The value of contracts for future construction in the Pittsburgh metropolitan region dropped by 55 percent in August, McGraw-Hill Construction reported. The value of residential and nonresidential contracts was $76.9 million, down from $170.9 million in August 2011. Nonresidential contracts fell by 89 percent for the month. For the year to date, contracts were down by 9 percent over the first eight months of 2011. The total value was $1.03 billion, down from $1.13 billion last year. The region includes Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
Law firm Reed Smith has opened an office in Singapore, marking its fourth location in Asia and 23rd worldwide. The Singapore location was spurred in large part by expanding business opportunities in energy and natural resources in that region, Reed Smith said. Five lawyers are already working in temporary space there and the firm plans to move to permanent offices early next year when Reed Smith expects to have about 15 attorneys at the location. Its other Asian offices are in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai.
Six Downtown retailers will stay open later than usual on Oct. 18 as part of an effort to encourage workers to stay in town past quitting time. Participating retailers staying open until 8 p.m. will be Brooks Brothers, Larrimor's, Joseph Orlando, Heinz Healey's, Boutique la Passerelle and Joseph A. Bank. Shoppers who spend at least $100 will receive a coupon for 20 percent off at one of 10 Downtown restaurants: Sonoma Grille, Seviche, Las Velas, August Henry's, NineOnNine, Taste of Dahntahn, Six Penn Kitchen, Vallozzi's, Penn Avenue Fish and Habitat. A portion of that evening's sales will go to either the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation or the Friendship Circle.
Lanxess Corp. received the Deep Springs Award for contributions from its North American employees to provide treated water to citizens of Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. Lanxess' North American headquarters is in Findlay. Deep Springs International, affiliated with Grove City College, is a nonprofit that promotes affordable water purification systems in developing countries.
Confidence among U.S. small businesses cooled in September as fewer companies said they planned to hire or invest in new equipment, a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business found. The Washington, D.C.-based group's optimism index fell to 92.8 from an August reading of 92.9.
Tool maker Stanley Black & Decker Inc. is selling its hardware and home-improvement business to Spectrum Brands Holdings Inc. for $1.4 billion in cash. The hardware and home-improvement unit includes brands such as Pfister, Baldwin and Kwikset. Spectrum Brands, based in Madison, Wis., owns the Rayovac, Remington and Toastmaster brands. Stanley, which is based in New Britain Conn., plans to use a majority of the proceeds to buy back shares and reduce debt.