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Tuna firms tell Greenpeace to stop using mascots

The nation's three largest tuna companies, including North Shore-based StarKist, have sent cease-and-desist letters to activist group Greenpeace, which this week posted an online video using their mascots -- Charlie the Tuna, the Chicken of the Sea mermaid and the bee used by Bumble Bee. The group claims fishing techniques used by the companies are unsustainable. The industry-backed National Fisheries Institute has launched its own website in response, accusing Greenpeace of not participating in efforts to encourage sustainability and of grandstanding.

Dynamics moving operations to Cheswick

Dynamics Inc., a McCandless-based payment technology company, said it would relocate operations to a 115,000-square-foot Cheswick facility purchased from the Regional Industrial Development Corp. Dynamics also is in the process of hiring 20 employees and plans to continue hiring over the next 12 months, said CEO Jeff Mullen.

Deal website Certifikid to join Pittsburgh market

Certifikid, a daily deal website specifically targeting families, plans to begin offering deals in the Pittsburgh market next month. The site was launched last year in the Washington, D.C., area by Jamie and Brian Ratner. Mr. Ratner, a Greensburg native, went to Shady Side Academy and the University of Pittsburgh law school.

Sustainable Pittsburgh has workplace contest

Social and environmental organization Sustainable Pittsburgh is sponsoring the Green Workplace Challenge, a contest encouraging business owners and property managers to adopt green practices in their facilities. Companies will receive points for encouraging employee carpools, reducing water and energy use, and other sustainable practices. Businesses can sign up for the competition, which launches on Sept. 14. Visit http://greenchallenge.C4SPgh.org for more information.

Health care partner returns to K&L Gates

Judy Hlafcsak, who resigned as chief legal counsel for the West Penn Allegheny Health System a year ago, has been named a health care partner for the Pittsburgh law offices of K&L Gates LLP. She previously worked for K&L from 1996 to 2004. After leaving West Penn Allegheny, Ms. Hlafcsak was interim vice president and general counsel for Boca Raton, Fla., Regional Hospital, where she worked with former West Penn Allegheny CEO Jerry Fedele.

Research group predicts slow economic growth

A private research group forecast that the economy will grow slowly in the second half of the year because of the support it's gotten from the Federal Reserve. The Conference Board said its index of leading economic indicators rose 0.5 percent in July, indicating that the country will probably not fall back into recession. To calculate the index, the Conference Board, a private research group based in New York, measures real estate, manufacturing, employment, consumer confidence, financial markets, manufacturers' new orders and the country's money supply.

Rates on mortgages drop to record lows

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has fallen to its lowest level on records dating to 1971, dipping to 4.15 percent from 4.32 percent a week ago, Freddie Mac said Thursday. Its previous low of 4.17 percent was reached in November. The last time long-term rates were lower was in the 1950s, when 30-year loans weren't widely available. Still, few expect record-low rates to energize the depressed home market. The average rate on a 15-year fixed mortgage, which is popular for refinancing, fell to 3.36 percent, also a record low.

Number buying previously owned homes drops in July

The number of people who bought previously occupied homes fell in July for the third time in four months. This year is on pace to be the worst in 14 years as home sales fell 3.5 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.67 million homes, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. That's far below the 6 million that economists say must be sold to sustain a healthy housing market.

Sears, Kmart parent posts larger loss in 2nd quarter

The operator of Sears and Kmart stores said Thursday that its second-quarter loss grew as it marked prices down to make room for fall merchandise. Sears Holdings Corp. reported a net loss of $144 million, or $1.37 per share, compared with a loss of $39 million, or 35 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, Sears lost $1.13 per share. Analysts expected a smaller adjusted loss of 64 cents per share. Revenue fell 1 percent to $10.33 billion. Analysts expected $10.22 billion. In one bright spot, online sales rose 30 percent.

Also in business ...

Concurrent Technologies Corp., a Johnstown-based research and development firm, has been awarded a two-year, $1.3 million contract by the United States Mint. The company will research economic metallic materials for use in circulating coin production. ... Firehouse Subs will enter the Pittsburgh market, with a grand opening scheduled at its new location in McMurray. The 440-restaurant chain was founded in Jacksonville, Fla.

From staff and wire reports



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