Business news briefs for 05/27/11

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Rue21 posts 65% rise in profit for quarter

Cranberry teen retailer rue21's first-quarter profit rose 65.2 percent, helped in part by new store openings and sales gains at established stores. The 700-store chain's net income of $9.6 million, or 38 cents per share, in the three months ended April 30, compared with to $5.8 million, or 23 cents per share, a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had been looking for 29 cents per share. Sales rose 25.5 percent to $172.9 million, while sales in established stores were up 5.2 percent. Based on first quarter results, rue21 raised its full-year earnings guidance to a range of $1.50 to $1.54 per share.

Westinghouse aims to calm concerns over design

Westinghouse Electric Co. assured clients Thursday that recent concerns from nuclear industry regulators on the company's new nuclear reactor design would be sorted out. Designs for the Cranberry-based company's flagship reactor, the AP1000, had raised questions during the review process at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The company met with the NRC last week to resolve questions about analytical guidelines concerning the reactor's shield building. A revised calculation related to the AP1000's internal pressures will be presented to the NRC on Thursday.

Health secretary to speak at sustainability conference

Eli Avila, Pennsylvania's Department of Health secretary, will give the opening address at a workshop about sustainability and health care Thursday at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Schenley Park. The event, organized by Sustainable Pittsburgh, will run from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. and will feature keynote speaker David Hearn, vice president of information technology, procurement and supply for Kaiser Permanente. Admission, which includes breakfast, is $45 for Sustainable Pittsburgh Champions for Sustainability members and $65 for nonmembers, with discounted admission for students.

Consol center finalist for 'green' award

The Consol Energy Center is one of six finalists for the "sustainability award" to be presented at the International Stadium Business Awards in Barcelona, Spain, on June 15. Other finalists are Aviva Stadium in Dublin; BMO Field in Toronto; The NEC Group (LG Arena and the NIA) in Birmingham, United Kingdom; Stadio Marcantonio-Bentegodi in Verona, Italy; and Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The Consol Energy Center was the first National Hockey League arena to achieve a gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Mortgage rates fall to year's low point again

Fixed mortgage rates hit the lowest point of the year for the third straight week. Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on the 30-year loan fell to 4.60 percent from 4.61 percent. That's the lowest point since mid-December. The average rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage, a popular refinance option, slipped to 3.78 percent from 3.80 percent. That marked the lowest level since late November.

Nova Chemicals posts boost in profit, revenue

Nova Chemicals reported first-quarter profit of $163 million, up from $96 million in the first quarter of 2010. Revenues were $1.3 billion, up from $1.1 billion a year ago. The Canadian chemicals producer, with executive offices in Moon, said sales volumes rose in its business units. The company is finalizing agreements to transport ethane from the Marcellus Shale region via pipeline to its operations in Sarnia, Ontario.

WPAHS names consultant executive vice president

Dianne Dismukes, a key consultant for the consolidation of services at Allegheny General and West Penn hospitals, has been named executive vice president for hospital operations for the West Penn Allegheny Health System with direct oversight of its five hospitals. Ms. Dismukes comes to WPAHS from PricewaterhouseCoopers consultants, where for the past several months she served as the partner in charge of the AGH-West Penn consolidation.

Google launches system of smartphone payments

Google Inc. said Thursday it was launching a trial of its smartphone payment system in San Francisco and New York in cooperation with MasterCard and Citibank. The new Google Wallet will initially work on only one smartphone, the Google Nexus S 4G carried by Sprint Nextel Corp. It will connect to only MasterCard PayPass terminals. South Side-based American Eagle Outfitters Inc. is a retail partner in the venture. The Internet search and advertising company faces tough competition from cell phone companies and Visa.



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