Business news briefs: Two credit unions leave, one joins problem list

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Two credit unions leave, one joins problem list

Two Pittsburgh-area credit unions improved their financial condition enough to drop off an independent research group's list of problem institutions, while one local credit union joined the list. Shacog in Mt. Lebanon and Trailblazer in Washington, Pa., dropped off by earning three stars out of a possible five in BauerFinancial's latest rankings for the second quarter, up from two stars in the previous quarter. Taking a spot on the problem list was Downtown-based Iron Workers Federal Credit Union, which received two stars. Two local credit unions remained on the problem list -- CGH in New Kensington with two stars and University Drive VAH in Oakland with one star.

American Eagle will open stores in the Philippines

South Side teen clothing retailer American Eagle Outfitters Inc. has agreed to a multi-year license agreement with Suyen Corp. to open stores in the Philippines. The first locations are expected to open next spring, the company said. Suyen also operates franchises in the Philippines for retailers such as Aldo and LaSenza.

Unemployment benefit applications fell last week

Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, and a private survey showed businesses stepped up hiring in August. Weekly applications for unemployment benefits fell by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 365,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Separately, payroll provider ADP said businesses added 201,000 jobs last month. That's the most reported by the survey since March. The ADP survey only covers hiring in the private sector and excludes government job growth. The Labor Department's report on Friday will offer a more complete picture.

Amazon will offer larger, cheaper Kindle Fire

Amazon.com is updating the Kindle Fire in a bid to stoke consumer demand as Google and Microsoft crowd the tablet market with competing devices. The newest version of the Kindle Fire will cost $159 and have an 8.9-inch screen, larger than the 7-inch screen in the current model, the company said at an event Thursday in Santa Monica, Calif. Amazon also unveiled the Kindle Paperwhite e-book reader for $119.

Average mortgage rates drop a little, to 3.55%

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages changed little this week. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the rate on the 30-year loan slipped to 3.55 percent, down from 3.59 percent last week. The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage was unchanged at 2.86 percent.

Hiring aids service industry

U.S. service companies expanded at a faster pace in August than July, helped by stronger hiring. The Institute for Supply Management said Thursday that its index of non-manufacturing activity increased in August to 53.7, up from a July reading of 52.6. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Deutsche Lufthansa strike

Deutsche Lufthansa AG canceled more than 1,000 flights after the main cabin crew union announced its biggest strike ever. Flight attendants plan to walk off the job today for the third time in a week.

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