes must be regulated

The World Health Organization said Tuesday that electronic cigarettes should be regulated and banned from use indoors until the exhaled vapor is proven not to harm bystanders. The UN agency also called for a ban on sales to minors and to either forbid or keep to a minimum any advertising, promotion or sponsorship.

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