Business news briefs: Sheetz set to build N.C. $33M site

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Altoona convenience store operator Sheetz Inc. announced plans to build a $32.8 million, 245,000-square-foot distribution and food production center in Burlington, N.C. The 429-store company, which has a distribution center in Claysburg, Pa., is moving to expand in North Carolina and Virginia. Authority OKs $1.6M loan for Tsudis

O'Hara-based Tsudis Chocolate Co. Inc. was approved for a $1.56 million low-interest loan from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority to buy a 97,500-square-foot building in O'Hara that will enable the company to increase its production of confectionery products and nutrition bars. As part of the expansion, the company will add 50 employees to its 190-person workforce, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. In addition to the 10-year loan at 2.75 percent interest, the company will require $2.34 million in private investment for the project.

FedEx earnings forecast suffers

FedEx Corp. cut its earnings forecast Tuesday, blaming the weak global economy. The world's second-biggest package delivery company said the shortfall is primarily in its express division, which moves 3.5 million packages on an average day. FedEx expects to earn between $1.37 and $1.43 per share in the fiscal first quarter that ended Aug. 31. That's down from an original forecast of $1.45 to $1.60 per share. Analysts were expecting $1.56 per share, according to FactSet.

RBS planning to cut 900 jobs

The insurance division of Royal Bank of Scotland says it plans to cut nearly 900 jobs as it prepares for a stock market flotation. The European Commission has set a deadline of 2014 for RBS to dispose of Direct Line Group as a condition for receiving a state bailout. Taxpayers hold an 82 percent stake in RBS, the parent company of Citizen's Bank.

Nokia unveils Lumia, Verizon preorders

It's smartphone season. Nokia revealed its new flagship phone, the Lumia 920, the first smartphone to run the next version of Windows on Wednesday. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said the new phones will go on sale in the fourth quarter in "select markets" but didn't say what they would cost or which U.S. carriers would have them. The announcement came as Motorola made its first major product launch under new owner Google. Verizon Wireless started taking pre-orders Wednesday for the Droid Razr M, a $99 phone that will be in stores next week and run on Google's Android operating system. Apple Inc. is expected to reveal the iPhone 5 next week. U.S. Q2 productivity rises at 2.2 percent rate

U.S. companies got more output from their workers this spring than initially thought. The Labor Department said Wednesday that productivity in the second quarter rose at a modest 2.2 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter, better than its initial estimate of a 1.6 percent gain, largely because employers cut back on hiring.

Revlon announces layoffs to save $10M

Makeup company Revlon Inc. said Wednesday it is cutting 250 jobs, or about 5 percent of its workforce. New York-based Revlon -- whose brands include Almay, Mitchum and its namesake -- said it will close its manufacturing plant in France and leave its leased manufacturing plant in Maryland and move manufacturing to other plants and third parties. Revlon expects to save $10 million annually from the moves.

Moody's downgrades Sharp's rating

Moody's Investors Service has downgraded Sharp's short-term ratings to the lowest "Not Prime" category, citing the Japanese electronics maker's debts and price drops in its main product, liquid-crystal displays. Sharp Corp. is struggling, losing $1.8 billion in the latest quarter through June.

Gas contracts focus of Gazprom probe

Gazprom, Russia's natural-gas export monopoly, faces a European Union antitrust probe over long-term gas supply contracts in Central and Eastern Europe. The European Commission is investigating whether Gazprom imposed unfair prices by linking natural gas and oil prices, prevented gas from being traded between countries and hindered the diversification of supply. Gazprom shares dropped by as much as 2 percent after the EU announcement. Gazprom said its pricing policies were "in full conformity with legal standards applied by other natural gas producers and exporters," according to an e-mailed statement from the Moscow-based company.

Louboutin wins trademark soles suit

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York on Wednesday said the distinctive red soles of Christian Louboutin shoes are entitled to trademark protection. The court said the French maker of luxury shoes can protect its brand against red-soled shoes made by competitor Yves Saint Laurent S.A.S., which is also based in Paris. The shoes sell for up to $1,000 a pair.

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