Business news briefs: 02/12/10

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US Airways ends Vegas flight, adds Phoenix trip

US Airways will end its only daily nonstop flight to Las Vegas from Pittsburgh International Airport on May 8. It will leave local travelers with only two daily nonstops to Sin City, both offered by Southwest Airlines. However, on June 1, US Airways will add a third daily nonstop flight from Pittsburgh to its Phoenix hub. Spokesman Morgan Durrant said in an e-mail that connecting opportunities were far better in Phoenix than in Las Vegas, where US Airways has drastically cut service. "Las Vegas is shrinking and will go to 36 daily flights as of this Sunday. That means it's not a viable place to funnel customers to their end point anymore. Phoenix, on the other hand, is very viable, and that's why we are adding an additional Phoenix round trip," Mr. Durrant said.

Toyota's president to visit U.S. in March

Toyota's top executive is expected to visit the United States in early March amid pressure from a House Republican that the company's leader testify before Congress about the automaker's safety lapses. Toyota confirmed Thursday that Akio Toyoda, Toyota's president and the grandson of the company's founder, was expected to visit the United States in early March to meet with government officials and members of Congress but said his schedule was still under discussion. The executive had previously said he intended to travel to America to meet Toyota workers and dealers in the aftermath of a global recall of 8.5 million vehicles.

PNC repays $7.6 billion in federal TARP funding

PNC Financial Services Group said that it repaid the $7.6 billion in bailout money it received from the federal government under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. PNC announced its plan to repay the money last week. The U.S. Treasury continues to hold a warrant issued in connection with the TARP funds that allows the government to buy up to about 16.9 million shares of PNC common stock at $67.33 per share.

Site offers information on local road conditions

A website has been designed to help Pittsburgh residents inform each other of road conditions in the wake of this week's snowstorm. YinzCam Inc. CEO and Carnegie Mellon associate professor Priya Narasimhan worked with Councilman Bill Peduto to produce the program at no cost, which enables residents to report on the quality of roads and read the reports of others. Streets can be categorized as passable, not passable or clear. A team from Carnegie Mellon developed the program, which can be accessed at www.cityzenmobile.net and on Twitter at twitter.com/howsmystreet.

Mortgage rates dip below 5 percent

Rates on 30-year fixed mortgages fell slightly this week, dipping below 5 percent, the mortgage financier Freddie Mac said Thursday. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.97 percent this week, down from an average of 5.01 percent last week. Last year at this time, the rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage averaged 5.16 percent, Freddie Mac said.

U.S. foreclosures up 15% in January

The number of U.S. households facing foreclosure in January increased 15 percent from the same month last year, and a surge in strapped homeowners who've fallen behind on mortgages could be on the way. More than 315,000 households received a foreclosure-related notice in January, RealtyTrac Inc. reported Thursday. That number is down nearly 10 percent from 349,000 in December, which saw the third-highest total since the company began tracking foreclosure data in 2005. In January, one in 409 homes were sent a filing, which includes default notices, scheduled foreclosure auctions and bank repossessions.

Earnings

PepsiCo's fourth-quarter profit almost doubled on strength in its snacks business and overseas beverage operations. The company earned $1.43 billion, or 90 cents per share, even with estimates. Sales climbed 4.5 percent to $13.3 billion.

Also in business ...

Burns & Scalo Real Estate Services closed on its purchase of the Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania headquarters building and several adjacent lots on the South Side for $6.5 million. Apartments are planned for the site. Goodwill will relocate to Lawrenceville. ... Liberty Tax Service said it would offer discounts on tax preparation on Monday to customers with last names of U.S. presidents or vice presidents. Liberty has six local offices, in Brentwood, Dormont, Lawrenceville, Mount Oliver, North Versailles and Wilkinsburg. ... Leaders from the world's top economies are close to agreeing on a global bank tax, and a deal could be reached at a meeting of the Group of 20 nations later this year, according to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The move would follow President Barack Obama's move last month to raise $90 billion from a U.S. bank levy. ... Burlington Northern Santa Fe shareholders approved the railroad's sale to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.



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