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Bally closing Downtown, members not out in cold

The Bally Total Fitness club, Downtown, will close next week, one of 19 locations around the country in the process of being shuttered. A company spokesman said the move was not related to the Chicago-based organization's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing earlier this month but part of an ongoing evaluation of its real estate portfolio. Members of the Sixth Street location will be given a free upgrade to national status, allowing them to use the company's 300-plus sites.

Equitable Resources heads to S&P 500 index

Equitable Resources, the corporate parent of local gas utility Equitable Gas, is joining the roster of companies that make up the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index. Equitable is replacing Transocean, a provider of offshore contract drilling services. Now based in Houston, Transocean is relocating its headquarters to Switzerland, leaving it ineligible for the S&P 500.

Bayer seeks tax breaks for R&D spending

Bayer AG said yesterday it would increase its research and development spending above the current $3.7 billion and called on the German government for tax breaks for such spending. Bayer also said the company's pharmaceutical pipeline included 50 projects currently in phase I to III of clinical testing, while the company is poised to introduce 10 new crop protection active ingredients to the market between 2008 and 2010.

23 PG journalists volunteer for buyout

Twenty-three newsroom employees of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette accepted a voluntary severance package offered by the company as a cost-cutting move. The buyouts were offered in October to about 100 members of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, the union that represents about 200 writers, editors, photographers, artists and other newsroom personnel. Some of those who took buyouts may continue to do freelance work for the newspaper. "We are saying goodbye to some of our colleagues and friends, but we are also taking inspiration from them," said David Shribman, executive editor.

AT&T raises dividend but it's a lot smaller

AT&T Inc. increased its dividend 2.5 percent, the smallest increase in seven years, as phone-line losses accelerated. The 41-cent quarterly dividend is payable Feb. 2 to shareholders of record as of Jan. 9, AT&T said yesterday. The company has increased the payout 25 years in a row. The dividend increase compares with the 13 percent boost announced last year. It's the smallest since a 1 percent increase in April 2001.

Also in business ...

Fidelity Bancorp Inc. said it sold $7 million in preferred stock to the U.S. Treasury Department as part of the $700 billion bank rescue plan ... Mylan Inc. said it would move its stock listing from the New York Stock Exchange to the Nasdaq Stock Market, effective Dec. 29. Shares will continue trading under the ticker symbol MYL ... Honeywell International Inc. said it increased its quarterly dividend by 2.75 cents a share to 30.25 cents.


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