Business news briefs:Group pledges second DoS wave on banks

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Group pledges second DoS wave on banks

A protest group that claimed responsibility for a wave of digital attacks on Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank and about 10 other big U.S. banks in the fall said it was planning a second round of attacks this week. In an online posting, the al-Qassam Cyber Fighters said it would hit PNC and four other banks with so-called denial-of-service attacks, which flood websites with communications requests and disrupt online banking services. Some PNC customers began having problems logging into their online accounts on Tuesday afternoon. PNC was working to restore full access and would be reviewing the cause of the incident, a spokeswoman said. The group has said the attacks would continue until a video insulting the Islamic prophet Muhammad is removed from the Internet.

URA ready to move on purchasing former Saks

Pittsburgh's Urban Redevelopment Authority is poised to complete its purchase of the former Saks Fifth Avenue department store on Smithfield Street. The URA board is expected to vote Thursday to exercise its option to buy the building from Oliver Smithfield Joint Venture for $4 million plus costs. The building is expected to be demolished to make way for a retail, residential, and parking garage development being proposed by local developers Millcraft Industries and McKnight Realty Partners. The Saks building became available after the tony retailer closed its doors March 17 after more than 60 years Downtown.

EQT board proposes annual elections

The board of directors of EQT Corp. said Tuesday it will ask shareholders to approve a plan requiring board members to stand for election annually rather than in the current staggered elections every three years. Annual elections are favored by corporate governance activists. Shareholders will be asked to vote on the proposal, which will be included in the Downtown company's proxy statement in March, at the 2013 annual meeting.

Consol Energy among those moving dividends

Cecil-based Consol Energy Inc.'s board of directors has accelerated the declaration and payment of a regular quarterly dividend of $0.125 per share, which will now be payable on Dec. 28. Many companies have been moving up dividend payments in anticipation that tax rates may rise next year. Also, directors of Emclaire Financial Corp., the parent company of Farmers National Bank of Emlenton, declared a special cash dividend of 10 cents per common share, payable Dec. 28 to shareholders of record Dec. 20.

HSBC to pay $1.92B to settle laundering probes

HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe's largest bank, agreed to pay $1.92 billion to settle U.S. probes of money laundering in the largest such accord ever. The settlement includes a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, the London-based bank said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday. A Senate committee said in July that lax oversight by top HSBC executives gave terrorists and drug cartels access to the U.S. financial system. The settlement is the biggest reached in the U.S. over such allegations, topping the $619 million in penalties paid in June by the Netherlands' ING Groep NV.

Delta buys 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic

Delta Air Lines said it will buy almost half of Virgin Atlantic for $360 million as it tries to catch up to rivals in the lucrative New York-to-London travel market. Delta plans to form a joint venture with Virgin Atlantic so they can sell seats on each other's flights, share the costs and profits, and set the flight schedules in ways that help both airlines. American Airlines has a similar deal with British Airways. Delta said the share purchase will happen with or without antitrust approval. Delta is aiming to have the joint operation running by the end of 2013.

Small business index plunges to near 3-year low

Confidence among U.S. small businesses plunged in November as owners grew increasingly concerned the economy will slump, a survey found. The National Federation of Independent Business's optimism index decreased 5.6 points to 87.5, the lowest reading since March 2010, from 93.1 in October. It was the biggest drop in monthly records going back to 1986 as eight of the measure's 10 components fell, the Washington-based group said.

Also in business ...

JetBlue Airways will add a fourth daily nonstop flight to Boston from Pittsburgh International Airport starting May 1, 2013.

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