Business news briefs: Alcoa to idle Italy smelter

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Alcoa to idle Italy smelter

Alcoa said it will take a second quarter restructuring charge of $30 million to $35 million, or about 3 cents per share, because of its decision to permanently idle a smelter in Fusina, Italy. The smelter produced about 44,000 metric tons of aluminum annually. Alcoa blamed weak aluminum prices. The company is reviewing whether to idle as much as 460,000 metric tons of additional capacity because of poor industry conditions.

Altoona Regional rating up

Based on Altoona Regional Health System's upcoming affiliation with UPMC, Standard & Poor's has raised the Blair County health system's rating to A+ from BBB+. The ratings agency also affirmed its A+ rating for UPMC. Despite UPMC's weaker operating performance due to a softening in reimbursements, the agency's report said, "Management has responded with cost-cutting initiatives that we expect will restore an adequate operating income in fiscal 2014." Such ratings affect the cost of borrowing funds for the institutions.

Surgeon back at UPMC

Orthopedic surgeon Stephen Conti has rejoined UPMC. Dr. Conti, a foot and ankle specialist, was at the Pittsburgh health system from 1993 to 2003 before moving to the West Penn Allegheny Health System.

Sears, Paula Deen cut ties

Paula Deen just lost another business partner. Sears Holdings Corp. announced Friday it is cutting ties with the Southern celebrity chef, adding to the list of companies severing their relationship following revelations that Ms. Deen used racial slurs in the past. The company, based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., said it decided to phase out all products tied to the brand after "careful consideration of all available information." Both Sears and Kmart sold Paula Deen products. Sears joins Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and Home Depot as retailers that plan to stop selling cookware and other items with Ms. Deen's brand.

Consumer confidence high

A measure of U.S. consumer confidence stayed near a six-year high in June as higher home prices boosted household wealth. The survey shows Americans remain upbeat about the economy, despite wild gyrations in the stock market. The University of Michigan said Friday that its final reading of consumer sentiment in June was 84.1. That's an improvement from a preliminary reading of 82.7 issued June 14. And it is just slightly below May's final reading of 84.5, which was the highest since July 2007. Rising household wealth was the main reason consumers stayed optimistic.

BlackBerry shares fall

BlackBerry's shares tumbled the most since 2000 after the company reported a surprise loss and weak sales of a new touch-screen model, underscoring its challenges in competing directly with the iPhone and Android devices. The company shipped 6.8 million smartphones last quarter, including about 2.7 million new BlackBerry 10 models -- primarily its flagship Z10 touch-screen phone. Analysts had estimated total shipments of 7.5 million, with about 3.6 million BlackBerry 10 units. BlackBerry shares plunged 28 percent to $10.46, the biggest decline since April 12, 2000.

Ford issues vehicle recall

Ford is recalling just over 13,000 Explorer, Taurus and Lincoln MKS cars and SUVs because the child safety locks may not work on the rear doors. The recall affects 2013 model cars sold mainly in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The company says no injuries have been reported from the problem. The recall covers cars and SUVs built from Nov. 29 to Dec. 12 of last year. Dealers will test the locks and replace door latches if needed at no cost to owners.

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