Business news briefs: Study says hybrid, electric vehicles not always beneficial

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Study: Hybrid, electric vehicles not always beneficial

Hybrid and electric vehicles cost more without much benefit to the environment when driven primarily on the highway, Carnegie Mellon University researchers report. Professor Jeremy Michalek and research assistant Orkun Karabasoglu found that alternative energy vehicles are beneficial "if adopted by drivers who spend a lot of time in traffic. For these drivers, hybrids are a win-win...." The study was funded by the Natural Science Foundation, Ford and Toyota and appears in the journal Energy Policy.

Auction firm Grant Street to receive $8M in damages

Grant Street Group said a federal jury in Pittsburgh ordered another Internet auction firm to pay it $8.1 million in damages for willfully infringing on one of its patents. Grant Street -- which auctions bonds, notes, tax certificates and other financial and legal instruments online -- sued Realauction.com of Plantation, Fla., in 2009. Grant Street said because the jury found the infringement was willful, U.S. District Court Judge Mark R. Hornak can increase damages by up to three times the $8.1 million awarded by the jury.

Gas prices fall by 2.1 cents across U.S.; little change here

The price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline across the nation fell by 2.1 cents over the past week, but Pittsburgh's average has seen little change, with gas prices going up 0.4 cents per gallon. The national average is $3.61; the average in Pittsburgh is $3.56.

Optimism over home sales for first time in seven years

For the first time in seven years, most U.S. homebuilders are optimistic about home sales. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Monday leaped to 52 this month from 44 in May. The index hasn't been that high since April 2006, just before the housing market collapsed.

PPG's Springdale plants starts production on inks, coatings

PPG Industries started manufacturing a new line of inks and coatings at its Springdale plant. The products will be used for specialized electronics applications such as medical devices, automotive air bags, and touch screens for mobile phones and tablet computers. The business and technology is being transferred from Spraylat, an industrial coatings maker in Pelham, N.Y., that PPG acquired last year. PPG said it will add an unspecified number of manufacturing, research and development jobs at the Springdale facility to accommodate the new production.

DreamWorks to supply programming to Netflix

DreamWorks Animation, trying to lessen its dependence on the volatile movie business by aggressively expanding into TV programming, has decided to forgo cable television in favor of Netflix. In a multiyear deal announced Monday, DreamWorks Animation will supply 300 hours of original programming to the Internet streaming service. The first of the new DreamWorks Animation programs will appear on Netflix sometime next year.

Amazon workers in Germany commence strike over wages

Union members at online retailer Amazon's German operations have begun a two-day strike to ratchet up pressure on the company over pay demands. The union says Amazon's roughly 5,300 workers at the sites receive lower wages than their peers in the online retail industry. Amazon defends its pay scale.

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